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January 09, 2017 10:23 PM

LEAD-ing The Way

Following the Presidential election, a lot of women were angry and disappointed with the results. But rather than simply complain, one group decided to do something about it. 

"It started with the intent of just a few women getting together, our first meeting we had over 100 attendees," LEAD organizer Susan Kroger said. 

Susan Kroger is one of the founders of a new, non-partisan group of women in South Dakota called, LEAD. That stands for Leaders Engaged and Determined. 

Kroger, along with many other women, was upset that Donald Trump had won the presidential election.  She was hoping to see the country's first woman president elected. When Hillary Clinton lost, Kroger decided to rally others together on social media. 
"At first it was really about women coming together to talk about their concerns, their fears, their hopes for the future, since then it really evolved into how do I become involved in the political process as an individual," Kroger said. 

"That evening watching the results come in, they weren't the results I expected and it was disappointing," LEAD member Nikki Gronli said. 

Gronli is one of those women equally upset about the election.  She's been involved with politics in the past, but she's hoping to see other women get involved in the political process in the future. 

"I think South Dakota could use a lot more women in the legislature and in the past women, for whatever reason, have not been running," Gronli said. 

Last year, there were only 22 women legislators out of the state's 105 lawmakers. 

"I was joking with a friend yesterday that the women's bathroom at the Capitol is probably the least frequented place in Pierre," Kroger said. 

The group now meets and holds special events once a week to talk about what's happening on the federal, state and local levels. This meeting is to talk about the upcoming legislative session; the process and bills that pertain to women and their families. 

"There must be other people like us, there must be other women like us," LEAD committee member, Carmen Toft said. 

Carmen Toft is also a LEAD member.  She would like to see more women get involved in South Dakota politics speak up and be heard. 

"I feel like they have a voice, I just don't feel like enough of them use their voice," Toft said. 

They're being heard now.  On Facebook, LEAD has more than 900 followers. 

"We've got women all across the state who are participating in conversations," Gronli said. 

Conversations that range from politics to parenting to sharing ideas on how to get involved in their communities. 

"So it's being able to take the people who say I want to do something, but I don't know how and giving them the tools to do that," Toft said. 

"It's just really impressive to see how many women are interested and are inspired to get involved in the future and be a part of the political system,"  Gronli said. 

A political system they hope one day will have more women taking the LEAD. 

 If you'd like to learn more about LEAD and its mission, click here

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