Image: The Class of 2018, Women’s Campaign School at Yale
On November 7, 2018, one hundred twenty-five women were elected to the US Congress, shattering the previous record. And this is just the beginning! Women, notably women of color, increased their representation at all levels of government – local, state, and federal. The Women’s Campaign School at Yale is proud that our graduates were a big part of this exciting new groundswell. We are grateful for your support, which helped make this possible.
As a non-partisan and issue-neutral non-profit, WCSYale is dedicated to creating a political pipeline for women on both sides of the aisle. At our one and five day trainings, we teach women the skills they need to successfully run for office, such as fundraising, targeting, scheduling, use of social media, outreach, and much more. For 25 years, we have been committed to this critical mission, and this year’s midterms show the astonishing results of our efforts.
For example, at the federal level, WCSYale alumna Kirsten Gillibrand of New York won re-election to the US Senate. Marsha Blackburn, a long-time faculty member of the School, won her Senate bid representing Tennessee, becoming the first woman elected to the US Senate in Tennessee’s history. In the House, alumna Lauren Underwood of Illinois became one of the youngest African-American women ever elected to Congress, as well as the first female representative for her district.
At the state and local levels, hundreds of women ran for office, many of whom were WCSYale alumnae. Winners include Democrat Jamie Scott, the youngest African-American woman to serve in the Arkansas House of Representatives, Holli Sullivan, returning Republican from the Indiana State House, and Sarah Godlewski, first-time candidate and now Wisconsin’s state Treasurer. Behind them were scores of alumnae supporting candidates in other roles, such as campaign management and field direction, which exemplifies how WCS alumnae are making a difference across the country, both at center stage and behind the scenes.
While the high-profile races were extremely important, women who ran for their local offices to effect real change for their communities were the unsung heroes of the midterm elections. WCSYale alumnae Sabrina Javellana and Jane Bolin, both newly-elected commissioners for their respective cities in Florida, saw an opportunity to make their districts better places and took it. Both are stellar examples of this trend. The local level is also where many women get their start in politics, honing their skills before they move to higher positions. WCSYale trains not only high-profile candidates, but also these exceptional women, who want to serve their communities as elected officials and need the tools to make it happen.
WCSYale’s reach extends far beyond the borders of the US. I recently traveled to Edinburgh and Durham in the United Kingdom to run one-day intensives, working with over 1,000 women. Each year, roughly 10% of our five-day training cohort joins us from abroad.
WCSYale prepares women of every age, race, political affiliation, socio-economic status, and background to run for office. The 2018 mid-term elections were a great start to a new trend. Let’s work together toward our shared goal of gender parity in elected leadership in our nation and our world and continue this surge in representation into 2019 and 2020. To learn more about the work we do year-round to accomplish this goal, visit our website.
For more on women in politics, watch the YaleWomen webinar on “Women in Politics”.
- Patricia Russo, Executive Director, Women’s Campaign School at Yale