The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) relaunched the “Women in Elections” series to celebrate Women’s History Month. During March, Commissioners interviewed women who are leading in the election administration and election cybersecurity fields. The EAC is honored to highlight these extraordinary leaders and extend many thanks for letting us share their stories.
The women featured in this series work at the federal, state, and local levels of government, each bringing their unique perspectives to the table. EAC Commissioners met virtually with Utah County Clerk/Auditor Amelia Powers Gardner, Bexar County Texas Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen, Martin County Florida Supervisor of Elections Vicki Davis, Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Computer Scientist and IT Security Engineer Gema Howell, Louisiana Commissioner of Elections Sherri Wharton Hadskey, and James City County Virginia Director of Elections and General Registrar Dianna Moorman.
These officials shared insight on how election administration and cybersecurity have evolved in their time working on elections and highlighted some of the high-profile changes they have implemented in their careers. They not only spoke on their current positions, but also the varying paths they took to get to where they are today. Some of the interviewees started in elections through volunteering while others noted their experience in the private sector or public service. Each noted how the skills they developed throughout their career help in their current positions and gave advice for the next generation of women in elections discussing confidence, mentorship, and determination.
Here are just a few highlights from the conversations:
- “We as women leaders have a special responsibility both to honor the legacy of the women leaders and trailblazers who came before us, but also, and very significantly, to help identify and empower the young leaders of tomorrow who are coming behind us as a woman in a position of leadership -- I hope to always inspire women and girls to be leaders in our democracy and in their schools and in their communities.” Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee
- “I would love to see more people embrace innovation. I have found that by upgrading technology, and embracing innovation in my county, we were able to take a county that the Governor literally called the ‘epicenter of disfunction,’ and we were able to turn it into a model for our state and for the nation.” Utah County Clerk/Auditor Amelia Powers Gardner
- “I would venture to say it would be really hard to find a more rewarding career. You can put in long hours…it’s stressful I mean I’ll be the first one to say it’s stressful, but it is so rewarding…” Bexar County Texas Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen
- “I love public service, like I said earlier you have to have a passion for it because you have to realize you’re not in this for yourself, you’re in it for those that you are here to serve.” Martin County Florida Supervisor of Elections Vicki Davis
- “For everything there are different avenues whether you decide to go into elections; elections is a big space with many opportunities…” National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Computer Scientist and IT Security Engineer Gema Howell
- “If I could give someone advice, I would tell them put your hands in it, do the job, get dirty, understand it before you walk in and just make a decision on how you're going to process something with elections.” Louisiana Commissioner of Elections Sherri Wharton Hadskey
- “Just go into it with confidence, knowing that you can do it, and knowing that this is interestingly a world that you can very much sink your teeth into…” James City County Virginia Director of Elections and General Registrar Dianna Moorman
The complete series is available on the EAC YouTube Channel.