WeLead Training Recaps WeLead2024

two women standing beside a banner

Nov 4: Research shows that women and marginalized communities are especially uncomfortable with self-promotion, so this session focused on 1/building a professional and political brand, 2/developing a digital presence for candidates and elected officials, and 3/credentialing yourself through earned media and op-eds. Trainer and coach Jackie Gulley (pictured right) stressed the importance for women candidates and leaders of sticking to a brand as insulation against sexism, critics, and opponents. 

welead students seated at tables

Oct 14: WeLead2024 kicked off with a deep dive on why we need more women in elected office from veteran political advisor Kate Black. Black is the co-author of REPRESENT: The Woman's Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World. We also explored leadership styles and strategies with professional coach Hannah Malvin WeLead2013. Finally, we were inspired by a case-study on the authentic, bold and effective local leadership of D.C. Councilmember and AU alum Brianne Nadeau.


collage of pictures from welead2023 graduation

Apr 18: Over 60 friends, family and graduates gathered at the National Press Club to celebrate the brave, curious and generous class of WeLead2023. We were honored to hear inspiring words of support from former Congresswoman Mimi Walters and Montgomery County MD Councilmember Kate Stewart. Pictured from top left: Stewart, WeLead Program Manager Julie Russell, WeLead2023 graduate Michelle Meza, WPI Executive Director Betsy Fischer Martin, and Walters

Apr 15: We explored different elements of a successful campaign in the final session of the WeLead2023 program year, including Direct Mail & Targeted Media, Field/Get Out The Vote, Polling, and Television & Mass Media. Many thanks to expert practitioners and repeat speakers Kim Alfano, Jeannie Carlson, and Molly O'Rourke - and thanks for sharing best practices in the Field on your recent wins Ellen Walter (Youngkin for VA Governor 2022) and Janice Rottenberg (Biden for President 2020). 

six women standing beside a banner

Mar 4: Research shows that women and marginalized communities are especially uncomfortable with self-promotion, so we devoted an entire session to 'Getting Comfortable with Self Promotion,' including 1/building a professional and political brand, 2/developing a digital presence for candidates and elected officials, and 3/practicing outward-facing skills for podcasts, live interviews, taped interviews, launch videos, and stump speeches. Pictured next to the banner are trainers WPI ED Betsy Fischer Martin and Stand for America Digital Marketing Director Lyndsey FifieldRead More

Jan 28: Campaign communications reflect not just a candidate's resume or talking points, but rather a 'value statement.' On top of that, an effective strategy considers 1/timing 2/context 3/platform and 4/media relationships. Pictured: Karen Finney, Megan Whittemore and WPI ED Betsy Fischer Martin. Read More

two women standing next to a wpi banner

Dec 10: We introduced the WeLead2023 Fundraising Challenge and explored the fundamentals of fundraising with Heather Colburn, State Representative Lisa Borowski (PA-168), WeLead2017 alum Nicole Tardif and NARAL's Neisha Blandin. According to Colburn, "Fundraising is nothing more than inviting other people to make the world a better place." Borowski (pictured left) agreed saying, "You're raising money to make a difference." Read More

Nov 19: Amanda Hunter presented research that women running for office should focus their messaging on 1/Issue Knowledge and 2/Qualifications. Later in the Campaign Manager panel, China Dickerson added that women candidates will be successful if they are "authentic, confident, and do the work." Read More

three welead alumni standing next to banner

Oct 15: WeLead2023 launched the program year with training and advice about women running for office and leading from an alumni panel (pictured left), a leadership coach, and former EMILY's List executive Kate Black. The panel included WeLead graduates in advocacy, communications, and digital. Read More



May 10: The Women & Politics Institute, along with honored guest D.C. Councilmember-at-Large Christina Henderson, congratulated 23 women on the successful completion of the WeLead2022 campaign training program and fundraising challenge. 

WeLead2022 grad standing next to WPI sign

Apr 9: Gaining media attention and tracking is critical for an unknown or first-time candidate to be successful, so we reviewed how to work with local print media, the art of the soundbite, and earning media coverage for the candidate or her campaign in our final session of the program year. We also took professional headshots, which the class earned by exceeding its fundraising goal by more than 10%. Pictured is Danielle Casey #WeLead2022. Read More

WL speaker Neisha Blandin w group

Mar 5: Field expert Bailey Childers, consultant Rissa Martinez, and Neisha Blandin (pictured, center) shared dozens of strategies and examples of how to add capacity to a campaign via messaging, volunteers, endorsements, party support, and consultants. Childers made it real simple. "What does it take to win? 50%+1 vote!". Read More

Jan 22: The WeLead session on Fundraising included practical and inspirational ideas around how to raise enough money to run for office, and how to spend the money to win. Fundraising expert Heather Colburn, AU alum Ashley Eason, and researcher Amanda Hunter shared their insights. Read More

expert speakers at welead 110621

Nov 6: The WeLead session on Campaigns covered the basics of developing a platform and consistent message, rallying support and building coalitions, and integrating digital marketing into more traditional advertising and mail strategies. The session wrapped with a view from 10,000 feet from veteran campaign managers Kristin Davison and Bettina Weiss. Pictured are Tracey Lewis, Davison, Weiss, and Jen DaulbyRead More

WL Expert Speaker Kate Black with two students

Oct 2: WeLead launched the 2021-2022 program year with training and advice about women running for office and leading from a WeLead Alumni Panel, a leadership coach, former EMILY's List executive Kate Black (pictured, center), and State Representative Melissa Shusterman (PA-157). Read More


welead group 2021

May 15: WPI conferred diplomas on 27 members of WeLead2021 on the campus of American University in Washington, D.C. Participants who joined the virtual program from outside the D.C. metropolitan area received their diplomas by mail. 

Apr 10: We Lead concluded the 2020-2021 program year with a wide-ranging talk with Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX-7), who reflected on the gains made by women in the U.S. Congress in 2018 and 2020, as well as how and where women can lead in the future. Read More

welead fundraising panel on zoom

Mar 18:  Over 50 supporters of WeLead were inspired by the 'Powerful Women Championing Political Change' panel, including Mayor Ellen Kamei #WeLead2009, White House Advisor Carissa Smith #WeLead2019, Councilmember Leadra Craft, Honorable Delia Garcia, and Councilmember Christina Henderson. Advice from the panelists coalesced around the ideas of investing and believing in yourself, surrounding yourself with people you trust, and always remembering the importance of serving others. 

Mar 6:  WeLead's Campaign Management session covered pre-launch decisions and checklists to staffing the polls on Election Day - and everything in between. A panel of experts shared such quality advice that one WeLeader said she was "...more confident than ever about running for office." Following the panel, Catherine Algeri led a breakout session on Digital Marketing, and Keynote Speaker Selika Talbott stressed that a campaign platform should reflect "why and how government resources will work for your constituents. It is always about advocating for the voter."  Read More

Jan 30:  In WeLead's Fundraising session, expert practitioners Niccara Campbell, Micah Yousefi and Helen Milby shared best practices around outside fundraising support. Tips for successful women candidates include 1/ using more data with supporters and 2/ making sure to share updates, thank yous and free events, in addition to asking for support. In terms of a career in this space, all agreed that "fundraisers are usually the first hired and the last fired."  Read More

welead speaker melanie roussell newman on zoom

Nov 14: In WeLead's Media & Messaging session, expert practitioners Antonia Ferrier and Melanie Newman shared best practices and pitfalls around candidate introductions, campaign communications, policy messaging and crisis response. According to Newman, at the highest level, communications is about education. "Being a smart news consumer, knowing the audience, and understanding policy will help a candidate and her team avoid mistakes and missteps."  Read More

Oct 17: WeLead Expert Speakers Amanda Hunter and Lisa Montenegro explored the question of why there aren't more women in public office by looking at self. others, and trends in gender politics. Hunter shared research on women overcoming obstacles and getting elected, as well as on women leading effectivley in a crisis. Montenegro encouraged these emerging leaders to "Do the work to discover your authentic self. Then double down on your strengths. Identify and fix your fatal flaws. Ignore the rest."   Read More

Sept 19: WeLead Expert Speaker Kate Black helped launch WeLead 2020-2021 with a broad overview of how, why and when to run for office. Black is the co-author of REPRESENT. With regard to the question of why, Black said women “tend to run to solve problems in their communities.”  Black also answered questions about timing, authenticity, and double standards.  Read More


Virtual WeLead session in Zoom gallery view

Apr 18: The sixth and final session of WeLead2020 featured Capitol Hill veterans Amanda Fuchs Miller and Kathryn Lehman on Lobbying & Government Relations, followed by SBDigital Partner Sulli Norris-Cole and Vice President Zandria Haines on Grassroots Campaigning and GOTV. The experts shared strategic thinking about messaging and reaching voters, while also drilling down to tips about execution and pricing. Read More

Mar 7:  This session featured leadership coach Lisa Montenegro explaining how the inner game (assumptions, judgments and feelings) shapes your ability to be effective in the outer game. Next, experts Molly Murphy, Kim Alfano, Julie Greene Collier. and Brin Frazier, shared lessons learned and best practices in core Campaign Elements. Read More

Kristin, Allison, Niccara, and Aly seated on the panel.

Jan 25: The Campaign Management session focused on the skills, talents and tips needed to run a successful campaign. Speakers included Kristin Davison, Allison Teixeira Sulier, Niccara Campbell, Aly Higgins Wheeler, and Rep. Barbara Comstock. Read More

Nov 16: The Fundraising session began with long-time fundraiser and founder of The LS Group Lisa Spies, emphasizing generosity and curiosity over a more transactional approach, followed by panelists Liesl Hickey, Ali Lapp, China Dickerson and Betsy Fischer Martin who explained PACs, SuperPACS and Independent Expenditures. Read More

Oct 26: WeLead’s Communications & Messaging session highlighted political and campaign communications careers at all levels of government - from Ashley Fox at D.C. City Council, Meredith Kelly of Gillibrand 2020, and long-time Republican Strategist Pamela Stevens. Read More

Ashley Fox, Anne Hedgepeth, Betsy Fischer Martin, and Caren Street

Sept 21: WPI launched WeLead 2019-20 with a dynamic talk from Ward 1 D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (SPA/MPP '06). The class learned how to maximize the value of WeLead from successful alumnae Katie SmithAnne Hedgepeth, and Caren Street. Read More.


Congresswoman Underwood addressing the graduating class of WeLeaders

May 8: WPI graduated 28 members of WeLead2019 in the D.C. offices of MacAndrews & Forbes. WeLead alumnae, American University faculty, and representatives of Congress joined WeLead alumna Representative Lauren Underwood in congratulating and imploring the graduates to help close the gender gap in political leadership. The ceremony was followed by a reception, generously co-sponsored by MacAndrews & Forbes. Read More

Apr 13: Dynamic, successful, young female Campaign Managers Kristin Davison, Anne Caprara, and Keenan Austin Reed entertained and educated WeLeaders in the final of six sessions for the 2018-19 program year. Read More

Mar 23: Former ED of Emily's List Jess O'Connell and Neri Martinez of the RNCC explained the priorities and procedures of Candidate Recruitment from advocacy groups and committees, while Zandria Haines of Hustle introduced an extremely cost-effective campaign tool - direct voter outreach via texting. Read More

The WeLead cohort wearing white during the February training session

Feb 23: February's program featured experts in the core Elements of a Campaign - Bailey Childers of H&R Block on field operations, Ashley O'Connor on advertising and messaging, Molly O'Rourke on polling, and former Bush speechwriter Michele Nix on speechwriting. Read More

Nov 10: Expert practicioners Atima Omara of Omara Strategies Group, LLC and Cherisse Eatmon of Millennial Action Project spoke about the importance of grassroots organizing, and Amanda Fuchs Miller of Seventh Street Strategies and Jennifer Bell of Chamber Hill Strategies discussed the role of lobbying in politics. Read More

Oct 13: The WeLead special project on Fundraising was introduced at the October session.  To help the teams develop strategies and meet fundraising goals, the class heard from professional coach Lisa Montenegro about branding, leadership and teamwork, and from Congressman Jesse Colvin's wife Jordan Colvin, Rhonda Foxx in Representative Alma Adams' office, Alexandra Raposa from Emily's List, and Megan Sowards of Jones Day. Read More

Welead 2018-2019 class stands in group.

Sept 22: The WeLead Class of 2018-19 spent the first session learning about Communications & Messaging from media and press experts.  Speakers included Lindsey Mask of Ladies America, Ilana Drimmer of NBC News/Meet the Press, Abby Livingston, Texas Tribune, Julia Manchester of The Hill, Antonia Ferrier in Senator Mitch McConnell's office, and Miranda Margowsky in Senator Debbie Stabenow's office.  The session concluded with a social reception for students and alumnae. Read More

gender on the ballot