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Tuesday September 23rd 2014

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Local women form political institute

Seven local women today announced the formation of the Institute for Women in Politics of Northwest Florida, Inc. The non-profit corporation has been established, according to its bylaws, “to provide a nonprofit education, training resources, and counseling services to promote and fulfill the vital need for women to serve at all levels of government in the Florida counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa.”

Serving as the institute’s founding Board of Directors are: Kimberly Aguiar, president of the City of Pensacola general employees’ union; Amanda Jo Combs-Bowden, active in the Pensacola Bay Area League of Women Voters and currently serving an internship with U.S. Representative Kathy Castor in Tampa; attorney Kim Kirschenfeld, board member of Appetite 4 Life; business owner and former Pensacola City Councilwoman Diane Mack; Amy Miller, director of marketing, finance, and administration at the Port of Pensacola and a board member of Appetite 4 Life and Arc Gateway Foundation; University of Florida graduate Lorraine Ogan, active in the Pensacola Bay Area League of Women Voters and a law school candidate; and banker Lola Presley, active with the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.

Mack, who will serve as the organization’s first president, said the board’s top initial priorities are building a membership base to support and fund the Institute’s mission and developing a campaign school for women candidates who may run for office in 2014. Membership in the Institute is open to all persons 18 years of age and older; dues are $100 per year.

Amy Miller has been elected vice president/president-elect and secretary, and Kimberly Aguiar will serve as treasurer.

Mack said the Institute will operate as an all-volunteer organization for several years until it is able to raise sufficient operating funds to rent facilities and hire staff. For the present, the Institute will conduct its business from donated space at 29 East Wright Street.

The Institute is non-partisan and will neither endorse nor contribute financially to individual candidates or campaigns.