Monday, September 13, 2010

Women legislators say more support for female candidates needed

September 12, 2010 08:05 PM
By Sarah Schweitzer, Globe Staff

MARLBOROUGH - Senior women legislators fanned out across the region today in support of freshmen female representatives facing election challenges, saying the push was particularly significant in this 90th anniversary year of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

"The whole point of supporting other women is to make sure that they feel they are supported and that they can run for office, " said Patricia Haddad, a Somerset Democrat who is the assistant majority whip of the House.

Traveling in a bus that shuttled them from Hudson, Marlborough, Framingham and Bellingham, the women held a roundtable discussion and stood on street corners and at rotaries holding signs for the candidates, smiling and waving at passing motorists.

For the women, the electoral push comes at a time when women's toehold in the Legislature -- they hold 26 percent of the 200 seats -- is threatened by a wave of women leaving office. There are six women departing the House and three women the Senate. In one of those districts -- that of state Senator Joan Menard of Fall River -- no woman is running for the open seat.

The departures leave open the possibility that the Legislature could see a net loss of women -- a change that would mark a comedown from 2009, when women made up the largest percentage of incoming freshman in recent memory. Women also hold a record number of leadership positions, serving as committee chairs and vice-chairs, as well as members of the speaker's leadership team, according to Haddad.

Massachusetts lags behind a number of other states in its percentage of female state legislators. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, New Hampshire claims the largest contingent, with 37.3 percent of its Legislative members female. Next up is Vermont with 37.2, Colorado with 37 percent and Minnesota with 34.8 percent.

In Massachusetts, as of 1979, only 7.5 percent of legislators were women. By the late 1990s, women had grown to be a quarter of legislators -- but since then, that figure has remained virtually unchanged, according to the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston.

"We are not where we would want to be in terms of equal representation," said Priti Rao, director of the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus. She noted that women make up 51 percent of the state's population.

As part of a push to increase female representation, Rao said that in the anniversary year of the 19th Amendment, a push will be on to involve women in the political process.

"Women supporting women is how we get to equal representation," she said. "Women worked really hard for the privilege so we want to make sure that women are exercising their right."

Rao noted that a major hurdle in getting more women elected in Massachusetts lies in persuading more women to run. That task is difficult because women who are just as qualified as men are often more reluctant to run for office, Rao said. On average, she said, women have to be asked seven times by seven different people before making the decision to run, Rao said.

"They often feel that they are not ready," she said.

Haddad said she often hears from young women that they feel torn between running for office and tending to families.

"We haven't broken that barrier yet," she said.

Yet, at the same time, women, too, have greater access to campaign funding with their growing professional connections, said Representative Alice Wolf, of Cambridge.

"It's gotten a lot easier for them to raise money," she said as she stood on a Marlborough street corner holding a sign for Danielle Gregoire, one of the freshmen legislators facing a challenger in November.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Statement from the MWPC Regarding Senator Brown's Opposition to Elena Kagan

We are disappointed that Senator Scott Brown has chosen to oppose Elena Kagan for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, even as Ms. Kagan is receiving support by many of Senator Brown's Republican colleagues.

Ms. Kagan has contributed her legal expertise to two Presidents, clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall, served as a distinguished law professor and Dean of Harvard Law School, and is uniquely qualified for this position.

Early on, the Caucus urged President Obama to support the appointment of a woman to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice Stevens. We are proud the Senate has move forward in confirming Elena Kagan as the fourth woman in history to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Suzanne Bump Breakfast Event

A big THANK YOU to everyone who came out and made this event a great success!

The MWPC PAC is proud to support prominent women to elected offices. We had a great turnout at our event! Join the MWPC PAC in continuous support of our women candidates: click below to donate to our PAC and to read more about Suzanne Bump for State Auditor.

WOMEN for Suzanne Bump cordially invite you
to a breakfast fundraiser for
SUZANNE BUMP Candidate for State Auditor
The University of Massachusetts Club
225 Franklin Street, Boston, MA 
33rd Floor
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
7:30 A.M. - 9:00 A.M.

(Suzanne is a Clean Election Candidate and Qualifies for Matching Funds. 
Your Contribution, Up to $250, Will Be Matched)

Honorary Event Chair, Shannon O'Brien along with
Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus PAC

Host Committee

Alona Abalos
Laura Ackerman
Jennifer Armini
Frances Burke
Sheila Capone-Wulsin
Joyce Ferriabough-Bolling
Mary Fifield
Karen Grant
Carolynn Jones
Andrea Kramer
Patricia Lynch
Rosanne Bacon Meade
Natasha Perez
Priti Rao
Lauren Stiller Rikleen
Dorothy Turrell
Louise Venden

Please join us for a conversation with Suzanne Bump about the challenges facing Massachusetts women and families in these tough economic times and the best ways for government and the private sector to meet them going forward.

Further information on Suzanne:

As a former Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development in the Patrick administration, Bump worked to ensure that the concerns of working families during the recession were addressed. Now she is running for State Auditor to bring greater transparency and accountability to this critically important office.

Bump, a former state representative and selectman from Braintree, hopes to succeed outgoing Auditor Joseph DeNucci. In addition to her previous government service, she has held leadership roles in the private sector. Bump was an assistant vice president at the American Insurance Association, and vice president in government relations for Citigroup. As House chairwoman of the Commerce and Labor panel in the early 1990s, Bump helped oversee the development of worker's compensation reform. She is a committed progressive activist in Massachusetts who came out of political retirement in 2006 to co-chair Deval Patrick's campaign for Governor. 
For recent news on the campaign please visit:

Empower Peace

Empower Peace Logo
 You're invited...

Dear Friends,
As the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus I'd like to invite you to the 5th Annual Empower Peace Women2Women International Leadership Reception, an event that will welcome international female leaders to the city of Boston. Founded in 2006, by MWPC's Former Good Guys honoree, Rick Rendon, the Women2Women program builds connections between young women in the United States and those in the Arab world.

The leadership skills, cultural competency, and network of peers provided through the program enables these young women to make a difference in their communities. This event serves as part of Empower Peace, an organization which aims to bridge cultural and communication divides between international youths. Please join us in supporting this outstanding organization. I hope to see you on August 5th!

Priti Rao
MWPC Executive Director

Women2Women Reception for
Empower Peace
Please join Rick Rendon, The Rendon Group
and Empower Peace
as we welcome over 100 young women leaders
from over 20 countries to
Boston, USA!

Thursday, August 5, 2010
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
The State Room
60 State Street, 33rd Floor
Boston, Massachusetts

 Refreshments will be provided
To R.S.V.P. contact Kristin Wagner at or call 617-912-3834


Suggested Donations:
Help Sponsor One Delegate: $75.00
Help Sponsor Two Delegates: $150.00
Make Check Payable to
Empower Peace
Donations are Tax Deductible. Empower Peace is a 501(c)3 non-profit

Event Honorees

Torch Bearer Awards:
Joan Menard, State Senator, Majority Whip
Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Attorney General
Andrea Cabral, Sheriff, Suffolk County

Special Guests:
Therese Murray, President, Massachusetts State Senate
Niki Tsongas, United States Congresswomen

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Upcoming Event: Commonwealth Commentary

Come join the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus, this Tuesday, June 22nd for the Commonwealth Commentary: Election Strategies in 2010.  

This election season boasts the most competitive legislative races in MA history and more competition from both parties than ever before. Join us as the Chairs of the MA Democratic Party and MA GOP discuss the political climate, their big picture strategy, and what they need to do to help their candidates win.

The event will be moderated by Janet Wu,  WCVB-TV's NewsCenter 5 State House reporter and Co-Host of "On the Record." Panelists will include John Walsh, MA Democratic Party Chairman and Jennifer Nassour, MA GOP Chairwoman.


Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
7:30-9:00 am

Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel
138 St. James Avenue
Boston, MA 02116

$25 for individual ticket
$400 Table Sponsorships

Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Boston, MA- The Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (MWPC) announced the appointment of Priti Rao as its new Executive Director. Rao previously served as the organization's Associate Director and most recently as Acting Executive Director.

"On behalf of the Board of Directors of the MWPC, I am proud to announce the appointment of Priti Rao as our new Executive Director,” said MWPC Board President, Lora Pellegrini. “Priti came to work for us as our first-ever Representative Deborah Blumer intern. As Associate Director and Acting Executive Director, she has been integrally involved in all of our successful initiatives designed to help women win elected and appointed office. She brings the kind of energy, commitment, and top-flight campaign skills critical to our goal of supporting a new generation of women seeking political opportunity. Priti’s rise from intern to executive director is a source of great pride for our organization because it epitomizes MWPC’s ongoing and fundamental role in supporting and mentoring women political leaders.”

Rao is a Cum Laude graduate of Mount Holyoke College, where she majored in Politics and Spanish. She has coordinated field activities for Congressional and City Council races in New York. Here in Massachusetts she worked in the successful campaign of Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, the first woman elected to Congress in 25 years.

As Acting Executive Director and Associate Director, Rao worked to design and execute strategic political and field support that helped fuel the successful election of 5 MWPC endorsed women to the MA House of Representatives in 2008, and the 2009 election of Ayanna Pressley to the Boston City Council, the first woman of color ever to serve on the Council in its 100 year history.

“I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to continue working with the outstanding and dedicated MWPC board and its membership to advance our important mission,” said Rao. “We’re excited about the 2010 elections and the excellent women candidates who have made the commitment to run for public office despite the challenges. As Executive Director, I look forward to working to maintain and expand the number of women in elected and appointed office and in other leadership roles here in the Commonwealth. I will work to support initiatives that serve to ensure greater equality for women and families and expanding the reach of the MWPC to include men and women of all ages, races, and party affiliations in order to bring together a strong coalition of supporters committed to continuing to advocate for women’s political parity at all levels of government."

About the MWPC
Founded in 1971, the Massachusetts Women Political Caucus is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, multi-partisan organization that works to increase the number of women elected and appointed to public office and public policy positions and to increase the involvement of women of all ages in the political process. Our Educational Fund provides campaign skills training, legislative workshops, an internship program, and an informational resources program designed to give women the skills they need for effective political and public policy participation.
Follow us on and join our group on Facebook.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Commonwealth Commentary: Why Women Run Recap

More than 70 guests attended the Massachusetts Women Political Caucus’ (MWPC) first Commonwealth Commentary of 2010 at Boston Omni Parker House on Wednesday, April14. Moderated by NewsCenter 5 political reporter Janet Wu, the discussion focused on why women run for office and featured two prominent women politicians, Representative (11th District) Karyn Polito (R) and Suzanne Bump (D), Former Secretary of Labor for the Commonwealth. Both women are running for state-wide public office in the 2010 election cycle, Bump for Auditor and Polito for Treasurer. MWPC Vice-President, Pam Nourse, welcomed attendees and thanked sponsors Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, UMass-Boston Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, and Karyn Polito.

Noting that two women, Sarah Palin and Senate President Therese Murray dominated the front page of both local papers that morning, moderator Wu said it was a sign of the times that would have been unheard of when she began her career as a reporter more than 30 years ago. The two candidates joined Wu in a candid discussion of their reasons for seeking elected office and the challenges they faced.

Responding to the question of what she felt was her greatest challenge in her first run for statewide office, Bump mentioned the overall political climate, particularly Martha Coakley’s loss and the fact that so much money was generated and spent on that race, making fundraising more difficult especially for women running in “down ballot” races. Polito agreed and in expanding on the fundraising difficulties that women face, she said men are much more generous to men candidates than women are to fellow women candidates. “We must support each other!” Polito declared.

Polito was asked if she thought Senator Scott Brown’s election might have a snowball effect by creating the kind of momentum that might open the doors for more Republican women to run for, and finally win, a statewide seat. Polito responded that she felt the important thing that came out of Brown’s election, for anyone running for office, was that it underscored a change in Massachusetts’ political climate, and spurred a greater involvement in the electoral process. Asked by an audience member how they planned to build on that mantra of change considering that both women served as elected officials; both candidates said they felt confident that their records would show that they were independent thinkers and dedicated public servants who first and foremost worked for, and answered to, the people they were elected to represent. Both said another challenge for them was educating people about what the offices of Treasurer and State Auditor did so voters could see the many different opportunities that the offices offered.

Wu asked the audience of mostly young professionals if anyone was interested in running for office. Several hands went up. Probing deeper, as is her trademark, Wu asked one of the respondents what motivated her to decide she wanted to run. She responded that many in her generation felt that just getting a political degree wasn’t enough to effectively take what they had learned to the next level, but direct involvement, and developing skills as an advocate or being elected to office, gave her the greatest opportunity to make a real difference. Acting MWPC Executive Director Priti Rao called attention to the importance of MWPC as a vehicle for just that kind of involvement and asked attendees to volunteer their time to MWPC to help continue to give women running for political office the tools and support they needed to effectively compete.

Spotted in the crowd: Karen Payne, former head of the NAACP, currently running for the seat vacated by Representative Willie Mae Allen; legendary activist family members Gladys Vega and her daughter, City Councilor Madelyn Vega, from Chelsea, Carol Fanta-Hardy and Donna Stewartson, of UMass-Boston Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, who proudly pointed out CWPP graduate Christina Knowles, who now serves as the new State Director of Massachusetts National Organization for Women (NOW).

Friday, April 9, 2010

MWPC Urges President Obama to replace retiring Justice Stevens by appointing a woman

- MWPC calls Justice Stevens a true advocate for women’s rights and making the appointment of a woman to succeed him a continuation of a legacy for equal opportunity -

Boston, MA- The Massachusetts Women Political Caucus (MWPC) recognizes Justice John Paul Stevens contributions to the ongoing struggle for gender parity and equal rights for women. We wish him and his family health and happiness in retirement.

Justice Stevens spent his distinguished career as a jurist championing the rights of the individual. He was strong liberal voice for civil rights and equality for all Americans including women. He upheld a woman’s right to choose and dissolved restrictions to exercising that right in 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Since 1975, Justice Stevens has been a reliable and steadfast voice for the principles of social justice in American society.

In 2008, women comprised more than 51% of the U.S. population, more than 30% of lawyers, more than 29% of judges sitting on federal courts of appeal, and more than 25% of U.S. district court judges. In contrast, only two women, out of nine total justices, are currently seated on the U.S. Supreme Court and only three women have served in its 220-year history.

The MWPC respects the fact that there are several outstanding women jurists in consideration for this seat. We call on President Obama, his administration, and the United States Senate to consider the unique perspective that the appointment of more women to the nation’s highest court will bring, and urge President Obama to use this rare opportunity to promote gender parity and equal participation in all levels of government

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus PAC Endorses Simmons, Harkins in State Senate Special Elections

BOSTON, MA-The Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus PAC has endorsed State Representative Lida Harkins and Cambridge City Councilor Denise Simmons in the April 13th special primary elections for the Massachusetts State Senate. Rep. Harkins seeks to represent the Norfolk, Bristol & Middlesex district previously held by U.S. Senator Scott Brown. Councilor Simmons seeks to represent the Middlesex, Suffolk & Essex district previously held by Former Senator Anthony Galluccio. The general elections for both seats will be held on May 11th.

"Both Rep. Harkins and Councilor Simmons are great candidates for State Senate, and we are proud to support them," stated MWPC PAC Co-Chair, Pam Nourse. "Their dedication to supporting equality and fairness for women and their families is unparalleled. Rep. Harkins has proven herself a committed public servant with a strong track record of service delivery that has improved the quality of life for working families. Councilor Simmons, a former school committee member and current small business owner, brings a diverse base of experience and support as well as a commitment to enhancing public education and ensuring that small business owners are at the table during these challenging economic times."

"I am especially gratified to receive this endorsement because of our shared commitment to issues that affect women", said Representative Harkins. "I look forward to working with the MWPC during this campaign and in the future."

Rep. Harkins has been a Needham resident for 38 years and is Chair of the Needham Democratic Town Committee. She has proven herself a strong supporter of issues concerning women throughout her career in public service. During her tenure at the State House, Harkins has been devoted to improving public education, advancing equal rights for women and minorities, and advocating for strengthened relations with labor conditions. Harkins has also spoken in support of a statewide network of health care workers for in-home elderly care, and has worked for a relief in property tax for seniors.

"The MWPC is a wonderful organization and I am delighted to receive their endorsement," said Councilor Simmons. "As the only woman in my race, the support of an outstanding, well respected women's organization will be a great asset to my campaign."

Denise Simmons is a life-long Cambridge resident and former Mayor of Cambridge. She is currently serving her fifth year as Cambridge City Councilor. Her ten years on the Cambridge School Committee and her time as a small business owner give her the experience to guide her constituents through these tough economic times. Councilor Simmons has worked to diversify involvement in civic life. As a woman, African-American, and member of the GLBT community, Simmons strives to ensure that every constituency group is given a strong voice in state government.

Monday, February 22, 2010


More than 350 guests are expected to salute the honored guests at the 9th annual Mass Women's Political Caucus, Good Guy Awards.

This year’s Good Guy Awards honorees include Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo; Essex County Sheriff Frank G. Cousins, Jr.; Rick Rendon, President and Founder of Empower Peace; and, Gregory Torres, President of MassINC. United States Senator John Kerry will receive the Edward M. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Local television and radio host Jim Braude will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the event.

The Good Guy Awards recognize men who have demonstrated an ongoing commitment and partnership in the struggle for women’s equality. They recognize that the goal of attaining parity in politics and equality in American society can only be reached through the concerted efforts of both men and women in all areas of professional and personal life.

Good Guy honorees come from all fields and backgrounds. The MWPC seeks to honor a diverse group of men, all of whom have been dedicated to strengthening the position of women in all sectors of society.

“The Good Guy Awards are one of our most prestigious events,” said Lora Pellegrini, Board President for the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus. “It is a chance for us to recognize some outstanding men in the community who are making a difference in women’s lives through the work they do. These year’s honorees are particularly impressive. On behalf of the board, I am very grateful for the support of Comcast, our Presenting Sponsor and all of our contributing sponsors and host committee members who make this event such a success year after year.”

Previous Good Guy recipients include the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and Robert M. Coard, former Governors William F. Weld and Argeo Paul Cellucci, Peter Meade, James Roosevelt, Jr., Thomas P. O’Neill, III, Wayne Budd, Charlie Baker and Ralph Martin, to name a few.

Individual tickets to this year’s event are $125 apiece. Proceeds are used to fund the programs of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus Education Fund, and all donations are tax deductible.

Media inquiries, including biographical information and head shots, and requests for additional ticket information can be directed to Priti Rao, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, at (617) 451-9294 or

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

MWPC Annual Meeting - Photos

Last night, MWPC held its 20th Annual Meeting in Boston, sponsored by the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change.

The meeting started with opening remarks by Associate Director Priti Rao and an annual report by MWPC Board President Lora Pellegrini. Then, members heard a spirited keynote address by Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councillor At Large.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

MWPC PAC's "Inside Look at the 2009 & 2010 Elections" A Huge Success

On January 21, MWPC's PAC sponsored "An Inside Look at the 2009 and 2010 Elections: From Capitol Hill to Beacon Hill." The event was a huge success.

A large crowd of attendees packed the conference center at O'Neill and Associates to hear from our panel of experts and to learn more about their opinions on recent and upcoming political contests. For many, it was their first chance for an in-depth discussion about what happened in the recent US Senate race and what it means for future races.

Panelists included David Bernstein and Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix, Andy Hiller of WHDH Channel 7, Julie Mehegan of the Boston Herald, and Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe. The panel was moderated by Elaine Kamarck of the Kennedy School.

Special thanks to our moderator and panelists, as well as O'Neill and Associates for hosting the event. Special thanks also go to our Host Committee of Andrea Kramer, Joyce Ferriabough-Bolling, Lora Pellegrini and Pam Nourse; our Sponsors, Alona Abalos, Ann Murphy and Deirdre Savage; and, our Contributors, Mary Ryan and Jeff Ross.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MWPC PAC: Vote for Martha Coakley Today!


Today is election day!

Today, we will choose the candidate we want to fill the seat occupied by the late Senator Ted Kennedy.

The MWPC PAC has been hard at work for the NWPC PAC endorsed candidate, Attorney General Martha Coakley. This election is enormously important, and the stakes are too high to sit on the sidelines.

We urge you to get out and vote. Polls will be open from 7am to 8pm. If you're not sure of where to vote, please visit

Please do what you can to elect Martha Coakley to the U.S. Senate! Our next Senator will be a critical voice and vote on health care reform, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the economy and social justice and our civil liberties. Every vote counts. Talk to your friends and family and make sure they know what's at stake.

Thank you again for all your help and support. Please get out and vote!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

MWPC's Lauren Stiller Rikleen on NECN

Lauren Stiller Rikleen, member of the MWPC Board of Directors joined host Jim Braude on NECN's "Broadside" last night to discuss the US Senate race. In particular, they discussed issues about women's health and its role in the campaign.

Check out the great video below!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

MWPC Press Conference Supporting Coakley on Choice

At a press conference today, Massachusetts’ leading advocacy organizations for women’s reproductive rights denounced Republican Scott Brown’s poor record on a woman’s right to choose. The organizations, including the Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus and the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women, criticized Brown’s long record of opposition to policies that promote choice and privacy rights. The organizations highlighted Martha Coakley’s strong support of a woman’s right to choose.

The organizations blasted Scott Brown’s previously proposed legislation that, if it had passed, would have allowed hospital emergency rooms to deny emergency contraception to victims of rape. This callous approach to reproductive rights led the anti-choice Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL) to endorse Scott Brown. MCFL wrote on its blog, “Our PAC has been supporting Scott Brown because he will be a pro-life vote in the Senate.”

Monday, January 11, 2010

MWPC Annual Meeting on February 1st

The Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus will be holding our Annual Meeting on February 1st, 2010 at Simmons College in the Linda K. Paresky Conference Center from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The featured speaker will be Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councillor At Large. We hope to see you there!

MWPC Election Panel Discussion January 21

Please join the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus January 21st at 6PM for an in-depth analysis of the recent elections, from municipal seats to the Senate race.

Don't miss our engaging panel discussion moderated by the Harvard Kennedy School's Elaine Kamarck with WHDH TV's Andy Hiller, NECN's Alison King, the Boston Herald's Julie Mehegan and the Boston Globe's Joan Vennochi.

The event will be held at the offices of O'Neill and Associates, 31 New Chardon Street, Boston. We hope to see you there! If you have any questions or to confirm your attendance, please contact Melissa Roberts, Program Coordinator at 617-451-9294 or