1) You were among the first of the Cleveland-area people to join The Matriots PAC, and signed on as a Founding Member. What about The Matriots’ work appeals to you?
Having attended a girl’s school, a women’s college and been on the all-female board of a hospital, I know how effective women can be. I was dismayed by the limited number of women running for office, even in 2018.
When I was introduced to The Matriots, I immediately felt they could be my proxy. They could sort out the abilities of Ohio women running for office, something I could not do effectually as an individual. The fact that they focused narrowly on Ohio and offered a range of support to candidates seemed to me a recipe for success over time.
2) You moved to Ohio several years ago from New York City, where you worked at Citibank. What is your view generally on politics in Ohio?
Politics in Ohio seems much more personal. New York City is so large that it is difficult to have an impact. Because it is predominantly Democratic, the action is usually in the primaries. In Ohio one often personally knows one or more candidates and there is a feeling that individual support can truly make a difference.
3) What are your observations about the differences between Cleveland and Cincinnati politically?
When I grew up in Cincinnati there was no Democratic Party. There was only the Republicans and the Charterites. My father ran as a Charter candidate one year. They needed someone to put on the ballot and, as a young lawyer, he agreed to do it. Of course he lost, but as a child I remember listening avidly to the tallies as the votes were counted.
4) You have a particular passion around the arts, have been a board member of Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, the founder of the Leadership Council at the Cleveland Museum of Art and now work on a larger scale through the National Museum of Women in the Arts. How does your work in the arts support your belief in women’s leadership?
Both MOCA and NMWA were founded by women and have had powerful women directors for many years. The CMA has a growing number of women in key roles and three recent major exhibitions featured women artists or were female inspired. Working with all three of these institutions how can I not see how much women can accomplish?
5) Now for something fun: Tell us about a family member, hobby or a personal interest.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a zest for travel. I’ve hiked the Annapurna route in Nepal, spent time in Bhutan, visited India multiple times, toured Europe, South America and much of Africa. Now I’m especially focused on family trips. I am traveling in January, with my two daughters, to Sri Lanka, and in February to Charleston for a long weekend. It’s a rare treat to explore new territory with them and see how they support each other. I’m fortunate to have this kind of fun in my life!
Did you know that the Ohio General Assembly passes a bill each year known as a Christmas tree bill?
In a rush to finish up business before adjourning for the holidays lawmakers at the state and federal level work to pass legislation known as a Christmas tree bill. The Christmas tree bill gets its name not for its holiday spirit, but rather for the the additional amendments, or “decorations,” tacked on to a single piece of legislation. In 1956, Senator Clinton Anderson commented in Time Magazine about a bill with more than 100 amendments, saying, “This bill gets more and more like a Christmas tree—there is something on it for nearly everyone.” Often amendments or riders attached to Christmas tree bills are connected only by the goal of passing the legislation quickly so lawmakers can head home for the holidays.
This year the Ohio General Assembly decorated Senate Bill 51 with millions of dollars in appropriations to repair the Ohio Governor’s Mansion, rebuild the Statehouse parking garage, and improve flood control efforts in the the Findlay area. In particular, this Christmas tree bill made headlines for the $15 million appropriation to build a new stadium for the Columbus Crew.
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The Matriots PAC conducts first “State of Women in Ohio Elected Office” report detailing numbers of women in political office – from school board to Governor.
Columbus, Ohio – According to a new research report that provides the first formal measurement of women in Ohio office, out of 17,616 elected offices at all levels of government in Ohio, just 29% of the positions are held by women. Sponsored by The Matriots PAC, the research includes a review of offices from school boards to village, city, county, and governor to create a more accurate picture of the number of women in political office. Prior to this report, female representation in office has never been formally accounted for by the Ohio Secretary of State.
Using data from the 2016-2017 term for local government and 2017-2018 for federal, state, county and judiciary, this study shows the highest proportional representations of women in Ohio office at the school board level with 36% of total positions held by women. However, this percentage consistently decreases the higher the level of government with just 22% representation at the state level and 16% at the federal level. It further highlights female representation in specific roles such as council member, sheriff, and fiscal officer, and throughout Ohio’s counties with Portage and Monroe showing the highest at 40% and Mercer at the lowest with 12%.
“It’s time we measure what matters. The Matriots’ long-term goal is to see 50% of all political offices in Ohio held by women, but it’s hard to achieve this if we don’t know what the current state looks like,” said Sally Crane Cox, Matriots board chair. “This research helps us better understand how much work is left to be done. Working toward equal-gender political representation benefits not just the 51% of the state’s population that is grossly underrepresented but will lead to more legislation and policies that support families and communities throughout Ohio.”
The Matriots PAC, a statewide nonpartisan political action committee, formed in 2017 with the mission to elect more women to office in Ohio who will support an economy in which women can thrive and prosper. The organization quickly grew to one of the most powerful PACs in Ohio after raising $1 million in contributions, pledges, and in-kind in its first year. In the recent 2018 general election, 16 Matriots-endorsed candidates won their races, contributing to the highest percentage of women in Ohio’s general assembly in the state’s history.
The list of officeholder names included in the study was gathered from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. As gender information is not collected on Ohio’s voter registration forms, when gender was not readily available, it was estimated using names and a statistical computing software, GenderizeR, that predicts gender based on first names. The research allows for a 4% margin of error for each level of government.
“This research is exciting because not only does it finally give us a real picture of the numbers of women who are working hard to better our communities through the work they are doing at the school board, village, county, and state levels, it helps us prioritize our efforts, as an organization, around future outreach and elections,” said Elissa Schneider, Matriots executive director. “At 29% representation, we’ve got some work to do, particularly when it comes to higher level offices.”
On Wednesday, November 21st 2018, after counting 11,000 provisional and absentee ballots, the Hamilton County Board of Elections officially announced that Matriots endorsed candidate Jessica Miranda leads her opponent in the race for Ohio House district 28.
Miranda holds a 56 vote lead over her opponent Jonathan Dever, who on election night Miranda trailed by 303 votes. These results will trigger an automatic recount.
Ever wonder who created The Matriots bee logo, or maybe our popular car magnet? Meet the Matriots Kirsten (left) and Mairead (right) of Reddy or Knot design. Mairead (rhymes with parade) studied graphic design in Waterford, Ireland and has over 25 years of design and print production experience. She speaks cmyk fluently and has great Photoshop skills to boot! Kirsten (K-ear-sten) is a wordsmith and a graphic designer and loves to help clients communicate powerfully with just the right images and words. Reddy or Knot is a small firm creating big ideas for companies like Marriott International, Aloft Hotels, Element Hotels, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Mastercard and Columbus College of Art and Design – and of course, The Matriots PAC! We are incredibly grateful to have Kirsten and Mairead’s support, both as members and graphic designers.
You have very generously supported The Matriots PAC with your creative design and branding work at Reddy or Knot since even before the organization filed as a political action committee. What about the Matriots’ work appeals to you?
Most of our work is for corporations, so we’re excited when we get to work on smaller brands with a worthy cause. It means we get to be in on something that we feel is important and help create it from the ground up.
Have there been particular experiences that have informed your personal journey as feminists?
Kirsten: I remember that my elementary school curriculum was mostly project based. For one project I dressed as Geraldine Ferraro and for another Harriet Tubman. I come from a long line of feminists, so it was no surprise that I always chose women to emulate and idolize.
Mairead, you are a native of Ireland. What are your observations about women’s leadership in America?
For 21 years of my life (from 1990 to 2011) we had back-to-back female presidents in Ireland. I’m not saying those two women didn’t face loads of discrimination—and maybe I’m naïve—but I don’t feel women are on quite such uneven footing in much of Europe. People’s differences, whether it’s their race, gender, sexuality, disability, etc. are not used against them in the same way that they are in the States.
Kirsten, your company has top-name clients, from Starwood Hotels to Mastercard. Have there been challenges unique to being a woman business owner?
As a certified women-owned business, larger corporations look favorably on doing business with us. And in our field, the clients we work with at those companies are typically women so I can’t say that we have experienced challenges unique to being women. We’ve been quite fortunate in that respect.
Now for something fun: Share with us an anecdote about yourselves, a hobby or a personal interest.
We both love to play tennis. Mairead discovered the sport for the first time recently, and I rediscovered it after loving it as a kid but not playing for 30 years. Mairead’s enjoying it so much, in fact, that she played on Halloween dressed as Billie Jean King. The hair got in the way after a while.
Nickie Antonio, Ohio Senate – District 23
Kristin Boggs, Ohio House – District 18
Marilyn Brown, Franklin County Commissioner
Randi Clites, Ohio House – District 75
Erica Crawley, Ohio House – District 26
Teresa Fedor, Ohio Senate – District 11
Tavia Galonski, Ohio House – District 35
Brigid Kelly, Ohio House – District 31
Mary Lightbody, Ohio House – District 19
Beth Liston, Ohio House – District 21
Jessica Miranda, Ohio House – District 28
Allison Russo, Ohio House – District 24
Carolyn Rice, Montgomery County Commissioner
Christiane Schmenk, Union County Commissioner
Stephanie Summerow Dumas, Hamilton County Commissioner
Sandra Williams, Ohio Senate – District 21
Since 2013 Congresswoman Beatty has proudly represented Ohio’s Third Congressional District. Prior to her service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Beatty was Senior Vice President of Outreach and Engagement at The Ohio State University and a member in the Ohio House of Representatives for five terms. While serving in the Ohio House, she rose to become the first female Democratic House Leader in Ohio’s history. She is a Founding Member of The Matriots PAC and proud grandmother of two toddlers.
You were an early supporter of The Matriots PAC, providing encouragement, advice, and funding. What about The Matriots PAC’s work appeals to you?
I was encouraged and delighted to see a diverse group of women uniting to support and advocate for like-minded women. Like The Matriots, I want to see more women in government at all levels. Too often women are on the sidelines because they don’t know how to get involved. The Matriots reached out to me and genuinely wanted to be educated about integrating politics, issues, and people—they listened, learned, and they put words into action. Further, I believe they realized in order to accomplish great things they had to harness the talents, skills, and unique perspectives of the founding women, as well as raise dollars to support candidates. They were bold and committed to helping women in a bipartisan fashion.
You entered political life in 1999, when you were appointed to take the seat previously held by your husband, Otto Beatty Jr. What led you to step out of private life and pursue a political career?
I believed it was an opportunity for me to build on the legacy Otto had created, but to do more and to create a platform for women. I realized there were legislative changes that needed to take place to make life better for all Ohioans. I was engaged in the community, and had a successful business, but I believed I could marry my experiences to politics and policy and make a difference—especially for women and minorities. I have a voice that resonates with people, and early on I made a commitment to use that voice to speak up for the voiceless and speak out on civil and economic injustices, education, and healthcare. Just think, there had never been a female Democrat leader in Ohio’s history until me. That is why I knew I had to be in the room to make a difference.
As a woman who has served in both the Ohio House and U.S. Congress, what advice do you give to our candidates running for the Ohio legislature?
Always speak truth to power and remember honesty, integrity, respect, and civility are great core values to guide you. Have a firm conviction to your values and constituent needs. Be confident and courageous. Don’t look for the easy way out—remember the actions you take during times of challenges and controversy will be looked upon. Learn the rules of engagement, know you will have to make sacrifices—but put family first, plan well, and know it always seems impossible until it’s done. Realize some days will feel like you are on the journey alone—but remember others have walked in your footsteps and now we are marching and running for higher offices.
I remember the week I was sworn in to the Ohio legislature, there was a bill being debated regarding women’s issues—I felt compelled to address the House and I was prepared. However, the tradition was new members waited before speaking so soon on the House floor. I broke the rules—I spoke out. While that incident led to me being called into Speaker Davidson’s Office, it had a pleasant ending. My actions garnered her respect—and soon a powerful Republican leader and I, a Democrat, became friends. People are watching you—so give them something powerful to watch. Remember: When women succeed, America succeeds!
You and Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH15) have formed a close political partnership and are known for working successfully across the aisle. How do you manage that and is that something increasingly difficult to achieve these days?
Working together and sharing ideas should be a natural thing to do. However, in today’s political climate it has become increasingly more difficult to work in a bipartisan fashion. Congressman Stivers and I believe in civility and that one can disagree without being disagreeable. We became friends prior to serving together in Congress. We met when there was a problem that brought us together, and we resolved it with a win-win—and that jump-started our belief that opposite parties can work together. It has not always been easy, but we have worked together closely on a number of issues and have crafted legislation that helps all of our constituents in Central Ohio and beyond. Steve and I know that working across the aisle is better for everyone. So that is what we set out to do with the creation of the Congressional Civility and Respect Caucus. Now we have 34 members (17 Democrats and 17 Republicans) and counting in the Civility and Respect Caucus.
Now for something fun: Tell us about a family member, hobby, or a personal interest.
I am very lucky to have a great supportive family—but my grandbabies are the greatest joy. My two grandchildren call me Grammy—like the “Grammy Award” because we are our greatest gift to each other. They keep me focused—they are smart, beautiful, loving—and FUN!
Sophia is the Community Relations Chief for Columbus Recreation and Parks, where she helps ensure that Columbus residents have access to health and wellness opportunities. She has more than ten years of experience working in both the private and public sector, including as a Senate staffer on Capitol Hill and as a political fundraiser for a Fortune 100 company in Columbus.
You are a Founding Member of The Matriots PAC and serve on our 88 Woman Campaign committee. What about The Matriots PAC’s work appeals to you?
I am fearlessly passionate about women and girls. I support The Matriots PAC because its goal to ensure women hold at least half of all public offices in Ohio by 2028 is ambitious, inspiring, and necessary. If we are going to change the trajectory of our community, support for women must extend beyond the walls of our home and office. The Matriots PAC serves as a nonpartisan vehicle to challenge the status quo. Therefore, as a mother, leader, and conservative, supporting The Matriots PAC is simple.
You are a community activist and a huge advocate for women and girls, as well as a woman of strong faith. How do these commitments complement one another, in your view?
My Christian faith is the foundation for every element of my life and serves as the lens through which I view the world. I keep my faith by demonstrating my values and returning to scripture for guidance when faced with difficult decisions. Thus, my advocacy for women and girls is purely an extension of my faith. A verse that truly resonates with this belief is Proverbs 31:8-9, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” I speak up because I aim to give voice to those who are voiceless.
As the Community Relations Chief for the City of Columbus Department of Recreations and Parks, can you share an anecdote about how this work has shaped you?
In my role, I have gained a significantly deeper understanding of how access to our programs, services, and facilities has a transformational impact on the lives of everyone. From the casual jogger to the child who receives one of the more than 500,000 meals we serve over the summer, recreation and parks is fundamental to the fabric of our community. This work has shaped me because I see first-hand how leveraging public-private partnerships can move the needle on building communities. Through collaboration, we are able to extend our services and reach key populations where services are needed most. Currently, one of our biggest projects is rebuilding the Linden Community Center and Park. I’m excited to be part of the team working to bridge and steward these relationships with the ultimate goal of providing equitable access to all.
You are also a mother of a young girl. Tell us a little about her and what you hope for her future.
Caroline is the apple of my eye. She is passionate about being outdoors, playing with George Washington (our standard poodle), and reciting the alphabet song at least a dozen times. At nearly two years of age, I’m confident she is destined to accomplish great things. There’s a piece of wall art that hangs in our kitchen, which reads in part, “be fearless in the face of adversity.” This simple phrase encompasses everything I hope for her future. I hope she is an advocate for others. I hope she is a bold and fearless leader. I hope she lives in a world where all women are equal.
Now for something fun: Tell us about a family member, hobby or a personal interest.
My affinity for and support of pageantry and specifically the Miss America Organization is no secret. As a former state competitor and current volunteer, I love its mission – to prepare great women for the world and prepare the world for great women. Nearly 15 years ago, this organization gave me the opportunity to use my voice to advocate for women and girls. And, by the age of 25, I had the confidence and gumption to champion character education in local schools, advocate for legislation like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and interview Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In addition to the glitz of pageantry, I enjoy watersports and traveling to historic places with my husband and visiting one of Columbus’ more than 350 parks with my daughter Caroline.
Join us on October 1 for a Matriots Monday in Cleveland at 5:15 p.m. This small group, after work get together will be at the Orange Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library.
We know you want to get to know our endorsed candidates and work toward their success in November. Matriots Monday’s are a great way to meet your local candidates and connect with other Matriots members. All are welcome. Don’t forget to invite your friends who want to know more about The Matriots PAC. You can get your ticket here.
We look forward to engaging in some great conversation.
See you there!