Donor Stories

Planned giving makes a difference.

PEGGY SIMONSEN: An Enduring Legacy for Change

Since EMILYs List was founded in 1985, our members have profoundly changed the face of Congress, governors’ mansions, and state legislatures across the country with their commitment to electing Democratic pro-choice women. However, our work together is far from done. That’s why Peggy Simonsen, an EMILYs List supporter for over a decade, made the decision to leave a gift to the EMILYs List Legacy Fund.

For over 50 years, Peggy has supported women’s issues, reproductive rights, and Democratic politics. She tells this story: “When I was about to be married, my doctor refused to prescribe birth control because he was a Catholic. So I found a new doctor who was a volunteer with Planned Parenthood and one of the researchers of the pill. I have been an advocate for choice and reproductive rights ever since.”

After a health scare caused her to update her estate plans, Peggy knew that leaving a gift to the Legacy Fund was an opportunity to ensure that her commitment to the work of EMILYs List would live on. “EMILYs List is the organization that does the best work in the political arena for women’s reproductive rights. Getting the right people elected makes a difference.”

Peggy’s belief that American women and families benefit from the strong leadership that Democratic pro-choice women bring has led her to support candidates through EMILYs List since 2003.

“The work that EMILYs List does to recruit, train, and elect Democratic pro-choice women, as well as communicating the experience of these candidates to the public, helps us defeat anti-choice, anti-women Republicans at the polls.”

Peggy is leaving a gift to the EMILYs List Legacy Fund to ensure that her legacy reflects the causes she championed during her lifetime and that future generations of American women and families will benefit from EMILYs List’s work. We are profoundly grateful to Peggy for her longstanding dedication to electing Democratic pro-choice women and for establishing an enduring legacy. Thank you, Peggy!

MARSHALL FOGEL: A Hobby Meets a Passion to Ignite Change

Marshall Fogel, an attorney from Denver, Colorado, began collecting baseball memorabilia in 1989 when he attended his first memorabilia exposition in Chicago. While he didn’t think of himself as a collector then, over 25 years later his collection spans decades of America’s pastime. Marshall has game-used bats from almost every Hall of Famer, and gloves that date all the way back to 1905. One of his first acquisitions, and most prized possessions, is a 1953 Topps Mickey Mantle card, graded the best condition rating a baseball card can receive.

Marshall continues to collect to this day, but a cause that he is equally passionate about? Electing more Democratic pro-choice women to office up and down the ballot. That’s why, as an EMILYs List member since 2002, he made the decision to name EMILYs List as a beneficiary of the proceeds when his memorabilia collection is sold as part of his estate.

He tells this story: “I have lived my life surrounded by powerful, amazing women. I have two sisters, Ladeen and Helen Ruth; my daughter, Cara; my partner, Andrea; and my daughter-in-law, Kelly. I grew up in the ’50s, and saw the evolution of the women’s movement firsthand. It was the time of Betty Friedan, and seeing women come together. I grew up seeing my sisters become politically active, and since then I have seen my daughter become a business owner. Getting more Democratic pro-choice women elected to office makes a difference – my sisters, my daughter, and my daughter-in-law should see themselves represented. And the people representing them should understand their experiences.”

Marshall knows that leaving a gift to EMILYs List will have a profound influence for future generations of American women and families.

“EMILYs List is an organization that I believe has a purpose long into the future. This contribution is for the longevity and sustainability of their important work. I would encourage others, both men and women, to think about how they too can make a difference with their legacy.”

We are profoundly grateful to Marshall for his dedication to EMILYs List. Thank you, Marshall!

HEDY RATNER: A Legacy of Lifelong Commitment

“The empowerment of women is the raison d’etre of my life. I founded the Illinois Women’s Political Caucus in 1975, which has a similar mission of electing Democratic, pro-choice women to local, state, and national office. I became involved with EMILYs List right when it was founded in 1985 and I’ve remained involved ever since.

“The appointment of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court in 1992 and the subsequent election of so many Democratic pro-choice women in 1992 (‘The Year of the Woman’) showed me just how critical the work of EMILYs List truly is. I worked with EMILYs List in Illinois to elect Carol Mosely Braun to the U.S. Senate, and help elect other Democratic women to the U.S. Congress. It was an inspiring moment to be a part of the EMILYs List family.

“Over the past five decades, I have dedicated myself to empowering women and strengthening the rights of women across the country. As founder of the Women’s Business Development Center, I support women’s business ownership, and continue to fight for EMILYs List candidates up and down the ticket. I have seen first-hand how the election of Democratic, pro-choice women to office helps strengthen opportunities for American women and families and ensure a progressive agenda.

“While contributing to EMILYs List has always been a priority for me, the single most important consideration in my decision to leave a gift to EMILYs List in my will was the devastating 2016 Presidential election, and the loss of Democratic leadership in the U.S. House and Senate. The country needs a progressive agenda led by strong, progressive women leaders – and it is clear that the mission of EMILYs List is more important now than ever.

“By becoming a member of the EMILYs List Legacy Fund with a gift in my will, I know that I have joined the ranks of women and men who are dedicated to preserving the impact of EMILYs List’s mission for years to come – a legacy of election victories for Democratic, pro-choice women who will continue their commitment to progressive change.”

JOYCE FROOT: A Legacy of Lifelong Commitment

This story honors the life and generosity of Joyce Froot who passed away during the summer of 2017 and left a generous gift to EMILYs List in her will. Her daughter Diane speaks admiringly of both of her parents and their passion for supporting philanthropic causes, including EMILYs List, during their lifetimes.

“Women are starting to stand up for ourselves like we have never done before — and I wholeheartedly support organizations like EMILYs List that champion this fight. I feel that I can trust EMILYs List to put my contributions to good use, as they did with my mother’s contributions over her lifetime. I encourage others to give what they can in supporting the critical work of electing women who will stand up for fairness and equal opportunity for all. I am excited to see my parents’ legacy continue with this gift. Their memory will forever be linked to the wave of Democratic pro-choice women who will fight for justice and equality for years to come.

“My parents dedicated their lives to helping others. They both cared passionately about fighting for equality and fairness — values they instilled in me. Both sets of my grandparents immigrated to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, bringing with them stories of struggle and sacrifice. One side of my family was part of an underground railroad that rescued Jewish people during World War II. Another side had to flee to Crimea due to political upheaval.

“Hearing these stories as a child strengthened my belief in the principles of the Democratic Party and demonstrated to me that these family values date back generations.

“My father, Nathan, was a chemist and an international pharmaceutical salesman. He provided our family with the means to both see the world and contribute to the causes we were most passionate about. We travelled the world together, which opened my eyes to new perspectives and strengthened my interest in helping others, particularly women in need. We have seen firsthand how empowering women and families helps increase their opportunities and ensures a more fair and just world.

“For as long as I can remember, my parents contributed to progressive causes like EMILYs List. They were passionate Democrats who believed in fairness and helping those less fortunate. They always tried to improve the lives of those in need through philanthropic giving, including contributions to EMILYs List. I’m so glad that my mother’s legacy and values will live on through the work of this great organization.”

We are profoundly grateful to the Froot family for their commitment to EMILYs List.

SUZANNE MARKS: Supporting Women for Years to Come

“I am a feminist and have been for as long as I can remember. In high school, my close friends and I used Title IX to start three women’s sports teams – tennis, volleyball, and track – when funding only went to boys’ sports. I was the first female scholar-athlete, with a 5.0 GPA and more varsity letters than any boy! After high school, I went on to study political science and economics in college.

“After graduation, I joined the Peace Corps and worked with hundreds of women entrepreneurs in Togo in West Africa. There, I learned that economic development was intrinsically linked to health – specifically reproductive health. I knew one woman who died at the age of 25 after a self-attempted abortion while she was pregnant with her fifth child. Another young woman I was close to nearly died from a self-attempted abortion. We had to travel nine hours by taxi to a doctor in the capital so she could get medical care. Unfortunately, these stories are not uncommon when there is a lack of access to birth control and safe methods for abortion. These experiences showed me what the lack of abortion services do to young women. They are essential life services and without access, a woman’s health and livelihood are at risk.

“After the Peace Corps, I earned a master’s in economics and a master’s in public health. I worked in Philadelphia for the Family Planning Council as a researcher under two feminists – executive director Dorothy Mann and research director Kay Armstrong. While working with them, there were several times when we took off work to defend clinics. While my current work at the Centers for Disease Control has had me focused on tuberculosis for the past 20 years, I still volunteer for and donate to many feminist causes and have been on the board of Georgia NOW.

“I have been inspired by so many women over the years: Dorothy and Kay at FPC, Ellie Smeal of the Feminist Majority Foundation, Ellen Malcolm of EMILYs List, Heidi Hartmann of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, Gloria Steinem, Eve Ensler, Martina Navratilova, and Billie Jean King are just a few of the women who have inspired me.

“Women consistently face oppression all across the world, and feminist leaders are needed to pull us up. I have confidence in women leaders to fix this and get things done. EMILYs List is a great way to fund female leaders, especially now. My gift is in support of EMILYs List’s mission of electing Democratic pro-choice women. Those are the women we need in office, and I hope my contribution will be useful in supporting these women for years to come.”

JULIE STONE: A Lifelong Commitment to Women’s Rights

“I have called Colorado home since 1962. However, I did not get involved in national or local politics until the 2008 election cycle. Being part of Hillary Clinton’s campaign to mobilize hundreds of supporters in my county was the catalyst for my commitment to local politics.

“As a Democrat and feminist, my political values have always been based on the idea that a woman’s economic well-being is fundamentally linked to her decision on whether and when to start a family. I have made gifts to EMILYs List for years. When I was invited to a reception in 2008 with an EMILYs List endorsed candidate here in Colorado, I became more personally involved. My first impression was that the candidates EMILYs List supports are guaranteed to be those who care about women’s issues, particularly reproductive rights. This issue is critically important to me.

“In the early 1970s, I was recently divorced and decided to open a credit card in my own name. I applied for the card and was turned down because I was a woman. I was deeply offended. This shocked me, as I had always paid all the bills in our family. Two years later, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act passed, and I was invited to open a card by the same company that had initially turned me down. I was grateful for that change, but not satisfied. I decided that going forward, I would devote my time and resources to women’s issues. EMILYs List supports candidates that believe women should control their own bodies and lives. This is why I value the work they are doing and invest my resources directly with them.

“As a mother, I’ve always been passionate about bringing my daughter into the political process. I used to bring her into the voting booth with me on Election Day when she was younger. We talked about how important it is to know and learn more about candidates who are running. Today, she is an activist, local precinct leader, and women’s health care provider in Boulder. I couldn’t be prouder of her as we stood together in Denver for the first Women’s March. And to top it off – we had my three granddaughters with us!

“I believe that it’s time for women to stand up and say things that have not been said before. And they are. I am so proud of them and the work that EMILYs List does to make this possible.”

CHRISTINE DOHRMANN: Paying It Forward with a Planned Investment

“I am the CEO and owner of a woman-owned business and our team has provided consulting services to national nonprofit organizations since 1974. I have always been committed to empowering more woman leaders in business and government, yet only became involved politically during the 2016 presidential race.

“In 2015, it was the prominence of Hillary Clinton’s historic run for president that caused me to find new ways to help her and other women run and win.

“My introduction to EMILYs List was at a luncheon in San Francisco in 2015. It was a powerful learning experience to sit with women who had been “at the table” for decades. I knew then that I wanted to join these women in this fight. Sitting on the sidelines was not an option – the stakes were just too high.

“Hillary’s candidacy demonstrated on a national stage what women are up against when they take a stand and challenge the status quo. When women saw what Hillary experienced as a candidate, there was a visceral reaction. In our homes, at work and in our communities, you could hear women – and men – saying wow – ‘there it is on national television.’ Many of us said to ourselves ‘no more.’

“After attending the EMILYs List luncheon, I wanted to help by introducing more people to the critical work the organization is doing. I appreciate that EMILYs List helps woman candidates find and recognize their voices of authority and leadership. Today, there are many new voices in positions of power, thanks to the work EMILYs List does to elect Democratic pro-choice women at all levels of government.

“When reviewing my estate plans and thinking about the organizations that have had the greatest impact on my life and are advancing issues that are important to me as a woman, EMILYs List immediately came to mind. Women’s equality is critical to the future of this country. By joining the Legacy Fund with a gift in my trust, I am ‘paying it forward’ with a planned investment in the future of our country’s well-being. I am confident that EMILYs List will ensure that more women’s voices in political leadership will make a defining difference in the public policy agenda for our country.”

“Please join me and make a commitment to this work of electing and empowering more women in government.”

DIANE WHITNEY: Changing the Landscape for Women and Girls

“I can’t help but wonder how my life might have been different if EMILYs List had been around when I was a young woman! I was passionate about politics, but there was absolutely no encouragement, nor any resources, available to women considering a political career. Instead, I landed a job as a paid staffer at the Republican (yes, Republican!) headquarters in my county and worked to elect the best of the male candidates.

“But in 1971, I moved to central Pennsylvania to complete my college degree at Pennsylvania State University. There I became the ninth resident of the Women’s Liberation House. Our home was not only the center of all feminist activity at Penn State, but it was also headquarters for the anti-war, socialist, and gay liberation movements.

“Although I was surrounded by some of the brightest and most politically engaged women I could ever hope to meet, I don’t recall there ever being any discussion about any of us pursuing a career in politics. Why not? We were still 14 years away from the founding of EMILYs List, which finally made a career in politics a realistic goal for women. And we were also 13 long years away from the breakthrough nomination of Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate.

“I eventually decided that the next best thing to a political career was a career in law. I searched all over the country to find one that both focused on women’s issues and also backed up that commitment by having a rare parity between female and male students. I never regretted relocating to the liberal, political hotbed of San Francisco to attend Golden Gate University.

“Fortunately, EMILYs List has dramatically changed the landscape in which I grew up. It is no longer rare for women to comprise half of first year law classes and, more importantly, the bright, young women activists of today, who feel a calling to enter politics, now have a passionate and very effective ally in EMILYs List. Indeed, I credit EMILYs List for the dramatic surge in women candidates that helped Democrats take back the House in 2018.

“Still, a tremendous amount of work lies ahead.

“How is it possible that, with all the brilliant and well-qualified women who ran for president, they still faced such an uphill battle to gain any traction? Indeed, Trump’s shocking victory in 2016 demonstrates just how far we have to go to overcome rampant sexism in politics. It certainly broke my heart at the 2017 Women’s March to see a little girl carrying a sign that read ‘I’m scared.’ I felt compelled to lean over and say to her, ‘don’t worry, sweetie, we have your back.’

“I earnestly believe that EMILYs List does have that little girl’s back and, equally important will continue to have the backs of future generations of girls and women long after I am gone. It is for that reason that I am not only a regular contributor but have also included EMILYs List in my estate plans. I simply cannot think of a better legacy to leave than supporting the efforts of women to achieve the roles of compassionate leadership that we were destined for but for too long have been denied.”

NAOMI SLIFKIN: Making Our Government More Humanistic and Making Our Laws Kinder and More Empathetic

“Like many others following the election in 2016, I was alarmed and deeply concerned about the fate of our country. I witnessed emboldened Republican lawmakers at the federal and state levels actively working to restrict access to abortion, among other human rights. As a strong supporter of reproductive freedom, I recognize the ever-present need to elect more Democratic pro-choice women to office.

“Growing up, I was inspired by my parents—their actions in women’s rights, civil rights, and environmental causes as well as their involvement in politics. While caring for them in their final years and subsequently serving as the executor to their estates, I learned how onerous and lengthy the process of carrying out one’s legacy can be. This made me want to simplify my own estate and be proactive and intentional about the legacy I will leave behind.

“Thus, I decided to name beneficiaries to each of my financial accounts. This bypasses estate court and relieves my executor of all responsibility except for presenting my death certificate to my financial institution. As a result, upon my death, my money will flow directly from my accounts to the organizations that I have specified.

“It is no small task to consider the kind of legacy one wants to leave after we pass. In updating my plans, I asked myself: What is most important to me? What causes do I want to champion as my final act of service? Which organizations are best suited to carry them out?

“I decided to name EMILYs List as a beneficiary of one of my financial accounts because EMILYs List was one of the only organizations that I found that engaged in the work of recruiting, training, and electing Democratic pro-choice women at the federal, state, and local levels. It is satisfying to know that my legacy will contribute to electing compassionate and unabashed advocates for reproductive freedom.

“My hope is that my planned gift will help change the direction of this country by making our government more humanistic and making our laws kinder and more empathetic. At the end of the day, I firmly believe that women’s rights are human rights and abortion rights are human rights.”

We are so grateful to count Naomi as one of the members of our growing Legacy Fund program. Thanks to supporters like Naomi, we will be able to ignite change by electing Democratic pro-choice women for generations to come. To learn more about leaving your own gift, please visit