Emerge Nevada Announces Next Class of Aspiring Women Political Leaders

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Photo Credit: Carissa Snedeker

Emerge Nevada, the state’s premier organization for recruiting and training Democratic women to run for political office, announced today that it has selected its 2017 class. This year’s group of future women political leaders was limited to women who intend to run for office within the next three years. Many have never been involved in grassroots politics before, which is owed to new and historic interest after the 2016 election. The women hail from both the north and southern parts of Nevada, come from diverse backgrounds, spanning the spectrum of races, sexual orientation, socioeconomic levels and professional experiences.

“Emerge Nevada is thrilled to welcome our class of 2017,” said Marla Turner, President of Emerge Nevada. “Our organization selected exceptional applicants, who will seize on political opportunities once they are given the tools necessary to run an effective campaign. Given the results of the November election and the need for Democrats to regain power they’ve lost over the last few cycles, these women’s voices are needed in our government now more than ever.”

Emerge Nevada’s training program offers Democratic women who want to run for public office a unique opportunity. Women who are accepted receive 90 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.

“I’m excited to be a part of Emerge Nevada’s 2017 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 Alison Brasier. “While Nevada is doing better than most states, our government in general doesn’t have nearly enough women serving in it. I hope my classmates and I will go on to become Nevada’s next generation of female political leaders.”

Emerge Nevada has a proven track record for getting Democratic women elected. Since the organization launched in 2007, the program has equipped more than 150 women with the skills needed to bring change to their communities. More than 65% of the alumnae have gone on to run for political office or been appointed to local boards or commissions, and of those who have gone on to run for an elected position, 89% have won. Emerge Nevada’s commitment to diversity also means that the women selected for the program come from a multitude of different backgrounds and all walks of life.

“The results of the 2016 election were certainly a wakeup call for me,” said Tacy Geesaman. “The morning after, I decided that I wasn’t going to wait for other people to make my community, state and country a better place. It was time for me to step up myself.”

Criteria for selection into the class included, evidence of political leadership experience or potential; meaningful involvement in workplace or community; interest in pursuing political office; demonstrated ability to bring together disparate groups to achieve a goal; ability and desire to build effective networks; ability to articulate a personal political vision; demonstrated ability to inspire others; and commitment to full participation and attendance requirements of the trainings. Applicants had to be registered Democrats. Women of all ages, races, nationalities, marital status, religious affiliations, sexual orientations and physical abilities were encouraged to apply.

The 2017 Emerge Nevada Class:

  • Nancy Ayala
  • Shea Backus
  • Angela Best
  • Alison Brasier
  • Catherine Byrne
  • Kasina Douglass Boone
  • Asbury Edens
  • Tacy Geesaman
  • Anat Levy
  • Patrina McKinney
  • Erica Mosca
  • Sheila Peuchaud

Thank You

— by Zach Zaragoza

zachzaragozaServing as the Executive Director of the Nevada State Democratic Party for the last nearly 6 years has been a privilege and honor.  I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have helped lead this party with all of you, and I am proud of what we have accomplished together.  This party has been the central part of my life since I walked into a UNLV Young Dems meeting in 2002 and I look forward to continuing my involvement as we move forward.

However, it is time for me to move forward personally and professionally so I will be leaving my position as Executive Director as of December 31, 2016.  I am thrilled that I will be able to continue my service to Nevada as Senator-elect Catherine Cortez Masto’s State Director.

We have a lot of work to do in the next month to continue the shut down process from our successful 2016 elections in Nevada.  I will also work with Chairwoman Lange on ensuring a smooth and orderly transition through the officer’s election in March.

I want to thank each of you again personally for everything you have done for this party and for me.  I look forward to continuing to work with each of you as we move forward.

R.I.P. Senator Debbie Smith

Rest in Peace and Strength, Senator Debbie Smith — Our thoughts and prayers, from Democrats all across Nevada, go out to Senator Smith’s family in their time of sorrow.

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Smith was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015. She had successful surgery to remove the tumor before returning for the final six weeks of the session.

A memorial service will be held Sunday in Sparks. ​The service will be at noon Sunday at the Sparks High School gym. Parking is available at the lot behind the school.  Child care will be provided at Sparks High during the service in a classroom adjacent to the gym for children who are diaper-trained.
Should attendees choose to wear a particular color in honor of Debbie, gray is the color representing brain cancer.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Smith’s name to the Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation, which supports brain tumor research. Donations can be made online at the following link: https://drmarnierosefoundation.racepartner.com/debbiesmith

Official Statements honoring Senator Smith:


Senator Harry Reid:

“Debbie Smith was the epitome of an ideal neighbor, friend and public servant. A believer in the good of government, Debbie’s advocacy for adequately funding our education system will be felt in Nevada for a long time. Northern Nevadans, no matter what party, had a fighter in the Legislature. Despite her difficult year, her positive outlook on life was admirable to all. She was my friend and I will miss her.”


NV Dems Chair Roberta Lange

“Debbie Smith was a giant in the Nevada Legislature who fought tirelessly for Washoe County and Nevada’s working families. No one knew the state budget more or fought harder for more education funding than Debbie. Last session, when she was courageously fighting cancer, Debbie still made sure to get to the legislature to vote for the historic increase in education funding. No one in this state cared more about improving education for our kids than Debbie. I am proud to have called her a friend. On behalf of every Democrat in Nevada, I extend my thoughts and prayers to her family.


Mayor Geno Martini

“Today is a sad day for the City of Sparks and the State of Nevada. Senator Smith was an effective and principled leader and a champion of education, as well as a number of important human causes throughout our state. She was also a champion for her City, and I was always grateful for her strong partnership and advocacy on behalf of the citizens of Sparks. She fought for our citizens every day. She was so brave and strong as she battled her illness publicly. Senator Smith is a great Nevadan who will be missed but will never be forgotten.”

“On behalf of the Sparks City Council and the citizens of Sparks, I offer my deepest condolences to Senator Smith’s husband Greg and their family. Our thoughts and prayers will remain with Debbie and her family for many days to come.”


Mayor Hillary Schieve

“I was incredibly saddened today to learn of the passing of Debbie Smith. A Nevada resident for most of her life, Debbie was one of our state’s strongest advocates for public education. Her work in the Nevada Assembly and Nevada Senate was marked not only by her dedication to bettering education policy, but also by her support of wildlife and conservation issues. I, along with my fellow Reno City Council Members, extend our sympathy to Debbie’s family and friends during this difficult time. She will be missed.”


Chair of the Board of Washoe County Commissioners, Kitty Jung:

“Debbie Smith was a champion for Washoe County and I was heartbroken to hear of her passing,” Jung (Dist. 3) said. “Her dedication and collaboration in the State Assembly and State Senate to supporting children, seniors and adults was exemplary. We were lucky to have someone of her caliber care so deeply about the people of Northern Nevada. On behalf of the Board of County Commissioners, we send our thoughts to her family during this very difficult time.”


Rep. Dina Titus

“Senator Debbie Smith was a dear friend, a valued colleague, and a genuinely good person. She always put Nevada’s children first and never sought any credit or personal attention. Her last fight was her toughest, but the angels will now be fortunate to have her on their team.”


Congressman Mark Amodei

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend, Senator Debbie Smith. Debbie was a respected colleague and I will always value our time serving together in the Nevada Assembly and Senate. As a dedicated public servant with a huge heart for children and families, Debbie fought tirelessly to ensure every child in Nevada received a great education. Nevada will undoubtedly benefit from her courageous leadership and unwavering devotion to her constituents and state. Her work has touched the lives of many and she will be sorely missed. I send my deepest condolences to her husband, Greg and their three children.”


Washoe County School District Superintendent Traci Davis

“Sen. Debbie Smith was an extraordinary champion for children,” said Superintendent Traci Davis. “She waged courageous, sometimes lonely, battles to improve education in our state. She was instrumental in improving education policy and safety measures in schools. She introduced and helped pass legislation to put epi-pens in every school, a measure which saved the lives of two of our students who suffered life-threatening allergic reactions within the first month after the devices were placed in our schools, and many more lives since. For years, she fought for increased classroom funding, capital funding to relieve overcrowding and repair older schools, and established family engagement as a priority for school districts across Nevada. In Carson City during the last session, she helped pass legislation to combat bullying and abuse. She fought the good fight, both in the public forum and in her final, personal battle against cancer. I will miss her leadership, her commitment, and her devotion to education. This is a profound and painful loss for all of us in the Washoe County School District, and for the children of Nevada.”


Washoe County School District Board President Angie Taylor

“I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of Sen. Debbie Smith. She was a fierce and selfless advocate for education and for our children, and the effects of her tireless dedication will be felt in this state for decades to come. Through her work with the Nevada State Senate, Nevada State Assembly, Education Alliance of Washoe County, Nevada PTA, and a host of other agencies, she established herself as a powerful defender and supporter of children, families, and public education. This is a tremendous loss for Nevada, but her legacy will live on through all of the lives she touched. I offer my condolences to her wonderful family and friends. It was a privilege and an honor to know her.”

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Kihuen Statement on Hardy Immigration Workshop

Ruben J. KihuenFor Immediate Release
January 25th, 2016
Contact: Dave Chase, (702) 350-2744

Las Vegas, NV — Today Congressman Cresent Hardy held a 2 hour U.S. Citizenship Workshop. As of 11 AM, exactly 1 person, a Hardy staffer, had RSVP’d to Hardy’s Facebook invite for the event.

State Senator Ruben Kihuen, candidate for U.S. Congress in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, released the following statement on the workshop:
“Congressman Hardy hosted a workshop this morning he says was to explain, ‘how to become a citizen and how to avoid scams against immigrants.’ The irony is clearly not apparent to the Congressman. It’s outrageous and disingenuous to hold immigration workshops while opposing any effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Congressman Hardy is the real scam against immigrants.”

Hardy’s previous statements on immigrants:

Hardy: Immigrants Are Taking Jobs That People Could Utilize. In September 2014, Cresent Hardy said on Blog Talk Radio, “We’re having a lot of the same issues but it is the illegal population that is out there taking all these jobs that people could utilize.” [BlogTalkRadio, Hardy Interview, 9/15/14]

Hardy: We Need Immigrants Who Are Not “Drains On Society.” During his headquarters opening in August 2014, Cresent Hardy said, “I’ll just give you one issue that happens up in Yerington, Nevada. They have to bring almost 3,000 immigrants here because nobody wants to do that kind of menial work in our society anymore; which, I come from that I’d still go back to do that today, I don’t care if I have to. But, nobody wants to do it, so we have to bring immigrants here just to harvest things in. But the process takes longer to go, from year-to-year, to get them back here. They only stay for three months then they’re gone. These are the type of people we want. They come, they do their job and they leave.  They want to go back they don’t want to be citizens. They don’t want to be any type of drain on society; they just want to be able to take care of their families.” [Headquarters Opening, 8/28/14; Washoe Dems, 8/28/14; NV State Democratic Party, accessed 3/30/15]

State Senator Ruben Kihuen is running as a Democrat in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District. Ruben has a proven record of real results for working families. Born in Mexico, Ruben and his family immigrated to the United States in search of a better life. He worked his way through college and after graduation was inspired to “pay it forward” by working with other students at College of Southern Nevada. In the legislature, Ruben helped craft landmark bi-partisan bills increasing funding for our schools and making college more affordable, and he beat back a reckless Republican agenda attempting to dismantle worker’s rights, restrict women’s health care and repeal LGBTQ protections. Ruben is running for Congress to ensure everyone has a fair shot at the American Dream.

To Learn more about Ruben Kihuen and his campaign for Congress, visit www.rubenforcongress.com or follow Ruben on Facebook or .

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