Emerge Lights The Fuse As Women’s Political Power Takes Off

By Heather Knight
San Francisco Chronicle

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “Emerge America” is a training ground for women in politics. Currently, there are 730 alumnae of the program running for office in 29 states.

San Francisco Chronicle

It’s been a good year for women in politics in San Francisco, and Andrea Dew Steele can take some of the credit.

In 2002, a friend of hers whom you might have heard of — Kamala Harris — sought Steele’s help in her run for San Francisco district attorney. Now, of course, Harris is a U.S. senator and a rumored contender for president in 2020.

Steele realized back then that too few women were considering a career in politics, and that those who did want to jump into the daunting world of campaigning didn’t know how.

So she co-founded Emerge America, a training ground for women in politics. It now has programs in 25 states.

Emerge graduates include Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Board of Supervisors President Malia Cohen and Supervisor Catherine Stefani.

There are 730 alumnae of the program running for office in 29 states this year. One Emerge graduate whose race Steele is keeping an especially close eye on is Deb Haaland, a New Mexico community activist who could become the first American Indian woman ever elected to Congress.

I sat down with Steele in her office on California Street the other day to talk about why more women are running for office and why that matters. Steele, mother of three kids ages 9 to 14, lives in the Presidio. She has some eclectic office decor, including a mug with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg flipping the double bird above the word “Dissent” and a sign reading, “Not today, patriarchy.”

Q: Can you walk me through that conversation with Kamala Harris that started this for you and how the light bulb went off that Emerge was needed?

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