Ready To Run™ Connecticut

What is Ready to Run™ Connecticut?

Ready to Run Connecticut LogoReady to Run™ is a national network of non-partisan political leadership and campaign training programs committed to electing women to public office. On October 14, 2017, Fairfield University will launch Connecticut’s first and only Ready to Run™ program, a one-day conference designed to empower women to become active participants in the political process and their local government.

Developed by Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) in 1998, Ready to Run™ offers women an annual workshop series that equips them with the necessary strategies, knowledge, and networking tools to effectively pursue leadership positions in state and local government. Participants develop significant leadership skills while gaining an understanding of the impact and importance of diverse voices in politics. In locations where Ready to Run™ is currently offered, 70% of all program participants who chose to run for office following their training have successfully won their political races.

Ready to Run™ Connecticut promotes knowledge and awareness about women’s participation in political and civic life and encourages them to engage with government and influence public policy. The program furthers Fairfield’s commitment to lifelong learning, community engagement, and social justice, of which gender equality is an important facet.

This program is made possible in part by Fairfield County Community Foundation’s Fund for Women & Girls.  

Program Launch

In celebration of the Ready to Run™ Connecticut program launch, Fairfield University invited community members, elected officials, and Fairfield alumni to attend a special kick-off reception on Wednesday, August 30, 2017, featuring keynote speaker and former Connecticut governor Jodi Rell.

Attendees had opportunity to learn more about the program while enjoying light refreshments and networking with other civically-minded individuals. 

View photos from the event

Ready to Run™ Connecticut Kick-Off Reception

Program Overview

Central to the Ready to Run™ Connecticut program is an innovative and comprehensive curriculum that addresses Connecticut’s unique political culture and employs the help of state and local experts to advance participants’ political aspirations by highlighting the specifics of running a successful campaign in state. Workshops are offered on two different tracks to meet the needs of women at different points in their political life and are facilitated by an expert panel of campaign strategists, media specialists, and elected officials.

Track 1: I’m Ready to Run, Now What?

Geared toward women who are immediately planning to run for office, Track 1 features interactive workshops that cover the fundamentals of launching an effective campaign and how to navigate the political parties as a potential candidate.

Track 2: I’m Not Ready to Run Yet, But…

Geared toward women who may have an interest in running for office in the future but are currently exploring other ways to get involved in politics, Track 2 covers such topics as how to position oneself for future office, getting appointed to boards or commissions, getting involved in the political parties, and turning advocacy experience into political experience.

Participants in both tracks participate in media training, Internet strategies, and fundraising sessions.

Workshop Sessions and Speakers

Conference Agenda

Saturday, October 14, 2017

7:30 a.m.


8:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

Keynote: What Women Candidates Need to Know
Special guest speaker to be announced soon!

10 a.m. – Noon

Track 1: Launching Your Campaign
This session provides an overview of the key elements of a campaign, including establishing oneself as a candidate, developing a campaign plan, and launching the campaign.

Workshop Presenter:
Liz Kurantowicz, Principal, The Drury Group

Track 2: Introduction to Connecticut Politics and Advocacy
The session provides a “nuts and bolts” overview of the government and political party structure in the Connecticut and answers the most common questions about how to get involved in political life. Topics include how to position oneself for appointment to a public board/ commission and how to become active in the political parties.

Workshop Presenters:
Cristin McCarthy Vahey, State Representative (D-Fairfield)
Terrie Wood, State Representative (R-141)
Mary VonConta, Park and Recreation Committee Member, Town of Fairfield

Workshop Moderator: Dr. Janie Leatherman, Poltics Department Chair

Noon – 2:30 p.m.

Luncheon Plenary: Media Training
This is an interactive media training workshop that provides tips for successful interviews on tough topics, how to look poised and professional on camera, staying on message, and important public speaking techniques.

Workshop Presenter:
Jeanne Yurman, news reporter, NY 1

2:30 p.m. –3:45 p.m.

Track 1: Navigating Connecticut’s Political Parties as a Potential Candidate
The session will highlight the power dynamics of party organizations, building relationships with party operatives, and gaining the party’s support.

Workshop Presenters:
Nancy Dinardo, Vice Chair, Connecticut Democratic Party
Karen Egri, Voter Outreach Chairman, Trumbull Republican Town Committee
Themis Klarides, State Representative (R-114) and House Republican Leader
Deb McFadden, Wilton Democratic Town Committee Chair 

Workshop Moderator: Dr. Anna Lawrence, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program Director

Track 2: Laying the Groundwork for Public Life
This session offers advice from the experts – women who already serve as public leaders. Topics covered include learning to raise one’s public profile, leveraging community leadership for political leadership, the various types of elected office to consider, working on campaigns, and balancing competing priorities of political and family life.

Workshop Presenters:
Toni Boucher, State Senator
Laura Devlin, State Representative (R-134)
Jeanette Herron, Bridgeport City Councilwoman (D-133)
Carolyn Vermont, Workshop Facilitator and Trainer
Carol Way, Fairfield RTM

Workshop Moderator: Dr. Johanna Garvery, Black Studies Program Director

4 p.m. –5:30 p.m.

Plenary: Fundraising for Success
This interactive workshop covers key components of campaign fundraising, including special emphasis on understanding why people give and the in-person “ask.” The session will also address developing a strategy for your campaign, building a donor list, recruiting and motivating a Finance Committee, and special events.

Workshop Presenter:
The Lukens Company

5:30 p.m. –7 p.m.

Networking Reception
Join us after the conference for a networking reception featuring complimentary cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres.

Why Women Need to Run

National research conducted by the Center for American Women and Politics shows that women make government more transparent, inclusive, and accessible. They bring different priorities and experiences to public life, including perspectives that have been largely absent in public policymaking. Women change the way government works, and their voices are needed around the country.

Ready to Run™ was created in 1998 to address the historic and contemporary underrepresentation of women in American politics. Although women represent 51% of the U.S. population and 53% of registered voters, they continue to be significantly underrepresented in our nation’s policymaking bodies. According to a 2017 CAWP report, women hold a mere 25% of the 7,383 state legislative positions available in the U.S., and in Connecticut, only 28% of legislative seats are held by females. These low numbers are indicative of the problems that women face at all levels of political involvement, and as the number of elected women officials continues to plateaus, the need for education programs that help women enter local and state office continues to grow.

Visit the CAWP website for more fast facts and historical data on women in politics.

How to Register

Registration for Fairfield University’s inaugural Ready to Run™ Connecticut program opens on August 30, 2017. Registration is $95 per person, which includes meals and workshop materials.

Support Our Program

Supporting Ready to Run™ Connecticut is easy. A simple $100 gift covers the cost for one women to attend the program and helps ensure Ready to Run™ Connecticut's prosperity for years to come.



Ready to Run CT has been made possible in part by

The Drury Group Logo
Fairfield County Community Foundation
Ready to Run Sponsor, Jeanne
The Lukens Company Logo

Contact Us

For more information regarding Ready to Run™ Connecticut, contact Program Director Dr. Gayle Alberda, assistant professor of politics and public administration, at

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