The former governor spoke of her climb up the political ladder and the specific obstacles women have to overcome, and offered advice and motivation at the Ready to Run program kickoff event on August 30.
I ran. I won. I became the Governor of Connecticut... And you can too.
— Former Governor of Connecticut, Jodi Rell
Ready to RunTM isn’t about jogging or sprinting to a finish line. It’s about following a passion and answering a call. And now, Fairfield University is proud to be a part of a national movement that provides women with the training and skills to do just that.
On Saturday, October 14, Fairfield is hosting Ready to Run Connecticut, the state’s first and only chapter of Ready to Run, a national network of non-partisan campaign training programs dedicated to educating and motivating women to become active participants in the political process. The daylong program offers a series of strategic workshop on the topics of political fundraising, media training, campaign strategy, and networking that are facilitated by an experienced panel of media specialists, national campaign strategists, and local elected officials. Among the notable guest speakers confirmed to present are Cristin McCarthy Vahey, State Representative (D-Fairfield); Laura Devlin, State Representative (R-134); Nancy Dinardo, Vice Chair for the Connecticut Democratic Party; and Themis Klarides, State Representative (R-114), to name a few.
Workshops are offered on two different tracks; one for women interested in running for office immediately, and another for women that may have a future interest in running but are currently exploring other ways to get involved in politics. Registration is $95, and available online at fairield.edu/R2RCT.
“In states where Ready to Run is currently offered, a staggering 70% of the women that participate in the program and run for office win their seat,” said Gayle Alberda, PhD, associate professor of politics and program organizer for Ready to Run Connecticut. “The proof is there. The program works.”
On August 30, the University hosted a formal kick-off event for the program featuring keynote speaker and former Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell, a powerhouse politician who is no stranger to the challenges women face in the political arena. After mingling and posing for photos with guests, which included State Representatives Cristin McCarthy Vahey and Laura Devlin, Mrs. Rell took to the podium to share her personal story and offer words of motivation and advice to future candidates.
“Politics isn’t a man’s world or a woman’s world,” Rell said. “It’s your world. It’s what you make of it. If there’s an opportunity in front of you, don’t say ‘no.’ You have nothing to lose and everything to gain."
Rell also spoke about the importance of family support, in addition to the specific obstacles women face in the public eye, including criticism of their physical appearance.
“In all the things you say and communicate – tone of voice, expression of your eyes, body language – all of that is going to determine how other people perceive you,” she continued. “But above all things, don’t lose your sense of humor. People want to see that you’re one of them. Be yourself.”
As the night ended, Rell offered perhaps the most motivating words to her audience: “I ran. I won. I became the Governor of Connecticut… and you can, too.”
Are you Ready to Run and get more involved in local goverment? For more information or to register for Ready to Run Connecticut, visit fairfield.edu/R2RCT or email program director Gayle Alberda at firstname.lastname@example.org.