Emerge Tennessee is a premier training program for Democratic women in the state and part of a national organization called Emerge America. According to Executive Director Freda Player, they have trained around 5,000 women nationwide, and more than 1,000 were elected to office. In Tennessee, Emerge has trained nearly 150 women, and 40 have been elected or appointed to office.
How does Emerge Tennessee recruit women who want to run, but may not know how? According to Freda, when the program began, they sought out those who had run before but did not have all the tools in their toolbelt. As the program progressed, and after the 2016 election, they say more women came forward wanting to become more involved and do something to help their communities, to help other women who are struggling. Now as women go to them, they continue to reach out to those who are advocating within the city council or their local school board and just have a conversation with those women about government, if they are ready to run, and if they are considering running, what they will need help with.
As women decide to run for government, or if their decision is still under consideration, they can go through one of Emerge Tennessee's three Candidate Training programs. Through Emerge Tennessee's signature program, women will go through a six-month, 70-hour program that will teach them how to fundraise, spread their story, find their win number, use digital media, and more. Women will speak to a variety of campaign and election experts, along with other women who have been elected or appointed to office.
Some people have a very specific image of a candidate and even us as women.
For those with a partner and children, running to become an elected official can be difficult. Emerge will bring in spouses of candidates and elected officials and speak on what it was like to go through the process, being on that side of the campaign, how they supported their partner, and how they made the decision as a family to go through this.
Some women may not want to commit to the Signature Training program but still want to learn, this is where the Step Forward program comes in. This program helps women figure out their path to political leadership and how to get started.
Studies show that women in office are more involved with their community and gender-salient issues such as healthcare, the economy, education, and the environment.
Women are natural leaders, they're leaders in their community, whether it's in their neighborhood association, HOA, PTO booster, church group, you know, their local advocacy group, they've already doing it, and that's where their network in their base comes from. And so they've already had that experience before they run. And that's usually the foundation where a lot of it starts
Freda says women tend to be overqualified compared to men. She says it takes seven times to talk a woman into running for office, but if you speak to a man once, he is more likely to say yes. Freda says as women are already taking on roles in different groups they already have the experience to run because leading and networking is usually the foundation of where campaigns begin.
If you don't think you're like this polish lawyer, businesswoman come from this pedigree of family or this political legacy, people are tired of that they don't want that they want to know that you have struggled and overcome.
I also spoke to Freda on seeing names like Tennessee Senator London Lamar, Senator Heidi Campbell, and council women who have gone through the program, ran for office, and were elected. She says it's like a sense of accomplishment that these women are speaking truth to power and real authentic stories. This reaffirms our belief in democracy.
You become like a proud sister and saying, like, that's my family, that's my person. That's my girls doing out there, and doing great and wonderful things. And yeah, it's the best feeling in the world. That the reason I still do this job is for that very reasons that we you see those light bulbs go on. You see people go through the trials and tribulations of running for office and they succeed.
According to researchers from LinkedIn, globally less than a third of leadership positions are held by women. They say in the United States only 37% of leadership positions are held by women, even though women make up 47% of the workforce.
If you would like to would like to learn more about Emerge Tennessee you can visit their website by clicking here.
My name is Jess and I love telling other peoples stories and bringing awareness to the community.