Ready to Run® New Jersey
March 10-11, 2017

Pre-conference programs for women of color on Friday, March 10th
Douglass Student Center
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ

Online registration is now closed. If you have any questions, please contact Nisa Sheikh at or 848.932.8566.

R2R 2017


Check back regularly for updates!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Diversity Initiative

11:00 am Registration opens
Noon - 1:30 pm   

Welcome and Opening Keynote Lunch

Senator Nia H. Gill, New Jersey Legislature

1:30 - 1:45 pm Break
1:45 - 4:00 pm

Diversity Initiative Programs
Elección Latina, Run Sister Run, Rising Stars


1:45 - 2:15 pm  Participant Introductions

2:15 - 4:00 pm  Roundtables

4:00 - 4:15 pm  Break

Ready to Run®

4:15 - 6:00 pm



Welcome and Plenary Session: 

Digital Strategies for Candidates, Campaigns, and Advocates

Digital outreach is a key aspect of today's political and advocacy campaigns. Online tools including blogs, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other online organizing and communications resources are important for getting campaign messages out to a broad audience of potential voters or stakeholders. This session will provide an overview of best practices and offer practical tips on how to get started or enhance your online presence. 


Tara Dowdell, Tara Dowdell Group

6:00 pm Networking Reception 


Saturday, March 11, 2017

7:30 am Registration opens
8:15 - 9:15 am

Plenary: What Women Candidates Need to Know


Cate Gormley, Senior Analyst, Lake Research Partners

9:15 - 9:45 am

Keynote: Why Not You? Why Not Now?

Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter, Majority Conference Leader, New Jersey Legislature

9:45 - 10:00 am Break 

Track 1: I’m Ready to Run, Now What?

Track 2: I’m Not Ready to Run Yet, But...

10:00 am - Noon


Track 1: Launching Your Campaign
This session provides an overview of the key elements of a campaign, including assessing and establishing oneself as a candidate, developing a campaign plan, structuring a campaign organization, and voter contact.


Michael DuHaime, Partner, Mercury

10:00 am - Noon 

Track 2:  Finding Your Political Voice and Influence

This session, designed for those who are not ready to run but want to have some impact on important issues, offers an overview of the "nuts and bolts" of government and political parties in the state. Topics covered will include positioning oneself for appointment to a public board or commission and getting active in a political party.


Ingrid Reed, Senior Fellow, New Jersey Future



Azra Baig, Member, South Brunswick Board of Education

Lizette Delgado- Polanco, Vice Chair, New Jersey Democratic State Committee

Judith Lieberman, Senior Counsel to the Appointment’s Office, Office of the Governor 

Margaret Nordstrom, Executive Director, New Jersey Highlands Council

Councilwoman Rebecca Williams, City of Plainfield

Noon - 2:15 pm 


Plenary Session: Conquering the Camera – An Interactive Media Training

This interactive media training workshop will include tips for successful interviews on tough topics, how to look poised and professional on camera, staying on message, and public speaking techniques. Selected participants will take part in mock interviews and on-camera practice sessions.


Christine Jahnke, Founder, Positive Communications

2:15 - 2:30 pm


2:30 - 3:45 pm

Track 1: Navigating New Jersey’s Political Parties As a Potential Candidate
The session will highlight the power dynamics of party organizations, building relationships with party operatives and gaining the party’s support, and will address how to respond when the party organization is not supportive.



Jean Sinzdak, Associate Director, Center for American Women and Politics


Christine Hanlon, Monmouth County Clerk

Arlene Quiñones-Perez, Chair, Hunterdon County Democratic Committee

Councilwoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, City of Trenton and Chair, Mercer County Democratic Committee

Candace L. Straight, Former Co-Chair, New Jersey Republican State Committee

Senator Loretta Weinberg, Majority Leader, New Jersey Senate 

2:30 - 3:45 pm

Track 2: Legislative Advocacy

This session is designed for those who are not ready to run but want to have an impact on important issues. Legislative advocacy is working with individual lawmakers and lawmaking bodies to gain support for your cause or initiative. Learn how to organize a legislative advocacy campaign, including gathering allies, creating a campaign structure, building a communication network, and cultivating media relationships.


Jeanette Hoffman, President, Marathon Public Affairs

Jeannine LaRue, Senior Vice President, Kaufman Zita Group

3:45 - 4:00 pm


4:00 - 5:30 pm

Plenary: Fundraising for Success
Fundraising is one of the most crucial aspects of a campaign. This interactive workshop covers key components of campaign fundraising, including special emphasis on understanding why people give and the in-person “ask.” The session will also address developing a strategy for your campaign, building a donor list, recruiting and motivating a finance committee, and special events.


Nancy Bocskor, President, The Nancy Bocskor Company

A “How-To” Training for Public Life

Ready to Run® is a bipartisan program for women who want to run for office, work on campaigns, get appointed to office, or learn more about the political system. You will learn:

  • Practical "how-tos" for candidates
  • Real world advice and best practices from the experts
  • Strategies for positioning yourself for public leadership
  • The ins and outs of New Jersey politics
  • Campaigning in a digital age

Two Tracks to Meet Your Needs

  • Track 1: I’m Ready to Run, Now What? for women planning to run for office immediately.
  • Track 2: I’m Not Ready to Run Yet, But…for women who want to learn more about different ways to get involved in politics or position themselves for public leadership.

Diversity Initiative

The Ready to Run® Diversity Initiative programs aim to increase the participation of women of color in New Jersey Politics. Diversity Initiative programs are held on Friday, March 10th, immediately prior to the opening Ready to Run® session.

Rising Stars: Educating Asian American Women for Politics
Run Sister Run: Women of the African Diaspora Changing the Political Landscape
Elección Latina

Directions to the Douglass Campus Center can be found here.

Nearby Accommodations: Please note that this list is provided for informational purposes only. All participants are responsible for their own lodging reservations. Please check with the hotel for current rates.

Rutgers University Inn, New Brunswick

The Heldrich, New Brunswick

Hyatt Regency, New Brunswick

Hampton Inn, North Brunswick

Holiday Inn Express, East Brunswick

Interested in becoming an exhibitor?Download the form here

We rely solely on grants and donations to provide scholarship funding to program participants. At this time, a small number of scholarships are available. To apply, please complete the registration form (answer the question about scholarship funding), and we will follow up with you. 

For more information, contact Nisa Sheikh at 848-932-8566 or by email at