Emerge America helps women enter politics

Karen Middleton, President of Emerge America

Karen Middleton, President of Emerge America

Zoë Newcomb

Emerge America is a training program for Democratic women interested in running for political office that provides the resources and skills necessary to run a successful campaign for public office.

Karen Middleton, President of Emerge America
Karen Middleton, President of Emerge America

How did Emerge America get started?
In 2003 a group of women really wanted to see more women running for political office. They started with just four or five women in the San Francisco Bay Area to try and give women the tools to run a successful campaign and they called their project Emerge California. After a couple of years they expanded into surrounding states, and realized they needed to rename their project to encompass the entire Untied States, and that is how Emerge America was born in 2005.

When and how did you get involved with Emerge America?
I joined Emerge in September as president. I been in public office for a total of six years, and I started to look around for organizations that could use my skills. Emerge and I seemed like the perfect match.

What is the process for picking women to join your program?
We have a fairly rigorous application and interview process for potential candidates, looking for women who are ready to go directly in public office. We put together a class from those candidates and train them in seven main areas like media communications that will allow them to run a better campaign. Women go through the program in seven months.

Do you think it important to have women in politics?
Women just bring a really different perspective to problem solving. Women are also very good at multi-tasking. Also, the government should reflect the population. We make up 50 percent of society and reflect 54 percent of voters. We vote more than men, and yet women only make up 17 percent of congress.

What is the most difficult challenge facing women in politics?
The hardest part is sticking it out. Politics is highly combative and it is not very much fun. It can be extremely frustrating, especially when people begin to attack you at a personal level and criticize your personal values. Women sometimes forget to stand up for themselves.

Where do you foresee Emerge America going in the future?
Hopefully we will continue to expand the program into all 50 states and keep helping women get involved in politics. I believe that we will see equality in politics in the near future.

For more information visit http://www.emergeamerica.org.

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