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