In November, Goucher College, Hood College, and Washington College, held Training Ms. President (TMP), a workshop to assist young women interested in running for elected office. The Workshop, hosted at Goucher College, was a second annual event. TMP was launched in 2015 by professors Mileah Kromer (Goucher College), Christine Wade (Washington College), and Melissa Deckman (Washington College) to encourage young women to pursue political careers.
“Political science research suggests that an ambition gap is behind the gender gap in elected office. We wanted to use our resources to help close the gap—the result of our efforts was Training Ms. President,” Kromer said. Ten female students were selected from each participating college based on their interests and ambitions. The students attended a networking dinner on November 17 where they engaged with accomplished female professionals and met the event's Keynote Speaker, former Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. On November 18, four panels of women discussed local politics, running a successful campaign, the dos and don’ts of speaking to the media, and social perspectives of women in office.
The following members of the Maryland General Assembly participated: Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk; Delegate Teresa Reilly; Senator Gail Bates; and Delegate Brooke Lierman. Also on the panels were Secretary for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Kelly Schulz; Baltimore City Council Member, Shannon Sneed; Governor Hogan’s Press Secretary, Hannah Marr; and former Deputy Under Secretary of the Army, Amie Hoeber. Outside consultants Marina Hardy, Taft Hardy and Associates; Liz Richards, Political Consultant, McKenna Pihlaja; and Donna Victoria, President and Founder, Victoria Research and Consulting also participated. Members of the press — Kate Amara, Political Reporter, WBAL-TV; Jennifer Gilbert, Anchor, Fox45; and Yvonne Wenger, Reporter, The Baltimore Sun — also participated on a panel.
“The small size of the event and the access it provides students to elected officials, media figures, and campaign strategists made the event very appealing,” said Carin Robinson, Associate Professor of Political Science at Hood College, which will host next year’s TMP.
Inviting diverse women with a passion for public service was a priority for each panel. Marr, a Washington College alumna, said, “It’s important for women to be more involved in politics and public office because it diversifies public discourse and gives women the resources to impact public policy that affects themselves, their families, and their communities.”
Jennifer Gilbert, news anchor for WBFF – FOX45 news and panelist for the second year, expanded on Marr’s statement. “To the extent that we can do a better job of attracting young women to politics, we have increased odds of having a better pool of candidates, therefore, the cream of the crop.”
“My eyes were opened to new ways I can change the world,” said Goucher senior, Sofia Robinson, a Psychology major with a Women and Gender Studies minor, who was previously turned off by politics due to the lack of women.
“This program showed me how important it is that women run for political office and how vital women’s involvement is to the future of this country,” Robinson said.
Washington College Sophomore, Tyanna Baker, had a similar experience. “The women they invited had careers in all different facets of government...which gave us a wide view of the world of politics and all the possibilities out there other than just running for office,” said Baker, an Economics and Political Science double major with a minor in Spanish.
Kromer has high hopes for TMP’s growth — adding a MICUA institution each year — and for its participants. “I hope that the students take the possibility of ‘I should run’ with them. In five, ten, or even twenty years, an opportunity to run may present itself — I’m hoping that when it does, they will remember that someone once told them that they are qualified, capable, and the best person for the job. Who knows, a future Senator Mikulski might have just participated in the program — and all she needed was this little push.”