HomeLearning CenterThe Campaign School at Yale Is Training Women to Be Future Political Leaders

The Campaign School at Yale Is Training Women to Be Future Political Leaders

Originally published by Emma Wulfhorst for FOX 61

Friday, 68 political hopefuls graduated from the Campaign School at Yale University’s election boot camp.

These women from all over the U.S. and beyond spent the last five days learning what it takes to win public office.

“The program is a nonpartisan, issue-neutral political campaign training program,” said Patti Russo, executive director of The Campaign School at Yale (TCSYale).

For nearly 30 years, TCSYale has been on a mission to increase the number of women in elected and appointed positions in the United States and around the globe.

As only 28% percent of the U.S. Congress, they say women are sorely needed in political leadership.

“I think oftentimes, especially women, we feel as though we don’t have the time, you know, being a mom like myself, to do more, but I know for a fact that that’s not true,” said Ayana Taylor, a TCSYale participant, and a candidate state Senate.

“I’ve been a candidate before for municipals, but doing this right now, in real-time, while being a candidate on my own, I think it was actually value-added to do it at the same time,” she explained. It’s very intense, but I have so much to bring back to my active campaign.”

Taylor says the experience gained in the campaign school’s annual five-day boot camp is priceless.

“They’ve been doing this a while now. They know what they’re doing and the subject matter experts, the bipartisanship that we’re bringing in, you know, it’s priceless,” she continued.

These women hear from current and past campaign managers and political advisors, participate in workshops, and end the week presenting their own mock campaign projects.

“The whole bottom line is, you’re amazing and we want you to shine where you are, because friend if you don’t somebody else will,” TCSYale speech coach Deb Sofield said. “We want you to fill the space first, because you’re prepared and you’re ready.”

The program lauds successful grads like U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, and top campaign managers for candidates like Nikki Haley.

“It’s less about your party affiliation quickly and more about we want to win, you know, we want to do the best job possible, let’s work collaboratively and figure it out,” Russo said. “That’s the beauty of our school and we hope that they take that spirit with them.”

“Leave your politics outside, because we’re people in here together and the fact is, if you can’t learn to do it here, you won’t learn to do it there,” added Sofield.

Not only is the program non-partisan, it’s also for those already in office.

“I’m currently an elected official. I am the mayor of Windsor, Connecticut,” said Nuchette Black-Burke. “You may ask, well, you’ve gone through a campaign, why would you choose to spend a week in intensive week at the campaign school? But for me, it was about really just sharpening my skills.”

These new grads have a message for women who want to get involved in politics: nothing is stopping you.

“We’re a large block of the voters, and we’re more than half of the population,” said Renee LaMark Muir, Candidate for the state House. “We need to be at the table when the decisions are made.”

“You can do it, and I’m an example of that,” Black-Burke said. “I’m a mom, a wife, and you can do it.”

This year’s group was 65 percent women of color, a record for TCSYale.

Those actively running say they’re looking ahead to this year’s primaries and general election and feeling very confident.

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