Selva Ressig Lehman

Honored by:League of Women Voters of Ames
Brick location:K:15  map

Selva is a native of Argentina where she grew up and was educated. In June of her last year of elementary school a revolution brought a military dictatorship to Argentina. This was an event that deeply affected her family life as her father had to leave the country of Argentina. He came to Washington DC and worked with the Organization of American States.

In 1955 after graduating from the University of Buenos Aires with a Master degree in Chemistry and because of the continued political persecution under Juan Peron, Selva came to the United States where she worked as a chemist.

Her faith journey started while in New Haven, CT. After joining the church she became involved in volunteer service among Spanish speaking families in the New Haven area. As a result of this volunteer experience Selva became interested in religious work and decided to make this her career. She attended the Hartford Seminary and was ordained in the United Presbyterian Church in 1964 after receiving her Master of Divinity degree. Selva was the first woman ordained in that Presbytery.

In 1967 Selva moved to Iowa and received standing as a Minister in the United Church of Christ. With her husband Harold, a farmer in the Alleman community, she became involved with the wider UCC church in Iowa and pursued her interest in developing international understanding at the grass root level. Selva and her husband hosted many international visitors plus serving as Area Representatives and Host Parents for High School and University Students until Harold passed away in 1990 from a brain tumor. The Iowa Council for International Understanding honored both Selva and Harold with The Dorothy L. Town Award for outstanding service to build bridges of understanding.

Selva was one of the first few women serving as Pastor in Iowa; as such she was instrumental in opening doors for other Clergywomen to be accepted in Iowa churches. She has served in various capacities within the local state and national levels of the United Church of Christ.

During her involvement on the cabinet of the Des Moines Area Religious Council she was instrumental in creating the “Food Pantry” a project that collected food from local churches to be distributed by local food pantries.

Since 1994 Selva has been a resident of Ames. Her volunteer involvement with the Ames community has been channeled through many church activities including international dialogues the Food at First program and AMOS. She served as interim director of the Good Neighbor Emergency Assistance Cooperative in 1997-98. Currently she is a member of the AIOFA Board and a member of the Community Conversations on Diversity.

Selva joined the Ames League of Women Voters in 2000. Since 2002 she has served on the Board first as Vice-president and then as Co-President with Jeannette Bohnenkamp from 2004-2006. In 2006 Selva co-chaired with Nancy Brown the LWVUS Ukraine Civic Hosting Program for the Ames League. She developed the Ames LWV website and currently serves as VOTER Editor and Webmaster. Our local League and increasingly the Iowa League look to Selva for all computer and digital communication needs.

IT is my pleasure to present the Carrie Chapman Catt award to Rev. Selva Reissig Lehman. Congratulations Selva.

-Joyce Hertz, and Martha Isaacson, selection committee League of Women Voters of Ames