Archive for April 7th, 2014

Forum aims to push more women in politics

Posted in In the News on April 7th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Kate Giammarise / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG — Two political experts will attempt to answer this perennial question today: how to get more women to run for political office in Pennsylvania?

Siobhan “Sam” Bennett, the former CEO of the Women’s Campaign Fund and She Should Run, is no stranger to being the only woman in the room at political gatherings.

“Women must ask other women to run,” said Ms. Bennett of Allentown, Pa., a former congressional candidate. “They must write them checks. And when they lose, they must pick up the phone and say, ‘When are you going to run again?’”

Ms. Bennett and Christine Toretti, a Republican National Committee member, will speak today in Harrisburg about electing more women to office in the Keystone State.

The state historically has had low numbers of women officeholders; it ranks 38th nationally in the total number of women in the state Legislature, according to the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. The legislature is a key body for those interested in increasing women’s representation, not just for its lawmaking role, but because it often serves as a “farm team” for candidates who go on to seek higher political office, experts say.

Pennsylvania’s Legislature — which is a full-time body, highly paid in comparison to other states, and favors incumbency — impacts the structures around it and the overall political ecosystem, Ms. Bennett said.

“Politics is a very well-paid career path here at the state Legislature level. For that reason, it is very competitive for men and very well-entrenched,” she said.

The legislative schedule of several voting days a week and Pennsylvania’s geography can serve as an additional obstacle for women who have young children. “Even where I live, in Indiana, it’s a three-hour drive to Harrisburg,” said Ms. Toretti. “The way it’s structured, it isn’t welcoming for people who have children at home.”

Of the 1,166 candidates who filed to run in the 2014 primary at all levels of government, about 35 percent of them were women, according to a recent preliminary analysis by the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics. That includes two women running for governor, 11 for Congress, 13 for state Senate, and 83 for state House. Another 145 Democratic and 153 Republican women are seeking spots on the state committees for their parties, according to the center’s number-crunching.

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Race for lieutenant governor often overlooked in Pennsylvania

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on April 7th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Melissa Daniels

It was the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and Pennsylvania government, like the nation, was in crisis-control mode.

Lt. Gov. Mark Schweiker was in Somerset County where Flight 93 went down, heading up emergency management operations. Within nine days, President George W. Bush tapped then-Gov. Tom Ridge for a position that eventually would become secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

“It was not a time to dwell on difficulties and emotional challenges,” Schweiker said. “It was time to react, and it was time to deploy, and it was time to fight.”

So, on Oct. 5, 2001, Schweiker fulfilled his job description, the one outlined in Article IV, Section 13 of Pennsylvania’s constitution: He was inaugurated to serve out Ridge’s term as governor.

The lieutenant governor is the commonwealth’s second-in-command and first in the line of succession when the governor can no longer serve. The post requires the officeholder to serve as president of the state Senate and chair of the Board of Pardons. But the race for lieutenant governor operates on a far lower profile than that for Pennsylvania’s chief executive.

Running in the May 20 primary for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket are: former U.S. Rep. Mark Critz of Johnstown; Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski; state Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-Canonsburg; Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith; and state Sen. Mike Stack, D-Philadelphia.

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jay Paterno announced on Friday he was dropping out of the race because he didn’t want to go through a protracted court battle regarding a challenge to his nominating petitions.

A February telephone poll of 501 voters by Harper Polling found 48 percent were undecided about the race. It had a margin of error of 4.38 percentage points.

Republican Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley is running for re-election on Gov. Tom Corbett’s ticket without any primary challenger.

Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, considers the lieutenant governor’s race to be overlooked.

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Gwen’s Take: Women’s Voices – Three Ways To Get Heard

Posted in In the News on April 7th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment


I met a member of a dying breed this week. But I had to leave Washington and travel to Pittsburgh to do it.


There, on the campus of Chatham University, I made the reacquaintance of Elsie Hillman, who has spent a lifetime in philanthropy and politics. She is a champion of diversity, of women’s leadership and she supports abortion rights.


She helped create one of her city’s first informal hospices for people with AIDS.


She is also an 88-year-old Republican.


Hillman had no reason to remember when I first came to know her. I was a neophyte political reporter during her years as a powerful Republican national committeewoman. Years later, we met again when she chaired the board for WQED, Pittsburgh’s public television station.


I was in Pittsburgh to deliver a lecture for the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. The center fosters engagement on all level of state and local politics. (Two women are currently competing for the Keystone State’s democratic gubernatorial nomination, for instance.)

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Millennials Rejecting Polarized Politics & Changing Nonprofit Giving

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Nonprofits in the region must redefine their community relevance for the Millennial generation as these young adults enter society with a completely different approach to giving.

According to Linda Jones, Vice President of Workplace Campaign for the United Way of Allegheny County, Millennials prefer to give consistently in small amounts as well as volunteer at the organizations they support. They also approach politics differently, rejecting polarized politics and increasingly registering as independents.

These young people, who grew up in an era of instantaneousness, respond best when they can see the impact of their contribution.

“From the political side, we need to demonstrate that something can be accomplished,” says Dana Brown, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. She adds that once Millennials get established in a neighborhood, they often focus on how to improve their community.”

To listen to the entire Essential Pittsburgh story click HERE