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AAA-Fund Co-Sponsors Candidate Training with Emily’s List

500 Women Get Ready to Run for Elected Office

Washington – The morning after the Women’s March on Washington, as marchers were seen rolling luggage onto the metro train on the return home, 500 women stayed in town for a training on running for elected office. Greeted with jumbo screens flashed with “Getting Ready to Run,” the women poured into a Grand Hyatt Washington ballroom in a first step toward moving from activism into political decision making around issues such as reproductive choice and health care, immigration and education.

The AAA Fund, together with five other partner organizations, co-sponsored the training with Emily’s List.

“Empowering progressive Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women to run for office, manage campaigns, or become effective political activists has been a top priority of the AAA Fund since we first got started in 2000. Emily’s List is one of the country’s preeminent campaign organizations and we were delighted to partner with them to organize this training. It was a perfect follow-on to the incredibly inspirational women’s march the day before,” said Paul Tiao, board member and co-founder, AAA Fund.

Women of color comprise 36.5% of the 104 women serving in the current Congress – the fruits of effort by Emily’s List and its partner organizations. At the training, a representative group of Democratic candidate hopefuls were assembled, including 14% African American, 19% Latina, 10% Asian American/Pacific Islander, 6% multi-racial/ethnic and 15% LGBTQ.

AAA Fund board member Irene Lin spoke to the crowd specifically on the gains by Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women in Congress. Three Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women senators now serve in the U.S. Senate, while seven AAPIA women hold office in the U.S. House of Representatives. Among the new faces is Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the first Indian American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representative. Jayapal was among the speakers invited to rally the future leaders.

To keep breaking the color line, the sponsors are banking on women like Grace Choi and Quinnie Lin to maintain their interest after the training.

“I feel that we need more women out there, and more women of color. As an AAPI, I feel like we need to have people who look like me representing America as well because it’s not well represented right now among all the elected officials,” said Grace Choi, a resident of Arlington, Virginia.

Quinnie Lin, a lawyer based in Washington, D.C. agreed. She said, “I am here at this Emily’s List training because I care about representation and politics. I want to see more women and people of color get into elected office because currently the landscape does not reflect us.”

Stephanie Schriock, Emily List’s President, opened the event with an urgency of mission. “We have two options,” she told the crowd. “We’ve got to run for office or we’ve got to back up a sister who is running.”

Emily’s List’s vision is “a government that reflects the people it serves, and decision makers who genuinely and enthusiastically fight for greater opportunity and better lives for the Americans they represent.” For the organizers, that means more women.

Women lag in representation. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, women barely have broken through the 25% ceiling in any political institution at the local, state or federal levels. In comparison, women are 50.8% of the American population, according to the U.S. Census.

“If we are not at the table, we will be on the menu,” former Kansas state Rep. Delia Garcia, said, drawing a tight connection between the issues that concern women and their representation in government.

Since 1985, Emily’s List has worked to place more women in elected offices. They boost record successes: 139 Members of Congress, 12 governors and 800+ state and local officials. The pipeline starts early. The participants at the training ranged in age from a 13-year-old teen to 55+ year old retirees, while the majority of the participants fell between the 25- to 34-year old range.

The morning agenda was organized to inspire and inform, to allow the women to self-reflect and forge new allies. Speakers appealed to the flicker within the potential future candidates to make a difference for their families and communities. Also, they spoke to the elusive sense that there is a perfect time to run. Rep. Garcia was a semester away from graduating for a master’s degree when she received the call to run. Concerned about completing her studies, she declined five times. When she did finally agree, she had to balance final exams and a campaign. But within months of each other, she had both her degree and an elected office as the first Latina representative in her state.

Muthoni Wambu Kraal, Senior Director for State Engagement and Development for Emily’s List, addressed system barriers to entering politics. She asked, “Who’s going to bring down the barriers, if not women?”

Kraal also addressed the barriers that women erect for themselves – fear and doubt. You can be single, an unmarried mother, a responsible parent, a non-college degree holder, a non-lawyer, she said. Successful candidates are the women with ideas to help the community and the willingness to learn and ask for help, along with passion, integrity and energy.

When women do run, the women’s presence in elected office creates a daisy chain effect. “When you are in a position of power, you take all of us with you,” said Martin Diego Garcia, Director of Campaigns, Latino Victory Fund.

(Film and reporting by Aryani Ong; Editing and production by Christian Humes)

Election 2016 Grassroots

AAAFund Grassroots by the numbers:
12+ affiliates in coalition
300+ volunteers
25 phone banks
14,000+ calls
6 battlegrounds states
7+ different ethnic groups/languages
200+ volunteers
25 canvasses in 4(VA, NC, OH, PA) states
10,000+ door knocked

AAA-Fund collaborated with DMV (DC, MD, VA) AAPI for Hillary to do grassroots campaign work thru the election. AAA-Fund expresses a huge THANK YOU to DMV AAPI for Hillary and 12+ affiliates in the umbrella which worked their hearts out during the campaign. The team consisted of a pan-AAPI, intergenerational coalition of organizations.

DMV AAPI for Hillary recruited 300+ volunteers at 25 phone banks, making 14,000+ calls to 6 battlegrounds states and across 7+ different ethnic groups, oftentimes in-language. In addition, DMV AAPI for Hillary recruited 200+ volunteers over the course of 25 canvasses in VA, NC, OH, and PA and knocked on 10,000+ doors. Our most sincere thank you to the 100s of volunteers who dedicated their talent, passion and countless hours to the campaign.

In addition to the Hillary grassroots work, AAA-Fund doubled up efforts and supported Rep. Mike Honda’s re-election campaign. In collaboration with Rep. Honda’s campaign and his army of Hondistas in DC, AAA-Fund co-hosted DC phone banks to CA-17.

Needless to say, many of us remain heartbroken from the election results. However, it is more critical than ever to rise up and continue the fight. We strongly value the coalitions built and look forward to continue linking arms. Let’s continue to be stronger and fiercer together – onward and upward!

To get involved, contact Loren Nadres and Prerna Tomar.

AAPI Refugees Running for Office

There’s tons of content already about refugees & immigrations already made & make America great. AAAFund focuses on the AAPI element, so here’re 4 AAPI refugees running for office:

  • Viet-American Stephanie Murphy for US House (FL-7) – our strongly endorsed candidate
  • Afghan-American Ahmad Rafar for Santa Clara City Council
  • Somali-American Ilhan Omar for MN House (60B)
  • Vietnamese-American Bao Nguyen for Mayor of Garden Grove

These are the sort of people & campaigns we were founded to support. So go support them tomorrow.

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