Pat Jensen

Honored by:Dwight E. Jensen
Brick location:F:17  map

It is fitting that Pat's accomplishments be recognized in a setting associated with the founder of the League of Women Voters. For more than 35 years she has worked for equality for women primarily through her involvement in the League of Women Voters at the local state and national levels.

As her husband I take some pride in having introduced Pat to the League of Women Voters in 1959 when as a reporter for The Des Moines Register I became aware of the League through its efforts to defend the council-manager form of government in Des Moines. Besides being an exemplary wife mother grandmother and friend Pat has over the years lived the ideals espoused by the founder of the League of Women Voters. As one of her Johnson County League colleagues wrote recently "Pat Jensen personifies the League of Women Voters and what Carrie Chapman Catt envisioned when she founded the LWV."

BACKGROUND. Patricia Anne Heefner was born in Belle Plaine, Iowa on October 12, 1932 grew up in Des Moines and graduated from North High School in 1950. After working as a secretary for a year to earn money for college she enrolled at The University of Iowa where we met. We were married in the fall of 1954 a few days before the start of our senior year and graduated together with B.A. degrees in editorial journalism the following June. After we moved to Des Moines in April 1956 Pat also worked at the Register as a writer/reporter in the women's department for two years then became a full-time mother and homemaker - and before long a leader in the League of Women Voters.

I left the Register in 1963 to become Executive Assistant and Chief of Staff for the new Governor of Iowa Harold E. Hughes. We remained in Des Moines until 1969 when Hughes went to the United States Senate and we moved with him to the Washington D.C. suburbs in northern Virginia. We returned to Iowa City in 1981 when I became Director of Public Information and University Relations at The University of Iowa. We have three grown children - two daughters and a son - and four grandchildren.

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS ACTIVITIES. In more than 35 years of involvement with the League of Women Voters at all levels - national state regional and local - Pat has among other things organized workshops and conferences; testified before governmental agencies and committees; given speeches; lobbied members of Congress state legislators and local officials; chaired committees to study governmental issues; researched and written League reports; appeared on television and radio; moderated public forums; done public relations work; served on many boards of directors and chaired numerous board meetings and other meetings; written edited and produced newsletters and other publications; raised money; and provided leadership training for members and leaders. Highlights of her League involvement include the following:

NATIONAL - Served on the board of directors of the LWV of the United States and the LWV Education Fund from 1982-86 only the second Iowan to achieve that distinction. While on the national board Pat served as Communications Chair working with national LWV public affairs and publications staffs and as ERA Chair working with staff lobbyists and issue specialists chairing a strategy committee and working with other organizations. She also served on several national board committees including nominating finance audit advocacy and citizen education. As an LWV Education Fund trustee she had oversight responsibility for the Voting Rights Monitoring Project and early voting projections investigation.

STATE - Served from 1979-81 as state president of the LWV of Virginia a statewide organization of 21 local Leagues with 2500 members. In Virginia she also was a member of the state LWV board of directors (1976-81) state ERA Coordinator (1975-79) and editor of the monthly Virginia Voter newsletter (1977-79). Back in Iowa after completing two terms on the LWV national board Pat served on the state board from 1991-94 with various responsibilities including as project director for a statewide Ethics in Government conference and as ERA chair coordinating statewide League efforts to pass an equal rights amendment to the Iowa Constitution writing articles giving speeches and serving on the statewide ERA coalition. She was chair of the LWV state long-range planning committee from 1984-87.

REGIONAL - Was president from 1973-75 of the LWV of the National Capital Area an inter-league organization composed of the local Leagues in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area with a combined membership of over 3000. She served as moderator of a weekly radio program for the LWV of the National Capital Area from 1976-78.

LOCAL - Since returning to Iowa City in 1981 she has been president of her local Johnson County League (1988-89); served on the local LWV board (1986-89 1990-91 and 1993-present); chaired a local study of affordable housing (1989-91); and has consistently served as a mentor for new LWV members and leaders. During her first 10 years as a league member in Des Moines, she served several termson her local board and chaired study committees on local government, and council-manager ward government. While a member of the LWV of the Fairfax area, Virginia, from 1969-81, she served on her local board of directors and was public relations chair for three years, and served on committees studying intergovernmental relations and local government in Virginia.

POLITICAL WORK. While her League activity has been nonpartisan, Pat has from time to time stepped aside temporarily from LWV leadership roles in order to work in political campaigns. She was Johnson County co-coordinator for Bonnie Campbell's campaign for Governor in 1990, was campaign advisory committee for John Chrystal's campaign for Governor in 1990, was campaign adiver to and headquarters manager for the successful candidate for mayor of Des Moines in 1967, and worked in Harold Hughes' successful campaigns for Governor (1964,1966) and the U,S, Senate (1968). She also has worked in the campaigns of several state legislative candidates in Virginia and Iowa.

WORK EXPERIENCE. Pat has been Director of Project Development, the Iowa City Area Development Group, Inc., 1988090; Iowa Project Manager, and partisan of voter education project.

COMMUNITY RELATED ACTIVITIES. Fairfax/Falls church, Virginia Advisery Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights, Budget Policy Taskforce on Affordable Housing, and United Way of Johnson County.