“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”
Four years ago, I had a vision for how women could take up greater political space in this community. I knew that if women came together and reached out to other women to support and amplify the under-heard voices of our community, we could make a difference. And so I convened a conversation of politically active women and asked the question: what can we do to better support each other, include more women, and together drive political change in our community? From that conversation, a group of women took up the challenge and together we created Women & Politics.
Over the years, there have been many incredible women who have been a part of W&P, some at the board table and many others throughout the community. They have all done the hard work to amplify the voices of women and push for political and social change. I have been one voice, one person and one part of Women & Politics. I have contributed to an organization and community that I absolutely believe in and have received so much more in return. I have been lucky to love what I do, the people I do it with and the vision we’ve co-created together. I also know that part of loving something deeply is knowing when to let go, step back and recognize that others have it well in hand.
I am formally stepping down as Chair of Women & Politics. I am doing so for several reasons: to create space and opportunity for different leaders; because there is work to be done in other places; and, because my heart is calling me to new opportunities. As the founder, I will always be an enthusiastic champion of the work, the women, and the mission of W&P, but I will no longer have a formal role in the organization. My role will be as one of the many women who will benefit from the work the team of W&P does on behalf of our community. I will be working on some political campaigns this election year, supporting women and others to solve the big issues of our city, and continuing with my consulting, teaching and other community work. My love of politics and the potential it has to drive change and create better realities for everyone will continue.
Anne-Marie Sanchez was at that very first conversation 4 years ago. Since that beginning, she has been a core part of the leadership of W&P and a driving force behind so much of what we’ve accomplished. I am very pleased to welcome her as the new Chair (former Vice-Chair) of Women & Politics. Anne-Marie’s deep understanding of organizational change, her commitment to every aspect of equity, her ability to work across difference and her purpose-driven style of leadership is exactly what W&P needs at this time. Alongside Anne-Marie, Marci Easton will be taking on the role of Vice-Chair. Marci has been on the Board for over 3 years and her extensive community organizing and political experience, her strong leadership skills, her deep connection to social issues and her ability to genuinely connect with anyone and everyone means that W&P is going to thrive. Alongside Anne-Marie and Marci are an incredible team made up of Sue Hillis, Sarah Emms, Maria-Fernandez Medina, Najia Mahmoud, and Louise Pitre.
Over the last four years together, we have led campaign schools (and are in the process of organizing another one for March 24th – save the date!), run all-candidates debates, addressed how to get more diverse women into local government, educated young women on politics, successfully advocated for a gender lens in municipal policy, helped tell the stories of diverse women leaders in our community, and much, much more. We have accomplished a lot and yet I know the best is yet to come. I look forward to being part of the community of women that W&P continues to support, amplify and drive towards change.
See you in the community – the social media one and the real life one.
Shawna Lewkowitz @shawnalewk
Title quote is by A.A. Milne.