International Women’s Week: Running for Office as a Young Woman

Southern Utah University showcased a webinar series talking about running for office as a young woman on March 9 for International Women’s Week. 

Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson-Edwards, councilmember Shannon Ellsworth of Provo City Council, and councilwoman Silvia Catten of Millcreek City Council shared their journeys and advice about getting involved in politics. 

Guided by a moderator and questions from viewers, this event started with each guest discussing a woman from history or their life who inspired them along their passage. 

Wilson-Edwards was inspired by her grandmother, who was a dean of students in a dance program, in a time where women weren’t really working.

Ellsworth’s inspiration was driven from Claudia Jarrett, a County Commissioner in Sanpete County. Ellsworth saw Jarrett continuously being prepared, and how Jarrett always was aware of the latest topics. 

As for Catten, her inspiration came from Deidre Henderson, the Lieutenant Governor of Utah. Henderson disclosed how she felt ashamed that she didn’t have a college degree, when her peers did. Catten thought it was brave for Henderson to come forward, as it takes a lot to admit what people are most distraught by. 

Following this, Wilson-Edwards discussed the importance of being involved in your community, especially if you want to run for an office position.  

Wilson-Edwards informed attendees that younger people who do not have a lot of experience in politics can email her at prior to June 2021 to help them find a board to be a part of based on their interests.

Ellsworth shared with viewers that she served on several boards and commissions, as well as in women leadership groups. Although heavily involved with leadership roles and serving the community,  she disclosed that her main struggle prior to running was with her body image, and she doesn’t want that to set back anyone else. 

I said to myself, if you don’t do it, then who’s going to do it,” Ellsworth said. “The more time you spend worrying about your body and the way you look, the less time you’re spending investing in your community and improving the world around you.”

Catten had one main piece of advice for young women that want to get involved in office —  confidence is the key to being successful. Catten encouraged those listening to become educated in the area they are going into so that they have the ability to answer questions.

The three women in this webinar advised people that want to run for office to reach out to others and make friends to gain advice on campaigns and certain politics.

The next event for women’s week is a round table discussion on Zoom about the impact of COVID-19 on women, families and students. The discussion will take place on Wednesday from 2-2:50 p.m and those interested can email

For a full list of the events SUU is putting on in celebration in International Women’s Week, visit


Story and photo by: Elaine Lonborg