I still laugh when I think about how Miesha Wilson Headen, then a first-time candidate for and now an elected Richmond Heights councilwoman, and I met nearly two years. Although she approached me first to ask if I was who she thought I was, she is the one whom we should be approaching and listening to. Headen's drive and focus epitomize the qualities needed for women to break past our low numbers in political office. And that is why I consider her more than deserving of Awesome Woman status.
If you remember nothing else about why Miesha stands out, remember this: she won her first political race (for a seat on her suburban Northeastern Ohio city's council) without using a single yard sign. That might sound like a strange way to measure someone's power, but when you are running for office for your first time, and your mayor has not endorsed you, and the newspapers have not endorsed you, and you've got to stretch every last dollar, you better believe that winning without yard signs - a notoriously controversial campaign tool to begin with - is a feat to be worshiped. It means that she crunched her voter data, she lived and breathed her residents' demographics, and then she went out and met thousands of them via knocking on doors and attending every size and style of hometown event you can imagine. Her first place win, with more votes than either of the incumbents, proves how effective her deployment of this face-time tactic was.
And while she had the credentials and poise to back up her appearance on people's doorsteps, Headen has continued to press for her passions, two in particular. First, she is the little engine that could as together we've started a real-time forum to encourage people to enter public service. Headen knows that although she's walking the walk, now more than ever there is an imperative to put out narratives that encourage rather than discourage more and more diverse people to run for elected office and serve.
But beyond her own community, Headen leads another effort aimed at mold-breaking as Ohio State Director for Democrats for Educational Reform. She writes and speaks with confidence and conviction. This partial biography of her (you can see the full entry at this post for the panel, "Is There a Superior Parenting Style,") adds even more depth to Headen's trajectory:
...She was raised as an only child by her parents Thomas and Dorothy Wilson, retired teachers from the Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD) and graduates of Jackson State University, a historically black college in Mississippi. In addition, she is the granddaughter of a sharecropper and a garbage collector who sacrificed their limited income to make sure her parents had a college education. Miesha's great-great grandmother, Lucy Crump, remembered being freed from slavery. On her mother's side of the family, there is a long line of preachers who were cornerstones of their community.
...She was President of the Cleveland Chapter of Mocha Moms, a non-profit organization supporting and advocating for women of color who are stay-at-home moms. She served on the governing boards of two charter schools with a mission to educate at-risk youth. Keeping with her commitment to community service, she is a member of several organizations, including Cuyahoga County Public Library Foundation Board, YMCA Hillcrest Advisory Board, the Women's Committee of the Cleveland Museum of Art, University School Parents Association, and Mocha Moms Cleveland East.
For her unwavering commitment to put herself in the arena of politics and move us all forward, on behalf of women, children and the community at large, Miesha Headen is an Awesome Woman.
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