Dear Friend,
What. A. Week. While Americans fretted over the presidency, women across the country and up and down the ballot made history and broke records.

--The United States has elected its first female Vice President, Kamala Harris.

 The number of women in Congress hit a record high of 132, with some races yet to be called. While historic, women still account for less than 24% of members. 

-- New Mexico now has a majority women State House AND elected an all women of color delegation to the U.S. House.

-- Three trans women were elected to state legislatures this year, just three years after Danica Roem became the first openly trans woman to win a state legislative seat.

-- Twenty-three Black women won races for the U.S. House, narrowly surpassing the previous record of 22. 

-- At least 24 Republican women have been elected to the U.S. House, approaching the 2006 record of 25.

Read our initial election analysis. 
Be well and get some rest!
               Abbie Hodgson


Candidate Highlights from 2020

Our partner organizations trained and empowered a record number of women to run for office this year. More than 10,000 women attended trainings and at least 450 ran for office. Six such women who broke down barriers this year are featured below. Learn more about our partners.

Georgia State Senate, District 48

Michelle Au is a doctor, public health expert, first generation Chinese-American, and mom who won a State Senate seat in Georgia. She is an alumna of New American Leaders and is one of more than 100 of first- and second-generation Americans who ran for office this year. 
U.S. Congress, California - 03

An Air Force veteran, mom, and community advocate, Tamika Hamilton used campaign funds to pay for childcare while running for Congress in California. Since 2018, all federal candidates can use campaign funds for childcare, but parents running at the state level can only do so in 22 states. The Vote Mama Foundation is working to pass legislation in all 50 states.

Kansas State House, District 86

Stephanie is a Kansas State and National Educator of the year and openly transgender woman who ran for Kansas State House. She is a graduate of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, the first openly transgender legislator in the Midwest, and the first Native American transgender person to be elected in the United States.
New York State Senate, District 55

Samra Brouk is a changemaker and organizer with experience in grassroots journalism, protecting seniors, and organizing young people to become social change advocates. She is the first Black woman to be elected to the New York State Legislatures from the Rochester region and is an alumna of Vote Run Lead.
U.S. House, Nevada - 04

Lisa Song Sutton, an alumna of the Asian Pacific American Institute of Congressional Studies (APAICS), is a small business owner, entrepreneur, and advocate. She ran in the Republican primary in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District. The number of Republican women running for Congress in 2020 was nearly double the number who ran in 2018.
U.S. Congress, Maryland - 07

Amber Ivey is an attorney, bipartisan problem solver, and data expert who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations. Amber ran for Congress in Maryland's 7th District as an Independent this year and plans to run again in 2022. She is a member of the She Should Run community.

“When women run for political office,
they are just as likely as men to be elected.

The main reason they are so underrepresented
is that they don't run in the first place.​”

-The New York Times


When women run for office, they win at the same rate as men. To reach gender parity, women need to run at the same rate as men. Our partner organizations are dismantling the barriers that women face when deciding to run for office and arming them with the skills they need to become politically empowered and set up and run. 

We’re accelerating the pace of change toward gender parity to reach 50% representation, in all 50 states, by 2050. Our work continues, regardless of where we are in the election cycle. We will be opening our next round of grantmaking next month and will be continuing to invest in and collaborate with organizations leading the way to elect women to state legislative seats.

Additionally, in 2021 The Ascend Fund will pilot a 10-state initiative to compliment the work of our national partners. We will invest in state-based organizations to build coalitions committed to gender parity, set state specific strategies, coordinate recruitment and training of candidates, and amplify the importance of women’s leadership and a reflective democracy. We plan to expand to all 50 states by 2025. 

After 243 years, women are one step closer to America's highest office.
In 2020, the United States ranked 53rd in the global gender parity index by the World Economic Forum. One key reason was the lack of women in political leadership in the U.S.

Executive offices have long been the ultimate glass ceiling for women in politics, with representation in governorships and the presidency lagging progress at the legislative level. Women will hold 18 lieutenant governor offices in 2021, close to the 2000 record of 19 and far ahead of the representation of women in governor offices, where women hold just nine seats. 

Today, American women are one step closer to the presidency and gender parity as Senator Kamala Harris is elected as our first female vice president. 

Vice President-Elect Harris is no stranger to firsts. She is the first South Asian American and the first historical black colleges and universities (HBCU) graduate on a major party ticket, and now, the first woman vice president. 

While there is a tremendous amount of work to do to reach parity, today millions of more cracks were made in the glass ceiling. Vice President Kamala Harris is a role model for millions of women and girls across the world who can now see someone who looks like them in the Executive Branch. 
The Ascend Fund is powered by Panorama Global, an action tank committed to solving pressing global problems through strategic partnerships, collaborative funds, and scalable solutions. 
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