As a child of Ethiopian immigrants, IGNITE Minnesota Fellow Raie Gessesse saw firsthand how politics can impact people. “My life has been a product of policy decisions and always had a relationship to how political leaders have structured society,” she shares. Though she never saw herself running for office when she was younger, attending IGNITE events showed her that to make a change in her community, she had to get political.
Raie first came across IGNITE when she attended a Boards and Commissions Bootcamp led by the previous Minnesota Fellow, Andrea. After attending, she applied to Minnesota’s Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council, becoming the youngest appointed member. “Before attending this bootcamp, I had no idea that boards and commissions were available positions that I could qualify & apply for. Following this event, I not only committed myself to apply for these positions but to apply to become the next Minnesota IGNITE Fellow.”
Now, as the current Minnesota Fellow, Raie is leading the very same workshops that inspired her to get political. She has led several events like College Councils which give young women the tools they need to empower themselves and run for office. One of her favorite things about being a Fellow are the moments following events when young women come up to her and share how they never thought they could run for office but now they see it as a possibility.
“Motivating just one woman has the potential to create a wave and inspire many other young women to become political leaders,” she says.
Being a Fellow transformed Raie’s life in ways she didn’t expect. She shares that she came to IGNITE looking to gain experience doing grassroots community organizing and gained much more, including event planning skills, the opportunity to connect with elected officials, and even a community of women across the country dedicated to issues she’s passionate about. “If you are passionate about an issue in your community or if you are fed up with seeing political leadership that doesn’t reflect your community -- this is the fellowship for you. This fellowship will empower you to lead and inspire other young women to become the next generation of political leaders.”
Interested in becoming an IGNITE Fellow? Learn more and apply here.