A message from Emma Faris, Women Winning Board of Directors Vice Chair
When I was a little girl, my mom would bring me along to Women Winning events to show me what it looks like for a woman to take a seat at the table. She would say, “You don’t have a choice, you are privileged. You have a voice and you need to use it. It’s not an option to not use it.” She was teaching me to “show up” as a woman. You see, when my mom was growing up, women were only allowed to play supporting roles while men had unlimited access and support to run for (and win) any political office of their choosing. What happened from there led to many impactful moments of my life.
When I was in my early thirties, I was approached by several strong and powerful girlfriends to join the Women Winning LAUNCH Committee (a group dedicated to to building the next generation of pro-choice women leaders). It was a natural place for me to show up. I wasn’t particularly political, but what I saw is that it didn’t matter how much I knew about politics. Rather, it mattered how much I cared about women’s reproductive rights and how I could use my own set of gifts to support the movement that my mom and so many other women started and have fought so hard to maintain and grow. Since 2010 (when I became one of the first members of LAUNCH), I have simply continued to put one foot in front of the other, showing up for Women Winning to support all of the powerful and impactful things we do to protect our reproductive rights in the state of Minnesota and beyond.
By showing up and putting one foot in front of the other, I eventually became a leader and Chair of the LAUNCH Committee. It was hard work and it was not always comfortable. LAUNCH was growing, evolving, changing, and pushing limits to make ourselves relevant within our organization and the community. Young women were taking seats at the table and showing up in droves. We launched Wine, Chocolate and Choice — an powerful event designed for pro-choice leaders and advocates connect and build power. The event gained momentum every year until we had to change venues — we kept pushing capacity limits and it was glorious!
Fast forward to 2018, when I was asked by Alana Peterson (Women Winning’s fearless Board Chair) to serve as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors. Like many women who are asked to run for office, I questioned my experience and readiness. Thankfully, I quickly recognized what that was and began channelling that energy into being a leader and motivating like-minded people to show up for Women Winning.
Being a leader within Women Winning was never my beginning goal. I simply showed up for something about which I am passionate — championing women who run for office to protect our reproductive rights — and I challenge you to do the same. There are opportunities all around us to be brave, call out inequality, and work for gender parity. We all have the ability to make waves and change the face of power, but we have to show up. I can’t promise it will always be comfortable, but I can promise that if you show up and plug in — by donating money, door knocking, and supporting the women who bravely step up to protect our rights — you will never wake up with personal post-election regret. You will never think “I could have done something more.” We are all too familiar with that feeling and we can’t afford to ever let it happen again.
A very wise person recently said “If not now, then when? If not you, then who?” The time is now and I look forward to seeing how you show up. You never know, you might just change the face of power. See you (and your mamas and sisters, and daughters!) on February 13th at Wine, Chocolate and Choice!
Proudly and with love,
Board Vice Chair