Village resident starts new organization to promote diversity in candidates for elected office

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Village resident and champion for diversity and equality Kelly Leonard has co-founded Rise and Run, a Montgomery County-based, non-partisan political candidate training program. The mission of Rise and Run is to convene, train and support Black individuals to secure elected positions that drive a flourishing economy in Montgomery County. With at least five open county council seats next election cycle, there is a great opportunity to improve the diversity of the local government.

Leonard, advisory board member for the Council for Advocacy and Policy Solutions (CAPS), co-founded rise and Run with CAPS Founder and Chair David Blair. “Montgomery County’s rich diversity is one of our greatest assets. When our institutions lack that diversity, however, we miss golden opportunities to tap into unique perspectives and experiences that directly address the needs of our constituents and ensures we all are positioned to live our best lives,” said Leonard.

Rise and Run aims to ensure elected political races in Montgomery County are inclusive of Black candidates and collaborates with established Montgomery County organizations to stand up Black candidates to hold elected political office. Blair said, “Government should be represented by the people it serves and want more Montgomery County residents from underrepresented communities to have a voice in our government. If we are going to have success addressing the fundamental challenges that are holding us back, it requires all of us to have a seat at the table.”

A free, virtual launch event is schedule for 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 22. Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice will speak about his personal experience running for and serving in public office.

For more information, or to register for the Rise and Run program, visit https://riseandrun.academy. For more information about the Council for Advocacy and Policy Solutions, visit https://capsmd.org.