Season 2, Ep 05: NextGen Female Politicians: Susannah Wellford’s Mission to Create Political Equity
“I think a lot of people feel really alone,” says Susannah Wellford, Founder and CEO of Running Start. They have dreams but they have no idea how they can make those dreams happen, so you need to create these groups of people in their corner to support them.” For young women with dreams of running for office and making political impact, Running Start provides the skills and preparation to do so by helping them find their passion, cultivate their sense of leadership and learn to communicate in a way that will inspire change.
Around the world, despite cultural differences and varied lived experiences, women’s desires and challenges remain universal. They have ideas and passions but may not have the platform or the belief that anyone will hear them. With programs in thirty countries across the globe, Running Start teaches participants not only to make their voices heard but to actively listen to those with whom they disagree.
As the U.S. becomes increasingly polarized, and with women’s rights on the line, representation, parity, and women’s voices matter more than ever. In today’s discussion, Susannah and Robbin discuss the need for civil discourse among diverse voices, how female leaders behave differently than their male counterparts and the importance of getting young people engaged in politics.
- “Wherever I go, whenever I’m speaking to women, the problems are the same. The obstacles are the same. It’s just so fascinating to me. And, of course, it’s true, some of those external factors that keep women out of leadership are very different around the world, but the internal hesitancy toward leadership, or that feeling of, ‘I don’t know if I’m right for this’--because nobody’s ever told them that they’re right for this, they don’t have a lot of role models–you see that all around the world.” (6:15 | Susannah)
- “You sometimes need other people to believe in you before you figure out how to believe in yourself. And if you think about the things that create a successful life, resiliency is absolutely one of them, and that’s the path to resiliency. Sometimes you need somebody to say, ‘Robbin, I think you’re really good at this and I think you should do this thing.’ And once you feel solid in your sense of self, you’re sort of unstoppable.” (14:44 | Susannah)
- "If we close ourselves off and say I know what I know and I don't want to hear what anybody else knows, you never get smarter, you miss so many things and that leads to all of the walls that we build not just in politics but in society in general." (25:05 | Susannah)
- “If there aren’t women who can be catalyzed by even enormous seismic shifts affecting women’s rights, we need to start earlier getting young women to see that politics is a place for them.” (28:08 | Susannah)
Connect with Susannah Wellford:
About Susannah: https://www.runningstart.org/
Connect with Robbin Jorgensen (She/Her):