Posts Tagged ‘Running Start’

Photo by Nily Rozic Nily Rozic was asked multiple times to run for office before she seriously considered it. The 26-year-old New York state assemblywoman-elect admits she was asked “over and over” to run, which is not an unusual thing to hear from female candidates.

AAUW, Running Start, and She Should Run recently held a conference call for alumnae of Elect Her–Campus Women Win — a program that trains college women to run for student government — with the goal of encouraging these remarkable young women to run for public office. The call, which targeted students who have been through Elect Her and held student leadership positions, aimed to get these women to think about running for office after college and to share the steps they can be taking now to prepare for a career in politics. As one of the speakers on the call, Rozic shared her own story, which touched on all of the tips that AAUW, Running Start, and She Should Run typically share with attendees.

1. Go Local

Rozic knew she wanted to do something to give back to the neighborhood where she grew up, so she made sure to take leadership roles in her community. Rozic first advises becoming a leader in your own community, whatever role it may be. Ramping up your involvement in things you already care about is a great way to build leadership skills that will help you eventually run for office.

2. Start Now

Rozic was not afraid of jumping into the ring at a young age, and she encouraged the Elect Her alums to do the same. “You’ve just got to start,” she said, and you’ll discover that there are people who are ready to jump in and support you. Rozic said several political trainings were invaluable to her, especially in finding and developing mentors. For a list of trainings across the country, visit the Center for American Women in Politics.

3. Try Volunteering

A third way for young women to take their political experience to the next level is by taking a paid, intern, or volunteer position for a political campaign or in a current political leader’s office. Rozic landed her first government job working for a member of the New York State Assembly, where she got a feel for what government was like and eventually worked her way up to chief of staff. There are great opportunities at the local, state, and federal levels. For instance, try volunteering on a campaign — you can reach out to the local Republican or Democratic parties to find out more about the candidates. Or you can contact a local or state elected official to find out about opportunities. Each U.S. congressional office manages its own internship program, so look on your representatives’ websites to find out more. Nonprofits also organize internships with members of Congress through programs like Running Start’s Star Fellowship Program.

Ultimately, Rozic urges young women to embrace their youth when running for office. Our elected officials need to be representative of all types of people, and being young is not a disadvantage: “You’re ahead of the curve!”

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Here at AAUW’s national office, a frequent topic of water-cooler conversation is how much we love NBC’s Parks and Recreation, particularly its female protagonist, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler). We have watched Leslie grapple with local government bureaucracy in the Parks and Recreation Department of fictional Pawnee, Indiana, for years. But this past season, Leslie stepped it up by running for City Council and winning!

This story line was of particular interest to my co-workers and me because it relates to the work we do on Elect Her–Campus Women Win, a program that we offer in collaboration with Running Start. Elect Her encourages and trains college women to run for student government. By getting more women interested in politics early on, Elect Her helps to build the pipeline of women running for office with the goal of diminishing the long-standing political leadership gender gap. I look forward to next season to see how Leslie continues to break barriers as a member of City Council!

Women can learn from Leslie’s campaigning strategies in Parks and Recreation. Here are the top 10 ways Leslie is a great role model for all women running for office (click the links to see clips):

  1. She got started early. Even at age 10, Leslie saw herself as a capable political candidate. One of the best ways to get more women in political office is to help them start on the path to politics at a young age.
  2. She knows her issues. Leslie stays on top of all of the issues facing Pawnee, and she can articulate her stance on any of them — and all of them!
  3. She tailors her message to her audience. Leslie knows that each community in Pawnee has different priorities, and she knows to approach each one individually.
  4. She knows how to use her network. Leslie has constructed a campaign team that utilizes all the best strengths her friends and colleagues have to offer. Smooth-talking Tom and optimistic Chris make up her media “spin team,” pragmatic and experienced Ben is her campaign manager, and even contented worker-bee Jerry is her official envelope-stuffer.
  5. She is composed in the face of media scrutiny. Having gone head-to-head with Pawnee Today host Joan Callamezzo many times, Leslie is able to defend her actions and ideas on television without hesitation.
  6. She is prepared for the double-edged sword. Like many women in power, Leslie is all too familiar with the pressure to appear determined enough to be taken seriously — but not so much that she comes off as too aggressive or mean. She powers through these expectations and keeps her message clear.
  7. She embraces servant leadership. Sure, Leslie is ambitious (her goal is to become the first woman president), but it’s not because she is hungry for power. Leslie is Pawnee’s biggest fan, and she is running for City Council because she desperately wants to serve its citizens.
  8. She sticks to her principles. Although it is tempting, Leslie does not let her campaign stoop to negative attack ads.
  9. She gets out the vote. Right before the election, Leslie and her team are not shy about getting her name (and face!) out there in a big way.
  10. She is closing the gender gap in political representation. By running for Pawnee City Council, Leslie is taking one more step toward political parity for women. Currently, women make up only 23.7 percent of state legislatures and 16.8 percent of the U.S. Congress. When women run for office, they win at the same rates as men. So what we need are more women like Leslie to run!

Learn more about these issues and strategies by attending or hosting an Elect Her training on your local campus.

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Elect Her–Campus Women Win, a collaboration between AAUW and Running Start, encourages and trains college women to run for student government. Follow the links below to read highlights from this spring’s trainings.


Nothing Can Stop Elect Her at NMU!  — Northern Michigan University

We were very fortunate to have a wide variety of speakers this year. Sheri Davie, former aide to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), had a wealth of experience to share. Through her connections, we received a special video correspondence from the senator herself, which was unforgettable.

Mardi Gras and Gumbo — Loyola University, New Orleans

The tasteful and talented Judge Regina Bartholomew candidly shared the realities of running for office as a woman in Louisiana. She laughed at the audacity of people who judged her status as an unmarried woman and sighed while describing naysayers who wrote her off because she lacked political clout at the time. She shared with the attendees how she developed a coalition of supporters and how she believed in herself.

Inspiration + Media Math + Determination = Victory — Mount San Jacinto College

Our media expert, Mount San Jacinto College Director of Public Information and Marketing Karin Marriott, focused on how to craft and communicate an effective message. She highlighted the importance of remembering “media math” when conveying a message — you can deliver three points three times and reasonably expect your audience to remember one of them. “So, be concise, be clear, and repeat,” she said.

Teamwork Wins Votes — Georgian Court University

Before the event, Wilsar Johnson, the student organizer of the training, had warned me that GCU women are “pretty competitive.” Once the campaign simulation began, I saw exactly what she was talking about. After I explained the exercise to the group, students wasted no time in forming their teams and devising their strategies. The winning candidate — Melissa Farley, who earned 27 votes — appointed a driver, a campaign manager, and a number of field officers to create the most efficient system for collecting votes.

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Elect Her–Campus Women Win, a collaboration between AAUW and Running Start, encourages and trains college women to run for student government. Follow the links below to read highlights from this spring’s trainings.

Adding More Women’s Voices to Eliminate the Wage Gap — University of Wyoming

Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) emphasized that Wyoming has the highest pay gap in the United States and that more women need to run for office to address this problem. In Wyoming, women earn 65 cents, on average, for every dollar men earn. Nationally, the figure is 77 cents.

Don’t Be Afraid to Throw Up … and Other Lessons — Idaho State University

Sharon Parry, an Idaho Falls City Council member, gave a fantastic speech about her political leadership on the council. When she ran for office, she was opposed by a female incumbent and two men, and she did not sugarcoat how hard that experience was. She was told when she announced her candidacy that “we do not need another woman on city council.”

Wright State Women Prepare to Lead  — Wright State University

Participants had the opportunity to reflect on both local and national issues that recently inspired them to take action. From tuition hikes on campus to attempts to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, students spoke about the issues that affected them and discussed solutions to address those issues.

We’re Half the Population, So Why Aren’t We Half the Government?”  — Boise State University

Madison Hansen, who participated in the training, said, “I’ve always been a proponent of women holding office — we’re half the population, so why aren’t we half the government? But I hadn’t really considered running for anything myself. However, after participating in Elect Her, I am planning on running for office on campus next year. Elect Her taught me not only that I should do it, but I can do it.”

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Since the numbers remain grim for women in Congress and state legislatures, where can we train the next generation of women political leaders? AAUW and Running Start collaborate on Elect Her–Campus Women Win, the only nationwide program that trains college women to run for student government, to answer that question. Elect Her–Campus Women Win will reach 30 sites in 2012, spreading across the country from George Washington University to the University of Cincinnati to Willamette University. With campaign experience in college, we can count on these women to be our political future.

Women make up approximately 52 percent of all student government representatives but only 43 percent of student government presidents (according to data collected from nearly 5,100 institutions for 2011–12 by the American Student Government Association). These figures align with a Princeton University study that revealed that women on their campus do not take on high-profile leadership roles, particularly in student government.

On October 18, AAUW and Running Start hosted two events to launch the 2012 Elect Her training sites and provide an update on the status of women in political leadership, from college to Congress. The first event, a women’s leadership “dial-in discussion,” featured Kate Farrar, director of leadership programs at AAUW; Jessica Grounds, executive director at Running Start; Krystal Ball, political analyst at MSNBC and former congressional candidate; and Ebonie Simpson, Elect Her alumna and vice president of student life at Duke University.

Ball praised AAUW and Running Start for training women to run for office in college because the sooner women gain the confidence, skills, and practice the better! She decided to run for Congress at the age of 27. At that time, there were only two women in all of Congress under the age of 40. Ball lost her race, but said, “The day after the election, life went on. I have all the opportunities now that I could not have imagined … none of it possible without facing down my fears of running.”

Simpson was instrumental in bringing Elect Her to Duke last year, where — out of 40 senators — there were only 12 women, and the executive board and cabinet were dominated by men. Simpson credits the training with her decision to run for the high-level position of vice president of student life. She knows she now has the practice and skills to make a future run for Congress!

On the same day as the launch events, AAUW also hosted Cocktails and Convos, a monthly happy hour in the Washington, D.C., area designed to spark conversation on women’s issues. The event was dedicated to Elect Her this month and brought together women of all ages — as an attendee, I was able to talk to women who managed political campaigns in the ‘90s and young women who are just now thinking about starting their political careers.

This year, Elect Her–Campus Women Win will train hundreds of college women to run and win on their campuses. We want you to follow their stories and support their campaigns! Stay connected with Elect Her on Facebook, and look out for blog posts with highlights as trainings happen this spring.

This blog was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Jessica Kelly.

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This is my fourth year working on AAUW’s college-based national leadership programs, and I’m excited to announce that it’s that time of year again. Applications are now available for three of our great programs. Each program offers a chance for college students and campus faculty to make a difference on their campuses, in their communities, and at the national level.

Elect Her–Campus Women Win

Elect Her–Campus Women Win, a collaboration between AAUW and Running Start, encourages and trains young women to run for student government on their campuses. Any student, AAUW member, or campus faculty or staff member can apply on behalf of a campus to host the program during the 2012 spring semester.

Duke University was a 2010–11 Elect Her site.

Visit the Elect Her web page to access the application and more information about the program. Applications are due September 30, and selections will be announced by October 7. AAUW college/university partner members receive preference.

National Student Advisory Council

“Being a member of the SAC helped me grow as a student leader on my college campus and gain valuable networking experience. Additionally, AAUW has helped me grow in my role as an advocate while expanding my idea of what it means to truly break through barriers for women and girls!” — Cat Cleary (left), 2010–11 SAC member

College students nationwide can apply to serve on the AAUW National Student Advisory Council for the 2011–12 academic year. The 10 selected SAC members will travel to Washington, D.C., in October for a retreat and then again in June for the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. They will have the unique opportunity to advise a national women’s group, hone their leadership skills, and network with student leaders and distinguished women.

Visit the SAC page to access the application, instructions, and information about qualifications. Applications are due September 30, and the new SAC will be announced by October 7. Students at AAUW college/university partner member institutions receive preference.

AAUW Campus Action Projects

This year’s Campus Action Project grant program focuses on the issues raised by AAUW’s November 2011 research report, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment in Schools. Through CAP, teams of student leaders and campus faculty nationwide may apply for up to $5,000 to design and implement programs using recommendations from the report.

AAUW will fund 10 projects during the spring semester. Teams then have the opportunity to share their experiences during the June 2012 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.

A 2010–11 CAP team from the University of Wisconsin, Madison

Visit the CAP web page to download the application and instructions. Applications are due October 21. The chosen teams will be notified in early December. AAUW college/university partner members receive preference.

I hope you will apply for and spread the word about these amazing opportunities. Also, be sure to check out some of the other campus-based programs AAUW offers.

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Forbes released its infamous lists this past week. And while women get their own list,  the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, I’m left wondering what story this really tells us about women’s leadership in the world.

While it’s a neat idea to honor women’s accomplishments, putting women in a list by themselves could be misleading. Once you look at the World’s Most Powerful People list, you see 68 names; only seven of them are women. That’s about 10 percent. Only two of those women are from the United States, and only one works for our government: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

It’s just one more disappointing illustration of the underrepresentation women have in politics and top decision-making positions in general. In addition, there is a striking imbalance across age groups. Being a younger woman myself, I appreciate Forbes taking a look at who they consider the 20 Youngest Power Women. Unfortunately, only six of them are under 40 years old. Are there really not enough women my age who are powerful? For instance, there is not a single U.S. woman politician listed on this “young” Forbes list.

Sure, we can analyze and possibly critique Forbes’ formula for determining the most powerful women in the world. But I think the story these lists point to is an even larger issue: the lack of powerful women leaders as role models. Women in the United States only make up about 17 percent of seats in Congress — less than one-fifth — even though we make up over half the population.

We need to jumpstart women’s leadership with programs like Elect Her–Campus Women Win and $tart $mart. Other groups have recognized this necessity as well, and that’s why AAUW collaborates with both Running Start and the WAGE Project to train women to run effective campaigns for student government and negotiate for equitable pay. If we can get more women to see themselves as political leaders on campus, they will be more likely to continue on in leadership positions after college. And if we can train more young women to be effective negotiators at work, they will be more likely to avoid the gender wage gap and have the confidence to ask for those promotions. By investing in these experiences in college, the next generation of women may well be named on Forbes’ list sooner rather than later.

What younger woman would you add to the World’s Most Powerful Women list?

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The final round of Elect Her–Campus Women Win events for this spring are over. As sad as we are to see these trainings come to an end, we are inspired by the stories from the final two universities that hosted trainings this year. We are also looking forward to next year, but until then, enjoy the following reports from our most recent trainings!

At the Northern Michigan University event, Running Start Program Director Allison Dunatchik said that the highlight of the day was hearing from Courtney Russell, who talked about her experience running for a student government position. Dunatchik wrote, “Not only is Russell the current student body president, but she is also an Elect Her alumna! She shared a unique perspective on what it’s like to run for an executive position in student government as a woman, how her experience with Elect Her prepared her for her campaign, and which strategies she successfully utilized to win her seat.”

Read Dunatchik’s full blog.

Nancy Bocskor, a native of Ohio, facilitated the training at Wright State University in Dayton and noted that she was happy to see a young woman from Egypt attend the training. Bocskor wrote, “With [Egypt] in the throes of a new government and an emerging democracy, her experience in the United States will be invaluable when she returns home. The women from Wright State all bring a unique perspective to a nontraditional college experience, and student government is the leadership thread that connects them.”

Read Bocskor’s full blog.

We hope that you have enjoyed these uplifting stories, and we are looking forward to sharing more of our Elect Her–Campus Women Win updates with you in the future.

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Elect Her–Campus Women Win trainings are intended to prepare the next generation of young college women to run for political office, but the training at Loyola University reached even further in to the future. Running Start board member Tara Andrews reports that the star of the training was 7-year-old Hrilina, a curious and confident second grader. Her mother Pooja, a law student, felt it was important for Hrilina to come along. “I missed the training last year, so I was very excited when I saw the flyer. I think this is information every woman should have. My daughter is already experiencing challenges in school because she is a girl, so I want her to be exposed to this early,” she said. Well, Hrilina got the message! She was the first-place winner of the campaign simulation, securing 29 votes in only 15 minutes.

Read Andrews’ full blog.

From the training at the University of Connecticut, Bridgette Behling reports that Jacqueline Kozin, campaign manager for Connecticut State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, encouraged participants to always be an authentic leader. She stressed that the students should campaign on issues they are passionate about and choose people who will be straightforward and honest for their campaign teams. “Don’t underestimate the importance of surrounding yourself with campaign staff who are not afraid to offer different perspectives, who challenge your ideas and are willing to say to you ‘I don’t think your idea is going to work and here is why,’” she advised.

Read Behling’s full blog.

Elect Her is not just designed for women who have never before run for office and are thinking about doing so, it also serving as a forum for women who are already in student government. At the University of Cincinnati’s training, Public Leadership Education Network Executive Director Pamela O’Leary noted that many of the student participants were already actively involved in student government but wanted to learn more about how to best prepare themselves for re-election. The students wanted to serve in student government to address a number of issues such as student safety, increased tuition, graduate student housing, and above all, creating unity on campus.

Read O’Leary’s full blog.

Congratulations to the other Elect Her campaign simulation winners: Alice Lowe, from the University of Connecticut, and Jody McGraw, from the University of Cincinnati.

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AAUW is in the middle of a fantastic semester of campus events. Keep reading to learn about this week’s Elect Her–Campus Women Win events and see this program’s on-the-ground influence on the next generation of woman politicians.

Julie Daniels, political programs manager for the Women’s Campaign Forum, spoke to University of North Carolina, Wilmington, students about their training. Michelle Fuller, a sociology major, said, “I’ve never really thought about politics before, and this training pushed me out of my comfort zone.” Even though public speaking is not her favorite thing to do, the Elect Her–Campus Women Win elevator speech exercise gave Fuller an opportunity to practice public speaking with her peers.

Read Daniels’ full blog.

At Idaho State University, Nancy Bocskor, president of the Nancy Bocskor Company, wrote about American Falls, Idaho, Mayor Amy Woodworth-Wynn kicking off the day with an engaging presentation about her path to public service — from high school activities to her current gig as mayor. She offered insight into the intricate balancing act that many women in politics deal with when she spoke about her three sons, whom she described as “smart, interesting, funny, and very patient and understanding when they have to wait while people stop mom to talk about city issues.”

Read Bocskor’s full blog.

Allison Dunatchik, program director at Running Start, reports on the inspiring and practical encouragement that the speakers at Pacific Lutheran University gave to students. They encouraged the women to blaze their own paths to leadership and not feel constrained to follow the traditional political pipeline that can often dampen women’s political ambitions. They addressed several of the unique challenges women face in the public area, including how to deal with sexist attacks in campaigning and holding office and how to maintain a work-life balance. They encouraged young women to get involved and find the courage to run for office.

Read Dunatchik’s full blog.

The Elect Her event at the University of Texas, Arlington trained women to set big goals when running for office, according to Running Start board member Marjorie Clifton. Reace Alvarenga-Smith, public relations manager for Texas Health Resources, gave an amazing talk about how to give a presentation and market your campaign. The UT alumna held political office at the school when she was a student and gave a great example of how to make your name memorable — during her school campaign, she gave out Reese’s Pieces as a way to get her name into voters’ heads.

Read Clifton’s full blog.

Congratulations to the winners of the Elect Her–Campus Women Win campaign simulations: Jasmyn Ferbis, University of North Carolina, Wilmington; Cody Taylor, Idaho State University; and Katie Johnson, Bethany Peter, and Mackenzie Landies, Pacific Lutheran University.

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