Vote Run Lead Hosts Event w/ Congresswoman Underwood & Actress Lynn Whitfield


On Saturday, October 24, Vote Run Lead, the nation’s largest and most diverse training program for women to run for office and win, will host “SURGE” TO THE POLLS: A Red Carpet Event, an exclusive live event with Congresswoman Lauren Underwood and Emmy Award winning Actress Lynn Whitfield. The event is in partnership with OWN YOUR VOTE, Athena Film Festival at Barnard College, and SURGE Documentary.  

Timed to National Vote Early Day, the powerful conversation between actress Lynn Whitfield and Illinois Representative Underwood, the youngest Black woman ever elected to Congress and a Vote Run Lead alumni, will highlight the political power of Black women, why it’s crucial for everyone to vote, and the power of film and television to tell different stories and shape culture. The event will also feature 10 actionable steps to #OWNyourvote for this election, and will provide an opportunity for viewers to ask questions live. 

“Representation is important. When I was young, I saw two powerful Black women on TV every day: my Senator, Carol Moseley Braun, and Oprah Winfrey. I could see myself in them,” said Congresswoman Lauren Underwood. “I hope that my story in ‘Surge’ inspires young Black girls the way that these iconic leaders inspired me.”

“We are thrilled to be hosting this event with OWN YOUR VOTE, Athena Film Festival, and SURGE,” says Rhonda Briggins, Co-Founder and Board Member of Vote Run Lead. “We have been working together to increase women’s political representation as voters and leaders, and the conversation between Lynn Whitfield and Representative Underwood is sure to provide some valuable insight to viewers and encourage everyone to get out and vote.” 

Prior to the red carpet event, from October 21st – 23rd, attendees can register to watch the award-winning documentary SURGE, directed and produced by Hannah R. Rosenzweig and Wendy Sachs, on Amazon Prime. The feature follows three candidates in Texas, Indiana, and Illinois who are each running in uphill battles to flip their deep red districts to blue, including Congresswoman Underwood, during the historic 2018 midterm elections. Proceeds from the three-day movie rental will benefit Vote Run Lead and The Athena Film Festival.

The event will be streamed live on the Vote Run Lead Official Facebook Page and Instagram. Attendees who RSVP to the event on Eventbrite will receive a link to the film via email on Wednesday, October 21. 

Vote Run Lead

Vote Run Lead trains women to run for office, and win, reaching over 36,000 women all across America. Vote Run Lead alumni are serving on city councils, county boards, state houses, supreme courts, and in Congress. Our co-founders and leaders have been working together for nearly 15 years, with a growing family of team members in 6 states, and a national trainer pool of the country’s best political coaches. Launched in 2014, today Vote Run Lead is 4 times the size of our start, reaching tens of thousands of women — nearly 60% of whom are women of color, and 20% of whom are from rural America. We are working rapidly — with partners like the YWCA USA, and New American Leaders and local women’s foundations — to increase women’s representation at every level of government.


OWN YOUR VOTE is committed to a bipartisan, pro-social campaign of actions and events for and with Black women, connecting them to urgent political actions, giving their concerns a powerful microphone, and placing a spotlight on key community issues.

Athena Film Festival at Barnard College

Over the past ten years, the Athena Film Festival has established itself as the premiere festival dedicated to celebrating and elevating women’s leadership. Our festival highlights films showcasing women’s leadership from underexplored perspectives; women leading in all places and spaces who are resisting and refuting preconceived notions of all they can be and do. Through our Parity Pipeline Program we are bolstering the pipeline of women creatives who are telling these stories and fostering a network of women in film. Now, more than ever, we need to continue advancing this mission— to push our culture to be more equitable and inclusive, and to inspire the next generation.The festival is a project of the Athena Center for Leadership at Barnard College and Women and Hollywood, a leading voice for women in the entertainment industry. The Artemis Rising Foundation and its CEO Regina K. Scully is the festival’s founding sponsor. The 11th annual Athena Film Festival will be held March 2021.

SURGE Documentary

SURGE is a feature documentary about the record number of first-time female candidates who ran, won and upended politics in the historic, barrier-breaking 2018 midterm elections. SURGE follows three candidates in Texas, Indiana and Illinois who each run in uphill battles to flip their deep red districts to blue, including Lauren Underwood, the youngest Black woman to ever be elected to Congress. Directed and produced by Hannah R. Rosenzweig Wendy Sachs. 

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