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.
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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