IGNITE event promotes women in government

IGNITE event promotes women in government
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin gives a speech at the IGNITE event on Oct. 13.

IGNITE, a national organization promoting women’s inclusion in government, made its chapter debut at the fall activities fair this year.

The organization was founded nationally in 2010 and has been working to connect the nation with ideas of women’s empowerment in government. Augustana’s IGNITE is the organization’s first chapter in South Dakota.

“We have a lot of responsibility and are trying to get a strong foothold in the Dakotas,” Camryn Simmons, vice president of Augustana’s IGNITE, said.

Simmons said her involvement in the organization stemmed from an idea created by the chapter’s president, Tsegab Arega, who wanted to start a leadership empowerment organization for women on campus. IGNITE will create a platform for women to get more involved in politics and network at a national level, Simmons said.

“IGNITE will give a strong foundation to launch my career in diplomacy and law,” Simmons said.

IGNITE’s website says women’s involvement in civic and political leadership roles is the main goal of IGNITE. The nonpartisan organization’s purpose is to create the right environment for women to run for office.

“It is an organization where women from all sides of the political spectrum are working together to achieve a common goal of increased representation,” Simmons said.

Simmons said the creation of Augustana’s first IGNITE chapter has not been easy because navigating and implementing the first South Dakota chapter is new territory, locally and nationally.

Getting speakers to commit to events has also been challenging for the group because of the organization’s recent start, but things are expected to run smoothly, Simmons said.

The IGNITE board meets weekly and had its first event on Oct. 13. Simmons said this event was where they will launch their organization and have women panelists to share their experiences.

IGNITE also plans to participate in other volunteer events that have not been selected yet.

“In the spring, we plan to host a resume workshop and do professional headshots for individuals as well,” Simmons said.

IGNITE’s website states that its values are built on the idea of women taking the lead within politics and their daily lives.

“Get involved  now and come IGNITE the power of women in politics and civic leadership roles,” Simmons said.