Han Pham

She finds, recruits, and provides support to women running for office

Han Pham

Photography by Martha Williams

In a time of ever-decreasing civic engagement, Han Pham is a tonic. As the executive director of Her Term, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women run for seats in the Georgia legislature, she strives to make politics less daunting—and more inclusive. “A true democracy is a collective effort, and everyone has blind spots,” Pham says. “We can’t ask someone to take a 360-degree view of things and anticipate what our needs are if they’ve never experienced them.” This is especially true for historically overlooked groups, such as the Vietnamese voters she first canvassed in her early years volunteering with the organization, and women, for whom barriers to election are myriad. Some of those hurdles include the fundraising gap (donors give less to women on average), online harassment, and the 40-day legislature, which precludes most candidates from working while in office.

Her Term is distinctive because it helps candidates all the way from identification to election, providing them with the resources they need, as they need them. And these resources come in many forms, including a weekly support group, wellness and therapy programs, and an extensive network of campaign-related services—from lawyers to explain candidates’ rights and photographers to take their headshots, to expert-led workshops on SEO and website creation. “It’s all to let these women know that they have power and showing them how to use it, in order to encourage and enable them to be leaders,” Pham says.

Resounding throughout her efforts is the idea that every voice matters. It’s the guiding compass that led to her founding Badass Women’s Meetup, an organization that aims to empower Asian women. Pham, who also founded the Decatur Lunar New Year Festival that celebrates Asian customs and cultures, believes that creating atmospheres of acceptance and starting change can be most effective when done close to home. “Turn your focus to local elections and initiatives that help the people that live in your neighborhood,” she says. “When you see how individual people are helping out their communities and making changes that are tangible, that’s when the dots get connected.”