Maggie Tinsman and Jean Lloyd-Jones belong to different parties, but they share a deep conviction that our political system would be improved if at least one-third of its leaders were female. In 2010 they brought together a group of like-minded women and adopted a 10-year plan to reach political equity in Iowa by the year 2020, in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in this country.

50-50 in 2020 was launched on September 22, 2010, with the Iowa Women’s Foundation as its fiscal agent and 15 other organizations as partners and associates. There followed a series of NUDGE (No Use Delaying Gender Equity) Parties, speeches to other organizations, and table displays at various conferences to spread the word and encourage women to run.

The inaugural Blueprint for Winning Academy was held in January 2012, with 15 candidates and campaign managers. Seven Republicans and eight Democrats attended this bipartisan, issue-neutral Academy, coached by experts in campaign organization, fundraising, speaking and media skills. Following that event, a record number of women stepped up to run, putting the first of our benchmark goals (35 women in the state legislature for the 2013-2014 session) within reach.

In June 2012, we convened a “Summit” meeting of organizations with compatible goals to begin building a statewide network for identifying and recruiting women candidates in future election cycles. The focus will be on encouraging women to apply for appointment to local boards and commissions, run for local elective office, and then move up to state positions. This coalition includes: