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As progressives, we believe that a robust democratic society committed to advancing freedom, equality, and justice is the result of the combined efforts of individuals, the government, and public and private sector organizations. We know that when thoughtful individuals look beyond narrow self-interest and work together, they can develop effective public remedies to societal challenges. And we believe that protecting and promoting human freedom and flourishing requires innovative solutions that come from both public and private sector entities.

Unless women are
prepared to fight politically, they must be content to be ignored politically.”

– Alice Paul, 1920

We are committed to individual freedom and to an ethic of mutual responsibility, and we support continued and enhanced constitutional protections for individual choices as well as ongoing social and political promotion of the public good. We oppose efforts to privatize our shared responsibilities and believe in the ability of government to advance the civil rights and well-being of all. We value a society that is diverse and inclusive, that protects and promotes individual autonomy, and that provides the systems necessary for all individuals to have the opportunity to realize their potential.  


2024 PWA Board of Directors

Karla Amaya-Leone

Shayna Haynes Heard
Anne Hiskes

Kirsten Holz
Sondra Loucks Wilson
Jodi Michaels

Kelli Langan Pifster

Amanda Sterling
Bridget M. White

Sherrie Willson
Ellyn Wolfson
Karen Ziv

Image by Element5 Digital


In the fall of 2003, a group of West Michigan women who were motivated to respond to the lack of progressive candidates and policies in the area formed the Progressive Women’s Alliance of West Michigan (PWA). These women combined their considerable experience with political fundraising and organizing civic activities to establish West Michigan’s first and only women-led, non-partisan, independent, and multi-issue political action committee (PAC) dedicated to progressive issues. Their goal was to impact elections through fundraising and educational programming while increasing women’s political leadership in electoral politics, women donating. 

Since the time of its founding, PWA has raised significant funds, endorsed candidates at all levels of government, and offered educational programming in accordance with our commitment to progressive political values. The results have been impressive. 

We are grateful to our founders whose vision to create a unique, independent and progressive organization has continued sustained us: Christine Albertini, Micki Benz, Joan Bowman, Sharon Handy, Phyllis Hooyman, Kathy Humphrey, Helga Kleinschmidt, Deb Mankoff, Noreen Myers, Kate Pew Wolters, Bette Sebastian, Cindy Sharp, Meg Sorenson, and Melvene Tardy. ​

PWA has helped elect and re-elect female office holders including:

  • Michigan’s first woman senator, Debbie Stabenow

  • Michigan’s first woman governor, Jennifer Granholm 

  • Grand Rapids’ first woman mayor, Rosalynn Bliss

  • District 76’s first woman state representative, Winnie Brinks  


PWA has provided innovative and compelling educational programs featuring respected individuals with national reputations, including:

  • Lynn Sweet, Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times 

  • Richard Holbrooke, former U.N. Ambassador

  • Kerry Eleveld, LGBT journalist and activist

  • Ellen Malcolm, co-founder of Emily’s List

  • Deepa Iyer, award-winning author of We Too Sing America

Influencing West Michigan Politics Since 2003

Impact & Influence


In order to realize our mission of promoting progressive candidates and advocating for a progressive political agenda, the Progressive Women's Alliance is organized under Michigan law as a nonpartisan "Independent Committee" and under federal law as a nonpartisan "Non-Connected Political Committee." 


These forms of political action committees (PACs) allow our organization to solicit unlimited donations from individuals and to use those funds to influence campaigns for public office. Additionally, they allow us to make donations to oppose or support ballot proposals. Although the amounts we can donate are limited by state and federal laws, as an organization we are allowed to make much larger contributions than we could as individuals, and, as a result, have greater impact on elections and public policy. 


We are not allowed to accept contributions from corporations, joint stock companies, labor unions or unincorporated membership organizations. Donations to our organization are not tax-deductible and, like all similarly organized PACs, we must comply with state and federal election requirements for reporting expenses and contributions.

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