ANN at Arena Stage – July 25, 2019

Susannah Wellford, Running Start’s CEO & Founder, worked for Governor Ann Richards early in her career. She was an important role model and mentor to Susannah and to many others.

Running Start’s friend and award-winning actress Jayne Atkinson is starring in the upcoming production about former Governor Ann Richards’ life. ANN is written by Holland Taylor and directed by Kristen van Ginhoven at Arena Stage July 11 — August 11.

Jayne Atkinson teaching Running Start High School Program participants about public speaking June 2019.

Proceeds from tickets purchased by June 28th through Running Start for the Thursday, July 25th show will help train more young women to run for office.

Ticket sales to benefit Running Start are now limited — please email about availability. Those wishing to support our work to empower young women can make a tax-deductible donation at

Easiest. Mentorship. Ever.

“Most likely to run for President”? Make sure she does!

Do you know a young woman in high school interested in learning about leadership and politics? Or maybe you know a someone who isn’t totally sure about pursuing public office but who wants to make a difference.

Running Start’s nonpartisan High School Program is ideal both for students hungry for leadership training and those who could use a little nudge. Encourage the future leaders in your life to apply by February 15th! (Details below.)

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Read (and listen) about the program at NPR, and learn what real Running Start alums say about their experience:

“My Summer Week Spent In Washington DC With Running Start”

“From Arkansas to Capitol Hill”

“I stood firm and I was powerful.”

“Acceptance, Inclusion, and Following My Passions”

Running Start High School Program 2019

June 17–22, 2019, at Georgetown University in Washington, DC
Learn More / Apply by February 15th:
Eligibility: Young women who will be in high school in fall 2019 and 2019 graduates.
Cost: $2,000 (Includes housing, meals and snacks, and travel during the program. Scholarships available.)

Program Overview

The week-long, intensive program brings 75 high school women from across the country to Washington, DC. They learn key political skills like networking, messaging, and fundraising, and meet 250+ trainers, speakers, and mentors along the way. Via hands-on workshops, a campaign simulation contest, a trip to Capitol Hill, and more, young women gain the confidence, capabilities, and connections they need to own their voice and lead in politics.

Running Start

Since 2007, Running Start — a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization — has trained more than 15,000 young women to run for political office. Running Start’s long-term mission is political parity. Research shows that when women run they win at the same rates as men, but there aren’t enough women running (just one in four elected leaders are women). Women’s political confidence starts decreasing in early adolescence, so Running Start provides an important intervention at a critical moment. And it works: 80% of its alums seek leadership opportunities and 90% who run for student government win. Running Start trained the youngest-ever elected officials in Washington, DC, Illinois, and West Virginia. Find us online:, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

Acceptance, Inclusion, and Following My Passions

When I was younger, I loved politics (and still do). I read the news obsessively and tried to talk about all of those events to whomever I could. But nobody wanted to listen to a little kid with an annoying voice ramble on about gun control. This remained true as I grew up. My peers are usually quick to dismiss my interests and passion, even as I grew up. During that time, I also began to slowly transition from female to male and change my presentation because I’m transgender.

Then one day while idly searching the internet, I found the Young Women’s Political Leadership Program, run by Running Start. I jumped at the chance to find a place where there were other youth who shared my interests. While I don’t identify as female, as a person assigned female at birth (AFAB) I do look up to and try to find role models who have had the same struggles of not having their voices heard. I excitedly applied.

I was accepted and left my home outside of Boston to go to DC. Immediately I found myself immersed and encouraged by a group of amazingly strong women who all had my same passion for politics. Through rehearsing elevator speeches and making campaign videos we worked together on something we all cared about.

Despite our common ground from our shared interests, we all came from incredibly diverse backgrounds with different values and locations on the political spectrum. Since I come from an area with very homogeneous politics, it was remarkable to be exposed to young women who had such a broad range of political beliefs. Through conversations as well as engaging workshops, I gained an appreciation and new respect for those different from myself. Moreover, participants came from all over, some as far afield as California or Georgia. There were young women from both Manhattan, Kansas and Manhattan, New York.

These women not only gave me a new understanding of other beliefs, backgrounds, and experiences, they also became role models not just peers. For the first time, I saw people who looked sort of like me and had the same interests, dreams, and aspirations.

Role models from the program also included the awesome staff and interns who guided and taught us. They gave us images of who we could be in five or ten years. I had never seen role models like these before, especially relating to politics.

A networking reception in the middle of the week offered me another time to meet interesting and inspiring people like the Ambassador from the Embassy of Afghanistan. We got to practice meeting new people after learning about how to network.

While I am male, I am also AFAB, so I was very lucky to have all these examples who, while they didn’t have exactly my experience, became my role models and inspiration.

From a friendly discussion about the minimum wage in the dorms, to singing “Don’t Stop Believing” at the talent show, to getting our nerves out before networking, the young women who surrounded and supported me taught me so much about acceptance, inclusion, and following my passions.


The application for YWPL 2018 is open through February 15th. Learn more.


Alan attended YWPL 2017 and is a high school freshman at in Massachusetts. He’s interning at Running Start in January for his school’s project week. He is very active in Model UN and hopes to one day put those skills to use working in politics — maybe even to run for office someday.