Champion of Change: Erin Vilardi

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Erin Vilardi is the Founder and CEO of VoteRunLead, the nation’s largest and most diverse training program for women to run for political office and win. She believes the world would be a better place if it was run by women, and that women already possess all necessary skills and competencies to run a successful political campaign. Inspired by her older sister’s passionate feminism, Erin studied Politics, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at New York University. Her senior year, she completed an internship with women’s leadership nonprofit The White House Project, where Erin later began the VoteRunLead program. 

Erin was inspired to start VoteRunLead after recognizing that the victimization of women—whether domestic violence, pay inequity, global humanitarian issues, or any form of sexism—could only be effectively changed if women were at the table. She stated, “I had an inkling that, if women were in charge, a lot of these things would have righted themselves or been course-corrected with the leadership of women.” She echoes advice she received early in her career: “Smart women with good ideas should be heard.” 

Since Erin took VoteRunLead out on its own, over 30,000 women have completed its training, and Erin aims to train 30,000 more women by 2020. Erin describes VoteRunLead’s curriculum as highly transformative in the political and personal lives of the women involved. “It allows women to see themselves for all the wonderful, powerful women that they are,” she stated, “and how to articulate that in a way that is really comfortable and authentic for them.” As such, VoteRunLead’s training philosophy is “Run As You Are,” which centers on the idea that you are enough, just as you are, to run for office and win. With these ideals in mind, Erin and VoteRunLead aim to graduate the current feminist political moment to an enduring political movement that lasts well beyond 2020.

Erin  is one of the many inspiring people selected as part of our Champions of Change campaign, which honors individuals who have made a difference in the lives of women and girls in the Metro New York area and globally.

Mary Luke