Following a day-long training on the nuts and bolts of campaign strategy, those attending our April WINning Women Boot Camps were treated to a keynote speech by Democratic House Caucus Chair Stacey Evans. She explained how advocacy efforts to preserve the HOPE scholarship became the passion and purpose which has shaped her political career.

Evans is also celebrating a new accomplishment – selection for the current class of the prestigious Marshall Memorial Fellowship, a leadership development program for the best and brightest of all sectors: business, government and civil service. The program focuses on fostering a better understanding of transatlantic relations as it introduces emerging leaders from the United States to Europe and emerging European leaders to the United States. The current class has a record setting 44 Marshall Fellows from Europe and 32 from the United States.

Evans joins two Atlanta men also selected for this year’s program as the only participants from Southeastern states. Only 10 percent of applicants were selected for the six-month study program which also includes 24-days of travel and policy emersion sessions offered by leaders in several European capitals. Evans leaves for that portion of the program later this month.

Rep. Evans told women in Savannah and Atlanta about her hardscrabble childhood as the daughter of mill workers in Ringgold, Georgia. She was frank as she shared about the kind of childhood country music stars sing about. Upon graduation from high school, the HOPE Scholarship offered Evans an escape and more importantly, the opportunity to create a better future.

At the University of Georgia and later in law school there, she became increasingly involved with the Young Democrats of Georgia, rising to serve as state president. She encouraged all those present not to shirk from the seemingly “boring” jobs with organizations like Young Democrats because such service leads to later leadership roles. During law school, a professor noticed Stacey’s leadership abilities and invited her to join the Georgia’s WIN List board upon graduation. She became the third and youngest ever WIN List board Chair.

More than a decade ago, Stacey attended a WIN List campaign training offered by Kate Coyne McCoy and met two other political newcomers with bright futures: Senator Elena Parent and DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston. The three became fast friends and have met frequently for lunch or dinner and been a support system for each other in politics and also life milestones such as childbirth and buying new homes.

When Evans decided to seek an open legislative seat in 2010, she told the crowd she utilized the lessons learned from McCoy – such as pausing for a sip of water after asking for a donation by phone. She related several lessons from the day of training to her own experiences as a candidate, reinforcing several of McCoy’s most important points.

Evans told the WINning Women HOPE Scholarships were on the state’s budgetary chopping block during her first legislative session. Preserving for others the educational opportunities she had enjoyed quickly became her cause, leading to her first speech from the House well. Later, she and then Senator Jason Carter planned a state-wide listening tour to learn more about the effects of HOPE cuts and how to restore key components of the program. Evans said she has faced both victories and defeats as a HOPE scholarship advocate. Most importantly, she said, she learned that sometimes allowing another legislator to “sponsor” a bill which accomplishes your objective is the best way to garner bi-partisan support necessary for passage.

Evans encouraged all the WINning Women contemplating future campaigns to find issues they feel strongly about which can give them a sense of purpose. She said women more often seek office to make a difference rather than using public office as a path to power or prestige. Evans encouraged all the women present to seek office, reminding them that women need to be encouraged on an average of seven times before they decide to run.

Your support of Georgia’s WIN List allows our organization to support a new generation of rising Georgia political stars like Stacey Evans and the new women we helped elect in 2015: Park Cannon, Brenda Lopez and Renitta Shannon. Reaching our goal of $50,000 before the end of June is key to offering more training sessions later this year as part of our “Grab ‘em by the Midterms” strategy in 2018.

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