New Organization Seeks to Break Glass Ceiling

Rise to Run helps put more women in elected office.

By Celeste Amron and Elise Bilodeau

“Rise to Run will remove the obstacles presented when women try to run for office and begin filling the pipeline with an army of women — ‘Risers’ — who are ready to run for office,” said Poojitha Tanjore, a junior at Rock Ridge High School and the Head of the Virginia Rise to Run pilot program.

Rise to Run is a progressive and non-partisan organization which provides young women with the training that they would need to run for office, or to fill high-level campaign staff positions. The program was established after the 2016 election “because the makeup of our government — at all levels — does not adequately represent the women who make up the majority of Americans,” according to the Rise to Run website.

Tanjore said, “We believe if we can organize communities of young progressive women, build power at a local level, and get women into elected office as soon as they’re ready, we’ll build a better, stronger, more inclusive country. A country represented by people who actually look like us and who have actually lived our experiences.”

Rise to Run has community-based hubs and campus-based groups which are led by high school and college-aged women. “They meet regularly and set their own agenda for civic engagement and learning by hosting speakers, attending public meetings, lobbying on progressive issues, planning or participating in events with ally groups — all while building a community and a support network,” Tanjore said.

The organization plans to have hubs in every state by 2020. There are currently pilot programs in Indiana, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and California, and more are being established in other states nationwide.

“Rise to Run provides Risers with basic strategies and tools for understanding the electoral and political processes, as well as a primer on the feminist movement and historical barriers to women’s engagement in electoral politics,” Tanjore said. The training is meant to help prepare women to run for office and hold positions at any level of government.

Tanjore joined Rise to Run when she was 15 years old by contacting the organization through Twitter. The program had not yet reached Virginia, so she wanted to help establish the Virginia branch of Rise to Run. Only weeks after contacting the organization, Tanjore “had been interviewed, offered the position, and been presented with the task of raising young progressive females to run for office.”

Not only does the program help train women to run for office, but it also works with women who already hold an elected office position. “Entering electoral politics can be daunting and difficult; those of us who already have a seat at the table have an obligation to pull up chairs for other women with shared progressive ideals,” said Rise to Run Affiliate and Boston City Council Member Ayanna Pressley

Rise to Run is focused on inclusion of everyone. “We are deeply committed to recruiting women of color and women with diverse economic experiences in order to bring about sweeping change to the landscape of American electoral politics,” said Tanjore.

“The main challenge is convincing young women that they are capable of running, and raising girls to run for office through their chapters. Just like many young women have to be asked multiple times to run for office, many girls have to be asked multiple times to even consider the thought,” said Tanjore.

Juniors Jasselene Paz and Mary Ellen Peterson are starting a Rise to Run chapter at TC. “Poojitha came and talked to the Young Democrats [club] and she seemed really excited about it and we just thought it was a really cool idea,” Peterson said. The first chapter meeting will be held the week before Spring Break in Room C211, and anyone interested in joining can sign up at the Young Democrats meeting on March 15.

“Because it’s so easy for men to run, this [organization] is giving women and our non-binary students a chance to run,” said Paz.

“There’s just so much wrong with our government and so much wrong with politics so it’s really important for young girls and kids in general to become more active because we are the future and we’re the ones who are going to make a difference,” said Peterson.