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Helping Women Run the World


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Erin Vilardi’s current project, Run51, was launched to help women run the world.

How? The goal is to help women become the majority in all 50 state legislatures.

Why? Women represent 51 percent of Americans, so 51 percent of government positions should ideally be women. 

The goal is that every type of woman be represented—no matter their color, orientation, age, or geographic location. 

Erin believes as we strive to balance legislative power, it will inspire young people to do things differently and increase the community's participation in democracy. Women can shape our future in a way it hasn’t been shaped before.

Erin is the founder and CEO of VoteRunLead, the nation’s largest and most diverse training program for women to run for office and win. VoteRunLead strives to provide resources for women to build successful campaigns to drive change. She launched VoteRunLead while at The White House Project, where she served as the VP of Program and Communications.


A Harvard Business Review study shows that women outrank men in eight out of nine leadership qualities. When it comes to government positions, Erin shares that women pass budgets on time, allocate resources toward new things, and co-sign and push forward more bills than men. They’re doing more of the work of the government efficiently and because of this, there’s a need for more women in politics.

Women tend to have less ego invested in political leadership. They get into politics because they’re motivated by a particular issue or cause. Erin says this isn’t about bashing men—she knows many amazing men in leadership. But patriarchy and toxic masculinity has a stronghold in the United States. There are still large groups of people that aren’t having conversations about what a reflective democracy looks like.


A 20-year study found that 60 percent of women have no desire to run for public office but 60 percent of men do. It doesn’t help that the system was built by a small group of wealthy, land-owning men. It was built around experiences and privileges of that group of people. Because of this, it’s harder for women to gain fundraising support.

In 2022, women continue to see consistent harassment down to the local level, which is mainly driven by fear of change. Despite this, Erin points out there are motivations for women to get into office and get things done. You don’t have to run for President. Erin’s mission is to figure out how to get more women to lead a political life that includes more leadership positions.


Erin wants women to be serious about getting on their state legislatures. She jokes that it’s the least sexy office to say out loud but it’s the heartbeat of American democracy. It’s where real change is made. So, how is her organization helping women achieve this? 

Head over to the Run51 website and state that you’re interested in running for office. After providing some basic information, you’ll receive 10 emails over 10 weeks with specific tips. The following information will help you get started:

  • Research who’s in your legislative seat
  • Learn how to file for a legislative seat
  • Learn the goal of your specific legislature
  • Find a district you can run in

The goal of the email campaign is to help you figure out if the legislature is the place for you. VoteRunLead also offers free coaching sessions and is creating a video series that breaks down deeper topics.

Listen to this episode to learn about...

  • [0:33] How Erin became an advocate for gender equality in politics
  • [1:38] The mission of Erin’s organization, Run51
  • [4:00] Facing and dismantling misogyny in politics
  • [6:11] Resources for women’s campaign efforts
  • [9:40] How women outperform men in certain areas of leadership 
  • [14:10] How to overcome the lack of support for women

Listen to the bonus episode to learn about the historic rise of women in US Congress and the role men can play as allies to women in politics.