EASTON — Emerge Maryland, a training organization for Democratic women seeking elected or appointed office, is accepting applications as of Saturday, July 20 for its second round of classes.
“This is one of those opportunities for women who have thought about running for office and they don’t even know where to begin. We are the place to begin,” Diane Fink, executive director of Emerge Maryland, said.
The seven-month program, which begins in October and runs through April, offers more than 70 hours of training for registered Democratic, Maryland women, and focuses on fundraising, campaign management, networking and other key aspects of running a successful campaign.
Originally starting with Emerge California in 2002, Emerge America was eventually founded in 2005 and grew to include 13 states — Arizona, California, Colorado Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Virginia, Wisconsin and Maryland.
Fink said women who graduated from the Emerge program have a 63 percent success rate at getting into office, and specified it includes any level of office, except for federal positions, below gubernatorial and also appointed positions.
One of the areas the course covers that Fink said the women usually get a lot out of is the cultural competency part of the program, which is understanding not just the voters but their constituents once they’re elected, and giving the women “tools they need to learn to bridge those gaps,” not just racially and socioeconomically, but including constituents with disabilities, like physical and learning disabilities.
Fink said the program’s tuition is $500 per woman, which she said is only a small fraction of what it costs to do the training, as the program depends on donors to fund the rest.
Plus, the women in the program are tasked with raising another $500 as part of their fundraising training to “get their feet wet,” Fink said.
Cheryl Everman, who is running as a Democrat for Sen. Richard Colburn’s District 37 Senate seat in the 2014 election, is a graduate of the first round of Emerge Maryland classes.
She said she’s organized fundraising for other’s campaigns before, but not for her own, and it “is a whole different experience.”
“I think I had a pretty good idea of some of the things that you do with the campaign, but never from a candidate’s side,” Everman said. “It (Emerge Maryland) brings everything together. Plus, it provides you with the confidence that you need.”
Everman said one reason the program was formed is because women are generally more hesitant to run for office than men, and there are certain biases that many people, as humans, have when it comes to women.
“When a woman stands up to speak, not everyone, but a large portion of the audience is judging what she looks like,” she said. “While with men, you don’t do that.”
She said the instructors brought in to teach the women in the program are top-notch in their fields and they’re there to give the women direct feedback, which helps build confidence.
Everman found the public speaking and communications part of the course particularly helpful for her, which helped develop a campaign and communication strategy.
“People have told me that have known me for years that they see a huge difference in me, and it’s a positive,” she said, adding that there’s more self-confidence and focus in her speeches now after the graduating from the program.
For women in the area who are thinking about enrolling in Emerge Maryland but aren’t totally sure, Everman encourages them to go to the information session about the program at 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 28 at Lesley Israel’s home, 6433 Cedar Cove in Royal Oak.
Emerge Maryland is seeking 20 women for the program who fit the following criteria:
- Evidence of political leadership experience or potential, and meaningful involvement in the workplace or community
- Interest in pursuing political office
- Demonstrated ability to bring together disparate groups to achieve a goal
- Ability and desire to build effective networks
- Ability to articulate a personal political vision
- Demonstrated ability to inspire other
- Commitment to full participation and attendance requirements of the trainings
The online application for the program is found through a link on the Emerge website at www.emergemaryland.organd will stay open until Saturday, Sept. 7.
Women are encouraged to apply well in advance of the closing date due to the detailed nature of the application.