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Cynthia Richie Terrell

Cynthia Richie Terrell

Quaker gal working to advance women’s representation & leadership, CEO of @RepresentWomen married to @Rob_Richie, grad of @GFSchool & @swarthmore
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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 14, 2024

    Dear Readers,

    Summer brings a wave of possibilities, and at RepresentWomen, we're feeling the excitement! We're seeing a historic rise in women winning international elections, proving that global strategies can offer valuable lessons. Stay tuned for our ongoing coverage of these international races, where we'll delve into the successful systems increasing women's representation worldwide.

    This weekend, I will be attending the World Premiere of Majority Rules, a documentary by A.J. Schnack and produced by Unite America that explores Alaska's pioneering approach to election reform. The film dives into how they ditched traditional primaries and embraced ranked choice voting (RCV). This innovative system lets voters rank candidates they prefer, fostering more diverse representation. Alaska's use of RCV is credited with the elections of Representative Mary Peltola, State Senator Cathy Geissel, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, proving its potential to better reflect voters' choices. These three women leaders were featured speakers at the 2024 Democracy Solutions Summit – you can watch their conversation about Alaska’s new system here.

    This week, our focus is on global advancements in democracy. We'll explore how the U.S. can learn from Mexico's experience with representative democracy. We'll also examine the ongoing fight for racial equality in the U.S. beyond the Juneteenth celebrations. We'll also delve into the Indian elections and highlight how gender quotas could accelerate women's representation in government. Finally, we celebrate the record-breaking number of women running for office in Northern Ireland!

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 7th, 2024

    Dear Readers,

    This week was filled with celebration with Claudia Sheinbaum’s victory kicking off the festivities. We are thrilled to witness another woman ascending to the presidency, amplifying the increased need for women Heads of States. We also celebrate Iceland electing another woman president which further reinforces our research that women are gaining political ground internationally. Stay tuned for RepresentWomen’s conversation with Professor Jennifer Piscopo and Catherine Reyes-Housholder along with Georgiana De La Fuentes about President-Elect Sheinbaum’s victory and what this means for women’s representation, including what this means for our future here in the United States.

    Several of the RepresentWomen team joined me in New York City this week to celebrate as FairVote honored me, my husband Rob Richie, Rashad Robinson from Color of Change, and  Eric Liu from Citizen University as democracy champions. Working alongside my fellow honorees fuels my dedication to continue in this work for a stronger democracy. I was humbled to be honored amongst my peers, alongside my family, loved ones, and the incredible team and board of RepresentWomen. Many thanks to the FairVote team for the wonderful evening and this video featuring Representatives Jamie Raskin and Teresa Leger-Fernandez. Read on for highlights from my trip to NYC!

    Pictured with Rashad Robinson, Rob Richie, Eric Liu & Meredith Sumpter

    Pictured with Jeanne MasseyFairVote Minnesota, Liz WhiteUpVote Virginia, Eileen ReaveyRank The Vote, Marcela Miranda-CaballeroCalifornia RCV, & Laura Saul Edwards – deputy to former ambassador Swanee Hunt

    Pictured with RepresentWomen staff: Tamaya Dennard, Katie Usalis, Ashley Thurston, Michele McCracy, and Alissa Bombardier Shaw.

    I love the on brand colors…. 

    This week, discover why the Fearless Fund has been halted by the courts and its implications for DEI programs. Explore the ongoing challenges in achieving global gender balance despite historic gains. Join us in celebrating the victories of Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico's first woman president, and Halla Tomasdottir, Iceland's next president. Additionally, dive into our Summer Reading series, where we spotlight the incredible books our team at RepresentWomen is delving into this summer.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 24th, 2024

    Dear Readers,

    This past week, I was honored to be included in Washingtonian Magazine’s listof the “Top 500 Most Influential People Shaping Policy. I'm humbled by this recognition, and inspired by the incredible partners and allies who share my commitment to achieving a more representative government and a thriving democracy. It was great to celebrate atop the Watergate Hotel on a beautiful evening in Washington, DC with RepresentWomen board member Susannah Wellford and the former and current CEOs of FairVote, Rob Richie and Meredith Sumpter.

    My husband Rob Richie pictured with FairVote CEO Meredith Sumpter

    Cynthia Richie Terrell with Susannah Wellford (pictured on the left), CEO and Founder of Running Start and board member for RepresentWomen.

    Cover of 'Washingtonian Magazine' honoring the Most Influential People Shaping Policy

    This week, delve into the persistent gender imbalance in local elections, explore the impact of cumulative voting in elections in Illinois spanning over a century, discover why ranked choice voting is a logical solution to Maryland's recent primary with large candidate fields and plurality winners, inclusion of plurality candidates in elections and why ranked choice voting is a viable solution, and celebrate Angela Alsobrooks for her historic victory—a triumph for all Black women in politics.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 17th 2024

    Dear Readers,

    Politics is heating up as we get closer and closer to fall, so we have a full edition for you this week - including a collaboration RepresentWomen did with Cosmopolitan magazine! 

    First off, Melinda French Gates, founder and CEO of Pivotal Ventures, announced her decision this week to resign from her role as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She wrote about the move on Linkedin:

    I am immensely proud of the foundation that Bill and I built together and of the extraordinary work it is doing to address inequities around the world. I care deeply about the foundation team, our partners around the world, and everyone who is touched by its work.

    I am taking this step with full confidence that the foundation is in strong shape, with its extremely capable CEO Mark Suzman, the Executive Leadership Team, and an experienced board of trustees in place to ensure all its important work continues. The time is right for me to move forward into the next chapter of my philanthropy.

    This is a critical moment for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world—and those fighting to protect and advance equality are in urgent need of support. Under the terms of my agreement with Bill, in leaving the foundation, I will have an additional $12.5 billion to commit to my work on behalf of women and families. I’ll be sharing more about what that will look like in the near future.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 10th, 2024

    Dear Readers,

    Happy Teacher Appreciation Week and Mother’s Day Weekend! Whether in the classroom or at the dinner table, women have made remarkable contributions to our daily lives. RepresentWomen pays tribute to the women who illuminate our world with strength and compassion. This weekend, we celebrate their sacrifices and the invaluable gifts they generously share.

    I am so grateful for my mother, Carolyn Nicholson Terrell, who introduced me to the natural world at a young age. Every spring, we collected tadpoles and watched as they grew tiny legs on a steady diet of oatmeal flakes and lettuce. Summers were spent at our cabin in the woods, swimming in the cedar water, looking for turtles along the banks, and reading aloud by candlelight every evening.  In the autumn, we collected bright red maple leaves to iron between wax paper and made grape jelly from our rambling Concord vines. Winter brought sledding and waffles for dinner on snowy Sunday evenings. While I realize I love many of the same things she loved (children's books, sponge cake, gardening, The Wind in the Willows, monarch butterflies, Quaker history, and blueberries), I most admire her capacity to listen deeply, to speak plainly, and to accept others unconditionally.

    In this week’s reading, join RepresentWomen as we thank our mothers on Mother’s Day.  Discover El’ona Kearny, aspiring to become Washington State’s first Black woman Governor, and Civil Rights Icon Opal Lee hailed as the Mother of Juneteenth. Explore the benefits of ranked choice voting and how it can enhance presidential primary elections, and delve into the challenges facing our public schools as First Lady Jill Biden honors teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. Finally, we celebrate the success of our Breaking Barriers for Black Women Candidates virtual roundtable discussion, where we heard invaluable insights from brilliant Black women about their political journeys and how we can offer more Black women support when running for office.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 3rd, 2024

     Dear Readers,

    Happy May, Friends! This month brings us endless possibilities, warm sunshine, and a refreshing sense of hope. 

    This week, I had the opportunity to attend the always-inspiring 18th annual Young Women to Watch Awards hosted by the phenomenal organization Running Start. Founded by Susannah Wellford, CEO and a valued board member of RepresentWomen, it empowers young women to pursue political office. 

    This annual awards ceremony honored outstanding young women leaders and showcased  Running Start’s impactful work in their lives. Attendees even used ranked choice voting to select Running Start’s 2024 Ambassador from five impressive finalists! I'm deeply impressed by Susannah and Running Start's dedication to creating change. Their efforts empower young women, especially women of color, to become community leaders.

    Pictured from left to right: Lindsey Wiliams Drath, Forward Party CEO; Susannah Wellford, Founder & CEO of Running Start; Cynthia Richie Terrell, Founder and Executive Director of RepresentWomen.

    Pictured from left to right: Courtney Lamendola, RepresentWomen’s Research Director; Ashley Thurston, RepresentWomen’s Communications Director; Allissa Bombardier Shaw, RepresentWomen’s Outreach Manager; Rina Shah Bharara, RepresentWomen’s Board Member

    In addition to the inspiring awards, our team connected with program attendees to share details about our Gender Parity Index and upcoming virtual roundtable on Black women candidates.

    Pictured left to right: Courtney Lamendola, Ashley Thurston, and Alissa Bombardier Shaw. 

    This week, explore how public funding for campaigns can level the playing field and encourage more women to run for office, learn about the challenges women face in securing local government seats in England, discover what resources can empower mothers to pursue political careers, and examine why gender diversity in corporate leadership positions is still lagging.

    Breaking Barriers for  Black Women Candidates - Wednesday, May 8, 2024

    RepresentWomen recently published an informative and crucial research brief, Breaking Barriers for Black Women Candidates. To celebrate its release, we are bringing Black women leaders together to discuss their experiences navigating politics and sharing viable solutions to remove barriers Black women face when entering the political arena.

    RepresentWomen’s Research Associate and author of the brief, Marvelous Maeze,  eloquently writes in a forthcoming op-ed:

    Throughout history, Black women have faced marginalization, dismissal, and being underestimated. We've had to fight twice as hard to gain half as much recognition, to be viewed as capable leaders, and to have our voices heard in decision-making forums. When I witness Black women breaking through these barriers to assume positions of influence in government, it reaffirms our determination and strength.

    Register today to join this in-depth discussion next Wednesday, May 8, 2024

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 26th, 2024

    Dear Readers,

    This month's 60th birthday celebration and long-awaited vacation were wonderful and filled me with a renewed passion for change. Witnessing the state of our democracy, both domestically and internationally, compels me to keep pushing forward with RepresentWomen's mission to build women’s political power. Women face significant structural barriers when entering politics, and our evidence-based solutions aim to dismantle these obstacles, transforming the political landscape for good.

    Next month, we continue the critical conversation about the barriers Black women face when they enter and serve in the political arena. The many obstacles they face significantly impact their physical and mental health and thus must be explored. Join us Wednesday, May 8th, for our Breaking Barriers for Black Women Candidates virtual roundtable discussion, bringing together Black women experts to shed light on these unique challenges and the solutions needed to level the playing field. In the meantime, dive into an op-ed written by our National Partnerships Manager, Victoria Pelletier. A councilwoman for the Portland City Council herself, Victoria shares her firsthand perspective of Black women in politics.

    This week, read about the violent experiences women election workers face, especially since the 2020 election, explore the intersection between environmental justice and feminism, celebrate Fort Wayne’s first Black woman Mayor, and multiple women candidates running for seats in Beaufort County. Finally, learn about women’s representation in the Indian elections.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 19th, 2024

    Dear Readers,

    Earth Day is just around the corner! It's a time to celebrate our planet, reflect on how we can be better stewards, and build a future for our children and their children. While I fight for systemic change, my garden serves as a refuge. Here, I find solace in the beauty of nature and recharge from my work.

    This week, our sister organization, All In Together, celebrated a remarkable decade of service in the movement for change. I'm so inspired by their work! They also hosted their 5th annual Black Women Lead event, which powerfully highlighted and celebrated the achievements of phenomenal Black women leaders. Powerhouses like Stacey Abrams, Joy Reid, Symone Sanders-Townsend, Maya Wiley, Glynda Carr, Angela Alsobrooks, and many more shared their experiences and expertise on the panels.

    Pictured with former member of Congress Barbara Comstock, AIT’s Development Director Nicole Bailey, and RepresentWomen’s Communications Director Ashley Thurston

    This week, delve into FairVote Washington’s efforts to champion voter access, discover a new documentary highlighting young women empowered within our political system, celebrate the historic viewership of the women’s NCAA championship game, and explore initiatives taken by some states to address disparities in maternal health for Black women.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 8, 2024

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    Happy International Women’s Day! This week, I am so inspired by the brilliance of women worldwide. It only reinforces the daily reminder that women are changing humanity. Our knowledge, desire to challenge patriarchal systems, and love for humankind drive us to do this work to inspire world-changing and groundbreaking solutions.


    This week, we hosted our 3rd annual Democracy Solutions Summit. The virtual event contrasted the many “manels” I have attended that lacked women's voices. The Democracy Solutions Summit featured women experts who shared their knowledge and ideas for viable solutions to build women’s political power. From learning about ranked choice voting in Alaska to how we can better protect women who choose to be in politics, we covered various topics important to increasing women's representation.

    RepresentWomen also extends heartfelt congratulations to Jessica Mackler, who recently announced that she is the new president of Emily’s List.

    Cre: Emily’s List Instagram

    For this week’s Weekend Reading, learn about elections in Iran, gender disparities in political funding, Burlington, Vermont, witnessing history, and Nikki Haley’s unfortunate ceding of the presidential race. I am also excited to share highlights from our 2024 Democracy Solutions Summit.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 1, 2024

    Dear Readers, 

    Happy First Day of Women’s History Month! RepresentWomen celebrated the Women’s Power Collaborative, gaining its 100th member this week. The members represent approximately 90 organizations nationwide, including advocates, academics, and elected officials. This is a milestone for our organization and the fantastic network of women working together to build political power. Jessica Haller, the former Executive Director of The New Majority NYC, joined us this week as she hosted our Women’s Power Collaborative Lunch and Learn. Her presentation on the twin-track approach to boosting women’s representation this week was informative and received well by our group. If you are interested in learning more about the monthly series, our Lunch and Learn videos are added to our YouTube page. We can’t wait for the next Lunch and Learn in March!

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  • Democracy Solutions Summit: Amplifying Women's Voices

    Every election cycle, we find ourselves asking the same questions: why are so few women in office? How do we close the representation gap? And how can we include more women in the work to build a stronger democracy? The Democracy Solutions Summit, hosted by RepresentWomen, provides a unique forum to address these challenges head-on.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation December 22, 2023

    Dear Readers,

    It’s hard to believe the end of 2023 is right around the corner! With the holiday season in full swing, the RepresentWomen team had a lovely time hosting our virtual holiday party last week. We were joined by a wonderful group of partners, allies, and friends to celebrate all we’ve accomplished this year and share our plans for the new year. 

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation November 17th, 2023

    Dear Readers,

    The results are in! In the aftermath of last Tuesday's elections, a resounding chorus of success echoes through the political landscape, underscored by the impactful role of ranked choice voting (RCV) in advancing gender parity. With several key races called and other big announcements made, let’s reflect on what this week’s news means for women’s representation around the United States.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 15th, 2023

    Dear Readers,

    This week's Weekend Reading is designed to provide an update on our work as we celebrate our 5th anniversary as an independent, non-profit, non partisan organization.

    RepresentWomen (then Representation2020) started as a project of FairVote in 2013. Representation 2020 was founded to research the best practices to address the barriers women face in politics as candidates and elected officials in order to advance women's representation and leadership. 

    In 2018, Representation2020 became RepresentWomen, an independent research-based organization led by Cynthia Richie Terrell. We secured a multi-year grant from Pivotal Ventures in 2019, worked with many passionate and talented interns, and hired our first staff within a year.

    Over the years, we have expanded to twelve staff and four departments (Research, Partnerships, Communications, and Development), hosted wonderful fellows from the U.S. State Department's IREX program , and worked with over 100 hundred interns! We are delighted with how far we have come and can’t wait to continue growing as we work for a truly representative democracy. Thank you for following our journey and for your generous support.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation August 18th, 2023

    Dear Readers

    Last week, our 10th annual Gender Parity Index was released. Our longest-standing and most extensive body of work fueled some spirited and informed discussions about women’s representation in the U.S. on social media.

    Thank you to everyone who shared the GPI on social media!

    The Gender Parity Index can be used for:

    • Providing data-backed evidence on the ways democracy reform improves representation outcomes
    • Opening the eyes of communities and decision-makers on the need to invest in change
    • Providing data-backed evidence on the ways democracy reform improves representation outcomes in states that have adopted a given reform
    • Using the GPI as a tool for further research
    • Celebrating your state's progress and the reforms and policies that contributed.
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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 30th, 2023

    Dear Readers,

    This Tuesday, New York City held ranked choice voting primary elections for the city council. As of June 28, preliminary results have been released – 30 women incumbents won their primaries. In this low-turnout, off-year election, some key races were District 1 and District 9. In District 1, current Councilmember Christopher Marte beat his two more moderate woman challengers, Susan Lee and Ursila Jung. In District 9, where current Councilmember Kristin Richardson Jordan did not run for reelection, Yusef Saleem of the Exonerated Central Park 5 holds the lead over Inez Dickens.  

    A woman-majority council in New York continues due to electoral system reforms and qualified women candidates. But New York is not the only place that recognizes the critical role of systems reforms in electing women. This week Melinda French Gates wrote a seminal article about the urgent need for women's representation in politics. She observes that empowering women to run for public office within the broken system is insufficient. "Ultimately though, we can’t just keep pushing women into a broken system: We need to fix the system, addressing the full range of structural barriers that keep our government from looking like the people it’s intended to serve." Addressing the multitude of institutional obstacles women encounter when running for office is essential.

    RepresentWomen is grateful to Melinda French Gates for her commitment to building women's political power and to Pivotal Ventures for supporting our work.

    If you haven't already, check out our 2022 Report: Why Women Won in 2021, which explores the factors that led to a woman-majority council in New York City.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 26th, 2023

    Dear Readers,

    We're almost to Memorial Day weekend! We have a variety of stories to share with you all this week, from tragic losses and continual barriers to gender-balanced representation to new court confirmations and inspiring women's leadership.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 19,2023

    Dear Readers,

    What an amazing week for women's representation! This week's Weekend Reading features stories of women's wins and journeys to elected office in the United States and abroad. RepresentWomen will be excited to see what these women do next.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation December 30th, 2022

    Dear readers,

    My parents - "Philadelphia Girl" & Huntington Terrell - were married on December 30th, 1950 at the Quaker Meetinghouse in Philadelphia where my husband and I were married, as well as my grandparents, great grandparents, and great great grandparents. I've been thinking a lot about them this week and all the ways that they encouraged me to work for a more just and equitable world.

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  • Weekend Reading on Women's Representation December 16th, 2022

    Dear readers,

    It's hard to believe that we're almost at the end of 2022! Just because we're getting close to wrapping up for the holidays, though, doesn't mean news on women's representation stops.

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