We Are Mary Ann’s List
The 2016 presidential election was a disappointment, but it didn’t foster apathy, it brought us closer together to push for change. It inspired a wave of activism and engagement from women across this country to push for more women in politics.
This organization was founded by a group of young politically active Delaware women who are unwavering in their determination to cultivate talented female political leaders in Delaware.
Inspired by Delaware suffragettes Mary Ann Shadd Cary and Mary Ann Sorden Stuart, Mary Ann’s List was born. Though they did not live long enough to cast a ballot, these trailblazers paved the way for women’s rights and equality in Delaware, and beyond.
Born in Wilmington to a young African American couple working as leaders on the Underground Railroad, Mary Ann Shadd Cary was inspired to make a difference in her community. She was a teacher and a pioneering female news editor, and she graduated law school well ahead of her time. Ultimately, she joined the National Women’s Suffrage Association alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.
A native of Greenwood, Delaware, Mary Ann Sorden Stuart organized Delaware’s suffrage movement in the wake of the Civil War. She persistently lobbied the state legislature for women’s equality, first for property and earnings rights and later for women’s suffrage. In 1869, she organized the state’s first convention for Women’s Suffrage in Wilmington.
Their stories, their vision for a more equal Delaware motivate us to build coalitions and recruit pro-choice Democratic women to run for state and local office in the First State.
Mary Ann’s List believes in bodily-autonomy, the ability for a woman to choose her own path with regards to reproductive rights and health care. This includes the right to an abortion, but also spans to the right to affordable and accessible healthcare. It is important to eliminate restrictions of medical abortions, while also pushing for better, more attainable healthcare throughout the state.
Helping families live successfully is of the utmost importance to Mary Ann’s List. This begins with Paid Family Leave when a child is born or adopted, and requires affordable child care options for parents, particularly in the case of single parents.
Mary Ann’s List recognizes many of the struggles women have throughout the workplace. Some of these problems include dominating low wage work that are mainly paid through tips-minimum wage or absurd hours from shift work. These conditions make providing for a family extremely difficult, and leads moms to have to choose between their children and their work. Mary Ann’s List also recognizes this wage gap disproportionately affects women of color and women in poverty. Therefore, we must work to help make Delaware a place where women thrive in the workforce, alleviating some of these socio-economic issues.
Sexual harassment and assault are rampant problems throughout the country. While national movements have begun, such as #MeToo or Take Back The Night, Mary Ann’s List wants to see change occur specifically in Delaware. We support policy advances across the board, ranging from university campuses to workplace behavior. This includes training for bystander intervention, removing non-disclosure agreements, and teaching affirmative consent. Mary Ann’s List believes in seeing national change begin in Delaware; therefore, it is essential to have push for broad-scale changes in the treatment of sexual harassment and assault.
The public education system is a major concern for the state of Delaware. We look for candidates who want to help reform the problematic systems in place. This means strengthening comprehensive and mandatory sex education, while also enforcing more equitable treatment of students. We are focused on revamping the structure in public schools throughout the state in order to create a more equitable educational experiences for students, particularly for girls.
Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester
In 2016, Lisa Blunt Rochester made history as the first woman and first person of color elected to Congress from Delaware. Her recruitment to run for that office served as inspiration to create Mary Ann’s List.
She has served Delaware as the Secretary of Labor and State Personnel Director. Lisa was CEO of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, an important organization focused on empowering people of color. Lisa is known for her high energy, focus and empathy while representing the first state in Washington.
The Late Sonia Schorr Sloan
Sonia Schorr Sloan is a native Delawarean and a graduate of Wilmington High School. She graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University with a B.S. in Microbiology, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She holds a Master of Science degree from Jefferson Medical College and was the first woman to receive a degree from that institution. She was the first woman on the research staff of DuPont’s Central Research Department.
She has served on countless boards including the founding Boards of the Public Allies, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Agenda for Delaware Women and the Delaware Financial Literacy Institute. She was President of Planned Parenthood of Delaware and of the Delaware Women’s Conference and was a member of the Delaware Community Foundation’s Development Committee.
She is a member of the Delaware Women’s Hall of Fame. She is well known for her political acumen and dedication to important social justice causes.
Sonia passed away in October 2019. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Gilbert J. Sloan, two sons, five granddaughters and five great grandchildren. She is missed dearly by Mary Ann’s List.
Meghan Wallace, Board Chair
Meghan Wallace is the co-founder of Mary Ann’s List and the current Board Chair. Meghan grew up in Wilmington, Delaware and as the oldest of four sisters, she has 30 years experience working with bossy women leaders. She’s an alumnus of the University of Delaware where she worked as a victim advocate for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence and graduated with a degree in Women’s Studies and Political Science — and learned “the personal is political.” Meghan has worked as a legislative aide in the Delaware Legislature, a policy advisor to Governor Markell and as an advisor to the Secretary in the Delaware Department of Education. She’s currently flexing her entrepreneurial muscles and working to grow a start-up focused on collective impact to support social change work. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, Jarred Keena, and they live with their 4-year old son, and 9-year old daughter, in Wilmington, Delaware
As former president of the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association and current active member, Shaku has blazed the path forward for women in the legal field. Her current legal work is focused on personal injury, and workers’ compensation law, but she is also a strong community advocate fighting for access to justice and the courts to LGBTQ and women’s rights. She has served as president of the board of YWCA, fighting to empower women and girls and has also advocated down in Dover for LGBTQ rights and anti-discrimination legislation. Shaku has also served on the board of ACLU Delaware.
A relative newcomer to DE, Lucy Comstock-Gay is a retired non-profit fundraiser and strategic planner who lives in Wilmington. When she is not working part-time with graduate student recruitment at the University of Delaware, she is actively engaged with local political and community organizing activities including leading the Highlands Indivisible Group. She loves movies, daily walks with her dog, and spending time with her husband and family.
For over 30 years, Lynne Howard has served in a leadership capacity in the government and non-profit sectors in Delaware. Her professional career in government included: Advisor on Family Issues for Governor Tom Carper; Chief of Staff of Wilmington City Council; Deputy Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer for County Executive Chris Coons. She also served the non-profit sector as Executive Director of the Delaware Association of Rehabilitation Facilities. Lynne is recently retired as the Chief Executive Officer of Lynne Howard Consulting LLC, a private firm.
Lynne is a graduate of Spelman College and the George Washington University. She is a member of the McLaughlin Education Fund, the Delaware Judicial Nominating Commission, the Governor’s Early Education and the Economy Commission, the Wilmington University Government and Public Policy Program Advisory Board, the Wilmington HOPE Commission, the Advisory Council for the Mitchell Center for African American Heritage at the Delaware Historical Society, the Coalition for 100 Black Women Delaware Chapter, the Fund for Women and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Lynne is a recipient of the Order of the First State and the Gerald E. Kandler Award from the ACLU-DE for Outstanding Leadership in the Cause of Civil Liberties.
Mona A. Parikh, Esq., is an Adjunct Professor and the Tech Community Liaison for The Horn Program in Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware, and is the Managing Director of Start It Up Delaware. She is also a co-instructor and mentor for the Delaware Startup Launchpad accelerator, and is the lead organizer of the Delaware Tech Meetup, which took home the award for 2016’s Tech Meetup of the Year. Mona coaches and mentors dozens of startup companies, is the lead organizer for Startup Weekend Delaware, and is frequently asked to serve as a judge and/or mentor at various startup competitions throughout the state. Mona was a member of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Committee created by New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, and Governor John Carney’s public-private partnership working group. Mona serves on the boards of the Charter School of Wilmington and Downtown Visions. Prior to her startup life, Mona practiced corporate restructuring at two prominent Wilmington law firms, and frequently refers to herself as “a recovering attorney.”
Healthcare has shaped Kent County resident Louie’s career. She began her foray into healthcare as a dietetics tray girl at Kent General Hospital, ultimately retiring as the Senior Director of Operations for the Cardiovascular Service Line at Bayhealth Medical Center. Giving back to the community, she serves as the current vice-chair of the Delaware Fund for Women, co-chair of the Delaware Advocacy Committee of the American Heart Association, member of the Planned Parenthood of Delaware Board of Directors and Southern Delaware Mentor Coordinator for the Fresh Start Scholarship foundation.
In the 2018 election, Louie harnessed that passion for making a difference and ran against longtime incumbent Senator Colin Bonini. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge, giving back to women in politics, and cultivating a network of talented women in Kent County. She lives in Dover with her husband Jerry Fritts and Labradoodle’s Franky and Jax.
Sarah Wootten is a lifelong Delawarean and currently serves as the Policy Director for the Majority Caucus of the Delaware House of Representatives. In her efforts to support the Majority Caucus, Sarah has worked extensively on women’s issues, criminal justice reform, juvenile justice reform, and child welfare policy. Sarah began her career in public service after graduating with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Delaware in 2002, when she was hired to work in the Office of Governor Ruth Ann Minner. She also worked for the Delaware General Assembly, first as a legislative aid in the House of Representatives and was later promoted to legislative analyst for the Joint Sunset Committee before moving to her current position. Sarah is a founding board member of The Next Generation of Southern Delaware of the Delaware Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization comprised of young professionals living and working in Kent and Sussex Counties. Sarah has also served as an executive committee member of two parent teacher organizations for the Laurel School District beginning in 2015. In 2017, Sarah began serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster kids in Delaware.
Lauren CW Vella, Director
Lauren is passionate about recruiting and electing more pro-choice Democratic women to political office in Delaware and is the co-founder of Mary Ann’s List.
A graduate of the University of Delaware with an Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, she is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at University of Pennsylvania. She got involved in Delaware politics as an intern for now Governor John Carney’s congressional campaign and then as an intern in Senator Thomas Carper’s state office. She served the Delaware House of Representatives for seven years helping to craft public policy.
She lives in the city of Wilmington with her husband Michael where she is actively involved in the Delaware Democratic Party. In 2016, she joined the Delaware delegation to the DNC in Philadelphia celebrating the nomination of the first women to be on the Presidential ballot as a major party candidate in American history.