NOW installs O’Grady, Warner and Desbiens

The Key West chapter of the National Organization for Women recently elected and installed three new executive officers: President Robin L. O’Grady, Vice President and Treasurer Elizabeth Warner and Secretary Betty Desbiens. This election was historic, as it was the first major change of leadership since the local chapter was founded 20 years ago.

Constance Gilbert, one of the chapter’s founding officers, was honored at the meeting for her years of leadership and service. Similarly honored were Jane Gladson, the group’s treasurer for more than a decade, and longtime supporter Cynthia Edwards. In 1996, Gilbert, along with other National NOW members John Gish, Lenny Carey and Denny Howley officially convened the Key West chapter (no doubt the only chapter in the nation to be convened by three men and a woman).

The new president, O’Grady, is a former journalist and advertising executive creative director. She currently is a brand strategist, specializing in community engagement for nonprofits. Her multimedia campaigns have earned numerous national and international awards.

Warner is a retired college professor and novelist whose books include Rock Bottom and Perdita, the Lost One. Her work, published under the name E.R. Warner, has earned the Anne McKee Literary Award, the Richard Heyman Award, and the Key West Literary Guild Award.

Desbiens is credited as a founder of the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden in the 1980s and remains active as one of the forest’s “garden guardians.” She recently was recognized by the organization for her many decades of volunteerism.

All three officers are fulltime residents of Key West and, coincidentally, all have Michigan connections as well.

Key West NOW is committed to advocating, upholding and advancing equal rights for all people. Members work to raise historical awareness about equality issues and take action to combat laws and policies that threaten equal rights. Over the past two decades, Key West NOW has spearheaded numerous annual events locally including the Roe v. Wade Anniversary March, held on Jan. 22, International Women’s Day Demonstration on March 8, and Women’s Equality Day Celebration on August 26. In addition to commemorating feminist holidays, the group participates in community events including Dr. Martin Luther King Day activities and the Pride Street Fair & Parade.

Key West NOW meets the third Friday of each month, except in July, from 5 – 6 p.m. at Shanna Key Irish Pub & Grill on Flagler Avenue. A social hour convenes afterward to discuss current events related to equality. Reach the chapter at (248) 515-5252, or P.O. Box 6324, Key West, FL 33041. Alternately, visit the group’s Key West NOW Facebook page or email kwnowinfo@gmail.com.

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