Emerging women leaders to speak

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BRATTLEBORO — A bumper sticker reads "It's a man's world unless women vote."

Emerge Vermont would add " and run for office."

The state branch of a national organization, Emerge Vermont is working to identify, train and encourage women who identify as Democrats or progressives to run for office at all levels of government, get elected, and serve their communities and state. Currently, there are branches in 24 states.

This fall, 29 women from 19 Vermont communities are enrolled in the latest training program. Several of them will make a presentation about the program and their aspirations at a meeting of the Brattleboro branch of the American Association of University Women on Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., at the Marlboro Graduate Center. They include Sarah Levine, Ann Braden, Emilie Kornheiser and Cindy Jerome. The public is invited to hear their stories.

Also on hand will be State Sen. Becca Balint, D-Windham, a graduate of the program.

Young women who are thinking of enter the public arena in any capacity are encouraged to attend.

According to Emerge, in the 226 years since its statehood, Vermont has never elected a woman to the U.S. House of Representatives or to the U.S. Senate, and only one woman has served as governor of Vermont. Only 11 women have ever been elected to statewide office in the history of the state. Of 180 State Legislators, only 41 per cent are women, and of the over 1,000 of local select board members, only 21 per cent are women.

Emerge believes more women don't run for office or accept leadership positions because they don't see themselves in those roles, assuming they don't have enough experience or skill or they don't know where to begin. Emerge works to overcome those barriers by offering two training programs to inspire women to enter public life.

Emerge Vermont Local is an intensive, weekend-long program designed to inspire and train women to step up for local offices, including select board, school board, elected law enforcement and judiciary positions, and other local boards and commissions. Emerge Vermont Signature is a six-month, cohort-based program designed to train women to run for office at all levels of government, including competitive local offices, state legislature, and statewide offices.

In addition to Balint, other graduates include Elizabeth McLoughlin of Brattleboro, owner of Environmental and Land Use consulting firm, Julie Moore, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and Liz Gamache, mayor of St. Albans.

AAUW promotes education and equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Locally, AAUW funds scholarships for recent high school graduates and older women continuing their higher education.

More information is available at aauw.org or by contacting the local branch president Vivian Prunier at 802-387-5875.

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