Emerge Calls for Applicants to Southern Regional Signature Program

  • Aug 17, 2023
  • A'shanti F. Gholar

August 9, 2023

CONTACT: Philippa Martinez-Berrier

Emerge Calls for Applicants to Southern Regional Signature Program

Focus on galvanizing the power of women in the South

Washington, DC— Today Emerge, the nation’s premier organization that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office, kicks off recruitment for the Southern Regional Signature Program’s class of 2024. This program adds to the wave of Emerge efforts in the South to empower more women to run for office and win, including: the Southern Regional Bootcamp happening this August for women on the November ballot in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina, and the ongoing efforts of Emerge state-based affiliates in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. 

The South needs new leadership. The abuses of power committed by right-wing politicians in the South are too much even for the Republican-controlled Supreme Court, who continue to order that Republicans redraw discriminatory, gerrymandered electoral maps to afford equal representation. The South is rising anew as a multiracial, representative democracy. Emerge knows women in the South are already leaders, but we can’t build a reflective government unless more women step up to run. That’s why Emerge is doubling down on a concerted effort in the South to create opportunities for women to get the support and training they need to rise to power. 

The 2024 Southern Regional Signature Program, led by lifelong South Carolinian Melissa Watson Ward, will offer Democratic women in the South a unique in-depth education and training. It is the only six-month, 70-hour, training program that inspires candidates to run and gives them the tools to win. Women in the program will be led by a dynamic team of campaign consultants, advisors and staff, who have been involved in some of the most successful campaigns and initiatives seen in recent election cycles in the South. Participants will learn from these experts and develop practical knowledge in public speaking, fundraising, campaign strategy, voter contact, media, messaging and more. Candidates will also meet an array of dynamic women who hold elected and appointed office and become a part of a supportive network of over 5,500 alums nationwide that includes over 1,200 Emerge alums serving at nearly every level of public office.

“When I first started at Emerge as Political Director, I saw the need to develop programming specifically for women in the South to push back against discriminatory Republican policies and make women’s issues a priority,” said Emerge President A’shanti F. Gholar. “The Southern Regional programs and our continued efforts in Southern state-based affiliates are an extension of that vision to lift up and enhance Southern women’s leadership.”

Emerge’s successes in the South can already be seen with the election of trailblazing alums like: 

Rep. Lucy McBath, (GA-06)

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, (VA-07)

Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman

Tennessee state Sen. London Lamar

Georgia state Rep. Ruwa Romman

Kentucky state Rep. Pam Stevenson 

Virginia state Del. Danica Roem

Interested parties can learn more about the Southern Regional Signature Program and apply on Emerge’s website here. Questions about the program can be directed to Emerge Deputy Affiliate Director Melissa Watson Ward who runs the Southern Regional programs: melissa@emergeamerica.org or 803.587.8898. 

The Southern Regional Signature Program is part of Emerge’s new democracy building slate of training programs, alongside Seated Together which trains Black women to run for higher office, Gavel In which trains women to run for judge, and the organization’s ongoing work to prepare Democratic women to win school board seats. These programs are uniquely focused on building a reflective government for the first time in American history, as the nation cannot have a full fledged democracy without representation.


About Emerge

Emerge has one goal: To increase the number of Democratic women in office who are reflective of the incredible diversity of the Democratic party by recruiting, training, and providing a powerful network. Since 2002, Emerge has trained over 5,500 Democratic women to run for office, and currently more than 1,200 Emerge alums serve in elected office. Emerge is committed to reaching 100,000 women of the New American Majority over the next 15 years, fostering a lift as you climb culture for women in politics, and repowering political structures. There are more than two dozen state affiliates, and the organization has impacted a total of 45 states, Washington, D.C. and territories.