In the northernmost corner of the deep blue state of Virginia, a red stronghold emerged: “Loudoun County Republican Women’s Club.” President Patti Menders is responsible for the club’s newfound success. Menders is a first-generation American, the daughter of refugees from the Cuban exile instigated by Fidel Castro’s communist dictatorship.
Her work made the club the largest Republican Women’s Club in Virginia. Since her appointment last December, she has increased membership from 30-odd members to nearly 200: about a 600 percent increase.
In an interview with The Virginia Star, Menders described herself as a lifelong conservative voter. However, she wasn’t involved in political action until recently.
“I started doing these Loudoun conservative galas at the Trump golf club. They were fundraisers for political candidates or local charities. I was doing these really well organized events, so people wanted me to get involved more.”
Menders shared that her method to successfully increasing membership and participation was one-on-one interactions and social media. She stated that a majority of new members joined because she invited them.
“I knew there were two things I needed to do: grow membership, and grow fundraising efforts. I started on Facebook – I used social media as a way to grow our club. Women would post things [about how they were] upset or interested about whatever was happening, and I would take them into a private message and say, ‘Hey, I see you’re really upset about this. Do you want to do something about it?’ It grew through this one-on-one effort, and it was motivating women to do something.”
In addition to strengthening the club’s action-oriented focus, Menders made it a point to offer educational opportunities to inform and empower members.
Additionally, Menders attributed her success to a real awareness of her members’ demographics.
“I always hold an event at a conservative business that serves wine. I know that sounds silly, but women like to get together and socialize her wine. We’ve supported a lot of local wineries that way.”
Menders explained that her leadership within the club wasn’t immediate – she had some initial reservations about joining.
“They wanted me to run for delegate for the national convention [at first], and then they asked me to be president of the club. I knew this club wasn’t successful, didn’t have a good reputation, and it was mainly older women – which is awesome, and they are the backbone, but they weren’t action-oriented. Then, I got the green light from them to change some things. We set up our new board, and I decided we would work to increase membership.”
Menders also attributed her success to her communication methods. She’d ensure that other conservative clubs – including the Loudoun County Young Republican Club, the Belmont Republican Club, and various campaigns – knew what her club had planned.
“I learned that if I have an event or idea, I make sure all the other organizations know about it. I kinda ran it like a business. I was good about following up. Whenever someone texted or emailed me, I responded immediately.”
The club does more than political work – members also devote their time to community service. Menders recounted several experiences in the last few months: how her club had delivered care baskets to sheriff’s stations during movements to defund the police, and how they’d hosted a baby item drive for Loudoun Hunger Relief.
“We try to keep current with whatever’s happening and make it local. And it’s fun.”
Menders explained that it’s the little commitments from women that have made a huge impact collectively.
“I was using my confidence and passion to show other women that they can get involved, whatever that might look like for them. Whether that’s coming to a meeting, making phone calls, passing out fliers, or door knocking. Our membership is also for men as associate members, and even women that live outside of Loudoun County!”
The Loudoun County Women’s Republican Club is a state-chartered by the Virginia Federation of Republican Women (VFRW), and nationally chartered by the National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW). The club is affiliated with the Loudoun County Republican Committee.
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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Loudoun County Republican Women’s Club Members” by Loudon County Republican Women’s Club.