Why She Leads: Dawn Pierce
Over 13,000 women have started their journeys to elected office with the She Should Run Incubator. These are their stories. There is no shortage of fierce women leaders, and with over 500,000 elected offices across the country, there is no shortage of seats waiting to be filled by them.
What is your most memorable career and personal accomplishment?
I have wanted to be a nurse since I was eight years old. I am 50 and have been a nurse for 26 years.
We’d love to hear more about your leadership path. How did you get to where you are today?
Oh dear! Well, my passion is alleviating hunger, poverty, and homelessness. I want to create opportunities that help alleviate hunger, poverty, and homelessness. I have been hungry and lived in poverty. I’ve been there. I’ve struggled. I know what it is like when decisions at the State House have a negative impact on struggling families. I know what it is like to be laid off and looking for a job. I know what it is like to be the mother of a child who has been bullied. Because of my lived experiences, I am now on the board of directors with Bread for the World, Community Advocate for the Idaho Foodbank, speaker and presenter for Feeding America, and, in 2016, I spoke at the White House on a panel with Congressman Jim McGovern about child hunger in
America. I absolutely abhor the whole “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” cliche, but that is exactly what I did.
What is your personal mission related to running for office? Why?
In 2010, I was laid off by my employer, a bankruptcy attorney. I was at the height of the Great Recession. My boss, a bankruptcy attorney, called me into his office to let me know that he had to eliminate my position. I was terrified. I was a single mom with a growing teenage son to take care of. Now what was I supposed to do with no job and the economy in the toilet. When I went to apply for food stamps, I sat in my car for an hour crying before going in. I could not believe that my life had brought me to this point. It is very humbling as a parent to realize you can’t do something as basic as feed your children without help. I was nervous about what people would think of me. Many people think those of us who need food assistance are deadbeats and leeches who don’t want to work and take no personal responsibility. In reality, we are just like everyone else. Many of us have jobs, we have children for whom we want the best, we are trying hard to make ends meet from day to day, but sometimes life throws you a curveball and you need a helping hand. Today, I am doing amazing and, in 2014, got married to my amazing husband. I feel that I have been where most people are and know what they are going through. My life experiences make me a great candidate and hopefully, Senator. I chose to run for the Idaho Senate because I noticed that the person that was our Senator in District 21 ran unopposed the last three election cycles. No one should ever run unopposed.
How has the Incubator helped you clarify your leadership vision?
The Incubator really helped me dig deep into my why. I have loved politics since I was twelve. when I wrote a very scathing letter to then president Ronald Reagan, admonishing him for saying ketchup was a vegetable and for severely cutting the Pell Grants available to college students. I asked him if he was going to loan me the money for college because I didn’t want to take that much out in student loans. Keep in mind, I was twelve! My deciding to really do it and run has been a culmination of my life and people telling me I should run for office. The Incubator helped me find my why, my story, and develop my core message.
What are steps you’ve taken on your path to a future run?
I am now an official candidate! My name is going to be on an actual ballot!!!
Tell us about your favorite She Should Run “aha” moment or success story. Why are you an Incubator member?
There wasn’t an Aha! moment that made me decide to run for office. It was the culmination of so many factors that added up to November 10, 2016 when I decided it was time to run for something. It was time for my voice to make a difference on a larger scale! The Incubator is such a positive place! So much encouragement and support! I would be struggling right now if it weren’t for the Incubator.
What’s your advice for finding time for your personal life (family, personal growth)? Dare we say it, how do you make time for fun in your life?
I make the time. If I don’t, then I lose who I am and forget what is important. I schedule my time and I stick to it!!!