Elect Her: Cincinnati Women Win

Women are at an all-time high right now. We are all for each other and #girlpower. But, it is one thing to say we are all for women’s empowerment and another to actually do something about it. The University of Cincinnati hosted an American Association of University Women “Elect Her” program, for the fifth year in a row, on Saturday, November 7th in the African American Cultural & Resource Center. UC Student Government Director of Federal Policy, Rachel Motley, graciously put together this program for UC students. Motley explained, “I was involved in bringing Elect Her to UC because the UC Women's Center reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to help support the process. As a member of WILL [Women in Leadership Learning] and Student Government, I was able to bridge the gap between the two institutions.” The women who are ready to put this movement into action attended this training to become future leaders of this university, community, and beyond.

Image by Rachel Motley

Elect Her is the only program in the country that encourages women to run for student government and future leadership positions. The program actually featured our former UC Student Body President, Christina Beer, and her excellent campaign. “The AAUW has given us a lot creative leeway, so our program has grown and changed every year. Year after year, we really see an impact on women engaged in the political process after attending Elect Her,” shared Motley. During this one-day training, participants had an opportunity to listen to keynote speakers, learn campaign skills, discuss women leadership in their community, and address the leadership gender gap. Danielle Hagen, an Elect Her Facilitator and UC graduate presented the discussion.

Up next was a UC Student Government panel led by Motley. “The goal of the panel discussions is to allow attendants to hear firsthand how women have succeeded in running for and holding elected office. Having panelists also allows our attendants to be engaged by networking and creating a dialogue with the speakers and panelists, hopefully allowing them to develop meaningful take-away.” Keynote speakers from the Cincinnati community included Political Director, P.G. Sittenfeid U.S. Senate Campaign and UC graduate Tamaya Dennard, Ohio House of Representatives Denise Driehaus, Representative and UFCW Local 75, Brigid Kelly, Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas the Honorable Judge Beth A. Meyers, and Cincinnati City Council President Pro Tem and UC graduate Yvette Simpson. This incredible panel shared their stories of how their involvement in student government guided them down a path to present female leadership in the community.

Image by Meghan Cappel

Our own UC students were given a chance to speak. Ashley Nkadi created an amazing presentation on campus activism. Ellie Thiemann delivered an inspiring “Mentor” speech. The loaded panel included SG External Holdover Senator Meghan Cappel, “I am passionate about women leaning in and earning a seat at the table.  It was important for me to share my story, in the hopes that it would inspire other women at UC to step up and run.” Other panelists included At-Large Senator Brooke Duncan, External Affairs Director Miranda Hileman, 20,000 Bearcats campaign creator Hannah Kenny, At-Large Senator Jackie Mulay, and Co-Director of International Student Affairs Tarushi Ravindra. The discussion touched on the difficulties these women of Student Government have faced as leaders. “Early on in my Student Government career, I was so intimidated to talk in the Senate room.  I wasn't a Senator, so I didn't have a seat at the table,” admitted Cappel, “Getting up to present in front of the room can be so intimidating and downright scary. Three years later, I have no problem giving opinions or providing input into decisions being made.  It's important to remember that Senators are students, working to make the University of Cincinnati a better place for all students.  We all want to see each other succeed, so find your passions and use Student Government to let your voice be heard.” The breakdown of Student Government was also presented to attendees. Participants received a first-hand look at the many ways to get involved.  

After listening to these outstanding women, participants thought, “what’s next?” and “how else do I get involved?” Hagen led the group in learning how to run your own campaign. Participants were given the opportunity to create a platform to run on and speak to the group. As a participant, it was amazing to see the transformation from the start of the session to the finish. The program finished with potential women leaders of this university and beyond speaking about issue that mean the most to them. The amount of diversity gave for a rich conversation about ways we can improve. Everyone in the room felt a rush of inspiration and a feel for #girlpower. The question is, will we continue to push for women to get involved with Student Government and beyond?

I believe the answer to this question is, yes. The goal is to continue the momentum that has been surging throughout our campus. Christina Beer was the first female student body president in 21 years. That makes a statement in itself. Creating an environment where a diverse group of women want to get together and share ideas will continue this progress. “Currently, Student Government is partnering with the UC Women's Center to create the Women's Leadership Network to create a sense of community amongst women on campus and encourage women to pursue leadership,” Motley explained, “This is an extension of not only Elect Her's mission, but also Student Government's goals of being a more inclusive organization.”

Image by Rachel Motley

#SGWorksForYou has created ways for students to pay close attention to the hard work going on by websites such as the “SG Project Portal” and “Inside The Senate Room” available to the public. Getting students from diverse communities such as international students, Greek life, student-athletes, transfer students, LGBTQ, and other distinct communities will allow for UC Student Government to expand. “Student Government has recently partnered with the UC Women's Center to create the Women's Leadership Network. On Monday, November 30th at 7:00pm, we will be hosting an interest meeting to understand what women-identified students are looking for on campus,” announced Cappel. Elect Her encouraged women across UC’s campus to get involved. Imagine if this number grew each year? The amount of possibilities are endless. All because of some #girlpower.    

 

If you're interested in joining the Women's Leadership Network, stop by the meeting or contact Meghan Cappel for more information. RSVP here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1520343418278079/permalink/1520343431611411/