Meet a Matriot: Valerie McKitrick

1.In addition to being a Matriots-endorsed candidate you also recently became a Class of 2019 Founding Member. How did you learn about The Matriots and what inspired you to become a Founding Member? I learned about the Matriots from my State Representative, Tavia Galonski. I was inspired to become a founding member because I appreciated the support from the Matriots, and I want to be part of an organization that is comprised of strong women, supporting strong women, and working to get them elected!

2.Valerie, you are a Class of 2019 Matriots-endorsed candidate who recently won your campaign! What did The Matriots endorsement mean to you and your campaign? Besides the critical financial support, the endorsement meant the backing of women from all walks of life, some who were also candidates, but others who just want to see the candidates succeed. That’s powerful: Women coming together to promote women!

3.As an Akron Board of Education Member-elect why do you think it is important to have more female representation in political office? And how do you suggest that young women in particular get more involved in their communities? If women aren’t represented in political office our political needs aren’t going to be addressed and our political rights are going to be further eroded. As the saying goes, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu!”

I suggest that young women start now to get more involved. They can start with student government, school organizations or clubs, or community groups. Whatever they are passionate about, there is a group or organization that will suit them. Whatever their interests, find a group and get involved. Don’t be content to sit back and think someone else will take care of things.

4.Now for something fun: Tell us about your favorite thing to do in the great state of Ohio. It could be a hobby, a favorite place to eat or something we might not know about our state! My favorite thing to do in Ohio is wander the Towpath Trail, particularly as it wends through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Be it on foot or bike, no matter the season, there is nothing like a day on the trails!

The Matriots Say ‘Changing The Conversation:’ I Took That Challenge

 

 

With the General Election less than a month away, and early voting already under way, I think I speak on behalf of my fellow candidates when I say that last night was a needed break from campaigning to just be in fellowship with like-minded people and feel and share support.

I am so proud of my Matriots endorsement as I seek a seat on the Bexley Board of Education.

But before I was a Class of 2019 Candidate, I was an original Founding Member. I sat in a friend’s living room in those very early days of the PAC and heard the founders’ pitch – we need more women running for and serving in elected offices all across Ohio.

It was easy for me to agree, and I made the decision to become a Matriots Founding Member. But as I sat with that message, I realized that the encouragement, opportunity gap-closing, and community of support that The Matriots brings to getting women into elected offices was exactly what the students in my district need, and that The Matriots were talking about me. I needed to run. I couldn’t wait for some other woman to step forward. It’s my time.

A growing body of evidence indicates that women’s political participation, specifically more women in elected office, results in women’s increased economic independence.

That’s an important part of why I joined, why I’m running, and why we all need to do our part to keep growing The Hive so we can reach our shared goal of 50% women in office in Ohio by 2028. Who can you ask to join us? What is your role in making the mission reality?

Sincerely,

Victoria Powers, Founding Member & Endorsed 2019 Candidate

Meet a Matriot: Idotha Bootsie Neal

1.In 1991, you became the first black woman elected to Dayton’s city commission, and served there until 2004. Can you share with our members a little about that experience? As the first black woman to be elected to serve on the Dayton City Commission it was exciting as well as challenging. Early in my tenure I was often the only female and sometimes the only black in a room of key community stakeholders discussing and attempting to resolve critical issues facing the Dayton community and the Miami Valley region. Initially, I felt that my voice was not being heard and my perspective was not valued. The men would respectfully allow me to speak and then totally ignore my recommendations or concerns. I quickly learned that in order to be effective and respected in the male dominated arena it was imperative that I had to be thoroughly knowledgeable (even though oftentimes my colleagues were far less knowledgeable) and prepared to concisely discuss issues supported with facts grounded in business policies with the potential of long term profitability and not by emotions driven by social realities. Fortunately, I was not easily intimidated and was very confident in my abilities as a leader and definitely determined to provide valuable input which created a balance of perspectives in the decision making process. I worked hard and earned the respect of my colleagues, staff, business and community stakeholders.

As a female, as the first elected black woman, I felt a strong sense of responsibility and obligation to be the best public servant, the best elected official to serve our community. In my opinion, I sometimes experienced more scrutiny and criticism than my counterparts. I was quickly labeled the commissioner concerned about issues impacting children and families (which I proudly agree) however there was very little public acknowledgment that I was involved in and was a valuable broker for important development projects. I had to learn how to tell my own story. This was a very important lesson to learn which helped me to get re-elected.

It was a privilege and honor to serve the citizens of Dayton. I worked with a team of professional and political individuals who were competent, creative and progressive. We developed and began the implementation of a comprehensive strategic plan that laid the foundation for the economic revitalization of the urban core of our region. Our focus was rebuilding the business district with jobs, housing and amenities. We were committed to restoring and revitalizing our neighborhoods, and strengthening citizen participation. As an elected official, it was critically important to understand that the decisions we made would impact the Dayton community for generations to come.

2.You are a mentor to other women now running or considering running for office. Why do you think that it is important for younger people to invest in the political process? As a mentor, I want to inspire young people to get involved. I want to share my knowledge and experiences. I believe that there is value in what can be learned from my successes as well as my failures. It is extremely important for younger people to get involved and invest in the political process. I believe the political process develops the evolving legislative blueprint that governs educational and government institutions that impacts every aspect of our life and how we live, work and play. In my opinion, young people have the responsibility and obligation to continue to develop legislation that will protect our country, civil liberties, constitution, climate and freedoms. The political process is ‘our voice’ in our government. As future leaders, young people must develop the skills, capabilities and attributes that will help them to effectively lead in a diverse global environment.

3. You recently filled a room in Dayton with women you wanted to introduce to The Matriots mission. Why do you think The Matriots’ vision for more women in elected office is the solution to today’s political rancor? I am excited about the Matriots’ vision to support women to get elected. I strongly believe that it is very important to have more women in elected office. In my experiences, oftentimes, women bring a unique perspective to the decision making process. This balance of perspectives contributes to a comprehensive approach in the assessment of problems and the understanding of needs of residents and/or businesses. I believe that women in certain situations are greater risk takers, creative visionaries and are more willing to partner in a nonpartisan civil manner and work collectively to identify solutions to issues facing our communities, our economy and our country. I think women are more committed to public service and wanting to make a positive difference rather than seeking power or public recognition. Today’s political climate requires leaders who can be bold, conciliatory, focused to find long term solutions, that are not grounded in the ole’ boy network, for evolving contemporary challenges. I argue that women can successfully change the political paradigm, balance priorities and govern effectively to help communities to educationally and economically compete in a global climate.

4. By year’s end, The Matriots will have endorsed more than 100 candidates! Can you tell our members about a candidate who inspires you and why?Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to work with Shenise Turner-Sloss and witness first hand her commitment to the Dayton community. I am inspired by Shenise Turner-Sloss who is a candidate running for the Dayton City Commission and is endorsed by The Matriots. She is an experienced competent capable individual with leadership abilities that is visionary and innovative. She previously worked for the City of Dayton and is knowledgeable about city government issues and challenges. In my opinion, there is still much critical work to do in the Dayton neighborhoods to improve the quality of housing stock, accessibility to diverse retail options and other services that support the needs of residents. I believe that Shenise Turner Sloss is the ‘right’ person to lead the charge to rebuild sustainable Dayton neighborhoods and challenge the current city elected officials and staff to focus on rebuilding our neighborhoods one block at a time. This effort will require the commitment of a leader like Shenise who will develop and implement a comprehensive collaborative plan approach that will attract private investment and state & federal financial resources for housing projects and small business development.

Shenise is an honest person with a high degree of integrity. As a commissioner, she will be a strong advocate for requiring transparency, accountability and clear processes in the development of legislation, funding and awarding contracts and demanding quality basic services for Dayton residents. Shenise Turner Sloss will be the consistent voice that will champion the needs that are in our neighborhoods and community business districts that are important to the redevelopment of the urban core.

Shenise cares about the education of our children, stability of Dayton’s families, safety in our community and creating an economic environment that will attract jobs that pay living wages. I am excited about her proposal that will bring diverse housing options to our neighborhoods and the renovation of the existing housing stock that will support current homeowners. She is adequately prepared to be that strong voice in the room in what is still a male dominated arena. Shenise Turner Sloss inspires me because of her community involvement, the personal and professional development that she has accomplished in preparation to become an elected official and her willingness to serve in today’s political rancor.

5. Now for something fun: Tell us about your favorite thing to do in the great state of Ohio. It could be a hobby, a favorite place to eat or something we might not know about our state! I love Dayton. I love history!!! Dayton is the birthplace of aviation, ‘where Orville & Wilbur Wright taught the world how to fly’ and it is the home of poet laureate Paul Laurence Dunbar, an African American literary genius who used the power of the pen to confront the reality of social injustices in our country. We have an amazing Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park that consists of five sites that commemorates the contributions of Wilbur and Orville Wright and Paul Laurence Dunbar. There are several other interesting sites to visit in Dayton; Carillon Historical Park which tells Dayton’s rich innovation history, the Walk of Fame which celebrates other locals who have made major contributions to inventions, science, the arts, education, music, sports and business, Dayton VA founded in 1867, SunWatch Indian Archaeological Park, National Museum of the US Air Force and the Dayton Art Institute all of which are located in close proximity to each other. The tour of these sites are informative, fun and relaxing to visit and helps tourists to gain a greater appreciation of Dayton’s history and the contributions that helped to change the world and how we live, work and play. There are several quaint eateries that offer a variety of cuisines in the Oregon Historic District in downtown Dayton.

Meet a Matriot: Eva Raymond

1.You initially learned about The Matriots at a summer house party and before you walked out, you asked if you could invite some friends and hold one of your own.  Can you share with our members why you think The Matriots’ vision for more women in elected office is the solution to today’s political rancor, and why that moved you to not only join – but invite friends to join? Since the last election, many difficult topics have been brought into the forefront of national discourse. I don’t know about you, but I was tired of sitting around with my friends and talking about all the current issues in today’s political rancor and doing nothing about it.  After attending the house party in the summer, it was amazing how powerful the experience was being in a room with so many committed women and men. I knew I had to do something-especially with the upcoming election knocking on the door.  Women need to have more of a voice in what is going on in the world and on every level of candidacy.  These past few years have been maddening for many women, especially when it comes down to what we can and cannot do with our body.  We need women representing us, not a group of men deciding for us.  I knew immediately through conversations that I have had with friends, that they would be on board with The Matriots mission.

2. You are young professional working to raise money for Denison University. Why do you think that it is important for younger people to invest in the political process?  As a fundraiser, I always ask my donors what is most important to them and try to understand better what their passions are.  Now more than ever, our political climate is tremendously affecting not only our future, but the future of our children as well. What is more important than that?  This is something that should be easy for younger people to become passionate about.  Investing time to educate yourself on policies and supporting those that believe in the same mission is the first step in improving our future.

3. You spend a lot of time on the road for work. How do you stay connected to your community? And what initiatives are you excited about in the Columbus community? One of the great things about being on the road is getting the opportunity to meet a strong community of Denison University alumni that are passionate about many different initiatives within their own community throughout the US.  It allows me to have those important conversations and see how other cities are working through their issues and bring them home to Columbus. Recently, I have been talking with another new Matriots member, Chelsey Craig, about the new poverty plan that Franklin County just unveiled.  Changing the poverty, wage gaps, and racial inequalities are, in my opinion, what makes a city strong.  This is not something that will happen overnight, but with initiatives like this, we are on our way.   I am an Ohio native-Cincinnati for 18 years and Dayton for 3.5 years-but still pretty new to Columbus. I feel like there is still a lot of room to grow in this area.  I would love become more involved and to meet more engaged members of Matriots; if anyone would like to connect me to an initiative they are passionate about and would like to talk more about it.

4. By year’s end, The Matriots will have endorsed more than 100 candidates! Can you tell our members about a candidate who inspires you and why?This was a very difficult question, because there are so many amazing women to choose from.  Being from Cincinnati and going through the public school system there, Carolyn Jones immediately stuck out to me.  Public schools have always struggled to get resources and levies passed to keep things like after-school extracurriculars in place.  I do not know where I would be without those extracurriculars and advanced course offerings.  It is wonderful to see her advocating for the Cincinnati public schools because education is key *hint: why I work in higher education.*  In addition, it is wonderful that Jones has background in mental health.  I think this is going to continue to become more prevalent in our youth and having someone with the capability to understand how to approach this is vital!

5. Now for something fun: Tell us about your favorite thing to do in the great state of Ohio. It could be a hobby, a favorite place to eat or something we might not know about our state! I am a die-hard Bobcat-OU oh YEA!  I love making it back to Court Street with my fellow Bobcats and exploring Hocking Hills.  Hocking Hills is a hidden gem within the hills of southern Ohio. If you have not been, I highly recommend.

Meet A Matriot: Shellee Fisher

1.You recently joined The Matriots PAC. How did you learn about The Matriots and what drew you to our work? As a Corporate Photographer, I saw an increasing presence of The Matriots. Although I am not a ‘political’ person, by way of my upbringing and my affiliations, I have been around game changers all of my life. My father was the first black prosecutor and judge in Dayton, Ohio, back in the ’50s and remained in office for 40 years. I photograph for Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and I am the City of Columbus’ and Mayor Ginther’s primary photographer. So I get to see up close and personal the sacrafices, the movements and the accomplishments of people for the people.

2. You work in City Hall and often have a camera pointed at some of the city’s biggest events. Can you share with our members what drew you to this work? My father and uncle were photography hobbyist. When I graduated from high school I wanted to go to photography school but my parents would not allow it. They said I had to get a “real” education. So, not until 12 years ago did I finally pursue my dream as a full-time professional photographer. As for being the City’s photographer, the opportunity began with Mayor Coleman. I have seen over the years the City’s good works in order to make Columbus the best place to live, work and raise a family.

3. You started your own business, Shellee Fisher Photography & Design, a dozen years ago and you had an office-supply business before that. Why do you think it is important to women entrepreneurs to have more female representation in political office? And how do you suggest that women business owners in particular get more involved in their communities? When I was a Xerox reseller, I was in an all-male environment. It was pretty lonely out there. I had breast cancer twice, divorced halfway through my first business and raised two beautiful children. Fortunately, I had a strong network. However, having more women in political office will ensure that women are continually uplifted and protected as equal and positive contributors to our communities. Plus, we have to be at the table to play at the table. Although I’m not actively involved in politics, showing up in support is essential.

4. The Matriots endorsed 34 women in 2018 and 9 running in May primary elections in 2019. Can you tell our members about a candidate who inspires you and why? I am so inmpressed with (Columbus City Councilmember) Shayla Favor. I love her spirit and her commitment to the community. I see her everywhere and involved. I feel this is just the beginning of her impact on Columbus. She is a shining star.

5. Now for something fun: Tell us about your favorite thing to do in the great state of Ohio. It could be a hobby, a favorite place to eat or something we might not know about our state! I am a cyclist. The City’s bike trails are amazing! There are so many trails to cycle, walk or run around the city. They are pretty and well-kept and safe. I think trails are one of the signs of a healthy city.

The Buzz From Sally – July 2019

Dear Matriots,

While it may seem like a relatively quiet time politically, The Matriots PAC has been hard at work screening applicants for endorsement and, as important, attending to the organization’s long-term sustainability. We are so pleased to announce here two major developments on that front.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a couple who have become two of our newest members—and who have set a new standard of commitment to our goal of electing more Ohio women to public office. Kitty and Dick Rosenthal, who are well known in the Cincinnati area for their generosity, but are new to us, have each committed to be “all in” to The Matriots, by making a three-year combined pledge of $75,000, just shy of the maximum allowed by election law.

The Rosenthals came to our attention through our board member, Myrita Craig, who has worked tirelessly–and very successfully–to promote The Matriots in southwest Ohio. From hosting numerous gatherings for Matriots-endorsed candidates, to introducing the PAC to her network, Myrita has put her all in to our collective success. No celebration of Matriots work in Cincinnati would be complete without recognizing Myrita’s dedication.

The Rosenthals were early, strong supporters of The Matriots’ very first endorsed candidate, Kathleen Clyde, who ran unsuccessfully in 2018 for Ohio Secretary of State and was subsequently appointed Portage County Commissioner. The Rosenthals are deeply committed to women-friendly policies and are excited to join the work of The Matriots PAC to safeguard Ohio women’s human and civil rights through political representation.

Beyond the Rosenthals’ allegiance to our values, we are eager to celebrate their monetary contribution to the PAC because it demonstrates outstanding leadership. It can be challenging for any of us to compare our philanthropic giving, which carries tax benefits, to political contributions, which feel more transactional. But like philanthropy, political giving can be a strategic means of supporting positive societal change, only through policy. Matriots believe that female political leadership will lead to policies that benefit the majority of our population–our chief caregivers and consumers—and therefore families and society as a whole.

Also cause for celebration is another contribution to the PAC (also coming in from the Cincinnati area). Nikki Foster, who was one of our 2018 endorsed candidates, ran valiantly but unsuccessfully in an uphill race for Ohio House against a male incumbent. Because she put in an outstanding performance, winning 39% of the vote, Nikki is now a 2020 candidate for U.S. Congress in Ohio’s 1st Congressional District.

Election law required Nikki to close her local candidate committee account and she contributed the balance in her account–$419.98 – to The Matriots PAC, telling us she did so in honor and appreciation of our support and for those who will follow.

There really are no words for the loyalty and generosity of our endorsed candidates. Knowing that research shows they will have to work three times as hard as their male opponents, these women pour everything they have in to their campaigns. In Nikki’s case, her 2018 campaign coincided with her giving birth in September to her second child, a son who was born with a hole in his heart. This didn’t cause her to give up, it caused her to dig in. An Air Force Academy graduate with over 200 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Nikki is now more committed than ever to ensuring that women and their families get the healthcare, education and other family-friendly policies they deserve.

Seeing the experiences of other families whose children were going through medical challenges prompted Foster to seek this second run for office. “We need to step up,” Foster told cincinnati.com. “There are other families, single mothers, who don’t have time to advocate for themselves. They’re too busy working. I feel like this is a calling.”

May this letter serve as a celebration of all of us who feel that female political leadership is a calling, whether that manifests as a run for office or a generous contribution to a candidate. Thank you to all of you who support The Matriots in all that you do!

Onward,

Sally Crane Cox
chair, board of directors

Meet A Matriot: Darci Congrove

By day, she’s managing director of GBQ Partners and co-owner of the German Village Guest House, by night (or at least many nights!) she’s serving area non-profits on boards, volunteer committees and by hosting fundraisers – for which she was honored as a 2019 Woman of Achievement. 

1) You are a Matriarch and Founding Member of The Matriots PAC. Can you share with our members why you think The Matriots’ vision for more women in elected office is the solution to today’s political rancor?
The U.S. was founded as a representative democracy. Simply stated, a representative democracy is a system of government in which all eligible citizens vote on representatives to pass laws for them. It only makes sense to me that we should elect representatives who actually reflect the amazing diversity of our voting citizens – on the basis of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, wealth, education, etc. The U.S. is not a country of white men, so there is no reason that those chosen to represent “us” politically should be primarily white men. Additionally, research conducted by Goldman Sachs and the World Bank, amongst others has shown that when women are fully engaged in a society through education, participation in the economy, or representing others in a government, the measures of a healthy society are noticeably improved.
2. In 2010 you became the first female managing director of GBQ Partners, a Columbus -based accounting firm. Why do you think it is important to have more women in positions leadership? And what advice do you have for our members hoping to climb their own respective career ladders?
More than 50% of the American population are women. 47% of the American labor force are women. In my own profession, 50% of the accounting degrees earned in the U.S. for the last 20 years have been awarded to women. It’s honestly hard to understand why we still have to ask this question. We ought to instead ask, “Why aren’t half of our leaders in business (and government and nonprofits and everywhere) women?” Young people need to “see it to be it.” Women striving to succeed in their careers need to build a team of sponsors – both men and women – who can give them advice and advocate for them. Nobody succeeds alone.
3. You are actively involved in the Columbus community, serving on the board of the Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority, Board member of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Treasurer of Committee4Children. You’ve been recognized as a leader in the Columbus community, most recently recognized as a 2019 YWCA Woman of Achievement. And on top of that – we hear you are a fantastic cook! How do balance all of your involvements? And what initiatives are you excited about in the Columbus community?
I let the idea of balance go a long time ago and stopped keeping track of how much time I should spend on any one thing. I simply focused on doing the things that need to be done and that made me feel good. I have found that it generally works out fine to mix work and community involvement and friends and hobbies and fun into one big pot and enjoy all of it. I’ve currently found an intersection in my community service that aligns around education, workforce and addressing poverty. My volunteerism with the E3 program at United Way and on the workforce committee at the Columbus Chamber inform one another, and I know from my time on the board of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio that poverty has a disproportionate and devastating impact on women and their children. This broad topic feels like a good place to focus for now.
4. The Matriots endorsed 34 women in 2018 and 9 running in May primary elections in 2019. Can you tell our members about a candidate who inspires you and why?
In the 2018 endorsement cycle, The Matriots endorsed Stephanie Summerow Dumas for Hamilton County Commissioner. I heard Stephanie give a very brief speech, all of which was about commitment and hard work and her own belief that if she just did what was right and worked hard, she could help others. Her words have been stuck in my head ever since.
5. Now for something fun: Tell us about your favorite thing to do in the great state of Ohio. It could be a hobby, a favorite place to eat or something we might not know about our state!
My very favorite thing to do is host parties. I love planning, decorating, cooking and making people happy through enjoyment of food, drinks and friendship. We generally have at least four big parties a year and a lot of little ones along the way as well.

Sharon Sweda is Changing the Game

Q&A with Sharon Sweda

LORAIN COUNTY COMMISSIONER

We know the question on our members’ minds is what are The Matriots endorsed candidates up to? Whether representing their district, pursuing careers in the private sector or planning a future run for office, our Class of 2018 is changing the game!

Lorain County is located in northeastern Ohio and includes the cities of Elyria, Vermillion and Avon Lake. 

 

1) You ran a hard-fought campaign in 2018 for Ohio Senate District 13. Can you tell our members what you have been up to since the election?

I immediately became re-engaged within the party and my community – as if the election had yet to take place.  I initially felt that it was therapeutic for me to stay busy as well as to help me determine my next step.  I had essentially passed the torch within my business in order to run for office.  I did not want to upset the new dynamic by returning.

Secondly, I needed time to evaluate my new direction with an emphasis in determining how to stay relevant. I felt that the campaign impacted and changed me in a way that would forever alter my purpose.

As fate would have it – staying relevant served me sooner, rather than later. A long-time County Commissioner announced his intention to seek the appointment for a vacated City Clerk of Courts position in November. In December he acquired the appointment, resigned as County Commissioner and on Feb 10, 2019, I was appointed to the vacated Commissioner seat in a run-off of 7 candidates. My term expires in 2020 when I will be campaigning again.

2) In January we gathered our Class of 2018 candidates for a post-election candidate conversation, where we debriefed on our candidates’ experience in 2018. Can you share with our members one of the lessons you learned from running for office in Ohio?

We made the decision to fold into the coordinated campaign which resulted in ignoring the need to cut our own turf.

3) We believe that when women are involved in the political process, they change the conversation. From your perspective, how did women change the conversation in 2018? And how do you think women will continue to change the conversation in 2019 and beyond?

Nationally, women made an impact in 2018 and will continue to make a difference provided we continue the momentum and focus.  Locally, gender never garnered the national momentum.

4) The Matriots PAC will endorse women running for city and school board seats in 2019. Why do you believe it is important to support women running for local offices in 2019?

I am excited to hear that you will support the local races, not simply because I am soon to be a county candidate, but because we know that good government begins on the local level. If we are going to change the landscape of Ohio elections, we need women at every level of government.

6) Now for fun: Tell us about your favorite thing to do in the great state of Ohio. It can be a hobby, a favorite place to eat or something we might not know about our state!

Black River Landing is located within Lorain, Ohio.  Lorain is a city like many in the Midwest, which have suffered over loss of its industrial base.  The city is working to revitalize and rebuild its downtown.

Black River Landing is 25 acres of Riverfront property used for festivals, picnics and my favorite, a summer concert series.The summer concerts are every Friday evening as well as some Saturdays. Cost is $5.00 for excellent cover band attractions. Black River Landing has been known to attract 4,000-6,000 attendees at every performance. There are food and beer trucks, and never any disturbances.

Louise Valentine is Changing the Game

Q&A with Louise Valentine

DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF LEAD OHIO

We know the question on our members’ minds is what are The Matriots endorsed candidates up to? Whether representing their district, pursuing careers in the private sector or planning a future run for office, our Class of 2018 is changing the game!

Louise ran for Ohio Senate District 19 which includes the cities of Delaware, Powell and parts of Columbus. 

1) You ran a hard-fought campaign in 2018, can you tell our members what you have been up to since the election?

After a tremendous effort in 2018 and coming up just short of a win for Senate District 19, I took some time with family over the Holidays and then joined LEAD Ohio as the Deputy Director.  I previously spent 12 years in corporate retail, but wanted to stay in a more political field since I now have such an appreciation for how important it is to have great leadership in government.

LEAD Ohio is a non-profit that, among other things, helps train candidates in how to run for office with extensive programming, mentoring and networking.  LEAD Ohio brings training classes to locations all across Ohio and has some new programs in development that focus on specific topics.  I went through the LEAD Academy from October 2017-March 2018 and it helped me through the campaign process in so many ways.  Now I’m excited to be a part of elevating it to the next level to continue grooming the next generation of diverse leaders!

2) In January we gathered our Class of 2018 candidates for a post-election candidate conversation, where we debriefed on our candidates’ experience in 2018. Can you share with our members one of the lessons you learned from running for office in Ohio?

Ohio is ready for more women leaders!  I was prepared to get plenty of comments about how I could possibly run for office as a mom to young twins and get questioned as to why I thought I was qualified, but these things actually came up far less than I would have expected.  I had support from such a wide group of individuals and more often than not, especially among women voters, they were excited to see a mom with professional skills on the ballot and not just another older white male.

3) We believe that when women are involved in the political process, they change the conversation. From your perspective, how did women change the conversation in 2018? And how do you think women will continue to change the conversation in 2019 and beyond?

I think in 2018 with so many capable women on the ballot, especially for legislative races, we as women proved that we are ready to make an impact at the Statehouse and have what it takes to compete in these races.  Women picked up several legislative seats in Franklin County (and elsewhere) and all were running against men.  Women in legislative races raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, knocked thousands of doors and built grassroots coalitions within their communities, all of which really opened the eyes of voters to see that when women decide to run, they are committed, capable, honest candidates.  I think with the results from 2018 in mind, 2019 and beyond will continue to offer prime opportunities for women to continue to win seats… but only if we continue to recruit and support women so that they know they CAN do this.  Let’s keep the dialogue going!

4) The Matriots PAC will endorse women running for city and school board seats in 2019. Why do you believe it is important to support women running for local offices in 2019?

If a woman has any thought that she may want to run for office, offering encouragement and support for her to run in a local race is so important.  The 2019 non-partisan local level races are the perfect opportunity for women to throw their name in the ring for something they care about, whether it’s school board, township trustee or city council because typically the time commitment is far less than higher level offices and she won’t have to fundraise hundreds of thousands of dollars to compete.

These races are a good way to test the waters of elected office before committing to something higher and are actually one of the best ways to have a direct impact on your community.  Take your district school board, for example, school board members are making decisions throughout the year that affect the district budget, what infrastructure projects are prioritized and how to ensure state mandated curriculum is executed while still giving teachers flexibility in their lessons.  This work all impacts the success of the students in the district… which is critically important for both the future of those students and for the community!

5) Now for fun: Tell us about your favorite thing to do in the great state of Ohio. It can be a hobby, a favorite place to eat or something we might not know about our state!

As far as a destination activity in Ohio, I love to go to Cedar Point.  I’m a roller coaster lover and now that my kids are old enough to ride all the kiddie rides (and maybe this summer even some “big kid” rides) I enjoy creating these memories with them, too.

Susan Vaughn is Changing the Game

Q&A with Susan Vaughn

We know the question on our members’ minds is what are The Matriots endorsed candidates up to? Whether representing their district, pursuing careers in the private sector or planning a future run for office, our Class of 2018 is changing the game!

Susan ran for Ohio House District 51 in 2018, which includes parts of the Cincinnati metro area. 

1) You ran a hard-fought campaign in 2018, can you tell our members what you have been up to since the election?

After a couple of months of R & R, enjoying my newly retired life (as of August 2018 32 years at Miami University), I’m now back in the race!  I am seeking a seat on Hamilton City Council.

2) In January we gathered our Class of 2018 candidates for a post-election candidate conversation, where we debriefed on our candidates’ experience in 2018. Can you share with our members one of the lessons you learned from running for office in Ohio?

The people I met, the relationships that were created, the knowledge I gained about issues within my district, changed my life.  Though disillusioned at times and brief feelings of defeat, I realize I am a better person for having run for office (first attempt) and I am even more passionate about serving my community.

3) We believe that when women are involved in the political process, they change the conversation. From your perspective, how did women change the conversation in 2018? And how do you think women will continue to change the conversation in 2019 and beyond?

Women changed the conversation because we bring unique perspectives to issues that impact everyone. There is strength in numbers and I believe The Matriots Class of 2018 caused people to listen and together, we were a stronger force. The women I met through Matriots events and within the endorsed Class of 2018, are unbelievably talented, dedicated to causes, educated, passionate and willing to wear many hats to accomplish our goals.

4) The Matriots PAC will endorse women running for city and school board seats in 2019. Why do you believe it is important to support women running for local offices in 2019?

I echo what I said above (#3). The Matriots endorsement, financial support and weekly communication/motivation all were extremely beneficial.

5) Now for fun: Tell us about your favorite thing to do in the great state of Ohio. It can be a hobby, a favorite place to eat or something we might not know about our state!

Ohio, in particular Hamilton, Ohio, has been my home my entire life.  I have visited every corner of our beautiful state, hiked and biked the countryside, stayed in small inns, enjoyed fabulous meals in unique restaurants and met so many people who also call Ohio home.  But, there is no place like home, Hamilton! I invite everyone to visit Hamilton and enjoy the famous “Donut Trail”, wonderful music and entertainment at the beautiful River’s Edge, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, ArtSpace, bike trails and unique boutiques throughout our city.