Founded in 2002, Emerge America (EA) laments that “American women are still vastly underrepresented at all levels of government,” where they hold “less than a third of elected offices.” “The United States currently ranks 104th in the world in the number of women serving in their national legislatures,” said EA in early 2017, “behind Mexico, China and Pakistan.” To address what it regards as this “big problem,” EA has developed an in-depth, six-month, 70-hour training program for “Democratic women who want to run for public office.” The curriculum for this program covers such vital topics as Public Speaking and Communication, Fundraising, Media and Messaging, Networking, Campaign Strategy, Field Operations, Labor and Endorsements, Technology and New Media, Cultural Competency, and Ethical Leadership. The trainers who teach these subjects include consultants, advisers, and staffers who have worked for past political campaigns all over the United States.
As of early 2017, EA was active in 18 U.S. states, and the organization had trained more than 2,500 Democratic women since its inception. Approximately 52% of those EA alumni had either run for political office or been appointed to local boards or commissions, and 39% were “women of color.” In November 2016, some 214 EA alumni were on the ballots in various political elections across the United States; 70 percent of them won their respective races.
By EA’s telling, women as a whole are much better equipped, temperamentally, to hold public office than men are. Specifically, women in political positions “are more actively involved in a variety of gender-salient issue areas, including healthcare, the economy, education and the environment.” Moreover, they “are more responsive to constituents” and tend, to a greater degree than their male counterparts, to “value cooperation over hierarchical power,” thereby making them better able to “engineer solutions in situations where men have trouble finding common ground.”
All of EA’s leading officials have backgrounds replete with ties to leftist causes and the Democratic Party. For example:
- EA’s Founder and President, Andrea Dew Steele, served for more than eight years as Political and Philanthropic Adviser to Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founder of Esprit Clothing and a prominent Democratic activist and funder. Steele also worked for many years as a policy analyst on Capitol Hill, and as a fundraiser for a number of Democratic candidates and committees.
- Communications Director Allison Abney worked as a press specialist for two Democratic congresswomen befor joining Emerge America. She also served as a Media Relations Director for a public relations firm specializing in “diversity and inclusion.”
- Operations Director Alisha Woodward Burleson began her career in political activism as a training assistant for EMILY’s List during the 2008 election cycle.
- Political Director A’shanti Gholar was a political appointee in the Obama Administration’s Department of Labor,and in 2012 she served as the Director of Public Engagement for the Democratic National Convention Committee.
- Finance Director Jamie Maniscalco first became politically active as a field organizer for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign in North Carolina. Her work in political fundraising began at Organizing for Action.
- National Board Chair Amy Pearl once served as President of her local Democratic Club. She was also a member of the Hillary For America National Finance Committee in 2016.
Among the more noteworthy members of EA’s advisory board are:
- Joan Blades, co-founder of MoveOn.org and Mom’s Rising
- Heather Booth, a protégé of the late Saul Alinsky and a co-founder of the Midwest Academy, a training institute for left-wing activism and socialist ideology
- Margery Tabankin, another Alinskyite who has held key positions with VISTA, the Arca Foundation, the Barbra Streisand Foundation, Defenders Of Wildlife, the Liberty Hill Foundation, People for the American Way, the Proteus Fund, and Steven Spielberg‘s Righteous Persons Foundation
- Gloria Feldt, the former head of Planned Parenthood‘s Central Northern Arizona office, and co-founder of Take The Lead, a movement designed “to prepare, develop, inspire and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors”
- Democratic activists Louise Gund, Carol Pensky, and Susie Tompkins Buell
- Ann Lewis, a former adviser to Senator Hillary Clinton
- Cecile Richards, who has served in leadership positions with the AFL-CIO, America Coming Together, the SEIU, the Ford Foundation, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Proteus Fund, the New Politics Institute, and Planned Parenthood
- Patricia Schroeder, a Democrat who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973-97
- Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO
- Gloria Steinem, the longtime feminist icon