Emerge and the next generation of Oakland women leaders

22 Jun

You might have noticed a small change here, on my Twitter account and on Living in the O’s Facebook page. For years I’ve been writing this blog semi-anonymously, but my identity has long been an open secret and by now is entirely public. I’ve been thinking for a while of fully coming out into the open and identifying myself by my real name here, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it.

Well, that’s changed. From now on, I’m Rebecca Saltzman (though it’s too late to entirely shake Becks, as plenty of people including councilmembers call me Becks and I respond).

Why the change? Well, like I said, I had been thinking about it for a while, but I finally made the decision at a social media training in a program I graduated from two Saturdays ago, Emerge. Emerge California is the premier training program for Democratic women who want to run for office. The goal of Emerge is to increase the number of Democratic women in public office.

I do intend to run for office one day, and I do not intend to hide from anything I’ve written here so I thought it was time to more openly claim my blog.

Now you know my name and if you’ve been reading this blog for more than a few weeks, you probably know a lot about me by now. But you may not know about the other Oakland Emerge members who graduated with me. One day they’re going to be on your ballot, so I thought I’d introduce you to them now. They’re all amazing women who have inspired me throughout the past seven months of the Emerge program.

From left to right: Mónica Tell, Aspen Baker, Chanée Franklin, Claudia Burgos, and me.

Mónica Tell: Of the five Oakland Emerge sisters, Mónica is the only one who has run for office already. Last year she ran for Peralta Trustee and came close to unseating an incumbent. Mónica currently works in community relations for PG&E and previously worked for the Port of Oakland and for Don Perata when he was a State Senator.

Mónica currently serves on the board of Girls Inc. of Alameda County and as Vice-Chair of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where she spearheaded the creation of the “Mujer a Mujer – Woman to Woman” Conference to support women in business. She previously chaired the Oakland Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Board and served on the Community Action Agency board, as Vice-Chair of the Spanish Speaking Citizen’s Foundation and as Co-Chair of the Latino Network.

And since all of this is apparently not enough to keep her busy, she has run five marathons and raised over $15,000 for local charities supporting AIDS, Breast Cancer and Leukemia research!

Aspen Baker: If you don’t know Aspen already, you should know her. Why? Well, first off, she’s the newest Oakland Public Ethics Commissioner, but more importantly, she’s the future governor of California. Look for her on your ballot in 2030.

Aspen Baker is the leading voice in the nation on the personal experiences of women post-abortion.  It was Aspen’s own experience with abortion in 1999 that led her to found Bay Area-based Exhale, an award-winning pro-voice organization dedicated to creating a more supportive and respectful social climate around abortion.

Exhale”s unique programs reach more than 35,000 women every year and our pro-voice strategies create a more supportive and respectful abortion dialogue.  Aspen was named a “Local Hero” by San Francisco’s KQED for Women”s History Month in 2009, “Young Executive Director of the Year 2005” by the Bay Area’s Young Non-Profit Professional Network, and a “Top Activist Under 30” by Choice USA in 2003.

Chanée Franklin: Chanée from the East Bay is one amazing woman. Somehow she manages raising two beautiful children while working, volunteering, and preparing to run for office. She is an attorney specializing in complex business disputes, class-action litigation, and housing law. In 2006 she joined the general litigation practice group at Cooley Godward Kronish LLP in San Francisco.

Prior to joining Cooley, Chanée served as a staff attorney at the Eviction Defense Center representing low-income tenants. She has served as a commissioner on the Oakland Housing Residential Rent and Relocation Board under Mayor Ronald Dellums, volunteered at several community organizations including the Oakland Community Partnership and the Clean Slate Project, backpacked throughout Europe, Latin America, and Asia, and interned with Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson.

She serves on the Board of Directors of the Charles Houston Bar Association and Collective Legal Services and volunteers as a Girl Scout Troop Leader.

Claudia Burgos: You might have run into Claudia in City Hall before. Like Chanée, she somehow manages balancing being a mother, working hard, and volunteering a lot. She is the Chief of Staff to Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente, and previously worked for Councilmember Jean Quan. In Quan’s office, she helped craft policy to address the issue of Sexual Exploitation of Minors, worked to secure funding for domestic violence services, and helped craft legislation to fund additional police officers and violence prevention and intervention programs for the City of Oakland. Prior to working in local government, Claudia worked with parents and students at the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse where she led intervention and education sessions for students and parents.

A native of Santa Barbara, California; Claudia has lived in the Bay Area for the past 13 years.  In 2001, she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a double bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and Social Welfare.  As a Berkeley student, Claudia was actively involved in a number of student organizations focused on increasing the recruitment and retention of Latino students to the UC Berkeley campus.

After graduating from Berkeley, she worked at STAND Against Domestic Violence serving domestic violence victims throughout Contra Costa County.  She worked with the Richmond Police Department in their family services division as an advocate for domestic violence victims where she helped strengthen the department’s policies and responses to domestic violence incidents.


Other great Oaklanders have graduated from Emerge in past years, including Jennifer Pae, who ran for City Council last year, and Libby Schaaf, the newest Oakland councilmember.

Emerge will be looking for new applicants this fall. If you’ve thought about running or know a woman you’d like to see elected, consider applying or encouraging your friend or colleague to apply. Women often don’t think to run for office – we’re much more likely to run if we’re asked. So ask, encourage, and let’s make sure incredible women continue to get elected.

Appointments Training Workshop for Women (Tonight!)

Emerge is a big commitment, but tonight there’s another opportunity to get women into leadership roles that is a smaller step. California Women Lead is hosting an Appointments Training Workshop for Women at Oakland City Hall. When women apply for boards and commissions, they often are appointed, but women apply at a much lower rate than men do.

Here are the event details, via the Facebook event:

Would you like to have a voice in how government makes policies that affect your pocketbook, your health, and your community? Well, you CAN be part of the decision-making process by serving on a board or commission that makes these policies.

California Woman Lead invites you to a free appointments training workshop for women.

This Free Appointments Training Workshop will help you:
-Guide you through the application process
-Indentify board and commission openings in your area
-Assess your strengths through a Personal Inventory worksheet
-Break down the steps with a Personal Action Plan

Guest Speakers:
Courntey Ruby, Oakland City Auditor
Laura Chick, Los Angeles City Controller (ret.)
Rachel Michelin, CA Women Lead Executive Director/CEO

I’ll be at the workshop, which runs from 6:30-8:00pm tonight, June 22nd in City Hall, and several of my Emerge sisters will be there so find me and I’ll introduce you.


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