Ready to Run Iowa alums victorious in 2021 election

CATEGORIES: November 2021, Voices

Amid the record turnout for city and school elections on Nov. 2, several former participants and speakers of the Ready to Run® Iowa campaign training program hosted by the Catt Center appeared on ballots. Of the 14 candidates with ties to Ready to Run, 12 won, including six city council members, four school board members and two mayors.

In Polk County, Teree Caldwell-Johnson (a Ready to Run speaker in 2007 and 2017) ran unopposed for her fourth term representing District 4 on the Des Moines Community School Board. Jackie Norris (a speaker in 2021) who announced her intention to run at the Ready Run workshop last February, won an at-large seat on the Des Moines School Board. This was Norris’ first run for office, but she has a long record in politics having served as Iowa state political director of Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, senior adviser and state director for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and senior adviser for the Biden-Harris campaign.

Amanda Lundstedt won an at-large seat on the Pleasant Hill City Council. A Ready to Run attendee in 2021, Lundstedt said she was encouraged to run by Mayor Sara Kurovski. Kurovski was a speaker at Ready to Run in 2017 and ran unopposed for reelection this year.

Paula Dierenfeld (a speaker in 2015 and 2019) won reelection as Johnston mayor. She has served as mayor since 2008 and served eight years prior to that on the Johnston City Council. Rhonda Martin (a 2019 participant) won her second term on the Johnston City Council. In 2020, Martin ran unsuccessfully for the Iowa state Senate against an incumbent seeking his eighth term.

In Story County, Amber Corrieri (a speaker in 2015 and 2019) won a third term on the Ames City Council in an at-large race. She told the Ames Tribune her top priorities are climate change and workforce challenges that “discourage business investment” and “impact our ability to address childcare needs and how we care for the elderly and people with disabilities and mental illness.”

Kelly Winfrey, coordinator of research and outreach at the Catt Center and who has coordinated the Ready to Run program for the center since 2015, also became a candidate this year. She won a seat on the Ames Community School Board. Winfrey said, “I’ve learned a lot more about campaigning being a candidate, and I look forward to updating our Ready to Run curriculum to do an even better job preparing women to seek office.”

In Dallas County, Jodi Selby won a second term on the Adel City Council. She attended Ready to Run in 2019 and works as vice president of the financial intelligence department at Bankers Trust. Hope Johnson ran for a Clive City Council at-large seat against two incumbents and was only approximately 200 votes shy of winning one of two spots. Johnson attended Ready to Run in 2021 and currently works as a secretary at Prairieview School in Waukee. Her website stated she was running to “create a unified sense of community” for a city that is divided across two counties and school districts.

In Linn County, Nancy Humbles (a speaker in 2019) won a fourth term on the Cedar Rapids Community School Board representing District 2. Humbles was first elected in 2009. Speaking about why she was seeking another term, Humbles told The Gazette, “I want to finish what I started. I am committed to this as well as the success of our students, staff and community. I am passionate and committed to public education. We have some heavy lifts and I can’t take the easy way out by leaving. I need to be willing to be part of the solution.”

In Marion County, Megan Suhr (a speaker in 2017) won a second term on the Knoxville City Council. Suhr previously ran for the Iowa House in 2012 and 2014 but was defeated both times. She also served as chair of the Marion County Democratic Party.

In Johnson County, Megan Alter, who attended Ready to Run in 2021, won an at-large seat on the Iowa City Council. Alter is senior manager for content development and services at ACT, Inc. She told The Gazette she was running because she wants to “make a better normal for our community. We’ve all heard that we ‘want to get back to normal,’ but the truth is we shouldn’t go back. We need to move forward in terms of equity, the local economy and creating a stronger community that more people can enjoy.” This was her second run for city council, having run unsuccessfully in 2019 when Laura Bergus and 2017 Ready to Run participant Janice Weiner won the two open seats.

In Boone County, Camille Schroeder, who attended workshops in 2011, 2017 and 2021 and has served on the Ogden Community School Board since 2013, lost her reelection race this year.

The Catt Center began offering Ready to Run Iowa in 2007. The program runs in odd-numbered years and has trained over 500 participants in that time. The next series of workshops will start in February 2023. For updates on Ready to Run programming follow us on Facebook and join our email list.