A long-lasting organization is a testament to the resilient and giving spirits of our members. Since 1931, American Mothers, Inc. has built up a strong, ever-growing network of mothers thanks to its tirelessly committed leadership. Three-time board president Connell Branan is taking her leave and passing her role to Joyce Stevens. We interviewed them recently to know more about their roots at AMI and document some of the wisdom they had to share about this collective of mothers and motherhood itself.
Connell Branan first heard of American Mothers, Inc. after she was nominated as Oklahoma’s Young Mother of the Year®, an honor that recognized inspiring mothers under the age of 40 until 2016, when it merged together with the Mother of the Year® honor.
Prior to serving as an area coordinator and 1st Vice President, Branan served three non-consecutive terms as the board’s national president from 2011-2013, 2017-2019, and 2019-2021.
“The convention I attended was in Bismarck, North Dakota, and the women I met were absolutely amazing. It was easy to fall in love with the beautiful history of this organization and its mission of giving a voice to mothers and the important role they play in our society,” said Branan. “There are many organizations out there that help women, but the list is short when it comes to those which elevate and recognize the positive impact moms are making.”
“Magic happens when you assemble a group of these moms together who care about their families, their community and are focused on making the world a better place while raising the next generation.”Connell Branan, former AMI Board President
For Branan, AMI has provided a network of close friendships among some incredible women who understand and value the critical role mothers play. “There is a unique value in belonging to an organization that honors, supports, and encourages mothers with opportunities for member involvement at the local, state, and national levels. Whether it is through participation as an AMI Delegate to the United Nations, serving in a state association, promoting the 5th Grade Essay contest, or seeking nominations for Mother of the Year®, there are so many ways to harness your maternal energy to make a positive impact for mothers and children. The incredible friendships that result from membership in this organization are icing on the cake.”
As Branan transitions out of her role as AMI’s national president, she takes with her the strength, dignity, and grace of all the mothers and women who impacted her and her journey through motherhood. “I know I am a better person for having been in their presence, and for that, I am eternally thankful.”
Joyce Stevens was introduced to the organization when one of her friends got nominated. Stevens’ journey with American Mothers officially began when she was recognized as Nebraska Mother of the Year® in 2012 and she continued forward in AMI as the president of the Nebraska Association of American Mothers. “Nebraska has a strong AMI chapter, and after going to the first gathering, a brunch in my honor, I met other members from across Nebraska,” said Stevens, “I could tell immediately the respect they had for each other. I only knew one person in a room full of strangers, but I was drawn in by their kindness.”
Stevens has served on the National Board in a variety of roles as an Area Coordinator, 3rd Vice President, Secretary and 1st Vice President since 2012—showing true passion and commitment to the organization. As Stevens prepares to become the board’s national president, she is most looking forward to recognizing and acknowledging mothers, connecting with and building up AMI members, and making a change in the world through the Golden Rule program and the grants given to Mothers of the Year, which are given to a non-profit of choice that benefits families and children. “It is all very rewarding and exactly what we are meant to do during our life on earth,” said Stevens.
“Don’t worry if you aren’t a perfect mother, there’s a million ways to be a good one. I want all moms to remember this as they raise their kids. If you are having a difficult day, call another mom.”Joyce Stevens, AMI Board President
“Sometimes everyday life can become pretty crazy and exhausting, and you may forget to simply be “happy.” Getting together or visiting with AMI friends always makes me “happy” and helps me realize that just being a Mom is special enough,” said Stevens when asked about what this network has meant to her over the years.
Some words of wisdom from Stevens as she and her new board continue to build the national network and recognize inspirational moms through the Mother of the Year® award: “There is nothing more important than being a mom and making memories. I know you’ve heard this before: Don’t worry if you aren’t a perfect mother. There’s a million ways to be a good one. I want all moms to remember this as they raise their kids. If you are having a difficult day, call another mom.”
Members of the Executive Board of American Mothers
Joyce Stevens, President
Patty Payne, 1st Vice President
Sabrina Wisher-DeWitt, 2nd Vice President
Lizzy Conroy, 3rd Vice President
Renae Reinardy Spiry, Secretary
Carolyn Branagan, Treasurer
Becky Rowan, Area 1 Coordinator
Emily Brooks, Area 2 Coordinator
Jennifer Harrington, Area 3 Coordinator
Jen O’Brien, Area 4 Coordinator
Barbara Owens, Area 5 Coordinator
Silma Serra di Marco, Area 6 Coordinator
Connell Branan, Immediate Past President
Mautra Staley Jones, National Mother of the Year
Deanne Taylor, Bylaws Chair