The Journal Gazette
Sunday, June 13, 2021 1:00 am

Find, and amplify, your voice

Women's views needed in a variety of public-policy debates

Marilyn Moran-Townsend

We are saving your seat at the table where you belong. You know you want it. You know it should be yours. You know, once you are there, that you will make a positive difference in local, state or federal government.

It is time to claim your seat at the table.

American women won the right to vote in 1920. One year later, Catherine Dinklage took her place at the Fort Wayne City Council table.

Women earned the right to run for office, but few exercise that right. It took 43 years before the next woman would take her seat at the City Council table, and only two women sit among the nine on the council today.

In the past three years, we have begun to write a new chapter. AVOW (Advancing Voices of Women) faculty and alumni of the Women's Campaign Institute have won a total of 33 primary and general election races. And the women from Profiles in Public Service currently serve and lead more than 150 local, state and national boards.

While that number is impressive, women are needed more than ever in public service.

Why don't more of us get involved? Maybe we think we're not qualified.

As I see it, when women are absent from government, we miss their contributions to make government better.

Maybe we believe we're not prepared.

Today there is plenty of assistance to help you prepare, including the AVOW Women's Campaign Institute Aug. 6-8. This nonprofit, nonpartisan program now has three tracks for candidates, campaign managers and women seeking public appointments.

From public speaking to campaign finance to scrubbing your social media, there is an abundance of support awaiting.

The professors are local government leaders and state and national luminaries, including Patti Russo, executive director of the Campaign School at Yale; Sara Jane Rose, executive director of Sally's List of Oklahoma; and Former U.S. Rep. Jill Long Thompson.

Learn more and apply at

Government and public service training is also available through the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series, Hoosier Women Forward,  Women4Change Indiana, Ambassador Institute for Civic Engagement, GFW Leadership Fort Wayne and many other terrific resources.

What is holding you back?

There are always reasons we may choose to avoid taking a seat at the table. There are even more compelling reasons that we're saving a seat just for you. Your life experiences make you uniquely qualified to work on government policies. We need more women in government leadership to address the important issues of our time:

• Indiana's income gap for women (among the worst in the country)

• Infant mortality (Indiana's rate is one of the highest in the nation)

• Women's health

• Violence against women

• Education

• Family leave

• Social justice

• Government efficiency

• The economy

If you are passionate about these issues, please consider running for office, seeking appointment to a government board or commission, or working on a political campaign. And if you know a wonderful woman with a desire to lead, please support her quest. That may come in the form of a political contribution, help with child care or tapping into your network to drum up support.

Writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard said, “One great, strong, unselfish soul in every community could actually redeem the world.”

I'm talking about you!

Marilyn Moran-Town-send is a co-founder of Advancing Voices of Women, chair of the AVOW Women's Campaign Institute and CEO of Fort Wayne-based CVC Communications.

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