Emily's List founder Malcolm steps aside

Stephanie Schriock, left, will take over as president of Emily' List from Ellen Malcolm, who will continue to be involved as board chairwoman. Said Malcolm:
Stephanie Schriock, left, will take over as president of Emily' List from Ellen Malcolm, who will continue to be involved as board chairwoman. Said Malcolm: "We've had astonishing victories." (Jahi Chikwendiu - The Washington Post)
  Enlarge Photo     Buy Photo
By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 7, 2010

The founder of the political advocacy organization Emily's List, the fundraising powerhouse that has propelled hundreds of progressive women candidates into office, is stepping aside as its president and will be replaced by a veteran Senate staffer and Democratic operative, officials said Wednesday.

Ellen Malcolm will continue to be involved as chairwoman of the board of Emily's List but will hand over day-to-day management of the vast network of political donors and activists and its political operations to the new president, Stephanie Schriock.

"We've set the stage for making history," said Malcolm, 62, describing how in its 25 years Emily's List helped more than 100 female candidates win election to federal and state offices. "We've had astonishing victories. The U.S. House is a very different place today than it was when we began. The world has changed."

The appointment of Schriock, 36, signals a generational change for Emily's List, which was founded by someone who emerged from the women's movement fighting for equal representation for women in politics. The organization now will be led by a woman who grew up believing every door was open to her.

"People like Ellen Malcolm have fought a battle so that I can be successful," Schriock said. "But I realized, you know what? It's my turn."

Emily's List, which stands for "Early Money Is Like Yeast," has been a fundraising force in Democratic politics almost from its inception. It raised more than $43 million in the 2008 campaign cycle from its more than 100,000 members.

Malcolm said Schriock's political and technological savvy will bring new energy to the group. "She views politics through the lens of the Internet, which is what we need going forward," Malcolm said.

Schriock, currently chief of staff to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), has been hailed as a rising star in Democratic circles, having managed back-to-back campaigns that defeated Republican senators. She ran Tester's 2006 campaign and later moved to Minnesota to manage Al Franken's successful 2008 campaign and the long recount battle that ensued. Schriock, a native of Butte, Mont., also worked as finance director for the 2004 presidential campaign of Howard Dean, a pioneer of online fundraising.

Tester called Schriock "a darn good leader. . . . She's got the drive, the smarts and the work ethic it takes for success in anything she does."

At Emily's List, Schriock said, she will focus on raising money, recruiting candidates and developing winning strategies to help elect women supporting abortion rights in the 2010 midterm elections and beyond.

"Women have definitely changed American politics already, and there's just more we can do," Schriock said. "Every little piece of my career has come to this, and I'm going to bring all of it with me."

Judy Lichtman, who led the group's presidential search committee, said Schriock emerged among many other candidates as a leader of the "next generation of women in politics."

"I was struck by her combination of strengths -- her passion for electing progressive Democratic women to public office, her combination of creative strategic good sense, her on-the-ground experience," Lichtman said.

Mary Beth Cahill, a veteran Democratic strategist who managed John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign and is an Emily's List board member, said Schriock's "political know-how" will prove to be invaluable.

"It is exactly the right move for Emily's List," Cahill said. "Stephanie is one of the most well-regarded and sought-after operatives in the party, and she has a very bright future."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company