connect / 2019

Women Lead L.A.: Mobilizing Women to Collaborate, Lead, and Make Positive Change

Women Lead L.A.: Mobilizing Women to Collaborate, Lead, and Make Positive Change

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by VOTERUNLEAD

VoteRunLead wants to train an incredibly diverse group of everyday women -- entrepreneurs, CEOs, mothers, nonprofit leaders -- to become active leaders in their communities. Online and in-person trainings will empower and motivate them to run for office, connect with elected officials, mobilize their neighbors, speak out on issues, and more. The result of increased women's leadership will be waves of positive change in neighborhoods, across L.A., for all people.


What does your organization do?

VoteRunLead trains diverse women to unleash their political power, run for office, and transform American democracy – through award-winning programs, online tech, and by inspiring community.

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

  • VoteRunLead will work with NationBuilder on this project. Partnerships are endemic to the way VoteRunLead works, and our programs are strengthened by the influence of our collaborators, who connect us to an increasingly diverse group of women and guide us in delivering our curriculum to trainees with different learning styles.

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

VoteRunLead knows that women are inherent leaders. They are CEOs, school board Presidents, mothers, entrepreneurs, and more. Many women easily tap in to the needs of others, which makes them perfect change-makers. We have so many stories to share about how inspiration grows into impact:

  • Our first example is with alum Liuba Grechen Shirley, who is a businesswoman, nonprofit leader, mom, and 2018 candidate for the House of Representatives. VoteRunLead’s “Run As You Are” message resonated with her and, realizing that the only way she could campaign was if she had regular child care for her two young children, Shirley appealed to the Federal Election Commission to clear funds for this use. With numerous letters of support from elected officials, Shirley became the first person ever to use campaign funds on child care. This is a game-changer for for any candidate with children, including men.

  • Alum and New York State Representative Alicka Ampry-Samuel was raised in Brownsville, one of the most impoverished areas of Brooklyn, NY. Urged by VoteRunLead to be an authentic leader, she is now living a life of public leadership so that she can give back. Running on the slogan “Hope is Inside,” Ampry-Samuel ran for office because “I love my community, I’m a product of my community, and my community deserves for me to run.” In her first few months in office, she has co-sponsored eight bills to improve education, public housing, community development, and neighborhood safety. She is also the lead sponsor of the City Council resolution to expand and renew the speed camera program, which has an immediate impact and reduces speed at intersections in the neighborhood by as much as 63%.

These two women – and so many others! – demonstrate how inspiration leads to impact. We know there’s a multitude of women in L.A. waiting to show what amazing leaders they can be, and what positive impacts they can make on our city and county.

Which of the connect metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Government responsiveness to residents’ needs
  • Participation in neighborhood councils
  • Voting rates

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles

How will your project make LA the best place to connect?

Los Angeles is one of the greatest cities in the world – and VoteRunLead wants to help ensure it stays that way!

L.A. County is unique in that it is so diverse with a multitude of voices – yet many of these voices are not always heard in government. The region has a consistently low voter turnout and an L.A. city council that is 77% men. The city has never had a woman mayor. But half our city is comprised of incredible, talented women. Thus, L.A. is an ideal location to connect and engage through civic participation and women’s leadership training.

VoteRunLead would be honored to help residents connect through our tried-and-true strategies:

  • In-Person Trainings and Engagements. Our signature training, called “Run As You Are,” is a six-point curriculum covering key ways for women to develop, hone, and execute their public leadership skills. Quantitative and qualitative evaluations of our award-winning trainings show that women emerge with greater knowledge and confidence, committed to the path to lead.

  • Digital organizing and activism. VoteRunLead’s online trainings and workshops provide an opportunity for leaders to learn from anywhere, on their own schedules. Plus, our social media network of nearly 21,000 individuals is active, engaged, and supportive.

  • Increasing participation in political processes. VoteRunLead is targeting women to run for office between now and 2020. We are also making a specific call to action to women who have historically been underrepresented: women of color, younger women, women with lower incomes.

  • Advocating for policy. Studies show women are more likely than men to pass a bill and work in a bipartisan manner. Our alumnae pass pay equity bills, bring long-ignored issues to the fore, and advocate for vulnerable populations. Nonpartisan VoteRunLead welcomes women of all backgrounds and beliefs, speaking to all parties and Millennials who often claim no party affiliation.

  • VoteRunLead creates new tools and technologies for greater civic/political engagement. As mentioned above, VoteRunLead has an engaged online community and aims to expand online tools.

  • Influencing individual behavior. VoteRunLead’s message of empowerment and collaboration impacts women not only on a systemic level, but also on an individual one, which opens new doors in their everyday lives.

Our data shows that our trainings are effective, with an average of 65-70% of our candidates winning their elections, including 70% of first-time candidates (statistics show that usually, first- timers win 10% of the time). Nearly half of our winners are women of color. And, even if trainees don’t run, they vote, manage campaigns, and organize in their communities. Through this work, VoteRunLead will deliver specifically on the LA2050 metric to increase participation in neighborhood councils, training and propelling women into office to create a more responsive governance that addresses residents’ needs.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Measuring success through the following goals and outcomes, VoteRunLead will:

VoteRunLead aims to tap into the potential of women in LA, across party lines, who are motivated to and ready to lead. In one year, we aim to:

  • Train 200 women in LA through in-person trainings and workshops;

  • Reach 1,200 women in LA through online experiences;

  • Propel at least 20 women to run for office in their communities, whether through elections on the school board, city council, etc. and through appointed positions;

  • Provide at least 1,400 LA women an online, interactive community of support, encouragement, and continued education that will help them move forward on their leadership journey;

  • Activate all women to step into their unique leadership roles in their communities, joining the ranks of motivated citizens who connect and improve their city and county; and

  • Propel women into public leadership so that representation reflects the actual population (currently, 51 percent of the U.S. is women; about 40 percent are women of color, but approximately 80 percent of government is led by men, and they are overwhelmingly white men).

We believe that our activation crosses over into the LEARN, PLAY, CREATE, and LIVE areas as well. Through VoteRunLead trainings, women are encouraged to articulate what they value and explore how they can realize those values in their communities. Thus, even if an alumna doesn’t run for office, she may take it upon herself to become an entrepreneur, engage with her child’s school, and/or advocate for green spaces and healthy environments.