Women Legislators' Lobby

Pacesetters 2015

2015 WiLL Pacesetters

2015 WiLL Pacesetters From left to right: WiLL Vice President Senator Sandy Pappas (MN), Representative Jennifer DeChant (ME), Representative Crisanta Duran (CO), Representative Laura Hall (AL), Representative Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (CO), Senator Mattie Hunter (IL), Representative Tina Liebling (MN), Representative Melissa Sargent (WI), Representative Gael Tarleton (WA), Representative Johnnie Turner (TN), and WiLL President Senator Nan Grogan Orrock (GA).

Representative Jennifer DeChant (ME)
Representative Jennifer DeChant is serving her second term in the Maine House. Jennifer brings diverse economic development knowledge and policy experience from her work in the public and private sectors to her role as legislator. As public service manager within the Department of Community and Economic Development, Jennifer worked closely with department officials to develop and manage several programs to foster growth in Maine’s economy. She conducted outreach to connect small businesses with gap financing options and technical training and assistance while working for a progressive community development corporation. Jennifer is active within her community, working on Bath Heritage Days, Main Street Bath, United Way of Midcoast Maine, Bath Zoning Board of Appeals, Bath Sunrise Rotary, Bath Planning Board and Chocolate Church Arts Center Board of Directors. She also works with Maine Rural Partners and is member of Phippsburg Sportsmen Association.

Representative Crisanta Duran (CO)
A proud native of Colorado, Crisanta Duran serves as Majority Leader in the Colorado House of Representatives. After getting her bachelor's degree with a double major in Public Policy and Spanish, Representative Duran earned a law degree from the University of Colorado, where she was elected president of the Student Bar Association and president of the Latino Law Student Association. Her many recognitions include the 2015 Labor Council For Latin American Advancement People’s Award, Washington Post's 40 Under 40 Rising Political Stars, Conservation Colorado Legislator of the Year, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Legislative Award for Championing State Policies for Fair Immigration and Higher Education, and Planned Parenthood’s Champion of Choice.

Representative Laura Hall (AL)
Laura Hall was first elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1993. She received a B.A. in biology from Morris College, a M.S. in science education from Ohio State University, and certification in K-12 administration from Alabama A&M University. Representative Hall spent 33 years in education, 25 of those at J.O. Johnson High School. She retired as Assistant to the President for at-Risk Students and Special Projects at Calhoun Community College in Decatur. Representative Hall serves as National President of N.O.B.E.L Women, chairperson of the Governor's Commission on AIDS, State Director for WiLL, and previously served as a member of the WAND board.

Representative Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (CO)
Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, Speaker of the House of Representatives, is Colorado’s first female Democratic speaker. Her notable bipartisan legislative victories include measures to spur economic development and reforming state election laws to make voting more accessible, more secure and less costly.  The  majority leader in the 2013-2014 sessions,Speaker Hullinghorst has been involved in public policy in Colorado for more than 35 years. As the intergovernmental relations director for Boulder County for more than 20 years, she is one of the architects of the planning that has made Boulder a perennial entry on "great places to live" lists. Her numerous awards include the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Quality of Life Award for her role in passing the Colorado Clean Air Act. She has a B.A. in sociology from the University of Wyoming and has performed graduate-level work in public policy/administration at the University of Colorado at Denver.

Senator Mattie Hunter (IL)
Senator Mattie Hunter has served in the Illinois State Legislature since 2003 and is the Majority Caucus Whip.  She serves on National Conference of State Legislatures’ Health Committee, co-chairs the Council of State Government Health Policy Task Force, and sits on the Executive Committee of the N.O.B.E.L Women, and the boards of Women in Government and Illinois Black Caucus (ILBC). A native Chicagoan, Senator Hunter attended Monmouth College, Illinois (B.A. Government) and Jackson State University (M.A. Sociology).  Senator Hunter was the 2008 commencement speaker at Monmouth College and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Senator Hunter is a Lifetime Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and was named Legislator of the Year by numerous organizations in the field of health care, youth, child welfare, and education. She has passed over 200 bills in the areas of social services, health care, social justice, education and minority contractor financing to address the needs of her community and state.

Representative Tina Liebling (MN)
Tina Liebling was elected in 2004, becoming the first Democrat to serve her city in the Minnesota Legislature in over 30 years.  Tina came to politics as a criminal defense lawyer with a Master’s Degree in public health.  In the legislature she became known for her expertise on health issues and for speaking her mind. The Post-Bulletin called Tina “politically fearless” for her willingness to take on tough issues, such as reforming the state’s broken sex offender civil commitment program.  In 2014, the Women Candidates Development Coalition gave her its Political Courage Award for her passionate defense of women’s freedom to make their own reproductive choices.  She was an early and outspoken advocate of the rights of GLBT people and was thrilled to help pass marriage equality in Minnesota.  Now in her 6th term, she continues to speak for the voiceless and to vote her progressive values.

Representative Melissa Sargent (WI)
Melissa Sargent was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin and is a proud graduate of East High School and UW-Madison.  Representative Melissa Sargent was first elected to represent the 48th Assembly District in November 2012 with 83% of the vote. Melissa has served as PTO President of Gompers Elementary School. She has been a member of the Friends of Cherokee Marsh, Friends of Lake View Hill, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, Wisconsin Business Alliance, River Alliance, Wild Warner, and Midwest Shiba Inu Rescue. Melissa was also a founding member of MRFY, an advocacy group for homeless, unaccompanied youth. Melissa is a proud graduate of the Emerge-Wisconsin class of 2012. Melissa serves as a State Director for WiLL.

Representative Gael Tarleton (WA)
Gael Tarleton represents Washington's 36th District (Seattle), home to the state's largest maritime and fishing ports. Tarleton has a long history of leadership on national security and port issues. She was a senior defense intelligence analyst for the Pentagon, becoming one of the few women to advise the Joint Chiefs of Staff on threats to our nation. In 1989, Tarleton was awarded the Director of Central Intelligence’s “National Intelligence Medal of Achievement.” After a decade at the Pentagon, she ran two international subsidiaries of a Fortune 500 company in Russia and managed multi-million dollar technology programs. She was an elected Port of Seattle Commissioner for five years before winning her legislative seat in 2012. Tarleton has led landmark legislation on maritime and fishing jobs, clean fuels, tenants' rights, salmon protection, and climate research. A board member for The Ploughshares Fund and WAND, Tarleton holds two degrees from Georgetown University.

Representative Johnnie Turner (TN)
State Representative Johnnie R. Turner has represented District 85 in Memphis since January 2010. Representative Turner graduated with a B.S. in Education from LeMoyne-Owen College.  She completed her post graduate studies at the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Representative Turner is a retired educator of the Memphis City Schools and also a past Executive Director of the Memphis Branch NAACP.  She serves on the board of directors of the New Memphis Arena Building Authority, Leadership Memphis, and LeMoyne-Owen National Alumni Association. Representative Turner is the treasurer of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, the most recent being "Legislator of the Year" by the Arc of the Mid-South.

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