Women have a crucial role to play in today’s political environment. While we continue working toward gender parity among our elected officials, women have an opportunity to make significant contributions in our communities and our country by taking an active role in public service.
Whether you consider politics a personal interest, a volunteer opportunity or a career aspiration, there are many ways to use your talents to reach your full political potential.
At this panel discussion, you will hear from seven women who are shaping the future in their own communities through political engagement or activism. They will share unique and fascinating stories about their paths to politics, and discuss various ways we can all become more involved.
Our panelists represent various roles and affiliations across the political spectrum:
Hon. Blondell Reynolds Brown
Councilwoman At-Large, Philadelphia City Council
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown is an educator, community activist, political leader and proud parent currently serving her fourth term as a member of Philadelphia City Council. Reynolds Brown is the only woman to serve as an At-Large Philadelphia Councilmember since 2000 and is the only woman serving in City Council Leadership. She was elected Majority Whip in 2012, and is the Chair of the Committee on the Environment. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown devotes her programmatic and legislative efforts toward improving the quality of life and life chances of our City’s most vulnerable citizens. Reynolds Brown earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Education from Penn State University before beginning a career as a professional dancer. She earned a place as a company member of the Philadelphia Dance Company, and following her company membership became a dance instructor and later a board member for 20 years.
Rep. Joanna McClinton
State Representative - 191st Legislative District
Joanna McClinton, Esquire, is the first woman to represent the 191st Legislative District of Pennsylvania. She studied Political Science and Leadership in Global Understanding at La Salle University and then received her J.D. from the Villanova University School of Law. She was an intern at Regional Housing Legal Services, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Rep. McClinton served as an assistant public defender for seven years, and then became the assistant chief of the East Zone during her last year at the public defender's office. In 2013, Rep. McClinton became chief counsel to state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams. She developed policy and legislation, organized expungement fairs and public policy forums, and helped constituents with problems.
Councilwoman, Moorestown Township, New Jersey
Victoria was elected to her second term on Moorestown's Township Council in 2016. She was first elected to the Council in 2012. In 2015, at age 26, Victoria Napolitano was elected Mayor of Moorestown, making her the youngest mayor in Moorestown's history, as well as the youngest woman to serve as a mayor in New Jersey state history. Victoria is an instructional designer at Clarivate Analytics in Philadelphia, creating e-learning materials for sales staff and customers. She earned a bachelors’ in education from Drexel University.
District Director, New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District
Kari Osmond is the District Director for Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District. She previously served as the deputy campaign manager for the open seat election, which resulted in New Jersey’s first African American woman to ever represent New Jersey on a federal level. Previously, Kari worked as the Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Reed Gusciora. She also held the position of the Mid Atlantic Regional Director for the Young Democrats of America’s LGBTQ Caucus, served as Vice-President to the local Mercer County democratic organization, and is a member of the LGBT Caucus for the New Jersey State Democratic Party. She has also been appointed to the Executive Board of Garden State Equality. Kari graduated from The College of New Jersey with a degree in Women and Gender Studies in 2009.
Melanie D. Palmas, M.Ed
Senior Consultant at The Stevenson Group
Melanie Palmas provides strategic leadership and guidance at senior levels in government and the private sector. She also serves as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania New Majority Council to increase minority representation within the Pennsylvania political system. Palmas was previously the executive assistant to the PA GOP Deputy Chair, Ms. Renee Amoore. Melanie Palmas was also the chair of the PA African American Engagement Council during the 2016 election cycle under the leadership of Mr. Ashley Bell, Special Assistant to Rex Tillerson, and Mr. Elroy Sailor. Palmas continues to forge ahead in state and national politics as a member of the PA African American Inclusion Initiative led by James O’Connell, White House; the African American Engagement Council. She started her career in the field of education with training from Franklin & Marshall College, and earned her Master’s Degree in Urban Education from Eastern University.
Founder, She Can Win
Jasmine Sessoms has more than 14 years of experience working in philanthropy and government, and has been a champion for women in government and women's issues for over a decade. She Can Win is a nonpartisan training program that aims to educate, and encourage women in PA to run for political office. Jasmine has served at the pleasure of three mayors, six State Representatives, seven City Council Members and one Congress person. Jasmine is a connector and relationship builder. Jasmine's spirit animal is the great Shirley Chisholm and she subscribes to all things Oprah.
The panel will be moderated by Aubrey Montgomery, Founder of Rittenhouse Political Partners.
Aubrey Montgomery is the founder and principal of Rittenhouse Political Partners, a Pennsylvania based political fundraising firm. Regarded as one of the top fundraising professionals in the country, she has been recognized for her skill and achievement by Campaigns and Elections , City and State PA , Billy Penn and PoliticsPA. A sought after trainer, Aubrey has provided training services to organizations including the Center for Women in Politics, New Leaders Council and Emerge Pennsylvania. Before starting Rittenhouse Political Partners, Aubrey served in a number of high profile fundraising roles including finance director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party during the historic 2012 election cycle, and as NARAL’s youngest state executive director, leading the Pennsylvania affiliate from 2006 until 2009.