Category: Monday Motivation

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


Motivation: Single Mother. Small Business Owner. State Representative.

Angela-Williams-Video-StillFrameWhile she was running her own business, Angela Williams was approached to consider running for office about four years prior to winning her position in the Colorado House of Representatives. As a single mother who raised her son by herself since he was seven, she is dedicated to bringing the voice of others like her into the conversation. Having been a small business owner for 14 years, Angela had previously testified on bills at the capitol and began to understand how she could make a difference and be a voice for others like her, and through leadership training, realized that decisions are being made at a very high level that affects everyone. Motivated by the impact she was having by participating in civics, she ran for office and was elected during a time when there would be no African American women with a seat at the table. 

I decided to run because I wanted to be a voice for those who don’t have a voice.

One of the things we love about Angela’s leadership story is that she ran for office because she wanted to be a voice for those who don’t have one. Like so many of us, she recognizes the importance of having a governing body that is truly reflective of its people. She considers her time in office “critically important” to ensure there is a diverse voice with opportunity for everyone to be heard and represented.

But it doesn’t stop there for Angela! Among a myriad of other committees, she is a Co-Founder for the Colorado Black Democratic Legislative Caucus,  and, in her commitment to diversity, she works closely with the Latino Caucus to ensure that all of the voices in their communities are being heard.

It was important that we have a legislature that is reflective of the diversity here in Colorado.

I think our most favorite piece of Angela’s story is how she makes it her business to encourage and recruit other women to also run for office and be involved in policy.

Remember, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.

Watch Angela share her leadership story below:

Take the next step in your leadership by registering for an upcoming web clinic, checking out a webinar replay, or learn at your own pace in our resource center.

To your success!

Women need these 2 things to run for office

In order for women to be qualified for public office, you need to start with these two things: passion and integrity. Everything else can be taught.

Find your passion

Passion is the energy that keeps us going, that keeps us filled with meaning, and happiness, and excitement, and anticipation. Passion is a powerful force in accomplishing anything you set your mind to, and in experiencing work and life the fullest extent possible.

Ultimately, passion is the driving force behind success and happiness that allows us all to live better lives.

When it comes to holding public office, passion is key.

Passion will drive you to pick up he phone to raise money and pound the pavement to get out the vote. Passion is what will motivate you to raise awareness around an issue important to you or your community. Passion cannot be taught, it must already burn within you.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
Maya Angelou

Integrity matters.

Integrity is one of the most important characteristics of a good leader — especially in public office. Without integrity, you lose trust. And when you’ve lost trust, respect usually follows suit. It can be a hard line to walk at times, but it’s even more difficult to re-establish your footing after you fall.

Having integrity means not only knowing, but always doing what’s right – even when no one’s looking.

Why we need folks with integrity is an easy one — we need good people in office! Again, this is something that cannot be taught.


And that’s it. Everything else can be learned through things like volunteerism and interning, or online through our web clinics, webinar replays, and resource worksheets. You can build your political resume, but you have to get started. Now.

Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.
– C. S. Lewis

Women have a long list of reasons we  aren’t qualified.

“I’m not qualified because I don’t have enough education. I don’t know enough about every issue. I don’t have enough professional experience.”


That doesn’t matter. You can learn the issues. Do you have passion for change? Are you a person of integrity? Great. Run! Voters vote for people they trust to make good decisions — not based on some grade you have on an imaginary test in your head. You can be taught everything else.

Women always have a long list of everything we do in life of why we’re not qualified or what we could do better. Remember that the list in your head is longer — by far — than the list other people have on you. You ARE qualified. You are passionate, and you have integrity. That’s why we need your power and your decision making at the table right, and you SHOULD run for office.

Watch the video on what you need to run below:

Monday Motivation – It’s Time to Find Your Courage


Happy Monday, VRL Nation. It’s time to talk about courage, or in some cases, the lack thereof. You can scroll to the bottom of this post to see Rhonda’s video, or read on for some further insights and fun (not to mention oh-so-shareable) quotes about courage.

By definition, courage is…

Let’s start simply with the technical explanation of couragethe quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. 

But courage is so much more than that. VRL Board Member Rhonda Briggins Ridley explains,

Courage is something that is in you, that you didn’t know was in you, ever since you were born.

She goes on to say that you must tap into your dreams and goals. We all have a purpose and are equipped with the tools that will help you achieve those goals. And what is that spark that drives you? Courage.


Find the courage to stand up to adversity and fight without worrying about what people think, what they’re saying about you, or what is going on around you. At the end of the day, you have to be focused totally on achieving those goals.

Watch Rhonda’s Video on Courage

Courage is when something deeper, greater, and bigger than even yourself drives you.  What does courage mean to you? When have you dug deep for your courage within? Tell us in the comments. ♡

courage-Mary Anne Radmacher

Monday Motivation – Talk to Men About Women’s Leadership

VRL Advisory Board Member, Jimmie Briggs, shares tips on how to talk to men about women’s leadership. He notes that it is important to personalize the issue and relate to a personal experience with him. Connect with him on his level so it helps him to understand that women’s leadership will help him and the goals he has for his community. What have been the types of conversations you’ve had?

Over the past two decades, Jimmie Briggs has earned a reputation as one of the most respected human rights advocates in the field of journalism.  Through extensive travels to countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, the St. Louis, Missouri-native and graduate of Morehouse College has produced seminal reporting on the lives of war-affected youth and children soldiers, as well as survivors of sexual violence. A National Magazine Award finalist and recipient of honors from the Open Society Institute, National Association of Black Journalists and the Carter Center for Mental Health Journalism, his book on child soldiers and war-affected children Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go To War won him accolades in 2005, and took readers into the personal journeys of war-affected youth.

Further, Briggs has served as an adjunct professor of investigative journalism at the New School for Social Research, and was a George A. Miller Visiting Professor in the Department of African and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois: Champaign-Urbana. His upcoming book The Wars Women Fight: Dispatches from A Father to His Daughter, narratively examines violence against women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and the United States. Most recently, Jimmie Briggs conceived of and founded the Man Up Campaign, a global initiative for mobilizing young people to stop violence against women and girls through the arts, sports and technology. It formally launched during a Young Leaders Summit at the University of Johannesburg during 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, bringing youth together from 25 countries throughout the world, many from Sub-Saharan Africa. For his work with Man Up Campaign and the issue of violence against women, Briggs was selected as the winner of the 2010 GQ Magazine “Better Men Better World” Search, as well as one of Women’s eNews’ 21 Leaders for the 21st Century.

Man Up is a global campaign to activate youth to stop violence against women and girls. Harnessing the universal power of music, sport and technology, Man Up provides innovative training, resources and support to young women and men and the organizations with whom they collaborate. The Man Up Campaign formally launched during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, bringing together a diverse group of up to +100 women and men (ages 18 to 30 years) from 25 countries. Occurring at the University of Johannesburg, this international forum was the first of its kind to develop capacity and technical expertise among young people of both genders, who are committed to stopping violence against women and girls.


Monday Motivation: The Serena Sisterhood

In another stunning display of Girl Power and athleticism, Serena  Williams defeated promising Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 6-4 6-4 in southwest London to complete the “#SerenaSlam” – winning four straight majors – for the second time. This is her sixth win at Wimbledon.

In recognition of her opponent’s remarkable effort, Serena told Garbine, “Don’t be sad. You’ll be holding this trophy very soon, believe me. You’re a great champ.”

Bad vibes on Twitter, Enter JK Rowling

It’s too bad everyone can’t be as gracious as Serena. Even with the tremendous wins in international sports by American women, some folk think it’s okay to pop off with hateful quips when it comes to female athletes and our beautiful bodies.

​Sometimes a world-class author just needs to shut it down.

After Serena won, Harry Potter author JK Rowling sent out this congratulatory tweet:

Unfortunatley,not everyone on Twitter (or online) was as pleased. One user, whose account is now “protected,” unceremoniously replied to Rowling’s tweet by saying “she is is built like a man.”


The enlightened author who is known for her swift, impeccably brilliant wit decided to take a more direct approach. Below is her response.

Game. Set. Match.

Monday Motivation – U.S. Women’s National Team Plays Like A Girl & Wins

We won! We won! WE WON!!!!

What better way to round out your 4th of July weekend and kick off your week than with the US Women’s National Team’s decisive victory over Japan? In an incredible display of athleticism and teamwork, these women dominated the field and showed the world what it looked like to play like a girl. The team also made history last night with the highest scoring final in Women’s World Cup history. Even the President himself gave Carli Lloyd a Twitter shoutout and invitation to The White House for her contribution to the win. Their dedication, perseverance, and positivity made them an unstoppable force that couldn’t be ignored. We’re so proud!

For the first time in 17 years, the FIFA Women’s World Cup is back in the hands of the U.S. Women’s National Team, who defeated Japan 5-2 on Sunday before an estimated crowd of 53,341 in Vancouver, Canada.
Their tenacity and excellence has inspired a whole new generation of girls and boys to go out and work their hardest at pursuing their dreams.

Check out some of our favorite posts from around the web, highlighting this victory!


And this one cracked us up. Position: President.

Congrats, US Team, we’re celebrating with you! What was your favorite moment?

Top 5 Tips on Self Care for Women

What exactly is self care?

Self-care is, “The voluntary regulation of one’s own human functioning and development as necessary to maintaining life, health and well-being, as well as ongoing activity and an area of competence to be developed.” This definition was provided to VRL by Dr. LG Shanklin Flowers on the Tuesday, June 23 web clinic: On Matterness: Self-Care and Leadership. If you missed it, you need to go back and watch!

She shared that self-care is a revolutionary act, but that we often view this act as ‘indulgence’ and feel too guilty to take more time to invest in our well-being and personal growth. As women, we have been socialized with a very reduced role of what our leadership looks like. As a result, we have become trained to fight for others but not ourselves. We may often find ourselves apologizing for our ambition rather than owning it, and telling stories about ourselves as accidental leaders rather than intentional leaders. Sound familiar? What will ultimately change this deficient self-care paradigm is shifting our engagement towards learning how to put ourselves in the center of our own lives.

Here are Dr LG Shanklin-Flowers’ Top 5 Self-Care tips:

1. Be the love of your own life

Unwavering self-care beings with self-love. Put yourself back in the center of your own life. Treat ourselves the way we regard other people and dismiss negative thoughts towards ourselves.

Self Care - You are good, good, goodly good.

2. Practice telling stories with you as the intentional leader

Change the narrative. Begin telling stories of us being in charge, as opposed to being the ‘accidental’ leader.

Self Care - Well being is a perspective and behavior we can cultivate.

3. Make a list of your negative ‘mind tapes’ that run on continuous loop

Bring consciousness to the way you think about yourself and attribute where this voice is coming from. You don’t want to continue to rehearse those messages. Practice not criticizing ourselves and spend a full day being entirely pleased with ourselves.

Self Care - The only thing wrong with us is self criticism.

4. Imagine yourself as a newborn

What would you say to yourself? Step in the right direction of valuing ourselves.

Being central in our own lives is a birthright

5. Surround yourself with a community of support

Create and seek out networks that act out as your very own ‘cheering section’.

It is hopeful that we continue to care for ourselves and the world so deeply

Sound off, VRL Nation! What do you do to maintain your wellbeing? What do you do for self care?

Want more on self care?

Join us in Minneapolis for an exclusive live training with Dr. LG. Register below.



Monday Motivation: The Women of #PDF15


The Personal Democracy Forum (better known as #PDF15) is an annual conference that highlights and showcases the work of civic technologists: people and organizations at the intersection of politics and tech using their powers for good. VoteRunLead was proud to serve on the Understanding and Overcoming Barriers to Participation panel with Google’s John Webb, Knight Foundation’s Jon Sotsky, the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation’s Sandy Heierbacher, moderated by Allison Fine, author of Matterness.

This panel, just like the entire speakers’ docket, did what a lot of conferences attempt to do: men and women equally sharing the stage. With 50% female speakers at the entire event (way to go #PDF15), Liz and I met even more dynamic women working to improve democracy and using tech to make it happen. We were inspired! So this week, all the women of #PDF15 are VRL’s Monday Motivation!

Here are a few of our faves – from the White House to the women of #BlackLivesMatter:

1. Haley Van Dyck, the co-founder of the United States Digital Service, on her new “start-up” headquartered inside the White House to build services for the American people that work better and cost less. Cool.

Haley Van Dyke

2. CEO of and Founder of Dress for Success, Nancy Lublin, gives an update on Crisis Text Line, her new company and the first 24/7, free, nationwide text line for teens. And, how she broke away in a new, honest direction with her own leadership.


3. Lizz Brown and Kimberly Ellis, aka Dr Goddess, served on the #BlackTwitter, #BlackLivesMatter: Turning Pain Into Political Powerpanel, and gave a shout out to VRL while hitting all the right notes on how to sustain the movement.

4. Social Scientist Kate Krontiris explaining new research on the opportunities to engage “Interested Bystanders” – getting almost half the country more civically active — in partnership with Google Civic Innovation Portfolio.

Kate Krontiris

5. Deanna Zandt with her talk, “All the Feelz,” makes the emotional case for bringing our full selves to technology and civic change. (Her team, Lux Digital, is helping us do this kind of ‘emotional resonance’ with Invitation Nation and we couldn’t be more thrilled!)


6. US Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the 200th woman elected to serve in the House of Representatives, shares her vision of what the future of Congress could look like if politics and technology finally intersect. We admire her dedication to bring Capitol Hill in to the 21st century.


You can watch all the talks, yep, including the ones by men, too, here.

VRL is proud to be a part of the growing civic tech community as a member of Civic Hall, the sister organization to PDF, and in our own efforts to use technology to accelerate women’s leadership.
Still not quite sure what this civic tech is all about and – more importantly- how it can help you lead? Check out “Civic Tech Is Ready For Investment,” and stay tuned for an upcoming online summer series on technologies that we think will help you vote, run, and lead.


Here’s a great past web clinic by Marci Harris, VRL Advisory Board Member and Founder of PopVox, on how to contribute to bills in Congress in a more meaningful way, right from your computer.

Monday Motivation with Peggy Flanagan : We don’t give ourselves enough credit

Those of you who attended National Go Run 2014 in Minneapolis will remember Peggy Flanagan, our hilarious and wildly inspirational keynote speaker from the first night. If not, you’re in for a treat. Watch this quick video below to learn about how Peggy’s initial run for office had nothing to do with her.

“We don’t give ourselves enough credit. You are an expert in your own life, in your own story, and in your own experience.”

Peggy’s story begins when she decided it was time to for someone to represent families like hers on the school board —  there weren’t any Native Americans on the board.  As she puts in, “when I  first thought about running, I didn’t run for myself.” After searching for six months looking for the right person, the people in her community said she should be that representation and they asked her to run. So, she went for it (and you should, too).

There are people making decisions everyday on our behalf.  Our communities, our states, and our country would do a better job of representing us if the leadership was as diverse as we are. We need leadership that accurately reflects the entire community and that won’t happen if we don’t have women run and win. If you’re waiting to be asked, we’re asking you right now to run for office.

Peggy has taken her own advice more than once, and last week even announced that she is running for a seat in the Minnesota House!