Today, Emerge Washington announced that it has hired Karen Besserman as its new executive director. The 18th Emerge America affiliate, Emerge Washington officially launched in May, and will serve as the premier political leadership training organization for Democratic women in the Evergreen State. In her role as executive director, Besserman will lead all aspects of the organization, including its efforts to recruit and train Democratic women to run for office, fundraising and managing key relationships with political stakeholders.
“I’m very excited to be joining the Emerge Washington team and contributing to its goal of equal representation of Democratic women in our decision-making bodies at the local, state and national level,” said Besserman. “The enthusiasm I’ve already experienced working with Emerge Washington and the Emerge America network is contagious and I look forward to utilizing my past experience to help Democratic women succeed in running for office.”
Besserman has 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.
“We are lucky to have Karen joining the Emerge Washington Team,” said Pam Eakes of the Emerge Washington Organizing Committee. “Her vast political experience advocacy, campaigns and consulting will Emerge Washington an edge when it comes to recruiting and training Democratic women and connecting them to political stakeholders in the Evergreen State. We can’t wait to see the great things she does with the organization.”
This new hire comes as Emerge Washington and Emerge America are about to host a Northwest Regional Candidate Boot Camp for Democratic women running in 2017 or 2018 in Seattle from June 9-11. Top political trainers and strategists will teach attendees critical skills including developing a campaign plan, fundraising, messaging, and public speaking.
For more information on the boot camp, please visit: bit.ly/eawanorthwestbootcamp or http://www.emergeamerica.org/EmergeWA.