Hannah Lang, a second-year student at the Clinton School of Public Service, is completing her Capstone project with Vote Run Lead, a national nonprofit organization that trains women to run for elected office.
Since its launch in 2014, Vote Run Lead has trained more than 55,000 women across the country, with alumni serving on city councils, county boards, state houses, supreme courts, and in Congress. Through its noteworthy programs, Vote Run Lead encourages women leaders to utilize their experiences, personal values, and expertise to increase women’s political representation through elected positions.
Working with Sabrina Shulman, Vote Run Lead’s Chief Political Officer, Lang’s Capstone project is focused on creating an expansion plan for the Run/51 initiative, a program that focuses on achieving gender parity in state legislatures throughout the country. Currently implemented within three bellwether states – Georgia, New York, and Minnesota – the Run/51 program provides women with political training, resources, and community-building opportunities in the hopes of assisting women win elected office.
“I care deeply about women, their rights, and their voices,” Lang said. “This Capstone has been incredibly meaningful, as it has allowed me to work on a project that encourages women to recognize the value of their experiences and motivates them to enter the political arena.”
In addition to creating a plan for program expansion to other states, Lang’s work will determine areas for improvement within the current Run/51 program. The final program plan will include information on how to determine areas for potential program implementation, ways to cultivate local stakeholder relations, and tools for monitoring and evaluating the program’s ongoing success.
“This project has not only enriched my graduate experience, but it has also reaffirmed my faith in our country and political system,” Lang said. “When women run for office, they win; when they become elected officials, women leaders are more cooperative, more focused on providing public goods, and more likely to uphold the tenets of democracy. Working with Vote Run Lead has shown me that there is a better future ahead of us – one that is inclusive, just, and meets the needs of all – as long as we’re willing to work and fight for it.”
Lang’s work with Vote Run Lead dovetails with her own career aspirations, as she would one day like to run for office herself.
“I hope to one day run for political office – this Capstone has taught me much about the logistics and tools needed to do so,” Lang said. “Additionally, it has shown me that while women face numerous challenges when running for office, there is also a breadth of support from all areas of the country. I know that if I choose to run for office in the future, I will do so with the encouragement of many who have come before me.”
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