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Event empowers young women to run for office

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Story by Olivia O’Hea

EMILY’S List, a political donor network, hosted a political training opportunity at the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 33 Hall in Des Moines last Friday.

The event featured speakers, information sessions and exercises designed to encourage Iowans to run for state and federal office.

The event was catered specifically to women since EMILY’S List is not only a national donor network but also a political action committee, or PAC, designed to elect pro-choice, Democratic women to office.

Approximately 20 women from Des Moines and rural Iowa communities attended the event.

Bri Steirer, a sophomore law, politics and society, politics and rhetoric triple major, and Julianne Klampe, a junior politics and international relations double major, attended the event.

Throughout the day, they met prospective, current and former elected officials and discussed upcoming Iowa political events.

Jo Ann Zimmerman, the first female lieutenant governor of Iowa, joined the group, as well as Marti Anderson, an Iowa state representative from the 36th district.

The event began with an introduction from the EMILY’S List representative and host, Michelle McGrorty, and then featured the first speaker, Staci Appel.

Appel is a former Iowa state senator running for Congress in Iowa’s third congressional district, a seat currently held by Tom Latham.

Other speakers included Matt Sinovic, the executive director for Progress Iowa and Jessie Hill from Groundswell Public Strategies.

McGrorty led the majority of the presentations, focusing specifically on the fundamentals of fundraising and building an effective campaign. Attendees made simulated donor phone calls, as well as created their ideal “kitchen cabinet,” or a small team to help run a campaign.

The event also addressed all levels of public office from city council to Congress and tailored examples to the specific positions women in the room were running for.

“Overall, I felt really empowered by the seminar,”  Steirer said. “It definitely gave me the tools necessary to, potentially, run for office one day.”

The primary point throughout the day was encouraging women to take the initiative to engage in politics and run for office.

According to McGrorty, men often choose to run for office, while women wait to be asked.

EMILY’s List and the Political Opportunity Program aim to remove the barriers that inhibit women from running, specifically start up costs and building a campaign plan.

The EMILY’s List Political Opportunity Program, or POP, was created in 2001 and has held training seminars just like this one in 36 states.

The eight-hour sessions begin with a history of EMILY’s List and then cover logistics necessary to run a successful campaign like creating a platform, fundraising, crafting and delivering a strategic message and generating effective voter contact.

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