Mark Vilardi

  • Vote Run Lead’s Response to Netroots Nation Regarding the Incident of Pakou Hang and PaKou Her

    Vote Run Lead’s Response to Netroots Nation Regarding the Incident of Pakou Hang and PaKou Her - August 13th, 2020

    Vote Run Lead was inspired and founded by a diverse group of radical women. Our mission is to train women who are intersectional, anti-racist, and feminist reformers to run for public office and win. Central to that mission is a core belief that women should run as they are, because they are enough. 

    Netroots Nation invited our Chief Program Officer, Pakou Hang, to join a panel on “Building Political Allyship with Women of Color.” However, in the journey to the panel, Netroots Nation used PaKou Her’s name, headshot and biography for Pakou Hang. Even when it was pointed out to them, this misidentification went publicly uncorrected for days. 

    We do not need to assert the irony of what happened, especially as it relates to the topic of the panel, but we do think it is important to tease out the harm and microaggression that was inflicted.  

    First, the misidentifying of PaKou Her for Pakou Hang perpetuated the racist thinking that Asian Americans all look alike and can be interchangeable. 

    Second, the continued featuring of PaKou Her on the public advertisement for the panel, even when the mistake was identified, suggested that the misidentification was not important enough to remedy in a timely fashion. 

    Third, the continued promotion of the wrong speaker disrespected the Netroots community by assuming that they would not know the difference between the two women, nor care. 

    And lastly, this entire misidentification fiasco prevailed because Netroots Nation believed that neither PaKou Her nor Pakou Hang would say anything.  

    At best this was a careless mistake and at worst, this was an example of implicit bias and a reminder that even among “progressives” there is much work to be done.  So we accept the public apology by Netroots Nation. But we advocate for the full recognition of PaKou Her and Pakou Hang as individual, powerful, kick-ass Hmong women. Each of them are enough, just as they are, and should be recognized and celebrated, accordingly. 

  • Vote Run Lead's Statement on The selection of Senator Kamala Harris as the Vice Presidential Nominee

    The selection of Senator Kamala Harris as the Vice Presidential (VP) nominee for the Democratic Party is a historic move forward. Over the past several years, the leadership of Black, Indigenous and women of color has shown that the country is ready for -- no, eager for -- leaders who represent and reflect the entirety of America. The nomination of the first Black and Indian American woman to the VP position is nothing short of transformational. In fact, it’s part of a long history of Black women confronting and refining American democracy for the betterment of all. 

    Since our country’s founding 244 years ago, Senator Harris is only the third woman in United States (U.S.) history to be nominated for the Vice Presidency and the first Black person and first Indian American person. 

    We -- as a women’s community -- celebrate Kamala. 

    But we must also be ready for both the unrealistic expectations and swift backlash that Senator Harris will face; actions unfortunately, that are all too familiar. She will be tasked to restore democracy and decency and heal jarring divisions, and at the same time, she will be criticized for not being tough enough, progressive enough, Black enough--all the things that make her uniquely her. But Senator Harris does not need us to defend her. 

    She is enough. 

    What we are called to do is to light the way and point out misogyny, racism, or white supremacy when we see, read or hear it. At Vote Run Lead, we commit the full weight of our organization to building the political leadership of all women: Black women, Indigenous women, women of color, rural women, young women, single mothers, and gender non-binary people, to hold and wield their political power just as they are, from the town hall to the White House. If the Biden/Harris ticket is successful, how many more women running for office down ballot will be propelled to leadership as she takes them to victory with her? How many young girls and young boys will be inspired to transform our democracy to truly fulfill its promise of liberty and justice for all?

    Congratulations to Senator Kamala Harris. You are running as you are!
  • published WRISE Climate Workshop in Resources 2020-06-08 16:19:47 -0400
  • published Vote Run Lead's Statement of Solidarity 2020-05-29 17:21:47 -0400


    Vote Run Lead stands in solidarity with the residents of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and across the United States, who are heartbroken, traumatized and outraged by the persistent killing of Black men and women, by those who have taken an oath to honor and protect the community.  We rise to stand with Minneapolis -- a city that Vote Run Lead considers our home -- and to help rebuild. Minneapolis, we see you and we are holding you in our love and our hope. 

    The events of the past weeks, from Ahmaud Marquez Arbery, to Breonna Taylor, to Christopher Cooper, to Tony McDade, to Regis Korchinski-Paquet, to Yassin Mohamed and now to George Floyd have us grieving and deeply examining what we -- as an organization -- can do to help build a world where each human being is valued. Vote Run Lead is committed to building a democracy that is equitable, inclusive and connected. We train women, especially women from marginalized and disenfranchised backgrounds, to run for public office and to win, because we believe a better democracy is possible. 

    Yet right now, the path to that possible future is unclear, devastated by current atrocities and further tested by an exclusionist history. We are reminded that a democracy built by and for white men needs more than an overhaul, it needs a radical reimagining -- something we have yet to see, but must audaciously strive towards. How do we do that? 

    It starts with acknowledging and reckoning with our past, and understanding and owning our everyday actions that perpetuate discriminatory policies. Our assumptions. Our implicit biases. Our silence. We recognize that racism, misogyny, and discrimination were built into every system we operate within. The underlying issues that caused Floyd’s death have permeated our country for generations, and they must be tackled head on if we seek true justice.  

    We also recognize that white supremacy and patriarchy are complex, intertwined and reinforcing systems of oppression. To be honest, many of us have benefited from them even as we oppose their progeny. We acknowledge that whiteness in particular is a privilege -- not one that was asked for, but still one that was built on the backs of working men, women, and children of color in the course of our history.  We commit to reorient our work towards dismantling white supremacy and patriarchy and replacing them with shared humanity and the strength of a connected, caring national community.

    And lastly, we stand united with and uplift the women leaders of Minneapolis who have set the model and are using their positional power and personal voice to demand change. We are so proud that many of them have trained with Vote Run Lead and are living representations of our mission:

    We commit the full weight of our organization to embolden and empower more women like them -- intersectional, feminist reformers and anti-racist leaders --  to have their backs, to amplify their leadership, and to put more women like them in positions of power to lead us all into a better future.

    In solidarity-- Vote Run Lead

Events & Operations Manager at VoteRunLead & Internship Coordinator at VoteRunLead