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UH Law Center graduate Donner ’03 encourages voting reform in new book

Stephanie Donner '03

Stephanie Donner '03

Nov. 30, 2020 - Stephanie Donner, a 2003 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center, recently published a book titled, “When Women Vote” highlighting how election reform can lead to equality for all women.

Donner and co-author Amber McReynolds met in 2013 while working on election reform bills and while they were both pregnant with their second children. During that time, McReynolds was the head of Denver Elections and Donner was working as legal counsel to former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

During the 2018 midterm election, Donner and McReynolds kept a close eye on the Texas Senate race.

“It was stunning how low voter turnout was, and how Texans were excluded from voting if they did not register 30 days in advance,” Donner said. “Compare with Colorado who had the second- largest voter turnout. We believe that the election reform was the driver. Colorado also has the second-highest number of women in elected office.”

“From there, we decided to tell the story in honor of the 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote. It is a story about advocacy, reform and sisterhood.”

Throughout the book, Donner and McReynolds feature stories about the experience of women voters.

“Through our research and our professional lives, we have seen that bias exists largely because the systems were created with bias,” Donner said. “Very little has been done since the voting systems were initially created to remove that bias.

“While it is wonderful to encourage more and different kinds of people to run, we still will never achieve true parity until we address the underlying infrastructure that created that bias.”

Most recently, Donner served as executive director at the Emily Griffith Technical College, where she spearheaded the implementation of the workforce center of the future.

“We implemented and streamlined a career navigation focus that is student-centered and designed to give each student or client an understanding of the ROI of their education,” she said. “We want to de-mystify career and technical education and encourage certificates and credentials in all industries.”

Donner said the versatility of a law degree has been beneficial in the world of academia.

“I have a keen sense for the regulatory environment we operate in, the individual student rights and responsibilities, and the responsibility the institution has to be good stewards of public dollars,” she said.

As a product and advocate of public education, Donner uses her own experience in public and private sector to advocate for systems changes at all levels.

She is now serving as Senior Advisor to the National Vote at Home Institute, spearheading the equality initiative.

“We are taking the content of When Women Vote and ensuring that we can achieve equality for women through election reform nationally,” Donner said.