(l-r) Founders of Monroe County NOW: Mandy Yates, Cathi Crabtree, McKenzie Goodrich, Edie Hering, Laura Collins, Elizabeth Winchester, and Ashley Pirani. Photo by Katy Lengacher


Bloomington resident Laura Collins woke up the day after the 2016 election and could not believe Donald Trump was president. “It devastated me,” Collins recalls. “I had to take the day off work.” When the shock wore off, Collins decided she had to do more than take a day off work. She had to take action and make a difference.

In December, Collins contacted the Indiana chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and asked how she could help the movement. The only local NOW chapter in the state was located in Indianapolis, so state president Heather Wildrick-Holman invited Collins to start a Bloomington chapter.

Before making the commitment, Collins attended a Bloomington Peace Action Coalition meeting, where one speaker’s message hit home. “He said, ‘If all you’ve been doing is voting, you earn a C+ in citizenry,’ and that was me,” she says. “And I need an A.”

To start the chapter, Collins needed two additional people to list on the form, so she got in touch with friends Mandy Yates and Elizabeth Winchester. Shortly thereafter, the three of them went to a Women’s March organizational meeting at the Monroe County Public Library, where they connected with the other four founding members—Edie Hering, Cathi Crabtree, McKenzie Goodrich, and Ashley Pirani. “This chapter wasn’t founded by one person,” Collins says. “It has seven founders who have worked hard and given it their all.”

Monroe County NOW’s initial callout meeting on January 28 brought together about 300 people, plus an additional 100 via Facebook Live. Since then, the group has held events such as a rally for Planned Parenthood and an action meeting for A Day Without a Woman on March 8, as well as regular chapter meetings.

Collins says the Leadership Council wants the chapter to have a firm foundation so it continues into the future. “We are trying to be thoughtful of every single decision we make so we can get this done right,” she says. Besides completing national NOW requirements, Collins says the chapter is focused on educating the public in all aspects of NOW’s core missions—reproductive justice, LGBTQ+ rights, ending violence against women, constitutional equality, economic equality, and racial justice—and taking action to influence the mid-term elections next year.

To learn more, visit monroecountynow.org or find it on Facebook and Twitter.