Young Women Run 2018 Recap

IGNITE’s 2018 Young Women Run Conference was our mission manifested: a movement of young women ready to own their political power. Over 110 young women representing 26 states convened in Washington D.C. to hear from Congresswomen and receive rigorous training from campaign experts. At the close of the second day, attendees declared their ambition to run for office and walked away ready to take their next steps towards elected office.

Amira.jpg“For a long time now, I’ve dreamed of running for office; the past few days have pushed me to actualize that dream. Thank you, IGNITE, for this opportunity, and for providing tools and training for young women across this country to change our future!”

- Amira Daugherty of Atlanta Georgia, Political Science Major at Agnes Scott College and Student Government Association President

A highlight of Young Women Run for many was hearing from Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA), and Pramila Jayapal (WA). The Congresswomen shared anecdotes, advice and enthusiastically encouraged everyone in the room to run for office.

“We need women leaders that want to step up, who can tackle our nation's problems. I see many young faces that are going to change the landscape of the American political scene. We need you more than you need us!”

- Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

"Throughout my life, people always said 'you can't because...'. There is always something that fills that spot. And I've always taken that as a challenge. Let me show them that they are going to be wrong. So I ran for City Council."

- Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán

“I believe the future is women-led, it’s multiracial, multigenerational-and that’s what the success of our country is going to look like.”

- Congresswomen Pramila Jayapal


In addition to the Congressional representation, Elected Officials from the greater D.C. area lunched with attendees, enjoying candid exchanges on the ins and outs of running for and serving in local office. Role modeling is a critical component of IGNITE’s work, and our Elected Network is at the heart of this. After all, when you can see it, you can be it!  

Young Women Run featured three panels addressing a range of topics central to running for office: using your voice to advocate for the issues that matter to you; making it in D.C. politics; and how to build and manage your brand on social media. You can watch the panels on our Facebook page or catch a few highlights below.

“It’s really important to show up for people when it’s not in the news, and it’s not popular. To be frank, one of the hardest parts of being a person of color after Parkland is hearing people say ‘the gun violence movement needs to be intersectional.’  I was like ‘duh.’”

- Amber Goodwin, Founder of Community Justice Reform Coalition (Watch the panel)

“The most important part of networking is that you are relationship building. Get to know the people you meet at events. It’s easy to get a business card; it’s harder to interact with new people.”

- Carmen Hills Public Affairs Officer, Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State (Watch the panel)

“How I am in person is how I portray myself on social media. You get so much feedback from different people [on social media]. It’s tough to pretend to be someone you are not. There is no reason to change who you are to fit someone else’s ideal.”

- Miss America 2018 Cara Mund (Watch the panel)

Central to running for office is knowing how to rally your constituents to show up at the polls to vote. IGNITE’s #VoteTwice partners - Rock the Vote and Cosmopolitan - led a session all about how to register and get voters out to the polls for primary and midterm elections. Attendees are now equipped to lead GOTV efforts in their communities. Find a #VoteTwice event near you!

Young Women Run included five breakout sessions on topics central to running and winning. Alumni Ambassadors Cecilia Silva and Leanne Bolaño rounded up critical takeaways from each session.

camera.jpgIn On-Camera Media Training with Chuck Rocha and Vannessa Vasquez, takeaways included:

  • Your audience is on the other side of the camera. Give “them” your eye contact.
  • Don’t wear anything too distracting. People will pay attention to that and not your message.
  • Focus on your intention. This will give you confidence.

fundraising.jpgIn Campaign Fundraising Essentials with Amy Strathdee, attendees learned:

  • Practice your “ask” with friends and family to get comfortable.
  • Use traditional and digital methods to reach different types of donors.
  • Get clear on your budget and needs before asking for donations.
  • Build a team to support your efforts.

filed_training.jpgIn Nuts & Bolts of Campaign Field Organizing with John Miyasato, tips included:

  • Set goals and get clear on how many doors you have to knock on, volunteers you need to recruit, phone calls you need to make, etc. to achieve these.
  • Know the voting habits of different parties and plan your efforts accordingly.
  • Build an outreach strategy that uses a diverse range of tactics.

facebook.jpgIn Leveraging Facebook on your Political Campaign with Crystal Patterson, tips included:

  • Focus on building community, not just making connections
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication
  • Be genuine!
  • Switch up your types of posts—different people prefer different types. Facebook keeps track of preferences to prioritize a user’s News Feed.

linkedin.jpgIn Enhance your network with LinkedIn with Nikila Kakarla, key points included:

  • Add a profile photo. You get 21x more views with a picture.
  • Keep your profile up to date.
  • Take advantage of skills and endorsements. It increases your ranking in recruiter searches.
  • Highlight your interests, what you're good at, and your goals.


IGNITE was joined by a special guest who shares the political ambition of conference attendees. Miss America 2018 Cara Mund wants to become the first female Governor of her home state of North Dakota. In her remarks, Cara championed young women’s leadership and reminded attendees to believe in themselves no matter what others say:

“You hear this all the time in society-it’s too bad she’s not a different age, it’s too bad she’s not a different class, it’s too bad she doesn’t have relatives who were Miss America...I knew that didn’t define what I was capable of. At the end of the day, the only one who can limit me is myself.”

- Miss America 2018 Cara Mund

The final session at Young Women Run is one of our favorites - Declare Your Ambition!  Chief Program Officer Sara Guillermo and IGNITE national spokesperson Vannessa Vasquez led attendees through an exercise you can do right now. Grab a pen and page and fill in the blanks:

After taking the pledge herself, attendee Adelinn Ippensen reached out to her friends on Instagram, calling on “every young lady out there to #DeclareYourAmbition and to never be afraid to find your seat at the table and make your voice heard. It’s there waiting for you!”. Here are a few power declarations:

“I am Mai Mizuno from Manhattan, Kansas, and I will be the first female Asian American governor of Kansas because I feel the fierce urgency of now to create a government for the people that is represented by all people.” 

"I am Loren Walter from Chicago and I want to run for Board of Education because our city is in dire need of public school reform." 

"My name is Samantha Perlman and I'm from Marlborough, Massachusetts. I want to run for my City Council because there needs to be more young women in government and we need to close the civic engagement gap."

It’s your turn. Take the #DeclareYourAmbition pledge today!

We want to see YOU at a conference this year! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram for event updates.

If you missed Young Women Run 2018 or want to relive some of your favorite moments, we’ve got videos and photos:

Thank you those who made the 2018 Young Women Run Conference possible

Over 90 individuals helped us bring 96 young women to D.C. via scholarships.


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