The Fem Dems: Encouragement for politically motivated women
The Fem Dems of Sacramento promote feminist values within the Democratic Party as well as the local community, approaching feminism within politics by encouraging others to get involved through volunteering and outreach.
Fem Dems President Kelly Rivas, General Counsel Officer Amber Maltbie and fellow member Hatzune Aguilar founded the organization in 2009 after working together for a local political law firm. Each had been involved in similar clubs in college, and after graduating and moving to Sacramento, they wanted to continue their efforts. Their drive to form a local Sacramento club led to the Fem Dems, for those who are active in politics or looking to be gain experience in politics.
The Fem Dems’ current treasurer, Alex Reagan, said the club has a wide appeal, as it offers opportunities for people who share Democratic values of all ages.
“It’s a little bit of a voice for people who are very involved in politics,” Reagan said of the broad age group involved, adding that there needs to be an effective way for people – especially young professionals – to be involved.
From the first meeting in March of 2009 where the original six members laid out their mission statement and principles, the club has grown to more than 30 members and caught the eyes of several political figures – including representatives of Gov. Jerry Brown.
A significant event for the Fem Dems took place earlier this year. They put together a day of boot camp training for women who are political candidates or have considered running for political office. It was a successful day full of panels and workshops, led by political professionals, followed by a reception.
“We got really great feedback on it,” Rivas said. “A lot of people were excited about it, heard about (it) after the fact, and wanted to participate in something just like it again.”
The boot camp included a lunch with Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa). There was a panel on new social media in campaigns featuring Roman Porter, the executive director of the Fair Political Practices Commission, and Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown. A panel on fundraising was also featured, and the panel speakers included Diana Rodriguez, a member of the Board of Directors of Sacramento City Unified School District.
This is the first year that boot camp took place, and the Fem Dems are looking to bring it back next year.
The Fem Dems take note of member concerns. Simental spoke of taking the time with members.
“There’s so much that women want to be involved in, and that’s often the challenge – letting them know that there’s value being part of our club,” she said. “We have been demonstrating the value, and that is indicative of the program that we put on.”
And not all those members are women. There is a subgroup of members within the Fem Dems that comprised of men. They call themselves the Fem Dudes. The Fem Dudes help recruit more men into the Fem Dems.
“We need men to be involved,” Simental said about the Fem Dudes. “We want to be inclusive.”
The Fem Dems hold their meetings on the second Tuesday of each month. For more information on the Fem Dems of Sacramento, visit their website www.femdems.org. To visit the Fem Dems’ blog, go to http://feministdemocrats.blogspot.com/.