Ready to Run™ Iowa sets records, achieves goals

Through the course of six workshops, the Catt Center’s 2013 Ready to Run™ Iowa program set new records for participation while achieving a number of goals.

The workshop series concluded on June 21 with a session titled “Conquering the Camera: An Interactive Media Training.” The workshop focused on how to develop a campaign message and included tips on public speaking and debate participation.

The session also addressed strategies for interacting with the news media, which were provided by newspaper, radio and television journalists and elected officials. During the course of the four-and-one-half-hour session, workshop participants learned about the multiple online and social media tools available to candidates and campaigns and had an opportunity to write a brief campaign speech that they then delivered on camera.

“With its emphasis on the multiple facets of candidate and campaign messaging, media management, and communication through traditional and new media, this was the strongest media training session ever presented in the history of Ready to Run™ Iowa,” said Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics.

Overall, the 2013 Ready to Run™ Iowa program set new records while achieving multiple goals, noted Valerie Hennings, the Catt Center’s scholar-in-residence who designed and directed the 2013 program. “This year, the program reached an all-time high in participation – more than 90 individuals from 27 counties throughout the state of Iowa participated in the program. This marks a 30 percent increase in participation as compared to when the center last offered the program in 2011 and more than doubled the number of individuals who attended the first program in 2007,” she said. “It also reflects the center’s success in reaching a broader geographic base of participants.”

As a part of strengthening the 2013 curriculum, the center designed six training sessions that provided opportunities for participants to “practice” being leaders through interactive exercises. These interactive components, which were led by political professionals and scholars on each topic, included: completing candidate nomination papers, developing a campaign calendar, applying for a state board, practicing a fundraising request, writing a campaign speech and delivering an address on camera.

This curricular goal was accomplished in part by the successful transition in the program’s format from a one-day workshop to a series of six monthly sessions held January through June. The new format provided more than 21 hours of instruction, which ultimately tripled the amount of training received through the Ready to Run™ Iowa program.

“The workshops were so well run and inspiring; thank you! I feel as though I’m one step closer to a career affecting public policy,” said one 2013 participant.

Currently, the Catt Center is conducting an in-depth analysis of the 2013 workshop series to better understand the effects of the changes to the program’s curriculum and format, including its impact on women’s political participation in the state of Iowa. As part of a national campaign training network founded by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, the Catt Center will present the findings of this analysis in October during a summit meeting of the 15 Ready to Run™ program partners throughout the United States.

“As with past Ready to Run™ Iowa sessions, we will continue to serve as a resource for this year’s participants,” Hennings said. “We look forward to following their races – and celebrating their victories – across the state.”

The 2013 Ready to Run™ Iowa workshop series was sponsored in part by the Ames Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters of Ames, the League of Women Voters of Iowa, and the Women’s and Diversity Grant Program through the ISU Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost. Mediacom provided support through the airing of a public service announcement (PSA) produced by members of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences communications staff and ISU’s News Services team. This PSA can be viewed on the Catt Center’s YouTube channel.

Ready to Run™ Iowa is a statewide, non-partisan program designed to recruit and train women for elected and appointed office and encourage them to become involved in public life as leaders in their communities. The Catt Center has offered the program every other year since 2007 and plans to host the program again in 2015.