Be The Change: Take The VoteRunLead Invitation Nation Challenge
This fall VoteRunLead has issued a challenge to the nation at large: To invite 50,000 women to run for political office by Election Day and half-a-million by 2016. “VoteRunLead was born as a program of The White House Project in 2004. During that time we trained over 15,000 women to run, establishing the largest most diverse women’s political leadership training program ever seen,” said VoteRunLead’s executive director Erin Vilardi, on the organization’s history and past successes.
VoteRunLead is a national, nonpartisan organization that unleashes the power of women leaders in democracy through training, technology and community. The organization has a mission to fuel women’s ambition for civic leadership and close the knowledge gap around politics for women from all classes, cultures and colors.
VoteRunLead’s strategy to accelerate the number of women in leadership is simple: Invite them on a massive scale through peer-to-peer social capital. The organization invites everyone in the nation to ask three women in their lives to run. When asked about the process for inciting change Vilardi’s response was clear, “We want to utilize technology and social networks to reach hundreds of thousands of women. We want to accelerate change!”
By partnering with Target, Omidyar Netwark, The Minneapolis Foundation, and many more, VoteRunLead seeks to build the largest network of women leaders in history. “With women comprising 45 percent of our leadership team, we not only value women’s leadership and participation within our corporation, it is a critical part of our success,” said Irene Quarshie, director of government affairs for Target, regarding Target’s support of VoteRunLead’s Invitation Nation initiative. Stacy Donohue, investment partner at Omidyar Network said of their support, “A vibrant, well-functioning democracy requires active participation by all segments of society. For too long women have been underrepresented in our country…”
At the current rate of progress for female representation, men will be the majority of political officeholders for the next 500 years. Currently, in the nation’s 100 largest citites, only 13 percent of mayors are women and three percent are women of color. Nearly half of all U.S. states have never had a woman governor and women of color comprise only five percent of the nearly 7,500 state legislators across the country. “Invitation Nation is tapping into the brilliance of American women to create a tidal wave of diverse new state and local leaders,” said Vilardi.
Wondering if you or someone you know is right for Invitation Nation? VoteRunLead welcomes all women. “Passion is our criteria,” Vilardi said. “We aim to support women who are doing great work in their local communities and encourage them to take a seat at the leadership table so they can leverage the kind of power they need to reach their goals; women who are just starting to get involved, women who are deciding what to do later in life, and women not currently tapped for leadership or seen as ‘viable’ by other organizations.” Anyone interested can register for VoteRunLead’s first national GO RUN Training in Minneapolis this November 21-23. Registration information is available here (scholarships are available).