Meet Andrea, Kristin and Evangelina


Between now and Election Day, we will highlight our alumnae running for office in a series of emails. Below are the first three.

And in case you missed it, check out this article written by Beth Slovic in Portland Monthly magazine: Oregon Is a Bastion of Lady Political Power - and Is Challenging the DC Frat House.

The piece features several Emerge women, including Andrea Paluso, Beaverton City Councilor Lacey Beaty, Representative Teresa Alonso-Leon, Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson and our executive director, Jillian Schoene


Emerge Oregon

Meet Andrea Valderrama, Class of 2016. She was appointed to the David Douglas School Board last year and now is running to hold her seat.

Why are you running? 

My two older sisters and I were raised in the Oakland, California area by our mother, a political refugee of Perú during Sendero Luminoso’s attempted violent coup. We lived in poverty during our childhood as our mother fled domestic violence. Our poverty required that I begin working and cleaning houses at age 11 with my grandfather. I don’t know if you’ve ever built a deck or fixed a toilet or painted an entire house before, but I have. And the sense of accomplishment after all the planning, designing, and hard work that goes into manual labor is amazing. 

I am running because hard working families deserve hard working representatives. I will continue to advocate for student and worker rights, economic stability, and equitable education opportunities for all Oregonians to achieve that stability.

What advice would you give another woman thinking about running for office?

There are many paths to serving in elected office, so I encourage women to be open and ready for an opportunity you weren’t necessarily anticipating. Constantly work on building your network and researching policy areas, political landscapes, and donors. 


Meet Kristin Cornuelle, Class of 2015. She is a first-time candidate, running for the Multnomah Education Service District, At Large Position 2.

Why are you running?

As a parent of two young children in the Portland public school system, I know how vital education is to our communities as the demand for quality student education support programs and services grows with the region. The transparency with which these services are distributed is critical. I bring both a parent volunteer and professional perspective to the MESD and want to be the community’s voice in policy improvement, innovation and sustainability in our schools.  

Moreover, as we face drastic budget cuts in education, we must focus on creative solutions and work to determine the best options in maintaining quality services as cost effectively as possible. I have the experience and skill set to successfully collaborate with staff, labor and management to ensure all of our student communities continue to be equitably served.

What advice would you give another woman thinking about running for office?

Putting yourself out there and committing to run for an elected position can be intimidating, so it is important to remember that you can do this your way and be authentic to yourself throughout the process. Be true to your personal goals and motivations, and do not let your insecurity or fears deter you from doing what you believe is the right path.

Meet Evangelina Sundgrenz, Class of 2013. She is a first-time candidate, running for the Eugene 4J School Board, Position 6.

Why are you running?

I am running because these challenging times require a board member with experience, budgetary knowledge, and leadership skills. I’m the chair of the budget committee and the proud parent of a preschooler. I believe that public education is the great equalizer and that depends on educational equity.
It is also important for me to run because far too often members of diverse communities do not have equable access to be a part of the public decision making process. I seek to be a voice at the table for those parents and individuals who want and need to share their life experiences as a part of public processes. I’m running because we can never take public education for granted. It is the hallmark of democracy and future.

What advice would you give another woman thinking about running for office?

Find your passion; find the issues that are most important to you, your family, and your community and focus on solutions. Join your local Democratic Party and become a precinct committee person if you have not already. Becoming involved in your local party is the best way to volunteer for a local election, meet your elected officials, and will get you involved in the decision-making of your party as a direct contributor and help you build your base. In this political climate we need more women, women of color, and those of us with diverse experiences and backgrounds to step up and be a part of the fabric of our community in key leadership roles. 

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