Global Security Forum to Bring Leading Diplomats, Experts to Connecticut

Global Security Forum to Bring Leading Diplomats, Experts to Connecticut

Global security is rarely a simple subject.  But one can reasonably argue that it hasn’t been as contentious and controversial a topic as it is in 2019 for quite some time.  Next month, that conversation arrives in Hartford, with a strong contingent of leaders on the world stage prepared to share their expertise and views on future prospects.

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New Haven Free Public Library is Finalist for Prestigious National Award

The New Haven Free Public Library (NHFPL) is among the 30 finalists nationwide for the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, presented by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to their communities. For 25 years, the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service and are making a difference for individuals, families, and communities.

“The 30 National Medal finalists showcase the tremendous ability of libraries and museums to serve as vital community resources,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “The Institute of Museum and Library Services is honored to recognize these leading institutions. We congratulate them on the work they are doing across the United States.”

The New Haven Free Public Library welcomes more than 500,000 library users through its doors each year, realizing its mission of fostering lifelong learning, inspiring curiosity, and building community through shared access to resources, experiences, and opportunities for all. Open to all, the New Haven Free Public Library is described as a “community pillar of learning, exploration and inspiration.”

“We are honored that the New Haven Free Public Library is a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, and appreciate the inaugural nomination by U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy,” said City Librarian Martha Brogan. “We proudly share this nomination as recognition of our home, the community and the City of New Haven.”

“I nominated the New Haven Free Public Library for this award because of their unmatched commitment to serving the New Haven community. NHFPL has gone above and beyond to offer innovative 21st Century programming to fit the diverse needs of New Haven residents. I’m so excited the IMLS is recognizing and celebrating their great work,” said Murphy.

Finalists are chosen because of their significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Each year, five museums and five libraries are awarded for their exceptional contributions to their communities. Representatives from winning institutions will be honored for their extraordinary contributions at the National Medal Ceremony on June 12 in Washington, D.C. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums.

Brogan added: “Our application emphasized the civic-minded fighting spirit of our founders which continues to this day, our training with EXCITE Transformation for Libraries – originally funded by IMLS in a grant to the CT State Library – and our new Strategic Framework, along with highlights of a few of our exemplary programs and partnerships including READy for the Grade, Long Wharf Theatre, and Ives Squared anchor role in the Elm City Innovation Collaborative.”

IMLS is encouraging community members who have visited the New Haven Free Public Library to share their story on social media. To #ShareYourStory, please visit  or  and use #IMLSmedals and #myNHFPLstory.

Wesleyan Grad, Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to Seek Presidency

John Hickenlooper, a former two-term Governor of Colorado, Mayor of Denver and 1974 graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, is the latest Democrat to announce he will be seeking the party’s presidential nomination in the 2020 election cycle. Hickenlooper, 67, is expected to point to his eight years governing Colorado, a modern-day political swing state with an electorate nearly evenly divided among registered Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters, the Denver Post reported this week.

In addition to leading the state during an explosive economic expansion following the Great Recession, Hickenlooper nudged the state to the left, the Post reported. By the time his second term ended in January, he had expanded the state’s Medicaid program, signed comprehensive gun-control legislation and helped establish civil unions for same-sex couples prior to the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing marriage equality.

“I’m running for president because we’re facing a crisis that threatens everything we stand for,” Hickenlooper says in a taped announcement, promising to “repair the damage done to our country and be stronger than ever.”  He will kick-off his campaign at a rally Thursday in Denver.

Hickenlooper graduated from Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in geology. He began his career as a geologist and later opened a series of restaurants and brewpubs across the country, including the Wynkoop Brewing Co. in downtown Denver, which helped spark the revitalization of the city’s now-thriving Lower Downtown (“LoDo”) district.  He served as the mayor of Denver from 2003 to 2011.

Hickenlooper delivered the commencement address at Wesleyan in 2010, where he said “Frankness impels me to say that my Wesleyan undergraduate career was notable, which is not to say distinguished. I came to Wesleyan as a slightly dyslexic extrovert with attention deficit disorders. And don’t you think that’s a particularly cruel irony – that the slowest readers could also have the short attention spans?”

On a more serious note, he explained that “in spite of the fact that my degrees are in English and geology – what I learned at Wesleyan was how to be an entrepreneur. The essence of entrepreneurship is not just the economic bottom-line so much as it is an exploration of innovation and creativity.

It’s the creative spark that has always interested me most, because there is such joy and satisfaction in the process of creating something that works, that fills a need, building something where nothing existed before, adding value to people’s lives so that their creative energies can also flourish.”

Reflecting on his time as Mayor, he said “I like to refer to myself, because the word ‘politician’ is still somewhat tainted despite our efforts, as an entrepreneur on loan to Public Service.”

Hickenlooper described a start-up as “the single best learning process in American enterprise. When you build something from scratch, you acquire a depth of understanding that no ‘professional,’ no management expert can match. There are few better ways to learn about yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses, than in beginning and building something, an enterprise. It is a wonderful mirror.”

“Entrepreneurship,’ he added, “is all about innovation, re-invention, adaptation and perseverance.”

A past chair of the National Governor’s Association, he was guest on the weekly podcast hosted by the leaders of Middletown-based Community Health Center a year ago, discussing how expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act has improved access to health care in his state, how embedding behavioral health in primary care is improving outcomes, lessons learned from the state’s marijuana legalization, and how the opioid crisis was being combated in Colorado.

His Wesleyan commencement address at the start of this decade included this description of his years as Mayor:  “We challenged the status quo that government can’t work. We were transparent and accountable. We sought talent, without regard to politics, whether someone was Republican or Democrat. We weren’t bi-partisan, we were non-partisan. Every good restaurateur learns early that there’s no margin, there’s no profit in having enemies. You need everyone. We were always about solving problems, and you can’t solve problems with only half the people.”


Connecticut Hall of Fame Inductions Seem to Have Ended

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  More than a decade ago, in 2005, a committee of legislators successfully urged the state legislature to establish the Connecticut Hall of Fame, to be featured in the Legislative Office Building (LOB) in Hartford. In announcing the proposal, they explained “the hall of fame is designed to recognize those individuals from Connecticut who have distinguished themselves in their professions, nationally or internationally. It will also have an education function because of the great number of students who visit the Capitol and LOB annually.”  It was even specified that the lettering of the names of inductees “will be in brass.”

The first class of inductees, in February 2007, were Mark Twain, Igor Sikorsky and Katharine Hepburn, their names affixed to the wall of the second floor atrium in the LOB.  It marked a successful launch, after being “in the planning stages for four years,” according to an announcement at the time.

The legislators driving the initiative were then-Senators Joseph Crisco (D-Woodbridge) and John McKinney (R-Fairfield) and then-Representatives Elizabeth “Betty” Boukus (D-Plainville), and Michael Caron (R-Danielson).  Today, all no longer hold legislative seats.  When it began, it was said that “Funding for the Connecticut Hall of Fame is expected to come from corporate contributions, grants, and contributions from individuals, foundations and, potentially, appropriate state agencies.”

The Hall has slowly fallen from the legislative radar screen. A brochure about the Hall of Fame indicates that “Each year the committee reviews the applications of many nominees and refers their selection to the Legislative Leaders for approval. An awards ceremony, ‘Connecticut Hall of Fame Day,’ is held to honor those inducted.”  Not lately.

Induction ceremonies were held in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, but only in three years since – 2013, 2014 and 2016.  In 2008, the committee reviewed the applications of 30 nominees.  No ceremonies have been held, however, in three of the past four years, and none appear to be on the immediate horizon.  Officials indicate that the “committee” currently is without leaders.

In 2009, the committee included Rep. Themis Klarides, now the House Republican leader. In a news release that year, she saluted one of the inductees:  “Paul Newman’s story is a truly American story and Connecticut can be proud he called our state home,” said Representative Klarides. “Mr. Newman is known widely for his distinguished film and Broadway career, but his service to our nation in WWII and his life-long philanthropic dedication further make him uniquely worthy of addition to the Connecticut Hall of Fame.”

Most recently, in 2017, the co-chairs were then-Sen. Anthony Guglielmo and Rep. Terrie Wood, along with then-Rep. Matt Lesser, now a State Senator.

Among the inductees are UConn’s Geno Auriemma and Jim Calhoun, along with historic figures Noah Webster, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Roger Sherman, Nathan Hale, Henry Burbeck, Helen Keller, Horace Wells, Marian Anderson, Harry Gray, Jackie Robinson and Ralph Sturges, longtime leader of the Mohegan Tribe.

The inductees also Judge Constance Baker Motley; composer and musician David Brubeck; architect Frederick Law Olmsted; aviation pioneer Frederick Rentschler; composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim; actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, and actress Meryl Streep.  Also having their names added to the roster of inductees on a second-floor wall of the Legislative Office Building are Judge John T. Downey; American inventor and businessman Alfred Carlton Gilbert; artist Deane Keller and undersea explorer Robert Ballard.

Whether the Connecticut Hall of Fame will see additional inductees this year, or in future years, remains uncertain. Information on the Hall can be seen at

One-Third of Connecticut Legislators are Women, Reversing State Trend, Ranking 14th in U.S.

As the new Connecticut legislative session gets underway, 33.5 percent of lawmakers are women, the 14th highest percentage among the states.  The Connecticut legislature now includes 61 women, apparently the high water mark in state history, and exceeding the national average among the states of 28.5 percent. In the Senate, there are currently 9 women out of 33 members.  Eight of the nine are Democrats.  In the House, which currently has 149 members, 29 are Democrats and 22 are Republicans.

Connecticut’s 33.5 percent is from 182 seats, with five vacancies to be filled in special elections on February 26.  Candidates for those seats have not all been selected.

The ranks of women dropped by two in the Senate between Election Day and Opening Day of the legislative session, with former Senators Terry Gerratana of New Britain and Beth Bye of West Hartford accepting positions in the Lamont Administration and not taking the oath of office for a new legislative term.  Two male House members and a male Senate member also did not take their oaths of office in order to join the administration.

Nearly one-third of the women in the legislature this year - 20 of the 61 female legislators - are in their first term in the General Assembly.  Last year, women represented just over 27 percent of the legislature’s membership.

The 2018 election marked a slight comeback for Connecticut in terms of female representation.

Prior to this year, the state had fallen from ranking 8th to 19th during the past decade in the percentage of women serving in the legislature, with the percentage dropping from 31.6% as recently as 2009, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Connecticut’s 2009 legislature included 59 women, 31.6 percent of the membership, the 8th highest percentage among the states. In 2011, there were 56 women, 29.9 percent.

For their 2019 legislative sessions, the states with the largest contingent of female legislators are Nevada 50.8%, Colorado 47%, Oregon 41.1%, Washington 40.1%, Vermont 39.4%, Arizona 38.9%, Alaska 38.3%, Maine 38.2%, Maryland 37.8%, Rhode Island 37.2%, Illinois 36.2%, Michigan 35.8% and New Mexico 34.8%.  As with Connecticut, the numbers in other states may vary slightly due to resignations or elected legislators opting not to serve.

Nationally, women hold 2,110 of 7,383 state legislative seats.  Democrats hold more than twice as many – 1,430 Democrats and 663 Republicans. That is an increase of more than 300 Democratic women and a drop of about 40 Republican women in state legislatures across the country compared with 2017, according to NCSL data.


CT Voter Turnout Appears Highest for a Gubernatorial Race Since 1990

In the early 1990’s, voter turnout in Connecticut’s gubernatorial elections reached 68.2 percent in 1990 and 65.1 percent in 1994.  Turnout hasn’t reached that high level in the state’s quadrennial gubernatorial elections since – until Tuesday. The Office of Secretary of the State is reporting, as of Wednesday night, that statewide voter turnout was 66.9 percent.  If that turnout percentage stands, it would be the highest turnout in a race for Governor in nearly three decades, since 1990.

The strong turnout percentage this year is underscored by the fact that the number of registered voters is considerably larger.  As of Nov. 2 – not including those individuals who registered and voted on Election Day – the number of registered voters in Connecticut was 2,165,045, according to the Office of Secretary of the State.  Back in the ‘90’s, the list of registered voters hovered between 1.7 million and 1.8 million.  This year’s election brought a higher percentage of voters to the polls from a larger list of individuals registered to vote.

Voter turnout – the percentage of registered voters who actually vote – was 56.6 in 1998, 56.5 in 2002 when there were 1.8 million registered voters, and 59.8 in 2006 when the voter rolls reached 1.9 million.

The 1990 race featured well-known, high profile candidates for Governor – former U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker, Congressman Bruce Morrison and Congressman John Rowland.  The race was won by Weicker, running as a third party candidate.  Rowland would go on to win the office four years later, when voter turnout was somewhat lower.

In 2006, when the Connecticut voters considered their choices in a gubernatorial match-up between Gov. Jodi Rell and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, a U.S. Senate race that featured Sen. Joe Lieberman, Democratic candidate Ned Lamont and republican Alan Schlessinger was also on the ballot drawing considerable interest.  Turnout that year reached 59.8 percent.

In 2010, Democrat Dannel Malloy won his first term as Governor, defeating Republican Tom Foley by the relatively narrow margin of 6,404 votes.  A third party candidate, Tom Marsh, received 17,629 votes.   Voter turnout that year was 57.4 percent.

Voter turnout is consistently higher in presidential election years.  In 2016, for the Donald Trump – Hillary Clinton contest, the voter turnout in Connecticut was 76.9 percent.  It had been slightly higher in 2008, when Barack Obama was on the ballot here for the first time, at 78.1 percent.

The number of people registered to vote also tends to surge in presidential election years.  In 2016 in Connecticut, the voter list included 2.1 million residents.  This year’s voter registration numbers, just prior to Election Day, were closing in on that total.

This story was updated at midnight Wednesday to reflect latest turnout percentage provided by the Office of Secretary of the State, which increased slightly throughout the day as additional information was provided by municipalities.

Advancing Racial Equity in Nonprofits to be Among Themes for National Conference This Month in Hartford

When members of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management, a national association now based in New York City, hold their 20th anniversary conference later this month, they will be gathering in Hartford.  The conference, “Re-envisioning Our Field:  Advancing Racial Equity & Leading Innovation in Capacity Building,” will be held October 10-12 at the Hartford Hilton. The organization’s Board Chair is Anne Yurasek, Principal of Fio Partners, which is based in Chester, CT.  Yurasek has been an organizational development consultant and trainer for over twenty years in the nonprofit and private sector.

The Alliance is the “national voice and catalyst for the field of capacity building.”  The organization’s mission is to “increase the effectiveness of the individuals, groups and organizations that help nonprofits and communities achieve positive social change.”  The Alliance seeks to “create spaces for professional dialogue and learning by amplifying research in the field and promoting its implications for effective practice.”

More than 250 attendees are anticipated, to include consultants, coaches, funders, academics, and executives from across the country. The conference intends to “convene the diverse perspectives that shape and advance our field.”

The conference provides participants with the chance to “convene, dialogue, learn, shape and advance our field for the good of the nonprofits and communities we serve,” official explained.  The theme was selected because now “is a critical time for our field to reflect, to learn together, and to consider how our work should evolve to address racial inequities in our society. From amplifying emerging approaches to reflecting on research and exploring its implications for practice,” participants are urged to “bring your perspectives, experiences, and energy” to the annual conference.

The three-day event includes presentation opportunities with local nonprofits, work-sessions for Affinity & Interest Groups, twenty-plus workshop sessions “curated for capacity builders by capacity builders, and thought provoking plenary sessions.”  Among the session leaders and speakers:

  • Jay Williams, President, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
  • Sam Cobbs, Chief Program Officer at Tipping Point Community  
  • Oscar A. Chacón, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Alianza Americas
  • Cyndi Suarez, Senior Editor, The Nonprofit Quarterly
  • Cynthia Silva Parker, Interaction Institute for Social Change
  • Trina Jackson, Community Engagement Manager of TSNE/Mission Works 

The Alliance for Nonprofit Management is the result of the 1997 merger of the Nonprofit Management Association and Support Centers of America. The organization is described as unique as a cross-sector professional association of individuals and organizations that are devoted to increasing the effectiveness of the individuals, groups and organizations that help nonprofits and communities achieve positive social change.

The 2017 conference was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Bender-Fromson to be Honored for Community Involvement; Public Service Career Included Historic Run for Lt. Gov.

In December, the Hartford Public Library’s Caroline M. Hewins Medal will be presented to Sandra Bender Fromson and Howard Fromson, longtime supporters of the library and numerous community organizations. It is the third year the award will be presented to a person (or persons) who have had a transformational impact upon and legacy of service to Hartford, according to library officials. Sandra Bender’s service to her community dates back more than a quarter century, where it flourished in the suburbs, was reflected in organizations across the Capitol City, and was part of an historic election year in Connecticut - the first time two women were candidates for Lieutenant Governor on the same November ballot.  Decades ago, she had a role in a series of unanticipated and groundbreaking political events that contributed  to increased prominence of women at the highest echelons of politics and public service in Connecticut.

Sandra Bender served as Mayor of South Windsor 1975-77, when relatively few women served in that role in Connecticut, rising to prominence in the financial services industry, also very much a male bastion at the time.

Just over a decade later, her business acumen and history of public service put her on a ticket for statewide office.  In 1990, New Haven-area Congressman Bruce Morrison won a primary to be the Democrats choice for Governor, former U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker started his own political party to launch is comeback with a candidacy for Governor, and Republicans nominated another Congressman, John Rowland of Waterbury.

Morrison selected Bender as his running mate, Weicker chose Hartford corporation counsel Eunice Groark, and Rowland decided on then-House Republican leader Robert Jaekle.

That year, the Weicker-Groark ticket was elected with 40.4 percent of the vote, narrowly defeating the Rowland- Jaekle ticket, which received 37.5 percent of the vote.  Finishing third in the unusual three-way race, the Democratic ticket of Morrison-Bender was the choice of only 20.7 percent of voters making their way to the polls on November 6.  Groark, not Bender, became the state’s first female Lieutenant Governor.  Only Ella Grasso, elected Governor in 1974 and 1978, had risen higher in statewide office.

Rowland ran again four years later, facing then-Lieutenant Governor Groark when Weicker chose not to seek re-election.  His choice as a running mate in his second run at the state's top job was a woman - M. Jodi Rell, a member of the state House of Representatives.

The Rowland-Rell ticket’s victory in 1994 meant Connecticut would have its second consecutive female Lieutenant Governor, rather than its second female Governor.

Rell later earned that distinction as well, succeeding to the office when Rowland resigned amidst a scandal and impeachment hearings, announcing on June 21, 2004 that he would step down on July 1.  Rell went on to be elected in her own right in 2006.

Bender-Fromson’s recognition later this year affirms her contributions over many decades to the Hartford Public Library and numerous other organizations.

She is also remembered as the Democratic candidate the first time two women were on the November ballot for Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut.  That occurred again in 1994 and 2014.   At least one woman has been a candidate for Lieutenant Governor or Governor - or both - in every election cycle since 1986, and Connecticut's voters elected Nancy Wyman to serve as Lieutenant Governor in 2010 and 2014, following one term of a man in that role, the only such term since 1990.  This year, Susan Bysiewicz is on the ballot for that office.  A woman has been elected either Governor or Lieutenant Governor in Connecticut in every election since 1990.

The Caroline M. Hewins Medal recognizes an individual who embraces the City of Hartford and its people, who breaks the mold and provides service of a revolutionary kind, who stretches the boundaries of a social or cultural institution with a humanistic approach to public service, and who shows strong guardianship of and advocacy for the basic right of equal access to information and opportunity.