At CBX, we are rigorous in our pursuit of being at the forefont of conversations in popular culture; our aim is to ensure our work is informed by and consequently, able to contribute to it. The topic of women in higher office in business and politics has been of particular interest when we began working with She Should Run, a non-partisan organization encouraging and equipping women with the community and tools to consider running for public office. On the eve of the Women’s March, in this edition of our “Q&A with…” series, we speak with Erin Loos Cutraro, the CEO and Co-Founder of She Should Run on the importance of creating a brand that resonate in today’s communications-sensitive climate.
1. Tell us what makes She Should Run unique?
Erin: Throughout the nearly decade of She Should Run’s work, we have been dedicated to encouraging women from all political parties, all geographies and all demographics to run for office. We firmly believe in the saying “you can’t be it if you don’t see it” so, for our sisters, mothers, and daughters, we are dedicated to getting more women to run for office – period.
Women view us as a safe space where they can come and simply explore what it would mean to run for office and take the time to get specific about why they are running, what it would look like and how it affects them and their families without the added pressure of having to commit to a particular political party or group right off the bat.
It’s also important to make it clear that we’re in this for the long haul. Our work has never been about one candidate, one office, or one election cycle. Our work is about getting more women to run for office at every level of government, which is why last year we launched #250KBY2030, our initiative to get 250,000 women running by 2030. We’re asking women to take a huge step by running for office so we decided to put our money where our mouth was and set our own huge goal.
2. What compelled you to start She Should Run?
Erin: After being directly involved in politics for a number of years, I decided that it was time to change the playbook because we needed different outcomes with who we saw on the ballot across the country.
3. What are the differences you’re seeing in how people were interacting with She Should Run before and after Nov 8, 2016?
Erin: Women are stepping up to run for office in greater numbers than ever before, and they aren’t necessarily waiting to be asked. Before Nov 8th, 2016 we had approximately 150 women come into our programs per month, since then we’ve had more than 16,000 women join our programs.
We’re also seeing the number of independent women or women who don’t want to identify with a party increase. There is no one path to elected leadership and every day since the 2016 election, we’ve seen more and more women realize that they are already qualified and ready to run for office—and there are no signs of that changing anytime soon.
In our private community spaces, we’ve also seen women feel empowered to speak candidly and openly about the difficulties and challenges they’ve faced on their journeys to elected office and on the campaign trail.
4. In our current political, media and business landscape where precise communications is paramount, how are you framing how you talk about and contextualize She Should Run?
Erin: It’s increasingly important to remind folks that She Should Run is an inclusive organization. We believe that women of all backgrounds, ethnicities, abilities, and all sides of the political spectrum should have an equal opportunity to lead. Running for office isn’t easy, so it’s critical that we frame She Should Run as a space where women are welcome who want to run now, in 5 years, 10 years, or even later. We provide women with resources, guidance, support, and community no matter where they are on your journey. We also realize that running for office isn’t for everyone, so we provide ways for women and men in our community, eager to support the next generation of women leaders, to take action to bring us closer to women’s equal representation in government.
5. CBX was introduced to She Should Run to work on the branding and messaging system, as well as ongoing design work. What do you believe is the importance of the role brand and design plays in an organization like She Should Run?
Erin: CBX has been instrumental in helping us position ourselves as the go-to organization for women who are considering a run for office. They’ve also created a branding and messaging system that has been critical in building and sustaining our highly engaged community of supporters—their work on our 500,000 Steps campaign for example. Over 16,000 women have reached out to She Should Run since the 2016 election alone and we would not be able to provide resources and guidance to those women without their generous support.
6. What are your plans for She Should Run for 2018?
Erin: The status quo for women is over. 2017 was a seminal moment and we’re only going up from here that’s why the better question is what are our plans for 2030! While 2018 is going to be another step forward, a record number of women running for office, our goal is to build a She Should Run infrastructure that support women when they want to run. It may be this year or 2020 but that’s their decision.
But the surge of women exploring political leadership confirms that this is the right time to push for a major goal like getting 250,000 women to run by 2030. We plan to continue expanding the talent pool of women running for office in the United States while continuing to provide resources to the over 16,000 women and counting who have reached out to start their journeys to elected office with She Should Run’s programs. The need for a government that looks like the people it represents is more urgent than ever so we will also focus on making our programs accessible and attractive to even more women.
For more information on CBX’s work with She Should Run, check our our Creative Director, Lesley Stordahl’s interview with AIGA’s Design Observer.