Guest Blogger Amanda Broadnax is an alumna of Running Start’s Next Step Program and she is running for DC Ward 5 City Council. You can learn more about her campaign at http://www.amanda4ward5.com and follow her on twitter @Amanda4Ward5.
I’m a very optimistic person but as someone that spends a lot of time on internship applications I’ve become adept at anticipating the word no. During 2011, I had an amazing opportunity to intern for Congressman Charles B. Rangel. Let me assure you, I was not getting coffee or merely answering phones. As a DC resident, it often frustrates me that local laws must be approved by Congress and DC has no actual vote in the House of Representatives. The internship was a chance to fully examine how laws are made on a national level and assess the local impact. There is a saying in Washington, that if you are not at the table, you are on the menu. So much legislative and political power exists within DC yet so many residents are not left out of the loop. Women on a global level are under-represented and under-served due lack of women in leadership positions. While the United States is often viewed as the leader of the free world and democracy, we rank far below even developing countries for having women in leadership positions.
March 15, 2011, while attending a luncheon, I overhead some young ladies talking about the Next Step program. I was intrigued as my time on Capitol Hill was winding down and I had yet to formulate my future plans. Ironically, applications were due on March 15, 2011 so I had to hustle. I submitted everything on time and braced myself for rejection. It wasn’t that I did not believe in myself but I understood how competitive an opportunity the Next Step program would be. When I received my acceptance letter, I was overjoyed. I immediately begged my aunt to take my daughters for a few days so that I could participate. As a single mother, I can attest how important it is to have a strong support network. My family and friends have unselfishly helped me as I have taken on public service duties. If you believe in yourself, others are likely to follow suit.
My first day with the Next Step program was actually my last day on Capitol Hill. Possessing such a penchant for policy, the office I worked in, and all things political, I cried. I did not want to leave the one place I felt the most comfortable in. I have worked many places but working with policy had a prominent effect on my life. Growing up in the foster care and juvenile justice, I knew firsthand how a policy with the best of intentions can have a negative impact on someone’s life. I had all these adults making decisions for me and they barely knew my name. I found that if you want to be heard, you speak up. It also doesn’t hurt to know what you’re talking about when you open your mouth. It felt good to know that I could get people to listen and alter their perspectives. Those experiences allowed me to see why advocacy, especially on the behalf of others is needed. I left Capitol Hill with the bittersweet sensation of knowing who I was supposed to be in life but having no clue how to get there. I remember swinging open the doors and walking into a conference room of 50+ other young women. Beautiful women that represented every hue of the rainbow, from diverse walks of life, and yet we shared the common goal of wanting to be effective leaders.
For five days, I got to bond with women from across the globe, learn from industry experts, and build my network. Being around other civic minded women is very empowering. I believe that women often have a unique perspective to bring towards public service. Currently in Congress, we are seeing bills that attack women’s reproductive rights and can allow her employer to refuse to cover contraceptives.
I am running for the Ward 5 DC Council seat because there is a significant disconnect between delivery of efficient services and the upward mobility of residents. I’m seeking to enrich the quality of life for all residents through positive impacting legislation. My platform is focused on education, employment, economic development, healthcare, and crime. The special election will be held May 15, 2012 and my campaign website is www.amanda4ward5.com
I want to encourage people to support Running Start and similar organizations on a recurring basis. There are more young women waiting to take their Next Step…
– Amanda Broadnax