Women eager to change the face of politics and run for elected office in Michigan will find the support they need through a nationwide training and support network active in 16 states.
identifies, trains and encourages Democratic women to wage campaigns, get elected and seek higher office. The organization offers an intensive, seven-month, cohort-based training program. Of the 15 women in the first cohort in 2016, five ran for office, four made it to the November ballot, and one was elected to serve as a township trustee in southeast Michigan.
"It was a tough year," admits Executive Director Beth Kelly. "And while winning is the ultimate goal, running a clean, well-executed campaign is a win in anyone's book. It lays the groundwork for future campaigns."
Applicants have until December 31 to apply for the 2017 Emerge Michigan cohort. The program can accept 25 women into the program—an increase of 10 participants from 2016. Kelly says each applicant must meet two basic requirements: they have to identify as a woman, and they have to be a registered Democrat who resides in Michigan.
Applicants accepted into the program participate in 70 hours of training over seven months. Sessions typically take place one Saturday per month and are held in a location convenient to the majority of the participants. Some training is slated for a central Lansing location. Covered topics include, but are not limited to, writing a campaign plan, building a cabinet, finance and fundraising, and compliance.
Emerge Michigan is the newest affiliate in the Emerge America network and came to Michigan in February 2015. The national organization launched in 2002. Tennessee is slated to join the network in 2017.
Emerge America has trained more than 2,000 women. Fifty-two percent have run or been appointed to office. Of that 52 percent, 70 percent have won their campaigns.
The organization focuses on all levels of public office, with a strong emphasis on municipal and local races—the area where Kelly says, a lot of leaders are born. Kelly says this election year proved it's critical for women to run for office and to push forward democratic principles.
"A great many men share the same values, but women are involved with gender salient issues like health care, education, the economy and the environment," Kelly says. "These are the issues we'll see under attack in the next four years, so the more women elected, the more we can focus on and protect these issues."
Emerge Michigan is housed in Franklin, Mich., and plans to grow its presence in Lansing in 2017.
Source: Beth Kelly, Executive Director, Emerge Michigan
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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