WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Cathleen Ward and Ramona Saridakis Bean have different backgrounds, but both feel the need to get involved in politics.
"This was a good, kind of, starting point to figure out how people start campaigns and who gets involved," Ward said.
"I was trying to finish a master's degree and juggling three kids and a granddad that I'm trying to keep safe," Saridakis Bean said.
The two recently wrapped up a crash course on how to run for political office.
Dennis Grady, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, said the class addresses key concepts.
"How do you prepare for that run? It's not just run down to the Supervisor of Elections and pull out paperwork, sign it, cut a check and say you're running," he said. "But how to analyze what office you're seeking, what that district or area may look like and what you may need to win that election."
The Florida Institute for Political Leadership was born to recruit, train and guide Floridians in an effort to get better candidates.
"The need to better prepare men and women for the run for public office and for service on public boards and commissions," Grady said.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce joined forces with local chambers to hold these campaign schools, which are free to the public.
"Our program is designed to think long-term for the people who might be interested in races two, three, four, five years down the line," Rick Asnani, executive director of the Florida Institute for Political Leadership, said. "There are 4,502 electable positions in the state of Florida. Ninety-six% of them are at the local level -- county or local level."
Organizers said recent world events have led to an uptick in enrollment.
"The partisanship nowadays, and I think that has led to a lot more activism in politics or just being involved in your community," Nick Catroppo, the vice president of political operations for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said.
Catroppo said it's an important effort to prepare the next generation of leaders.
"I toy with the notion of running one day," Ward said.
"I have always been willing to serve," Saridakis Bean added.
"This process helps to ensure that those who govern and serve are better prepared, and the resulting end product is better for the community," Grady said.
This is a free course and there are about 10 remaining opportunities this year. All are virtual due to the pandemic. To find more information on how to register, go to www.fipl.org.