Meet Courtney Emerson:
Our most recent episode features Courtney Emerson, who co-founded All In Together in 2014 to ensure women’s voices are fully represented in political and civic life and to close the most critical gender gaps in political engagement. As COO, she oversees partnerships, programming and all the general operations at All In Together. She has spoken for numerous organizations, including the Council for Urban Professionals (CUP), & Professional Business Women of California (PBWC). She also serves as an Advisor to Everwise, an online mentoring and professional development platform, where she supports their women’s leadership content and programming. She is a change maker and inspirational leader and we are so thankful to share her words of wisdom with you.
What was your career journey after college?
My career journey started with a number of internships and nonprofits mostly in New York City. I was blown away and inspired by the people and their passion within these organizations, fighting to see social change, policy change, and culture change. I went to Princeton University, and while I was there, I fell in love with the Arabic language. I spent a summer in Morocco. I thought I wanted to be in foreign service, so I really wanted to learn Arabic and know relevant language for that career path.
How did this lead to your discovery of wanting to start a nonprofit and live in New York?
When I was in Morocco, I fell in love with the Arabic world and culture- the openness and the warmth they shared with me, especially as an American studying there. I became in involved with an organization called Seeds of Peace. I was the communications intern for them one summer, followed by an internship at the American Civil Liberties Union. After 9/11 with a lot of racial profiling, they did a lot of work trying to build awareness, bringing justice for people that were wrongly detained or held. That culminated in me writing a senior thesis on Women’s Rights Movements in Morocco and Egypt. Upon graduating, I really wasn’t sure what to do. I has friends working for these amazing companies and big organizations – the McKinsey and the Goldman Sacks of the world- it took me a long time to figure out how all of the things I have done really fit to where I wanted to go now in my career. Soon, through a friend from school, I found the Center of Talent Innovation. While I was there, I ran the women’s leadership programs and worked with company’s to help build awareness of the challenges and build solutions.
Can you tell sue about the All in Together Campaign?
One of the things I learned while I was at the Center for Talent Innovation was how research and awareness building can really drive change. I think a key moment of that was when Sheryl Sandberg released her book, “Lean In.” It sparked a huge conversation in corporations. This kind of thinking for me showed me that it’s an incredibly important conversation to have, but we need to expand this conversation beyond that. The mission of the All in Together Campaign is to ensure women’s voices are heard in relation to their numbers. Women are 50% of the population, but are certainly not represented in political leadership at that level or in any engagement beyond voting. We see this gap at all levels. Many women in college don’t believe they have the qualifications to run for office, while many men, do. Millennial men and women are both motivated to drive change in their communities, but women consistently do not see policy and policy change as a way to do that.
How can someone get involved in policy change?
We just want more. More engagement. More talking about these issues. It’s uncomfortable. People have different views and opinions on these topics, so it can sometimes be uncomfortable. We do know that women are more likely to walk across the isle than men, they are more effective in the senate. Have more conversations. Write a letter to your representative about a topic that inspires you. Congress actually can’t spend any time reading letters from people that are not their constituent. Use Popvox.com to submit a letter online to your representative as a constituent.
It’s important to remember that we all share the same values- we all want a better world for our selves an the next generation. This is a conversation that just started. How do we make policy change easy & accessible to everyone? Policy affects us in so many way. You don’t have to care about big things that Congress is talking about. You can care about the arts, health care, technology…
What is your advice to the other young Courtney’s out there?
Pick your head up. It’s easy to get caught up in writing the perfect essay. We always underestimate how important relationships are and how important relationship building is… It’s much more important to do your work 80% of the way and build strong relationships with people that are willing to go to bat your you and advocate for you.
Reach out to people. The worst that can happen is they can’t meet you or they don’t respond…. The best that can happen is that you have an amazing conversation that leads you to down an unknown path.
Keep in touch with Courtney!
#Passion2Action | ACTION ITEM: Start the Conversation
Create an account on POPVOX.com and write a letter to your representative.
As Courtney said, Congress can’t respond to people who aren’t they constituents. Popvox does all the work for you so that your voice can be heard. Pick a topic that inspires you, and share an experience you’ve had around that topic. Sharing your story helps policy makers make more informed decisions to improve our society!
Read more #Passion2Action on The College Juice!