Emerge Louisiana Equips Women with the Tools and Network to Run For Office and Win


NEW ORLEANS – Last year, Emerge Louisiana launched as a training program for Democratic women, aiming to run for office in Louisiana. Today, eight graduates of the program are featured on the ballot in 13 parishes, throughout the state. The women – teachers, veterans, stay-at-home-moms and small business owners – are competing for office at all levels. 

"These candidates are some of the first graduates of Emerge Louisiana's training program," said Melanie Oubre, the executive director of Emerge Louisiana. "Our training is a unique opportunity for Democratic women who want to run for public office. It is the only in-depth, six-month, 70-hour, training program that inspires candidates to run and gives them the tools to win."

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During the training program, participants meet one weekend a month, for six months, and receive comprehensive training on the following topics: public speaking and communication, fundraising, media and messaging, networking, campaign strategy, field operations, labor and endorsements, technology and new media, diversity and cultural competency, and ethical leadership.

In addition to the six-month signature program, Emerge Louisiana also facilitated a bootcamp training. Bootcamps cover the same topics, in a condensed format, over the course of three days. 

"As a program member, women are exposed to a variety of campaign and election experts. They also meet an array of dynamic women who hold elected and appointed office," Oubre added. "Through Emerge, women are given specific opportunities to expand (their) political network and they become a part of a supportive network which includes a national network of Emerge alumnae, Emerge board and advisory council members."

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Louisiana is one of 25 states in the Emerge America national network. Since 2002, Emerge America has steadily grown its recruiting and training model to fill the pipeline of leaders in local, state and federal office. The historic surge in Democratic women candidates running during the 2018 election cycle is the result of the organization's continuous efforts to recruit and train women throughout the country.

According to Emerge, more than 570 women are featured on today's election ballot; more than half of the 2018 Emerge candidates are running for Congress, statewide office or state legislatures; and more than 60 percent of the Emerge alums listed on the November ballot are first-time candidates.

So far this year, Emerge America has had a primary win-rate of 72 percent, and a general election win-rate of 80 percent. Over 500 alumnae are currently serving in elected or appointed office. The organization has trained more than 4000 women to run for office.

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During its first year of operation, Emerge Louisiana completed two training sessions, graduating 44 women leaders. 

The Emerge Lousiana alumnae candidates include:

  • Sumer Cooner – Caddo Parish School Board District B
  • Teri Johnson – Louisiana House of Representatives District 33
  • Wanda Porter Johnson – St. Martin Parish School Board District 2
  • Laura McLemore – Shreveport City Council District B
  • Chelsey Richard Napoleon – Orleans Parish Clerk of Civil District Court
  • Theresa Rohloff – Scott City Council At-Large
  • Tammy Savoie – US House of Representatives District 1
  • April Williams – Jefferson Parish School Board District 2

“Emerge has given me the courage, as well as the tools that I need to run an effective race," said April Williams, an Emerge Louisiana 2018 boot camp graduate. "The training I received was phenomenal and it prepared me to run. Emerge continues to guide and encourage me throughout this process while keeping me connected to the political arena.”

Laura McLemore, who completed the Emerge Louisiana program in 2018, also shared her thoughts on the series of workshops.

“I had not thought of running for office until Emerge gave me the confidence to try,” she said.

The next Emerge Louisiana candidate training program begins in January of 2019. To learn more about Emerge's alums and training program, visit: www.emergelouisiana.org.


By Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur, Biz New Orleans associate news editor


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