Indiana Politics, September 2018

The historic surge of female political candidates this fall is a win for both parties.


Running Club

It’s too early to tell whether November’s midterm elections will send a blue wave of Democrats into Congress. But in Indiana, we’re certain to see a pink one: A record number of Hoosier women are their party’s nominee this year. Seven of the 18 candidates for the U.S. House in Indiana are women. (The previous record came during the 2016 cycle, when five female major-party nominees populated the ballot.) And a slew of down-ballot candidates are running for seats in the Indiana Statehouse. On the Democratic side of the aisle, five women are vying for spots in Congress, and 45 are running in Statehouse races. On the Republican side, two are running for Congress, while 16 are up for Statehouse seats.

Of the Republican candidates for local and state office, half are alums of the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series, a program begun in 1990 by the former U.S. Senator to groom Republican women for office. The original plan: By 2000, the series would sunset as women reached parity with their male counterparts. That hasn’t yet happened. But since its founding, 509 alumnae have graduated from the program, which includes eight months of political training for women with Leslie Knope–like ambition—though they don’t need fictional characters to inspire their bids for office. “We have real role models,” says Lawren Mills, president of the series’ board of governors. “Look at Blair Milo, Susan Brooks, Jackie Walorski, and Kelly Mitchell.”

Not to be outdone, Indiana Democrats are launching a similar organization called Hoosier Women Forward. This month, leaders will pick the first group of between 20 to 25 participants for a nine-month inaugural training program, according to Elise Shrock, a lobbyist at Tamm Capital Group and one the group’s founding board members. “I don’t think our perspective will ever change until people see diversity as less of a quota issue and more of a benefit,” she says.

Charles Fairbanks

Mock the Vote

This fall’s Joe Donnelly–Mike Braun Senate race is looking like a hot one—to the point that President Trump has already coined a schoolyard taunt for Donnelly. “Sleeping Joe” doesn’t quite measure up to “Low-Energy Jeb,” but that’s OK; Hoosier politics offers a long history of better nicknames.

Paul McNutt

Paul McNutt was an ambitious Democratic governor. But after he squabbled with unions, one organizer started referring to him as “Hoosier Hitler”—a charge historians think slowed his rise in the national party.

Charles Fairbanks, a transplant from Ohio, served as VP for Theodore Roosevelt after representing Indiana in the U.S. Senate. Because he seemed calm and
distant, he was known as the “Indiana Icicle.”

Schuyler Colfax

Schuyler Colfax was Ulysses Grant’s VP; thanks to his cheerful personality, colleagues called him “Smiler” Colfax.

During his 1876 bid for governor, Benjamin Harrison earned the nickname “Kid Gloves” for his aristocratic vibe. He lost to a more populist candidate, James “Blue Jeans Bill” Williams.

Indiana Politics, September 2018

Read More


For Immediate Release

Contact: Tina Noel, 317.709.3103

22 Democratic women chosen to propel ‘Hoosier Women Forward’  

New nonprofit announces inaugural class for initiative aimed at preparing women for influential roles in public and private sectors

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 17, 2018 – Twenty-two (22) Democratic women from across Indiana – a diverse group with impressive and varied backgrounds – have been selected to become Hoosier Women Forward’s inaugural class.

Launched earlier this year, the Hoosier Women Forward leadership program is aimed at preparing and propelling Democratic women into influential roles in the public and private sectors. More than 100 women applied to be part of the first HWF class, and all applicants demonstrated an interest in public policy, political advocacy and advancing Indiana forward with progressive policies and ideas.

“Selecting this class was no easy task for our board of directors,” said HWF Board Chair Liane Hulka. We’re so grateful to everyone who applied and humbled by their desire to make a positive impact on Indiana’s communities.”

Following are the twenty-two (22) women who will be participating in the HWF leadership program, which will get underway later this month:

Cara Berg-Raunick                          Indianapolis        Nurse Practitioner

Nicole Bolden                                   Bloomington      City Clerk

Arielle Brandy                                   Mishawaka         Voter Registration Board Member

Michelle Chambers                          Fort Wayne         Business Owner

Katherin Chi                                      Indianapolis        Communications Director

Allyson Claybourn                            Newburgh           Attorney

Amber Collins-Gebrehiwet              Indianapolis        County Prosecutor

Stephanie Crandall                          Fort Wayne         City Director of Intergovernmental Affairs

Katie Culp                                        Zionsville            Site Selection Consultant 

Molly Dodge                                     Madison              University Chancellor

Leigh Evans                                     Indianapolis        CEO, Neighborhood Development Corp.

Heather Garay                                  Hammond           City Controller

Mackenzie Higgins                          Indianapolis         City Policy Advisor

Emily Hodson                                   Indianapolis        High-ability Teacher

Cynthia Johnson                              Carmel                Community Activist

LaMicra Martin                                 New Albany         Healthcare Systems Analyst

Kristen Schunk Moreland                Indianapolis         College Vice President

Thonja Nicholson                            Anderson             Facilities and Administration Manager

Laura O’Sullivan                               South Bend        Mayoral Chief of Staff

Courtney Roberts                            Indianapolis        Country Director, Global Health                     

Shaunestte Terrell                           Indianapolis        Attorney             

Julie Thomas                                   Bloomington       County Commissioner


“This tremendous group of women will be learning about everything from how to launch effective advocacy campaigns to analyzing their own leadership styles,” Hulka said. “Once they’ve wrapped up the program, we’re certain the result will be the start of a powerful network of engaged Democratic women.”

Although women represent more than 50% of the voting public in Indiana, only two of the state’s 11-member Congressional delegation are women. And neither are Democrats.  Women make up just 20% of the 150 seats in the Indiana legislature.

A Section 527 nonprofit political organization, Hoosier Women Forward raises funds through private donations and fundraising events.

On September 28, HWF will honor its first class during a fundraising luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis. The featured speaker for this event will be Jennifer Palmieri, who served as both communications director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and White House communications director for President Barack Obama. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please go to

To learn more about HWF, you can go to, or visit the organization on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



Read More

Chairwoman of Hoosier Women Forward, Liane Hulka, introduces members of the new group at a press conference Thursday.
Zoie Richey


Indiana democrats have created a new political and civic leadership program, Hoosier Women Forward (HWF), designed to inspire and prepare local women for positions of leadership in public service.

“Our mission is to increase the number of Democratic women in elected and appointed government positions at the state, local, and federal levels and in positions of influence in the private sector,” says Liane Hulka, HWF board chair. “We need women leaders in corporations. We need women leaders at local boards and commissions. We need women at the table in every room in the State of Indiana, not just running for office.”

The program aims to find a diverse group of participants by calling on women of different backgrounds from across the state. While it’s still being built, the goal is to have the group collaborate and network with each other as they enter politics. The program will also include subjects such as Indiana political history, becoming an advocate, and improving communication skills.

“This is a program for women who have already established themselves as leaders in their workplaces or communities that just want to take that leadership to the next level and translate it into public service leadership in some way,” Hulka explains. 

According to the 2016 United States Census Bureau, women represent over half of Indiana voters. Yet women make up less than 20 percent of Indiana’s congressional delegation and state general assembly. Of 55 democratic Indiana mayors, only two are women.

“You’ve got [political] issues that directly affect families, and women, and economic development, jobs, all these things that are happening in the state and in the country,” says Marya Rose, HWF board member. “And yet women’s voices are not being heard. We thought that it was really important that we create a way for women to be effective in having their voices heard.”

Rose mentioned Michelle Obama’s recent visit to Indianapolis, saying the energy in the room was unbelievable.

“You have this energy of these women who are committed and interested. We want to just harness that energy and figure out how we can make Indiana a better state with it, which would make the United States better,” says Rose. “When I see women excited about engaging in political discourse, it convinces me that the time is right for us to do this.”

“Women, we can do a heck of a job,” says state Rep. Cherrish Pryor. “We certainly have the leadership skills and ability to do anything we put our minds to.”

HWF emphasizes that you don’t have to run for public office to get involved. Women who aren’t interested in running for office can make an impact by becoming precinct committee members, volunteering, and assisting on campaigns. They can also get involved with local grassroots organizations and serve on boards and commissions.

“We need more women at the table to have a voice, to have that diversity of opinion that’s not going to be there if we’re not at the table putting our issues out in the forefront,” Pryor says. “Our voice is silent if we’re not a part of the process.”

The application for the inaugural HWF class will be available in May. A kick-off event will take place on April 12 at Indiana Landmarks. To learn more about the organization and learn how to get involved, visit Hoosier Women Forward’s website.


Visit Nuvo: Hoosier Women Moving Forward article

Read More

‘Hoosier Women Forward’ launches first-ever leadership program aimed at preparing and propelling Democratic women into influential public service roles across Indiana

Indianapolis, Jan. 18, 2018 – The paltry number of women serving in the Indiana legislature.  The rise in awareness of sexual harassment and assault.  The push for equal pay.  These are just some of the issues that drove the founders of “Hoosier Women Forward” (HWF) to do something – to organize and launch their new nonprofit, which is aimed at preparing and propelling Democratic women into leadership roles across the state, now and in the future.

During a news conference at the Statehouse today, HWF officially kicked off its plans for the new year.  Representing the HWF Board of Directors, Cummins Inc. Vice President Marya Rose, State Rep. Terri Austin, City of Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Community Activist Elise Shrock and Attorney and Board Chair Liane Hulka talked about the HWF development program, which will get underway this summer.

“We want to harness the energy and talent that’s out there, all across Indiana, and create a powerful, diverse network of engaged Democratic women,” Hulka said.  “Our mission is to increase the number and influence of Democratic women in elected and appointed governmental positions at the local, state and federal levels, and in positions of influence in their communities and the private sector.

“Too often, women feel like their voices aren’t valued, whether it’s in the workplace or when the male-dominated Indiana General Assembly is deliberating women’s issues,” she added.  “You can look no further than the #metoo movement to see how powerful our voices can be for change.  We want to take that energy and those voices and equip women with the tools they need to excel in leadership positions.”

HWF will select a group of 20 to 25 outstanding Democratic women each year through a competitive application process to participate in a nine-month leadership training program.  Applications for the inaugural class will be available in May of 2018 and participants will be announced in August.

“Hoosier Women Forward is not a candidate training program. We want our women to understand that there are other ways to serve the public good than just running for office,” Rose said.  “While having more female elected officials is an important goal in itself, our focus is to help women into positions of influence where they can affect positive change both in the public and private arenas.  My leadership role in business and involvement in community organizations are the ways in which I am directly impacting our state.”

Although women represent more than 50% of the voting public in Indiana, only two of the state’s 11-member Congressional delegation are women.  And neither are Democrats.  Women make up just 20% of the 150 seats in the Indiana legislature.

“I only have to glance to my right and left in the House chambers to see that this kind of effort is needed,” Austin said.  “My female colleagues and I have our seat at the table now, but we need other women to join us.  Let’s create a pipeline of Democratic women who are ready to run for office at the local, state and federal levels.  Let’s work together so the majority of Hoosiers in this state are actually represented when crucial policy decisions are made.”

“Every level of government needs more women at the top,” Freeman-Wilson said.  “From party leaders and campaign managers to school board members and county commissioners, I’m hopeful that this will have an impact on local elections for many years to come.”

Women selected for the HWF training program must demonstrate an interest in public policy, political advocacy and advancing Indiana forward with progressive policies and ideas.  The nonprofit will strive to ensure that each class has a diverse background of personal and professional life experiences reflecting the economic, geographical, ethnic and cultural diversity in Indiana.

“It’s been exciting to work with a group of women from all kinds of backgrounds to develop plans for this fantastic program,” Shrock said.  “And we’re committed to ensuring that diversity is a priority as we move forward.  This a great opportunity for young people like me to get engaged and make a real impact on our communities.”

In addition to the members noted earlier, the following women are also among the HWF Board of Directors:

State Rep. Cherrish Pryor, Secretary                               Cordelia Lewis-Burks

Brittany Solis, Treasurer                                                   Katie Moreau

Former State Rep. Gail Riecken                                       Annette Craycraft

Former State Rep. Susan Crosby                                     Amy Levander

Former Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis                                             Cindy Simon Skjodt

Anne Doran                                                                       Former State Sen. Vi Simpson

Catherine Fanello                                                              Ronnetta Spalding

Councillor Sharon Tucker                                                  Former State Rep. Christina Hale

A Section 527 nonprofit political organization, Hoosier Women Forward will raise funds through private donations and fundraising events.  To learn more about the nonprofit, you can go to, or visit the organization on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Launch Press Release

HWF launch release FINAL 1.18.18


Launch Media Coverage

New initiative aims to prepare, propel Democratic women into public service 

Initiative to prepare Democratic women for public service

Initiative Launched To Get More Democratic Women In Power

More Media Coverage 

Read More

Each year, a group of twenty (20) to twenty-five (25) outstanding Democratic women will be selected through a competitive application process to participate in a nine-month leadership training program. Applications will be available in May of 2018 and the inaugural class will begin in September of 2018.

Democratic women with a demonstrated ability to take initiative in their communities or places of work and are encouraged to apply. Applicants should have an interest in public policy, advancing Indiana forward with progressive ideas, and be committed to increasing women’s influence in the political process.

Through a combination of study, field experience, and mentorship, Hoosier Women Forward participants will gain valuable political leadership training that will prepare them to become more informed, active and mindful public servants.

Let’s get started!

Read More

Help us move Hoosier Women Forward.

Subscribe to our email list today.