Ashley H. and Megan M. are two women from Oregon who joined the first She Should Run Virtual Cohort this past summer. Similar women who soon realized they worked for the same employer, were about live in the same neighborhood, and both wanted to run for local office. Through the Virtual Cohort, they developed a friendship that they have kept up since the Cohort ended. Get to know Ashley and Megan!
How were you introduced to She Should Run and what drew you to the Virtual Cohort?
Ashley: I found she should run shortly after Trump was elected. I had tried to do the course on my own, but didn't finish. I was draw to the Virtual Cohort for accountability and to take active steps towards running.
Megan: I was motivated to run for office but didn't know where to start, so of course I turned to the internet. A google search led me to She Should Run, and as a working mom I was immediately drawn to the idea of a Virtual Cohort that felt like it would be easier to fit into my already packed schedule.
Why do you want to run for office?
Megan: I want to run for office to represent others like me! Parents with young children are already so pressed for time, and as a result, we never hold positions of power. Without representation, our needs are constantly overlooked. I'm running on behalf of other working families and to create a better future for our kids.
Ashley: I want to run for office to make a difference in our community and our country. There are values that I hold that I believe are American and Oregonian values that some elected officials do not respect or honor. Our country says we stand for liberty and justice for all, but on a daily basis there are examples of this not being true in the news. Our country and our people are better than how we are currently being represented, and I want to take an active role in changing the representation.
When did you two realize you lived basically in the same neighborhood and what were your initial reactions?
Both: We realized on the first call that we worked at the same company (even though neither of us shared the name of our employer). We connected that night, before we were assigned to be accountability buddies, and knew that we had similar interests so we should get together. When we met for lunch the first time, Ashley told Megan she and her husband had put an offer in on a house in Megan's house district. Our initial reaction was, "how had we not met yet?"
How often did you two meet up and do you plan on continuing to meet up?
Both: We scheduled lunch every other week, and we have continued that schedule since the conclusion of the program. We are attending as many local political events together as we can outside of work, which includes fundraisers, local party meetings, and even canvassing for issues and people we care about. Ashley is a neighborhood leader and now that she lives in Megan's neighborhood, she gets to take a buddy along to remind our neighbors about the upcoming election.
How has having (Megan or Ashley) as your accountability partner strengthened your experience in the Cohort, especially given the Cohort was a virtual experience but you two were able to meet in person?
Both: We were always able to debrief on the discussion immediately after the cohort meeting. That follow up helped us be accountable to the exercises we were completing, and it was much richer as we were able to learn from each other the different ways we were finding to get involved. Additionally, we have both decided to apply for Emerge Oregon to continue our candidate training, and each other's encouragement helped us be accountable to apply on time.
How has knowing each other helped you as your plan your future runs for public office?
Both: When one of us meets someone, we always introduce the other so we are able to build our network in the local political scene much more quickly. We often talk strategy about what to run for and when, and it's been very helpful to have the other as a sounding board. When one of us learns something, we immediately share it with the other.
Will you two be running for office at the same time and for similar positions? If so, how do you think that will impact your friendship you have developed?
Both: Not likely. We both want the other told hold elected office, so we do not plan on running against one another. We've identified different paths that we want to pursue, but having each other to talk about the options we are weighing has been helpful. Because we likely will not be running at the same time, we'll be able to help the other on her campaign (we are gaining experience on other campaigns now to help us when it's time to run). We bring different areas of expertise to the table. Megan has a communications background, Ashley has more experience with the party and how to get involved in that way. It sometimes feels like we've cloned ourselves because whenever we meet someone new or learned something helpful, we share it with the other and it helps us stay motivated to continue on this path.
Lastly, as someone who has gone through the Virtual Cohort and now plans to run for office, what would your advice be to any women out there?
Ashley: Be patient. As we have gotten to know members of our local party and political community, we've learned that this really is a marathon. As much as I'd like to be elected now, I know it takes time and sometimes timing is everything. We are actively trying to get on the warm bench, so we are ready for opportunities when they come up. We've learned things can change quickly, and being involved will make us more likely to be asked to step up.
Megan: First, when it comes to the virtual cohort, you get out what you put in. Plan on dedicating yourself fully to the content and the meetings. Second, expect that you will need to do other things outside of the cohort, for example building your networks, getting involved in the local party, and volunteering on campaigns for real world experience. The very best thing you can do to strengthen your path to office is to support someone else on their journey.