For the fourth year, NOVA-Alexandria’s Jean Braden Center for Women, Gender and Social Equity partnered with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and Running Start to host “Elect Her” on February 23.
Elect Her, also referred to as NOVA Women Win!, is a college-wide training program encouraging women students to run for student government and to consider a future in politics. Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol was the keynote speaker, and She Should Run Executive Director Clare Bresnahan English facilitated the training event.
Cristol shared her personal experiences while running as an elected official and the importance of expanding the definition of what it means to be qualified to run for office and positions of student leadership.
“If you’re a woman who is interested in running for public office your voice is already underrepresented at the local, state and national level,” Cristol said. “When we don’t see people who look like us, we start to imagine that being qualified looks like somebody else. When we start to view ourselves our own qualifications, that’s how we achieve representation and better public policy when it relates to issues that affect us.”
Although Elect Her emphasizes female leadership empowerment, the program also welcomes men wishing to help advance diversity in politics. Samuel Porter, a full-time NOVA-Annandale student, expressed his interest in attending this year’s event.
“I feel women aren’t supported enough by men. As a man, I believe we have an obligation to help women however we can,” Porter said. “I also have an interest in running for a public office, but without help from both sides, we are limited on what we can achieve together. Women can accomplish anything on their own, but I believe if men share their voice beside women to uplift them, it can make certain challenges that they experience a bit easier.”
Fifty NOVA students from all six campuses participated in conversations about their interest in running for Student Government Association (SGA) office and getting involved in politics on a local, state and national level. As the facilitator, English arranged small workshops throughout the day to motivate and inform students about running for leadership positions and gave them some ideas of how to get involved in politics in the future. Students also interviewed Bethlehem Getaneh, NOVA-Alexandria SGA vice-president, on her role as a campus liaison and how to effectively serve as a college representative.
View WDVM-TV coverage of NOVA’s 2018 Elect Her training program here.