Women’s Summit: Report

Report by FCDC Intern Colleen Sherry


Network NoVA recently commenced hosting the third annual Women’s Summit for Political Engagement, spanning the course of three eventful days from June 28th – June 30th. Attendants had the opportunity to witness powerful speakers and candidates–such as Senator Mark Warner and Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton–all present their ideas on the current political climate, and in ultimate hopes of “flipping Virginia blue” in addition to introducing more female candidates into local and national governments.

Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) intern, Colleen Sherry, had the unique opportunity to attend the event as a press liaison working in coordination with Network NoVA’s Missy Dixon. She noted the opening presentation aimed to emphasize the Democratic representation needed to accomplish certain goals for the United States. This included introducing several Loudon County Democratic candidates up for election in future months, as well as a moving speech by Congressman Gerry Connolly. 

Connolly discussed the current border situation and how the political majority of Congress affected the ability to take action. “Yesterday, in the House of Representatives, we had an opportunity to strengthen a bill passed by the Senate on border security by making it a lot more focused on humanitarian aid…but no, a small band of members killed that bill, and as a result we have a Senate bill that put four and a half billion dollars into ICE and Border Patrol without any of these protections.” he stated.

After the initial presentations Friday night, which ended with rousing applause, Saturday provided attendees the opportunity for more in-depth involvement with the booths, candidates, and speakers. The morning started with remarks from notable advocacy groups such as Moms Demand Action, NARAL Pro-Choice, and Virginia Equal Rights Coalition as part of the Main Stage Program; also including speeches from incumbent Senator Mark Warner and the Network NoVA founders Stair Calhoun and Katherine White. White stated how she was motivated to create Network NoVA as a way to call attention from Virginia constituents to the issues that mattered most. Main Stage concluded with a spirited parade from the advocacy groups accompanied by a drum line.

Downstairs, breakout sessions began with individual speakers and panels. One such session, titled “Working on the Hill” explored the experience of one womam, Chonya Davis Johnson, as a Senior Legislative Assistant employed at Congress. Others delved into political fronts such as advocacy, youth involvement, reproductive rights, sexism, and breakouts for specific campaign staff. Free headshots were also offered to potential candidates at the summit from photographer Sam Fatima. Helping register people for this service allowed Colleen to meet the predominance of local and regional candidates up for election in the forthcoming months. 

With the conclusion of the empowering summit occurring after the Sunday breakfast, the 2019 Women’s Summit for Political Engagement proved to be a success in terms of inspiration and action.