Author: Erin Vilardi

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Run As You Are: A call to women to seek public office

Originally published by Erin Vilardi on Medium.com

We are in a new political reality in America. Voters are done with “politics as usual” and have demonstrated an openness to new kinds of leadership. Everyday Americans are showing up organized in the streets and at town halls, agitated with the direction leaders are taking the country. Most critically, ambitious women are looking inward to fill this leadership vacuum, ready to step off the sidelines and run for public office.

Since the presidential election, tens of thousands of women have expressed their interest in running, with almost 6,000 signing up with VoteRunLead.org to learn how to run and win. Never before have we seen the kind of energy towards public service from women in every corner of America. Our data shows that prior to the elections, 60% of women looking to run had a five year plan in mind. Post-election, that same number is looking to run by 2020. The timing couldn’t’ be better: vulnerable incumbents, new and energized voters, and an electorate in tune with the issues they care about.

The stakes are high — from education to immigration — and the barriers now seem small in comparison. Women who traditionally would have held themselves to burdensome standards are no longer undercutting their qualifications. Women previously turned away from politics by the hyper-partisanship and lack of action now realize they are the ones we’ve been waiting for to bridge the divide and shape real policy.

As women are stepping into the political arena, it is critical that they maintain their authentic selves, trust their instincts, and stand by their convictions. What women bring to democracy is exactly what is needed now.

This is not just a call to women to run, but a call to Run As You Are.

The long-held notions of what women bring to political leadership — from executing on a long-term vision and engaging diverse constituents in their decision-making to collaborating every which way and having a knack for getting things done — are exactly the skills that are needed right now. We can’t wait any longer: at the current rate, it will take at least 200 years to obtain gender parity in government since men make up 80% of the House and Senate, 80% of Mayors and 75% of State Legislatures.

That’s why VoteRunLead is launching Run As You Are — a new campaign to train the thousands of women who are raising their hands. We have developed a highly customized program of essential trainings to equip motivated women with the skills and tools to run for office and win in the next two election cycles.

Run As You Are will help women identify the transferable skills they already possess and how to market them in this new political environment. The initiative will challenge women to take 30 political actions in 90 days, accelerating the growth of their networks and relationships inside their local communities. We’ll also map out a campaign plan that’s easy to follow and provide it in a format that can be done without taking time off from work or your life. Available in three free web classes, the VoteRunLead.org Run As You Are series will jumpstart women’s campaigns whether they’re running for the school board or the State House.

VoteRunLead.org is a training powerhouse, helping to propel the elections of Ilhan Omar, the first Somali American to serve in any of the 50 State Legislatures, of Brenda Lopez, the first Latina in the Georgia State Assembly, and hundreds of others on committees, councils and commissions in rural America and urban centers. VoteRunLead.org matches women with the right know-how, trainings and how-tos to help them enter politics with a purpose. Our approach is practical, actionable, nonpartisan and individualized.

To all women looking to run as you are: We know that who you are — your values and your life experience — make you an exceptional candidate. We believe in you and we feel the urgency you feel. Join us. Get started and learn how to Run As You Are.

Know the perfect candidate? Then ask a woman to run by inviting her to lead. Or donate to power the next generation of women leaders.

It’s time to Run As You Are. You’re ready. We’ll prove it.

Originally published by Erin Vilardi on Medium.com

How Does Your State Rank in the National Representation Index?

America is a nation founded on an ideal that all people are equal and have a stake in how our nation is governed. While we may not always succeed, ours is a history of pursuing this vision. It’s not enough that women and citizens of all races can vote – every American must also have equal access to lead and representation.

Who Leads Us is a project of Women Donors Network. Their goal is to provide the American people with a way to measure our progress toward a democracy where our leaders reflect the people they serve. The data you see presented on the above widget comes from a first-of-its-kind exploration of the race and gender composition of more than 42,000 American elected officials, conducted in the Summer of 2014. This data was analyzed in comparison to Census data, confirming that the face of America’s leadership bears little resemblance to our country’s population.

We’re strongest when our leadership reflects the full range of talent and lived experience that America has to offer. That’s why we’re working for change. Together with other advocates and funders, we are working to level the playing field for all who wish to represent their communities in elected office. Let’s build a democracy that reflects all of us.

Who Leads Us?

Meet Emily Kuhn: A Woman Revolutionizing the Way We Vote

Last November, Emily Kuhn was struck with a terrible epiphany: she was staring at a bunch of names she didn’t recognize. And worse, she had to select people from these names to represent her. Emily was looking at her ballot in a polling booth. In that moment, out of exasperation she thought, there must be a candidate app for this. There wasn’t.

There is now, thanks to Emily.

Read more

Creative Disruption: Using Innovative Tech to Advance Latina Leaders in Politics

By Nadia Farjood and Erin Vilardi

Latinas, despite being the country’s fastest-growing population, are the most underrepresented major group in American politics. Why? Because you can’t be what you can’t see. With a short supply of Latina role models and weak institutional support (think parties recruiting Hispanic leaders), Latinas are missing out on two critical elements known for increasing diversity in leadership. And when, on average, Latinas are paid only 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, economic inequity becomes a significant disadvantage in such a resource-driven political environment. Today, only a handful of organizations provide Latina-specific political and campaign training. So, what’s the good news? What can we do to advance Latinas who have been left out of the political system?

We’ve got some best practices from our partnership, Latinas in Leadership, a ten-part web clinics series with LatinasRepresent and VoteRunLead, featuring Latina leaders, for Latina leaders launched in October 2014. By combining tech and targeted training, we are reaching new leaders and growing the talent pool of Latina leadership.

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Here’s what we’ve learned.

  • Keep Resources Free and Accessible for LongTerm: Reduce economic and geographic barriers with free, online content and keep content available and evergreen to allow women to access it at their own pace,
  • Latina-Specific Content, Recognize Intersectionality, and Internal Diversity: Respond directly to Latinas’ concerns, questions, and competencies and build a supportive network inclusive of the diversity within the community. Allow others to access resources from outside to showcase Latina talent.
  • Inspiring Role Models from All Levels: Spotlight Latina leaders who are making waves in politics, policy, and public office from local levels to national role models.

It’s simple: Innovate. Think outside the box. Use technology to reach Latinas nationwide because. Try new tools to create a more reflective and effective democracy. Take a risk. Our digital innovations are equipping, emboldening, and energizing Latinas to vote, run, and lead and we hope you will join us in the journey.

Your first step can be to watch and then share the Latinas in Leadership web clinics!

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Watch + Share Vocalizing Your Ambition

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Watch + Share How to Create a Support System

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Watch + Share Answering Tough Questions

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Watch + Share Mentoring & the Power of Your Network

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Watch + Share Mighty Mujeres

It’s essential to the future success of our country that we have more qualified Latinas in civic leadership roles, and if you’re reading this post then the chances are pretty good that you agree. Join us and give us your feedback.

You tell us…

What did you think of the Latinas in Leadership series? What do you find the most rewarding? What are your fears about running for office? We hope a few women have popped into your head while reading this: share this with her and encourage her to run for office!