Erin Loos Cutraro sits smiling at the camera. She has short, curly, ashy-blonde hair and is wearing a black patterned sweater.

Erin Loos Cutraro: Founder & CEO She Should Run

The #SheInnovates stories team sat down with Erin Loos Cutraro to discuss the role of women in innovation. Get involved at She Innovates Global.  

#SheInnovates Stories: Innovation is solving the world's problems. What problem are you solving?

Erin Loos Cutraro: When women run for office, they win at the same rate as men. Yet, the United States ranks 75th in the world in women’s representation in government. The problem isn’t that women aren’t winning, it’s that not nearly enough are running. She Should Run is a nonpartisan nonprofit promoting leadership and encouraging women from all walks of life to run for office. With over 500,000 elected offices in the U.S., we are driven by a vision of seeing 250,000 women run by 2030.

#SheInnovates: When did you realize your innovation was a breakthrough?

ELC: I have light-bulb moments every single day, but one stands out. A few years ago we held focus groups with a wide range of leaders outside of politics. We presented top research on barriers women face to running and got feedback on the landscape of resources available. The takeaways were clear. Too often politics feels like inside baseball. Where’s the inviting space to explore a run without commitment? Where do I send my smart friend who doesn’t yet see that her leadership is needed in her community? Enter the She Should Run Incubator.

#SheInnovates: What were some unexpected obstacles you overcame in the innovation process?

ELC: Our work doesn’t fit neatly into traditional political work. And due to what can be perceived as the polarizing lens of elected leadership, it doesn’t fit neatly into the leadership space. We’re forging a new, essential path, which means we often have to prove the need for long-game, innovative thinking. Once we accepted that education is a necessary component of making that case, our growth accelerated.

#SheInnovates: What inspires you to love your work?

ELC: I love my talented, creative team. We take risks, learn along the way, and constantly fine-tune our strategies. And we share in the drive that it’s a gift to work every day to provide a launch pad for diverse, get-it-done, type women who will change our government for the better at every level.

#SheInnovates: What do you hope that young women coming behind you take from your work?

ELC: You don’t need permission to make the world a better place. You have what it takes. And with hard work, anything is possible.

#SheInnovates: Why are women in innovation important?

ELC: Because we’re missing an opportunity to be the best we can possibly be if we leave half the talent pool out of the equation.

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Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and length.