Despite the “march fatigue” you might be feeling after three long Trumpian years, you really should attend the fourth annual Women’s March this Saturday, Jan. 18, which leaves at 11 a.m. from the Reno City Plaza. Organizers wisely changed the path of this year’s March. It now ends indoors at the Reno Events Center where there will be speeches, entertainment, information booths from local organizations, food and—most importantly—heat. Previous marches had a full array of great speakers but few could withstand the winter cold long enough to hear them.
The annual March is certainly an opportunity to let our rogue President know he does not have our support as he wages war and damages our country and, indeed, the world. But the Women’s March is also a time to celebrate women and, in particular, Nevada’s women.
In that spirit, this week we recognize Nevada’s activist women who have been leading progressive change in our state for decades. And one need look no further than the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), which just celebrated its 25th anniversary, to find strong and inspiring women dedicated to changing our community.
PLAN was initially funded by the legendary Maya Miller, who led an unparalleled life as a peace activist, delivering infant formula and medical supplies in Iraq and traveling to Nicaragua to help prevent U.S. invasion and intervention. She also broke gender barriers, running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 1974 when there were no women serving in that body. Kit Miller, her daughter and an activist and philanthropist herself, described her mother as “an outside agitator fighting the powers that be.” To many Nevada women, Maya was also a mentor and an inspiration.
PLAN has always attracted strong women unafraid of hard work and not all that concerned about getting credit for its success. In the early years, those women included stalwarts like Jan Gilbert, Pilar Weiss, Abby Johnson, Nancy Hart, Janet Serial, Emma Sepulveda, Yvanna Cancela, Bree Carlson and Rosa Molina. Barbara Buckley wrote and signed PLAN’s articles of incorporation.
In more recent years, younger leaders have emerged, like Raquel Cruz-Juarez, Erika Washington, Erika Castro, Amanda Khan, Leslie Turner, Christine Saunders and Beverly Harry. PLAN is led now by Executive Director Laura Martin, who is firmly committed to leadership from communities most affected by poverty, discrimination and injustice.
It makes sense that women have played such a dynamic and outsized role during PLAN’s 25 years of organizing for change. PLAN’s mission isn’t driven by a political party or group of insiders but is focused on building a Nevada that values everyone. PLAN has been unafraid to challenge corporate power structures that contribute to income inequality and underfunded social services.
PLAN works on community justice concerns, such as ending cash bail and decriminalizing traffic tickets. They’ve taken on immigration issues, helping to found the Nevada Immigrant Coalition to fight for proactive legislation while stopping anti-immigrant laws. PLAN supports higher wages for workers, reproductive justice and a health care system that doesn’t depend on your job or how much money you have. They are one of the few voices advocating for environmental justice, calling out the mining industry for its rapacious conduct.
PLAN advocates for racial and gender justice in all its work, understanding the intersection of misogyny and racism with public policy that doesn’t support women or people of color. Their civic engagement activities are a core element of ensuring an equal partnership in democracy for everyone.
The theme of Saturday’s march is “When Women Thrive, We All Thrive.” Women have made the difference at PLAN and at many other organizations in Nevada. The least we can do is show up on Saturday and thank them.