You Don't Have To Change Yourself To Run For Office

Photographed by Olivia Locher.
As we're reminded daily, there's one very big election happening in 2020 — but the number to know is much bigger than one. There are over 500,000 elected offices across the United States for the taking, and at VoteRunLead our goal is to make sure as many of these elected offices go to women as possible.
The success of the 2018 midterms will not be an anomaly, but rather the beginning of women standing up and owning their unique power as candidates and individuals to create change for communities up and down the ballot. We're going to take the "women's wave" from 2018, and turn it into a tsunami that translates across states and party lines, thousands of women at a time.
VoteRunLead has led the way for in-person trainings that go beyond the nuts and bolts of running for office, but provide leadership-affirming and actionable tools for attendees. We know that when women train together, they are more likely to find the support they need to take the next step on their political journey. Which is why this Saturday, May 18, VoteRunLead is hosting the largest single-day candidate training in our nation's history, Run As You Are. Our training will span 20 cities all across America, reaching 1,100 women, as well as online, because this is bigger than Beltway politics — this is American politics. Our issues are local. Our vision is national. And the time is now.

The idea of electability is not only veiled in sexism, it's tired, and we declare it over. Running just as you are is the only way we all win.

VoteRunLead's mission is to make sure every woman knows that she doesn't have to change herself to seek elected office. The idea of electability is not only veiled in sexism, it's tired, and we declare it over. Running just as you are is the only way we all win. VoteRunLead's program uniquely trains women to Run As You Are. With Run As You Are, we are training women to see their strengths, to trust their instincts, to prioritize their lived experience, and to know that they are enough. And we know it works. We've trained over 30,000 women to run for office and win. Over 50% of VoteRunLead candidates won their elections in 2018 and of those who won, 96% ran for local office. These women — rural women, trans women, young women, moms, and women of color — won their races not by playing by an old rule book, but by living their own story and creating their own rules with the support of our training program.
It's one thing to learn how to ask for donations, collect signatures, and build a team (we've got your back on that, too!), but it's another to be surrounded by and learn from a community of women that knows you are exactly what you need to be to run for office and to win.
Maybe you're a mother looking to make a better school district for her children, or a nurse with the knowledge and passion to address healthcare head-on. You may be a Republican woman who wants to see greater representation in your party. Or a community activist ready to create impact for your city.
We believe the more women we have in every office, the better chance we have to create stronger legislation for all communities and stronger bipartisanship that moves our nation forward.
That’s why America’s top companies have joined with us. They also know that more women in power means better bottom lines and better government. WeWork and Facebook are making VoteRunLead’s trainings accessible to all women, and Refinery29 is telling the stories of women, their impact, and their journeys. We couldn't do it without their support, and without the support of so many organizations and donors, but most importantly, we couldn't do it without you, the women of America who are ready to run.
Erin Vilardi is the founder and CEO of VoteRunLead. The views expressed are her own.

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