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National Program Centralizing Women’s Issues to Visit Columbus, Provide Training

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega National Program Centralizing Women’s Issues to Visit Columbus, Provide TrainingWomen's Fund CEO and President Nichole Dunn, former Chief of Staff to Michelle Obama and Executive Director of the Obama White House Council on Women and Girls Tina Tchen, and Ohio Sen. Charleta Tavares host a preview event for the United State of Women's Galvanize Program.
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In the last year alone, a constant push has established itself to diversify voices and participation in politics and leadership. The emergence of organizations training women to run for office, like She Should Run, Emerge, Ready to Run, and Vote, Run, Lead, proves that.

Galvanize, a program launched by national organization United State of Women (USOW) and supported locally by the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, aims to uplift and supplement these efforts with a specific focus on women and family issues. The program is taking a 10-city tour across the U.S., kicking off in Chicago last weekend and making its next stop in Columbus in August.

At each stop they host a mini-summit, which includes two days of focused training for women interested in running for office, managing a political campaign, organizing grassroots efforts, becoming a leader on an issue, or starting a business. The nonpartisan event leaves behind party affiliation for issues conservative and liberal women can come together on, with equal pay, violence against women, and economic security for women being just a few.

It works in tandem with the Statehouse Day hosted earlier this winter by the Women’s Fund. The day looked at legislator accountability and public policy through a gender lens, sending women home with actions they could follow through on immediately. The in-depth training from Galvanize can be seen as an extension of Statehouse Day, meant to “turn the passion of women across the country into strategic action,” said Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus), who was present earlier this week at a preview event for the program.

Tavares stressed the need for female representation in office, sharing that she was the one woman and the only person of color in the Senate Finance Committee that oversaw the last budget cycle.

“When you’re one person who has to lift up all the issues for people of color and women, it’s a daunting task” Tavares said, adding, “there are committees where there may not be any women serving.”

Galvanize looks to address that representation problem as well as insert women and family perspectives into political and company policy. It’ll train women how to lead family-friendly businesses that have equitable pay for all genders and provide paid family leave for both parents. It’ll show women what they have to offer as a candidate or what to look for in others, as well as how to support and hold these leaders accountable. It’ll examine gender issues important to the individual and outline action steps to activate the community around them.

“While we’re not moving those issues necessarily in Washington, we know that change doesn’t just happen in Washington. It happens, actually, at the grassroots level, the state, and local level,” said Tina Tchen, who, on top of filling several other roles, helped create USOW.

Tchen, the former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, also led the Obama White House Council on Women and Girls, which birthed the United State of Women. The Women’s Fund got involved through their contribution to USOW, which, with the help of two dozen other women’s funds across the country, amounted to more than $150 million. Those funds support programs that increase economic opportunity for women and girls of color.

The United State of Women pops up for its mini-summit to highlight local organizations serving these populations, connecting national issues with city, county and state efforts.

“It just was a perfect connection to what is happening, bringing a national legacy here locally,” said Nichole Dunn, President and CEO of the Women’s Fund and Co-Chair of the Columbus Galvanize Program, “because while we’re the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, there’s no doubt these issues cross over — what’s local, what’s county, what’s state?”

Registration is now open for the Galvanize Program, which will take place on August 12 and 13. While there is a $50 fee, it can be waived for anyone who can’t afford it. Interested participants also have the option of donating extra to cover the cost of others’ registration fees. For more information, visit theunitedstateofwomen.org/galvanize.

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