Emerge America Helps Women Get Elected & Have a Political Voice

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I recently learned about Emerge America, an organization which is changing the face of American politics by identifying, training and encouraging women to run for office, get elected and to seek higher office. I had an opportunity to meet the Emerge America founder Andrea Dew Steele, who in addition to her work to grow Emerge groups in more and more states, serves as the director of the California Committee North at Human Rights Watch. Prior to moving to the west coast, she worked for many years learning the Washington D.C. landscape in fundraising and doing policy work for Democratic candidates. The organization offers an intensive, cohort-based seven-month training program for women interested in getting into politics. As the number of elected Democratic women remains flat or even declines, the need for their work is growing across the country. Emerge America currently works in 14 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Emerge America’s role is to serve the states where they work, open new state programs and to build capacity to train more women in each of their current states. I attended their Trailblazers luncheon with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in San Francisco, where they honored Emerge women and talked about the program. In addition to Gillibrand, Susie Tompkins Buell also took the stage, a leader in advancing women’s representation in politics and Trailblazer awardee Darcie Green. While the event was predominantly women, not only did men attend, but there were men in attendance who are behind Emerge’s efforts, from mentoring to funding. MSNBC’s Richard Wolffe was a special guest emcee who spoke to the audience about the importance of grassroots efforts. He said, “Grassroots is vital – it’s important that people engage directly but we also need people on the ground and behind the scenes who can feel the pressure of that change in real time.” Darcie addressed the issue around women and minorities, particularly in the Latino community. From East San Jose and proud of it, she asserts that social inequalities can be corrected. “The power of the people is more powerful than people in power,” she said. I was impressed with Darcie’s wit, style, confidence and resilience as she took the stage. Nancy Pelosi‘s daughter showed up to read a letter she wrote to the Emerge community, which included a strong message around being committed to diversity, since it is diversity that can get us as women to win. I was thrilled to learn about the organization and their efforts to help women get to the next level in politics and beyond. Since the first Emerge state was launched in 2002, Emerge has trained more than 1,200 Democratic women to run for office to-date. The proof of their success is in the numbers: 43% of Emerge alumnae have run for office or been appointed to local boards or commissions. Of those who have run for office, 60% have won. In addition, they have a strong record of diversity – 40% of their alumnae are women of color. Kudos to Andrea and her growing team for their efforts so far and if you want to help or contribute financially or otherwise, have a look at the various ways you can help or get involved. All photos by the photographer at the event Tim Williamson.

Renee Blodgett
Founder
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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