Walking the Walk

There’s no getting around it: running for office can be daunting! Alongside all the resources we offer to help you consider stepping into public leadership, we know it’s important to hear from women who have actually done it. We reached out to dozens of women in elected positions around the country and pulled together some of their best advice to share with you. We’re so grateful to everyone who shared their experiences with us! We’ll keep updating this with more tips and insights as we get them, but for now, we hope this resource inspires you to take the next step on your journey to elected leadership. 


Deciding to Run



“I hear people say, ‘Running for office is hard’; for me, it’s not hard. It’s just a commitment.” – Alaska State Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson

“I think there are a lot more capable women who have the skills to run. I think any mom of 6 kids who’s helped them all function and be healthy is fully capable of running for office.” – Alaska State Representative Sara Hannan

“Run! You don’t have to have lived in that community your whole life. You don’t need to have the political policy or legislative background. It is important to have demonstrated, I think, some commitment to your community, so have done that in advance. Work on someone else’s campaign at some point.” – Maryland Delegate Anne Kaiser

“Do it! It’s scary, but if you’re thinking about it, you should do it. Find your allies and jump in.” – Washington State Representative Emily Alvarado

“So many folks would be so valuable in [political] spaces, but we exist in these structures that tell us we don’t belong. So ask yourself: Why? Why am I uncertain? If you have the passion, if your values are there, and if you are willing to invest the time, go for it!” – Oregon State Representative Wlnsvey Campos

“Talk to people that are in the space, in the position, to get an understanding of what it’s really like, not just what you think it might be like.” – Colorado State Senator Lisa Cutter

“Don’t let anybody else make that decision for you. It’s about you, and how you feel, and what you can do.” – Tennessee State Senator Raumesh Akbari


Building Your Team



“It’s very hard to articulate how much you need your family, your partner, your spouse–whoever your family unit is–to be there and be willing to support you in it.” – Alaska State Representative Sara Hannan

“The first hire you make, that campaign manager, is critical. You’ve gotta marry yourself with someone on this journey who fits your value system; you can’t just hire somebody who’s done it for 25 years.” – Louisiana State Representative Aimee Freeman

There’s a lot more people who will come out of the woodwork to support you than you probably think there will be.” – Colorado State Representative Brianna Titone


On the Campaign Trail



“It is a serious job, but recognize that you are talking to people who you want to vote for you. It’s not just about your image.” – Tennessee State Senator Raumesh Akbari

Running for office is fun. You will learn so much about your community and learn about the issues that you maybe never knew about.” – Tennessee State Representative Gloria Johnson

“Know who you are and don’t take the negativity personally.” – Colorado State Senator Lisa Cutter

“You’ve got to really pick up and spread the love. Grow thick skin–things will get fun!” – Nevada State Senator Carrie Buck


Engaging with Prospective Voters



“Connecting with people is the core of campaigning. You don’t have the answer for everything; just showing up and hearing people is what matters.” – Washington State Representative Emily Alvarado

“Most people want the ability to share their opinion with you. So if you’re a strong candidate and you serve well, you’ve gotta give people the opportunity to hear them out.” – Louisiana State Representative Aimee Freeman

“Learning how to have a conversation is a big thing I learned from running for office. Understanding the intersectionalities of people is very important, but I think the biggest thing is that we really agree on more than what we disagree on. We just disagree on how to get there and how to solve the issue.” – Arizona State Representative Lorena Austin

“Just about everyone who has views on the opposite side of you is a good person who cares about their community, who’s trying to do their best.” – Maryland Delegate Anne Kaiser