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Spotlight: Emerge Maryland Alumnae- Prince George's County

Emerge is the nation’s premier organization that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office. They are the only political organization that focuses on effective state and national programming that gives women the tools they need to run and win, as well as building an inclusive sisterhood of alums and a network of alumnae, staff, boards and volunteers who are on-the-ground 365 days a year to support women through their candidacies at every level and once they are elected.

Emerge Maryland is an independent state affiliate of Emerge, which has trained more than 4,000 women to run for office since 2002. Emerge alumnae across the country have won more the 1,000 elections to date and hold office at every level of government. There are currently Emerge affiliates in 24 states — Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin with plans to expand to more soon. Women who graduate from Emerge Maryland’s training program are plugged into both the state network of Emerge Maryland alumnae, as well as the national network of Emerge alumnae across the country.

Emerge Alumnae- Prince George's County, Maryland

Denise Mitchell

Denise joined the Emerge Maryland Class of 2017, hoping to regain her seat on the College Park City Council. She went on to win it back not once but twice! She then ran for Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee in the last election and also won that seat. She currently holds both positions as she continues her dedication to public service for the people of her district.

Wanika Fisher

After graduating with the Class of 2017 Cohort, Wanika ran for a seat in the Maryland General Assembly, won, and served four years there. She then decided to shift gears and ran for a seat on the Prince George's County Council. She won that seat this past November and will serve with two other Emerge Maryland alums in that body for the next four years.

Walakewon (Wala) Blegay

Wala was in the very first class Emerge Maryland had back in 2013. She ran for office a couple of years after graduation but did not prevail. She was so determined to serve the public that she started a cable show called "Chat with a Lawyer" and provided "helpful advice and necessary information to underserved communities in Prince George's County." Wala ran for Prince George's County Council this past election cycle and won! With her desire to serve, she will now be able to show what she can do for her constituents.

Krystal Oriadha

Krystal's dedication to public service is broad and deep. She once said she lived by the motto, “Greatness is not a measure of who you are but the impact you have on others.” She took the skills and tools she learned from our Signature Candidate Training program in 2020 and ran for office in 2022. She won her seat on the Prince George's County Council and will now significantly impact those she was elected to serve.

Nicole Williams

Nicole was one of the women who jumped on board the Emerge Maryland network early on. She joined the Class of 2014 with 14 other women and set out to find her path to leadership in Prince George's County. She ran and won her seat on the Democratic State Central Committee in 2014. Four years later, she ran for State Delegate but fell short that year. However, the following year she was appointed to fill a vacant seat in the Maryland General Assembly, and this past November, the voters liked the work that Nicole had done for them. She was elected to a second term. Nicole also spent several years serving on the Emerge Maryland Board of Directors.

Jamila Jaye Woods

When Jamila joined the Emerge Maryland Signature Candidate Training program in 2018, she had her sights set on a seat in the General Assembly. She did not win that year, but as we have seen, Emerge Maryland women do not give up! She ran again in 2022 and will serve as State Delegate in the Maryland General Assembly. We are thrilled that Jamila will join 15 of her Emerge Maryland sisters in the MGA.

Michelle García

When you listen to Michelle, her passion for public service is evident. In 2018, after graduating with the Class of 2017, she ran for Democratic Central Committee and won. She served her term and ran again in 2022. She won again and continues her work with the local Democratic Party in Prince George's County.

Yolanda Quintanilla

With a deep background in community activism, Yolanda knew that the next logical step was to run for public office. She participated in our Signature Candidate Training Program in 2021 and ran for a seat on the local Democratic Central Committee in her beloved Prince George's County. Her victory has put her on a path to political leadership!

You may contribute and become a supporter of the Emerge Maryland family by clicking HERE.


Diane Fink is the Executive Director of Emerge Maryland. She joined the founding organizing committee in September 2011, and in March 2012, she was hired as the Executive Director. Since then, Emerge Maryland has become the fastest-growing organization dedicated to helping women attain public office in the state.

Diane was a member of the Western Maryland Democratic Caucus, a Board member of the Frederick Community Action Agency, and is currently Chair of the Board of the Friends for Neighborhood Progress in Frederick. She is also a member of the National Community Action Foundation.

She served on the Maryland State Commission for Women, was named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women in 2021, and was recognized by Baltimore Magazine as one of 30 women shaping Baltimore’s future. Diane was named Woman of the Year by the Frederick County Democratic Central Committee in 2019.

Prior to joining Emerge, Diane worked as legislative staff in the Maryland General Assembly.

In 2006, elected by popular vote, she served two terms for eight years on the Frederick County Democratic State Central Committee. During that time, she chaired the Candidates and Campaigns sub-Committee and edited and published the newsletter, The Banner.

Diane began working for local political campaigns in 2001. She worked at all levels, from canvasser to manager, field operations director to a consultant on federal, state, and local races.

She has two grown children and lives with her husband in Frederick County, Maryland.

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