Registration for the first two workshops in the 2021 Ready to Run® Iowa Campaign Training for Women workshop series – which will be held virtually this year – opens on Jan. 26.
In an effort to increase the number of women in elected and appointed political office, the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics has offered the Ready to Run Iowa program every other year since 2007 as part of a national network founded by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. This nonpartisan program prepares women to run for elected office, work on a campaign, position themselves for appointive office or become more involved in community leadership.
For the 2021 program, six different workshops will be held virtually on Feb. 26, March 26 and April 30. Registration is required, and will open one month prior to each workshop date. All workshops will be held on Fridays, with a morning workshop from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and an afternoon workshop from 1 to 3:30 p.m. There is no cost to attend, and people can register separately for as many workshops as they wish.
“Any woman interested in becoming more involved in politics should attend,” said Kelly Winfrey, an assistant professor of journalism who coordinates Ready to Run Iowa for the Catt Center. “Our workshops are designed to help women who are just starting to think about public service as well as those that are hoping to run right away.”
Following the 2020 election, Iowa’s Congressional delegation is now 66.66% female, with three women serving in the U.S. Congress and one in the U.S. Senate – the highest number of women ever to represent Iowa in Congress and a dramatic change from just six years ago when Joni Ernst became the first Iowa woman elected to Congress.
However, the Iowa legislature dropped from having a record 45 (30%) women to 43, and could drop to 42 depending on who fills Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ seat, which she vacated to serve in the U.S. Congress. Research by the Catt Center shows women are also still underrepresented in county and city government, and make up the minority of members serving on most county and municipal appointed boards and commissions, despite Iowa’s gender balance legislation.
“We still have a way to go toward gender balance in elected and appointed offices in our state. We hope the Ready to Run Iowa workshops will encourage more women to run for office or apply for appointment to boards and commissions,” Winfrey said.
On Feb. 26, the workshops will focus on getting started in Iowa politics, launching a campaign and creating a message. The March 26 workshops will discuss fundraising and campaigning online. On April 30, working with the media and running as a woman will be the topics. For more information on the 2021 program, visit the Ready to Run Iowa website.
Workshop presenters and panelists include public officials, former candidates, campaign strategists and journalists.
“Every year we invite new speakers and address new topics, so even if you’ve attended in the past, there is still a lot to gain by participating again,” Winfrey said. “This year, with the virtual format, we hope we can reach a broader audience and include speakers from around the state.”
Ready to Run Iowa would not be possible without the guidance and assistance of the advisory board, which consists of nine members with expertise in Iowa politics who provide input on the speakers, content and format for the workshops. Advisory Board members are: Amy Campbell, a partner at the Advocacy Cooperative; Dan Culhane, president and CEO of the Ames Chamber of Commerce; Barbara Hames-Bryant, president of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women; Blake Hanson, an attorney at Crawford and Mauro in Des Moines; Paula Martinez, labor leader and member of the Warren County Democrats Central Committee; Kellie Paschke, an attorney with Skinner and Paschke of Waukee, Iowa; Kim Reem, 4th vice president of the National Federation of Republican Women; Georgia Van Gundy, executive director of the Iowa Business Council; and Andrea Woodard, public policy manager at the Greater Des Moines Partnership.
Since the Catt Center began offering Ready to Run Iowa in 2007, more than 445 women and men have participated in the program, with a number of the participants going on to serve in elected and appointed positions at the state, county and local levels.
Although Ready to Run Iowa addresses topics unique to women as they seek greater participation in the political process, the training is open to anyone who is interested in becoming more involved in politics and public service.
If you would like to be added to the Ready to Run Iowa mailing list, please email the Catt Center.