E  N  G  A  G  I  N  G,    E  N  C  O  U  R  A  G  I  N  G    &   E  N  D  O  R  S  I  N  G
W  O  M  E  N     I  N     P  U  B  L  I  C    O  F  F  I  C  E 
by WIN Jr. Board Member Elizabeth Conn

The legislative process first fascinated Speaker Harwell at a time when many people were turned off by it: Watergate. At the time, Beth’s grandmother lived with Beth and her family, and together they watched the Watergate coverage on TV. They admired Senate Watergate Committee members Sam Ervin and Howard Baker, whose Southern accent Beth liked. Beth told her grandmother, “Someday I’m going to meet both those people.” Her grandmother said, “You just do that,” and eventually, she did.

Speaker Harwell has served as House Commerce Committee Chairwoman and House Republican Caucus Whip. She also chaired the state Republican Party, helping her party win the state Senate for the first time since Reconstruction.

I spoke with Speaker Harwell to gain her insight on women in politics and her own personal journey.

Q: What is the best advice you received?
A: My mother used to tell me you get more with honey than you do vinegar. The idea of working well with others – that basic principle you learn way back in kindergarten – is one that has served me well, especially in a legislative body. You have conflicting interests, you’re all working to find the right solution, and everybody has to give just a little bit to get things done.

Q: What other women have influenced you and your political career?
A: There are many strong women right here in Tennessee. In graduate school I worked on Betty Nixon’s council race, and I saw her as a sharp, smart person. We’ve also had a lot of strong leaders in business here in Tennessee that all of us can learn from.


Q: Of all that you’ve done during your time in the House, what is your proudest achievement?
A: Without a doubt, my proudest achievement is the honor of my colleagues electing me Speaker of the House. I’m most pleased that they would give me that privileged honor to serve as their Speaker. I’ve been able to work on a lot of great legislation – strengthening our sexual predator laws, reforming welfare, working on education reform bills – but for sure, what I’m most proud of is my colleagues allowing me to be Speaker.

Q: What special skills or abilities do you think women add to the political arena?
A: I think women for the most part are very good listeners, and that’s a skill that’s important to serve well. To serve others well, you have to be able to listen to them, and I think women bring that to the table. I also think for the most part women like to educate. They tend to want to research a problem, look at different solutions and help their colleagues understand it better.

Q: Many women have never considered running for office, or may have considered it but don’t know where to start. What advice do you have for them?
A: Become involved with your community. People don’t want to elect someone who doesn’t know the community and its needs. Serve on boards and volunteer when you have the opportunity. Get involved with service organizations or church work. When you’re involved in the community, it leads into serving in public office. I also think it’s important to ask advice from an elected official you respect. A lot of people say what scares them the most about politics is raising money, and that is a daunting task. You just have to do that in order to run for office.

Q: You’re married with three children. What advice would you give to women who want to fully engage themselves in public office while also being a mother? How can women balance both sets of responsibilities?
A: That’s an important question and a difficult thing to do. I don’t know that anyone ever gets it perfectly balanced. We go through times where we need to focus more on our families and times where we can focus more on our careers. I don’t know that there is ever a perfect time to seek public office. I used to think when my kids were grown it would make it so much easier, but now that my children are all teenagers, I think they need me as much as they ever did. You just have to do the best you can.

Q: Why are organizations like WIN important for bolstering female involvement in public office? 
A: I think they’re very important for a number of reasons. First, the contacts – getting involved in an organization like WIN allows you to meet a lot of other well-connected women who have joined this organization in order to help and promote other women. Being around that type of person is so good for women. WIN does a wonderful job of educating its membership on current issues and what’s going on. That’s a valuable function. If you can be part of an organization that makes it easier for you to learn about issues and easier for you to connect with leaders, that’s a good thing. And that’s what WIN does.
"Getting involved in an organization like WIN allows you to meet a lot of other well-connected women who have joined this organization in order to help and promote other women. Being around that type of person is so good for women."

Speaker Beth Harewll
2013 Trailblazer Award Recipient
Speaker Beth Harwell
by WIN Member Elizabeth Conn
We don’t know how to express how rewarding we find our participation in Women in Numbers, and we believe you will, too. 2014 is an especially important year with three elections coming up. We have welcomed new members to both our Senior and Junior Boards. The talent, experience, energy, and dedication of these leaders guarantee outstanding experiences for all of us.

We hosted a candidate training on January 25th and were delighted to see so many women – and men – take advantage of the experts who taught and led interactive training regarding messaging, fundraising, and grassroots campaigning.  We deeply appreciate Bass Berry & Sims, PLC allowing us to use its space for this event.

In 2012, WIN began hosting salons that allow rather intimate experiences for networking and then learning from renowned local and state leaders about a variety of political topics. The first of this year’s three salons is slated for February 25th on the third floor at the Bound’ry. Come and learn about the election process for judges and hear from judicial candidates. 

This year, 30 judicial seats are up for election; 17 of the 48 candidates are women. The salons are one of the outlets through which WIN demonstrates our commitment to impartial education and to our mission to engage, encourage, and endorse qualified women for public office.
 To achieve gender parity in political office, WIN encourages our members and friends to support women candidates financially and in their campaigning. Take the time to meet candidates and learn about them.

WIN is nonpartisan. If you contribute to our PAC, you are assured that qualified, talented women are bolstered in their run for public office. We will be accepting applications from women candidates who are interested in an endorsement from WIN and a contribution from our PAC. 

Throughout the year, WIN will host events that afford opportunities to meet interesting professionals, politically active women and men, and the candidates for the upcoming elections. Stay tuned for news about upcoming events such as WIN’s Spring Reception at an exciting venue, and please join us at other events, including “Dare to Soar” this fall when we will honor the legacy of a woman who has blazed a trail in politics.

Be sure to visit our webpage and connect with us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn to keep up-to-date. We look forward to seeing you very soon.

Mary Nell Bryan, WIN President
Jo Ann Tumey, WIN Rising President


NEWSLETTER No. 3: Winter 2014
  • Letter from the President
  • Why WIN?
  • Calendar of Upcoming Events
SALON: Judicial Candidate Town Hall
February 25, 2014 | 6-8p | Free
Bound'ry | Third Floor

The first Salon of the New Year will focus on the 2014 elections. Experts in the field will introduce the judicial campaign process in a town hall forum and you will have the opportunity to speak with the candidates in attendance in an informal setting. Let WIN help you get informed.

WIN Presents Miss Representation
May 12, 2014 | 6-9p | $20
The Belcourt Theatre

​View the culture-shifting film Miss Representation and end the evening with a thought-provoking panel discussion led by experts in the field. Discussion will include how the representation of girls and women in mainstream media affects women from a political perspective.
Wine With Women
Coming this spring!

Join us for the Junior Board-hosted Wine With Women. A wonderful opportunity to connect with vibrant young professionals and WIN.
Women in Numbers (WIN) is a nonpartisan organization established to engage, encourage and endorse qualified women to be elected to public office. Women have made strides in the workplace; we are leaders in our businesses, communities and homes. However, women are still underrepresented in elected office. WIN is committed to changing that statistic. As one of the only nonpartisannon-issue-based political advocacy groups, WIN’s mission is to engage women in civic discourse, encourage women to run for office and endorse women who choose to run.
Why is WIN important to us? 
•Since our founding in 1992, WIN has become a growing force by endorsing more than 100 candidates and contributing more than $225,000 to their campaigns

•WIN encourages informed voting through our Salon program which engages the community and fosters conversation among civic-minded individuals.

•WIN offers training to women who are interested in seeking office, but don’t know where to start.

•WIN brings together women, candidates and the community to network and build a system of support. 

•WIN honors the legacy of women who have gone before us, blazing a trail to public office.

•WIN endorses women who are equipped to run a successful campaign and win an elected office.
This year, WIN wants to know why you support Women In Numbers. So, tell us by email, via Facebook or at an event...
Mary Nell Bryan

Subscribe to our mailing list

Women in Numbers has enjoyed a terrific year so far. We had a great time at the Wine with Women event hosted by our Junior Board last month. Thanks to all who attended and special thanks to Frost Brown Todd, LLC for allowing us to use their beautiful downtown office space. We had fun and learned a lot as we mingled with WIN endorsees and other political movers and shakers. You may enjoy perusing photos of the evening in our photo gallery.

We're tremendously excited about our upcoming Spring Honors Reception on Tuesday, April 29, from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. You still have time to sign on as a sponsor or to buy tickets for this fabulous event. Simply click here. Join us at Historic RCA Studio A, a space that inspires awe. Hundreds of legendary artists have recorded in this studio, including Elvis, Chet Atkins, Dolly Parton, the Beach Boys, the Monkees, Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson, Keith Urban, Lyle Lovett, Kacey Musgraves, Sara Bareilles, and Jewel. Ben Folds acquired the studio in 2002 and has meticulously restored it, adding relevant new technologies, to ensure its prominence as one of the most sought after recording spaces in the world.

We hope you can join WIN and our special guests Governor Bill Haslam and Governor Phil Bredesen as we honor four women who have blazed trails in Tennessee government and politics:

  • Leslie Hafner, Director of Legislation for Governor Haslam
  • Anna Windrow, Senior Advisor for Legislation and Policy to Governor Bredesen
  • Kim Kaegi, political and corporate powerhouse fundraiser
  • Cathy Thomas, political, nonprofit and corporate powerhouse fundraiser

In addition to this superstar group, we will give special recognition to peerless statesman Senator Douglas Henry and political champions Nancy Russell and Tootie Haskins.

On May 12, please join us at an important educational event as WIN presents a screening of Miss Representation at the Belcourt Theatre, followed by a panel discussion about popular media's contributions to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. Tickets to this event are limited, so be sure to reserve your seat now! Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Girls Inc. and Girl Scouts of Davidson County.

WIN recently endorsed a slate of candidates running for judicial, County Clerk and District Attorney positions. As a nonpartisan organization, WIN invites women seeking local office to submit an application, which is reviewed by the WIN selection committee. Endorsements of these impressive women are based on responses in the application questionnaire such as the candidate’s objectives, expertise, and experience as well as campaign, financial and messaging strategies. 

We encourage you to learn about the candidates running for office this year. Please consider voting for WIN endorsees and remember to vote on May 6th or during early voting between April 16th and May 1st.

Mary Nell Bryan, WIN President  
Jo Ann Tumey, WIN Rising President
NEWSLETTER No. 4: Spring 2014
  • Letter from the President
  • WINning 1-2-3
  • Calendar of Upcoming Events
APRIL 29, 2014 | 5:30-7:30P
Historic RCA Studio A
30 Music Square W, Suite 100 (Rear Entrance)

Please join WIN and special guests Governor Bill Haslam and Governor Phil Bredesen at Historic RCA Studio A as we honor Leslie Hafner, Anna Windrow, Kim Kaegi and Cathy Thomas and specially recognize Senator Douglas Henry, Tootie Haskins and Nancy Russell.Please join WIN and special guests Governor Bill Haslam and Governor Phil Bredesen at Historic RCA Studio A as we honor Leslie Hafner, Anna Windrow, Kim Kaegi and Cathy Thomas and specially recognize Senator Douglas Henry, Tootie Haskins and Nancy Russell.

$35 Members | $50 Nonmembers
Limited tickets & sponsorships available.
May 12, 2014 | 6-9p | $20
The Belcourt Theatre

​View the culture-shifting film Miss Representation and end the evening with a thought-provoking panel discussion led by experts in the field. Discussion will include how the representation of girls and women in mainstream media affects women from a political perspective.
Mary Nell Bryan
WINNING: 1-2-3
How can you extend the mission of WIN? As a supporter, we know that you, like us, want to see more qualified women in elected office. Having just endorsed one of the largest groups of candidates in our history, we’d like to share how you can use that information.

1.  ENGAGE: Get to know each candidate by visiting her website and liking her Facebook page. Learn which candidates represent you and with whom you identify. WIN endorsees are equipped to run viable campaigns.

2.   ENCOURAGE: Support your candidates with personal financial contributions; volunteer for their campaigns by knocking on doors, making phone calls and holding or planting signs. Making financial or personal commitments to candidates is one of the most important things you can do to help them with their campaigns.

3.   ENDORSE: Finally and most importantly, vote. Encourage your friends, family, and business contacts to do the same. No matter how else you choose to get involved, the best endorsement you can give any candidate is your vote. Don't know where or when to vote? CLICK HERE.

In those three easy steps you have just walked with us in our mission:
Engage. Encourage. Endorse. WIN.
As easy as Engage, Encourage, Endorse...
As the excitement of the August elections begins to settle a bit, the women of WIN join masses of grateful voters in thanking all the qualified candidates who stepped up to run for public office. Public campaigns are not easy paths and we appreciate the sacrifices you and your families make as you choose to serve. Thank you for showing how successful qualified women can be in running for office. If you won, congratulations! If you didn't win in this round, we look forward to supporting you next time.

Since its founding, WIN has endorsed more than 100 candidates, with the 2014 elections garnering the largest group of endorsed candidates in our history. We are excited to report that 12 WIN-endorsed candidates were elected this year. Thanks very much for your support of these outstanding women. Do you realize that, after the August elections, roughly half of the General Sessions judges in Davidson County are now women? That's not true across the board yet but what a tremendous step toward the parity we seek.

As we celebrate these successes, let's keep in mind that campaigns are increasingly costly. You can still demonstrate your commitment and support to the candidates of your choice by making financial contributions to help them retire their remaining campaign debts before the close of this period. WIN-endorsed candidates and links to their websites can be found here.

As members of WIN, one of our most satisfying observations is the giving nature of this community. Women with many years of experience and those just beginning their careers can learn from each other. We deeply appreciate, support and foster such mentorship. This month, we asked our newly elected endorsees what advice they would give other women seeking office. We can all learn from their incisive, insightful responses.

Thanks to all who joined the WIN Junior Board for Sippin’ in September on Sept. 3. We enjoyed an evening of connecting and mingling with civically engaged young professional women and men in our community.

Other events to look forward to include an upcoming celebration of trailblazers in media at Dare to Soar (with special guests), and a thought-provoking salon about “Nashville's Growth: How Can We Pursue Progress and Protect Heritage?”

I've found my term as president of WIN more satisfying, educational and inspiring than I know how to express. Deep and humble thanks to our outstanding Senior and Junior Board members and special, heartfelt thanks to each of WIN's members. I am profoundly moved and inspired every day as women join hands to support each other. Together, we achieve vastly more than we do alone. Thank you for letting me be part of that.

 Mary Nell Bryan, WIN President  
NEWSLETTER No. 5: Fall 2014
  • Letter from the President
  • Our Public Legacy
  • Calendar of Upcoming Events
Mary Nell Bryan
Our Public Legacy
On Aug. 26, 1920, after more than 70 years of work, American women were finally granted the right to vote. We now mark Aug. 26 as Women’s Equality Day, but there is still plenty of work to do to get to representational parity.

Tennessee has a long tradition of civically engaged women. In fact, Tennessee cast the deciding vote to ratify the 19th Amendment and grant American women the right to vote. The women who championed our rights and who inspired future generations of women with their legacy still cast a long shadow:

  • Anne Dallas Dudley led the Women’s Suffrage movement in Nashville and in 1914 became the first woman to deliver an open air speech. She gave the speech after leading the first suffrage parade in the South, consisting of 2,000 women who marched from the Capitol to Centennial Park.
  • Mary Cordelia Beasley-Hudson was the first woman to cast a vote in the Camden Municipal election – just five days after Gov. Roberts signed a state limited suffrage act into law and a full year before the federal act went into effect.
  • Anna Lee Worley was the first woman elected to the Tennessee Legislature in 1921, representing Hawkins and Sullivan counties.

Just as these pioneers blazed a trail for the next generation of women, WIN endorsees elected to office in August continue to inspire. Below are words of encouragement from some of these women: 

  • Jo Ann Brannon (elected to MNPS Board of Education, District 2): “Aside from being well-educated, stay true to yourself and move forward toward your goals. Don’t let anyone discourage you.”
  • Chancellor Carol McCoy (elected to Chancery Court, Part II): “If you don’t run, you can’t win.”
  • Judge Rachel Bell (elected to General Sessions Judge, Division VIII): “Follow your heart and stay true to your passion. Figure out what you want and stay the course. Control the controllable. Keep positive people around you. Be sure to help others and give back to your community.”
  • Anna Shepard (elected to MNPS School Board, District 4): “Don't give up! That was my mantra. Running a campaign with stiff competition is hard work, harder still when it’s a completely grassroots campaign. We put limited resources where we thought it would be for the greater good. We worked hard for three entire months. And just because you may not be successful the first time, don't give up! Try again. Ask. Just because you might hear the answer ‘no’ doesn't mean you can't ask again.”
  • Judge Cheryl Blackburn (elected to Criminal Court Judge, Division III): “Don’t take our civil rights for granted. It can all be lost rather quickly unless we continue to work the hardest and be the best prepared in the room. Know the history of who made the accomplishments and how they happened. It will make you appreciate what you have and make you want to keep it.”

From those early pioneers who fought for access to participate to today’s elected women who carry the responsibility of governing, we all leave a legacy. Whether your legacy is on the ballot, behind the scenes or in your pocketbook, it is important. Each of us has the opportunity to engage with our community, get informed about the issues and make a difference. There is room in the public conversation for all of us, and until we reach representational parity, WIN will be here to engage, encourage and endorse. 

Please join Women In Numbers for the 2015 Membership Reception on July 1. Details coming soon. 
Membership Reception
July 1, 2015
The women are hard at work planning for the upcoming fall agenda. Stay tuned!
Fall Salon
In the works as we speak!
More info coming soon!
By WIN Board Members Elke Ridenour and Rose Davis