20 Women of Color Candidates You Should Know (and Support)
Women make up 51% of the U.S. population yet less than 32% of elected officials are women: this number is magnified when you look at representation for women of color.
We know that when women of color are elected to office, they are more effective leaders: they are able to solve problems, build consensus, and when needed, shake up stagnant systems and effectively remind governing bodies who they work for. They are also more likely to bring funding to their communities, work collaboratively, sponsor and pass legislation that helps women and children — think paid leave, expanded healthcare, and stronger schools.
In 2022, more women of color are running for office than ever before, but they’ll need your support to get it done! Take a look at 20 women of color running for office in 2022: learn their names, understand more about their platforms, and learn how you can get involved in their campaigns.
1. Staci Childs — Texas State Board of Education
Focus: public school funding, CRT, post pandemic education; inclusive curriculum
Full-time attorney Staci Childs is running for office to address the educational gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide an equitable learning environment for all children. Staci is committed to ensuring that all students are challenged in the classroom through creative means AND that they are receiving an education that is meaningful and inclusive.
Interesting Fact: Staci is the creator of GirlTalk University, a nationally recognized program designed to instill confidence in girls and encourage high academic achievement.
2. Dr. Megan Srinivas — Iowa House, District 30, IA
Focus: accessible healthcare; COVID recovery; economic stability; education access and affordability
Infectious disease physician and public health researcher Dr. Megan Srinivas is the person we need in office right now. During the fall of 2020, Dr. Srinivas chaired President Biden’s Iowa COVID Response Council. She has been an advocate for science-based COVID policies since the start of the pandemic and is leading a NIH-funded study analyzing legislative defunding of family planning health centers in Iowa.
Interesting Fact: Dr. Srinivas received InStyle Magazine’s 2020 “Badass Women of the Year” award for her work in U.S. healthcare.
3. María Isa Pérez-Hedges — Minnesota House, District 65B, MN
Focus: healthcare accessibility; funding for Multilingual Learners and Early-Childhood education; increased development of affordable and public housing; investments in community solar energy
María Isa Pérez-Hedges is a cultural community organizer, international recording artist, and youth worker who currently directs the mentorship program for the Twin Cities Mobile Jazz Project. A Type 1 diabetic who fights for lower d insulin costs, María Isa has been a prominent leader in the fight for affordable health care in Minnesota. In April 2020, she played an integral role in advocating for the passage of the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act; she continues her leadership within the Minnesota #Insulin4all Chapter.
Interesting Fact: Due to her outstanding leadership, María received the National Hispana Leadership Institute’s “Rising Latina Star” award.
4. DeJonaé Shaw — San Bernardino County Supervisor, District 2, CA
Focus: COVID-19 economic recovery, sustainability, job creation
Small business owner and community activist DeJonaé Shaw is running to bring true equity and opportunity to communities so that we all have a safe place to learn, work, play, and thrive. As an experienced LVN, DeJonaé also became a leader in her health care union by advocating for the National Workplace Violence Prevention Health Care and Social Service Workers Act and she helped to fight for fair contracts to improve wages and patient care.
Interesting Fact: As a lifelong mentor, DeJonaé created Greater Empire Pageants to help empower hundreds of young people to find self-confidence and build self-esteem.
5. Ayesha Ghazi Edwin — Ann Arbor City Council, Ward 3, MI
Focus: accessibility & inclusion for people with disabilities; reduction of carbon emissions; revising/repealing local laws that contain racial bias; passage of the Affordable Housing Millage; stabilize of local economy
Community leader, social worker, and educator Ayesha Ghazi Edwin, has worked on the frontlines fighting for several social justice causes. As an Ann Arbor Human Rights Commissioner, Ayesha created ordinances that demanded transparency in police traffic data to monitor bias. She also banned conversion therapy and housing discrimination against those with prior criminal records.
Interesting Fact: In 2021, MI Governor Gretchen Whitmer appointed Ayesha as Chair of the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission.
6. Helen Tran — Mayor of San Bernardino, CA
Focus: parks and open spaces; city economic revitalization; workforce development; emergency housing; mental health services; investing in libraries, STEM programs, and youth mentorship
Helen Tran is the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants and a community organizer who got her start working on local and state campaigns. As the Director of Human Resources for the city of San Bernardino, she is committed to local revitalization after the economic fallout of the pandemic and she is set to become the first Asian American woman to represent the City of San Bernardino at any level.
Interesting Fact: Helen’s campaign has the endorsement of over 90 San Bernardino community leaders and residents!
7. Janelle Perez — Florida Senate, District 37, FL
Focus: high-quality healthcare; economic opportunities for micro businesses and small businesses; LGBTQIA+ rights; reproductive justice; gun reform
Janelle Perez is the daughter of Cuban exiles, who has used her experiences and the experiences of her loved ones, to build stronger communities within Florida. At the age of 28, Janelle was diagnosed with Stage IV Follicular Lymphoma, an aggressive cancer. Her personal experience battling illness and her professional experience as an advocate deepened her commitment to ensuring every Floridian has access to affordable, high-quality healthcare.
Interesting Fact: Janelle and her wife own a Medicare company, providing affordable, high-quality medical services to Medicare beneficiaries in Miami-Dade County.
8. Tiara Mack — Rhode Island State Senate, District 6
Focus: restorative justice; job creation; reproductive justice; criminal reform; $15 minimum wage; voter reform; cash bail reform; expanding Medicaid
Tiara Mack is a former low-income Black, queer, educator and activist who ran (and won) a seat in the RI Senate, defeating a 30-year incumbent! In her first session, she championed legislation around prison reform, criminal justice, and housing equity. When re-elected, she plans to continue to bring activism and people centered legislation to the state house.
Interesting Fact: A dedicated reproductive rights activist, Tiara taught sex education at Hope High School in RI, testified in support of RI’s doula bill, and sits on the board of the Women’s Health & Education fund.
9. Nabeela Syed — Illinois House, District 51, IL
Focus: inclusive curriculum; mental health support; tax relief for small businesses; workers’ rights; LGBTQIA+ protections; increased healthcare access; Clean Energy Jobs Act; TRUST Act
Nabeela Syed is an organizer and educator with experience fighting for educational equity, reproductive justice, and worker’s rights. From knocking on doors to help elect Democrats to organizing Asian American voters in Georgia, Nabeela works to advance progressive causes on both a local and national scale.
Interesting Fact: If elected, Nabeela will be the first South Asian woman to serve in the state of Illinois.
10. Dulce Vasquez — Los Angeles City Council, District 9, CA
Focus: Housing and Homelessness; Small Business Assistance; public transportation; education equity; public safety
Dulce Vasquez is a formerly undocumented Mexican-American immigrant and educator. Helping other Latinos achieve educational success drives Dulce’s work and she has spent the last decade mentoring young women in South Central LA, in addition to advocating for more inclusive educational policies.
Interesting Fact: Passionate about education, Dulce graduated from Northwestern as a Gates Millennium Scholar.
11. Millicent Rogers — Durham School Board, Consolidated District B, NC
Focus: pay raises for classified staff; increase of support staff such as mental health workers; increased safety protocols; increased support for ESL learners
From advocating for safe and appropriate playground equipment as PTA President, to advocating for greater educational funding at the county level, Millicent Rogers has never shied away from a fight for equity while in her role as co-President of the Durham People’s Alliance. Millicent is the Advocacy Committee Chair with the NCPT, having fought for grant funding for internet safety workshops and safer playground equipment.
Interesting Fact: Millicent is a member of two prestigious service organizations: Alpha Kappa Alpha and the Order of Black and Gold.
12. Raaheela Ahmed — Maryland Senate, District 23, MD
Focus: permanent universal vote-by-mail; Equal wages; dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, adequately building and renovating schools through public funds, promoting culturally responsive curriculum; affordable housing
Raaheela Ahmed is a grassroots community advocate who has served as an elected representative for the Prince George’s County Board of Education in MD. She currently serves as Deputy Director of Campus Vote Project. As a young, first-generation American, and Muslim woman of Indian and Pakistani descent, Raaheela understands and passionately strives for equity and justice for marginalized people and communities.
Interesting Fact: Ahmed first ran for office as an 18-year old underdog in 2012. She lost that election by 3%, but was eventually elected to the Board of Education!
13. Karla Lopez Owens — Indiana Senate, District 46, IN
Focus: economic security; environmental sustainability; voting accessibility; crime reduction
Attorney and community organizer Karla Lopez Owens has fought for social change in her state for over 11 years. Karla has worked diligently to bridge the gap between government and local communities, acting as a translator, a member of the Marion County Citizens’ Police Complaint Board, and as a pro-bono lawyer.
Interesting Fact: At the age of 20, Karla co-founded the Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance, an immigrant rights non-profit organization.
14. Tania Del Rio — Boston City Council, District 1, MA
Focus: safety and equity in public schools; expanded universal pre-K; zero carbon emissions; New Green Deal; rent stabilization
Former Executive Director of Boston’s Department of Women’s Advancement, Tania Del Rio has spent decades working to improve the lives of the residents of Boston. As an immigrant, Tania has benefitted from a number of transformative policies and opportunities and she wants to ensure that more people have access to affordable housing, equitable healthcare, and fair-paying jobs.
Interesting Fact: Before running for office, Tania worked as the executive director at the YWCA in Cambridge, MA.
15. Nicole Olonovich — New Mexico House, District 12, NM
Focus: Infrastructural improvements; funding for schools; funding the Acequias; increased access to resources for mental and behavioral health
Nicole Olonovich is a progressive Democrat from a large Hispanic family that has New Mexican roots, predating statehood. Nicole has spoken out against for-profit urban sprawl, predatory loans, and blue hydrogen hubs. She has stood in support of a healthy environment, voting rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, low-income energy modernization, tenant rights, and access to behavioral healthcare for all populations.
Interesting Fact: Nicole is a disabled veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a result of her time in the military, she was motivated to get involved in political affairs, public service, and environmental protections.
16. Kaila Stovall — Comal ISD Board of Trustees, Single Member District 7, TX
Focus: community building; transparency; equity for students; funding for students; increases in teacher salaries
Mother of four and teacher Kaila Stovall is running for school board to make sure that students and teachers receive the support needed to thrive in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. To ensure that community voices are heard and respected throughout the decision-making process, Kaila wants to build tools for accessibility and transparency when it comes to budgeting, town halls, and school board meetings.
Interesting Fact: If elected, Kaila will be the youngest member of the Comal ISD Board.
17. Andrea Hunley — Indiana Senate, District 46, IN
Focus: expanding high quality Pre-K access; $15 minimum wage; expansion and support of union apprenticeship programs; economic support for small businesses; upgraded and expanded public transit
Andrea Hunley is a community leader, mother, public school principal, and advocate. For a decade, Andrea has been committed to serving children and families as an Indianapolis Public Schools Principal. Now, as an extension of that commitment, she is running for office to champion a better quality of life for the folks that make up Indiana’s 46th District.
Interesting Fact: Andrea was voted “Most Likely to Become the First Woman President” in her high school senior class superlative.
18. Zaynab Mohamed — Minnesota Senate, MN
Focus: eliminating the educational achievement gap; expanding health care, combatting climate change; workers’ rights; racial justice reform
Zaynab Mohamed is a working class immigrant and policy advocate, running to represent South Minneapolis in the Minnesota Senate. Through her experiences supporting her family and navigating government services, Zaynab is acutely aware of the government’s ability to impact lives. She has served as the Community Advocacy Director at the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), where she pushed for better public safety and police accountability.
Interesting Fact: If elected, 24 year-old Zaynab would be the youngest woman elected to the Minnesota Senate.
19. Darya Farivar — Washington House, District 46, WA
Focus: mental and behavioral health services; disability access; civil rights; combatting homelessness; police reform
Darya Farivar is a lifelong resident of the 46th Legislative District, a first-generation Iranian-American woman, a 27 year old millennial, and a proud Democrat. Darya believes we need legislators who understand disability justice, reflect the experiences of members of our communities, and bring those most impacted to the decision making table.
Interesting Fact: If elected, Darya would be the first millennial to represent the district and the first-ever Middle Eastern Woman elected to the Washington State Legislature.
20. Linh Nguyen — Dekalb County Clerk, IL
Focus: record indexing; transparency in election results; modernized voting process; voter education
Computational scientist, chemistry instructor, and voting rights activist Linh Nguyen is committed to bringing transparency and accessibility to the polls in her community. When elected, Linh plans to update and modernize record-keeping, create more voter education resources for voters, and build trust within elections across Dekalb County.
Interesting Fact: In her spare time, Linh serves as an American Youth Soccer Organization coach.