Running and Winning is a non-partisan workshop for high school junior and senior girls. The mission of the workshop is to encourage the participants to consider running for office and to discover leadership capabilities in themselves by exposing them to women elected officials and women currently running for office.

Since the inception of Running and Winning in 2004, over 600 high school girls in the Tucson area have attended the workshop that is presented annually. Schools representing various districts in Tucson where workshops have been held are: Sunnyside High School (2), Catalina Magnet High (2), Cholla High School, Canyon del Oro High School, Rincon/University High, Cienega High School (2), Mountain View High School, Flowing Wells High School and Sahuaro High School.

On September 10, 2015 AAUW Tucson Branch participated in the Running and Winning program held at Sahuaro High School for 37 high school girls.  This was the twelfth time that the      League of Women Voters in Tucson has organized this program which is co-sponsored by AAUW Tucson Branch, AAUW Casas Adobes Branch, the Pima County/Tucson Women’s Commission, the YWCA of Southern Arizona, and the University of Arizona School of Government and Public Policy. Helping out this year were AAUW members Cheryl Whited, Shirley Muney, Marilyn Smoler and Nieves Miljure.  The morning began with a coffee time for the elected women and candidate guests to visit with each other.  Then the students arrived and were divided into eight teams, each of which had a graduate or undergraduate student from the University of Arizona School of Government and Public Policy serving as a facilitator for the group.  Judge Karen Adams opened the program by presenting the mission of the program and reviewing statistics concerning women in office, both nationally and locally. In three twenty-five minute sessions, the women politicians rotated among the tables and the students questioned them about their backgrounds, motivations in running for office and particulars of running a campaign.  Some of the questions the young women were encouraged to ask these elected officials were:

  • How did you become interested in politics? Why did you decide to run for office the first time?
  • Did you have fears about running? If so, what were they?
  • What are some of the challenges and rewards of holding office?
  • How do you handle personal attacks?

It was informative and inspiring to hear the diversity of the women’s experiences in running for and being elected to public office.

Next, each team of girls prepared a mock campaign for a candidate for the U.S. Senate. One of the girls at each table served as the candidate and another as speech writer, setting forth the candidate’s position on one of three topics chosen for this year’s program: immigration,  global warming or minimum wage. Other team members took different roles, serving as campaign manager, and publicist whose job was to prepare a promotional flyer, visual slide or poster to publicize their candidate. Laptops and research information were furnished to the girls to assist in their preparations. In the afternoon session, each candidate, supported by her other team members, presented her campaign speech and the other team members displayed their publicity pieces.  All of the attendees then voted on the most persuasive speech.  The winner was “sworn in” as Senator and all the girls received a certificate of completion from their table facilitator.

This year the speeches were exceptional and the League of Women Voters’ organizer, Shirley Sandelands, stated that these were the best speeches of the twelve years of the program. The young women were enthusiastic and engaged throughout the whole process and many were heard to call the program “awesome!”. We hope that the program has inspired these young women to consider possibilities in their own lives for leadership positions, not only in the political realm but also in all of their future endeavors.  In addition, we hope that the girls will see political engagement as a way to address local and national issues about which they feel strongly.

We need volunteers for a wide range of activities throughout the year to implement RUNNING AND WINNING. Please join us to see what the excitement is all about!

Contact Cheryl Whited at for more information.