EMILY's List Names Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes Its 2020 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award Winner

Ohio House minority leader Emilia Sykes delivers the Democrat’s response to the Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s Ohio State of the State address at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
Ohio House minority leader Emilia Sykes delivers the Democrat’s response to the Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s Ohio State of the State address at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
Photo: Paul Vernon (AP)

The nation’s largest resource for women in politics is recognizing a rising force in the political world. On Thursday, EMILY’s List announced its 2020 recipient of the Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award is Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, who represents Ohio’s 34th House District. The award, due to be presented at the virtual We Are EMILY Conference on July 27, “celebrates an extraordinary woman serving in state or local office,” according to a statement provided to The Glow Up.

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“The award honors a woman who demonstrates the sort of commitment to community, dedication to women and families, and determination and civility that have been the highlights of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ career, in and out of office,” the statement continued, noting that the virtual presentation will feature remarks by the award’s namesake herself.

The Rising Star Award has previously been awarded to former Georgia House Minority Leader turned gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (2014), former Boston City Councilwoman turned U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (2015), and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in 2018, making Sykes the latest in a legacy of dynamic women who have indeed risen in the political sphere. And Sykes knows something about legacy. Hailing from Akron, she has not only earned a B.A. in Psychology, a JD with a certificate in family law, and a Master of Public Health, but she is the daughter of former state Representatives Barbara Sykes and Vernon Sykes (now an Ohio state senator). The elder Sykes collaboratively held the seat their daughter now holds until 2014, meaning the Sykes family has represented the 34th House District since 1982.

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Founded in 1985, EMILY’s List (EMILY is an acronym for “Early Money Is Like Yeast”) is one of the most progressive and proactive organizations in contemporary politics, having raised over $600 million to elect pro-choice Democratic women candidates. Additionally, nearly 40 percent of the candidates EMILY’s List has helped elect to Congress have been women of color. Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List said in a statement:

Emilia Sykes is a phenomenal legislator and champion for civil rights, and EMILY’s List is proud to honor her with the 2020 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award. As Ohio House minority leader, Emilia has proven her dedication to her community, working across the aisle to nearly double the amount of bipartisan legislation passed by the State House, and empowering women by fighting to re-establish the Ohio Women’s Policy and Research Commission. She continues to be a leading voice on racial health disparities in the COVID-19 pandemic and passionately calls out systemic oppression of the Black community, including writing a resolution demanding the declaration of racism as a public health crisis. As co-chair of the Legislative Task Force on Redistricting, Reapportionment, and Demographic Research, Emilia will hold officials accountable and ensure a fair redistricting process in 2021. We are proud to celebrate Emilia’s fearless leadership and we could not be more excited to see where her work takes her in the future.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

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