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EMILY, Eleanor, Annie: Women Making History

March 31, 2010

In recognition of the 30th anniversary of Women’s History Month, Women’s Media Center is profiling 30 extraordinary women making history. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to support WMC Exclusives — every dollar raised will go directly toward hiring women writers to comment on major news stories and report topics often neglected by the mainstream media. Will you contribute $30? Click here to donate: or text WOMEN to 50555 to make a $10 donation. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="135" caption="Eleanor Roosevelt"]Eleanor Roosevelt[/caption] EMILY, Eleanor, Annie: Women Making History by Jehmu Greene After 29 days profiling remarkable women from all over the country and the globe, I want to ensure that we give due credence to those who make these women’s work possible. The only way to maintain the tide of change and progress is to support it, and women donors provide some of the most crucial financial backing for women’s interests. So today, the "woman" we're highlighting - who takes many shapes and forms - is the woman donor. In the last month, such donors have contributed to WMC, helping us pay women to write Exclusives on untold stories. Along with countless other organizations, we continue to rely upon the innovation and generosity of the groups and individuals who fund progressive work. Below is just a sampling of these groups, who put their values into action by putting women in power. EMILY's List is not named for a woman, but an acronym: "Early Money Is Like Yeast (it helps the dough rise)." Building on this adage, the women of EMILY's List fund women candidates early in their campaigns, and have helped more than 100 female candidates win election to federal and state offices. Founder Ellen Malcolm has been central to EMILY’s influence and success. Announcing her retirement in January, Malcolm said, "We've set the stage for making history." Malcolm has passed the reins to Stephanie Schriock, an influential young political strategist who managed Al Franken’s successful campaign in Minnesota. Schriock says that she believes the fight for representation needs to focus more on hard data, like the fact that women constitute just 17% of Congress. “If we’re not there in close to equal numbers,” she said in an interview with The Daily Beast, “then we’re not a representative democracy.” The Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy is named after one of the United States' most wise and influential First Ladies. Working to build a strong foundation of women leaders in New York state, where Roosevelt was born and spent much of her adult life. The Legacy quotes Roosevelt's inspiring philosophy: "The battle for the individual rights of women is one of long standing and none of us should countenance anything which undermines it." In 2009, President Cathy Lasry supported 163 pro-choice women candidates across the state, valuing not just elections for national or state office, but town supervisors, county legislators, and other on-the-ground offices that deeply impact the lives and freedoms of local women. Under her leadership, the Legacy established Candidate Schools, which help women develop the skills they need to win elections. At Cathy’s invitation, I had the honor of speaking at a Legacy luncheon last October, introducing another great donor to women's organizations and founder of the Daphne Foundation, Abby Disney. The women of the non-partisan Women's Campaign Forum (WCF) define themselves as "political venture capitalists" who work "to advance women leaders at all levels of political participation and empower individuals to stand up for issues of critical importance to the health of the nation, including reproductive health." A few weeks ago I went to a dinner for WCF as part of their 30th annual "Parties of Your Choice" Gala, which, as President and CEO Sam Bennett described in a WMC Exclusive, included not just women but men who banded together to advocate for women's reproductive rights. Along with the rest of her team, Sam works to demonstrate their straightforward and powerful mission: "It is essential to the health and future of our country that 50% of our population have equal power and leadership." [caption id="" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Dr. Annie Webb Blanton"]Dr. Annie Webb Blanton[/caption] As a native Texan, I want to highlight a group that's close to my heart and home: Annie's List. Named for Dr. Annie Webb Blanton, the first woman elected to statewide office in Texas, the first woman president of the Texas State Teachers Association, and a fearless suffragist leader. Following her example, Annie's List works to change the playing field of women candidates in Texas, where only 20 out of 181 state legislators are Democratic women. Their strategy is fiercely pragmatic: "Research shows women often do not run for office unless they are directly asked to do so. Accordingly, we do not sit around and wait for great women candidates to appear from thin air." And like WMC's media training program, Annie's List conducts trainings with potential candidates and campaign staff to write fundraising plans, and develop voter contact strategies and communications strategy. Annie's List means business. Each of these organizations serve as vehicles for women to contribute to women; I wish we were able to honor all the individuals and organizations that support women. Thank you all again for your support and generous donations. March might be the official month for Women's History, but here at WMC, any time is the right time to celebrate our sisters.