Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker quotes Suffolk D.A. Ralph Martin’s decision not to pursue public office further—particularly a run for Boston mayor in 2009—as being “…all about the tensions between being attracted to public issues and critical opportunities and the restraint it puts on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness from a very personal perspective.” I can relate. This issue has been on my mind as I am immersed in my third term on the Lowell School Committee while also participating in the inaugural class of Emerge Massachusetts, an organization designed to educate, encourage, and inspire political leadership in women.
Last week the organization, the newest sister of Emerge America which currently spans seven states, held its kick-off event on the 38th floor of the posh law offices of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo at One Financial Center. With a birds-eye view of Boston’s State House, Custom Clock Tower, and the harbor, it was a heady experience to join more than 100 people—mostly women—gathered to support Emerge’s efforts in the Bay State. Among the attendees were some of the Commonwealth’s most noted political women: such as Representative Niki Tsongas, the first Massachusetts congresswoman in over two decades; and Attorney General Martha Coakley and Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral, both the first women in the state to hold these positions. Also present was State Senator Pam Resor, who is retiring at her term’s end after decades of public service; State Representative Cory Atkins; former Green-Rainbow Party governor candidate Grace Ross; and Barbara Lee of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, an organization known for its generous funding of initiatives around women in politics, and contemporary art.
As someone who has struggled with my own family responsibilities and personal goals amid the demands of political life, it has been amazing to participate in the Emerge program (more on that later). It was also inspiring to attend the kick-off event and hear from accomplished women who discussed their own fears, challenges, and rewards regarding life in politics. As Attorney General Coakley put it, “Women must get in the game and play if we are going to make a real difference in our communities.” Clearly, we need more of us in the game, not only so our voices are heard and impact our communities, but so our daughters are given a path to follow, and our sons are taught to value women’s implicit role in governing.