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EMILY’s List Announces Nominees for Their 2017 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award

April 10, 2017

EMILY’s List Announces Nominees for Their 2017 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, announced the six nominees for their 2017 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award. Named in honor of the dedicated and courageous Gabrielle Giffords, the Rising Star Award celebrates an extraordinary woman serving in state or local office.

“The EMILY’s List community is excited to announce our six remarkable 2017 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award nominees,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List. “At a time when our most fundamental principles are under attack, we need strong, pro-choice Democratic women leaders working in our states and cities to fight back against this administration and its GOP allies. These women represent the bright future of the Democratic Party and have a history of displaying strong leadership and fighting on the front lines of resistance to the Republican Party’s dangerous and undemocratic agenda. We are proud to celebrate their accomplishments and their commitment to standing up for the most vulnerable.”

About the award: The award honors a woman who demonstrates the sort of commitment to community, dedication to women and families, and determination and civility that have been the highlights of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ career, in and out of office. Previous recipients include Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran (2016), Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley (2015), and Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (2014).

Since Election Day 2016, EMILY’s List has heard from over 10,000 women interested in running for office. These women are crucial to building a strong pipeline of pro-choice Democratic women at all levels of government.

The Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award winner will be chosen with community input. Online voting can be found here: Vote for the 2017 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star.

The 2017 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award nominees are:

Coral Evans, Mayor of Flagstaff

  • In 2008 Coral Evans made history by becoming the first woman of color elected to Flagstaff’s city council. In 2016 she broke another barrier by becoming the first person of color elected as mayor in Flagstaff and the first African American woman elected as mayor in Arizona. Coral also works as the executive director of a nonprofit serving the historically Hispanic neighborhood of Sunnyside. There she founded a small business incubator which primarily serves women seeking to start their businesses. Coral is widely known as a fierce and vocal advocate for social justice.

Helen Gym, Philadelphia City Councilwoman

  • Elected in 2015, Helen Gym became Philadelphia’s first Asian American woman elected to city council. She won her at-large seat after 20 years of grassroots organizing on behalf of Philadelphia’s public education system and immigrant communities. In her first year, she won historic investments toward universal pre-K, youth homelessness, and expanded resources for public schools. Helen is now leading the charge nationally around sanctuary cities and immigrant rights – and becoming a leading voice for cities resisting and winning with a progressive agenda. 

Nicole Galloway, Missouri State Auditor

  • As Missouri’s watchdog for government transparency and accountability, Nicole holds public officials accountable to citizens, uncovering millions in waste and fraud. She has shined a light on issues that impact families, including college affordability and cybersecurity in schools. The only Democratic statewide office holder serving in deep red Missouri, Nicole has led on family-friendly policies such as paid parental leave. Earlier this year she became Missouri’s first statewide office holder to have a baby while in office.

Lorena González, Seattle City Councilmember

  • In 2015, Lorena made history as the first Latina elected to the Seattle City Council. She is a champion for women, immigrants, and workers. The daughter of once undocumented immigrants, Lorena earned her first paycheck at age eight and worked multiple jobs to attend college and law school. She spent a decade defending everyday people against powerful interests as a nationally recognized civil rights attorney. She is currently advocating for paid family leave and legal aid for undocumented immigrants.

Teresa Benitez-Thompson, Nevada Assembly Majority Leader

  • Teresa Benitez-Thompson is the first Latina to serve as the majority leader in the Nevada Assembly. As a social worker, mom, and proud Nevadan, Teresa is committed to knocking down barriers that stand in women's way because she knows when women do better, families do better. Teresa is fighting to end Nevada’s rape kit backlog, keep access to birth control affordable and convenient, and ensure women have multiple seats at the table. She is the present and future of the Democratic Party.

Jennifer McClellan, Virginia State Senator

  • After 11 years as a state delegate leading on education, criminal justice reform, domestic violence, and Virginia’s economic diversification, Jenn was elected to the Virginia Senate in January. As the first member of the House to be pregnant while in office, Jenn has been a fierce protector of women’s reproductive rights, children, and families. As a member of the minority party and Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, she successfully finds common ground across the aisle while standing up for progressive values. 

EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, has raised over $500 million to support pro-choice Democratic women candidates – making them one of the most successful political organizations ever. Our grassroots community of over five million members helps Democratic women wage competitive campaigns – and win. We recruit and train candidates, support strong campaigns, research the issues that impact women and families, and turn out women voters. Since our founding in 1985, we have trained nearly 10,000 women to run and helped elect 116 women to the House, 23 to the Senate, 12 governors, and over 800 to state and local office. Forty percent of the candidates EMILY’s List has helped elect to Congress have been women of color - including every single Latina, African American, and Asian American Democratic congresswoman currently serving.