2023 Sacramento Symposium Recap

The 2024 legislative election cycle has officially begun on the heels of Close the Gap’s second Sacramento Symposium event for our next class of prospective candidates, held on February 6th, 2023.

P.S. Read through to the end to catch all of the great photos we took!

The 2024 election cycle has officially begun on the heels of Close the Gap’s second Sacramento Symposium event for our next class of prospective candidates, held on February 6th, 2023.

The Sacramento Symposium is a core element of Close the Gap California’s recruiting process with prospective candidates for the upcoming election cycle. By design, the Symposium comes toward the end of our work together, following a deep dive to explore whether a legislative run makes sense and help painting a detailed picture of all the elements a competitive campaign would entail.

The connections, workshopping, and advice a prospective candidate receives during this jam-packed program positions each attendee to take the final step in deciding if it’s the right time for her to run.

Past Close the Gap Recruits now serving in the State Legislature who have attended the Sacramento Symposium said that it provided them with the confidence and insight to both win over supporters in their districts and build necessary credibility in Sacramento.

Of the prospective candidates for 2024 who responded to our survey after the event, 100% feel more prepared to run after attending and 100% are more likely to run.

Here’s what some of our attending prospective candidates and faculty had to say about the 2023 Sacramento Symposium:

“​​The presence of all Sacramento stakeholders, not just legislators, is what differentiates Close the Gap’s Sacramento Symposium from other candidate prep events.”

“Spending time with Close the Gap significantly helped to prepare for the Symposium- it made a huge difference. It helped me maximize the benefit of the Symposium so I was focused on preparing for the next steps for the campaign.”

“Close the Gap brings together such a powerhouse network of women across the state! Fantastic event!”

“The prospective candidates I met were very inquisitive and excited about the work ahead.”

“I got follow-up calls from at least 3 attendees within days of the Symposium- they are serious and motivated!

During the day program, 2023 Sacramento Symposium attendees heard from currently elected women, including Assemblymembers Dawn Addis (CTG Class of 2022), Wendy Carrillo (Class of 2017) and Liz Ortega who gave candid perspectives of life on the campaign trail and at the Capitol.

Attendees engaged with the Assemblymembers on issues ranging from personal safety to aligning fundraising strategy with core values, and had the opportunity to ask questions that were important for them to consider in running for office effectively, while balancing their lives and needs as people.

“Real Life on the Campaign Trail” featuring (from left to right) ED Susannah Delano as moderator, Assemblymembers Dawn Addis (Class of 2022), Liz Ortega, and Wendy Carrillo (Class of 2017)

Senator Monique Limón (Class of 2016) and Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (Class of 2022) spoke to participants about how they decided to run for State Legislature, what has fulfilled them on the job, why we need more women to help push forward progressive governance in California, and how to maintain their grassroots priorities while in office.

From left to right: Senator Monique Limón (Class of 2018) and Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (Class of 2022)

Thank you to our esteemed elected speakers– your guidance, candor and support are invaluable!

“I enjoyed the transparency of the speakers. You chose a good group of solid, genuine women, to speak with us. Thank you for that.”

Next, prospective candidates participated in workshops facilitated by political all-stars, focused on key early campaign elements including fundraising, building a base of support and making insider connections in Sacramento.

“The ground game workshop was incredible. The hours of call time was new to me.”

Our prospective candidates then met one-on-one with political influencers during “Speed Dating”, a multi-round segment designed to solicit valuable feedback on a previously prepared elevator pitch, and receive insight from a variety of perspectives they would engage with as legislators. Each year, our Symposium attendees consistently rank this activity as the top highlight of the event, and this year was no exception.

“I loved the one on one advice we received through the ‘speed dates’ and got incredible feedback during them.”

“The direct contact with political players was key.”

“I found it helpful to learn more about many of the unions and their platforms.”

Prospective candidates met with political influencers and Sacramento insiders to refine their elevator pitch over six 15-minute rounds of “Speed Dating”

Finally, our attendees heard from Legislative Caucus Leaders — the majority of whom, this year, are women and Close the Gap Recruits!: Black Caucus Chair Assemblymember Lori Wilson (CTG Class of 2022), Latino Caucus Chair Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (Class of 2016), Legislative Women’s Caucus Chair Senator Nancy Skinner and Vice Chair Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (Class of 2016), and Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Reyes (Class of 2016) — during a pre-Reception meet-and-greet where they had the opportunity to learn more about the priorities and opportunities available for those seeking Caucus support. We were also honored to be joined by Progressive Caucus ally Assemblymember Ash Kalra!

From left to right: Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (Class of 2016), Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Reyes (Class of 2016), and Assemblymember Lori Wilson (Class of 2022)

A full day closed with the “Our Mission Continues” Reception, where prospective candidates received inspirational words from Senator María Elena Durazo, Senator Aisha Wahab (Class of 2022) & Assemblymember Liz Ortega about the importance of service, and their enduring commitment to support progressive women’s leadership.

“It was very meaningful to get some real talk from women who hold elected office about their experiences running for office. It resonated, was reassuring and inspiring, and left me feeling like I am — we are — truly part of a collective that’s working for gender parity representation in politics.”

From left to right: Legislative Women’s Caucus Chair Senator Nancy Skinner and Vice Chair Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (Class of 2016); Senator Aisha Wahab (Class of 2022); Senator María Elena Durazo speaks with CTG prospective candidates

A hearty thank you to our wonderful Symposium Sponsors, including the California Faculty Association for providing their gorgeous conference space. Your support ensures Close the Gap can continue recruiting progressive women in California all the way to gender parity.

And a special round of applause to our CTG volunteers who helped make this an extra impactful event!

Close the Gap prospective candidates, staff and volunteers

Close the Gap California is committed to building on progressive women’s historic momentum by recruiting them statewide and achieving equality in California by 2028. Join us!

About Close the Gap California

Close the Gap California (CTG) is a statewide campaign to close the gender gap in the California Legislature by 2028. By recruiting accomplished, progressive women in targeted districts and preparing them to launch competitive campaigns, CTG has been changing the face of the Legislature one cycle at a time since launching in 2013.

Twenty CTG Recruits (14 of them women of color) are serving in Sacramento today. CTG Recruits are committed to reproductive freedom, public school funding, and combating poverty.



Close the Gap California is a statewide campaign to achieve gender balance in the California Legislature by recruiting progressive women to run. https://closethegapca.org/our-campaign/

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Close the Gap California Team

Close the Gap California is a campaign for parity in the CA State Legislature by recruiting progressive women to run. 20 Recruits serve today! closethegapca.org