By Catherine Emmanuelle, '11 Women's Studies graduate (see full bio below)
I was recently an invited speaker and trainer with the first national VoteRunLead conference. I gathered with 300 of my newest friends, ad we had a weekend of inspiration, teaching, and learning about the nuts and bolts of women's leadership, from the boardroom to all levels of elected office. VoteRunLead is a new nationwide organization dedicated to teaching women how to run for office. The organization has its roots in second- and third-wave activist feminism, stemming from the same leadership that started "Take Your Daughter to Work Day and then the national organization, the White House Project which aimed to increase the political pipeline of women leaders. That organization retired and out of that retirement sprung VoteRunLead.
VoteRunLead is an organization that reflects feminist activism. They walk the talk of inclusive leadership. At the first conference there were more women of color than Caucasians and a diversity of economic levels were well represented. The organization has in-person and online trainings to be more accessible to women everywhere anytime. In addition, there are lots of online resources ranging from how to research, to how to declare your candidacy, to running a campaign and winning. Most of the resources through grants and sponsorships, which means there is no cost or low-cost use of the services.
It's been almost 4 years since I turned the tassel on my cap as I graduated with a women studies degree. It's been almost 3 years since I started my service on the Eau Claire city Council. Without a doubt, the training I received from UW-Eau Claire helped to prepare me for my public service. The investment in the women studies degree helps me to give a lens to more thoroughly examine the multi-layers of power structures as I work to make public policy that best improves the lives of people, our environment, and the community at large. Many people invested in my leadership endeavors, through lending a listening ear, helping find funding for me to research women's leadership and resilience. I invite you to check out VoteRunLead — find them on Facebook or Twitter. Who knows, maybe you'll inspire another woman to run for office, or maybe you'll consider running for office yourself!