Five months after Connie Pillich and Gwen McFarlin joined forces to become the first women co-chairs of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, Pillich has left to head a non-profit in Washington.
Pillich, a former state representative from Montgomery, has taken the job of executive director of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ), a nonpartisan organization that supports women judges around the country and encourages other women to run for judicial office.
"It's just an exciting opportunity to make a real difference in a field that is important to me,'' said Pillich, a former Air Force office and a lawyer. "I am thrilled and honored to take on this challenge."
The fact is that Pillich has been quietly working for the NAWJ for several weeks while she was still doing her job as co-chair of the Democratic Party. Once the election was over, she began working full-time at the non-profit.
It has been a whirlwind of a year for Pillich, who began 2018 as a contender for the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor. She dropped out once former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray entered the race.
Then, in June, she and McFarlin, who is a Springfield Township trustee, teamed up and were elected co-chairs of the party, taking over from Tim Burke, who retired from the chairmanship after nearly a quarter of a century.
The arrangement was a simple one – McFarlin would concentrate on her specialty – grassroots organizing and get-out-the-vote efforts – while Pillich would handle the party's fundraising.
She has been a prodigious fundraiser for her own campaigns, raising over $6 million for her runs for state representative and an unsuccessful bid for Ohio treasurer.
Pillich leaves Hamilton County politics after an election in which Democrats did not do well statewide, but had their best year ever in Hamilton County.
Every statewide Democratic candidate, from governor on down, won in Hamilton County. The Democrats picked up five judgeships. And, with the surprising election of Stephanie Summerow Dumas over Republican incumbent Chris Monzel, the Democrats will now have all three seats on the Hamilton County Commission.
Pillich said she went looking for a job in the non-profit world after her run for governor and after helping McFarlin run the party for several months.
"I wanted to be in public service because that's what I'm drawn to more than anything else, so I started looking at the non-profit world and when I saw this job and its mission, I really felt compelled to apply,'' the 58-year-old Pillich said.
Pillich and her husband, Paul Forshey, will keep their house in Cincinnati, but will spend most of their time in Washington.
McFarlin will remain as party chair until the term expires after the 2020 primary election.
NAWJ was founded by two California judges in 1979. One of their goals was to get the first woman confirmed to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Two years later, that happened when Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was confirmed.
O'Connor was a founding member of NAWJ and since then, every woman who has served on the Supreme Court has been a member of the organization.