Amanda Kingsley Malo, Community Organizer

Amanda Kingsley Malo is a Sudbury, Ont.-based teacher and founder of PoliticsNOW, an organization which works to help women get elected in Northern Ontario. Here, she tells FLARE how she made it

Amanda Kingsley Malo

Amanda Kingsley Malo; @kingsleymalo

How do you describe your job to your family?

By day, I’m an elementary school teacher and I work with the most amazing bunch of curious, funny and lovely children. By night, I’m the founder of PoliticsNOW, a grassroots organization that is dedicated to engaging, empowering and electing women in municipal politics in Northern Ontario.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I attended the University of Ottawa for my bachelor of arts, with a major in history. Afterwards, I moved back to my hometown of Sudbury, Ont. to attend L’École des sciences de l’éducation at Laurentian University for my bachelor of education.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

When I graduated from teachers’ college, I ended up getting on as a project coordinator for a non-profit performing arts organization whose mandate is to promote French Canadian history. It was like someone took all of my favourite interests and turned it into my dream job. I was bummed that it was only a one-year contract to help get the organization off the ground.

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

I created my big break without even knowing it. After working on a federal political campaign, I wanted to take the skills I had learned and get involved with an organization that would allow me to help women get elected, but none existed locally. After some encouragement from a mentor, I founded PoliticsNOW to try to solve some of the barriers that women face when running for office in northern and rural communities. I thought it was going to be a fun, part-time gig that would give me purpose during my summers, but instead, it took off really quickly. It became evident how sorely needed this organization was, and I have been running with it ever since.

What would you say has been your most significant setback, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

This is not a setback, per se, but I have recently become a mom, and I’m still adjusting to working around someone else’s schedule. I’ve had to reevaluate my keys to effective work-life balance and change the way that I get things done. I’m booking conference calls to coincide with nap time, running webinars in the evening, and bringing her along to meetings. I’ve had to learn to lean on others more and ask for help and support when I need it while also being more thoughtful about my work and more productive with my time. “Give yourself grace” has become my new mantra, and it’s one I have to remind myself of daily as I adapt to this wonderful new phase in my life.

How would you describe your industry in terms of representation and inclusivity?

While I think that there is more general awareness that women are sorely under-represented in politics, we’re only just beginning to see women run in larger numbers. There also needs to be a bigger push to empower people of colour, Indigenous people and LGBTQ+ people to run for government and councils in higher numbers, because our governments cannot truly represent us effectively until it as diverse as we are.

What’s the most pressing issue facing women in your industry right now? What would fix it?

We need to get women elected. One of the ways we’re trying to facilitate that is by offering various bilingual educational opportunities for those who want to learn about the basics of campaigning. By giving women the tools that they need to be successful, we’re hopeful that they will be better equipped and prepared to run effective and successful campaigns. So far, we’ve also been able to keep our events free to ensure greater accessibility, which is incredibly important to ensure all can participate.

Do you think you earn a similar wage as your male counterparts in your industry?

I don’t think that there is a male equivalent to groups like mine. Men have traditionally had more opportunities to run for office. Men are encouraged to run for office in higher numbers. Statistics show that women have to be asked at least half a dozen times to run for office before they begin to consider it, and activists have had to build movements around that. Women face more systematic barriers when they decide to run, and that is why organizations like ours exist.

Looking to the future, what excites you the most about your career?

PoliticsNOW gives me the amazing opportunity to educate, prepare and inspire the next generation of women candidates and politicians in my region. The more women we prepare, the more women will feel confident enough to run, which will lead to more women getting elected and women being better represented on their city councils. By helping women get elected, I help lead the charge towards the change I want to see.

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