True Grinnellian: Terese Grant

League of Women's Voters - Sarah Ruiz

Photo by Sarah Ruiz. Terese Grant has taught French in three different countries and now heads the League of Women Voters.

Keli Vitaioli

vitaioli@grinnell.edu

With experience teaching French in New Jersey, Ukraine and China, it takes a true Iowan to return to the cornfields. Terese Grant has done just that. She is a chair of the United Church of Christ outreach board, a member of various women’s organizations and the current co-president of the Grinnell chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV).

Grant considers Iowa her home and loves the community which Grinnell boasts. She moved to Grinnell in 1988 with her husband, Warren. Grant taught at Grinnell High School from 1988 until her retirement in 2008 but has taught around the globe.

“Once I retired, my husband and I taught for two years in China. Then we taught for a year in Kiev, Ukraine,” Grant said.  “It doesn’t matter whether you’re in Iowa, New Jersey, Kiev or China, students are students everywhere.”

Grant joined the LWV in 2008 having always had a passion for current events.

“[I] became interested in the LWV after attending some of the Legislative Coffees. I’m really interested in and have always been interested in issues,” Grant said. “I’m an NPR junkie—I listen to it all day. Seeing what [LWV] was doing made me think: I want to be involved in this.”

The Grinnell branch of the LWV began in 1923. Originally, the League was designed for women to inform them of their political power. In 1973, LWV opened to men and aims to support all voters. 

The League holds events for members to discuss policy such as plans to combat gun control or methods for supplying clean water. Legislative Coffees are hosted February through April to examine the issues and introduce voters to state representatives. There are larger forums on issues, such as this year’s domestic violence forum coming up in February.

With two women, Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton, currently in the running for president, Grant sees this election as a step for the advancement of women in politics. She remembers when you would not see women working in now commonplace roles like doctors and she is amazed at the traction women have gained in the political sphere. Grant and the organization welcome involvement in the LWV from Grinnell students and she stresses the importance of being politically aware and involved.

“You have to be educated,” Grant said. “Whether that is reading newspapers, listening to the radio or going to the forums when the candidates are local. You have to be careful where you get your news. You need an unbiased source with facts, not opinions.”

As the election picks up momentum, Grant sees the LWV as a resource to voters—from registering to becoming informed on the candidates using their website: www.vote411.org. The organization is nonpartisan and does not support one candidate, it merely informs.

“I think [the] League plays an important role locally and nationally in educating and promoting democracy at all levels,” Grant said. “It feels good to be doing something like this and get the satisfaction of knowing I’m doing something to help others.”