Last year, fewer women served in California state and local governments than in 2012. On Saturday, February 8, Mount St. Mary’s College hosted Ready to Run™, a nonpartisan, campaign-training program for women designed to help reverse that trend.
“We need gender balance in every workplace, but we especially need it in politics,” said L.A. City Councilmember Nury Martinez, the only female elected official in Los Angeles city government. “Decisions that directly affect us are being made without us.”
Martinez served as the keynote speaker at Ready to Run, an intensive campaign-training event to prepare women to run for elective office or otherwise get involved in public service. More than 150 Southern California women attended this year’s training.
In a welcome address, via video, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, cited the low percentages of women in the U.S. Congress (less than 20 percent) and among Fortune 500 CEOs (4 percent). “Frankly, these numbers are pathetic,” she said. “We need to hear from America’s women. When we do, outcomes are better. So today, I’m asking you to run.”
Participants also received advice from Southern California political figures such as Wendy Greuel, former L.A. city controller and the runner-up in L.A.’s 2013 mayor’s race; State Assemblymember Cristina Garcia; and Mayors Aja Brown, of Compton, and Abbe Land, of West Hollywood.
“Your voices are needed,” Mayor Brown told Ready to Run attendees. “I urge you all to be courageous, to be fearless. There’s nothing wrong with failure!”
Other experts shared their knowledge on topics such as California government, fundraising strategies, and race and ethnicity in politics. Ready to Run participants also learned how to launch a campaign from Rose Kapolczynski, best known for managing all four of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s Senate campaigns.
This is the second year that Mount St. Mary’s College has served as the exclusive Southern California provider of Ready to Run. The program was created at the Center for American Women and Politics, a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
“Women’s perspectives and experience are vital to public policy-making, yet too often women’s voices are absent from our most important local, state and national policy conversations,” said Dr. Ann McElaney-Johnson, president of Mount St. Mary’s College. “Ready to Run is a way to train women on how they can put their passions to work in public service.”