+

Courtney Peters-Manning was sick of complaining. She wanted to do something.

The results of the election had surprised and unnerved her, and reading her social media feed felt like running in circles.

"I was getting really frustrated with just the Facebook algorithm showing me everything from people who already agreed with me, and I felt like I needed to do something concrete," says Peters-Manning, a New Jersey attorney.


Facebook did, however, serve up one key piece of useful advice. Shortly after Election Day, Peters-Manning stumbled on a post about She Should Run, a nonpartisan, Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that encourages and trains women to run for office. She joined the group's candidate incubator, which she says helped her crystalize her thinking and vision while giving her the confidence to firm up her plans.

The statehouse in Trenton, New Jersey. Photo by Marion Touvel/Wikimedia Commons.

Since then, she's been networking furiously across her county, where she hopes to run — and where currently only two of seven officeholders are female.

"My husband is really excited for me, and he’s ready to step up and do whatever he has to do to make it happen for me," she says.

According to She Should Run co-founder Erin Loos Cutraro, the group saw a surge of interest after Nov. 8 from women like Peters-Manning who responded to the shocking defeat of the nation's first major-party female nominee with a feeling of urgency to act.

Prior to November, the organization offered support to 100-200 new women per month. Since Election Day, more than 6,000 women have signed up for the group's incubator.

"We know that women, when they run, win at the same rate as men, so very simply, we need more women running," Cutraro says.

She Should Run was founded in 2008, initially to study the challenges to achieving gender equity in public office.

Photo by Ryan McBride/Getty Images.

After surveying women and analyzing races across the country, Cutraro and her co-founders concluded that much of the research, which was conducted on women in the business community, applied to women in politics as well — particularly the finding that, unlike most men, most women don't apply for jobs unless they can check every requirement.

"There’s a saying: ‘Either you’re at the table or you’re on the menu.’ So I think we need to be at the table."
— Courtney Peters-Manning

"A lot of women will question their qualification," Cutraro says. One goal of the incubator is to disabuse prospective candidates of the idea that they need to be an expert in everything in order to start the process.

For Chelsea Wilson, joining the She Should Run incubator has given her a community of like-minded women to talk about the fears and risks of running for office.

She Should Run "really meets women where they’re at," says Wilson, an Oklahoman and Cherokee Nation member who works on Native American economic development. "That’s one of the best things about it."

Wilson hopes to return to Oklahoma to run for local office, where she plans to continue her work representing Native interests and advocating equality for women and girls.

Recruiting more women for office is more than an issue of fairness, according to She Should Run.

"If we want the smartest policies possible, we can’t possibly expect to get there if we’re not tapping the talents of half the population in our country," Cutraro says.

Kamala Harris, freshman U.S. senator from California, takes the oath of office. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images.

One of the organization's biggest challenges is getting women who are working on causes in their home communities to see their own power and potential for effecting change on those issues in office. The group has ambitious expansion plans, including adding staff in the coming year to help manage the onrush of interest and expanding its technological capability to reach more women virtually.

The group also aims to ensure the interests of half of the population are fairly represented at the highest — and lowest — levels of American government.

"There’s a saying: ‘Either you’re at the table or you’re on the menu.’ So I think we need to be at the table," Peters-Manning says.

For many of She Should Run's staff and clientele, 2016 demonstrated the brutality that women can subjected to on the campaign trail. Cutraro notes, however, that there are hundreds of offices at the state, local, and municipal levels where women can run issue-based campaigns without being subjected to a barrage of personal opposition research.

Chelsea Wilson with She Should Run's "All-Barbie female ticket." Photo via Chelsea Wilson.

Still, for those who are interested in running for higher office, the program hopes to embolden those nervous about meeting that brutality head-on to emerge clear-eyed and unafraid.

On that count, it's succeeding.

"I know that it’s going to require a lot of courage," Wilson says, "more courage than I thought it would even a year ago. And a lot of hard work. But it’s definitely not something I’m going let anyone intimidate me about, and it’s something that will be worth it, no matter what the outcome of a run for me would be."

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

Honorees, speakers and guests on stage at We the Peoples

True

Some people say that while change is inevitable, progress is a choice. In other words, it’s a purposeful act—like when American media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner established the United Nations Foundation 25 years ago.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo pulled from video

Texas dad giving heartfelt speech.

This article originally appeared on 07.06.17


A baseball cap on his head, his hands tucked snugly in his front blue jean pockets, Ken Ballard stood in front of a room of onlookers, admittedly a little out of his element.

But the issue at hand was so critical, Ballard said, he couldn't keep quiet.

Keep ReadingShow less
True

Innovation is awesome, right? I mean, it gave us the internet!

However, there is always a price to pay for modernization, and in this case, it’s in the form of digital eye strain, a group of vision problems that can pop up after as little as two hours of looking at a screen. Some of the symptoms are tired and/or dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain1. Ouch!

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo from Pixabay

Courage and coming forward after a sexual assault

This article originally appeared on 10.12.17


"Why didn't she say anything sooner?"

It's the question that frustrates sexual assault prevention advocates and discredits the victims who bravely come forward after they've been targeted.

Stars Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow — who both disclosed to The New York Times they'd been sexually harassed by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein years ago — are among the latest women now having to trudge through a predictable wave of victim-blaming following their disclosures.

Keep ReadingShow less

Fox was granted the award for his contributions to Parkinson's disease research through his foundation.

Following his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease back in the early '90s, beloved “Back to the Future” star Michael J. Fox became an unwavering advocate for others living with the condition. His Michael J. Fox Foundation, founded in 2000, has become the leading provider of funds for Parkinson's research in the world. A large chunk of that research goes into investigating potential cures for the disease.

His contributions to Parkinson's research were highlighted at the 13th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, Nov. 19, in Los Angeles as a recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which honors individuals "whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”

As the now-retired actor took to the stage to accept his honorary Oscar, he delivered a speech full of emotion, grace and a sense of humor that shoots straight to the heart.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo pulled from YouTube video

Animated short about closeted love.

This article originally appeared on 07.31.17


After much breathless waiting and anticipation, the animated kids short "In a Heartbeat" was finally released on July 31, 2017.


The four-minute short film — which follows a closeted boy as he "runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams" — has captivated certain corners of the internet since its trailer was released in May and instantly went viral.

Keep ReadingShow less