Ready to Run 2016

Notes from this year’s Ready to Run workshop! This is an annual event that happens in January, hosted at Chatham University via the PCWP.


  • Tom Baker – allegheny county dist 1 Councilman
  • Congresswoman Schwartz



  • 80% of the legislator are men
    • Had only one woman representing
  • 19% women locally
  • County wide 17%
  • Not in legislative more administrative
  • Reporter of deeds example
  • 35% of our school board are women
  • Judicial races – women do well in but 27% are only women judges

Help build confidence

Build skills


Dana Brown – eagle town of politics

Christine Toddwhitman – republican – head female chief of staff

  • wants to bring women on board
  • new jersey

Calls first woman – says not sure knows enough

Calls first man – before can finish asking to serve, says yes

What women candidates need to know

Allie Schwartz: 


  • Fifth term
  • 13 House
  • House budget committee
  • Task force
  • candidate for editorial for 2014
  • Third woman ever to ever serve in our state senate
  • Children’s health and
  • 11 million children cared for health

State and federal politics:

  • 104 women in congress
  • 20 in senate
  • 84 in house 22rep 64 dem
  • 5 out 50 mayor?
  • 1 in the state wide
  • No congressional

Must take action

Must run to win

Not right to not be a part of this

Our purpose is to speak up

Step up out of comfort Zone

Running for office is like nothing else you’ve done

Be passionate and confident

Understand what you don’t know and do know

Be you and a better you

Prepared to win and to lose

Prepared to work

Can’t control everything

Lifetime of moments

Photo op

Mother was a holocaust survivor

Politics can and do get personal and can harm your family

Painful experiences last a lifetime and violence isn’t a way to raise kids

Willing to lead

Act on values

Worked in private sector

Public health

Supported agenda to further elevate women

Ran to speak up, innovating ideas, get things done

Fidning soliton that can get things done is not easy

High stakes running for office

Only woman representing women

Does make a diff to elect women


Suggest Q/A for yourself

  1. Why are you running and what you hope to achieve
  • Potholes, school, healthcare
  • Are you exited and prepared
  1. Explore issues of the race
  • Numbers
  • Is it winnable?
  • Who do you talk to?
  1. Experience helps
  • Support of other candidates
  • Build Relationships
  1. Competition – expect a race – why are you running?
  • To get known?
  • Experience?
  • Taking on something much bigger or thinking to small
  • Missing opportunity to run
  • Different ways to serve
  1. Cannot win without raising money
  • Can’t get info out without money
  • Are you willing to ask for money
  • How much do you ask for?
  1. Don’t have to dislike fund raising
  • Engage people
  • Concrete way of raising support
  1. Politics is a tough business
  • Hard to get people to do what they say they will do
  • Primaries are the hardest
  1. Need a good team to win
  • Cannot be all of the people
  • Raise $, get MSG out there
  • Have a good manager cannot do both
  1. Expectations are high and constant
  • Pressures from everyone
  • People will give you advice
  • Figure out when to listen to them or not
  • Be polite
  • Don’t have to take everyone’s advice
  • You know!
  • You will make mistakes, how to recognize that and make it better
  1. Running is tough on candidate
  • Can be fun
  • Campaigns are high states, demands & expectations
  • Prepare and protect yourself
  • Don’t expect women to be in politics – will experience sexism
  • Especially if first woman to run
  • Constant pressure
  • Our experiences it understood or dismissed


  • People want to help
  • People do believe in you
  • Super hero
  • Hard job to get and keep
  • It’s an honor and privilege to serve
  • care about healthcare, environment
  • Run at every level of govt

10 years senate, 10 years govt

2014 ran for governor – each time ran, fight through primary


Skeletons in closet?

  • be prepared, be tough, all opponent on it
  • If not ready don’t run
  • Don’t expect what gets to you that’s not important

Experience more sexism state wide vs congressional?

  • Yes
  • Treat it like not real work – healthcare did more work
  • Men did little work on jobs and considered real work
  • Many not taking her seriously
  • Subtle sexism too
  • Educate the media
  • Men don’t see it as a biased
  • If you don’t know about it find out

More diverse, how to experience that? some show up then disappear only to come back for next election…

  • Know community
  • Help others run and win
  • Build relationships before start running
  • Move around
  • Have some record on that not just promises
  • Also very hard to be everywhere once elected
  • Figuring out how do we do this and do this right… Long way to go
  • Need more representation to make it right

Deal with rejection … Friends and family?

  • Different party – rep
  • Know your family, let that go
  • Friends during primaries that use to support that don’t
  • Losing is hard
  • Analyzing everything that could’ve done better
  • Must get past it or stay angry for long time
  • Not everyone is for you
  • Post election will get ppl who say that they supported
  • Very visible and public

Social media, fund raising? Success

  • Governor race 10,000 donors
  • 9 million $
  • Great way to raise $ and stay connected
  • Hard to raise a lot – get little checks
  • Lot of emails
  • Volunteers and support not just donors
  • Lot of time
  • Must have fb page and a web page
  • Younger voters – can be only way
  • Personal phone call (judicial is diff)

Appeal to both sides of the party?

  • General election – congressional seat is classic swing seat designed for rep woman who had won last time by a few votes
  • Decide who your voters are
  • centrist dem in senate and Washington
  • Sound reasonable
  • What your values are, what you stand for
  • This is what we believe in together

Primaries get very personal – strategy for personal attack questions?

  • Need to respond
  • Rep woman was a liar – first started out saying she’ll lie right away
  • Did on TV right away
  • Straight out about it
  • Take a lot of risk, family puts up a lot
  • Each one you have to evaluate
  • Have a team of advisors to guide you on when to respond or not

How do you build a team?

Maintain communications – what’s next?

  • Team – depends on race
  • Keep lean, spend money on them
  • Need a manager and budget
  • Leave screening and team building to manger
  • Look diff for each race
  • Confidence – not paid but trust
  • Breakfast at home -have someone else host
  • Can’t be only one to translate
  • Got to be on same page

Next – find ways to make healthcare affordable

  • Engage
  • Make sure women are running
  • The right people get elected into office
  • 25 years in office
  • Good, smart, honest people in office make good policies

Things to Know:

  • It’s okay to delegate
  • Women can be DIYers
  • Don’t be afraid to ask – fund raisers
  • Get comfortable being uncomfortable
  • Bi-partisanship increases with more women on the board- how we communicate is different
  • The legislation is different
  • Building for us

Break out Sessions:

Topic: communities

Types of people who run: layers, educators, business peeps activists



Kelly Fraasch: Ward 5 Commissioner, President/Executive Director / Founder of Parent Resource Network Worked as associate director of program services for the March of Dimes in Western PA 10 years advocacy work for victims of violent crimes

Official website of Kelly Fraasch

Patel, Alka

Alka Patel: Pittsburgh native, senior counsel and the managing director at BYN Mellon, former Intellectual Property Lawyer

Article: Alka Patel, Bank of New York Mellon Corp.

Diana Irey Vaughan: She is the youngest person, only woman, and longest serving Washington County Commissioner. She has created a public-private partnership with the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. Currently serves as a board member: Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission Washington County United Way (Board of Dir) (2009) ACTION of PA (2012) University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics Board of Fellows (2012) Pittsburgh TODAY Government Committee (2014) PA Minimum Wage Advisory Board (2014) Pennsylvania’s Fix the Debt Advisory Board (2013) The Great American Food Drive (Chairman) (2014) Program Advisory Committee for Penn Commercial Business and Technical School (2014)

More on Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan

Deb Gross: Representative of the Pittsburgh City Council District 7, got started in her 20s, has a great track record of involvement with community development: the Lawrenceville Corporation; Mildred’s Daughters Farm; the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation; The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Alliance – founding executive director; and the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

City of Pittsburgh Council District 7More on Deb Gross
Ladies go for it! Don’t wait to be asked, don’t “wait your turn” let’s get out there and make the changes our society needs!
Having women elected in office does a world of good for making actual changes and making a difference.
There are tons of ways to get involved, starting with attending your local community committee meetings (check your area for dates and times), volunteering for current running candidates, raising awareness on local happenings and issues. Find what your passionate about and back it.
… up next are notes on the Nuts and Bolts of Fundraising, stay tuned…

Ready to Run Part Deux

Campaigning Workshop

This was an amazing workshop. I learned a lot about what it takes to campaign, how to help out in your community & ways to get involved without having to run for an office.

We discussed some stats about women in politics – not very uplifting considering we’re in 2015 now and it can still feels like we’re in the 1840’s. On the plus side, change is (gradually) happening and we’re seeing more strong, intelligent women in positions of office.

There 104 women in Congress:

  • 20 in the Senate
  • 84 in the House (22 Rep, 64 Dem)
  • 5 (out of 50) are Mayors
  • 1 in the State
  • No congressional
Allyson Schwartz official photo.jpg

Allie Schwartz: A former member of the US House of Representatives for PA’s 13th congressional district (Dem), serving from 2005-2015. She was also National Chair for Recruitment and Candidate Services for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Advice for campaigning:

  1. Do a Q/A for yourself: Why are you running and what do you hope to achieve?
  2. Explore what the issues are during the race: what are the numbers? is it win-able? who do you talk to?
  3. Experience: support of other candidates, volunteering and building relationships
  4. Competition: expect a race, are you doing this to get known? to gain experience? are you taking on something much bigger? are you thinking to small?
  5. Cannot win without raising Money: can’t get info without money, are you willing to ask for money? how much do you ask for?
  6. Don’t have to dislike Fundraising: engage people, this is a concrete way of raising support
  7. Politics is a tough business: it’s hard to get people to do what they say they will do, the Primaries are the most difficult
  8. You need a good team to win: cannot be all of the people, need people to raise money, need people to get the message out there, need to have a really good campaign manager (this should not also be you – can not do both)
  9. Expectations: are high and constant, you will feel pressure from everyone, people will be giving all kinds of advice – you need to figure out who to listen to and when to do so but you don’t have to take everyone’s advice, be polite, you will make mistakes – learn how to recognize that and make it better
  10. Running is tough on a candidate: our experiences are misunderstood at best; dismissed at worst, constant pressure, especially if you are the first woman to run for a particular office, people (mainly men) don’t expect women to be in politics and you will experience sexism, come prepared and protect yourself, campaigns are high states and high demands and high expectations, but it can be FUN

… up next are brief bio’s of speakers from the break out session. I attended the Getting Started – Community sessions where speakers discussed ways to get and be involved without necessarily having to run if you aren’t interested in running …

Ready to Run

Last weekend I attended a couple of events, one on Friday: Pre-conference Women of Color in PA Politics, the other on Saturday: Ready to Run – Campaign Training for Women.

The pre-conference was really amazing and it was really incredible to hear from some amazing women how are making positive changes in our lives.

Here’s a little bit about the cool ladies who were on the panel sharing a little bit about their experiences and some advice they gave:

First up was our moderator: Valerie McDonald-Roberts

Valerie is the Chief Urban Affairs Officer in Mayor Peduto’s office. She has served in elected and appointed public office for nearly 25 years now beginning her run in ’89 as Pittsburgh School Board Member. In ’94 she became the first black woman elected in the Pittsburgh City Council serving as President Pro-Tempore and as Budget & Finance Committee Chair. She’s also served on 25+ non-profit boards and has received 30+ awards for public service.

Article: McDonald Roberts picked to ‘fill in gaps’ in Pittsburgh’s urban management

Office of Mayor William Peduto

Now a word from our Panelists:

Betty Cruz has 15 years of experience in the nonprofit and private sectors. She has managed partnerships that met corporate and philanthropic interests in Pittsburgh, D.C., Miami, and New York. She was also an account manager with KaBOOM! Her parents came to the states from Cuba, Betty is a native of Miami, FL and has a Bachelor’s from Edinboro University of PA and a Master’s of Public Admin from PITT – Grad School of Public & International Affairs. She’s doing amazing work in the Mayor of Pittsburgh’s office helping immigrants finding work and feeling at home here in the ‘Burgh.

Article: Welcome Back – Pittsburgh immigrants find comfort in the city


Marita Garrett is the Councilwoman for the Borough of Wilkinsburg (Ward 1) and has worked in community and outreach development with PITT. She is the CEO and managing partner of Admintrinsic – small business co-owned with her mother. She has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Graduate Cert in Gerontology from PITT. (Garrett is in the center)

Borough of Wilkinsburg Councilwoman, Ward 1

Rising African-American leaders honored at Sankofa Homecoming 2014

V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery is a member of McKeesport City Council. At age 29 she organized a campaign to run for City Council in McKeesport. Alongside her volunteers she knocked on 500+ doors, getting out there and meeting the people.

Meet the City Council of McKeesport

Article: McKeesport councilwoman shares life’s lessons during Black History Month talk

Sylvia C. Wilson – the current elected School Director for District #1 on the Pittsburgh Public School Board.

She served as Assistant to the President of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT) for 14 years and as Secretary of the Executive Board beginning in ’79.

She serves on the ALCOSAN board as a joint city-council appointee.