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Women Leaders Gather at Great Falls Library

Del. Barbara Comstock (R-34) hosts Young Women’s Leadership Program.

From left, Donna Brazile and Del. Barbara Comstock (R-34) speak to young women at the Great Falls Library Tuesday, Aug. 13. Brazile, who was the first African American woman to manage a presidential campaign with Al Gore in 2000, spoke to the women about pursuing their dreams.

From left, Donna Brazile and Del. Barbara Comstock (R-34) speak to young women at the Great Falls Library Tuesday, Aug. 13. Brazile, who was the first African American woman to manage a presidential campaign with Al Gore in 2000, spoke to the women about pursuing their dreams. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— Del. Barbara Comstock (R-34) welcomed author and political commentator Donna Brazile to her Young Women’s Leadership Program Tuesday, Aug. 13 at the Great Falls Library. Twenty-three young women, mostly middle and high schoolers, listened to Brazile tell her story and give advice on chasing their dreams.

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Donna Brazile, author, political correspondent and former Democratic presidential campaign manager, speaks at the Great Falls Library Tuesday, Aug. 13.

"I first met Donna in 2000 when she was the manager of then-Vice President Gore’s presidential campaign," Comstock said. "I was immediately inspired by her, because not only was she one of those rare people capable of running a presidential campaign, but she was the first African American woman to do so."

In addition to running Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, Brazile worked on the presidential campaigns of Jimmy Carter in 1976 and 1980, Jesse Jackson and Walter Mondale in 1984, Richard Gephardt and Michael Dukakis in 1988 and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

She also served as chief of staff for Washington, D.C. congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute, briefly as interim chair of the DNC and is now currently its vice chair.

"I started as a little girl from Louisiana who talked way too much, according to my mother, to someone who sat next to President George W. Bush and talked to him about fixing the damage from Hurricane Katrina, and he listened," she said.

Brazile, a native of Kenner, La., described to the young ladies in attendance the exact date and time her childhood ended.

"It was a rainy Thursday, April 4, 1968, and when I came home from school, I was told to come inside and get on my knees and pray, because Dr. Martin Luther King had been murdered," she said. "All I could think about was that someone had killed that nice man who visited our neighborhood a few years before to preach peace and nonviolence."

THAT INSPIRATION eventually led her to her first job in Washington, D.C., working with King’s widow Coretta Scott King and Stevie Wonder to help make Martin Luther King Day an official holiday. Later she worked on the campaign to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dr. King’s March on Washington.

Brazile encouraged the girls in attendance to never be afraid to try something that they are interested in, and never to let monetary concerns get in the way of their dreams.

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Del. Barbara Comstock (R-34) hosts her Young Women’s Leadership Program at the Great Falls Library Tuesday, Aug. 31.

"When I write for magazines, sometimes I’m paid 25 cents, sometimes 50 cents, sometimes two dollars a word and sometimes nothing," she said. "But I enjoy doing all of it because it allows me to do something I’ve done since I was a little girl, writing down my thoughts on various issues."

Brazile also said she has held jobs in 49 of the 50 states, asking the women in attendance, "if you know of a job opening in Montana, let me know."

COMSTOCK began the Young Women’s Leadership Program in January of this year, and has hosted several sessions in the 34th district.

"Young women today have all kinds of opportunities available to them. This program is designed to expose them to a wide range of careers and opportunities in our area," Comstock said when it began. "It is my hope The Young Women’s Leadership Program can inspire the next generation of female leaders to bring their intelligence, drive and solutions to careers in government, politics and business."