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Is a Woman’s Place in the House, or the Senate?

Empowering Women to Run
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Empowering Women to Run

Women are running for political office in large numbers in the United States. They are appearing on general election ballots in US congressional and Senate races.

“If women were in charge, the world would be a better place”, says Erin Vilardi.

Vilardi is founder and CEO of VoteRunLead. The organization trains women to run for political office and win.

As a senior in college, Erin Vilardi interned for one of the first cross women’s leadership organizations, The White House Project (WHP).

“This project was introducing the idea of women as leaders. They were doing it in business and media and politics,” Vilardi says.

Vilardi worked for years with WHP, traveling the United States to raise awareness about opportunities for women in public office with a program called VoteRunLead.

Erin Vilardi
Erin Vilardi

It’s a program that she continues to this day.

“We need more women leaders, we need more women of color, we need more diversity in leadership,” Vilardi says. The U-S ranks behind many countries in the world in terms of women leaders in government. It’s time for a change.”

Vilardi has been training women to run for office for over 12 years. VoteRunLead’s program model is, ‘Run As You Are’. The curriculum teaches women how to become a candidate, raise funds, recognize community issues and reach out to voters.

“We have trained thousands of women to run at the state and local levels of office. Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American woman legislator is a VoteRunLead Alumna,” Vilardi says. And many of our alumni give back to the program to help other women.”

Women have never made up more than one-fourth of the US House or the Senate. But if women candidates win this year at their typical rate of 60 percent, they could account for as much as 38 percent of lawmakers at the state level.

And Vilardi says this will be a leap forward for women.

“Several would be the first woman, woman of color, LGBTQ candidate elected to serve. Many are lawyers, business executives, nurses or teachers.” Many women have a passion to serve and we have seen that desire increase since the 2016 election.”

Vilardi also says the United States needs to move beyond a two-party system and its leadership should include more women.

“We need to get to a place where it is completely normal for women to have autonomy in the world, to walk safely in the world, to have choices about themselves both economically and health wise, and to see and understand the beauty and diversity within the word women.”

Vilardi says that she believes she was always meant to work for women’s political empowerment.

“I’ve always wanted to work for women in political leadership and when you center people who have often been at the margins and you put them at the core of what you're doing everybody benefits. I always knew that this was where I would spend my time. It makes me feel great, it fills my cup. My head hits the pillow at the end of the night and I'm happy about the day's work.”