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Brattleboro Reformer

By Nancy Olson in the Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO >> Emerge Vermont wants to change the face of politics. The organization identifies, trains, and supports Democratic women in running for office at the local, state, and national levels.

On Sept. 19, at the Catherine Dianich Gallery, 139 Main St., Emerge Vermont will hold a "Discussion on Women in Politics." In attendance will be former Gov. Madeleine Kunin, the first and, so far, the only, woman governor of Vermont (1985-1991), who was U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland (1996-1999), and founder in 2013 of Emerge Vermont, and Sen. Becca Balint, D-Windham, Emerge Vermont class of 2014.

"The Dianich Gallery hosted the first Emerge Vermont event in Windham County three years ago," said Catherine Dianich Gruver, gallery curator and co-host. "Since (the beginning) I have been involved on the advisory board. In this important campaign season, we want to continue to put Emerge Vermont on the statewide map. It is critical to have bright Democratic women step up and run for office and get elected."

Former Brattleboro Select Board member Donna Macomber, Emerge Vermont board chairwoman and a 2008 alumna of the Emerge program in Massachusetts, is co-host of the event.

"Emerge Vermont provides a service to humankind on all levels," said Macomber in a press release. "By expanding opportunity for women to inhabit leadership positions, we all benefit. I am thrilled to be able to co-host an event here in Brattleboro that highlights the important work of Emerge Vermont. I look forward to seeing many friends and neighbors on Sept. 19."

According to Representation 2020, a non-partisan organization that works to raise awareness of the under-representation of women in elected office, Vermont ranks 41st among the 50 states in gender parity among elected officials. Only 21 percent of local select board members in Vermont are women, and Vermont is one of only three states never to have sent a woman to the U. S. Congress.

Since its founding, Emerge Vermont has trained nearly 50 women to run for elected office. Currently nine alumnae are running for state legislative seats. Nationally, Emerge affiliates have trained 2,000 Democratic women to run for office.

As someone who loves politics, Sen. Balint learned about the Emerge program at the non-partisan Women's Campaign School at Yale University. She became involved in planning the Windham County 2013 initial Emerge Vermont event and subsequently attended Emerge Vermont training.

"I'm so glad I did," she said in an email. "It not only gave me the specifics I need to do effective fundraising, and the frameworks I could use to help plan my campaign and its messaging, it also put me in touch with a great network of men and women who were very supportive of my decision to run."

Emerge Vermont is one of 17 states which are affiliates of the national organization, Emerge America, founded in 2005 by Andrea Dew Steele.

"(Steele) created Emerge America because she saw there was a great need nationally for a political training program and support system — our network — for Democratic women," said Allison Abney, communications director for Emerge America. "Women were underrepresented in government everywhere she looked, and to effect change it would mean we would need to go into every state and have a 365-day a year presence."

According to Ruth Hardy, executive director of Emerge Vermont, it's important to have women in elected office because having more diverse people at the table leads to better policy-making.

"Women tend to be better listeners and more collaborative decision-makers than men, willing to work across the table or aisle to find solutions to tough problems," she said in a phone interview."Furthermore, in our society, women are, for the most part, still the primary caretakers for families, children and elders. They bring that life experience to a broad spectrum of issues including the economy, health care, workforce issues, public safety, childcare, and reproductive rights."

Balint had this advice for women who might want to run for office but feel intimidated.

"No matter how much you study or prepare, you will never assure yourself that you know enough to run," she said. "So, live with that tension and jump in anyway. Voters do not want a perfect candidate. They want one who is genuine, works hard, and is willing to learn."

The Emerge Vermont event, which is free and open to the public, includes a silent auction and a reception with light refreshments. Registration is suggested. Contributions are appreciated. For more information contact Executive Director Ruth Hardy at [email protected] or visit

Featured in the gallery is an exhibit of Kennedy Family photos from the Mark Shaw Photographic Archive (official opening Oct. 6 during Gallery Walk). As a photographer for LIFE magazine in the 1950s and 60s, Mark Shaw took photos of John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy. According to the archive's web site, the friendship he developed with them resulted in his being their "unofficial" family photographer. The archive is the work of Shaw's only son David and David's wife Juliet Cuming.

The American Prospect

The 2016 Olympics in Rio were both a triumph for American athletes and a tribute to the lasting impact of Title IX, the 1972 law that set out to equalize educational and athletic opportunities for the nation’s women and girls. Women made up a majority the 554 American athletes at this year’s Olympics, and brought home fully half of the 121 medals won by U.S. competitors.

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US News and World Report

By Susannah Wellford

I got a card in the mail last week that I can't stop thinking about. I'd lost a close friend, and Patti Russo wanted me to know that she was thinking about me and hoped I was doing OK. I also got a text from Anne Moses telling me she was there if I needed to talk.

Why is this unusual? Because Patti, Anne and I run national political organizations training women to run (Women's Campaign School at Yale, Ignite and Running Start). We are direct competitors, fighting for the same funding, the same publicity and a share of the same demographic. But the women's political world that we belong to is groundbreaking in our commitment to work together to get more women elected, rather than to pull each other down to elevate our own groups.

When I speak to women around the world about barriers to leadership, I consistently hear that other women are their worst enemies. This is so widespread that I'd put it in the top 10 of reasons why women feel they can't succeed. Women are said to be the worst bosses, not supportive of their peers' ambition and reluctant to pull up those coming behind them. The "mean girls" stereotype is alive and well. Meanwhile, the men have the Old Boys Club which still seals deals on the golf course or over a cigar at the club. They sponsor each other while we too often hold each other back. How can women hope to succeed in business and politics when we aren't opening doors for each other?

A few years ago, philanthropist Swanee Hunt created a group called Political Parity to address how we can do a better job of getting more women elected to political office. She invited the leaders of women's political empowerment groups from around the country to meet regularly to share ideas and find ways to work together. And while I had a passing acquaintance with these women before our Parity meetings, it was at these day long sessions that I developed real relationships with many of them that were both personally fulfilling and that led to innovative partnerships. These meetings remind us that our greatest strength comes from putting our heads together to solve problems, and that as allies we are far more powerful than we would be in our individual silos, carefully guarding our ideas.

At an impromptu lunch this July during the Democratic National Convention, Russo, Erin Loos Cutraro (She Should Run), , Erin Vilardi (Vote Run Lead), Cynthia Terrell (Representation 2020), Tiffany Dufu (Levo League), Jessica Grounds (Project Mine the Gap) and I sat together talking. It can be lonely being the head of an organization, difficult to be a working mother, hard to navigate fundraising, board relationships and keeping staff happy. We talked equally about personal trials and business opportunities. We laughed a lot. I am so grateful to this network of women who support me and make me smarter about how I do my job.

And I'm glad that we are setting a good example for the women we serve that we are stronger when we work together.

By Prachi Gupta

Hillary Clinton has become the first female presidential candidate of a major political party in American history, showing American women and girls that they, too, can one day run for political office and succeed. But she's not the only female politician whose election would be historic. In a Congress that boasts only 19 percent women, over a dozen women from both sides of the aisle could end up breaking barriers if elected in November. Based in part on input from's nonpartisan Representation2020 project, here are 19 women from across the country who would be historic firsts if elected into the House of Representatives or the Senate.

1. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D): U.S. House of Representatives, Delaware

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Lisa Blunt Rochester has dedicated her career to public service in her home state, serving as Delaware deputy secretary of health and social services, Delaware secretary of labor (the first black woman to hold this position), and then later serving as Delaware personnel director and CEO of Wilmington Urban League. She briefly moved to China after her second child was ready to go to college, where she wrote a book "about women who reinvented themselves," she told She is running for an open seat in Delaware's at-large district vacated by Rep. John Carney (D), who is running for governor.

2. Katie McGinty (D): U.S. Senate, Pennsylvania

If elected, she will be the first woman to represent Pennsylvania in the Senate.

Katie McGinty, the ninth of 10 children, was born in Northeastern Philadelphia to a police officer and restaurant hostess. She's the first in her family to go to college, graduating from St. Joseph's University with a degree in chemistry and then going to Columbia Law School. She's focused her career on clean energy and environmental protection in both the public and private sectors, with stints working for Sen. Al Gore and former President Bill Clinton, who tapped her as his top environmental aide and later as chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality (she was the first woman ever to hold this position). Early on in her career, she spent over a year in India as an energy research fellow, where she adopted two girls from Mother Teresa's orphanage with her husband, Karl. They later had one biological daughter and live in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

3. Pramila Jayapal (D): U.S. House of Representatives, Washington

If elected, she will be the first Indian American woman in Congress.

Pramila Jayapal, who earned an endorsement from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, came to the U.S. from India at 16 on her own because her parents wanted her to have more opportunities. She attended Georgetown University and worked on Wall Street before becoming a labor organizer and national advocate for the civil rights of women and immigrants. She became a U.S. citizen in 2000, and in 2001, after 9/11, founded South Asian and Arab advocacy group Hate Free Zone (which was later changed to OneAmerica). As a Washington state senator, she helped pass a $15 minimum wage and paid sick days in Seattle. She is running for Congress in Washington state's 7th District.

4. Angie Craig (D): U.S. House of Representatives, Minnesota

If elected, she will be the first openly gay person to represent Minnesota in Congress.

Angie Craig is the daughter of a single mother, and she grew up in a trailer park with her two siblings. She graduated from the University of Memphis, worked as a journalist, and later became a business executive. In 2000, according to the Human Rights Campaign, her custody battle over her adopted son led to a ruling that helped make it possible for other same-sex couples to adopt. When the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015, Craig rejoiced, saying, "When I came out in a small Arkansas town in 1989, I couldn't imagine that I would live to see this day. I've watched as countless families, all over the country, struggle for the same recognition that my wife Cheryl, our four children, and I were fortunate to be afforded by my adoptive home in Minnesota. While California, and then Minnesota, have recognized our marriage since 2008, we'll celebrate today with the kids knowing that no longer can anyone, anywhere in this country, tell us that we're not a family." She is running for Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District.

5. Denise Juneau (D): U.S. House of Representatives, Montana

If elected, she will be the first Native American woman in Congress and the first openly gay person to represent Montana in Congress.

 Denise Juneau can trace her family's Montana roots back more than 50 generations, long before Montana was a state. She was raised on Montana's Blackfeet Indian Reservation, is a descendant of the Blackfeet tribe, and is member of the Mandan Hidatsa tribe. Juneau has worked in education policy, boasting degrees from Montana State University, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the University of Montana School of Law, and in 2008, became the first Native American woman in the U.S. ever elected to an executive statewide office as Montana's Superintendent of Public Instruction. She is the first openly gay woman to run for federal office in Montana and is running for Montana's at-large congressional district. If elected, Juneau will be the first woman Montana has sent to the House since 1941.

6. Suzanna Shkreli (D): U.S. House of Representatives, Michigan

If elected, she will be the first Albanian American woman in Congress.

Suzanna Shkreli, 29, works as an assistant prosecutor for Macomb County, Michigan, taking on child abuse cases. Shkreli joined the race in July as the Democratic Party challenger to incumbent U.S. Rep Mike Bishop (R) after Melissa Gilbert dropped out of the race. "I've been doing public service for the last five years," she told the Detroit Free Press. "I have no political experience, [but] when Melissa Gilbert dropped out, that's when I decided to step up and run." In a statement on her campaign website, Shkreli notes, "I'm a first generation American. My parents are working class Albanian immigrants who worked very hard to help my sister, my brothers and me get a good education and go to college. That's why I've dedicated my career to giving back, and helping make sure the next generation has the same opportunities I had." She is running for Michigan's 8th Congressional District.

7. Kamala Harris (D): U.S. Senate, California

If elected, she will be the second black woman in Congress (after Carol Mosely Braun in 1992) and the first Indian American in the Senate.

Born to an Indian physician and a Jamaican Stanford professor, Kamala Harris is poised to become America's first black female senator in two decades and its first Indian American woman. Her parents divorced when Harris was a child and she grew up mostly with her mother, Shyamala, who took her two daughters to Baptist church and on trips to India. Harris attended the historically black college Howard University, got a law degree from Hastings College, and then worked at an assistant district attorney's office in Oakland. Devoted to criminal justice reform, Harris told the New York Times Magazine of racial bias among prosecutors. "They were talking about how these young people were dressed, what corner they were hanging out on and the music they were listening to. I remember saying: 'Hey, guys, you know what? Members of my family dress that way. I grew up with people who live on that corner.'" In 2010, she became California's first female, first black, and first Asian American attorney general.

8. Loretta Sanchez (D): U.S. Senate, California

If elected, she could be the first Latina in the Senate.

Sanchez, one of seven children of Mexican immigrants, ventured into politics in the mid-'90s after working as a financial analyst for Booz Allen Hamilton. Though originally registered as a Republican, hearing anti-immigrant rhetoric from then-GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan changed her mind. In 1996, she ousted conservative Rep. Bob Dornan from his House seat by about 1,000 votes. Political consultant John Shallman, who managed her campaign, told the Los Angeles Times recently, "When she first ran, she was not expected to be the nominee, not even by the Democratic Party." He continued: "And when she was the nominee, they didn't believe she had a chance. Why? Because she was Latino and a woman." She served California's 46th Congressional District from 1997 to 2003, before serving the 47th District from 2003 until 2013. In the 2016 election, she will be up against Kamala Harris for a California Senate seat.

9. Catherine Cortez Masto (D): U.S. Senate, Nevada

If elected, she will be the first woman to represent Nevada in the Senate and could be the first Latina in the Senate.

Catherine Cortez Masto hails from Las Vegas, Nevada, and pursued a career as an attorney after graduating with a degree in finance from the University of Nevada, Reno, and Gonzaga University School of Law. She has served as a federal criminal prosecutor at the United States Attorney's Office and as assistant county manager for Clark County. She later served as the state's attorney general for eight years. Upon accepting an award from the Women's Research Institute of Nevada in 2013, she said, "As we celebrate Women's History Month, we need to recognize that women have the capacity to be great leaders. They bring a different and much needed perspective to the table. Nevada could benefit from more women in leadership roles and so could our country."

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10. Lathika Mary Thomas (R): U.S. House of Representatives, Florida

If elected, she could be the first Indian American woman in Congress.

Lathika Mary Thomas is the daughter of Indian doctors who immigrated to America in 1972. Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, the 37-year-old moved to Florida as a child. Thomas identifies as a "strong conservative Republican" and has worked in state government, under Gov. Rick Scott's administration, since he was elected in 2010. According to her website, she currently serves as general counsel at the Department of Elder Affairs. "With the strong support and help of our Indian community, I will be able to be victorious in my race for Congress. If I am elected, I will be the first Indian-American woman to serve in Congress. This would truly be a historic event," she told website Desi Life and Times last year. She is running for Florida's 2nd District.

11. Denise Gitsham (R): U.S. House of Representatives, California

If elected, she will be the first Republican Chinese American woman in Congress.

With a Chinese mother from Taiwan and a Canadian father, Denise Gitsham says she's "ambiguously ethnic enough to pass for almost anything." This is how, she joked at CPAC last year, she ended up "as a Hispanic coalitions coordinator" for George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign. Non-politicos might recognize the attorney and small-business owner from her brief appearance on The Bachelor in 2008. She is running for California's 52nd District.

12. Sue Googe (R): U.S. House of Representatives, North Carolina

If elected, she will be first Asian American woman to represent North Carolina in Congress.

Sue Googe was born in extreme poverty on a remote island without running water or electricity in communist China. Her parents were illiterate, but after demonstrating a talent for reading and writing, Googe was able to gain admission to a boarding school at age 11. At age 20, she moved to mainland China and worked as an accountant, and at 26, she moved to America and studied computer science. She became a U.S. citizen in 2005 and went on to found a real estate investment firm in Cary, North Carolina. She is running in North Carolina's 4th Congressional District, and according to the Representation 20/20 project, she would be the first woman to represent that district at the federal level.

13. Misty Snow (D): U.S. Senate, Utah

If elected, she could be the first openly transgender person in Congress and would be the youngest U.S. senator in American history.

Misty Snow, 30, comes from a low-income family and works as a cashier at a grocery store. But with the Democratic Party's support behind her, and a recent primary election win in Utah, she has already made history as being one of two openly transgender women to win a congressional primary. If elected, Snow just might make history in two ways: She would be the first transgender person elected to Congress and the youngest U.S. senator ever. "Even if you don't think I can win, I am a voice of the LGBT community," she recently told Refinery29. "I am a voice of the millennials. I'm also the voice of working people — I work at a grocery store — and I think we need more working people representation in government."

14. Misty Plowright (D): U.S. House of Representatives, Colorado

If elected, she could be the first openly transgender person in Congress.

Misty Plowright is a self-described "computer geek," military veteran, and polyamorous transgender woman. She was raised by a single mother and relied on public assistance. "Frankly, I don't think there's a whole lot of people up on Capitol Hill who know what it's like to bust their ass and still not make ends meet," she told the Guardian. "I've stared at cat food and wondered if I was really that hungry. No one in Congress knows what that feels like." She lives with her wife Lisa and their partner Sebastian in Colorado Springs. Along with Snow, Plowright made history with her primary win in June. She is running in Colorado's 5th District.

15. Susan Narvaiz (R): U.S. House of Representatives, Texas

If elected, she will be the first Latina woman to represent Texas in Congress.

Born in Ohio, Susan Narvaiz moved to San Antonio, Texas, as a child. In 1995, she settled in San Marcos, Texas, where she became the town's mayor and served three terms. In addition to her public service, she is the president and CEO of Core Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm that advises on public policy, public relations, and organizational change. She also sits on the board or advisory committee for many organizations, like Girl Scouts of Central Texas, Freedom Legacy International, and the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas, according to the Wall Street Journal. Narvaiz is running to represent Texas's 35th Congressional District, a new district that was created based on the 2010 Census report, after two failed bids.

16. Kelli Ward (R): U.S. Senate, Arizona

If elected, she could be the first woman to represent Arizona in the Senate.

Dr. Kelli Ward, a 47-year-old osteopath, previously served in the state senate. She is challenging U.S. Sen. John McCain, who has been an Arizona senator for three decades, in the Aug. 30 primary. Ward is a strong supporter of Donald Trump and said in a recent interview with Conservative Review that she espouses the same "populist conservative values" as the Republican presidential nominee.

17. Thuy Lowe (R): U.S. House of Representatives, Florida

If elected, she will be the first Asian-American woman to represent Florida in Congress.

Thuy Lowe's parents came to America as refugees, fleeing violence in Vietnam in the 1970s. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Lowe grew up in Orlando, graduated from the University of Central Florida, and started a company — reportedly with just $50 — that provided medical transportation services to disadvantaged citizens in her local community. She retired after 10 years. She is running in the 10th District in Florida. This will be her second congressional bid.

18. Tammy Duckworth (D): U.S. Senate, Illinois

If elected, she will be the first Thai American in the Senate.

Tammy Duckworth has already made history, becoming the first female veteran and the first Asian American woman from Illinois elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014. As an Iraq War veteran whose legs were amputated after her helicopter was shot down in 2004, Duckworth has been leading the offensive against Donald Trump for joking about how easy it is to get a Purple Heart. After her recovery, she worked for the Department of Veteran Affairs and was appointed to assistant secretary by President Barack Obama in 2009.

19. Ann Kirkpatrick (D): U.S. Senate, Arizona

If elected, she could be the first woman from Arizona in the Senate.

Ann Kirkpatrick was born and raised on the White Mountain Apache Nation reservation in Eastern Arizona, where her father ran a general store and mother taught at a school. Moving away from the reservation in the second grade was a culture shock for her. "In Apache culture, property's not of big value, and you're supposed to share with your family," she told the Phoenix New Times. "My friends and I used to play a game to see if we could walk in the forest and not leave a footprint. Then, you go into Anglo culture, and it's all about property and ownership." She went on to become valedictorian of her class, and obtained a bachelor's degree and a law degree from the University of Arizona. Kirkpatrick was the first female deputy county attorney in Arizona's Coconino County and later served as a city attorney for Sedona before launching her own law firm. In 2004, after community leaders nudged her into a career in politics, she served in the Arizona State House for two terms. In 2008, she was elected to represent Arizona's First District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which she continues to serve.