Category: VRL Blog

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.

Ultimate Summer Roundup of Women’s Political & Leadership Training from Around the Country

Women's Leadership Training

Summer is the time for vacations, grilling, and bucket lists. Why not use one of those summer days to check off that leadership class you've been meaning to take? We've rounded up 20 cross-country women’s leadership training events this summer happening all around the country. Which one is happening near you?

East Coast

Young Women's Political Summit

When: July 11, 2015
Where: Georgetown University
Cost: $50
Read More & Register: Women's Leadership Forum 22nd Annual National Issues Conference

When: October 22 – 23
Where: Washington, DC
Cost: $45 – 250
Read More & Register:

National Candidate Training

When: July 30–August 2, 2015
Where: Washington, DC
Cost: Free (while it lasts!)
Read More & Register:

National Women's Political Caucus: Women for the Win: Fast-Track Training For Candidates & Campaigns

When: July 17t
Where: Washington, DC
Cost: Non-Members (includes NWPC Membership)$ 55.00
Read More & Register:

Agenda 2016 from Florida Progressives

When: Saturday, August 29
Where: Orlando, FL
Cost: $25 before Aug. 1, $35 after
Read More & Register: Eventbrite


When: Wednesday, July 29th
Where: Atlanta, GA
Cost: Free
Read More & Register: Eventbrite

Ready to Run West Virginia: Women’s Campaign Training from West Virginia Women’s Commission

When: September 18-19
Where: Charleston, WV
Cost: $25
Read More & Register: Eventbrite

Girls in Politics Initiative

Do you have a high school daughter interested in government? Girls in Politics Initiative is bringing you Politics, Advocacy and Political Careers for Girls.

Where: Miami, Florida and DC
Cost: $160
Read More & Register: Florida | September

West Coast

National Federation of Republican Women Biennial

When: September 10-13, 2015
Where: Phoenix, AZ
Cost: $99 – 445
Read More & Register:

2015 Women's Leadership Conference

When: July 13 – 14
Where: Las Vegas
Cost: $375
Read More & Register:

Institute for Women's Leadership: Women as Changemakers, Building Community from the Ground Up.

When: October 2nd
Where: Kings Beach, CA  (north Lake Tahoe area)
Cost: Early bird special (before Aug. 1) $99
Read More & Register:

Real Women Revealed Inspiring Women's Conference

When: August 28 – 30th
Where: Ontario, CA (outside of Los Angeles)
Cost: $15 – 65
Read More & Register:  Eventbrite


Women Lead Arkansas

When: July 24 – 26
Where: Morrilton, AR
Cost: $200 before July 10, $325 after
Read More & Register:

NEW Leadership Summit

When: September 30 – October 2
Where: Dallas
Cost: $1,195 (early bird rate until Wednesday, August 12) $1,495 after
Read More & Register:

Leadership Institute's Campaign Management Workshop

When: August 8th
Where: Dallas, TX
Cost: Free (hurry while it lasts!)
Read More & Register:
Check out more summer classes from the Institute here:

Women Know Your Worth: Removing The Price Tag Conference from Envisioning The Future, Inc.

When: July 18th
Where: Milwaukee, WI
Cost: Free while lasts
Read More & Register: Eventbrite

Annie's List Candidate 101 Training

Where: All over Texas
Cost: $25
Read More & Register:


Political Institute for Women Webinars

When: Throughout the summer
Where: Your couch!
Cost: $75+
Read More & Register:

Veteran's Campaigns

A veteran and looking for another way to serve your country? Veteran's Campaigns holds workshops around the country. Sign up today to begin receiving updates.

Read More & Register:

Certification in Election Administration

Have you always been interested in the complexity of U.S. election laws and regulations? University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs is now offering a Certificate in Election Administration through online training.

Read More & Register:

Maryland Federation of Republican Women Convention

When: October 9-11.
Keep check on their site for further details to come.

Campaign Management Schools

Who: National Federation of Republican Women
What: These schools are run by volunteer experts teaching successful ways to raise money, write campaign plans, organize volunteers and communicate with voters.
Contact to see about a program near you.

Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series

Apply to be a part of the Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series. Up to 25 participants will be selected for the nine month program, featuring monthly sessions with government and political leaders, lobbyists and media representatives. Deadline is August 1st.

So you went to some trainings this summer and are ready for an intense next summer? Check out the below and mark your calendars now!

Women's Campaign School at Yale University

Forbes Women's Summit

Emerge America

The cross-country organization is gearing up to release applications for its cohort-based training program. These are all for a 5-6 month training program, 60-70 hours of training for up to 25 women at a time. The organization currently works in 14 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

  • Nevada’s program runs September through March. Keep check online, applications go live in a week!
  • Virginia program runs January through June. Application deadline will be November 1
  • Kentucky program is TBD but typically goes late January through late June for training.  Applications will be accepted September-November election day.
  • Vermont program is January – May, with the application window open September – October
  • New Jersey TBD but classes generally go from January to June
  • Maine classes are September – March with applications accepted from May-July.
  • Colorado training will take place January – June. Applications will be open September – November. Colorado also has a week long intensive August 3 – 7

Did we miss anything? Tell us in the comments what training programs you're participating in this Summer!

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.


VoteRunLead Announces New Advisory Board Members

Rina Shah Bharara, Stephanie Berger, Thad Hellman, Jeff Johnson, Jensine Larsen and former Governor Jane Swift join advisory committee of the country’s leading women’s civic leadership training organization.

New York, NYVoteRunLead (VRL), a national, nonpartisan non-profit dedicated to promoting women seeking public office, announced today the addition of six members to its advisory board committee. The new board members bring experience from a wide array of professional backgrounds, including elected office, corporate America, politics and media.

The new advisory board members are:

RinaRina Shah Bharara is a media commentator and international affairs expert featured weekly on PBS’s “To the Contrary” and a seasoned Republican political operative.



Stephanie BergerStephanie Berger is the founder of Berger Hirschberg Strategies and a nationally recognized Democratic fundraiser. She has served as the finance director for the Democratic National Committee and as a presidential co-finance director of Kerry for president. Her firm specializes in electing Governors. She has worked with nearly every woman governor, and is a longtime trainer for VoteRunLead.


ThadThad Hellman is the Director of Government Affairs at Target and board member of the Citizen’s League.



Jeff JohnsonJeff Johnson is an award-winning journalist, commentator on the nationally-syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show” and Head of Strategy for the Baltimore-based branding firm Illume Communications.



JensineLarsenJensine Larsen is an award-winning social media entrepreneur, speaker, visionary and the founder of World Pulse, a digital communication network connecting women worldwide and bringing them a global voice.



JaneSwiftJane Swift, former Governor of Massachusetts, is currently a Distinguished Lecturer in Leadership Studies at Williams College and CEO of Middlebury Interactive Languages.



“We are honored to have such a dynamic and diverse group of individuals join our board of advisors. Their expertise will help the organization in its goal to inspire, motivate and train hundreds of thousands of women from around the country to lead a political life,” said Erin Vilardi, Founder and Director of VoteRunLead.

“As ‘glass ceilings’ continue to be shattered by women all over these United States and as our nation seeks genuine leadership to tackle the greatest societal problems of this century, I am convinced that an increasing number of women can and will heed the call to run for political office,” said media and political commentator, Rina Shah Bharara. “But, it won’t happen overnight, and certainly won’t happen without the determined and focused work of organizations like VoteRunLead — which will not only encourage more women, but will also empower them with the much-needed tools they need to become leaders of both today and tomorrow. I am enthusiastic and proud to join such a noble effort.”

“While there’s been some recent progress in boosting female participation in political leadership, we still have a lot of work to do,” said Governor Swift.  “Studies have shown that having more women in the workplace makes for a better company, and I have witnessed the benefits of more gender balance in the public sector as well.  The work of VoteRunLead not only helps women succeed in politics, but also creates a more balanced, representative and effective government for us all.”

“VoteRunLead’s mission aligns perfectly with Target’s commitment to inclusivity and leadership development. I’m excited to do whatever I can in this new capacity to ensure women are inspired and empowered to get actively involved in political leadership,” said Thad Hellman, director of government affairs, Target.

The new members bring the VoteRunLead advisory to twelve. Current members include Jimmie Briggs, founder of the ManUp Campaign, Marci Harris, Founder of PopVox and Chair, Marie Wilson, author and longtime women’s activist. Complete bios for current and new advisors can be found at /who-we-are/advisory-board/.

About VoteRunLead:

VoteRunLead is a national, nonpartisan organization that unleashes the power of women leaders in democracy through training, technology and community. We aim for large-scale impact on women’s community and political leadership never before seen in the United States. By harnessing social networks as a new and powerful recruitment tool, creating an online platform to learn to run and lead, and conducting in-person trainings that build powerful networks, VoteRunLead will fuel women’s ambition for civic leadership and close the knowledge gap around politics for women from all classes, cultures and colors.


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!

Monday Motivation: Women in Politics Changing the Country with Colorado State Representative Kit Roupe

Meet Kit Roupe. She's a Veteran and a State Representative of Colorado. She believes in you and your journey to political leadership. We need more women in politics! Why? At VoteRunLead, we know that women must become more involved in legislature because we're part of society. We vote, we pay taxes, we make decisions for our family and have purchasing power. We underestimate the similarity between balancing our personal lives with what happens in legislature. But when it comes down to it, it's not that different. It's all about understanding the jargon.

 When it comes to collaboration, women are proven to excel, especially in the political sphere. We need to change the game, and we start in our own states and our local communities to gain the confidence for people to put their money behind us. Gaining more seats in elected offices will change the country and where we're going!

I am a Veteran and I encourage women and other women Veterans to stand up for ourselves. 
-Kit Roupe, Colorado State Representative

I'm not a big speaker, but nothing is done if I'm quiet.

 "Nothing is done if I'm quiet." @kitroupe on the importance of women leaders. #MondayMotivation #VRLNation 

And in case one video of Representative Roupe wasn't enough, check out this brilliant, 44-second clip of her explaining why it's important to find your voice and speak up.

How to Run for Office - National Go Lead VoteRunLead - Group Photo

Monday Motivation / Confession – #GoLead2015

We have a confession to make. Monday Motivations are typically reserved for highlighting one woman who is blazing a trail, making a difference, or owning her power. Unfortunately for this week, we are having a really hard time identifying one.

So, we decided to go ahead and celebrate over 110 who took an enormous step by becoming graduates of National Go Lead 2015.

How to Run for Office - National Go Lead VoteRunLead - Group Photo
National Go Lead was this past weekend, and these last three days have been a whirlwind for the entire VoteRunLead team. There were over a dozen workshops and presentations about fundraising, voter registration, how to run for office, building power, fundraising, local leadership opportunities, communications, civic technology, and many, many more. Networks were expanded, connections were made, and lasting, fast-friendships were formed. And although there is no way we can accurately explain the uplifting, powerful, and truly life-changing #GoLead2015 was, we still wanted to share the story the best we could.
We compiled a small portion of the hundreds Tweets, Instagram posts, and Facebook mentions in to a slide show. We’ll write a complete wrap up in the coming days, but for now, join us in celebrating these courageous women!
Remember to leave comments or reply to me directly from this email if you have something to share!
To  your success,
Erin & the VRL Team