Alumnae

The inaugural Emerge Pennsylvania class will begin in early 2016. You can see some of the incredible women Emerge has trained across the country at www.emergeamerica.org/alumnae!

LauraEllen AshcraftLauraEllen Ashcraft was born and raised in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She moved to Pittsburgh to pursue her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. Upon graduation, she worked as a non-profit consultant and developed programming for a local social service agency. She now works as a Project Manager at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Critical Care Research. Upon graduation from Emerge, she wanted to continue to support other women as they train to run for office and now serves as the Alumnae representative on the Emerge Pennsylvania Board.

Professor of Political Science - LaSalle University

State Representative - PA 156

Carolyn ComittaAs the newly elected State Representative in the 156th Legislative District, Carolyn Comitta is proud to be an alum of Emerge PA in its inaugural class of 2016.

Executive Director - WOMEN'S WAY

Diane Cornman-LevyDiane is currently the Executive Director of WOMEN’s WAY, a nonprofit organization committed to achieving gender equality and justice.

Commissioner - Mt. Lebanon

Kelly FraaschKelly Fraasch is currently serving her fifth year as Commissioner in Mt Lebanon, a community just six miles South of the City of Pittsburgh.

Public Policy Director - Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children

Lissa Geiger ShulmanLissa is currently the Public Policy Director for the Pittsburgh Associate for the Education of Young Children. In this role Lissa develops policy and advocates for issues surrounding child care, pre-k, home visiting, and early intervention. 

Associate - Schubert, Gallagher, Tyler and Mulcahey

Linda HeeAn active Democrat, Linda has been a Committee Person for nearly a decade. She currently serves as a committeeperson in Abington’s 11th Ward, on the Executive Committee of the Montgomery County Democrats, a member of the Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee and is the Chair of that Montgomery County Democratic Women's Leadership Initiative. 

Movita Johnson HarrellMovita Johnson-Harrell is a wife, mother and grandmother. She graduated in May of 2004 from the University of Pennsylvania with her Masters of Social Work. As the executive director of MECA, Inc. for two decades she has advocated, cared for and improved the quality of life for disenfranchised groups that include the chronically mentally ill, dually diagnosed (mental illness and substance abuse disorders), intellectual disabilities and homeless. She is a Department of Human Services approved master, trainer and administrator.

Kimberly KaplanKimberly Kaplan is a Korean-American woman with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Chatham University. She ran for Pittsburgh City Council in 2015, and gained first-hand experience in running a campaign as well as obstacles for women, minorities, and newcomers in politics. She plans to develop her leadership skills in Emerge Pennsylvania's 6-month training program for women so that she can continue to advocate for her neighborhood and surrounding communities.

Board Member - Darby Creek Valley Association

Barbarann KefferBarbarann Keffer currently serves as the first Democrat elected to an at-Large Council position in Upper Darby Township, the 6th largest municipality in Pennsylvania.

Victim Services Supervisor - Family Services Inc.

Gillian KratzerGillian was a member of the inaugural cohort of Emerge PA and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Political Management through George Washington University.  

Jasmine KurjakovicJasmine Kurjakovic grew up the second oldest of 8 children in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At 25 years old Jasmine returned to Pittsburgh to attend college with a major in Political Science and minor in French with summer semesters in France, London, and later Montenegro and an internship in Northern Ireland.

Western PA Political Director- Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ

Nikki LuNikki Lu is currently the Western PA Political Director for the Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ.

Sharon OvertonSharon is a mother, wife, and grandmother, she believes that there is good in everyone. After working over 30 years in the Insurance Industry, she began working for a non-profit organization, Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER).  In addition to supporting Bishop Royster, Sharon manages the POWER office and leads POWER’s data systems.

Sharon found out about Emerge from a mutual friend, and decided she wanted to explore something new in her life after she retires at the end of 2016. Sharon graduated in 2012 from Arcadia University after a long journey as a part-time student. Her goals are finishing the Emerge program, and seeking a political office best suited to help people in her county.  

Megan PilkingtonMegan Pilkington was drawn to the inaugural session of Emerge Pennsylvania as a result of her growing interest in politics and her desire to get more women elected.  She aspires to run for public office after the program, and wants to continue to spread the word about Emerge to women across Pennsylvania to inspire them to do the same.

She is a member of the Westmoreland County Democratic Committee and the Young Democrats of Westmoreland County, where she spends her time networking with passionate Democrats and working toward a common goal of turning her county blue again.

Sully PinosAs a Brooklyn native, Sully Pinos found herself immersed in the city that never sleeps at a young age. New York City’s endless opportunities and thriving political community helped fuel her interests in working in politics. Shortly after receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Government from St. John’s University in 2011, Sully found herself working on President Obama’s reelection campaign as a field organizer in York, Pennsylvania. Sully oversaw the Central Pennsylvania Obama For America (OFA) grassroots outreach and voter registration efforts. 

Laura QuickUntil 2012, Laura was focused on motherhood and working full-time, but the call to community involvement and the desire to help others soon became too strong to resist and renewed her involvement in community organizations. In 2013, Laura became a member of the Women’s Leadership Network of the United Way of the Capital Region.  In 2015 Laura was asked to be vice-president of the Palmyra chapter of Stand for the Silent. During Laura’s short tenure so far, the chapter has expanded its outreach to include 4 counties (Lebanon, Lancaster, Cumberland and Dauphin) and hosted its first 5k race in October of 2015. In addition to working full-time at UPS, Laura has also started her own home-based business.

Chair - Nether Providence Democratic Committee

Christine ReutherIn 2015, Christine ran for Delaware County Commissioner.  While the Democrats did not win, the Democratic ticket finished with 47% of the vote, a higher percentage than any Democrat has received for that office.   She is currently the chair of the Nether Providence Democratic Committee and is focused on recruiting candidates for local office and working to retain the Democratic representative in the 161st House District.  She is also organizing a group of interested people working to do research on Delaware County issues including patronage hires and the lack of public health resources in Delaware County to lay the groundwork for future Democratic challengers.

President - Radnor Township Board of Commissioners

Elaine SchaeferElaine Paul Schaefer currently serves as the President of the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners. She was elected to the board in 2009 and has served as vice president in 2012 and president in 2013 and 2014. Elaine has lived in Radnor Township for over 15 years.

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