Running Start is a Washington, D.C. based training hub that offers programs to young women such as the Star Fellowship, Young Women Political Leadership Program, and Elect Her trainings in its own ambitious way, earning Running Start the status ‚Äúa go-to civics and confidence builder for female political aspirants.‚Äù
Running Start‚Äôs office is located in American Association of University Women, the nation‚Äôs leading voice promoting equity and education for women and girls. Inside the sunrise-color painted office by staff are large posterboards of women who have come through their programs, autobiographies and training books on women in politics and even mugs from women‚Äôs institutions. Right above the desk space of Sara Blanco, director of operations and a former intern is a framed photo and authentic signature of Jeannette Rankin. In 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to the United States Congress from the state of Montana. The set was gifted to Susannah Wellford from her brother.
Susannah Wellford is a founder and emeritus board member of Women Under Forty Political Action Committee (WUFPAC), the only political action committee in the United States devoted to helping young women of all parties run for elected office is the founder and President of Running Start. In 2007, Wellford formed Running Start when she realized young women were indeed interested in politics; however there weren‚Äôt many women running for elected office.
Three years ago, Wellford welcomed a bubbly and dedicated Melissa Richmond as Vice President to the team. On Running Start‚Äôs website, Melissa Richmond biography states that her earliest memory is aspiring to be the first woman President. If you ask every cohort of women she has trained, including myself, we would all agree that she would make a great leader of the free world.
Prior to Running Start, the George Washington Law school graduate worked as the deputy director of internal relations for Mitt Romney‚Äôs Romney for President campaign. Today, she helps educate and empower girls to join organizations¬†such as¬†student government, yearbook, local government, a model court and legislature, Model United Nations, debate team, and mock trials.
This year, Running Start marked two special moments‚Äìcelebrating their ten-year anniversary and training their 10,000th woman, Lucinda Borque. In addition, the nonprofit‚Äôs decades of success, they have been featured on MTV, BBC, C-Span, Larry King, and numerous other television and publications. The group has been invited to or has partnered with Vital Voices, an international nonprofit bringing woman‚Äôs voices to the forefront; She Should Run, an incubator for women wanting to be elected; as well as Congress, the White House, and many more.
Congratulations to Running Start on training their 10,000th woman, and marking their tenth year!
-Danyelle R. Carter
Girl Museum Inc.