Inspired by Hillary. Outraged by Trump. Trained by Emerge.
April 7, 2017
Washington, D.C.—On Tuesday, Emerge America alumnae resisted, persisted and enlisted in races in Wisconsin and Colorado, where 15 of the 17 Emerge women on the ballot won.
“This is what resistance looks like,” said Andrea Steele, Founder and President of Emerge America. “Hillary Clinton inspired these women to join the political process; Donald Trump’s antics and actions spurred them to take action; and Emerge trained and enabled them to win. These winning women are proof of how we can take back our country.”
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.
“Yolanda is the very embodiment of persistence, deciding to run for the city council again this year after she lost her race for a seat two years ago,” said Jenny Willford, executive director, of Emerge Colorado.
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.
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, nearly 110 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 candidate preparation and the success of our alumnae proves that in-depth training 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 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.”
“The election victories this week in Wisconsin and Colorado show us that the when women who are inspired by Hillary and outraged by Trump receive excellent in-depth training and a powerful network to support their candidacies – Democrats can win races and win them with women,” said Steele.
Media Contact: Allison Abney