Emerge America Women Are Resisting, Enlisting and Winning in 2017

  • May 11, 2017
  • Allison Abney


Emerge America Women Are Resisting, Enlisting and Winning in 2017

May 11, 2017

Washington, D.C.—In 2017, Emerge America alumnae across the country have already stepped up to lead the resistance against Trump and take back our country—25 of the 30 Emerge America alumnae who have appeared on the ballot so far this year have won their races.

“This is how we are going to take back our country,” said Andrea Dew Steele, Founder and President of Emerge America. “Many of these women were inspired by Hillary Clinton’s historic run for the presidency and devastated by her defeat at the hands of the most misogynistic candidate in American history. On November 9, they picked up their political boxing gloves, entered our training programs and decided to enter the political arena. We were perfectly poised to turn their interest into action and give them the tools and network to be successful.”

On April 4, 15 of the 17 Emerge America women who ran in Colorado and Wisconsin won their races. Emerge Colorado alumna Yolanda Avila pulled a huge upset in conservative Colorado Springs when she emerged the winner of her city council race, unseating an incumbent. A legally blind advocate for the disabled, Yolanda campaigned with her guide dog Puma by her side and won despite being heavily outspent in a three-way primary.

In Wisconsin, Emerge Wisconsin alumna Arvina Martin ran for a seat on the Madison City Council. She defeated a male opponent and will be the first Native American to serve on the council. Arvina spent her career creating opportunities for tribal communities and helping them facilitate relationships with Wisconsin’s government.

Voters in Milwaukee also voted to elect Emerge Wisconsin program member Paula Phillips to the Milwaukee Public School Board. The daughter of Filipino immigrants who taught her the value of public education and public service, Phillips says she ran for Milwaukee School Board because she believes strong schools can be a safe haven and unlock a student’s potential.

“After the election in November, I was devastated, said Paula Phillips. “Being able to run for office gave me agency in a time I felt helpless. I went into this election fully aware that I might not be a “traditional” candidate. I had a fear that if Hillary couldn’t win, maybe I couldn’t either.”

 “Winning this election has solidified my belief in my community. That in a world riddled with fear, kindness and decency is still valuable. That when we talk to one another, we can find our humanity again,” said Phillips.

On April 25, Emerge Massachusetts alumna Mehreen Butt was elected to the Wakefield Board of Selectmen, winning her seat in a crowded field of six people. The only person of color in the race, she is the first female Muslim-American selectman in Massachusetts and the third Muslim-American elected to office in the state.

On April 29, Emerge Virginia 2017 Boot Camp Alumna Debra Rodman prevailed in her caucus to secure the Democratic nomination for the Virginia House of Delegates, 73rd District race. Rodman’s caucus included two other Emerge Virginia alumnae and a white man, with the three women receiving the highest vote totals and Rodman prevailing.

Just last week, Emerge Massachusetts alumnae Sabrina Heisey, Reeny Gordon, Chris Chanyasulkit and Heather Hamilton won their races for Dracut School Committee, Southampton Selectman, Brookline Library Trustee and Brookline Board of Selectmen respectively. They will go on to serve as leaders in their communities, putting forth the kinds of progressive policies that will lead our country into a brighter future.

“I am so thankful for the support, for the donations, for the volunteers, for my husband who let me flip my house into campaign headquarters, for my Emerge sisters who kept me in focus,” said Heisey. “I can’t wait to get to work on the Dracut School Committee.”

Other Emerge alumnae who’ve won their races in 2017, include: 

Sarah Etelman, South Hadley Selectboard, Mass.
Joyce Hall, Hudson City Council, Wis.
Amanda Hall, Madison City Council, Wis.
Barbara McKinney, Madison City Council, Wis.
Denise DeMarb, Madison City Council, Wis.
Carolyn Clow, McFarland Village Board, Wis.
Annette Ashley, Middleton Cross Plains School Board, Wis.
Anissa Welch, Mayor of Milton, Wis.
Jenna Jacobson, Oregon Village Board, Wis.
Melissa Lemke, Racine City Council, Wis.
Diane Odeen, River Falls City Council, Wis.
Emily Lindsey, Sun Prairie City Council, Wis.
Sarah Gaskell, Verona City Council, Wis.
Ashley Hill, Montpelier City Council, Vt.
Nicole Mace, Winooski City Council, Vt.
Rebecca White, Hartford Selectboard, Vt.

Since Election Day, Emerge America and all of our Emerge affiliates have seen an incredible increase in women asking for training. All of the organization’s states have seen a huge surge in applications for their upcoming classes with an average 87 percent increase nationally and 24 states have reached out to Emerge America about opening new affiliates. What’s more, more than 100 other Emerge America alumnae have stepped forward and announced that they are running for office in 2017 in state and local races.

“If we want to elect a female president, we have to build a robust pipeline of women in elected office at every level,” said Steele. “An important part of making sure that women are prepared to enter and move up the political ladder is ensuring that they have access to adequate training in order to navigate the political system.”

Emerge America’s intensive, six-month, 70-hour program best prepares Democratic women to run and win. It’s the only organization that offers Democratic women this type of in-depth candidate preparation and the success of our alumnae proves that our training model works. Take the November 2016 election, where 150 of the 214 Emerge America alumnae on the ballot won their races—that’s a 70 percent win-rate.

“The training I received through Emerge was so thorough, and I felt confident in making decisions regarding my campaign,” said Martin. “Most importantly, Emerge gave me the connections to other amazing women, who supported me and my efforts. My Emerge sisters advised me, built me up, when I doubted myself, and knocked doors with me. They encouraged me every step of the way, and I’m so thankful for all of their support.”

The Emerge America model was developed in California in 2002, the organization has expanded to 18 states with a goal of being in 34 states by 2018 and having a presence in all 50 states by 2020.

“Hundreds of women across the country, spurred by the outcome of last year’s election, are in our training programs getting ready to resist by running,” said Steele. “Millions of women are fired up, outraged by Donald Trump’s regressive policies and wanting to engage.”