Denise Davis

Venture: PERSIST

Seed Lab Cohort: 2021/2022

Impact location: United States


Increase civic engagement from people who have been historically marginalized from the political arena, especially women.

Getting women more interested in all aspects of government, whether running for office, working for an elected official or a nonprofit, or just being an everyday activist who engages with political and social issues on a regular basis requires more than passion, energy and personal commitment. Providing them the right support to efficiently advance these efforts and generate long-term systemic changes is equally important, especially when these women represent historically marginalized communities with limited access to resources.  

PERSIST’s approach to increasing women’s civic engagement is broader, comprehensive and transformational. It addresses the interests of both those who aim for a political career and those who have limited political ambitions but want to engage and make a difference. Its primary focus is on college and educational (high school) settings and support these constituents through conferences, podcasts, and other areas of political training, support, and engagement.  


Denise Davis, the founder of Persist, is a public servant and educator whose commitment and approach to increase women’s civic engagement is inspired by her own political journey and her work with students at college and high school level. She has served on Redlands City Council since 2018 and is currently the Director of the Women’s Resource Center at University of California Riverside. She also founded the Persist Women’s Political Engagement Conference at UCR, the first conference of its kind in Inland Southern California.

She grew up in Las Vegas, NV, and was the first in her family to graduate from college. She earned her master’s degree in Social and Cultural Psychology from the London School of Economics while there as a Rotary International Scholar. She graduated with her B.A. from the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands. Denise is also a graduate of Emerge California. 

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