San Francisco, Calif.—Today, Emerge America, the nation’s leading organization that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office held their annual Ambition to Action Conference and Awards Ceremony at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in the Merchants Exchange Building in San Francisco. The event took stock of the landscape for women in politics after Hillary Clinton’s historic loss in the November election and strategized about the work left to do in 2018 and 2020 to move closer to gender parity in our governing bodies.
“After Hillary Clinton’s devastating defeat in this year’s presidential election, it was important for women to come together to talk about where we go from here and how to best continue working towards gender parity in our governing bodies,” said Andrea Dew Steele, Founder and President of Emerge America. “The conversations we had today about how we continue the slow climb towards equal representation will hopefully help as we build a blueprint. Emerge America will continue to do our part by filing the political pipeline with qualified, trained Democratic women who are ready to run for office. Our work is even more vital after the 2016 election, as women try to hold the gains we’ve made and make more progress.”
At the morning conference, the Scholars Strategy Network presented groundbreaking findings of a national survey of Emerge alumnae on why women decide to run for office and the biggest barriers that keep more women from running. Next, a criminal justice reform panel with former President of the National Black Prosecutors Association Melba Pearson Esq.; former federal prosecutor and adjunct professor at University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law Anna Tyron Pletcher; District Attorney for Kennebec and Somerset Counties, Maine Maeghan Maloney; and attorney and criminal justice expert Whitney Tymas discussed strategies and approaches on how to recruit women to run for elected law enforcement offices in order to dismantle harmful and racist structures in our judicial system and police departments, a new focus for Emerge in 2017.
“This day has been inspiring and uplifting,” said Pearson. “It’s wonderful to see so many women who want to change their communities. I’m heartened that the fight for criminal justice reform will continue on a positive track.”
The luncheon featured a discussion and awards ceremony with the three female elected officials and Emerge graduates who won Emerge’s Ambition to Action Awards in October, Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) Board of Directors member-elect and President of the Akonadi Foundation Lateefah Simon; Oregon State Representative and Multnomah County Commissioner-elect
Jessica Vega Pederson; and Northglenn, Co. City Councilmember Jordan Sauers. Former Michigan Governor and recent co-chair of the Clinton Presidential Transition Team Jennifer Granholm wrapped up the event with keynote remarks about the 2016 election and the future for women in our governing bodies.
“We must recruit leaders that call people’s souls to soar,” said Granholm during her keynote remarks. “…May we all bear the scars and the wounds of battles that have been worth fighting for. Thank you for raising up warriors.”
Despite Hillary Clinton’s historic loss at the top of the ticket, voters across the country elected 150 of the 213 Emerge women who were in down ballot races in 16 states. Emerge alums also turned the tide in several state legislatures. Emerge New Mexico had an incredible night with 10 of their alums winning their races for the New Mexico State House enabling Democrats to take back the chamber from Republicans. In Nevada, 100 percent of Emerge’s alums won their races for the Nevada State House and State Senate flipping both chambers back to Democratic control. This is the most wins in one election cycle for Emerge’s alumnae since the organization was founded.
Emerge America has cracked the code on how to get more women to run for office. Since 2002, Emerge has recruited, trained, and provided a powerful network to over 2,000 women. Of those they have trained, more than 50 percent have run and of those who have run for office approximately 70 percent have won. The organization is also committed to diversity; 39 percent of its graduates are women of color.
CONTACT: Allison Abney