Join us

November 3, 2017 | 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Highlander Union Building (HUB) 302 | UC Riverside



The UC Riverside Women’s Resource Center and the Planning Committee welcome you to PERSIST 2017, the Women’s Political Engagement Conference at UCR!

At this conference, you’ll hear from inspiring and experienced political leaders who will share their wisdom and advice for how you can persist and engage in the political realm.

Workshop themes include everything from feminist activism and women-of-color representation, to policy issues impacting the IE and a “Pussy Bites Back” panel.

Whether you’re making a plan for entering the political arena, or just wondering what you can do to create change right now, this conference will help you see your next steps clearly.

Women — especially women of color — are immensely underrepresented at the federal, state and local government leadership levels. This conference aims to highlight that, and is open to all genders for attendance and participation.


California Senator
Connie Leyva

California Assemblymember
Eloise GÓmez Reyes

California Assemblymember
Sabrina Cervantes

Principal Deputy
for Policy and Strategy
Torie Osborn

Spoken Word Poet
Yazmin Monet Watkins

Former Executive Director
For Emerge California
Kimberly Ellis

Former State Superintendent
of Public Instruction
and Candidate for Governor
Delaine Eastin


10-10:30am – REGISTRATION & REFRESHMENTS – HUB 302 Lobby


10:45-11:45am – KEYNOTE SPEAKERS – HUB 302


California Senator Connie Leyva

Elected to represent the 20th State Senate District in November 2014, Senator Connie M. Leyva is serving her first term in the California State Senate. As our State Senator, Senator Leyva is committed to improving California’s schools, environment and communities, as well as creating quality jobs throughout the 20th State Senate District and California. She firmly believes that California families benefit most when we invest in and help strengthen small businesses and other job drivers that create good paying jobs in our local communities.

During her first two years in office, Senator Leyva authored legislation signed into law to:

  • • End the statute of limitations on rape (SB 813)
  • • Permanently extend overtime for domestic workers (SB 1015)
  • • Require review of environmental justice impacts on local communities (SB 1000)
  • • Help crime victims receive compensation (SB 651)
  • • Protect communities from lead pipe dangers (SB 1398)
  • • Improve career technical education at California community colleges (SB 66)
  • • Protect financial security of seniors and their families (SB 426)
  • • Expand educational services for homeless students (SB 1068)
  • • Recover and reuse food waste as clean energy and fuels (SB 970)
  • • Ensure stronger student voices on school boards (SB 532)
  • • Extend career technical education course options for high school students (SB 1123)


California Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes

Eloise Gómez Reyes was elected to the California State Assembly in November 2016 to represent California’s 47th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Colton, Fontana, Grand Terrace, Rialto, San Bernardino, and the unincorporated communities of Bloomington and Muscoy. Eloise, a proud daughter of immigrants, has been a champion for her community throughout her career. Her determination, perseverance and conviction to succeed has enabled her to be a voice for the voiceless and an asset for those requiring legal representation but unable to afford it. Working alongside Legal Aid, she helped provide free legal services and represented the residents of the Inland Empire time and time again, giving dignity and providing proper representation to those in her community that needed it most.


California Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes

Sabrina Cervantes was elected in November 2016 to represent California’s 60th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Corona, Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Norco and a portion of Riverside.

As a lifelong Riverside County resident, she has been a strong advocate for families in the Inland Empire.

As a former district director for the California State Assembly, she worked alongside community organizations to enhance the local economy, broaden access to higher education and improve the access to governmental services for the residents of Riverside.

Location: HUB 302

11:45am-1pm – LUNCH & RESOURCE FAIR – HUB 302


Hear from Sheila Kuehl’s Principal Deputy for Policy and Strategy Torie Osborn: “What’s a nice social justice activist like you wanting to run for office? Tips for integrating organizing and advocacy with wanting political power.”

Spoken word performance by Yazmin Monet Watkins.

Location: HUB 302


Why Women’s Representation in Government Matters - HUB 269

Moderator: UCR Political Science Professor Dr. Jennifer Merolla

Panelists: Graduate Student in Political Science at CGU Lisa Pringle, UCR Political Science Professor Dr. Melinda Ritchie, and Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Judy White

Learn from scholars and practitioners the many ways in which women’s representation in government matters at local and national levels. Hear the latest research plus personal stories from panelists.

Location: HUB 269

Women in Policy Research - HUB 355

Moderator: Director of UCR’s Middle Eastern Student Center Tina Aoun

Panelists: UCR Professor of Public Policy Dr. Cecilia Ayon, UCR Professor and Chair of Gender and Sexuality Studies Dr. Juliann Allison, and UCR Professor of Public Policy Dr. Qingfang Wang

Hear thoughts from key faculty, students and scholars about the ways that immigration, environmental and education policy impact us locally and regionally. Plus, learn about the unique experiences of women in policy.

Location: HUB 355

IGNITE: Declare Your Ambition - HUB 379

Presented by: IGNITE Southern California Fellow Dalila Valdez

Come declare your ambition with IGNITE! This interactive workshop will address the barriers young women uniquely face and give you the tools to declare your ambition for political leadership. Women make up 52% of the U.S. population yet hold under 25% of elected offices. Come and declare your path with IGNITE!

Location: HUB 379


Abortion and Birth Control Access: Public Policy Debates - HUB 269

Moderator: Director of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Redlands Dr. Jennifer Nelson

Panelists: Pitzer Political Science Professor Dr. Rachel Vansickle-Ward, Co Campaign Manager at The Women’s Foundation of California Toni Gomez, and UCR student Omer Sohail

Hear panelists discuss their research and public action surrounding recent policy debates associated with access to abortion and contraception. Learn how understandings of gender have shaped policy and what’s being done now to increase college students’ access to medication abortion.

Location: HUB 269

Student Leader and Activist Panel - HUB 379

Moderator: UCR Women’s Resource Center Programmer Nathaly Martinez

Meet and engage with UC Riverside student activists who are impacting the campus community. Learn how you can be an activist on campus and how to take pressing issues into the community and beyond graduation.

Location: HUB 379

Women of Color Representation and Visibility in US Politics - HUB 355

Moderator: California State University Bakersfield Professor of Political Science Dr. Ivy Cargile

Panelists: Professor of Political Science and Gender Studies at USC Dr. Jane Junn, Vice President, Community & Government Relations Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest and Trustee, Southwestern Community College Nora Vargas, and Perris City Council Member Tonya Burke

More women of color are participating in elections, both as candidates and as voters. Hear from a panel of practitioners and researchers who will discuss the importance of having more women of color at the negotiating table. (Because if you're not at the table, you might be on the menu!)

Location: HUB 355


“Pussy Bites Back” - HUB 269

Moderator: Director of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Redlands Dr. Jennifer Nelson

Inspired by a national political environment increasingly hostile to the empowerment of those marginalized by sex, gender, sexual identity, race, ethnicity and citizenship status, and in response to the opposition of feminist and social justice activism, University of Redlands students will discuss their Community Action Projects which focus on sex trafficking and sexuality education.

Location: HUB 269

The Women’s Policy Institute: Using Policy to Promote Gender Justice in California - HUB 379

Moderator: Dr. Sue Castagnetto

Panelists: Executive Director, Starting Over, Inc. Vonya Quarles, Senior Program Associate, Women’s Policy Institute-County, The Women’s Foundation of California Elizabeth Ayala, and Executive Director of CCAEJ Penny Newman

Meet The Women’s Policy Institute. They train women and trans leaders in grassroots organizations to use legislation and other policy tools to promote gender justice in a variety of areas, focusing on ensuring economic security for low-income women and trans people. Hear from panelists about how the WPI works and about their own policy projects as WPI fellows, particularly in the area of criminal justice.

Location: HUB 379

LGBTQ Representation and Visibility in US Politics - HUB 355

Moderator: Director, Randall Lewis Health Policy Fellowship Maggie Hawkins

Panelists: UCR alum and Campaign Director at Environment California LaShe Rodriguez, and Palm Springs City Council Candidate Lisa Middleton

Learn about the unique barriers, challenges and opportunities of being an out LGBTQ member of the political arena. Hear panelists discuss their experiences running for office, working in politics and in the nonprofit sector doing advocacy work.

Location: HUB 355



Former Executive Director of Emerge California Kimberly Ellis.

Kimberly Ellis has revolutionized democratic politics in California through her work as the first African-American executive director in Emerge America’s national network.

Kimberly has dedicated her career to supporting, training and inspiring women to step into political power all across California.

In seven years under her leadership, Emerge California greatly expanded its reach, effectiveness and visibility. More than half of Emerge California’s 400 alumnae currently serve in an elected or appointed office.


Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Candidate for Governor Delaine Eastin

Delaine Eastin is the former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction. She was elected Superintendent following eight years in the State Assembly and six years on the City Council in Union City. Delaine has run for office fourteen times and she has never lost a race.

Born in San Diego and raised in San Francisco and San Carlos, California, Delaine attended Carlmont High School, the University of California at Davis, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. After graduating with her masters, Delaine taught at several community colleges and worked as a long-range planner for Pacific Bell until she won election to the Assembly.

In 1995, Delaine was elected to serve the first of her two terms as State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The only woman to ever hold this office, Delaine served as a champion for public libraries, wiring schools for technology and stronger technical and vocational training for students.

After leaving elected office, Delaine continued her advocacy for education. She became the first Executive Director of the National Institute for School Leadership and a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Educational Leadership at Mills College, where she directed the Center for Civic Engagement and Women’s Leadership.

Location: HUB 302

4:45-5:30pm – NETWORKING RECEPTION – HUB 302



Please go to the kiosk in Lot 1 for further information.



To the Conference Committee:

Thank you so much to everyone who gave their time and expertise to help make this conference a reality. Your contribution will positively impact and empower women as they prepare to enter the political realm and change the world.

Denise Davis – Director, Women’s Resource Center, UCR

Romanie Arterberry – Program Director, Women’s Resource Center, UCR

Nathaly Martinez – Program Coordinator, Women’s Resource Center, UCR

Elizabeth Romero – Associate Vice Chancellor for Government and Community Relations, UCR

Toi Thibodeoux – Assistant Director, LGBT Resource Center, UCR

Dr. Jennifer Merolla – Professor of Political Science, UCR

Dr. Sue Castagnetto – Director/Lecturer, Intercollegiate Feminist Center, Scripps College

Dr. Rachel Vansickle-Ward – Professor of Political Studies, Pitzer College

Dr. Ivy A. M. Cargile – Professor of Political Science, CSU Bakersfield

Dr. Sang-Hee Lee – Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs, UCR

Tina Aoun – Director, Middle Eastern Student Center, UCR

Dr. Jennifer Nelson – Director of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of Redlands

Aram Ayra – President, Associated Students of UCR

Jonathan Li – Vice President of External Affairs, Associated Students of UCR


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Persist 2017 is brought to you by:

Women's Resource Center Middle Eastern Student Center Women's Resource Center Women's Resource Center UCR Political Science Women's Resource Center
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