• Press Release

President Biden, Vice President Harris, Democratic Leaders Speak at EMILYs List Annual We Are EMILY Gala 

May 19, 2023


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, May 16, EMILYs List — the nation’s largest resource for women in politics — hosted its annual We Are EMILY Gala. The event honored Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi’s leadership and celebrated the Democratic pro-choice women protecting democracy, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Sen. Jacky Rosen, Rep. Katherine Clark, Rep. Andrea Salinas, Rep. Emilia Sykes, EMILYs List Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star 2023 Award Winner Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell, and many more. 

Vice President Kamala Harris gave powerful welcome remarks reminding attendees that abortion is on the ballot in 2024 and this moment is critical for protecting our reproductive rights. 

“We will not allow [extremist Republicans] to destroy the basic rights and principles upon which our nation was founded. And by the way — the majority of Americans are with us. Just look at the recent elections, where Americans of every background and every community made their voice heard through their vote. From Kentucky to California voters protected reproductive rights,” Vice President Harris said. “…Elections matter. Say it with me EMILYs List: Elections matter. And Organizing matters. And in 2024, so much is at stake.”

President Joe Biden made a surprise appearance at the gala to honor Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi. 

“Nancy Pelosi is going to go down in history as one of the most consequential speakers in American history… She’s been a steadfast defender of women’s rights,” President Biden said. “I want to thank every single person in this room for leading the way in that fight. It’s a critical fight. It’s about democracy. It’s about freedom.” 

“Our diversity is our strength, our unity is our power. We made a decision on our side to elect more Democratic women, and today there are 94 Democratic pro-choice women in the house, many thanks to EMILYs List,” Pelosi said. “Eleanor Roosevelt said ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’ So believe in your dreams. Be ready, and run, win, and change the world.” 

EMILYs List President Laphonza Butler focused on leadership in this defining moment of nation’s history and declared to the audience that “WE are the answer.”

“Since the dawn of patriarchy, women have had their power stolen. Time and again we’ve been told what we can and cannot do, what choices we can and cannot make about our lives and our futures. But time and again we have come together across race and place and responded to questions about our rights with clarity and resolve: our bodies belong to us, our freedoms are not up for debate,” Butler said. “Let us be the answer and win this decade by electing Democratic pro-choice women committed to changing the world…With conviction as our compass, compassion as our guiding light, and unity as our strength, may every call we make, every rally we organize, every race we run and every battle we win, serve as a reminder that we are a force to be reckoned with, we are voices that must be heard, we are the majority and we are the answer.”

Florida state Rep. and Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell received the 2023 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award after being introduced by 2020 Rising Star Award winner Rep. Emilia Sykes and Giffords’ husband, Sen. Mark Kelly

“Today, Florida is an incubator for extremism. But we are going to change that. We are going to bring back the idea of community. We are going to remind every Floridian that they matter, that they are a part of our state’s story,” Driskell said. “We are building a coalition of diverse communities who can come together over their common ground. This is their moment.”

“In 2020, I served the great state of Ohio as the minority leader and I was honored to join a list of dedicated, motivated, and simply fabulous women who have been nominated for this award,” Sykes said. “With the support and the backing of EMILYs List as their Rising Star Award Winner, I am now unstoppable. Winning this award in 2020 gave me a platform, a network, and connectivity.”

Several other speakers highlighted the importance of this moment for protecting reproductive rights, including remarks from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Minority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives Katherine Clark, and Rep. Andrea Salinas. Others focused on the impact of EMILYs List work to elect Democratic pro-choice women, including Sen. Jacky Rosen, EMILYs List Board Chair Rebecca Haile, and Washington, D.C. Youth Mayor Addison Rose

“If we can defend seats like mine and take back the House, we can prevent Republicans from passing a national abortion ban and other laws that hurt those we are elected to serve,” Salinas said. “If we win the majority, we can pass legislation that expands access — and we can build a better future for my daughter, for everyone’s children, and for generations to come. Our shared commitment to electing Democratic pro-choice women is more important now than ever.”

“The story and legacy of Nancy Pelosi is a reminder that [women] don’t just deserve to be at the table, they deserve to be at the head of the table.” Clark said. “…Today, I am the Democratic Whip of the United States House of Representatives because 10 years ago EMILYs List looked at a district who had only elected men and they decided to put their weight behind a state senator named Katherine.” 

“I know EMILYs List is ready for the fight to protect our majority and our rights in the Senate,” Rosen said. “Once again, together we are going to elect Democratic pro-choice women up and down the ballot next year.”

“In the months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, undoing nearly 50 years of precedent and taking direct aim at our freedoms, EMILYs List has continued the work that has always been our mission: taking the fight to the ballot box,” Haile said. “Democratic pro-choice women successfully fought off the ‘red wave’ in the midterms. Now, we are hard at work preparing for the next round of electoral contests.”

EMILYs List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, works to elect Democratic pro-choice women up and down the ballot and across the country with a goal of fighting for our rights and our communities. Our work is centered around a fundamental vision: Run. Win. Change the World. EMILYs List has raised $850 million in service to that vision and has helped Democratic women win competitive elections by recruiting and training candidates, supporting and helping build strong campaigns, researching the issues that impact women and families, running one of the largest independent expenditure operations for Democrats, and turning out women voters to the polls. Since our founding in 1985, we have helped elect the country’s first woman as vice president, 175 women to the House, 26 to the Senate, 20 governors, and over 1,500 women to state and local office. More than 40% of the candidates EMILYs List has helped elect to Congress have been women of color. Visit www.emilyslist.org for more information.