On Mar. 25, IGNITE at Villanova partnered with its Temple counterpart for a panel of Women in Philadelphia Politics. IGNITE is a national organization designed to empower young women of all backgrounds to become political leaders in the future. Panelists included Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez of Philadelphia and Quetcy Lozada, who is her former Chief of Staff and current Vice President of Community Engagement and Organizing at Esperanza Inc. It also hosted former Digital Associate for Biden of America, Ashton Adams and current staff attorney at Community Legal Services, Chi-Ser Tran.
The panel included questions from the event organizers that varied from their favorite forms of self care to how to navigate being a woman in their field. They all agreed that it is hard to immediately become immersed in the political field when so many politicians are men who are not people of color. One of their biggest pieces of advice was to find a strong mentor in the field. Lozada recommended assembling a “kitchen cabinet of really strong women” that you can always go to for help.
Quiñones-Sanchez told a story in which a former partner told her that she could not be a mother, a full time college student and aspiring politician all at once. So what did she do? She became the first Latina woman to get into Philadelphia politics, and she would like to thank former President Barack Obama for making community organizing popular again.
All of the women agreed with the idea of imposter syndrome, which occurs when everyone in their field does not look like them. They shared anecdotes of being mistaken for an intern or a translator, which highlights the intersectionality that all of the panelists recognized exists within our identities. This was a difficult barrier for many of them to get past, especially because sometimes it felt to them that, as women in politics, they were valued less.
They all had important pieces of advice that they wish to share with their younger selves and the young women that are interested in politics today. Adams wished that her younger self understood that her career will not be linear and that it is okay to not know what comes next. Quetcy Lozada and Chi-Ser Tran agreed that they needed to believe in themselves and their skill sets. Quiñones-Sanchez was always told that she was “sassy at the mouth” growing up, and she always wanted to be right. Instead, she now recognizes that it is more important for other people to recognize one’s opinion than try to change theirs. They also want women in politics to not be afraid to stand up for themselves in the workplace.