150 Women Ready to Change the Face of Power in Statehouses across the U.S. after Vote Run Lead Action’s RUN/51 Summit
Vote Run Lead Action, the country’s largest nonprofit training organization for women running for political office, recently held its national RUN/51 Summit in Detroit, Michigan, for women interested in running for office and running campaigns. More than 150 women and gender-diverse people from across the country attended — joining from as far away as Puerto Rico!
“We named this initiative the ‘RUN/51 Summit’ to represent that women are 51% of the population and should be 51% of our elected officials, especially in our state legislatures,” said Erin Vilardi, CEO and founder of Vote Run Lead Action. “This first-of-its-kind Summit brought together women running for statehouse seats, campaign managers supporting them, and many others who may be aspiring or active candidates for city council, mayoralty, school board, or other elected offices. Our goal was to inspire and empower them with both the tools and confidence they need to run, and we know they will win!”
“There is a critical need for women’s representation in state legislatures right now,” noted Sabrina Shulman, chief political officer of Vote Run Lead Action. “This training highlighted our organization’s mission to accelerate the journey towards gender equity at every level of government. Some states still have a long way to go — and at the current rate, it could take 60 to 200 years to reach parity in any given statehouse. We don’t want to wait that long. The RUN/51 Summit was successful in that it equipped women today with the necessary tools and skills to run for office successfully and make a lasting impact on policy and governance now.”
Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Fight and former Georgia State Representative, spoke to the participants via a motivational video message that included this encouragement: “We can’t win if we don’t run. You’ve taken the first step. You’re here. Now is the time to dig deep and think about what’s to come. I know we’ve got campaign managers and candidates here, but what we really need are warriors: those who understand that our values are made to manifest in the votes we cast and the people we elect.”
Just a few of the speakers and presenters during the three-day Vote Run Lead Action RUN/51 Summit included: Rhonda Briggins, Vote Run Lead Action board member and past co-chair of the National Social Action Commission for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and founder of Delta 4 Women in Action; Stephanie Chang, Michigan state senator; Shannon Garrett, Vote Run Lead Action co-founder and board member, and founder and president, SMG Strategies; Melinda French Gates, founder, Pivotal Ventures (via pre-recorded video message); Natalie Murdock, North Carolina state senator; Gowri Ramachandran, deputy director, Elections and Government, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law; Lea Webb, New York state senator and VRLA national trainer; and Gretchen Whitmer, governor, Michigan (via pre-recorded video message).