Making Democracy Work

First Thursday Luncheons

See who is speaking this month!

About First Thursdays

Once a month (except July and August) The League of Women Voters of Deschutes County hosts a luncheon. League Board members discuss current issues and invite local experts to be our host speakers.

Everyone is invited to this luncheon. Please arrive by 11:00 am if ordering from the menu. The speaker will begin at noon. There will be time for questions and answers at the finish of the presentation. No RSVP needed.

Black Bear Diner
1465 NE 3rd St.
Bend, OR 97701
The corner of Third and Olney

See the Calendar Page for list of all events

bend charter review

Speaker will be Bend City Councilor, Bruce Abernethy.

In June of this year, the City Council adopted a resolution to establish a committee to consider and recommend Charter amendments to the voters by May 2018.

Bruce was elected to the City Council in January 2017. He also served on the City Council from 2000 to 2008, including a stint as Mayor.

Bruce moved to Bend in 1992. He is married to Dr. Mary Meador and has two adult daughters.

Bruce's top issues include affordable housing and homelessness. He has been involved in educational initiatives including Children's Forest of Central Oregon, Camp Tamarack (outdoor school), Better Together, Cascades Commitment and TeachOregon.


An overview of Medicaid health care programs for low-income seniors. Three speakers will outline their Medicaid programs that are offered in the County that will include long-term care which is increasingly becoming a financial burden for many seniors.

Medicaid is a federal health insurance program that covers seniors (as well as other citizens) who live at or below the poverty income level in states who participate in the federal Medicaid program.

Medicaid is a high priority in the Oregon health care debate today as Oregon votes on HB 101 (Temporary Assessments to Fund Health Care for Low-Income) and results be known January 23, 2018** for funding of the required Oregon Medicare match for Federal Medicaid dollars.

The poverty measure of seniors in Oregon according to the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation "Poverty of Seniors by State for Oregon 2013" was 8% by income but 13% using costs that seniors would occur on a regular basis. Central Oregon attracts retiring seniors who were 19.3% of the population in 2016.

Three speakers at the League Program will address Medicaid programs for seniors in Deschutes County.

Peter Polanco of the Department of Human Services Oregon Health Authority will introduce Angela Joyner, who will speak to the Department's eligibility programs and Keya Rohovit-Wrolson will address Long Term Care services and options.

Tricia Gardner works for PacificSource Community Solutions, a coordinated care organization and The Gorge, as a health services manager for Medicaid Case Management Program. She is a registered nurse and licensed clinical social worker.

The League program will be at the Black Bear Diner Meeting Room in Bend. Lunch may be ordered after 10:45 AM and the program will start at 11:45 AM and finish at 1.


Local Perspectives on the Unfinished National Debate on Immigration.

Our speakers will be, Callie Killebrew and Micaela Guthrie, immigration attorneys with the Bend Immigration Group (BIG).

Bend Immigration Group LLC assist immigrant families all over the world in finding pathways within the labyrinth of US immigration laws.

The attorneys have extensive experience in complex immigration matters and a committment to serving the immigrants of Central Oregon


Speakers are Matt Cowell and the local legislative team from "MOMS DEMAND ACTION For Gun Sense in America."

Moms Demand Action is a nonpartisan organization that respects the 2nd Amendment and works for common-sense gun laws all over the country.

MOMS Website:


Speaker will be Wayne Metcalf, instructor in Government at COCC.

Wayne will speak on Oregon politics in general, primary elections in particular and the political education of young people (as he sees these issues).

Wayne has a long background in government and politics, mostly in Hawaii. He is now a part-time instructor in Government at COCC. He came to Bend in earlier days to ski, and then he returned with his wife Shirley Metcalf, who became a COCC administrator and is now the COCC President.


Speaker will be Officer Chris Wooten, Redmond Police Department

Officer Wooten and other representatives from the Redmond Police Department discuss their experiences with the legalization of marijuana in our community and the impact on schools and juveniles.

"The Redmond Police Department is a progressive police agency that proudly provides the 28,000 residents of Redmond, Oregon with services which are courteous, consistent, thorough, and professional. The foundation of our agency is the protection of the worth, dignity, and rights of all we serve." Redmond Police


Speaker will be Mary Callison, Older Adult Behavioral Health Specialist at the Central Oregon Health Council.

Mary, who is also a social worker, will highlight her work and programs dealing with the unique health issues facing our older population in central Oregon.

For more information, see the Source Weekly article The grief that does not speak


Speaker will be Nancy Blankenship, Deschutes County Clerk

Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship took office in January 2003; her current term expires in January 2019. Nancy is responsible for election administration, recording property transactions, issue marriage licenses, archiving and records storage, Board of Property Tax Appeals, passports and more.
Read more about Nancy's bio here: Deschutes County Elections


Speaker will be Amy Warren, Executive Director, Kôr Community Land Trust.

Kôr provides environmentally sustainable and permanently affordable homeownership opportunities for those who contribute to the fabric of the Bend area economy and community.

Kôr operates under the Community Land Trust (CLT) model. A CLT develops and stewards affordable housing, community gardens, civic buildings, commercial spaces and other community assets on behalf of a community.


Speaker will be Gwenn Wysling, Executive Director, Bethlehem Inn.

Gwenn will talk about the new buildings and activities. As a community-based organization, Bethlehem Inn helps transform lives with shelter, help, and hope. Homelessness is a situation in which anyone may find him- or herself. It does not define someone nor speak to who they are.

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Gwenn has resided on the West Coast from Washington to California except briefly when she relocated to live in Brazil with her husband Carlos (from Brazil) from 2003 to 2006.

Before joining the nonprofit world as the Bethlehem Inn's Executive Director in May 2010, Gwenn Wysling served the organization as a member of board of directors for a year and a half. While new to the nonprofit sector, she had worked in the service industry and has always been active in community service governed by her passion of helping others. In 2016 she was recognized by the Bend Chamber as Citizen of the year.

Gwenn Wysling's career spans more than 20 years in the hospitality industry. During this time 15 years were as Human Resources Director including her most recent position at Sunriver Resort from 2007 to 2008. She earned a BA in Business Administration from Washington State University.

Since moving to Bend in 2007, she volunteers and serves on various boards and committees for local organizations.