More than 100 women, including Mount students and alums, attended Ready to Run™ Feb. 8-9, a nonpartisan, campaign-training program designed to train and encourage women to run for public office. The two-day training featured a keynote presentation from Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
Lacey’s successful 2012 campaign to head the nation’s largest prosecutorial agency marked her first run for elective office. When she won, Lacey became the first woman and the first African-American elected to the D.A. post.
At Mount St. Mary’s, she shared the most important campaign-trail lesson she learned: “Sometimes what seems like the impossible is merely difficult.”
Other workshop presenters and panelists shared a variety of tips throughout the weekend: on running for elective office, obtaining appointive office and working on political or advocacy campaigns. Ready to Run™ participants also took part in a Diversity Initiative program, a social media strategy session and an interactive media training hosted by Val Zavala, host of “SoCal Connected” and vice president of KCET.
Ready to Run™ speakers included Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, the first African-American woman from California elected to Congress; Celinda Lake, prominent political strategist and pollster; and Nancy Bocskor, fundraising and campaign communications expert.
Mount St. Mary’s is the Southern California provider of the Ready to Run™ program, in partnership with the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP). Debbie Walsh, CAWP director, said that while women make up 53 percent of the national voting electorate, women hold only 18 percent of U.S. Congressional seats, 24 percent of state legislature seats and 10 percent of governorships.
“We need you. California needs you,” Walsh told participants. “Remember, if you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu.”
Advice from Ready to Run™ speakers and panelists
“This is a room filled with smart, accomplished women. And I’m asking you to take the issues you’re passionate about and think about you can make a difference in government.”
—Debbie Walsh, director, Center for American Women & Politics
“Why is it important for women of color to get involved in government? Because I knew when young women looked at me, they thought if she can do it, I can too!”
—Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, former U.S. Representative, first African-American woman elected to Congress from California
“If you lose an election, don’t think that you lost. Think that you just learned a lesson to apply next time.”
—Irene Tovar, CEO, Latin American Civic Association (Comision Femenil)
“I found out quickly that my help would come from people I had not yet met.”
—Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles County District Attorney, on fundraising
“We women usually start with our personal stories and then tout our experience. Wrong order! We need to reverse that.”
—Celinda Lake, prominent pollster and strategist, Lake Research Partners
“Leadership is an opportunity to move an agenda. Have you done your homework about the issues you’re passionate about?”
—Kafi Blumenfield, CEO, Liberty Hill Foundation
“You can’t get appointed if you don’t apply. You can’t get elected if you don’t run for office.”
—Rachel Michelin, CEO, California Women Lead
“Stay teachable and pass it on. Always find a mentor. Always be a mentor.”
—Torie Osborn, Los Angeles Deputy Mayor, Neighborhood and Community Services
“When speaking as a candidate or public official, get to the point and then stop when your point is made!”
—Val Zavala, host, “SoCal Connected” and vice president, KCET
“You have to use your head, but you need to lead with your heart.”
—Abbe Land, Mayor Pro Tem, City of West Hollywood, on developing your expertise
“Never say never. I dropped two courses in college. One was political science. The other was psychology. What did I become? A mental health professional and an elected official.”
—Bonnie Lowenthal, California Assemblymember, on running for office
“You want to know the number one reason why people don’t give to campaigns? They’re not asked! Give everyone the opportunity to invest in you, no matter how big or small their contribution may seem.”
—Nancy Bocskor, fundraising and campaign expert, The Nancy Bocskor Company