Laphonza Butler becomes first black woman to lead influential political organization EMILY’S List

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The list of revolutionary women that EMILY’S List endorsed or helped elect reads like a who’s who of political leaders, past and present: Vice President Kamala Harris. Former US Senator Carol Moseley Braun. Stacey Abrams. Women in Congress, from Representative Maxine Waters to Representatives Lucy McBath, Jahana Hayes and Lauren Underwood.

Today, the nation’s greatest resource for women in politics has made history by appointing Laphonza Butler as its new president. When she took office on September 13, Butler became the first black woman to lead EMILY’s roster in her 36 years.

The new leader is just the organization’s third president, succeeding Stephanie Schriock, whose tenure lasted 11 years. Ellen Malcolm, the founding president who launched the Political Action Committee (PAC) in 1985, coined the name. It is the acronym of “Early Money Is Like Yeast”, that is to say “it makes the dough rise”. To date, EMILY’s List says it has raised some $ 700 million to elect top-to-bottom pro-choice Democratic candidates across the country.

“As someone who has spent her entire career empowering women, I am delighted to continue this work as the leader of an organization that has changed the face of American politics at all levels,” Butler told ESSENCE. “As the first woman of color and first mother in this role, I am proud to bring my lived experiences as well as my organizational and political experiences to work. Every day I am guided by the example of my mother and the future of my daughter.

Butler grew up in Magnolia, Mississippi and attended Jackson State University, an HBCU.

“Many of my university professors were SNCC activists who invested themselves in each of us to create a different future,” she recalls.

The institution’s academic standards and stimulating environment have prepared her well. Today, Butler brings her extensive experience in electoral politics, labor, and community activism to respond to this historic moment of activism by women across America.

“EMILY’s List was founded to create change and diversify our elected leaders. We are proud of the work we have done and know Laphonza is the right person to expand this work, ”said Malcolm. “I am delighted to welcome [her] as the new president and I know she will help us build a democracy whose leadership more closely reflects America at all levels of government.

Prior to joining EMILY’s List, Butler was Director of Public Policy and Campaigns in North America for Airbnb. She was also a partner at SCRB Strategies, a political consulting firm where she was a candidate strategist, and senior advisor on the presidential campaign to Vice President Harris.

Butler spent a decade as president of California’s largest union and the nation’s largest homeworkers union, SEIU Local 2015. In that capacity, she led efforts to tackle wage inequality for women in California and has been a leading advocate for raising the state’s minimum wage. wages at $ 15 an hour – the first in the country to do so.

Additionally, Butler spent seven years as President of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW) and as Director of the Real Estate Services Division. She was responsible for the strategic direction of more than 250,000 janitors, security guards, window cleaners and food service workers across the country.

“Her years of experience winning difficult battles and her commitment to making impactful change are unmatched,” said Rebecca Haile, another woman of color who was elected chair of the EMILY’s List board in 2020.

With a grassroots community of some five million members, EMILY’s List helps women Democrats win competitive elections by recruiting and training candidates, helping build strong campaigns, researching issues that impact women and families and involving women at the polls.

Since its inception, the organization has not only helped elect the country’s first woman and Black / American Vice President of Southeast Asia, but also 158 women in the House, 26 in the Senate, 16 Governors and over 1,300 women in state and local offices.

Over 40 percent of the candidates EMILY’s list helped elect to Congress were women of color. Its Run to Win program has trained thousands of people and there are partnerships with black-led political organizations such as The Collective PAC and BlackPAC. On Tuesday, September 21, EMILY’S List co-hosted the 8th annual #BlackWomenLead Virtual Reception with Higher Heights for America, Emerge and #VOTEPROCHOICE. The event highlighted the work of women leaders and the constant desire to elect more sisters to power. Women of Congress Cori Bush (D-MO) and Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI) and New York Attorney General Letitia James were among the speakers.

Such representation is crucial, said Butler.

WATCH: Rep. Maxine Waters has said what needs to be said 5 times.

“Our long-term strategic planning centers on how the organization intends to engage and create space for every woman… as a political organization they can call home. We want to make a place at the table for everyone.

Butler plans to use his professional prowess as a highly regarded strategist who has spent time in the trenches alongside female candidates. In addition to Harris’ presidential campaign, she served as senior advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in California. And recently, Butler was a campaign agent behind the effort to make the Los Angeles board of directors an all-female roster for the first time.

She looks forward to working closely with the EMILY’s List team (around 112 staff) to write the next chapter. One of the goals is to extend its reach beyond DC Beltway politics.

“The organizer in me wants to take EMILY’s list to where the women are, who want to make a change,” said Butler.

The future of the organization will also be to broaden its base even more, whether they are members or donors of candidates and voters. “We want to make sure that more young women and women of color and immigrant voices bring their political commitment to EMILY’s roster and help us do what we do best: win. “

Although he is still at the beginning of his term, Butler dreams big. She believes her demonstrated leadership and commitment to empowering a diverse group of women in politics will broaden the electoral pipeline. And maybe inspire other women too.

“I’m a black girl from a small town with a funny name,” she said, sharing her birth nickname: Laphonza Romanique Butler. She smiles. “I hope everyday women can see themselves a little bit in me.”

SUBJECTS: Laphonza Butler elections

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