Our History

1985

EMILY's List is Founded

EMILY's List is founded

In 1985, 25 women, rolodexes in hand, gathered in Ellen Malcolm's basement to send letters to their friends about a network they were forming to raise money for pro-choice Democratic women candidates.

1986

Barbara Mikulski elected to the U.S. Senate

Senator Barbara Mikulski (MD) — one of EMILY’s List’s first two candidates — became the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate in her own right in 1986. Known as the dean of the Senate women, Mikulski continues to serve as a mentor to new women members of the Senate.

1988

EMILY's List grows to more than 2,000 members in just three years

EMILY's List raises nearly $1,000,000 in third year

Nita Lowey (NY) and Jolene Unsoeld (WA) reversed a 14-year decline in the number of Democratic women in the U.S. House, when the number was raised from 12 to 14. EMILY's List recommended nine congressional candidates to more than 2,000 members and raised $905,000.

1990

Election Night

Ann Richards elected governor of Texas

1990 marked an historic year for women in politics, including the election of Ann Richards as the governor of Texas.

Patsy Mink

Patsy Mink returns to Congress

EMILY's List also helped Cong. Patsy Mink, who had been the first woman of color and first Asian American woman elected to Congress when she was first elected in 1964, return to represent Hawaii in the House.

1991

EMILY's List sets the stage for historic wins in 1992

By 1991, EMILY's List was gaining respect and political influence while maintaining its grassroots. The effects were obvious: women were stepping up to run, and EMILY’s List had a then-record number of candidates for the '92 elections.

Anita Hill

Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill controversy sparks political activism among women

The Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill controversy motivated women across the country to take political action -- and, for many of them, this meant joining EMILY's List and harnessing their power as donors, voters, and candidates.

1992

Year of the Woman

During the "Year of the Woman," EMILY's List helped elect four new women senators and 20 new congresswomen. Membership grew more than 600 percent, with more than 23,000 members contributing over $10.2 million.

EMILY's List featured on 60 Minutes

EMILY's List got a big bump in March, when 60 Minutes aired a profile of Ellen and EMILY’s List. They explained our mission and goals to the nation -- and the nation was listening. The segment raised awareness and led to explosive fundraising and membership growth.

March for Women's Lives

In April, the March for Women's Lives took place on the National Mall, highlighting the power of women in a crucial election year.

1993

Carol Moseley Braun becomes the first African American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate

Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (IL) is the only African American woman ever to serve in the U.S. Senate. When she was sworn in to office in 1993, she also became the first woman to represent Illinois in the Senate.

1994

EMILY's List helps elect four new congresswomen

EMILY's List helped elect four new congresswomen and return Dianne Feinstein to the U.S. Senate. The first WOMEN VOTE! project was launched in California, where women provided the margin of victory for Feinstein. Members contributed $8.7 million to recommended candidates and membership grew to 33,156.

1995

EMILY's List marks 10th year

To prepare for the 1996 elections, EMILY's List launched WOMEN VOTE! nationwide to mobilize women voters across the country -- gaining prominent media attention.

1996

EMILY's List gears up for 1996 elections

In 1996, EMILY's List helped 31 states conduct WOMEN VOTE! projects and targeted 2.7 million women voters. EMILY’s List helped elect one new pro-choice Democratic woman senator, nine congresswomen, and one governor.

1998

Tammy Baldwin

Tammy Baldwin becomes first openly gay congresswoman

In addition to helping Cong. Tammy Baldwin (WI) become the first openly gay woman to serve in Congress, EMILY's List members contributed $21 million to elect a woman senator and seven new pro-choice Democratic congresswomen, bringing the total of Democratic women in the United States Congress to a record high of 43.

2000

EMILY's List launches Political Opportunity Program

During this election cycle, EMILY’s List created the Political Opportunity Program (POP) to recruit, train, and support pro-choice Democratic women running for state and local office.

Maria Cantwell

Women candidates win the most seats in Congress since 1992

In the 2000 election, 68,000 members of EMILY’s List contributed nearly $32 million, helping bring four new pro-choice Democratic women to the Senate and four to the House.

2002

Nancy Pelosi becomes first woman minority leader in Congress

In the 2002 elections, EMILY's List helped elect three new pro-choice Democratic women governors and added two new women of color to the U.S. House. Every EMILY's List incumbent seeking re-election won, and pro-choice Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Minority Leader in Congress.

EMILY's List launches Campaign Corps

In 2002, EMILY's List launched Campaign Corps, a competitive program that trains a select group of recent college graduates to work in targeted progressive Democratic campaigns leading up to election day.

Jennifer Granholm

Who is EMILY?

We get asked this all the time! EMILY is an acronym for "Early Money Is Like Yeast" (it helps the dough rise). But over the years, EMILY has come to mean many things to many people.

2004

EMILY's List launches 'Air EMILY'

The "Air EMILY" project trained and mobilized 1,300 activists to get out the vote on election day in Florida. EMILY's List raised $44 million and added five new women to the U.S. House. The POP program also helped Democrats regain control of legislative bodies in 6 states.

March for Women's Lives

In April -- 12 years after the first march -- the second March for Women's Lives took to the Capitol to bring attention to new threats on women's reproductive rights.

2005

EMILY's List celebrates 20th anniversary

Celebrating our first 20 years of changing the face of power, the EMILY's List community came together in 2005 to share our successes and stories -- and to plan our course for the future.

2006

Nancy Pelosi becomes speaker of the House

EMILY's List raised $46 million and our candidates won critical House and Senate races, helping Democrats regain control of Congress and elevating Cong. Nancy Pelosi to her historic role as the first woman Speaker of the House. Our Political Opportunity Program (POP) helped achieve the largest increase in a single election for Democratic women in statewide office in history.

EMILY's List helps elect two new women U.S. senators

Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Claire McCaskill (MO) won their 2006 bids for the U.S. Senate, helping Democrats take back control of Congress.

WOMEN VOTE! drove one of the largest women voter programs in the country, reaching women voters in more than 21 races across the country.

2007

EMILY's List endorses Hillary Clinton for president

On January 20, 2007, Hillary Clinton announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, and EMILY's List made our first presidential endorsement the same day. EMILY’s List raised money for Clinton’s campaign and turned out millions of women to vote for her in primaries -- helping spark a surge of enthusiasm for the 2008 elections.

Niki Tsongas

Tsongas becomes first woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress in 25 years

EMILY's List helped Niki Tsongas win her hard-fought special election primary and general election in Massachusetts's fifth district to become the first woman to represent the state in Congress in 25 years.

2008

Chris Gregoire

Democrats win big

EMILY's List helped make 2008 a hallmark year for Democrats, raising more than $43 million and helping elect 12 new women to the U.S. House, two to the U.S. Senate, and the first woman governor of North Carolina. Our POP program helped train more than 1,300 people and helped 175 candidates in 32 states win.

2009

President Barack Obama names four EMILY's List alumnae to his cabinet

In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed four of our alumnae -- Hillary Clinton, Kathleen Sebelius, Janet Napolitano, and Hilda Solis -- to his cabinet.

EMILY's List celebrates helping elect 80th woman to the U.S. House

In 2009, Judy Chu won a special election in California's 32nd district, making her the 80th woman elected to the U.S. House with EMILY's List's support. WOMEN VOTE! ran an extensive direct mail program to reach out to 24,000 voters throughout the district, helping Chu rise above a crowded primary field and secure to a general election victory.

2010

Stephanie Schriock named president of EMILY’s List

In January, EMILY’s List announced that Stephanie Schriock would be taking the reigns as president, when founder Ellen Malcolm became chair of the board.

Terri Sewell

EMILY’s List helps Terri Sewell win an historic race

In 2010, EMILY's List celebrated many victories in both the House and Senate. From Washington to California, pro-choice Democratic women like Patty Murray and Barbara Boxer won tough races to Washington to fight against Tea Party extremism. We also helped elect Terri Sewell, the first African American woman to represent Alabama in Congress, and in total elected four women of color in the 2010 cycle.

2011

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Kathy Hochul and Janice Hahn win special elections

In 2011, Democratic women were already building momentum to take back the House. EMILY's List celebrated two important special election victories -- Kathy Hochul in New York and Janice Hahn in California. Both women ran tremendous campaigns and defeated multi-millionaire self-funding opponents.

2012

senate group

W.H.Y. 2012 -- Women's historic year

2012 marks an historic opportunity to change how Washington works. EMILY's List is supporting an unprecedented number of Senate candidates: six incumbents and five challengers. Every single one of our challengers would be the first woman to represent her state in the Senate. The growing momentum of women winning special elections and an ever-expanding House field means the march to a Democratic takeover of the House is being led by women candidates -- women who stand up to the right and build a more progressive America.

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EMILY's List announces new website and 1.5 million members!

In June, EMILY's List announced the launch of a new website and the exciting news that our community now stands at 1.5 million members nationwide. The newer, more mobile-friendly EMILY's List website is a way to engage with this growing community, and for supporters to learn more about the outstanding candidates who will take back Washington for women and families.

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An historic year

2012 was truly an historic year. EMILY’s List raised a record breaking $51.2 million dollars, which helped elect 9 women to the Senate, 18 to the house, and the only Democratic woman Governor in the country. With the help of EMILY’s List efforts, there are now more women serving in Congress than at any time in the history of the United States, with 74 Democratic women in the House and Senate. And EMILY’s List membership has quadrupled since 2010, to over 2,000,000 members.

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A year of firsts

2012 was a year of firsts for women candidates across the country, especially for EMILY’s List women. In 2013, there will be 20 women in the U.S. Senate, more than at any time before in our history and EMILY’s List helped to elect 14 of those historic women, including the first openly gay U.S. Senator and the first woman to represent Wisconsin in the Senate, Tammy Baldwin, the first woman Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, and the first Asian American woman to serve in the Senate, Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono. And in New Hampshire, EMILY’s List candidates swept the state making it the first ever all-woman Congressional delegation and Governor in America.