Your guide to Central Oregon's progressive community and events

Daylong workshop returns to Bend on Oct. 28

Written by Bridget McGinn

Nichole van Eikeren, 40, was a stay-at- home mom until this past year; she is now a political campaign consultant and manager. The change came about after attending a one-day Emerge Oregon training in Bend earlier this year. She signed up thinking that she might consider running for office herself, but as part of the discovery process embedded into the workshop, she realized that her talents might be more useful helping others run their campaigns.

“I knew I wanted to get involved and do something,” said van Eikeren. “The training helped me focus that energy.”

The Emerge Oregon workshop is not just for women who have already made the decision to run for office. In fact, it is meant for all women interested in learning more about the political process.

“We don’t have a typical attendee,” said Jillian Schoene, executive director of Emerge Oregon. “We are looking for women passionate about community and people.”

Schoene said that the workshop covers specific elected offices, campaign strategy and planning, plus communications. Networking and developing a support system are also key elements. Van Eikeren can attest to that.

“The best thing about the workshop for me was meeting two women that decided to run for 2017 local board positions and being able to help them with their campaigns,” said van Eikeren.

Fellow participants Erica Skatvold, 30, and Lauren Sprang, 36, made the final decision to run for local office after their workshop experience. With just several months to launch and implement their campaigns from scratch, the women relied on each other and their fellow workshop attendees—including van Eikeren—to learn regulations, meet deadlines, produce materials, fundraise and campaign effectively.

Skatvold, who works in Clinical Informatics at St. Charles Health System, always thought that one day she might run for office, but she expected that to happen later in life. When she heard about the workshop, she decided to go and learn more. While there, a friend of hers brought up the possibility of running for a position on the board of Central Oregon Community College. It turned out that her zone was not up for election, but Skatvold’s was. Her decision to run for the position was greatly influenced by a comment that Schoene made during the workshop.

“Jillian was talking about deciding to run, and she said that men can wake up any day and decide to run for office. It’s expected and supported,” said Skatvold. “Women are different. We tend to want to get our resumes just right and to have more experience, but oftentimes that means that we sit out because we don’t feel it’s our time to run.”

Skatvold said that she learned how important it is for women to step up to the calling and to support other women who are brave enough to go out and run.

“If you have a passion for a position and you think you might be good enough, you probably are and should just go for it,” said Skatvold. “If you win, great. If you lose, you’ve just set an example for and possibly inspired the next woman who wants to run, and put your ideas out into the community. Either way you win.”

Skatvold was elected to the Board of Directors of COCC for Zone 4 this past spring. In the same election, Sprang won a seat on the Board of Directors for the Bend Metro Park and Recreation District. Sprang also credits the training with influencing her decision to run for office.

“Jillian emphasized that skill with writing, and the ability to ask for money and have an online presence were critical, and I knew I could do all of those things,” said Sprang, who writes for a living. “The experience was inspiring. Jillian was an energizing teacher and being in a group of like-minded, non-judgmental women was good for building confidence.”

Skatvold and van Eikeren couldn’t agree more.

“From Emerge, I gained a wonderful network of women who have similar passions and values who want to see a change in politics,” said Skatvold. “I could not have run such a successful campaign without them and their generous help and support.”

“What was beautiful was the level of teamwork that was felt at this training,” said van Eikeren. “Woman after woman said ‘I want to run unless there is someone more qualified to run, then I want to help you run.’ Instead of egos, there was a huge sense of we must work together to do something to protect our future.”

Event Details:
Emerge Oregon Candidate Training

Saturday, October 28
8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Environmental Center, 16 NW Kansas, Bend, OR
$45 per participant
Sponsored by: Emerge Oregon and the Deschutes County Democrats

Don’t want to run, but want to support women who do? Attend the Emerge Oregon
Social Hour at McMenamins Old St. Francis School at 700 NW Bond St. following the training.

To register for the training and/or the social hour, visit:

About Emerge Oregon:
Emerge Oregon is part of a national organization with a presence in 17 states. Their mission statement is “To increase the number of Democratic women leaders from diverse backgrounds in public office through recruitment, training and providing a powerful network.” Since 2009 they have offered an intensive, cohort-based six-month training program with 70 hours of in-depth candidate training covering public speaking and communication, fundraising, media and messaging, networking, campaign strategy, field operations, technology and new media, diversity and cultural competency and ethical leadership. Training also includes sessions on the Democratic Party platform and labor issues. Over 200 women have completed the training and there are currently 75 pending applications for the class of 2018. In response to increased demand, Emerge Oregon now offers three different trainings, including the workshops offered in Bend this past winter and coming up on Oct. 28. To learn more about Emerge Oregon, visit; email; or call (503) 729-7039.