For Marilyn McLeod, it’s never been about politics. A retired librarian, McLeod hasn’t worked for one particular political campaign. But she’s long been a staunch supporter of education and advocate that varied but accurate information is paramount for democracy.
McLeod was elected the new president of the League of Women Voters of Missouri (LWVMO) last month after being involved with the nonpartisan organization for nearly four decades. Her priorities for the group include increasing accessibility to voting and ensuring a fair and transparent redistricting process.
“We actually have a rather restricted election system,” McLeod told The Missouri Times in an interview, noting Missouri has limited options for early or absentee voting. “We saw that mail-in voting was very successful during the pandemic. We want to encourage more responsive election laws so more people will vote.”
Arguing that not enough people vote, McLeod said she would like to see more accessibility for those who are eligible to cast ballots as well as increased availability of trustworthy information about candidates or ballot measures.
“The goal has always been to get good information. As a citizen, you should be careful with your vote and make sure you don’t wait until the last minute” to research the issues at stake on the ballot, she said.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, McLeod has lived in Columbia since 1979. She is a retired librarian and manager at the Daniel Boon Regional Library in Columbia and draws parallels between her work with the LWVMO and her career.
“The two kind of crossed in a good way — they kind of meet in the same place where the importance of democracy is critical and good information is critical,” McLeod said.
She is an alumna of New York University and received an M.L.S. from the University of Missouri. She also served as the executive director of the Missouri Library Association.
McLeod has long been involved with the LWVMO, including serving as the president of the Columbia-Boone County chapter. She’s also served as a board member, secretary, treasurer, and vice president.
“I wonder if the women who started the League would have believed that 100 years later there would still be work to be done,” McLeod said during the LWVMO convention where she was selected as the next president. “There are still issues from that time that persist today. Think equal pay for equal work or the study that we’re going to do on paid leave.”
Aside from McLeod, other new LWVMO officers include Louise Wilkerson as vice president, Kathleen Boswell as secretary, and Diane Suhler as treasurer. Joan Hubbard, Anne Sappington, Catherine Stenger, Jill Smull, and Julie Steiger joined the board.
The LWVMO was established in October 1919 with the first local chapters popping up in Columbia and St. Louis. McLeod replaced outgoing president Evelyn Maddox.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn was the editor in chief of The Missouri Times from 2020-2022. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at email@example.com.