Twenty Women Running in the Democratic Primaries Received Emerge Pennsylvania Training

  • May 20, 2019
  • Rebecca McNichol

Emerge Pennsylvania alumnae and current class members will appear on the ballot for almost every level of local office in the Commonwealth.

PHILADELPHIA – Emerge Pennsylvania alumnae started the year off with a strong win with Movita Johnson-Harrell’s victory in the special election for state house district 190. Next week, 20 Emerge alumnae and women who are participating in the 2019 training class will face off in primary elections across the Commonwealth.

Emerge is Pennsylvania’s premier organization for recruiting and training Democratic women to run for office. Emerge graduates are vying for positions in every level of local government such as mayor, city and county council, school board and judicial positions. Each corner of the Commonwealth is represented with candidates running in Erie, Scranton, Philadelphia, the suburbs of Pittsburgh and more.

“The women we see in our training programs each have unique experiences that are driving them to run for office,” said Rebecca McNichol, Emerge Pennsylvania Executive Director, “The common thread is the desire to lead their communities towards positive change.”

Emerge Pennsylvania’s signature training program is six months long and includes 70 hours of training on topics such as fundraising, managing campaign staff, public speaking and communications strategy, and running a field program. A large benefit to trainees is the ability to tap into Emerge Pennsylvania’s network of alumnae and political experts. Currently, 9 Emerge Alumnae are serving in the PA General Assembly, including 3 women in the State Senate and 6 women in the State House. Emerge PA is changing the face of PA politics by identifying, training and encouraging Democratic women to run for office, get elected and to seek higher office.

“Our graduates are not running for office on a whim,” said McNichol, “This is a truly motivated group of women who have put in the time and effort to learn how to run a successful campaign for public office.”

Emerge Pennsylvania graduates running in Democratic primaries in 2019 include:

Kristian Ballerini, Bucks County Treasurer
Wendi Barrish, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
Ethelind Baylor, Philadelphia City Council, At Large
Katie Blume, Millheim Borough Council
Ashley Comans, Council of Wilkinsburg, Ward 1
Valerie Fleisher, Mt. Lebanon School Board, At Large
Alicia Gasparovic, Langhorne Manor Borough Council
Barbarann Keffer, Upper Darby Mayor
Lydia Laythe, Washington Township Council
Christal Lepak, Erie City Council
Judy Moore, Philadelphia City Council, District 10
Anna Payne, Middletown Township Supervisor
Deanna Philpott, North Hills School Board
Christine Reuther, Delaware County Council, At Large
Jessica Rothchild, Scranton City Council
Elaine Schaefer, Delaware County Council, At Large
Nicola Serianni, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
Monia Taylor, Delaware County Council
Sandra Thompson, York County Court of Common Pleas
Paige Van Wirt, Bethlehem City Council, At Large


Since the first Emerge state was launched in 2002 Emerge has trained more than 4,000 Democratic women to run for office to date. Fifty-two percent of Emerge alumnae have run for office or been appointed to local boards or commissions. Additionally, Emerge has a strong record of diversity – forty percent of alumnae are women of color. Emerge Pennsylvania started in 2015 and graduated its first class of women in 2016. Follow Emerge Pennsylvania on Facebook for more updates on the program.