A Day of Inspiration
On March 2, 2013, Elect Her: Campus Women Win traveled to the beautiful campus of North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, NC. Last year, NCCU joined forces with Duke University to host Elect Her on Duke’s campus. This year, however, NCCU was selected to host its own training for almost 40 women.
To break the ice, trainees introduced themselves and named a woman leader that they most admired. It was touching to hear more than half of them name their own mother for the sacrifices she has made on behalf of her children. In further affirmation of these she-roes, the women next heard from The Honorable Cora Cole-McFadden, an alumna of NCCU and the first African American woman elected Mayor Pro Tempore of Durham. Ms. Cole-McFadden spoke candidly about the struggles she has faced as a woman of color in elected government, including how she has had to work harder to earn credibility among her peers and, at times, even her constituents. Ms. Cole-McFadden, however, also talked about the joy of serving her community and encouraged the women of NCCU to bring all of their talents and courage to bear to aim high and give back.
Lunch featured a rousing trivia game that tested everyone’s knowledge of women in government. The day’s focus then shifted to effective campaign messaging and a communications training led by NCCU Director of Community and Government Relations Starla Tanner. Another NCCU alumna, Ms. Tanner previously served as Deputy Executive Director of the NC Democratic Party and has been the political director for several statewide campaigns. Ms. Tanner shared several humorous stories that hit home with the women and emphasized the importance of developing and strengthening a personal brand and message long before running for public office.
The climax of the training was a friendly competition that gave every woman an opportunity to deliver her campaign elevator speech to her peers and potential voters. The content and delivery of the speeches was impressive; a few groups had to do a second round of voting to break ties. After three rounds, Shenita Palmer was elected winner of the competition with a powerful and pointed speech aimed at improving student academic advising to help students save money and graduate on time.
This post was written by Elect Her facilitator Tara Andrews