Ohio Democratic Women's Caucus names new executive director

Since original executive director Liz Shirey shifted positions within the Ohio Democratic Party last fall, the Ohio Democratic Women's Caucus has been without an official head — and not at a good time, with women becoming progressively more disgruntled about the party's slating of anti-choice extremist Jennifer Garrison for secretary of state. It seemed like a time when it was absolutely crucial to have someone on board whose job was to advocate for the positions and beliefs of Democratic women — not just the idea that any warm (woman's) body on the ticket would make us happy, even if she wanted to ban almost all abortions, block stem-cell research and defund Planned Parenthood.

It's unlikely the new executive director will want to do that. Erin Upchurch, now on her second stint with Equality Ohio in Columbus as community organizer, has worked for Planned Parenthood of Central Ohio, as well as the Columbus AIDS Taskforce. She's a social worker who recently finished her master's degree at Case Western Reserve. She's also African-American and is raising two children with her partner Michelle. So she's a one-woman fountain of diversity who probably won't take kindly to limits on anyone's rights or opportunities.

She starts her job with the party next week.

The ODP's political director Carri Twigg says the length of the vacancy was due to an intensive search during which 60 people were interviewed. "We wanted to find the right person rather than just fill the position as soon as possible," says Twigg.

On paper anyway, Upchurch certainly sounds like that right person. She may not be able to get many Democratic women to vote for Garrison, but she could make Ohio women feel more like the party is open to listening to — and hearing — us. I look forward to meeting her.

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