Why She Leads: Gina Scialabba

Over 13,000 women have started their journeys to elected office with the She Should Run Incubator. These are their stories. There is no shortage of fierce women leaders, and with over 500,000 elected offices across the country, there is no shortage of seats waiting to be filled by them. 

What is your most memorable career and personal accomplishment?

The beauty of life is that it is full of so many memorable accomplishments, both large and small for all of us. While I cherish every one, my most memorable career accomplishment is being the first person in my family to graduate from college and then law school. I will never forget my mom’s face as she proudly watched her only child walk across the stage to receive her law degree. I then went on to pass the California bar exam on the first try. I learned through these experiences that with a strong support system, and the will to thrive, I could accomplish (almost) anything. I also learned how difficult it can be for women in the workplace, particularly in male-dominated professions like the law.

My most memorable personal accomplishment continues to be cycling in a 545-mile charity bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to help end HIV/AIDS. Next year will be my fourth year biking in the AIDS/LifeCycle and it gets more rewarding every time.

We’d love to hear more about your leadership path. How did you get to where you are today?

I am on my political leadership path now, and what a ride it has been so far. I began by being a volunteer attorney on the “Hillary for America” campaign. I am a long-time Hillary supporter and looked to her as my role model for how to break down glass ceilings.

After the election…I decided to take my energy and use it for good. I started seeing She Should Run on social media and began the Incubator, not knowing where it would lead. I was instantly hooked on the program.

I learned so much by going through the modules including the biggest lesson: I am not alone. Women all across the nation were rising up and fighting back. I wanted to be a part of it.

I have taken every opportunity that has come my way. I said “Yes” to myself and dedicated this as my year of exploration. I began applying to candidate trainings. I was accepted and attended the New American Leaders (NALP) political training program in Orange County. As a result, I was invited to apply and was accepted for a prestigious NALP Fellowship where I will be paired with a mentor in my road to running for office. I was one of only 80 women accepted at the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University, which I completed in June 2017. I applied and was accepted to the Victory Institute training for LGBTQ-identifying candidates.

Through She Should Run, I learned that a great way to break into the political scene was to apply to local Boards and Committees within my community. I now sit on the Piedmont Public Safety Committee and will even be leading a contingent in my town’s parade. All of these experiences are helping to lead me to my ultimate goal: running for office. My secret goal – to be the first lesbian, senator from California.

What is your personal mission related to running for office? Why?

My personal mission centers around equality. There certain fundamental rights we have as citizens of the wealthiest country on the planet including equality around public education, healthcare, and access to good-paying jobs. These issues cross all genders, all ages, all races, all ethnicities, and all sexualities.

Education was the key to my future. Opportunities opened up to me because I went to good public schools. I am inspired to fight against people like Betsy DeVos and who wants to privatize public education. I want to invest in our children, in a strong public education system, and, eventually free college tuition for all persons who have the will and desire to attend college.

In regards to healthcare, after watching my mother lose her battle with breast cancer and the insurance companies, I strongly believe in quality, affordable health care for everyone in America –particularly those with preexisting conditions. Hard-working Americans shouldn’t have to worry that they will be denied coverage or will have to make a decision between paying for rent or food and exorbitant health insurance costs.

How has the Incubator helped you clarify your leadership vision?

The Incubator gets you thinking about your future. When going through the program, you don’t have to know all the answers, you just have to ANSWER. This program has been a springboard for me and has connected me to my inner leadership vision.

What are steps you’ve taken on your path to a future run?
See answer above to “We’d love to hear more about your leadership path. How did you get to where you are today?” I think it answers this question. 🙂

Tell us about your favorite She Should Run “aha” moment or success story. Why are you an Incubator member?

My “aha” moment came when I attended the live She Should Run incubator training in San Francisco. The energy was truly electric. Up until that point, I had no idea that this dream of running for office could actually be a reality. It was also eye-opening to see that many women faced the same challenges when thinking of running for office such as insecurities around fundraising, having children, even not being sure if they were “ready.” We are ready, ladies. This was my biggest take-away from the event.

I am a She Should Run member because together we ARE stronger. Because you can’t be what you can’t see. I applaud all the great female leaders out there who are setting the example, from Senator Kamala Harris, to Justice Sonia Sotomayor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, let our voices be heard and never silenced. And, yes, to Hillary Clinton. You are still my president.

What’s your advice for finding time for your personal life (family, personal growth)? Dare we say it, how do you make time for fun in your life?

My advice is simple. You need personal time. It is not a luxury. Whether that means being with friends, spending time with your significant other, engaging in an art project, reading a novel, going to the movies, or being physically active – find the time and schedule it in. I do. Balance is important or you won’t be able to give 100% of yourself in life. Take care of yourself first, and only then can you take care of others.

Note: This interview has been shortened for clarity