DAYTON — Willa Bronston retired from the Berry Company after 30 years in 2003 and now owns an Auntie Ann’s Pretzels franchise. Willa first heard of Ohio Citizen Action after the organization helped start a community group she joined called Citizens for the Responsible Destruction of Chemical Weapons. The group formed in 2003 to halt the Army’s plans to treat VX nerve agent in the Dayton area community of Drexel.
“We first learned that Perma Fix planned to destroy VX nerve agent in our community after they had won the contract from the Army,” Willa remembers. “The citizens most affected by this plan were not consulted, so we had to gear up and organize ourselves pretty quickly,” she added. One tactic the neighbors used was to organize their township trustees and other local jurisdictions to pass resolutions opposing the Perma Fix plan. It was partly due to her experience in the Perma Fix fight that Willa joined the Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund board in 2007 and stood for and won election to the Jefferson Township Board of Trustees in 2009.
She has also worked on the issue of payday lending reform and is active in her parish of St. Benedict’s.
“I had been impressed with the dedication, passion and track record of success of the Ohio Citizen Action board and staff. I wanted to be a part of a winning team,” she said. “It’s about the issues the organization works on and the results, but it’s also about the people.”