Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Mentor Melissa Lantsman on the Women in Politics Mentorship Program

At the closing event for the inaugural cohort of the CJPAC Women in Politics Mentorship Program, mentor Melissa Lantsman spoke about the importance of the program:

“It would have been awesome to have a mentorship program when I was 22 years old and going to Ottawa to work in politics. You never want to walk into the room and not know anyone. And today that doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen because of CJPAC and it doesn’t happen because the Jewish community is so politically engaged. It’s programs like this, it’s programs like the Fellowship (which I also had the pleasure of being in in its inaugural year) which mean that when I walk into a room in Ottawa there are about 20 people who come up to me and say “you know what, I did the Fellowship and your picture is on the CJPAC boardroom wall.”

It’s programs like this that allow us to not only strive to be involved in politics but build relationships at every level of government, whether it be federal, provincial or municipal.

I often think about how CJPAC has evolved. The first Fellowship program started in 2006. My friend Sara called: “hey Mel, can you do me a favour, I don’t have any girls in this program; can you be in this CJPAC Fellowship?” In about 20 seconds I said “yeah that sounds cool, I’m all over it”. There have since been 11 Fellowship classes and over 300 alumni. That’s walking into a room and automatically potentially knowing 300 people, if you’re in the right room.

This is what this Women in Politics Mentorship Program could be.

Not only is it about the importance of women breaking into an area that women traditionally haven’t had a stronghold in, it’s about building up the rooms full of strong Jewish women working on the campaigns that are important to us. I’m really proud to be a part of this, and I’m proud that CJPAC has people with great program ideas like Brianna Ames and Dani Peters, as well professionals who take the ideas and make them happen.

I’m very excited to see where this program goes in 10 years. I hope on that day, thanks to the relationships built and mentoring received in this program, we have 300 politically engaged women, running for office across the country.