1st Amendment-1st Vote, Inc is a non-partisan seminar and conference opportunity for high school girls to imagine themselves engaged in the political process as leaders and candidates 

for elected office in adulthood.


Gender parity in US elected offices at the local, state and national levels.

1st A-1st V Ecosystem

  • Giving Voice
  • Creating/Sustaining a Viable Pipeline of Ready Candidates
  • Achieving Gender Parity in Elected Offices


“1st Amendment-1st Vote, Inc offers non-partisan civic engagement and leadership development opportunities to teen girls in the effort to create a ‘pipeline or bench’ of young women ready, willing and able to run for office or seek professional government-related positions. As a result, we expect to achieve gender parity in US elected offices at local, state and national levels sometime in their future.”

Melina Carnicelli, Founder & President




1st Amendment-1st Vote, Inc creates experiential learning opportunities for high school girls to be active leaders engaged in the American political process and provides students with a “foundational tool kit” to run for elected office. 

why is this initiative vital to a democratic society?

It’s been nearly 100 years since passage of the US Constitution’s Amendment XIX when women won the decades-long struggle for the right to vote in America. Women make up 51% of the current US population, yet continue to be substantially underrepresented in elected office, across-the-board, at an approximate 4:1 ratio of men to women. The 2018 Congressional elections in America marked an unprecedented time regarding the number of women running for and elected to national office. However, there’s still a long way to go to close the almost 30% gap necessary to achieve gender parity in elected office at the local, state and national levels. 1st Amendment-1st Vote, Inc is an innovative educational offering addressing this gender gap. While the program is politically 

non-partisan, it IS an early opportunity for high school girls to begin to seriously imagine themselves as candidates for elected office, and to begin their engagement in the American political process. In doing so, teen girls ensure, that in their not-too-distant future, more and more women will be ready, willing, able to run for office, win, and hold an equal number of seats as their male counterparts at these all-important leadership tables.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident; 

that all men and women are created equal…” 

Declaration of Sentiments, 1848, Seneca Falls, New York


At the Heart of It



We are committed to LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT of teen girls.

We expect GENDER PARITY in governance and leadership positions.

We highly value DIVERSE STUDENT COHORTS for participation in 1st A-1st V.

We appreciate and applaud the COURAGE, CONFIDENCE, TALENT, TIME, EFFORT & FUNDRAISING of women who step (have stepped) forward to mount a campaign for public office.

We seek strategic SUPPORT & FUNDING from individuals, organizations, and companies that share our mission and vision for girls. 

We encourage participants to ACTIVELY ENGAGE in 1st A-1st V by voicing their thoughts, opinions, questions, and suggestions.



We utilize and encourage use of MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY to aid participation and interaction, teaching and learning.

Core Competencies


  • Become deeply familiar with Amendment I and XIX of the US Constitution
  • Become familiar with the proposed Equal Rights Amendment
  • Appreciate the historical significance of:
    • the contribution of Central New York’s Indigenous Women to American democracy
    • Seneca Falls, New York as the birthplace of Women’s Rights in America
  • Know how and when to register to vote and cast an informed ballot
  • Articulate a vision for gender parity in local, state, and national offices
  • Become aware of fundamentals to mount a political campaign
  • Engage in focused discussions with current and former elected officials who are women 
  • Begin to imagine themselves as leaders/candidates for elected office in adulthood 
  • Craft an implementable GROUP Civic Engagement ACTION Plan for CHANGE in their home school.
  • Craft a PERSONAL Civic Engagement ACTION Plan that each will bring to fruition in her home community.

Board of Directors



Christine Alexander, Educator, Innovation Tech High School

Luke Carnicelli, Principal, Southern Cayuga Junior/Senior High School

Melina Carnicelli, Founder & President; Educator & Mayor (ret)

Sheri Dozier – Owens, Regional Director NYS Comptroller’s Office

Mario Gutierrez, Attorney, WHMB Law

Linda Hall, Human Resource Consultant

Anne Herron, Educator, Higher Ed (ret)

Melissa Killeleagh, Treasurer and Arbonne Consultant

Karen King, Vice President and Executive Director, 

     Erie County NY Commission on the Status of Women

Debra McCormick, City Councilor Auburn NY

Emily McCarter, Educator, Geneva Middle School

Trina Newton, Educator, Superintendent of Schools

Nathan Richardson, Frederick Douglass Historian & Educator

Marilyn Tedeschi, Dean of Students (ret)

Amy Tormey, Educator, Skaneateles NY

Morgan Wright, Student, Hobart William Smith Colleges