Salt Lake Wasatch Branch

About the Salt Lake Wasatch Branch

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Branch History

American Association of University Women

A History Of Wasatch Branch Of Salt Lake County, Utah
Information researched and compiled by Branch Historian and Charter Member, Carol Sawaya
in celebration of the Wasatch Branch 25th Anniversary, April 2006

Wasatch Branch of the American Association of University Women began organizing in the fall of 1980 as a need became evident for a branch that met in the evening to serve residents in the southern part of Salt Lake County. Under the guidance of Mary-Anne Fox, Division Membership Vice President, the branch was officially chartered by the Association in April of 1981 with eighteen members. Linda Bevins (La Santaella) was elected as the first President for a two-year term. The first interest group was Genealogy led by Marian Kenedy, who also printed the branch newsletter on her ditto machine complete with purple ink. Early meetings were held at Whitmore Library.

By 1984 Wasatch Branch was hosting the Utah Division Workshop under the direction of Carol Copene and Mary-Anne Fox. Interesting to note that one of the panel members for a discussion enti­ tled, “Every Women Is Political” was Olene Walker, then a Utah State.Representative. Other branch interest groups by 1984 included two book groups, dinners for eight, a computer group, stitchery and a current events discussion group. An Annual Wine and Cheese Party raised funds for Educational Foundation.

Meeting nights were changed from Thursday to Monday in 1985 and by 1986 the branch had voted to have a one year term as president instead of two. Membership by October had reached 37 and in 1987 rose to 42. Evening Bridge and Meet & Eat interest groups were added and the branch name was changed to Wasatch Branch of Salt Lake County to more specifically describe our location. Wasatch Branch also hosted a home for the Utah Heritage Foundation Home Tour in 1988 and the Utah Division Convention at Salt Lake Community College. In 1988 the branch held an essay contest for senior girls and the winner, Patti Hendricks, who is now a branch member, and her parents were guests at the May Installation dinner. The 1989 community project was the refurbishing of the visiting room of the State Social Services building including painting and toys for the children.

The 1990’s saw two branch members, Connee Gates (1992-94) and Sue Nissen (1998- 2000) serve two year terms as AAUW of Utah Presidents. Janet Bunger is currently AAUW of Utah President Elect and will serve the 2006-2008 term. Many branch members have served and are serving “· in state positions. AAUW of Utah hosted the Rocky Mountain Regional Convention in 1998 with Connee Gates, Wasatch Branch and Jeanette Misaka, Salt Lake City Branch as Local Arrangement Chairs. Connee Gates was honored as AAUW of Utah Distinguished Woman in 1999.

Into the 21st century the branch came, with on-line newsletters and web pages which saved postage and increased visibility. Beginning in the late 1990’s, the branch ran an annual Rummage Sale that continued for the next seven years, to raise funds for the AAUW Educational Foundation. In addition a Garden Extravaganza fund raiser, including a gourmet dinner was held in 2000. Wasatch Branch again hosted the State Convention at Thanksgiving Point in 2002 plus produced an information­ al video on disabilities with a grant provided by the National Organization for Disabilities (NOD). An annual three-fold brochure about the branch was published to help increase membership. The branch, in cooperation with Salt Lake Branch, manned a booth each year at the Book Festival held at Westminster College and then at the Salt Lake City Library that increased our visibility.

Meeting through the years have been held at private homes, Whitmore Library, Murray High School, an empty store front at Brickyard Plaza, Cottonwood High School, Wilkinsen Center at Cottonwood Hospital, Cottonwood Spa Board Room, Holladay Church of Christ and Cottonwood Presbyterian Church. Traditionally we have a Holiday Brunch in December and the May Installation Dinner at local restaurants.

The Branch has selected many outstanding women as nominees for AAUW of Utah’s Distinguished Woman Award. All charter members, past presidents and branch leaders have been hon­ ored with Educational Foundation named gifts. We have met the quotas for donations to the Educational Foundation and the Legal Advocacy Fund and received Branch Recognition Awards annually. Wasatch Branch has supported our state Sister to Sister programs, including the current AWE+SUM program, and the biennial AAUW Utah Women Artists’ Exhibition.

Still active in the branch are charter members: Carolyn Bailey, who suggested the name “Wasatch.” Leona Blackbird who has served in many capacities especially with interest groups. Mary­ Anne Fox, who served as first president before the charter. Marian Kenedy. who was instrumental in writing the original branch bylaws and policies. Carol Sawaya, who serves as branch historian, web manager and AAUW of Utah Co-Program VP.
There are presently 65 branch members and usually about two-thirds of those attend monthly gen­eral meetings. Seven branch members now serve on the AAUW of Utah Board of Directors.


Salt Lake Wasatch Branch: On July 1, 2023, the Wasatch Branch and the Salt Lake City Branches consolidated to form the Salt Lake Wasatch Branch in to pursue our goals more effectively. The histories of the Wasatch and Salt Lake City Branches are outlined below. We are grateful for the achievements of both branches throughout the years and intend to build on their work to continue our pursuit of equity and opportunity for women and girls in the Salt Lake City area, the state of Utah, and through the AAUW national organization.

Early Branch History: click here.

Salt Lake Wasatch Programs for 2023

Meeting dates and locations vary

Our meetings are held the first Thursday of the month in September, October, February, and May. At 11:00 AM. Special Events in Oct/November, December, January, March, April, and August are held on different dates and places. See our newsletter for more information.

September 7, 2023 11 AM, Holladay City Hall
Gay Cunningham will facilitate a Visioning session to help us formulate our long and short term goals.

October 5, 2023 11AM Holladay City Hall
Program TBD

December 2 or December 9 is our annual Red Candle Holiday Lunch.
See our October newsletter for more details.


AAUW is a community of more than 170,000 people standing strong for gender equity. Your membership makes our powerful voice even louder on critical issues affecting women and girls. Your membership in the State and local branch or branches extends that voice to our critical state and local issues.

We encourage you to join the National Organization, Utah State Organization, and one or more Utah Branches. You can pay by credit card or bank transfer.

Please see our Membership page for more details.

Branch Interest Groups

Monthly Evening Book Group 
Meets 1st Wednesday at 6:30 pm. Email for book, date, and location: Yvonne Merrill – [email protected]

Meets the first Monday at 7:00 PM, currently via Zoom
Contact Leona Blackbird [email protected] for information on location and/or zoom link and book choice

Meets on the first Thursday at 1:00 PM currently via Zoom
Contact Jane Cooper at [email protected] or 801-571-2350 for information on location and/or zoom link and book choice.

We are currently on hiatus but may resume in the spring.
Contact Julie Endres [email protected] or 206-902-8007 if you would be interested in a discussion on zoom with like-minded people researching their ancestors.
Our normal meeting time has been the third Wednesday in the morning or by agreement with the members.
Please look at our Wasatch Branch Newsletter for other events and details about our interest groups.