#BlackWomenLead a Conversation on Motherhood, Politics and Leadership

Happy Mother’s Day!  As we prepare to celebrate the mothers in our lives or the legacy of mothers that made a lasting impact on us with reflection, flowers, cards, brunches and dinners, and hugs and kisses please join Higher Heights in celebrating theses amazing women that have influenced our society in countless ways.

Often times, we hear that family obligations are a barrier for women when they consider stepping off the sidelines and into leadership roles. When in fact the unique perspective that mothers bring to decision-making tables helps create better policies. This Mother’s Day we asked four amazing elected women serving in various levels of government to share their thoughts and advice about running for office and serving as mothers.   

Tishaura_JOnes_Action_shot.pngTishaura O.  Jones
City Treasurer, Saint Louis, MO

Higher Heights:  Why do you think it is important to have mothers serving in elected office?

Tishaura Jones:  Mothers are often the primary caretakers and breadwinners of families. We look at public service through a different lens and look at ways to use existing resources in different ways.

Higher Heights:  What advice would you give to a woman with children considering running for office?

Tishaura Jones:  If God is telling you to do it, go for it. I am living testimony that He will provide all of your needs. I almost didn't run for office because I got pregnant by a man I barely knew. But no matter how many times I said no, God said, "Why not?" After some serious prayer, I surrendered and said, "Lord, you never have given me more than I can handle so I'm going to trust and believe that you will provide." And He blessed me with a woman who treated me and my son like family, oftentimes keeping him overnight when session ran late. My suite-mates in the Capitol often babysat when I attended evening functions. And He blessed me with a wonderful assistant who my son now considers as his "Nana-Janet."

Higher Heights: What do you tell your children about your work?

Tishaura Jones:  My son knows my title and sometimes gets offended when people don't know who I am. LOL! He doesn't know exactly what I do, but knows that it's kind of important because I often take him with me when I have speaking engagements. He thinks that President Obama is a personal friend of mine and every time I leave for DC, he asks, "Are you going to see Obama?"


Soleges_photo.jpgMichaelle Solages

Assembly Member, New York
Legislative District 22

Higher Heights:  Why do you think it is important to have mothers serving in elected office?

Michaelle Solages: Public policies have yet to adjust to meet the needs of the middle-class families.   When women are elected, they become advocates of family-friendly legislation like paid family leave, quality affordable child care and equal pay for women.

Higher Heights: What advice would you give to a woman with children considering running for office?

Michaelle Solages: As a candidate, you will spend the majority of your time asking for things.  Do not be afraid to ask your friends and family for help.  

Higher Heights:  How are your children involved in your work as an elected leader?   

Michaelle Solages:  As a nursing mother, I found many public places lacked a clean non-bathroom space to breastfeed or pump. I am a sponsor of two bills that would mandate lactation accommodations in airports as well as public buildings. 

Lawmakers who are mothers bring an important legislative perspective.   The working parents of my district, as well as my son, motivate me to draft and enact legislation that empowers families in New York State.


Frederic_action_shot_1.jpgCharnette Frederic
Council President, Irvington, NJ

Higher Heights:   Why did you decide to run for office and did you children play a role in your decision?

Charnette Frederic:  I decided to be a candidate because I wanted to make a difference in the town that I am living in.  I wanted my son to feel safe and able to succeed.

Higher Heights:  Why do you think it is important to have mothers serving in elected office?

Charnette Frederic:  Mothers bring a different perspective to the office because it is not just about my son but all the children who live in the town.  I believe mothers practice the saying, 'it takes a village to raise a child!"

Higher Heights:   What advice would you give to a woman with children considering running for office?

Charnette Frederic:  It is possible, it is possible.  Getting involved in the political world is important because I understand that politics influences the life that I live.

Higher Heights:   What do you tell your children about your work?

Charnette Frederic:  Because politics is public, my son is part of my work! 


Angela_Angel_action.jpgAngela M. Angel

Delegate, Maryland
Legislative District 25

Higher Heights:  Why did you decide to run for office and did you children play a role in your decision?

Angela Angel: An opportunity to run for office presented itself at a pretty inopportune time. I was going through a nasty divorce; I was struggling financially as a result of my separation and I was figuring out who I was now that my life was not at all what I planned or expected.

At the same time I had been through so many aspects of the issues we deal with as elected officials. I had been on every side of the issues – as a community organizer knocking on doors, an attorney enforcing the law, a policy liaison having input on research and recommendations, and a private citizen who had been dealt some hard blows by life that was in need of assistance.  So when a seat opened in the State Legislature I thought about my life and my experiences and how they were reflective of so many other women around me and I wanted to have that voice at the table. So if I wanted that voice at the table, I needed to be that voice at the table.

My children are in everything I do. As a mother there is no other way to be. We carry our children with us on our jobs, in school, in every decision we make. So I had to look at what sacrifices would my children have to make? What benefits would they gain and what was I modeling for them as a woman.

My family has always been a political family so campaigns are nothing new to us. My children are often at community meetings and forums, they knock doors with me and they are a big part of everything I did while running.

Higher Heights:   Why do you think it is important to have mothers serving in elected office? 

Angela Angels:  Perspective.  Mothers bring a perspective to the policymaking table. Too often we forget that serving in an elected office often means you are responsible for creation, implementation and/or oversight of policy. It is critical that a variety of voices and experiences are at the table to ensure that divergent points of views are considered. As a mother you bring the thoughts and care not just for your children but many times for your community because there is an understanding that your community will also shape and influence your children and family. So when we create policy we do it in that spirit and everyone is better.

Higher Heights:  What advice would you give to a woman with children considering running for office?

Angela Angel:  Run Girl Run! They will tell you it’s too much - RUN! They will say you won’t be able to raise the money -RUN! They will say you don’t have the time - RUN! They will say it’s not your time, it’s not your turn - RUN! Because who are THEY? Compared to YOU! RUN!

Higher Heights:  I am a Black mother that leads because……

Angela Angel:  I have to.   Because I am the change my community needs.

Because I know what it means to struggle so I will always fight so others have a chance.

Because my mother raised me to lead.

Because my father raised me to lead.

Because I am raising warriors.

Because I am raising Kings and Queens.

Because I see so many Black mothers that get up every day against so many odds and they give their all to their children and their community so I stand where I stand for, with and because of them.

Black mothers have built this country, we have always led just too often our leadership was overlooked and ignored. We have to now stand with each other and demand our voices be heard and our seat at the table that we have built, filled and set be properly given.

Higher Heights:  What do you tell your children about your work?

Angela Angel:  They once saw me escort the governor into our chamber so they thought I spent most of my days ushering him around. They know I make the laws and that “I help make things better for Prince George’s County and all of Maryland” which is their quote they use when telling people what I do.  Often times my 7 year old and my 5 year old ask me “Do you have to go to work today?” More often than not the answer is yes.  But as often as I can I bring them along and they see first-hand what it means to serve the people. 

Higher Heights: How are your children involved in your work as an elected leader?

Angela Angel:  My children are involved as often as possible. They attend meetings and events. They come to my office. They hear me often talking about issues and are never afraid to weigh in. Sometimes folks ask them if they are going to run for office. I’m glad some of them say yes, but all of them are quick to say they have their own dreams they want to accomplish and then, they may run for something.