Making Democracy Work

The League of Women Voters of Wyoming honors those who support and foster good government. See our award winners on the Making Democracy Work page.

Award Details


Retired Brigadier General Kathy Wright accepted the 2019 award by Zoom on Thursday, December 10, 2020. Her nomination reads, in part:

Encouraging young women to be involved with government…how could that not be a match made in heaven for the Making Democracy Work award nomination by the Cheyenne League of Women Voters? Our nominee, Brigadier General (retired) Kathy J. Wright, of Cheyenne, made history in her own right as Wyoming's first woman Army National Guard general officer and commander. But it is her more than 25 years in a leadership role as director, committee member and volunteer for Girls State, mentoring young women, for which the Cheyenne LWV nominates Ms. Wright for the state's high award. She served as director of Girls State in 2007 and 2010... Ms. Wright is immensely proud of the transformation that has taken place in the hundreds of young women who have participated in Wyoming Girls State. Under her watch they began to understand the work involved in "making democracy work." For that reason, the Cheyenne League of Women Voters nominates Kathy J. Wright for the 2020 Making Democracy Work award.


Mary Ellbogen Garland received the award February 22, 2019, at Alice Hardie Stevens Center in Laramie. Her nomination reads, in part:

The Laramie and Cheyenne Leagues of Women Voters are together nominating Mary Ellbogen Garland for the 2018 Making Democracy Work Award. Our nomination is prompted by Mary’s indefatigable support of education in Wyoming. Some 20 years ago, 72 citizen forums held in all regions of the country by the National PTA, Phi Delta Kappa, and the Center on Education Policy concurred on two purposes for public education: to prepare students for further education and employment, and to prepare them to be good citizens. Today, the second purpose, preparing students for citizenship, is being lost amid the emphasis on the first, according to Jack Jennings. The article concludes with a compelling statement: We all must remind ourselves that students need to be taught what it means to make a democracy work. Otherwise, we imperil the very existence of our democratic society. [Huffington Post, 2013] Within the many venerable causes Ms. Garland leads her family's philanthropic foundation to support, the League honors her for keeping a solid focus on preparing Wyoming students to understand what makes democracy work.


This year's award went to Arshi Rizwani-Nisley. The ceremony was held on September 6th.

See the press coverage here:


Matt Strannigan, state coordinator of the Wyoming We the People (WTP) Program, received the 2016 “Making Democracy Work” award given by the Wyoming League of Women Voters on September 7.

In Wyoming Supreme Court Chambers, state and local dignitaries lauded Strannigan for growing civics education in the state. Wyoming LWV President Amy Williamson said, “What Matt has done with WTP gets to the core of the LWV’s Making Democracy Work Award and supports the reason we exist.” Secretary of State Ed Murray congratulated him for his efforts to encourage high school students to become the best citizens possible. Murray noted that the voter turnout rate for Wyoming young people ages 18 to 24 is just 10%; on the other hand, 92% of students who complete the WTP program vote.

The We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program was created to commemorate the framing and adoption of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights and to revitalize education programs in the nation’s schools. Students prepare for competitive hearings by completing an instructional program using the text We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution. Team members become experts on areas of the constitution and “testify” before a panel of judges, legal scholars, justices, lawyers, and civic and community leaders.

In accepting the award, Strannigan thanked LWV and spoke about the impact the program has had on students and teachers throughout the state. Mary Garland, Ellbogen Foundation; William U. Hill, Wyoming Supreme Court, and Dick Kean, Wyoming History Day coordinator also spoke.


Joan Barron, reporter for the Casper Star-Tribune was the recipient. Her newspaper published an appreciative biography .