Former leaders of Emerge Colorado start new training program for … –

There’s a new candidate training program in town. 

Emerge Colorado spent 10 years as the state’s premier training and recruitment organization seeking to get Democratic women elected into public office. But earlier this month, the national affiliate Emerge America cut ties with its Colorado chapter amid accusations of mismanagement. 

Now, some of the former leaders of Emerge Colorado are launching Women Uprising, a new nonprofit to provide free training, mentorship and political resources to diverse progressive women. 

“We are committed to not only increasing women’s voices in the halls of power but fundamentally changing the way power works for the benefit of our families and communities,” said Lisa Calderón, former executive director of Emerge Colorado and leader of the new Women Uprising. 

In addition to Calderón, Kristen Seidel and Mary Imgrund formerly of Emerge Colorado are joining Women Uprising as political director and communications advisor, respectively. Most of the new organization’s board of directors also come from Emerge Colorado’s former board, according to a Wednesday release. 

This is the latest turn in a dramatic series of events surrounding Emerge Colorado and its parent organization. 

On July 12, Emerge America sent a letter to alumni announcing it would dissolve its affiliation agreement with Emerge Colorado effective Aug. 19. The letter said the national organization investigated “multiple complaints about the management of Emerge Colorado” and “their leadership team made an amicable resolution impossible.” 

The letter did not detail specific complaints made against Emerge Colorado. Reporting from Colorado Public Radio and The Denver Post identified some of the allegations as an Emerge Colorado staffer making disparaging remarks about a sexual assault victim, and since-dismissed campaign finance complaints accusing Calderón of using Emerge polling for her own gain while campaigning for Denver mayor.

Calderón, in turn, accused Emerge America of trying to centralize its power over the independent state chapters and prevent local unionization efforts, calling the move a “hostile takeover” of Emerge Colorado. This is the first time Emerge America has ever cut ties with an affiliate group. 

Emerge America said it will continue working in Colorado after terminating the existing Emerge Colorado group. But now, it won’t be alone in its mission to bolster women in politics. 

Separating itself from Emerge Colorado, Women Uprising said it will train women for free and include progressive candidates regardless of their political party affiliation, instead of just Democrats. 

“I’ve worked in Colorado politics for a long time where there are a lot of gatekeepers who keep progressive candidates from competing fairly against establishment candidates,” said Kat Traylor, chair of Women Uprising’s board of directors. “We will train non-traditional leaders from communities that have historically been left out of the decision-making process with skills to uplift their communities.” 

The new organization will work in collaboration with the Colorado Working Families Organization and with financial support from the State Democracy Project. 

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