NJEA members and staff participated in this year’s Center for American Women and Politics’ Ready to Run training. From left: Linda Kelly-Gamble, Charisse Parker, Angelina Carione, Ginger Gold Schnitzer, Marybeth Beichert, Charlene Cheli (seated), Fran Pfeffer (back), Donna Grasso, Jeannette Williams (front); Marlene Lazarus (back), Sigrid Frawley, and Anna Hanzes.
Nearly 20 NJEA members participated in the Center for American Women and Politics’ Ready to Run training, March 21-22, which prepares women to run for elective office, position themselves for appointive office, work on campaigns, or get involved in public life in other ways.
Charlene Cheli, an educator from Vineland, is completing her first year as the Government Relations chairperson for Cumberland County. Her experience as chairperson has led to her getting even more involved in her local and county associations, and possibly elected office. “I wanted to learn more about politics and government so that I could better perform my duties as Government Relations chair,” Celli said. “Ready to Run has now sparked a desire in me to run for office.”
Sigrid Frawley taught kindergarten in Tenafly Public Schools for 26 years before retiring. She is now an adjunct professor at Montclair University. “I pay union dues and I work with student teachers and I want to keep them informed so I called NJEA and asked if I could attend Ready to Run,” Frawley said. “For the past 20 years, the mayor and people on town council have asked me to run – and maybe now’s the time.”
Charisse Parker, an educational support professional from Plainfield, attended the training to learn more to help her better support the good candidates who run for office. “I want to teach my daughter that when you see an injustice that you will stand up and speak out and be the best advocate for yourself.”
Some of the participants are already part of their county party committee and others are planning to become more involved in their party. They view Ready to Run as another opportunity to build their skills and help them take the next step in political engagement. At a dinner hosted by NJEA for its members, participants in the program were also encouraged to become more involved through their local and county association legislative action teams.
NJEA Government Relations Director Ginger Gold Schnitzer was an intern at the Center for American Women in Politics and was part of the first Ready to Run training. She shared members’ enthusiasm for the training and encouraged them to maintain strong ties with each other – and other program participants. “This is a network,” Schnitzer said. “This is how we roll: women empowering women.”
The program, which is divided into two tracks, I’m Ready to Run, Now What? And I’m Not Ready to Run Yet, But … included presentations on internet strategies for candidates, campaigns, and advocates; fundraising; navigating political parties; and conquering the camera – an interactive media training.
According to their website, the Ready to Run program demystifies the process of running for elected office, encourages more women to mount campaigns, and introduces them to elected and appointed leaders, campaign consultants, and party officials in their state to whom they can turn as they get ready to run. CAWP’s model curriculum covers fundraising, positioning oneself for elected office, navigating the political party structure, media training, the nuts and bolts of organizing a campaign, mobilizing voters, and crafting a message.
Ready to Run, which was created 17 years ago, has trained more than 1,700 New Jersey women, including many NJEA members. When the program was first launched, New Jersey ranked 39th in the nation in the number of women serving in the legislature. As of August 2012, New Jersey ranks tenth.
For more information about participating in next year’s Ready to Run training, or to learn more about legislative action teams, contact Ginger Gold Schnitzer at 609-599-4561 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NJEA participants included:
- Jessica Bonilla
- Angelina Carione
- Charlene Cheli
- Danielle Clark
- Eleanor Clark
- Colleen Curren
- Sigrid Frawley
- Donna Grasso
- Esther Innis
- Linda Kelly-Gamble
- Lisa Klink
- Marlene Lazarus
- June Morgan
- Charisse Parker
- Alnetta Price
- Jeannette Williams
- Susanna Zeitz
- Kelly Zuzic