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Women’s Leadership Forum

About the WLF

Mission Statement:

The Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum engages women in our party by organizing regional and national events — providing women with a platform to engage in policy discussions, a community of dynamic female leaders, and with networking opportunities to inspire further involvement — while generating significant financial support for the Democratic Party.

Current Activities:

The WLF is working to fulfill its mission by offering the following opportunities, all with an emphasis on substantive information, discussion, and action:

  1. Annual National Issues Conference
  2. Regional events focused on policy initiatives to raise political awareness and attract new members
  3. Conference calls with policy and political leaders
  4. Email updates and calls to action
History:

In October 2013, the WLF presented its 20th Anniversary Annual National Issues Conference with the theme “The Next Generation of Women Leaders” aimed at highlighting “women to watch” and young leaders making noteworthy contributions in their fields. The conference included keynote addresses by First Lady Michelle Obama and Texas State Senator Wendy Davis. Other featured guests included Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cecile Richards, DNC Vice Chair Donna Brazile, DNC Chair Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and many other issue experts and elected officials. The conference highlighted the significant role women played to re-elect President Barack Obama as well as presented important policy updates and field tools for women to take back to their communities.

DNC Chair Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced the launch of a new initiative focused on women’s outreach called the Democratic Women’s Alliance. WLF members are eager for its debut at the DNC in 2014 and excited to collaborate on efforts to reach women voters, encourage women to run for office, hold the GOP accountable, and communicate issues important to women effectively.

Leading up to the 2013 conference and special elections, the WLF organized events in New York, Dallas, Atlanta, DC, Chicago, and Seattle with the First Lady, Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, DNC Chair Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and many others. As we look ahead to the 2014 midterm elections, the WLF will continue to host national and regional events to support the DNC’s four pillars and work to elect Democratic and female candidates across the country.

In 2008, the WLF and Women for Obama raised more than $5 million and hosted approximately 1500 women in Chicago for a two-day conference featuring President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, and Oprah Winfrey among others.

Based on the success of the “Take Five” program, the WLF and the Women’s Vote Center launched “Take Six in ‘06” which asked women to educate and encourage six women to join them at the polls on Election Day in 2006. The following year, Nancy Pelosi was elected as the first woman Speaker of the House and Kirsten Gillibrand, the WLF NY Network Chair, took office as the first WLF member elected to Congress.

In 2004, the WLF and the Women’s Vote Center rolled out the “Take Five” program which encouraged every Democratic woman to bring five women to the polls on Election Day. The WLF partnered with Women for Kerry to reach as many women as possible during the election cycle.

In 2003, the WLF celebrated its 10th Anniversary with events across the nation and at the Annual Issues Conference with the theme “It’s Time to Tell the Truth…The Real State of the Union.”

In 2001, the WLF founded the Women’s Vote Center, a new DNC initiative to recruit and train women to serve as effective political advocates and future leaders and engage with grassroots leaders across the country.

In the years leading up to the 2000 election, the WLF hosted networking events in several cities, as well as an annual conference bringing together thousands of women and raising a record-breaking $7 million during the 2000 election cycle.

In 1994, Tipper Gore was named the first WLF Honorary Chair. In the year leading up to the 1996 re-election, First Lady Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore hosted dozens of WLF events across the country.

In 1993, Tipper Gore and 36 women gathered to discuss ways to give women a greater voice in the National Party. The outcome: a new DNC finance council called the Women’s Leadership Forum. Its mission is to maintain a viable women’s program that is an integral part of the Democratic National Committee. Since its formation, the WLF has established a strong record of outreach and fundraising for the Democratic Party through policy briefings, networking receptions, and the annual National Issues Conference.

Recent Updates
  • A New Tool In The War On Poverty

    I’m going to echo Maria Shriver and state the obvious: while I have not lived on the brink of poverty, I am deeply concerned by the growing income gap in America. I work every day to expand opportunities for the millions of people -- one in three Americans, seventy percent of whom are women and children -- who struggle every day to make ends meet.

    Earlier this week, Maria introduced a report that illustrates how urgent that work is.  A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink is filled with thoughtful essays from academics and activists -- everyone from Hillary Clinton to Barbara Ehrenreich to Beyoncé. And it includes new research on how deeply entrenched poverty has become in our social fabric, and how we can change it.

    I encourage you to read Maria's introduction to the report, and to explore A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink in full.

  • Lily Adams: “Tell Republicans To Step Up”

    Deputy Communications Director Lily Adams sent an email to supporters encouraging them to call out Chairman Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee for condoning sexist rhetoric from Rush Limbaugh and to stop enabling him. Here's what she had to say:

    Friend --

    Rush Limbaugh saying something sickeningly misogynistic isn't breaking news, so rest assured I'm not planning to write to you every time he does.

    But earlier this week, Limbaugh mocked "liberals" for criticizing men who stare at women's breasts, encouraging them to instead approach women and say, "Will you please ask your breasts to stop staring at my eyes?"

    There's a line between casual but unacceptable sexism and justifying sexual harassment. When someone as prominent as Rush Limbaugh crosses that line, everyone -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- needs to stop the precedent from becoming habit.

    You know Rush Limbaugh's comment was flat-out wrong. I know it was wrong. And I'd bet even Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus can recognize it was wrong. Join me and ask the RNC to stop enabling Rush Limbaugh and those like him whose rhetoric encourages or condones sexual harassment.

    This Sunday, the Daily Caller -- the Rush Limbaugh of websites -- piled on with a full-throated defense of sexual harassment:

    Ladies, how are you going to feel when the progressives prohibit men from paying you a compliment on your walk home from the bar? You know there's always one friend of yours who waited all night for that.

    And if you happen to be a woman who isn't employed by the Democratic National Committee or the New York Times, maybe you're really not all that offended by these sorts of things.

    As a woman who happens to be employed by the Democratic National Committee, I am offended by Rush Limbaugh's comments. But I'm not alone, and I know there are plenty of women (maybe even some who work at the Republican National Committee) who'd agree that this is the wrong message to send, encourage, or defend.

    And frankly, the RNC has the ability to reduce the influence held by Rush Limbaugh and the writers of the Daily Caller. All they need to do is encourage their fellow Republican leaders to stop making time for interviews with outlets like these.

    So call on Chairman Priebus and the RNC to step up and take action against the type of rhetoric that encourages sexual harassment:

    http://my.democrats.org/Step-Up-Republicans

    We are going to be in a lot of big fights with Republicans during the election year that starts in just a few days. But surely we can come together in the meantime to put an end to disgusting rhetoric like Limbaugh's that encourages sexual harassment.

    Thanks for everything you're doing to stand with women across the country,

    Lily

    Lily Adams
    Deputy Communications Director
    Democratic National Committee

  • Syllabus for Republican “Sensitivity” Training

    (Note:  This is satire.  Sort of.)

    With last week’s news that Republicans are going to start holding seminars on how to talk with (and about) women, we at the Democratic National Committee were able to get our hands on a draft syllabus and reading list for the expanded sensitivity training sessions Republicans are going to be holding.

    Syllabus for Republican “Sensitivity” Training

    “Let me put it this way, some of these guys have a lot to learn.” – Republican Aide to Politico

    “Some of our members just aren’t as sensitive as they ought to be.” – Speaker Boehner

    Dear fellow Republicans —

    Welcome to GOP Sensitivity School, where our goal is to help you show your friendlier, more inclusive side!

    DAY ONE

    HOW TO TALK TO AND ABOUT WOMEN 101:

    Reading List
    Headline: “Bill Cassidy Staffer Tweets Mary Landrieu-Mussolini Picture” [POLITICO, 11/22/13]

    Headline: “NRSC Tweets Sexualized Attack Against Alison Lundergan Grimes” [Huffington Post, 11/19/13]

    DAY TWO

    HOW TO CELEBRATE THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT 101:

    Reading List
    Headline: “The G.O.P.’s Racism Tweet” [New York Times, 12/2/13]

    Headline: RNC reflects on ‘ending racism’ [MSNBC.com, 12/2/13]

    DAY THREE

    HOW TO HONOR RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY & TOLERANCE DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON 101

    Reading List

    Headline: “GOP Draws Fire For Selling 'Happy Holidays Is What Liberals Say' Merchandise” [Birmingham News, 12/4/13]

    Pants on Fire: “Jeb Bush Says Obama Is Closing The Embassy To The Vatican” [Politifact, 12/4/13]

    Headline: “GOP Group Attacks Obama As ‘Anti-Religion’ For Moving U.S. Embassy In Vatican” [Mediaite, 11/27/13]

    Headline: “GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter: 'It Is Part Of The Middle Eastern Culture' To Lie (VIDEO)” [Huffington Post, 12/4/13]

    Headline: “Pryor Gets Gop Flak Over Bible Ad” [Arkansas Online, 12/4/13]

    Headline: “Republicans Had Better Get Comfortable With 'Happy Holidays'” [Business Insider, 12/2/13]


    DAY FOUR

    HOW TO OPEN OUR BIG TENT UP TO THE LGBT COMMUNITY 101

    Reading List
    Headline: “Rep. Randy Forbes: Deny Money To Gay Candidates” [POLITICO, 12/4/13]

    Headline: “Boehner Sees ‘No Basis Or No Need’ For ENDA” [Washington Blade, 11/14/13]

    DAY FIVE

    PROVING WE’RE SERIOUS ABOUT LATINO OUTREACH 101

    Reading List
    Op-ed: “Gov. Christie Making Weak Excuses For Opposing The NJ DREAM Act” [PolitickerNJ, 12/5/13]

    Headline: “No Immigration Reform Vote In The House This Year” [Washington Post, 11/8/13]

    Headline: “McCarthy: No House Immigration Deal In '13” [The Hill, 11/8/13]

    DAY SIX

    HOW TO PUT A BAND-AID ON A MAJOR PROBLEM 101

    Reading List
    Headline: “GOP Men Tutored In Running Against Women” [POLITICO, 12/5/13]

    Headline: “Boehner’s Rx For GOP’s Women Woes: Be More Sensitive” [ABC News, 12/5/13]

    DAY SEVEN

    LEARNING FROM YOUR MISTAKES 101

    Reading List

    Headline: “No soul-searching for Virginia GOP after losses” [Politico, 12/8/13]

    From the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza on the path forward for the GOP following their losses in Virginia: “But, no matter what, Republicans have a problem… But knowing it and knowing how to solve it are two very different things.” [Washington Post, 12/8/13]

  • Advancing Women in Leadership

    Last week, women state party Chairs, Vice Chairs, Executive Directors and staff gathered in New Orleans during a meeting of the Association of State Democratic Chairs to discuss the increasing role of women as leaders in Democratic Parties across the country.

    This was the second time I participated in this event and wow! Not only has the turnout grown, but the programming - under the leadership of Louisiana Chair Karen Carter-Peterson and Idaho Executive Director Sally Boyton Brown - has excelled and given us the tools to improve how we promote women leaders in the states across the country. I was especially moved when both Chair Carter-Peterson, the first female Chair in Louisiana, and Maryland Chair Yvette Lewis spoke about what they each had to overcome in order to move into the top leadership position in their state Democratic Party structure.

    Here's a few pictures from the event.  I am looking forward to the next gathering!

    Great turnout in New Orleans at the women's luncheon!

    Maryland Chair Yvette Lewis moderates panel discussion about media coverage of women running for political office and what our national group of women can do to create change in our states.

    Louisiana Chair Karen Carter-Peterson answers a question about women leaders in state parties.

    One last pic from the ASDC & Louisiana Democratic Party welcome reception on Friday evening... an all women New Orleans brass band!  They were incredible.

     

     

  • LOAD MORE
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Recent Action
President Obama Appoints Four More Women to Federal Judgeships
May 17, 2013
President Obama nominated four women to federal judgeships, further illustrating his dedication to creating a federal judiciary that better reflects our nation.
Violence Against Women Act Reauthorized
March 7, 2013
President Obama signed the reauthorization of VAWA — a groundbreaking piece of the legislation that combats sexual assault by holding offenders responsible while aiding victims.
President commits to battling HIV/AIDS
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On World AIDS Day President Obama directed $50 million in increased funding for the treatment and care of HIV/AIDS, a disease that disproportionally affects women both internationally and domestically.