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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.

Revelations From Research: Upcoming Projects and Reports📈

From left to right, Research Director Courtney Lamendola, Research Associate Steph Scaglia, Research Associate Marvelous Maeze, and IREX (International Research and Exchanges Board) Fellows Wissal Nada Sengouga and Geethika Mannaperuma.

RepresentWomen’s Research Team is the organization’s hub for knowledge building, data gathering, and analysis regarding the systems barriers and solutions to gender-balanced governance. Our team produces original research focusing on systems-level strategies to increase women’s representation in politics at all levels of government in all 50 states.

As we enter the last quarter of 2023, several of our most significant projects, such as the 2023 Gender Parity Index(GPI), have already been published. However, we have several upcoming releases. These include state-specific case studies that utilize our GPI findings, an international analysis of countries with broken records regarding women’s representation in 2021 and 2022, and a memo on the importance of proportional ranked choice voting and its impact on electing women.

Internally, we work to create resources that our counterparts in Communications and Partnerships can use to share our findings and support the overall movements of women’s rights and electoral reform. Our upcoming projects exemplify our emphasis on knowledge building as we dig deeper into some interesting findings that have come up in past reports and the importance of our international research. This further research allows us to contextualize the United States as women in many other countries see much better representation, particularly under proportional representation voting systems.

Catch Up With Comms! Updates from our Communications Department📡

From left to right: Communications Director Laura Todd, Digital Engagement Associate Ria Deshmukh, Communications Interns Nora Weiss and Jewelene Meneses.

RepresentWomen's Communications department is tasked with spreading awareness of our organization. We work closely with the Research, Partnerships, and Development departments and provide support as needed, particularly in creating understandable and shareable content. We've been curating and creating engaging social media content that highlights our latest report releases and promotes the upcoming American Democracy Summit. Our largest project for this quarter is fine-tuning the details of our 2024 planner. As we continue spotlighting impactful female leadership, we are excited to prepare for our upcoming interview with Lindsey Williams Drath, the CEO of Forward Party, whose insights will feature prominently in our 2024 planner.

Communications is also responsible for managing the Weekend Reading blog on women's representation. This quarter, we will continue to draft and edit the blog every week. Our Weekend Reading is an integral part of RepresentWomen because it is an outlet to shed light on important issues, uplift research partnerships, and deepen the conversation about systems strategies like ranked choice voting that elect more women to office. Thank you to Ms. Magazine and Digital Editor Roxy Szal for creating an even larger platform for the Weekend Reading!

The Communications department's main priority is increasing RepresentWomen's impact and accessibility. Accessibility is a core value that RepresentWomen holds because it ties in closely with inclusion. Just as we believe in removing barriers to electing women, we believe in removing barriers to engaging with our work. By creating an accessible understanding of RepresentWomen's research and projects, we invite more people to join the work for a fair democracy.

All Aboard the Partner-ship!🚢

From left to right: Partnerships Director Katie Usalis, National Partnerships Manager Victoria Pelletier, and Outreach Manager Alissa Bombardier Shaw

We are the Partnerships & Outreach Department, the “strategic engagement” lever of the RepresentWomen strategy. This means that it’s our job to take the brilliant work of the research department and get it into the hands that matter, whether that’s through 1-on-1 conversations with decision-makers, convening women leaders, or giving trainings on systems strategies to pipeline organizations. The Partnerships & Outreach Department focuses on the long game of relationship and trust building for sustainable impact. Check out our team photo to see who you’re greeted with when you set sail on the RW SS Partner-ship😉.
We have a busy fall in the Partnerships and Outreach department as we continue to work with our partner organizations, elected officials, allies, and key stakeholders in the advancement of women’s political power.  This quarter, we look forward to a wide range of collaborative projects over the next several weeks, including:
  • Continuation of ongoing meetings with various national and state organizations for continued engagement and identifying opportunities for new ways to partner together
  • Preparing for the launch of the Women’s Power Collaborative - the only national-level body that combines women’s representation organizations and electoral reform organizations in support of a more gender-balanced democracy.
  • Preparation for RepresentUs’ American Democracy Summit (ADS)- the whole Partnerships team will be in attendance! We’re excited to be speaking on several panels, host a happy hour and a strategy breakfast, and have an opportunity to meet with partners and allies at our RepresentWomen booth. We look forward to learning more about best practices for increasing women’s representation at every level of government.
Through the creation of our Women’s Power Collaborative, which will equip members with our network and resources, we will create a more receptive environment for systemic solutions and the twin-track approach (i.e., combining the power of building a pipeline of women candidates with systems strategies that remove pipeline blockages). Our continued meetings with our terrific partners and allies and the relationships we create and deepen at ADS contribute to our goal of establishing a more robust network of stakeholders, especially women, fighting for systems change and maximizing the twin-track approach.
Ranked Choice Voting Poll 🔢
With 80-degree days in DC this week, we’re dreaming of fall weather and activities. Rank your favorite fall activities below!

That’s all for this week. Have a good weekend!

The RepresentWomen Team

P.S. Our quarter three staff retreat was this week! It was lovely to see all the RepresentWomen team in one place. In addition to reviewing goals and plans for quarter four, we had a powerful session with Rene Redwood, who led us in an incredible conversation about our values as an organization and our commitment to, and practice of, diversity, inclusion, and belonging. Rene is pictured with the team below.

Our team tested our investigative skills on Tuesday night by playing an escape room. Thank you to Big Escape Rooms for having us!

We gathered at Effoi Restaurant on Wednesday for a nice dinner.

And finally, on Thursday, we celebrated our 5th anniversary with a happy hour at Hogan Lovells!

It was great to see former RepresentWomen staffer Toni Gingerelli -- who hired research director Courtney Lamendola -- at the 5th anniversary event!

Thanks to all the partners and supporters who could join us in person and to those who joined virtually. It was wonderful to have Annis Cassells share her poem That Moment When We Call the Roll - it made for a very memorable evening. And finally, a very special thanks to board members Rina Shah, Lindsay Williams Drath, and Susanah Wellford, who joined the festivities and shared some inspiring words.💜


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