By Jessica Rettig, Washington Whispers
If you're one of the many disgruntled citizens who are looking for fresh faces in government, give the ladies of Running Start a pat on the back. Started in 2007, Running Start, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that encourages high-school- and college-aged girls to run for public office, hasn't put forward any candidates yet. But with the group's strong mission and high-profile supporters, Washington is sure to see some new female faces soon.
Wednesday evening, the organization hosted their fourth annual Women to Watch awards at the National Press Club. Among the honorees were D.C. City Councilmember Muriel Bowser; Washington Post reporter and author of Notes from the Cracked Ceiling, Anne Kornblut; Malika Saada Saar, founder of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights; Kellyanne Conway, president and CEO of the polling company inc./WomenTrend; and Sheila C. Johnson, BET founder and owner of the WNBA's Washington Mystics.
Susannah Shakow, Running Start's president and founder, said in her opening speech that while men generally have enough confidence to jump into a campaign with little outside encouragement, women, on average, need to be asked seven times before they seriously consider running for office. Her organization, she said, tries to be the "first ask" when girls are in high school.
The evening's keynote speaker, Tennessee GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn, encouraged women to be part of the "Larry the Cable Guy School of Politics"--a results-oriented philosophy she picked up on the campaign trail--saying that they should go into office with the determination to "git 'er done." She also emphasized that leadership is a transferable commodity and that those in power should work to raise up other leaders.