The Democratic Women of Monterey County (DWMC) has interesting roots. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Carmel residents Barbara Livingston and Melanie Billig attended a fundraiser honoring Teresa Heinz Kerry, and at the event met several other Democratic women unknown to them as local Democratic activists. Sensing an opportunity to bring these and other like-minded women together, Livingston and Billig formed the Carmel Area Democratic Women’s Luncheon Club, welcoming women activists, Democratic friends and new Democratic women converts.
The founders’ mission was four-fold:
1. Involve local Democratic women in relevant, timely matters consistent with Democratic values while promoting camaraderie. That led to launching a monthly luncheon series – more than 100 so far – where Democratic women could socialize, network and engage with each other on women's issues, politics, health, education, the environment, public art and foreign policy.
2. Create an action-oriented group of qualified women to run for elected office.
3. Collaborate with the Democratic Party of Monterey County on campaigns and local issues.
4. Identify and elect a board of directors to oversee the above initiatives and establish bylaws for the organization.
The founding board held office from 2004 through 2008, successfully leading local campaigns to elect Barack Obama as President. In 2009, the baton was passed to then-incoming President Priscilla Walton and then-VP Mary Ann Teed. In 2011, the organization was rebranded as the Democratic Women of Monterey County to more accurately reflect the broad membership that stretches from Monterey to Salinas, Marina, Seaside, Carmel Valley, Salinas, Greenfield and Soledad.
Over the years, the DWMC has continued to evolve and expand, attracting many prominent local, state and national speakers to address the membership. Now nearly 200 members strong, the group holds ten speaker and panel events each year, as well as its annual signature sustainability fundraiser. Speakers have included now-U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, former Secretary of State Debra Bowen, California State Controller Betty Yee and former California Superintendent of Public Schools (now gubernatorial candidate) Delaine Eastin. Other events have focused on such crucial issues as race and gender, affordable housing and women and the judiciary. Additionally, the group mobilizes members via social media with action alerts and news about like-minded local organizations.
DWMC continues to regularly present officials including Mary Adams, Anna Caballero, John Laird, Bill Monning, Jimmy Panetta, Jane Parker and Mark Stone, who keep the DWMC current on a wide range of political issues.
DWMC’s current focus is on electing more women to office; broadening women’s strength throughout the county, state and nation; and addressing pressing women’s issues of income inequality, healthcare and reproductive justice.