Like so many others, I woke up on November 9, 2016 a little dumbfounded, a little numb. I didn’t understand the world I was waking up to, but I knew, somehow, my life was going to change. While it was tempting, I didn’t allow myself to stay in bed all day and wallow in despondency. Instead, I went to class (I am a law student at the University of Colorado) and found my friend, Jordan Henry.
We discussed our disbelief and disgust over the election results, and we agreed that we would not sit back as our new leaders rolled back all of the progress that had been made over the last 8 years. We wouldn’t allow an administration that disrespects women, people of color, people with disabilities, people who do not look and think like them, to use their power to set the clocks back on civil rights. We pledged to hold each other accountable, and when one of us would get tired, the other would pull her up and encourage her to keep going.
It feels surreal, one year later, to be launching InvestHER. Neither of us could have gotten here on our own, without the support of the other, and without the encouragement and guidance of an important group of experts, role models, and mentors. We have many people to thank, but none more than our mentor and friend, Gail Schoettler.
Gail was the first woman to serve as Lt. Governor and State Treasurer of Colorado and the first woman candidate for Governor in the state’s history. (Colorado has the highest percentage of women in the state legislature, but has never had a woman governor.) We connected with Gail through her daughter-in-law and our professor at Colorado Law, Melanie Kay. Gail graciously agreed to meet with Jordan and me to help us get acquainted with Colorado politics. Gail shared with us her experiences running for elected office as a woman, and her experiences with winning and losing. We learned about her work as founder of the Electing Women Political Action Committee. She imparted to us the importance of women running for office and the importance of donating to women’s campaigns. This was the spark that inspired InvestHER.
In addition to her invaluable guidance, Gail generously connected us with others who have encouraged and inspired us to keep going. Through Gail’s urging, we met with former Governor Dick Lamm, the directors of Emerge Colorado, and an inspiring young woman running for Aurora City Council, Allison Hiltz. We also had the opportunity to meet and learn from U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar. Through Gail, we have gotten to know Electing Women’s Executive Director Heather Lurie, who has become another mentor and role model for us. Heather has provided instrumental advice and support as we have developed our plans for InvestHER, modeled very closely after what she has done with Electing Women.
So, I can’t imagine a more perfect way to kick off InvestHER, on the anniversary of that transformative night in 2016, alongside Electing Women and our mentors, Gail and Heather. On November 8, 2017, we will celebrate the silver lining of the 2016 elections – that more women than ever have become engaged in the political process, that 20,000 women have stepped up to run for office, and that we will not stop until women are represented equally in elected offices nationwide. InvestHER is our way of being involved. We hope you’ll join us!
Written by Jennifer Benson, FoundHER of InvestHER