Maryn Formley is a Woman to Watch in 2021

“For our democracy to work for all of us, every eligible voter must have their voice heard and their vote counted. ⁣⁣The people are the backbone of our democracy. We stand with them.”- Maryn Formley, Founder and CEO #veeempittsburgh

The program is dedicated to increasing voter turnout in Allegheny County!

1.     What motivated you to start your program?

The vision for VEEEM was born in May 2017, after my experiences volunteering for the Primary mayoral campaign of my pastor Rev. Dr. John C. Welch. While volunteering the weekend before the Primary Election, I met too many people, diverse in age, socioeconomic status, and race, that didn’t have the interest or information they needed to vote.  Turnout was very low for that election and I felt that some barriers could be overcome to help increase turnout. While many groups empower voters, VEEEM focuses on voter education and data as a way to help empower voters and to see how their vote made a difference in their community. 

2.     How do you feel about the outcome of the election?

I am incredibly proud of how all of the voter empowerment groups worked together to turn out the vote.  Knowing the work we put in to make sure that turnout was increased and knowing all that Allegheny County and other jurisdictions did to help people vote safely and securely amid a deadly pandemic, I am appalled that the results are still being contested. VEEEM is nonpartisan, but the voices of the people demand to be heard. The people elected a new president and that should be upheld by the electoral college and the legislature of this country. 

3.     What kind of work will you be doing as you move forward?

VEEEM will continue to work primarily with the 13th Ward of Allegheny County (Homewood and East Hills). We will put forth our signature voter education program, which includes at least three meetings prior to the election and at least one meeting after the election. We will continue to host our meetings online until COVID-19 is eradicated. VEEEM will again hire part-time staff and utilize volunteers to text, call, and talk to potential voters in Ward 13, with the goal of overall voter and civic engagement, not just showing up at elections. 

4.     What do you see as the biggest problem in politics for African-Americans in Pittsburgh?

Keeping it as nonpartisan as possible, I think that we are complacent. Many have been in their offices a long time with little to show for it.  When we engage, when we show up, when we turn out, we see the power that we have. It’s up to us to stay engaged, vote in every election, hold our elected officials accountable, and vote them out if they do not help us achieve our community goals. 

5.     How do you think Black women should leverage their political clout?

Nationwide, you see movements to protect and elevate Black lives being led by Black women. Black women are amazing and we can do anything that we desire. We should use our political clout to make advancements that will protect what we care about – safety, basic needs (housing, food, shelter), and freedom. 

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