Emerge Washington

Emerge Washington

 Want to learn more and stay updated on our progress? 
Join our Network!

 Please consider a donation today recruit, train and provide a powerful network for Democratic women in Washington State!

Emerge Washington has just announced our first cohort - the 2018 Patty Murray class.  These 24 women will be a part of our 70-hour training program that begins in January.  For 5 weekends this cohort will learn how to run - and win.  Training weekends will take place across the state, one weekend a month, culminating with a graduation ceremony on May 6th.  Please join us for events throughout the training to meet these amazing women and see Washington State's future leaders.  For more information about events:  karen@emergewa.org
Michelle Alten-Kaehler
Rhayma Blake
Emily Carmichael
Leatta Dahlhoff
Lauren Davis
Immaculate Ferreria-Allah
Katie Harris
Heena Khatri
Kimberly Lauk
Jessa Lewis
Bevin McLeod
Kay Murano
Emily Myers
Ami Nguyen
Diana Perez
Sarah Reyneveld
Jamian Smith
Janet St Clair
Summer Stinson
Melissa Taylor
Claire Wilson
Tabitha Wolf
Christine Wood
Lynda Zeman

Emerge Washington is off and running!  We have recently hired our Founding Executive Director, Karen Besserman.  Karen comes to Emerge Washington with a long history of managing and advocating for women candidates. Before moving to Seattle, she managed the campaign of Sharon Sayles Belton in Minneapolis, the first African-American woman elected as mayor of a major city. She also worked in Seattle on Maria Cantwell’s campaign for the Senate in 2000.

In 2001, Besserman started Besserman Associates, a consulting firm specializing in local candidate and issue campaigns, individual fundraising and public affairs and advocacy. The firm helped with the Women’s Bioethics Project launch a national book club program and the World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP) develop a program to feature adoptable children on the news each week with the goal of finding them families among other major projects. Her other clients included the State of Washington, the Committee for Children, the Minority Executive Directors Coalition and the Refugee Women’s Alliance.

Most recently, Karen has focused on social justice, working with clients like the Organization for Prostitution Survivors, the Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence and Diverse Harmony, the first queer/straight alliance youth choir in the country. 

You can reach Karen at karen@emergewa.org.


Emerge Washington is proud to announce its Founding Board of Directors.  Several members from the Organizing Committee are now serving in a board capacity and we are looking to expand our board to better represent the rich diversity of our state.  If you are interested in joining the amazing women listed below, please reach out to karen@emergewa.org.

  • Uyen Nguyen, Board Chair
  • Emily Carmichael
  • Jocelyn Wood
  • Pam Eakes
  • Elizabeth Siegel
  • Melissa Taylor
  • Shelby Healy
  • Alicia Crank
  • Lori Feagan
  • Mauren Winningham


Emerge Washington was recently featured on Washington State Indivisible's Podcast.  Hear Executive Director, Karen Besserman, talk about November election wins, our new 2018 Patty Murray Class and more:  https://soundcloud.com/wsip/ep-40-emerge-washingtons-karen-besserman-election-wrap-up-from-virginia-indivisible-spokane
Our Emerge Washington | 2018 Patty Murray Class will begin in January, 2018.  You can support our class with scholarships, travel stipends, class support here:

Our Organizing Committee did a great job getting Emerge Washington off and running!  A tremendous group of truly committed women raised over $80,000 to allow us to move ahead but we are shy of our goal of $130,000 to ensure we can keep going strong and put on the best training we can for Democratic women all over the state.  To contribute:  https://act.myngp.com/Forms/-4547367427648780544


Emerge Washington‘s formation was led by the following donors and committed volunteers, who have demonstrated their commitment to changing the face and voice of politics in Washington by forming Emerge Washington to recruit, train, and inspire the next generation of qualified, progressive Democratic female leaders.

Organizing Committee Members
(raise or donate $2,500 or greater, and provide substantial time commitment to start Emerge Washington)
Pamela Eakes | Shelby Healy | Zola Maddison | Ishi Malik | Tessa McClellan | Uyen Nguyen | Lisa Nikodem | Kap Pitarys | Elizabeth Siegel | Melissa Taylor | Maureen Winningham | Jocelyn Harris-Wood | Emily Carmichael

Key Contributors
(raise or donate $1,000 and provide time commitment to start Emerge Washington)
Leah Bernstein| Johannah Renfroe |Gwen Straley

 Founding Donors!
(donate gifts of $1000 or more)
Michelle Acquavella, Seattle
Phyllis Barney, Olympia
Kate Beck, Shoreline
Ann Blume, Seattle
Jessi Bon, Mercer Island
Alexa Ingram-Cauchi, Seattle
Kieuly Dang, Boulder, CO
Pamela Daniels, Edmonds
Emer Dooley, Medina
Elizabeth Flavin, Seattle
Sabra Goldick, Seattle
Deborah Jacobs, Seattle
Anne Kroeker, Bellevue
Juliet Le Dorze, Bainbridge Island
Dana Matthews, Shoreline
Charlene Moore, Bainbridge Island
Allen & Christine Rickert, Woodway
Iantha Sidell, Mercer Island
Judith Schocken, Mercer Island
Derek & Doug Stanley-Hunt, Seattle
Christine Stepherson, Seattle
Julie Sunderland, Seattle
Leigh Pate 


Emerge Washington launched in early 2017 as the premier campaign-training program for Democratic women in the state. Emerge inspires women to run for public office, and hones their skills to win. Our goal is clear: to increase the number of Democratic women in all levels of public office throughout Washington State. Emerge Washington is one of of 22 state affiliates of the national organization, Emerge America.

While women comprise more than 50% of the electorate, they still hold just 29% of elected offices in this country. In the 127 years since statehood, Washington has sent only ten Democratic women to Congress and has had only two female Governors. Washington State did make history by becoming the first state to have two women as U.S. Senators and one as Governor simultaneously. However, women’s representation in the Washington State Legislature has declined, from 40.1% women in 1994 to 30.6% today. While the national representation of women in the legislature has been trending upward, Washington State has been trending downward, and the pipeline for future female leaders is decreasing.

Studies show women tend to introduce more bills in Congress, be more collaborative and consensus driven, and lead on issues related to family, health care, childcare, education, violence against women and reproductive health. That’s why increasing the number of Democratic women candidates is so important. Emerge Washington intends to level the playing field, de-mystify the process of engaging in politics, and identify and train women who have thought about running for office, but who may assume they lack the necessary experience or connections to mount a successful campaign.

Emerge Washington‘s role is to:

  • Recruit women to run for office at all levels of government
  • Train them to run effective campaigns and win races
  • Provide a powerful network to support women running for office 

The Emerge model is an intensive 70-hour, cohort-based training program, designed explicitly to address the extra challenges that women face in the political arena by offering early-stage recruitment; top-notch, comprehensive training; and an ongoing network of support. We use a rigorous, highly selective application and screening process to ensure that our participants are great future candidates. Our recruitment effort focuses on all levels of diversity, so we can add depth and breadth to the Democratic candidate pool.

The track record of Emerge America’s program model speaks for itself. Founded only 10 years ago and operating in 22 states, the Emerge affiliates have trained over 2,000 Democratic women nationwide, creating a powerful pipeline of Democratic women running in politically important districts. In 2016, over 330 Emerge alumnae ran for office across the country and of those who appeared on the November ballot, 70% won their elections.

Emerge Washington is part of this powerful national network, reaching every region of the country. For more information, please contact us at karen@emergewa.org. To learn more about Emerge America, please visit our website at www.emergeamerica.org.


Why She Runs

Have you thought about putting your name on the ballot? Learn about the Emerge program and why you should run!

Support Our Work

Emerge America needs your help to expand our training.