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Civic Impact

Women candidates and campaigners get one-day primer

“Ready to Run Campaign Training for Women” – both campaign workers and candidates – is set once again for Jan. 25 from the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University.
 
“It’s bi-partisan, of course,” says the center's executive director, Dana Brown. “And it's one day, which is certainly a bit of a challenge.”
 
That's because the event covers navigating the political party structure, running for judge, media training, fundraising, public speaking and developing a campaign plan. Trainers include Deb Scofield, president of Executive Speech & Presentations Coaching, and Nancy Bocskor, author of Go Fish: How to Catch (and Keep) Contributors: A Practical Guide to Fundraising.
 
The keynote will be given by Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, who will talk about her experience and what women candidates need to know before embarking on their own campaigns.
 
“Even though I do this every year I always take away new things myself,” says Brown.
 
Fewer than 25 percent of state legislative offices are held by women, she points out, and the state has never had a female senator or governor. There are several barriers to entering politics, she acknowledges.
 
No one likes the lack of privacy that candidates endure, and the negativity in campaigns. For women, the political party structure can throw up barriers as well, Brown says: "It's a little less friendly to women ... It was created by men, so any time they’re expanding they tend to pull from their networks.”
 
Women are also more affected by the work/life imbalance of a political career, since women still tend to be primary caretakers of children and aging parents.
 
While this event has greater attendance in odd-numbered years – when local political races happen – campaigning is still a desired skill, she says. “While a lot of folks actually are down [on politics] because of what we see in Congress or federally, locally there does seem to be consistent interest. My job is to get women off the fence.”
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Dana Brown, Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics
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