How Kate Black is Getting More Women in Office--and how you can too (+TOOLKIT)


Former Chief of Staff for EMILY's List, Kate Black, just published her first book, written with the actress June Diane Raphael. It’s called “Represent The Woman's Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World.” She shares the attributes of successful candidates, the stories of women who rose to office against all odds, and how to respond when you hear someone say this country isn’t ready for a woman president. Plus, how to determine if you have the time to get out there and run. Check out the companion "Toolkit" episode in the feed right now.

TOOLKIT: Listen here to find out the most important things you need to know before you run for office, what you must know when you run and how to support someone who is, all right here in a tidy little package.

Support the Inflection Point Campaign for Action. Donate today:

RESOURCES: There is a great section in the book that lists, Nationally and by State, tons of resources excerpted from the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University.

TRANSCRIPT: We do our best on these, if you see an error, let us know!

Kate Black:                            My name is Kate Black. I'm a policy advisor in the federal government and the former chief of staff and vice president of research at Emily's List.

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm just thinking about what position does a woman need to be in in her life to either afford to run or have the time to run? I'm thinking about all the things that are stacked against us. We're the primary caregivers, all the things that we're up against in terms of attaining leadership positions, you know, in a corporate setting let alone in a public setting. Is there kind of an ideal situation that you're in that says, "I'm equipped, I'm prepared, I have what I need to make it happen."

Kate Black:                            Well I think first and foremost it's really important to think about a couple of words that we say over and over in the book, which is that men are not waiting.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah.

Kate Black:                            Men are not waiting for that next, you know, promotion or for their children to grow up and move out of the house. They're not waiting for maybe an aging parent to finally get well. They're not waiting for that next training or webinar. Men are not waiting. I think to your point, is there a perfect time? I say no. I think you have to kind of understand where you're at currently and evaluate that. You're absolutely right, women are doing the majority of caregiving in this country whether it's paid or unpaid and we wanted to be really thoughtful about how we were addressing them but we also wanted to address self care and I think that self care gets a little bit of a buzzword these days but you have to really think about what you need to be successful and to bring your whole self, your whole, healthy self to a campaign.

Kate Black:                            If that looks like going to therapy, if it looks like taking a bath in some really nice lotion, if it means going to church, if it means going for a long walk with a friend or reading a book or doing some art. Whatever it looks like you need to make sure that you're making space for that in your campaign.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah, I mean, it's hard to imagine. I'm trying to imagine Elizabeth Warren out there taking a long bath. I feel like-

Kate Black:                            I bet she does something. She has a dog, you don't think that dog goes for walks?

Lauren Schiller:                  I don't mean to create the imagine of now like, you know, potentially our future president in the bathtub. That wasn't my intention.

Kate Black:                            Right, Elizabeth Warren walking her dog. That I can see. I can see it.

Kate Black:                            [00:03:14]

Lauren Schiller:                  This is Inflection Point. I'm Lauren Schiller and that's Kate Black. And while of course we're guessing on Elizabeth Warren's self care ritual, when it comes to getting pro-choice Democratic women in office, suffice to say Kate knows of what she speaks. Kate Black has been on Inflection Point before and returns to us because she just published her first book written with the actress June Diane Raphael. It's called "Represent - The Women's Guide for Running for Office and Changing the World."

Lauren Schiller:                  Tell me a little bit about how you and June got together to write this book in the first place.

Kate Black:                            Sure, so after 2016 June lives in California, I live in Washington DC, but like so many, in fact, millions of people after the 2016 elections were kind of called to do something more. A lot of us marched, a lot of us went to the streets and took up in the Women's Marches. A lot of us ran for Congress and for State House and got involved in politics and June and I specifically came together to write this book. She woke up after the elections and kind of I think like a lot of people kind of asked herself, you know, "If that guy could do it maybe I should." Looked around and there wasn't really a roadmap for her, you know? There wasn't a book that she could buy online or at her local bookstore that she could find. So she kind of made her way to me and we wrote this how-to guide, basically.

Kate Black:                            We wrote the story that we thought was missing. It provides that roadmap that I think June was looking for. It covers so many of the elements of running for office that uniquely impact women, you know? Where do you run? When do you run? Do you start talking about it? Clothing? Yes, we address clothing, and we address a subject that we hear a lot which is, "How do I help other women?" Through almost about three years from an initial phone call that lasted well over an hour to me going to LA, her coming to DC multiple times, writing a proposal, then writing the book itself and editing it and designing it.

Lauren Schiller:                  Is she planning to run or something?

Kate Black:                            You know, I think if you were to ask her that question, I don't want to speak for her but I thin if you were to ask her that question she would encourage all women to consider it and I think she's a woman that's considering it.

Lauren Schiller:                  What is the state of women in office right now? I mean, we were so excited at the last election when we elected all these congresswomen, you know? It seems like the momentum is really good but like what's the reality of where we are and where do you think we actually need to get to?

Kate Black:                            You know, the reality is that the work is not done. You're exactly right that after 2018 there was a wave of new women coming into all levels of offices and that was so exciting to see and I think what's been so great about that wave of, that newness, is that it's really invigorated our politics. You're seeing, I think, especially women coming into office with young children. They're having a voice in policy where they were absent before and I think that's super exciting. When you look at just the raw numbers it still isn't where it needs to be and that's precisely why we wanted to write this book. Women are over half of the population in this country but just barely a quarter of the seats in Congress.

Kate Black:                            There are almost half of the states across the country have never had a female governor. You know, and when you look at the mayors and the state legislatures we're making improvements there but we could certainly do more and we need to keep encouraging women to step up and lead. The same barriers that exist to women running for office remain. We know for a fact that it's harder for women to fundraise, especially women of color and our campaign finance system is just as it was. That barrier hasn't necessarily gone away but what we do in the book is provide some guidance and some advice for women who see that barrier in front of them and are just wondering like, "How am I going to raise this money? I have to raise probably thousands of dollars. I don't have that. How am I going to do it?"

Kate Black:                            What we do in the book is really try to rethink what fundraise can look like in your own campaign and instead of just seeing this huge number and budget in front of you and thinking, "I can't do it" instead we say, "Here's a way to jump over that barrier rethinking what you have in front of you."

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah and I want to get into some of the nitty gritty of that, too, because that is clearly like, how you actually go and get it done is so important. Imagining it and envisioning it is one thing but then actually getting on the ground and doing it is-

Kate Black:                            Yeah it's [crosstalk 00:08:11] one thing to write the book but it's still really hard and that was one thing that June and I felt so strongly about is when you're writing a book like this you want to make it for any woman who wants to run for office and there's an inherent kind of struggle in making sure that all levels of offices are kind of represented and running for city counsel in a small town is very different than running for governor of a large state. We wanted to speak to both so I think throughout the book you see this kind of pivot back and forth from federal races and big gubernatorial races to the very local races.

Kate Black:                            Trying to understand and unpack how much money it does cost to run for governor of Texas, for example, versus maybe school board in Virginia Beach. You know, those are two different races but similarly a woman could be easily qualified and feel up for the task for both. We want to make sure that both of those women have the tools that they need to be successful.

Lauren Schiller:                  That's actually something I've been wondering about and first of all, it was a great reminder that there are all these levels of positions that are available to run for. It's not just about, you know, we're more so focused on the presidency right now, for example, but it's not just about that level.

Kate Black:                            Absolutely.

Lauren Schiller:                  It can be effecting your community. The 25% that you cited, is that pretty much even across the board across all of these positions or are there positions where we're seeing more woman in-

Kate Black:                            Well let me take a step back. I mean, you brought up a great point that so often I think when we think about campaigning or running for office we think about Washington DC. That's kind of where our mind goes but the book really represents the full depth and breadth of elected offices that you can seek out. There are over 500,000 offices that you can run for in this country. It's not just the 435 in the US House of Representatives or the 100 in the Senate or even that Oval Office on Pennsylvania Avenue. It's this whole landscape that's available to women and so we really wanted to speak to that.

Kate Black:                            To your question, though, about the 25%. We kind of hover around that number whether you're talking about the federal level or state legislatures. There are some super bright spots, though. Like for instance we know that women tend to make up a larger swath of school board seats. We also know that there are some state legislatures that are majority women. I think Nevada is one of those. There definitely are some bright spots, like I mentioned, but I think across the board we need to do more so that there are not just women in some of these specific sectors but rather when you look across the kind of political landscape it's filled with women.

Kate Black:                            I want to see women everywhere. Especially if we're ever going to think about parity, you know, we really have to have a long way to go there.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah and keeping the momentum going and you know, I was thinking back to like, in the 90s it was the year of the woman, right? When Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and three or four other women were elected to the Senate in a single year. That was like, a really big deal, but that was over 20 years ago. How do we make this not just surge and retreat, surge and retreat, but keep the momentum going? What's your vision for how that might come to be?

Kate Black:                            Well I think Barbara Mikulski actually has a fantastic quote about the year of the woman because she would get asked about it all the time, you know? "Is this the new year of the woman?" I feel like that narrative comes up almost every election cycle, you know? "Is this the new year?" To be honest, there has been almost a steady growth. Now, that growth isn't huge, but a steady growth of women in elected office over time. What happens, though, is that as women step up to run women who are currently serving are either leaving their seats to run for higher office, which we're seeing right now with the presidential. All of the women except for Marianne Williamson currently hold elected office. If they're successful, that means that there's no longer a woman in their current seat.

Kate Black:                            Sometimes that happens where a woman is in elected office but chooses to run for something else. That creates a vacancy and it's not always filled by another woman. Or what we have been seeing a lot, actually, on the Republican side is Republican women choosing not to run for reelection. It certainly happens on both sides where we have some growth but for different political or outstanding reasons a woman will choose not to go forward. But you know, I think going back to Barbara Mikulski, I think she would say that, "Every year is the year of the woman," right? That year was special but we should keep this momentum and this narrative alive.

Kate Black:                            It's not that it's this year, it's every year. I think that's helpful just as a reminder. It's not just about women on the ballot, it's about women voters, it's about the issues that matter to women. You know, I think too often we get so focused on a number and I think outside of all that, we strip all that away, you're actually talking about some really fantastic women who have stepped up to lead their communities. Whether it's running for city council, running for Congress or the Senate or even presidency. I mean, that is just in itself, should be celebrated.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah, agreed 100%. I mean, and actually to the larger point, why is it important that we have more women in office? I mean, there's the sort of obvious like, well you know we are more than 50% of the population so we should have equal representation but beyond the numbers what are some of the advantages to our whole society for having more women in office?

Kate Black:                            Well first and foremost, you know, I think June and I fundamentally agreed from the jump when we started this book is that having a more representative government, a government that looks like the people it serves I think is a better government. Especially when we see photo after photo of rooms of men deciding things without women present that directly affect the lives of women and our children and our planet. So I think, you know, having us be at the decision making table or wherever decisions are happening about society at large, I think, brings more voices and more opinions and I think ultimately hopefully better outcomes to that decision making process.

Kate Black:                            If you look at the data, which I love, if you look at the data the data does show that when women are in office we get things done. That means we sponsor more legislation, we're more likely to work across the aisle, we're more likely to focus on issues that relate to women and families. That could look like education and health care, it could look like reproductive choice. There are so many things, I think, that women choose to focus on as priorities that make our society better. When someone asks me, "Why should I care if a woman is on the ballot or not?" Or, "Why should I vote for her?" It's like, well two things, number one, if you're tired of Washington not getting things done vote for a woman. The data shows that they just get the stuff done but also if you care about some of these bigger progressive issues we find that women when they're in office do vote and do support some of these really important issues like healthcare and like education, like I mentioned, that do impact families at large.

Lauren Schiller:                  Sometimes you hear about the talk about in terms of like, feminine values versus masculine values and that these areas of education and healthcare and social programs and reproductive choice and justice are more feminine attributes or more feminine values, you know? That's great because we can draw a line between women and those things happening. What I'm also learning and a study actually just came out today I just read the headlines of is that those things benefit men, too. I want to make sure that the outcomes feel like they are not just, "Okay we're going to get more women in office so women as a whole are going to do better" but that men are also going to do better as a result of these policies.

Kate Black:                            Absolutely. You know, I think about it all the time, even just the language that we use about issues. For example when you hear it tossed around especially in election season, "Women's issues," right? A whole bucket of things could be women's issues but that in itself kind of puts it into a segment and allows, I think, anybody, the media, candidates, pundits, whoever, to kind of segment it and park it over in a different spot where it's not part of the national dialogue. Instead of categorizing it just as "Women's issues," I like to think about it just as issues that are important to women. That is a whole host of things. It could be foreign policy, it could be domestic policy, whatever it is, those issues are central to the lives of women in this country and we should be putting them front and center.

Kate Black:                            Too, and anecdote that I would share with you to kind of color the point that you just made, I remember I was in a focus group, this was probably three or four years ago. It was a focus group in Pennsylvania about equal pay. We did a group of millennial men and I remember watching the focus group and the moderator asked a question, "Do you think the wage gap is real?" Half the room said, "No." Then she asked, she kind of explained it a little bit and by the end of the focus group I distinctly remember this one young man's opinion because he was kind of an older millennial and he was one of the few married men in the room. I distinctly remember by the end of the session he said, "So wait, let me get this, if my wife is making an equal wage as she should be, that actually helps me, right?"

Kate Black:                            I wish he could see my face behind the glass. I was like, "Yes 100% it helps you so like, get on board." I just, I will never forget him kind of having that light bulb moment of like, "Oh my gosh, this issue directly impacts me. My wife's financial security impacts me. I need to be for this." It's like, "Absolutely bro. Come to the party. I don't care that you're late but I'm glad that you're here."

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm Lauren Schiller and I'm so glad you're here to listen to my conversation with Kate Black, coauthor of "Represent - The Women's Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World." You can change the world right now by subscribing to the podcast and making a contribution toward our production at

Lauren Schiller:                  Stay tuned because coming up we'll talk about running for the highest office in the land.

Lauren Schiller:                  [00:19:16]

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm Lauren Schiller and this is Inflection Point and I'm here with Kate Black, coauthor of "Represent - The Women's Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World." So you brought up the progressive issues. Are you saying this book is for any political affiliation or do you have a bias towards one political affiliation?

Kate Black:                            This book is for, I think, any woman from any party. We acknowledge, you know, I think on page two that June and I both come from progressive backgrounds, that we have both worked to elect Democrats. That's no secret in the book. We also say on that same page I think on the next sentence is that we hope that a Republican woman picks up this book, too, and is inspired and motivated and encouraged to run. I made the point earlier about parity but if we ever want to get to 50% of Congress, let's say, the Democrats can't do it alone. We need Republicans to do their part, too. That, I think, goes across partisan divides. I think if you're a Democrat or a Republican or an independent or a member of the Green party or just out there by yourself. I would say you can pick up this book and see not only the advice that we give, which crosses parties, or the issues that we talk about which also cross party lines, I think you can also see yourself in some of the women that we profile and that we talk to and whose advice is kind of scattered throughout.

Kate Black:                            We talked to Democrats, we talked to Republicans, we highlight Republicans and we highlight Democrats. So I think our intention with this book was to make it non-partisan, both in the look and the feel.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah, well right now we're in the midst of the Democratic primaries for the presidential race in 2020. What do you say to people who say, "Well, they're really smart and everything but this country's just not ready for a woman president."

Kate Black:                            Oh man, I would say look at the data. The data disproves that. I think there was a poll that just came out this afternoon that said that 56% of Americans said that the country was ready for a woman president. I think I would also go back to 2016 and for the record, a woman won three million more votes than the other guy. I think there's a lot of data points that we could show that shows that not only is the country ready but voters have spoken about this issue. Also, for the record, I think the women who are currently running for president, they've all won elections before in their districts or their states and so I think there's certainly an electability argument there that is percolating but I feel very strongly that both the country is ready, because they've shown it before, but also that these women are women who have won elections and can hold their own.

Kate Black:                            I'm excited to kind of see where it all goes but I'm just as excited to see these women who have proven records, proven track records of getting voter support.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah, I mean, it's really, it's kind of, sort of like a psychological game in a way to ask yourself the question, "Am I," especially in a position where I am hosting this feminist show, "Would I vote for them just because they're a woman or would I vote for the most qualified candidate who happens to be a woman or is the magic sauce that it's both?"

Kate Black:                            It could be the magic sauce. I mean, everyone has to answer that question for themselves but in that question I think I would challenge people to think about if you do value gender, if gender is for you, an unapologetic qualification, I think then the choice is obvious. I also don't think you have to be afraid of making gender a must have or value that you're looking for in candidates because this comes up a lot. This dialogue comes up or certainly the question, you know, we hear a lot like, "Yeah, are we ready for a woman president?" Or, "I just want to vote for the person who could win" or, "Her voice, just ugh, I can't." Or, "It's not her turn," or, "It's really time for him."

Kate Black:                            You do hear, or, "Why is she always playing X card," or, "She just doesn't represent me." All of those things we've heard before and what we wanted to do in the book was arm our readers with some kind of go to lines where they could interrupt some of that language. What we do in the book is provide a cheat sheet to interrupt sexist and racist, we say another word, comments about women candidates. It's meant almost to be cut out of the book and taken with you in your book bag, diaper bag, tote bag, whatever so that when it comes up you're kind of armed with something. It could be something as innocuous as, "Well tell me more about that. Why do you feel like you wouldn't vote for a woman just because she's a woman?" Or, "You say you just don't like her. Tell me more."

Kate Black:                            Sometimes I think people say these things because they've heard them before or they're kind of just memes out in the world and they're just repeating them but also I think sometimes there are real sentiments behind some of these comments and I think it's a dialogue that can happen from that interruption could be very valuable and could open up some thinking that might not have ever been kind of questioned before. We wanted to give the reader that part of the book. It was really, I think, a special piece that June and I wanted to include for sure.

Lauren Schiller:                  Actually that section is really helpful I think even as a woman reading the book. To interrupt some of the internalized sexism that we each hold within us because it's just like, baked in since day one of our birth, right, by living in this society.

Kate Black:                            Yeah. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. You know, I think part of writing this book for me personally was understanding my own kind of voice and value and that I am enough to write this book and you know, you kind of have to get over a whole host of your own stuff to be able to do this. This was not an easy process for me and I think I can only imagine what it's like for someone running. The levels of kind of scrutiny and socialization and bias and all of these things that are kind of taught to women and put on women from day one. You know, it's a lot to get over and I think it's a lot to get over and when I think about women running for office I just applaud them from the jump because it's such an undertaking to kind of disrobe yourself from all of that baggage sometimes.

Lauren Schiller:                  You're obviously very qualified to write this book with the multitude of experience that you've had and your role at Emily's List. What were some of the attributes that successful candidates have had that you've observed and that you could call out?

Kate Black:                            Sure. Well I think when you look at successful candidates, and especially I think one of the great things about women candidates specifically is that a successful candidate listens. They understand that to hear from voters and to hear stories and to internalize those narratives and then communicate effectively outward so that they reach people where they are but also share a story that's powerful. That intake and output is not an easy thing and it's certainly not an easy thing to sit quietly sometimes, especially if you're running for office and everyone's kind of waiting for you to speak. It's not an easy thing to sit quietly and hear, and really listen to a constituent share a problem or share something that they're passionate about. Even more so I think we can get kind of bogged down in some [wonkyness 00:28:04] and some policy and that sometimes feels good because that's our home base. Especially if you're running for office you're probably been thinking about all of these issues really seriously.

Kate Black:                            Sometimes I think the most effective candidates are the ones that can talk to you like a regular person and really break down some of these hard to understand issues in a way that I think meets them where they are but also doesn't patronize or talk down to anybody. You know, in fact, I think, Stacey Abrams is a fantastic example of this. But she's also, I think, a self described introvert. I think for any woman maybe listening to this who is thinking, "Oh, Kate's just talking about someone who's outgoing" or "I need to be really gregarious or be able to talk to anybody. That's just not me." I would tell you some of the best candidates, I think, are actually introverts. Where they are able to kind of absorb from other people, kind of sit with their own selves but also then communicate so well and emote and connect with people in such a way that when you're campaigning is such a powerful force to watch and to see.

Kate Black:                            Ultimately I think that's how we win elections is when our own stories kind of fill in the gaps between where voters see us and where they want to be ultimately. I think when you think about that quality, I think women candidates have that so innately because we have so many stories and we have so many narratives. It's so easy for us to connect. This was such an important piece of the book for June and I that we broke it into two chapters. It's called, "How Does This Work in my Real Life Part 1 and Part Deux." Part One really focuses on your professional career and it focuses on money and time. There's a question in there about thinking about what office you want to run for, do you have to quit your job and what are the implications of that? What is the implications on your financial security? What does it look like for your long term career plan? Are you able to take a leave of absence? Have you talked to your boss about this?

Kate Black:                            All of these questions are valuable questions that we kind of lead the reader through so that she's doing this exercise. The next thing that we think about is our time and so to that end, June and I both do a time log. For two weeks we map out every hour and you see it in the book. You see June's and you see mine. We're very different people. She wrote hers out in a narrative, mine's in an Excel spreadsheet. It's fine. Turns out though once you do that exercise you see kind of where your time is going and you're able to assess. "Is there time I can give away maybe for a campaign? And is there time that I need to keep sacred?"

Lauren Schiller:                  One of the many things that I love about "Represent" is that you share the stories of a number of women who ran for office and won and one of the ones that really stood out to me, which I was hoping you would tell the story of Stephanie Murphy, the congresswoman from Florida and how she came to the country, how she attained the position. Could you share that? I just think it's so poignant at this particular moment.

Kate Black:                            Sure, so Congresswoman Murphy was elected in 2016 and her story is so powerful. She was born in Vietnam and her family fled when she was just a baby. They were in a dingy of sorts, they were in a boat and the boat was going to capsize and she was rescued by the Coast Guard. She came to the United States and she worked in the Defense Department, she worked in government, she worked in private practice. She and her family eventually moved to Florida and she was a small businesswoman with two children. She decided to run for office, I would say, five or six months before the general election and she decided to take on a man who had been in office for decades at that point. She was late getting into the race and everyone was like, "Who's this person?" And "Can she raise the money?" And "He's been in for office for so long" and "It's Florida. That's tough. Is she going to be able to flip the seat?" She won.

Kate Black:                            She won with such, I would say, great support from a whole host of different sectors of the voting populace. Her story is one that I think when she goes to Congress, she tells it so well because it connects with both our, kind of, patriotism that we all feel for this country but she was literally saved by people serving in the military. So her connection to not only public service is so real you can kind of, it's almost palatable when she talks. To be able to take on an incumbent who had been in office for so long and to bring in someone so new and so fresh to the public life is really, really exciting.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah and just, I mean, just her story of coming over. Fleeing a country that was under duress. Her family was under duress and being rescued and then making her way into some of the highest ranks of the US government to do more good for more people. I mean, just the full circle of it is just incredible.

Kate Black:                            It really is and I think it's a great example of one that, you know, we highlight so many different women in the book and one other I'll just share, too, is Lisa Murkowski, the Republican Senator from Alaska. Lisa Murkowski is a woman whose been in office for some time but she actually lost a Republican primary for reelection when the Tea Party was kind of hitting its stride. Instead of being like, "All right I lost that primary" she said, "I'm going to run as an independent and I'm going to do a write in campaign." Now imagine having to not only run on a different party line but also you now have to tell people, and teach people, how to spell your name correctly so that you get enough votes that count that are legitimate to win a general election. That's exactly what she did.

Kate Black:                            You know, one of her first campaign ads was literally showing people how to spell "Murkowski" and sure enough, she won that election and she's still serving in the Senate today and doing some tremendous things. Some tremendous bipartisan things, in fact. I love that we share so many different kind of origin stories of women in the book. Hopefully that shows women who pick it up and are inspired to maybe read it, run themselves or give it to someone else that they can see a little bit of something that sparks their interest and sparks maybe their own identity so they can take this on for themselves.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah and I mean, throughout the book you've got this running checklist and these are the 21 things that you need to check off in order to know that, I mean, literally to check the boxes. Make sure that you've got everything from your vision, you know, down to how you're going to get support, down to meeting the requirements for entering the race, you know? Everything is on this list but there's only 21 of them so that feels actually manageable and of course, some of them are going to take more time than others, right?

Kate Black:                            Of course.

Lauren Schiller:                  What was the thinking about structuring this, you know, the book around a checklist?

Kate Black:                            Well we wanted women to feel ... first of all, we love checklists. I mean, who doesn't?

Lauren Schiller:                  Me too.

Kate Black:                            I write things on my to do list just so I can cross them off.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yes, thank you. You're my people.

Kate Black:                            Yes, yes. I also know, you know, sometimes I think we need the details and with running for office there are many steps and there's, you know, to your point some things take longer than others but to make it feel as accessible as possible, why not make it a checklist, you know? As we started kind of building out our chapters we realized like, we're asking them to do things. We're asking them to kind of check things off of a list. Why not have that list build as the book goes through so that the final chapter you're able to really cross off that final thing on your list and looking back over it you'll see how many things you've accomplished. You know, you've written your pitch, you've figured out how much money you need to raise, you've identified where you're going to run.

Kate Black:                            You've also, what I love too about the final thing is you've named at least five other women who you're going to ask to run and give this book to. That's such a powerful closer to the list and I hope that there's women out there who are writing in additional lines because, you know, surely we can all name more than five women we should ask to run but hopefully you can add names as you go because I think that's incredibly powerful to have that kind of checklist in hand. Also know that it's never done because there's always women to ask to run.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah. I have to ask you a question that is sort of like a personal question because a few years ago I was asked to run for City Council in my town and I was super busy at the time. It didn't seem like the right time, I was very intrigued by the idea. I was completely overwhelmed by the idea and ultimately I decided not to do it but one of the things that was in my way is that I was imagining myself sitting in these highly bureaucratic meetings where everything moves super slow and as a person who likes to get things done, as you said, "Women get things done when they get into office." That for me was actually a barrier, thinking about the slow moving bureaucracy and procedural rules and things like that that happen in meetings where decisions do get made. Can you say anything to assuage my concerns on that front?

Kate Black:                            Well I don't think it's unreasonable. I don't think it's unreasonable, especially when you have people coming from all different types of backgrounds where they are getting things done or they're seeing change happen around them. Going into government can sometimes seem like, "Hmm, is this really the answer?" So what we do in the book is actually encourage women to think about what is the thing that fires them up? What is the passion that they're being moved by? What are they Tweeting about a lot? What is always coming up at Thanksgiving dinner? Use that as fuel to drive your campaign forward because that ultimately could be your platform. That could be small things. It could be getting a stop sign put at the end of the block so your streets are safer. It could be big things like healthcare or social security or taxes.

Kate Black:                            Reminding yourself about what you're passionate about, number one it's going to help you get through some of those meetings and some of the bureaucracy but two, you know, surely in government things take some time because you're trying to serve a whole host of the public with some of these big decisions. The beauty of being in elected office, too, is that you have a microphone. I would say to you, "You're going to be in meetings and you're going to be fighting for change and some of that change is going to feel bureaucratic and slow and granular and maybe not as exciting but the best thing is you get to leave that meeting and you have an audience and a microphone and a platform from which to speak about the things that you care about. It can be what happened in that meeting but it could also be what that meeting represents to your constituents and I would just carry that with you because there's going to be days when it's hard and there's going to be days when it's not fun but reminding yourself about why you're doing it and about the community that you're serving and about the issues that motivate you, that's what's going to propel you forward and keep you in the game."

Lauren Schiller:                  I will take that to heart, thank you.

Kate Black:                            Well hopefully you do run. I mean, you've got to do it.

Lauren Schiller:                  We'll see. I've got a different platform, right? We're talking on it right now, right?

Kate Black:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lauren Schiller:                  We'll let's- [crosstalk 00:39:29]

Kate Black:                            I will say though-

Lauren Schiller:                  Oh yes?

Kate Black:                            I will say, one of the big things that we did in one of the chapters which is about qualifications and feeling qualified, we did look at all of the professions of the 115th Congress, so what they did before they were elected and radio host is on there. There are radio hosts in Congress. You, too, could do it.

Lauren Schiller:                  All right. More checkpoints, more data points. The last question I have for you, I hope this makes you chuckle a little bit, is what's the best advice that you've ever been given about how to self promote?

Kate Black:                            Oh my gosh, so in the book, this will make me laugh. In the book we have a whole thing about self promotion and I was in LA at the time, June and I, we would get together for these multi day kind of writing sessions. They were all day sessions and I knew we were coming in to do kind of a self promotion kind of conversation and chapter and I had just gotten off of doing an interview with a friend who hosts a radio show and I said to June very proudly, "I know how to self promote. Here it is" and I showed her a Facebook post that I had done. It was, June's reaction was literal laughter. I think a belly laugh might even be more descriptive. She was just like, "Kate, this is not self promotion" and she's right because the post that I had done was not about me at all. In fact, it was about the subject matter and was about my friend's show and it was not about me as being an expert at all but really just about the fact that I was on a thing and June ...

Kate Black:                            We included this story in the book number one because it, I think, shows that we all get it wrong sometimes but two, how hard it is to self promote. June gave me some excellent advice and we reworked it and I ended up deleting the post and re-posting a new post which put myself front and center and my achievement front and center, which is not easy to do. In terms of the best advice that I've ever gotten around self promotion certainly boasting about it and then being proven wrong is not a great feeling and you definitely learn from that. But you know, I think for women self promotion is just such a hard thing sometimes because not only are we sometimes taught to be uncomfortable with boasting or bragging and feeling a little squishy about that and feeling, "Are we imposters? Are people going to judge us differently?"

Kate Black:                            You know, I think about when I see men talking about their achievements and I've certainly been in enough rooms where I've heard men talking about something that they've done and I've thought to myself, "Well if he can do it why don't I do it more?" I think it takes a mentality and just a moment of pause to think, "Why am I not sharing this awesome thing that I've just done? Is it about me? Is it about other people? Is it a combination of both?" Sometimes you just got to swallow it and just do it and the more that you do it the better it will feel and also the more that you'll get such great responses from people when they hear about the cool [00:42:51] that you're doing. I mean, that's so special and so [00:42:53].

Kate Black:                            I don't know if I have a great piece of advice but I would tell you definitely sharing what you think is self promotion with your coauthor is a great way to learn what is not self promotion but also trying to do it as much as you can, as frequently as you can is a great way to just kind of get comfortable with trying that on and eventually it won't feel like you're trying it on but rather it's a part of your [everydayness 00:43:18]

Kate Black:                            [00:43:22]

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm Lauren Schiller and this is Inflection Point and while we're talking self promotion, I'm excited to tell you we're trying something new on the program and that is to provide a toolkit of concrete actions you can take on the issues that matter to you. Stay with us.

Lauren Schiller:                  [00:43:43]

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm Lauren Schiller and we're trying something new on Inflection Point, which I'm very excited about and that is to provide an ongoing series of toolkits in our show, from our guests, with concrete actions you can take on the issues that matter to you. We created these toolkits so that when you only have a few minutes or so you can get the inspiration and information you need to do something. Today's Inflection Point toolkit, my guest Kate Black, the author of "Represent - The Women's Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World" tells us how we can get more women in office. Whether you're deciding to run or supporting someone who is.

Lauren Schiller:                  When it comes to getting more women in office what are three things you need to know before you decide to run?

Kate Black:                            A couple things that I would say to anybody who's listening who's thinking about running, first things to do. Number one is to figure out what issue fires you up the most. You probably have been posting about this on social media, you might be talking about it all the time with your friends, it might come up a lot at Thanksgiving. Understanding and identifying that issue is the first thing to do because it's eventually going to be your platform.

Kate Black:                            The second thing I would say is start showing up. You know, identify how you're representing your community now. It could be looking at are you attending city council meetings? Have you asked for your local leaders to have one on one meetings with you? Are you going to protests? Are you going to community events? There's so many different ways that you can show up for your community. It's important that you start kind of being present because eventually if you run for office you're going to ask your community to show up for you and so it's important to be there for them from the start.

Kate Black:                            The third thing I would say is start talking to people. You don't need to know when you're running or what you're running for but running for office is not a solo activity. It is a team sport and it takes a village. Start telling people you want to run. This could be a small group at first, it could be your partner, your family, maybe your close friends. Our words have powerful, make powerful promises to ourselves when we say them aloud. When you say, "I think I'm going to run for office one day" that not only makes a promise for yourself but it also brings in a whole collection of folks into your journey along with you.

Kate Black:                            those are the first three things I would tell anyone who's thinking about running for office. Those are the first three things I would say to start doing today.

Lauren Schiller:                  So say someone has made the decision to run. What do they need to know?

Kate Black:                            For someone running for office the things that I would tell you to do first are identify the requirements that it takes to run for the specific seat you're looking at. You know, for Congress that means you have to have been a resident and a certain age to run. For local and state offices there might be different requirements around residency or how old you need to be to run for that specific seat. Don't confuse qualifications and requirements. You are qualified today. Your experience is your expertise. Remember that you are enough and that men are not waiting so it's time for you to step up. The other thing I would tell you to do is really think about your social media presence. Do an inventory, go through every Tweet, every Facebook post, every Instagram video. Take time, be one with your computer because you need to go through everything. Once you've done that it's time to identify, do you need to have a campaign page and a private page?

Kate Black:                            Eventually I think the answer is probably "yes" because the folks that you first talked to when you set up your Facebook account in college, are they the same people you need to communicate your policy platform with and about events and fundraisers for your campaign? Maybe, but maybe not, so think about having a separate profile and public persona for your campaign that's different from your private pages.

Kate Black:                            The last thing I would say is think about the community of people around you and how you can involve them in this new journey. That could look like your sorority, your alumni association, a professional network, your daycare pickup circle. It could look like the softball league down the street that you show up for on every other Saturday but invite those people into your journey. They can be volunteers, they can maybe host fundraisers for you, they could give you money. They also might be some of your staff. Do you know someone who's really great at organizing events? They can maybe be a finance director. Do you know the person down the street who knows everybody's business and where everyone lives? That person might be a field director. They might be there with you knocking on doors because they know who's home when and where.

Kate Black:                            These are a few first steps I would take to running but you've already done the most important thing, which is deciding to put your name on the ballot in the first place.

Lauren Schiller:                  What could we all do to support other women who are running if we ourselves are not?

Kate Black:                            This is a great question. It's one that we get a lot. The final chapter of the book is actually titled, "How Do I Support Other Women?" Voting for them is a great, cost free way to support other women running for office. You can donate your time, your money, your expertise to their campaigns. You can also help her in other ways. June and I like to say that behind every woman candidate is really another woman trying to help her get it all together. If you have a friend or you know a woman who's running, don't wait to be invited to offer help. Just step in. That could look like making sure that there's Diet Coke's in the fridge and coffee in the morning. It could look like picking up the dry cleaning or walking the dog or taking her to get her hair done or you know, inviting her to go out for a walk just to blow off some steam. Whatever it is, don't wait to be invited, just start showing up for her.

Kate Black:                            The last thing is asking her to run. We know it takes women multiple times to ask them to run for them to step up. We need to be recruited intentionally and thoughtfully and so if you know a woman in your life, and I invite you to think really about all the women in your life and consider them. Whether they're domestic worker, sex workers, teachers, bus drivers, cashiers, bank tellers because we still have those, maybe radio hosts. All of the women in your life can run for office and I ask you to consider them and share with them this book.

Lauren Schiller:                  [00:51:02]

Lauren Schiller:                  That was Kate Black, who just published the book, "Represent - The Women's Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World" that she wrote with June Diane Raphael. I've got a link to it on my website at

Lauren Schiller:                  Now for some news. When you go into the podcast feed you'll see our episodes broken up into two segments: one for when you have a little more time and one for when you're, well, on the run. Whether it's running for office or running an errand. That way if you want to hear again what Kate Black says are the most important things you can do when running for office or supporting someone who is, it's all right there in a tiny little package. Find Inflection Point episodes in any podcast app or go to

Lauren Schiller:                  This episode is dedicated to my friend Stephanie Walton, who stepped up to run for office in Oakland, California and to all the other women who are raising their hands. You can do it and we support you. This is Inflection Point. I'm Lauren Schiller and this is how women rise up.

Lauren Schiller:                  [00:52:21]

Lauren Schiller:                  That's our Inflection Point for today. All of our episodes are on Apple Podcast, RadioPublic, Stitcher, Pandora, NPR One, all the places. Give us a five star review and subscribe to the podcast. Know women leading change we should talk to? Let us know at While you're there, support our production with a tax deductible monthly or one time contribution. When women rise up, we all rise up. Just go to We're on Facebook and Instagram at Inflection Point Radio. Follow us and join the Inflection Point Society, our Facebook group of everyday activists who seek to make extraordinary change through small daily actions. Follow me on Twitter @LASchiller. To find out more about today's guest and to be in the loop with our email newsletter, you know where to go:

Lauren Schiller:                  Inflection Point is produced in partnership with KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco NPRX. Our community manager is Alaura Weaver, our engineer and producer is Eric Wayne. I'm your host, Lauren Schiller. This is Inflection Point and this is how women rise up.

Lauren Schiller:                  [00:53:44]


Kate Black

Kate Black

How to Fight Like A Mother-Shannon Watts, Moms Demand Action

There have been over 200 mass shootings in this country since 2009. Shannon Watts, the author of a new book: Fight Like a Mother, is the founder of Moms Demand Action, a group that is using research, data, and a little bit of “nap-tivism” to throw their weight and money behind political candidates who are willing to put better gun control laws into action. The kicker? They’re winning. In the last election, they outspent even the NRA. Their goal: make our country safer.

Join us this week for a look at why our kids are subjected to violent and traumatizing active shooter drills, and what it takes to pass sensible gun legislation. We talk about the root cause of gun violence, who takes the brunt of the violence when background checks get lax, “losing forward” and the very real and positive change that is starting to take place as we come up to the 2020 elections.

Photo courtesy of Shannon Watts

Photo courtesy of Shannon Watts

Paid Leave For All - Katie Bethell is Seizing the Moment to Fight for Radical Policy Change

America is one of only two countries in the world where you can be fired for taking a day off in order to give birth (let that sink in for a moment). As it stands, paid leave policy varies from company to company, state to state, but on a national level, there is no policy in place, no minimum requirements or baseline standard that applies to everyone.

And it’s not just about moms—this lack of policy also has greater repercussions for how we define a family, in a political sense, and the relationship between the family and the workplace--men included. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand are both bringing attention to these issues, running on platforms of universal childcare, and paid medical and family leave.

Katie Bethell, founder and executive director of Paid Leave for the US (PLUS), joins us this week to give us the alarming stats, talk nerdy government logistics, and offer some extremely practical advice on how we can use this particularly potent moment to push for political change.

Join us this week on Inflection Point for a look at radical change in action, one decision at a time.

Inflection Point is independently produced and we rely on support from listeners like you! Make a tax deductible donation to support our production today at Thank you!

Photo courtesy of Paid Leave for the US

Photo courtesy of Paid Leave for the US

Universal Basic Income is a radical idea. In Stockton, CA they've started to experiment.

This week, we hear about a radical plan to end poverty: Universal Basic Income. Lauren talks to the team behind an experiment with Guaranteed Income taking place in Stockton, CA the one-time foreclosure capital of America where 1 in 4 people live below the poverty line. Featuring conversations with Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, Natalie Foster of the Economic Security Project, and the co-principal investigators on this experiment: Dr. Amy Castro Baker of the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Stacia Martin West of the University of Tennessee.

Guaranteed Income and Universal Basic Income—where money is given with no strings attached represents a radical shift in the way we think about the social contract. Could this be what a Feminist Economy looks like?

Special thanks to Mia Birdsong for providing voices of Stockton residents, from her “More Than Enough” Podcast.

Additional thanks to First Lady of Stockton, Anna Tubbs and Sukhi Samra, Executive Director of SEED.

Learn more about the Stockton Demonstration.

Learn more about the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, another project of the Economic Security Project.

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs  Photo courtesy of Cassius M. Kim

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs

Photo courtesy of Cassius M. Kim

“There is no peak fury”: Rebecca Traister, Author of Good And Mad: The Revolutionary Power Of Women’s Anger

There’s a reason that women are angry. Since the founding of this country, we have been faced with men in power who are set on shutting us down, and shutting us out. Revolutionary fury isn’t just for the founding fathers, and ladies, even though we’ve been stewing in our ever-growing anger for the past 242 years, we have just begun to fight. Find out how women have harnessed their anger throughout history and how when we listen to the stories behind each other's anger, we can all change the world today. Listen to my conversation with Rebecca Traister, the author of New York Times Bestseller, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger.

This conversation was recorded live in Berkeley, CA on October 10th, 2018 as part of Women Lit, in collaboration with the Bay Area Book Festival.

Photo by: One World Journalist

Photo by: One World Journalist

Running for Office In the Era of #MeToo: Minnesota State Representative Erin Maye Quade

At age 32, Minnesota State Representative Erin Maye Quade is positioned to be at the forefront of a wave of progressive political leaders representing a new generation of voters.

She made history while running in the Twin Cities suburbs as a deeply progressive, biracial, openly queer, anti-gun violence, anti-racist, pro-social justice candidate.

There’s no doubt she’ll rise high and go far.

The question is: as an unprecedented amount of women run for office and have a good chance of winning, will the powers that be yield to the kind of change politicians like Erin will bring to office? Or will they double down and fight dirty?

Listen to our conversation to find out.

And when you’re done, come on over to The Inflection Point Society, our Facebook group of everyday activists who seek to make extraordinary change through small, daily actions.

Subscribe to “Inflection Point” to get more stories of how women rise up right in your feed on Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic, Stitcher and NPROne.

Erin Maye Quade.jpg

Do haters deserve our compassion? Sally Kohn, Author of "The Opposite of Hate"

Can you find compassion in your heart for the haters in your life? CNN political commentator and first-time author Sally Kohn says if we keep on hating the haters, the cycle of hate will never end.  She’s believes compassion to be one of the keys to breaking the cycle of hatred that pervades our culture in today’s divisive world. 

The question is, how can compassion defeat a system fueled by hate? 

Listen in on my conversation with Sally Kohn, author of “The Opposite of Hate” on what she’s learned from her own missteps as a former school bully and, paradoxically, as a well-meaning liberal, breaking the cycle of hate, and cultivating compassion for her perceived enemies.

Photo by Paul Takeuchi

Photo by Paul Takeuchi

"I am powerful by just living" - Sarah McBride, author of "Tomorrow Will Be Different"

In 2016, Sarah McBride made history--and a childhood dream come true when she stood on the stage at the the Democratic National Convention as the first transgender person to speak at a national political convention. As of 2018, more than half of LGBTQ people live in states that don’t protect them from discrimination or are even actively hostile towards them. Some states have enacted laws that allow businesses, healthcare providers and government officials to actually deny services to LGBTQ people.

In the most challenging moments--the 2016 election results, everyday sexism and misogyny and the death of her young husband-- even then she fights to update our laws to protect and include LGBTQ people.

Sarah is now the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBTQ civil rights organization. And she’s the author of the new book, “Tomorrow Will Be Different. Love, Loss and the Fight for Trans Equality.”

RESOURCES referred to on this episode:

Human Rights Campaign

Transgender Law Center

Sarah McBride (photo by B Proud)

Sarah McBride (photo by B Proud)

How To Get Even More Women In Office - Kate Black, Chief of Staff for EMILY's List

More women than ever are raising their hands to run for office. But what does it actually take to to win? And what will be different when they do? Kate Black, now at the FCC, recorded with me in August when she was Chief of Staff for EMILY's List, an organization that helps pro-choice, Democratic women run for office. And she has her own story of awakening to the fact that we need more women in office. 

Kate Black

Kate Black

How To Activate Your Activism - Jess McIntosh co-Founder of Signal Boost

Jess McIntosh headed up influencer outreach for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now, she's leading an initiative to amplify women's rights' activism. Starting with the Women's March, she and her co-founder Zerlina Maxwell are boosting the growth for the many movements being catalyzed around the march. It's called "Signal Boost." Listen here, on iTunes, or NPR One.

Jess McIntosh

Jess McIntosh