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Orangeburg resident among Emerge South Carolina’s Class of 2020
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Orangeburg resident among Emerge South Carolina’s Class of 2020

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COLUMBIA – Emerge South Carolina, the state's premier candidate training program for Democratic women, announced today the Class of 2020 – its largest class ever in the organization’s history.

Twenty-seven women make up the Emerge South Carolina Class of 2020. In its third year, this year’s class is made up of women from nine counties in the state; Anderson, Charleston, Dorchester, Florence, Greenville, Orangeburg, Richland, Spartanburg and York.

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“We know from our recruitment and selection season that 2020 is going to be a landmark year,” said Melissa N. Watson, Emerge South Carolina executive director. “We had an amazing pool of applicants following our 2019 wins. Some have questioned if the 2018 Year of the Woman was a moment or a movement. It’s actually neither – 2020 is going to mark a new era that will elect a leadership that reflects our communities across the state.”

Emerge South Carolina’s training program offers Democratic women who want to run for public office a unique opportunity. Women who are accepted receive 70 hours of in-depth education over six months that inspires them to run for office and gives them the tools to win. The program’s trainers are comprised of an elite team of campaign consultants, advisors and staff from all over the country, who have been involved in some of the most successful campaigns and initiatives seen in recent election cycles. Participants learn from these experts and develop practical knowledge in areas such as public speaking, fundraising, campaign strategy, voter contact, media and messaging and others. Candidates also meet an array of dynamic women who hold elected and appointed office and become a part of a supportive network, which includes a national association of Emerge alumnae, the Emerge board and advisory council members.

Emerge South Carolina is intentional about recruiting women who are reflective of the constituencies they serve. The Class of 2020 is one of our most diverse – more than 50 percent of the new class identify as women of color, women who identify as LGBTQ, and participants representing the millennial to baby boomer generations. The class also represents 15 towns and cities across the state and includes women from a diverse set of professional backgrounds, including educators, business owners, veterans, and even current candidates.

“I’m excited to be a part of Emerge South Carolina’s 2020 class and am looking forward to learning how I can use my skills and experience to chart a path to a successful career in politics,” said Tori West. “Our government doesn’t have nearly enough women serving in it. I hope my classmates and I will go on to become South Carolina’s next generation of female political leaders.”

The Emerge South Carolina Class of 2020 includes:

• Charly Adkinson, Summerville

• Celia Ballou, Charleston

• Gretchen Barron, Blythewood

• Shakeima Chatman, Charleston

• Demi Clark, Fort Mill

• Jennifer Clyburn Reed, Columbia

• Sarah Dant, Greenville

• Michelle Drayton, Columbia

• Bajeyah Eaddy, Mauldin

• Janice Gist, Wellford

• Timicia Grant, Greenville

• Tina Herbert, Columbia

• Catherine Kennedy, Columbia

• Kat Martin, Mount Pleasant

• Amanda McDougald Scott, Greenville

• Natanya Miller, North Charleston

• Quanisea Moses, Effingham

• Candace Pattman, Columbia

• Helen Pendarvis, Duncan

• I’isha Pinckney, Mount Pleasant

• Mary Ellen Player, Lake City

• Leslie Skardon, Charleston

• Tori West, Columbia

• Annie Williams, Orangeburg

• Dee Bell Williams, Columbia

• Tonya Winbush, Anderson

• Mary Wright, Greenville

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