A national initiative has made its way into Loudoun County in the hopes of spurring young women to become involved in the political process.
Rise to Run is a grassroots and community-based organization that is focused on training young women to run for political office. Communities are organized into “hubs” that are overseen by an advisory board of local women who are either in elected office, are running for office, or have run a political campaign. Although guided by the advisory board, the leadership at the top of the hub is a young woman herself.
In Loudoun County that honor belongs to Poojitha Tanjore, a Rock Ridge High School junior with eyes on a future political career. Tanjore said she caught wind of Rise to Run’s national efforts online and tweeted them her gratitude for working on the cause. She offered to volunteer, but quickly was recruited as pilot hub coordinator. She now oversees a hub that includes Loudoun, Fairfax, and Prince William counties, and east to Arlington.
The goal initially was to keep the hub contained within Loudoun, but the cause “picked up so much interest and speed” it quickly expanded.
“I’m happy to expand things further west if interest grows,” she says.
The group will have its official kickoff meeting after November’s elections, but so far the Northern Virginia hub has brought together an advisory board that includes Del. Jennifer Boysko (D-86); Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-33); Patti Nelson, Loudoun Chapter chair of SEIU Virginia 512; Kathy Tran, the Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates 42nd District; and Gwen Pangle, a former Leesburg Town Council candidate.
These advisory board members will work closely with young female high school and college students, Tanjore said.
The hub participants, “will receive training from the members of the advisory board [with] actual lesson plans,” she said. “There’s a lot of spaces for advisory board members to provide input to younger members, but the general idea is to just create a pipeline of young females affecting generational change.”
Each hub of Rise to Run also works directly with one or two “trailblazers”, who are national political figures or community activists that embody the group’s mission. “They represent the diversity of the U.S.,” Tanjore said.
Organizing the start of the local hub is an ambitious task for Tanjore. But for someone who eyes a future political career, it’s far from a tall order. Tanjore, who has worked on campaigns for gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and former Congressional candidate LuAnn Bennett, said she one day wants to be a member of the U.S. Senate.