Kim Gandy - President
Kim Gandy is serving her second term as president of the National Organization for Women, elected by the group''s grassroots members in 2001 and again in 2005. She has served as a national officer of NOW since 1987 and in state, local and regional leadership positions since 1973.
Gandy also is president of the NOW Foundation, chair of NOW''s Political Action Committees, and serves as the principal spokesperson for all three entities. Gandy oversees NOW''s multi-issue agenda, which includes: advancing reproductive freedom, promoting diversity and ending racism, stopping violence against women, winning LGBT rights, ensuring economic justice, ending sex discrimination and achieving equality for women.
Since 2001, Gandy has led NOW''s campaigns on issues ranging from Supreme Court nominations to the rights of mothers and caregivers, from Social Security reform to ending the war in Iraq. Through grassroots political action, Gandy helped increase the women''s vote and change the face of Congress in 2006 and is leading the organization''s efforts around the pivotal 2008 elections.
Gandy regularly appears in print, television, radio and internet media, and she appreciates the enormous impact the media have on women''s lives. Under her direction, NOW has continued a decades-long commitment to media issues, such as expanding women''s opportunities in the broadcast industry, increasing news coverage of women''s issues, and improving the portrayal of women and girls in advertising and all media.
During Gandy''s presidency, NOW celebrated its 40 year anniversary, organized conferences on issues affecting women of color and women with disabilities, campaigned against Wal-Mart as a Merchant of Shame, and expanded efforts to win equal marriage rights and benefits for same-sex couples. Through the creation of NOW''s Campus Action Network and the Young Feminist Task Force, Gandy has demonstrated a commitment to reaching out to young women and encouraging their leadership in the organization.
During her first presidential term, Gandy was one of the lead organizers of The March for Women''s Lives in 2004. Gandy was a key organizer of the 1989 and 1992 marches, and her expertise in mass actions helped ensure that 1.2 million activists made the 2004 march for women''s reproductive freedom the largest and most diverse grassroots mobilization in our nation''s history.
In the legislative arena, Gandy served on the drafting committees for two groundbreaking federal laws: the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which gave women the right to a jury trial and monetary damages in cases of sex discrimination and sexual harassment, and the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which has dramatically decreased the daily violence at abortion clinics. In addition, Gandy led the fight against anti-abortion terrorists through the landmark racketeering case NOW v. Scheidler, which was in litigation for two decades and reached the Supreme Court three times.
In 1991 Gandy directed the WomenElect 2000 Project, a nine-month grassroots organizing and recruiting effort in Louisiana which tripled the number of women in the legislature, elected the state''s first woman Lieutenant Governor, and helped to defeat former Klansman David Duke for Governor.
A long-time activist, Gandy served three years as Louisiana NOW President. She was elected to the NOW National Board in 1982 and held the position of Mid-South Regional Director for four years before being elected to national office.
Gandy graduated from Louisiana Tech University in 1973 with a B.S. in mathematics. Her NOW involvement inspired her to attend law school, and she received her law degree in 1978 from Loyola University School of Law, where she was a member of the Loyola Law Review and the National Moot Court Team. Gandy went on to serve as a Senior Assistant District Attorney in New Orleans, and later opened a private trial practice, litigating countless cases seeking fair treatment for women.
Currently, she resides in Silver Spring, Md., with her husband Dr. Christopher "Kip" Lornell, an ethnomusicologist and part-time Professor of Music at George Washington University. They have two daughters, Elizabeth Cady Lornell and Katherine Eleanor Gandy.
Olga Vives, Vice President - Executive
Olga Vives is a long time NOW activist and former sales and marketing professional. Originally from Cuba, Vives has been a strong women''s rights advocate in Illinois for decades. She was elected Action Vice-President of NOW in June 2001 and Executive Vice-President in July 2005.
As Action Vice-President, Vives oversaw the grassroots organizing efforts that are the backbone of the organization, taking the lead on major campaigns such as The March for Women''s Lives held in April 2004, "Save our Courts," Equal Marriage and naming Wal-Mart a Merchant of Shame.
As Executive Vice-President, Vives will continue to build NOW''s Foundation programs, including the Women''s Health Project, and Global and Racial Diversity outreach programs.
Vives has been an outspoken leader in the feminist movement and has served at various levels of NOW, including chapter president, Illinois NOW Action Vice-President, National Board member, Regional Director and former Chair of NOW''s Lesbian Rights Committee. She also served on the NOW Political Action Committee.
Vives has worked on campaigns to elect women''s rights supporters to all levels of government, including the campaign that elected Carol Moseley-Braun as the first African American woman in the Senate. She also participated in efforts to block the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, based on Anita Hill''s testimony. Vives is a coalition builder, who works to expand NOW''s reach to more women of color, lesbians and young feminists.
Vives has 30 years in training, management and marketing, successfully managing 200-plus employees as the leader of a large sales organization. Before her election as a national NOW officer, Vives served as the Vice President of an Internet company that connects large corporations with smaller minority-owned and women-owned businesses.
Vives joined NOW in the early 1980s to participate in the campaign to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. She is a mother of three and now resides in Washington, D.C.
Melody Drnach, Vice President - Action
A longtime NOW member, Melody Drnach was elected Action Vice President in July 2005. She oversees the grassroots organizing efforts that are the backbone of the organization and serves as a national spokesperson for NOW on issues ranging from women''s health to peace as a feminist issue.
In 1996 Drnach relocated to Rhode Island and discovered that the state NOW organization had not been active for nearly a decade. She immediately swung into action and, with the help of national''s chapter development staff, brought RI NOW back to life. Drnach served as the interim president while reinvigorating the organization and was ultimately elected as state president. Since then, she and a powerful team of feminists have successfully established RI NOW as a political force in the state. Making connections within the community has been the key to Drnach''s organizing success.
Through Drnach''s leadership, RI NOW membership steadily grew and the number of active members increased with each new event. She helped increase NOW''s profile on campus, building interest at the college and high school level. Drnach was elected as the Northeast Regional Director in 2005 and was serving on the NOW''s board when she took national office.
Previously she served as president of the board of directors for the Women''s Resource Center, a domestic violence agency, and continues to serve on a committee to raise awareness of same-sex partner violence and to identify gaps in service for survivors. Drnach also served on the board of directors of a number of progressive groups, including: Ocean State Action, Rhode Island Stonewall Democrats and the R.I. Choice Coalition.
Professionally, Drnach worked for Brown University conducting research on women''s health issues. Prior to joining Brown, she worked on environmental protection programs for 14 years in Washington, D.C., and Rhode Island. During the 2002 Rhode Island gubernatorial election, Drnach took a leave of absence from environmental work to join the Myrth for Governor campaign as full-time staff.
Drnach enjoys spending time with family and friends and when possible, with her two nephews in California. Drnach also enjoys long romps with her two-year old Springer Spaniel "Carson," named after Rachel Carson. While free time is a rare occurrence, Drnach does try to return to Rhode Island to sail her Ensign named "Segue" on the beautiful Narragansett Bay.
Drnach currently resides in Washington, D.C.
Latifa Lyles, Vice President - Membership
A passionate young feminist activist, Latifa Lyles was elected Membership Vice President of the National Organization for Women in July 2005. Lyles took office at the age of 29, making her the group''s youngest-ever national officer. In addition to overseeing NOW''s membership and fundraising departments, Lyles serves as a national spokesperson for the group on issues ranging from reproductive rights to Social Security.
Lyles attended her first NOW rally at age 16, when she and her classmates boarded a bus in New York City and headed to the 1992 March for Women''s Lives in Washington, D.C. Since then, she has worked for women''s rights as a community and political organizer, and holds a deep commitment to economic justice and mobilizing young feminists. Most recently, Lyles worked as a professional non-profit fundraiser, specializing in membership development.
Lyles served on NOW''s National Board of Directors and was the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director before taking national office. She has served on the board''s Budget and Fundraising Committees, and was the board liaison to the National Young Feminist Task Force. Additionally, Lyles has been a local chapter activist and leader in Washington, D.C.
Before entering the public interest arena, Lyles started her career in public relations as an account executive for a dynamic women-owned public relations firm in D.C. There she organized press events and coordinated media outreach for the firm''s corporate clients.
As one of her first experiences working for the public interest, Lyles was the public policy associate and analyst for the Older Women''s League (OWL), a national grassroots organization focusing on mid-life and older women. At OWL, she did research and analysis on economic policy and other issues, including Social Security privatization and pension policy reform. She also coordinated outreach and education to young activists on the impact of Social Security "reform" for young workers and women of color.
After leaving OWL, Lyles joined the staff of NOW''s National Action Center, where she worked for four years on the fundraising team as a development planner and analyst, focusing on new-member development and direct marketing strategies. Also while at NOW, she did outreach and organizing for local and national events, as well as political campaign work, including working for the NOW/PAC on the 2000 Hillary for Senate and Carolyn McCarthy campaigns in New York.
For the last three years, Lyles headed up the membership department for the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice Foundation, the largest public interest law firm in the nation.
A native of New York City, Lyles has lived in Washington for nearly 12 years, and now lives with her fiancée in downtown D.C.
The national level of the organization is led by four elected national officers, by the national Board of Directors, and by national issues committees. National is responsible for implementing policy as formulated by the annual National Conference, coordinating national actions, and providing membership services.