People For the American Way

Why People For’s Jordan-Huerta Women’s Leadership Program is So Important to Women in Elected Office

People For in Action

Despite significant gains in improving the representation of women in our nation’s political institutions, only a quarter of elected positions in the United States are currently held by women.

Named in honor of People For co-founder Barbara Jordan and longtime Board Member Dolores Huerta, the Jordan-Huerta YEO Women’s Leadership Program supports women identifying elected officials in the challenges of navigating public office, provides them with continued professional development, and elevates their voices and leadership within the national progressive movement, enabling them to seek higher office and pave the way for more women in political office across the country.

The 2023 cohort of Jordan-Heurta Fellows is a diverse and powerful group of elected leaders. Over half of them are glass ceiling-brakers: they’re either the first woman, first person or color, or youngest person to serve in their roles. We recently gathered them in New York City for leadership trainings.

Vanessa Joseph, Elected City Clerk: The world of politics, the world of governing can be a very, very lonely place. And when you’re a woman in a male dominated space, you look for sisterhood. You actively seek out opportunities to connect with women who may understand exactly what you’re going through. You

Raquel Jones, Vice President of Campaigns and Programs, People For the American Way: The Jordan-Huerta YEO Women’s leadership program is an investment in elected women from across the country. Our goals are to build community and to provide them with the skills and trainings that they need to help navigate the unique challenges they face while in elected office.

Jessica Weave, Newington, CT, Board of Education Member: The women’s leadership program is one that’s inclusive, one that is full of empathy, and one that holds space for women. Whether we are talking about our struggles, whether we are talking about our triumphs, it is someplace that we can find fellowship in one another, be able to share our experiences and have those experiences validated. And that’s one thing that I just can’t find anywhere else and why I’m so grateful for this program.

Raquel Jones: People For the American Way understand they get that we need bold leaders that are going to take a stance to create more inclusive communities and strengthen our democracy. We know that if we invest and support these leaders now, they’ll continue to step up and push for the change we need in our communities.

Vanessa Joseph: This program is allowing me to take away the fact that we can absolutely make a change in this country. This program has shown me that there are women leaders out here who will take us in the right direction if only we give them the opportunity.

Letitia James, New York Attorney General: We need you. We need your voice. So you’ve got to push your fears and any insecurity to aside and say, I am the leader. I can do this, and all of you can do it. I believe in each and every one of you. I know that you can do it.

Vanessa Joseph: I was in need of a network, in need of a sisterhood who not only wanted to grow personally and professionally, but who wanted to help grow their communities, their cities, their state, this nation, and grow it in a direction that supports freedom for all people. That supports equity and equal access to opportunity.


Women in Politics, YEO Network