We’ve been calling and talking with our alums all across VRL Nation to catch up about their leadership. In these conversations we’re struck by the number of women who are doing something intentional to support other women through efforts as policy advocates, elected officials, campaign workers, teachers and community organizers. Let’s celebrate some of these leaders!

State Representative Rodneyse Bichotte

State Representative Rodneyse Bichotte from Brooklyn, NY, just passed important changes to the Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise. “MWBEs have a lot to offer, and increasing their participation in government contracts is one way we can help these job-creating small businesses prosper.” Representative Bichotte participated in VRL training in 2009 and spoke at a training earlier this year.

Wintana Melekin

Wintana Melekin, Civic & Political Engagement Director for Minneapolis-based Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, recently won at-large election to the Minneapolis NAACP Board of Directors. Whoot Whoot! Wintana shared how she is working to get more women and people of color elected to local and state office. “I’ve created a long-term strategy and I’m doing mini-Go Run trainings everywhere I go!”

Sue Hakes

We caught up with Sue Hakes from Grand Marais, Minnesota. A former mayor of Grand Marais and Lake County Commissioner, Sue recently won the prestigious Bush Fellowship for her work to encourage and support more rural women to lead. “Finding a strong voice and an equal place at the leadership tables in rural Minnesota requires change in the hearts and minds of women. I want to be a part of that change. See more.

Leah Clyburn

Leah Clyburn from St. Louis, MO, is continuing to develop her personal leadership trajectory by volunteering at Magdalen House, joining the Committee for Pursuing Racial Justice at Christ Church Cathedral, speaking on the topic of Self-Determination at the National Network of Abortion Providers, and attending leadership training with Jobs for Justice. Leah wrote, “We must be at the forefront in order to influence and spearhead the change necessary for our community, the growth of our children, and the safety of our environment. I will continue my work with VoteRunLead in any way that I can in order to continue the mission of building women’s leadership, which I believe will build positive change in the world.”

Margaret Evans won the runoff for Inglewood School Board with 68% of the votes in California. As a first-time candidate in the original election, Margaret won 46% of the votes, with four people vying for one board seat. (In Inglewood, to win outright, you must receive “50% plus 1” of the votes cast.) She is excited to be sworn in on July 2; however, she has already made some public appearances and is ready for the task of working to regain local control of a school district that has been in receivership for the past two years. Margaret has been participating in our weekly Thursday web clinics and says, “VRL gave me pointers on running my campaign. I look forward to Thursdays!”

Learn more about the expression “lift as you climb” as it is attributed to one of our country’s earliest advocates for race and gender justice,Mary Church Terrell.

“And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition ere long.”

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