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Our Women’s Power Collaborative (WPC) is the only national-level body dedicated to achieving a gender-balanced democracy by advancing a twin-track approach. The WPC is a networking, strategizing, and resource-sharing hub that pairs preparing individual candidates to run for office with systems strategies that remove barriers and create the ecosystem necessary for their success. The Women’s Power Collaborative fills an important gap in the women’s representation space and will facilitate a more transformative and sustainable impact to build women’s political power.
What is it, and why do we need it?
What are the WPC's Core Values?
Our Leadership Circle developed a list of fundamental principles that are woven into the framework of the Women’s Power Collaborative. The diverse, cross-partisan nature of this Collaborative is our strength, and in our collective effort to create a more representative democracy, we agree on the following core values:
Women’s political representation is vital to sustaining good governance worldwide. But while women comprise over half of the world’s population, men still hold the majority of seats in almost every legislature. Research has shown that diversity in political representation leads to more inclusive and effective lawmaking. Women, in particular, bring different forms of consensus building and attention to various policy issues, including but not limited to “women’s issues” such as healthcare, childcare, and education. This means that political processes and outcomes suffer when women are excluded from office.
RepresentWomen has been studying the relationship between voting systems and women’s political representation for the last five years. Through our research, we have found that voting systems shape opportunities for women to enter politics. In both the United States and around the world, cases like New York City, South Africa, and New Zealand further demonstrate the viability of major system changes and the potential impact of adopting a new voting system.
The following memo presents an update to our analysis of voting systems globally, their impact on women’s representation, and the case for proportional ranked choice voting in the United States. Where appropriate, we also discuss the role of complementary candidate-focused strategies and initiatives, such as gender quotas and candidate recruitment groups.
The goal of this memo is to equip our partners in the U.S. with updated data and supporting literature on the impact of proportional representation (PR) on women’s representation, drawing from stories of how PR improved women’s representation in the United States (1910s-1940s), South Africa (1990s-today), and New Zealand (1990s-today). This memo further builds the case for proportional ranked choice voting (PRCV) in the U.S., pushing back on recent efforts to introduce non-viable forms of PR. Previous research releases on this topic: 2020, 2019, 2018.
Voting systems inform how ballots are designed, how people cast their votes, how the results are counted, and how the winners are determined. The type of voting system used can greatly impact voter turnout, the role of political parties, candidate engagement, and representation. While there are many kinds of voting systems used around the world, there are three basic types:
According to our research, women’s representation is lower in countries with plurality-majority systems because plurality systems reinforce existing barriers for women in politics; when a candidate only needs a plurality to win, political parties and donors are more likely to back “establishment” candidates (often white men) to improve their odds. Plurality voting also limits competition against incumbents and encourages negative campaigning, potentially deterring women from running in the first place.
Proportional representation (PR) yields the best opportunities for women. Unlike plurality systems, where a single candidate–and party–wins the district, multiple winners are elected to represent a single district in PR systems, and multiple political parties may be represented at a time. In addition to creating more opportunities for political minorities to be represented, PR systems tend to create more diverse legislatures, with more women and people of color nominated and elected. Overall, PR is the best way to ensure full and fair representation.
With the support of women’s organizations like the National League of Women Voters, PRCV was first adopted in the United States during the Progressive Era, leading to the milestone elections of women and people of color in cities like New York City. Though few original cities use the system today, a new wave of cities are now looking to adopt PRCV. Based on our research, RepresentWomen supports the adoption of PRCV over other forms of PR in the United States. In addition to being the only form of PR with a history of use in the U.S., it is also the only form of PR that is suited for nonpartisan elections, which are held in two-thirds of American cities.
Sol Mora was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and grew up in Salem, Oregon. Currently, Sol is the Advocacy Director at the Coalition of Communities of Color. Sol focuses on engaging communities in civic engagement, working with a range of community-based organizations through coalition-building, and advancing efforts to improve racial justice and create an inclusive democracy. Sol most recently served as the campaign manager to advance measure 26-228 in Portland, Oregon which passed by 58% support and will implement proportional ranked choice voting to elect the City Council.
Michelle is a mid-career, hands-on public servant passionate about working at the nexus of politics and policy to get things done in government to improve people’s lives. She started her career as an intern at the U.S. Embassy-Lima a decade ago, and since then, has built a trajectory of over seven years from frontline positions of implementation, congressional and intergovernmental relations, stakeholder outreach, and the execution of short and long-term agendas for principals in Capitol Hill, a U.S. Embassy abroad, and the Environmental Protection Agency, where she currently serves as a political appointee and scheduler to the EPA Administrator.
In 2020, after earning an MPA from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Michelle worked for President Biden’s campaign, leading Hispanic constituency outreach from the battleground state of Wisconsin. She has also worked as a research assistant following her passion for “action-oriented research” on topics like civic engagement, participatory democracies, civic technology, smart governance, e-democracy, collaborative and empowered participatory governance, among others. Michelle aims to run for office one day and is a current fellow of American University’s Women and Politics Institute’s We Lead program, training cohorts of women aspiring to run for office.
Christina Henderson is an At-Large member of the Council of the District of Columbia. Christina’s career has been guided by the principle that one’s zip code should not determine your opportunity for success. Prior to her election in 2020, Christina advised Sen. Chuck Schumer on education, workforce, postal and census issues. She previously served in various capacities in DC government, including working at the Council and for DC Public Schools.
The daughter of an Army veteran and a retired Transport Workers Union Local 100 member, Christina received her BA in Political Science from Furman University in Greenville, SC and her Master in Public Affairs degree from Princeton University. Christina lives in the Petworth neighborhood of D.C. with her husband Nu, their daughters Jordan and Cameron, and rescue dog Langston.
Erynn Fernandez has been the Executive Director for the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi (DPH) since June of 2019, completing the first all mail ballot Party-run Presidential Primary, the first State eConvention in 2020, and part of the team that brought about the first hybrid State Convention in 2022. In February of 2023 she was elected to the Executive Committees of both the Association of State Democratic Committees (ASDC) and the State Association of Democratic Executive Directors (ASDED) as the ASDED Vice President for the West and Midwest States.
As the former Committee Clerk for the Hawaiʻi State Senate Committee on Housing, Erynn organized Senator Chang's first Housing Delegation to Singapore and Hong Kong in May of 2019. Prior to taking on the Executive Director position she worked on the 2018 DPH Coordinated Campaign, and volunteered her time as an officer and as the chair of various committees and conventions for the organization. She has been the board chair and an officer of several organizations throughout the state. Prior to her political work, Erynn had previous careers as a sales executive, managing director, and surgical administrator. She attended Punahou School and Santa Clara University.
Rina Shah is a strategic consultant, media commentator, & millennial entrepreneur based in Washington, DC. Prior to launching Rilax Strategies – a government and public affairs firm - Rina served as a senior staffer to Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-5) and Rep. Jeff B. Miller (FL-1). Her expertise includes building winning strategies for political campaigns as well as coordinating public affairs efforts for Fortune 500 companies.
She currently serves as an Advisor to VoteRunLead, Spokeswoman for NextGen GOP, a 2015 Founder of RightNOW Women PAC, Co-Chair of Concord 51's DC Chapter, and as an inaugural member of the U.S. House of Representatives Republican Conference's Indian American Advisory Council.
For more than 24 years, April England-Albright has worked in the area of civil rights law, first as a partner at Chestnut, Sanders, Sanders, Pettaway, Campbell and Albright and institutions then through her own law firm, where her experiences included serving as an attorney in the “Black Farmers Lawsuit”, which to date is the largest discrimination lawsuit against the United States, and litigating cases, which addressed race discrimination in the workplace, voting disenfranchisement caused by gerrymandering and other voter suppression tactics, and criminal defense. She also served as a Presiding Municipal Judge for the historical City of Selma, Alabama.
For the past eight years she has worked for the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, where she served as a Supervising Attorney leading investigations, some class-wide, to determine whether secondary and post-secondary in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida were in compliance of Title VI (race), Title IX (sex), Section 504 and Title II (disability).
Ms. England-Albright is now the Legal Director and Acting Chief of Staff of Black Voters Matter Fund, which is an organization that seeks to build power in black and marginalized communities in over eleven states through electoral and issue organizing. In these roles she leads the organization’s restorative justice work and voter protection litigation. Ms. England-Albright has served on the boards of many civil rights organizations, which focus on preserving the civil rights and human rights of all individuals and she has been honored as a Civil Rights Pioneer in her field.
Deb Otis is the Director of Research and Policy at FairVote. With a decade of experience in research and analytics, Deb is passionate about sharing the data-driven case for why our country needs election reform. In addition to ranked choice voting and proportional representation, Deb's areas of research include comparative electoral systems, political polarization, redistricting, representation for women and people of color, the electoral college, and election recounts. Deb is a graduate of Boston University with degrees in Economics and Physics and she lives in Washington, DC.
Kenia is the statewide coordinator for Washington for Equitable Representation (WER), a project of the Washington Community Alliance. WER is a statewide, multi-racial coalition fighting to achieve equitable representation through proportional ranked-choice voting and other democracy reforms.
Kenia lives and grew up in Yakima, WA. She graduated from Yakima Valley College and became a community organizer with the United Farm Workers Foundation –working with farm workers in eastern Washington and in the Yakima valley at the peak of the pandemic.
She has organized undocumented students and other college students to advocate for free college and provided critical support as justice housing intake coordinator at Yakima volunteer attorney services.
In 2022, Kenia was part of a panel discussion, hosted by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, focused largely on COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on Latino’s alongside Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Daniella Ballou-Aares is the CEO and Co-Founder of the Leadership Now Project, a national membership organization of business and thought leaders committed to renewing American democracy.
Daniella began her career at Bain & Company, working across the firm’s offices in the US, South Africa, and the UK. From there, she became a founding Partner at Dalberg, where she led the Americas business and transformed it from a seven-person startup to the largest global social impact strategy firm, which today has 25+ offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the US. Daniella went on to spend five years in the Obama Administration as the Senior Advisor for Development to the Secretary of State, serving under Secretaries Clinton and Kerry, where she was instrumental to negotiating the 192-country agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Daniella’s perspectives have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, Fast Company, POLITICO, and the World Economic Forum, among others. Daniella is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was a 2014 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, an MPA from the Kennedy School and graduated cum laude from Cornell with a BS in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering. Daniella lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.
Charlotte Clymer is a writer, LGBTQ activist, communications consultant, and military veteran. She writes "Charlotte's Web Thoughts," a Substack blog/newsletter that was nominated for the 2023 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Blog. She was previously a Fellow at the Georgetown Institute of Politics and a press secretary at the Human Rights Campaign. She was named to Fortune Magazine's "40 under 40" list in 2020 for her writing and advocacy. She is based in Washington, D.C.
A’shanti F. Gholar serves as the president of Emerge, the only organization dedicated to recruiting and training Democratic women to run for office. In this role, she leads the organization and steers its overall strategy and direction, overseeing a national staff as well as affiliates across the country.
For over 15 years, A’shanti has been a grassroots organizer and activist for women, communities of color and progressive causes. She has experience in building coalitions, program development and community and political engagement.
A’shanti was named by She The People as one of the women of color in politics who would play an impactful role in the 2020 elections and beyond. She was featured as a political influencer in CQ Roll Call Magazine, named a top woman of color in policy by Walker’s Legacy, and was awarded the “Changemaker” award by African American Women in Business Careers.
In addition, A’shanti serves as a Sisters on the Planet Ambassador for OxFam America, an Equity Advisor for Sephora, and as an Advisory Board Member for Global GAIN. She is also the founder of The Brown Girls Guide to Politics, an award-winning podcast that was featured as one of the top political podcasts by Time Magazine, Teen Vogue, and Vanity Fair.
Charlotte Hill is the director of the Democracy Policy Initiative at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. A trained political scientist, Charlotte researches how to expand democratic access and equity through public policy. She regularly advises organizations focused on improving election and voting laws and increasing civic participation. Her work has been published in top political science journals including the Journal of Politics and Electoral Studies and featured in media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN.
Before entering academia, Charlotte held senior communications roles for organizations including international advocacy platform Change.org. She recently co-founded Fix Our House, a new campaign for proportional representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, and formerly sat on the boards of national political reform organizations FairVote and RepresentUs. Charlotte is currently the vice president of the Public Ethics Commission in Oakland, California. She previously served as vice president of the San Francisco Elections Commission, where she helped oversee local election administration.
Certified Doer – Partnership Grower – Civic Connector
Jackie Glass is a self-proclaimed Certified Doer, Mama and Veteran from the Chicagoland area. She served in the United States Navy for eleven years as a cryptologist where she deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Currently, she serves as Delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates for the 89th district covering most of the city of Norfolk. As an elected official, she passed two bills in the 2022 General Assembly and is preparing legislation now for the 2023 General Assembly.
She moved to Virginia eight years ago and currently resides in heart of Norfolk, Ballentine Place. She holds a BS in Workforce Education Training and Development from Southern Illinois University. Jackie is a sneakerhead by marriage and loves to share her kicks as the “Laced-up Legislator.” Jackie, her husband, and two little citizens call Norfolk ‘our chosen hometown’.
Rebecca Chavez-Houck holds a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication and a Master of Public Administration (MPA), both from the University of Utah (U of U). She represented Salt Lake City’s District 24 in the Utah House of Representatives from 2008-18, focusing on public policy related to health and human services as well as voter engagement and access. Her leadership appointments included: House Minority Whip (2014-16) and House Minority Assistant Whip (2012-14).
She now provides leadership coaching and community engagement consulting through her public affairs firm, Aspira Public Affairs, LLC.
Legislative appointments that influenced her policy agenda include service on former Governor Jon Huntsman's 2009 Commission to Strengthen Utah's Democracy. Rebecca successfully sponsored bills establishing Election Day Voter Registration, Election Day Voting Centers, and policies for emergency voting in case of natural disasters, among other elections reforms. Her 2017 Ranked Choice Voting bill was a precursor to Utah’s 2018 RCV municipal pilot law. She is a 2012 Council of State Governments (CSG) Toll Fellows Graduate and served as Latino Voting and Elections Task Force Chair for the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators.
Rebecca was a public affairs staffer for a number of local Utah nonprofits from 1985 to 2007 and cultivated a parallel “career” as a volunteer for myriad local and national nonprofits. She has been honored extensively for her efforts. Rebecca teaches non-profit administration classes as adjunct faculty for the U of U’s MPA program.
Nelsie Yang serves as the elected Councilmember for the City of Saint Paul’s 6th Ward. At 27 years old and a daughter of Hmong refugees, she is the youngest and first Hmong American woman to be elected to St Paul’s City Council. Nelsie has a background in social work and social justice activism. As a councilmember, Nelsie leads alongside individuals, labor unions, and organizations. She is working to unite our society across race, class, and gender.
Jena Griswold is Colorado’s 39th Secretary of State. She was first elected in 2018 as the youngest elected Secretary of State in the United States. She was reelected to the office in 2022. Griswold grew up in a working-class family in rural Colorado and was the first person in her family to attend a four-year college and then law school. She knows first-hand how important it is for every vote to count and for every Coloradan's voice to be heard, no matter their background or income. She will protect our right to vote, fight secret political spending, improve transparency, and stand up to those who try to bend the rules or break the law.
Griswold has practiced international anti-corruption law and worked as a voter protection attorney, where she made sure Coloradans were able to participate in our democracy. She served as the Director of the Governor of Colorado’s DC Office, advocating on behalf of Colorado in D.C. During that time, Griswold was instrumental in bringing back hundreds of millions of relief dollars to help the Colorado communities hit by the 2013 flood. Before her election to Colorado Secretary of State, Griswold ran her own small business, a legal practice in Louisville.
Griswold holds a B.A. in Politics and Spanish Literature from Whitman College and a J.D from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Griswold is fluent in Spanish and a graduate of Estes Park High School in Estes Park, Colorado. In 2006, Griswold was awarded the Watson Fellowship, and in 2009, the Penn Law International Human Rights Fellowship. Griswold is not married and lives in Louisville, Colorado.