Reflections from IGNITE Young Women Run D.C. 2019

Last week, I attended IGNITE’s Young Women Run D.C. conference where I joined 150 young women from 30 states to accelerate my career in public service. For a long time, I have been interested in politics and in how I could get involved. And yet, every time I step out of an IGNITE conference, I emerge somehow even more passionate and inspired to run for office and make real change in this country.

We spent two days in the conference space, learning about all the steps it takes to get to political office and the different paths that those in elected office had taken to secure a seat at the table. We learned how to engage voters, fundraise, speak on camera as a candidate, leverage social media as part of our campaign and more.

“What a powerful conference!!! I was given a scholarship to attend the Young Women Run by IGNITE in D.C. I learned so much and networked with so many powerful women. It's beyond inspiring. I was the only one wearing a suit but I was very welcomed into the space by conservatives, democrats, and liberals. So amazing!” 

- Allilsa Fernandez, NY

The third day of the conference was spent advocating to members of Congress or their staffers about pieces of legislation that fall under IGNITE’s main policy areas: women’s rights, voting rights, and civic education. It was an amazing experience to talk with the people who are the actual voters on the legislation that passes through Congress, and if we influenced even just one lawmaker to take a closer look at the bills we were advocating for, it was worth our time.

“Yet another amazing day in D.C! I had the opportunity to meet with staffers from Congressman Colin Allred and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s offices. Young Women Run was truly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had and I’m so grateful to be a part of this amazing organization.”

- Katelyn Hicken, TX

The conference itself had an impressive agenda, with panels by young leaders, breakout sessions detailing a path to political office, and many powerful Congresswomen speaking. They urged us to run without needing to be asked to, to know that we are enough as we are, and to step up. 

“Now more than ever, our country needs bright, dedicated young leaders to come into the conversation with fresh ideas. The call to leadership may sound different for all of you in this room. It may come at the community level, the state level, or the national level. But wherever you are, when the call to leadership comes, I hope you’ll listen.”

- Congresswoman Martha Roby

“What qualifies you to do this work, as great as this effort is, is not this, it won’t be the degrees you attain, it won’t be the letters that follow your name, it won’t be the fancy titles that follow a comma that follow your name. What qualifies you to do this work are your lived experiences. And you need to bring that to the room and to the table every single day.”

- Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley

The words of all of these phenomenal Congresswomen helped reassure me, and many of my peers, that political office is within reach, and ours to take.

The most powerful part of the conference for me was being able to network and connect with 150 young women like myself, who are determined to run and prepared to lift each other up and learn together. I met women who were already running for office in their city, women who had started IGNITE chapters at their colleges, as well as many women who were at the conference to deepen their passion for politics and learn more about their future pathways to office. I gained connections with whom I can support in their political endeavors, with the knowledge that they all are more than happy to provide the same to me. 

“I am truly inspired by the women who are breaking down barriers and opening paths for young women to become the leaders of today and represent the United States and the world. We are capable of doing great things and cannot let anyone tell us the opposite. It is time we let our voices be heard, acknowledged, and empowered! And in the words of Ayanna Pressley, ‘I am a reflection of you.’”

- Carol Alvarez, CA

I left the conference feeling many emotions: overwhelmed to have met and spoken with so many inspiring young women and elected officials, sad to be leaving such a supportive and motivational space, but overall, happy to have gained so many new tools and mentors that will help guide me on my own path as an IGNITE woman.