“Surge” and the Rise of Women in Office


Nearly 600 women ran for the House, Senate, or Governor in 2018 – an unprecedented surge in response to Donald Trump’s win in 2016, Hillary Clinton’s stunning defeat, and an extension of the historic Women’s March. Many of these were progressive female candidates who never imagined running for office, but felt compelled to claim a seat at the table for women’s rights and issues.

Hannah Rosenzweig’s documentary Surge, which premiered on Showtime in September of 2020, follows three such candidates in Texas, Indiana and Illinois – each running in uphill battles to flip their deep red districts to blue, including Lauren Underwood, the youngest Black woman to ever be elected to Congress.

In 2021, women now that make up one quarter all members of Congress — the highest percentage in U.S. history – and a female mayor of NYC is more viable than ever, with three women running for NYC Mayor going into the primaries on June 22 – two of them (Kathryn Garcia and Dianne Morales) Stuy grads!

What has changed and what more is possible now that more women have a seat at the table? What specific challenges do women face running and winning? How is continuing to elect female candidates to public office important for the future of our democracy, and how can we make sure this trend continues?

Join us for a virtual conversation with four powerhouse women of the Class of 1993 to discuss these issues and more! Surge documentary filmmaker Hannah Rosenzweig ’93 will join us, along with U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng ’93, and Dr. Arati Kriebich ’93, Glen Rock Borough Council member and former candidate for Congress. The conversation will be moderated by Mara Gerstein ’93, Executive Director of the People PAC, which works to advance state candidates. The event will take place on Wednesday, June 16th at 7pm EST via Zoom.

Participants are encouraged to watch the film Surge prior to the event (available on Showtime Anytime, Amazon, Apple TV or Google Play). Clips of the film will also be shown that night and screening the film is not necessary to enjoy this engaging discussion.

Tickets are available now for $5 for dues-paying members, and $25 for all other alumni. You can purchase a ticket plus membership at the discounted rate of $50.

Please note: You MUST log into MyStuy to purchase a member ticket. 


Current Stuyvesant students can join this event for free. Please email us at [email protected] for details on how to join.


Grace Meng ’93 represents New York’s 6th Congressional District located in Queens, New York. She was born and raised in Queens as the daughter of immigrants and has never forgotten where she came from or who she fights for.

As a child growing up in the most diverse county in America, Grace quickly came to believe that every person deserves a seat at the table. Whether young or old, rich or poor, she believes every voice deserves to be heard. That conviction prompted Grace to begin her professional career as a public interest lawyer before serving two terms in the New York State Assembly.

Now, in her third term in Congress, Grace continues to advocate for inclusive policies that benefit the vulnerable and the often overlooked. From her seat on the House Appropriations Committee, and as the mother of two young boys – Tyler and Brandon – she regularly fights for federal programs that benefit women and children. She even co-founded the Bipartisan Congressional Kids’ Safety Caucus, which she still co-chairs.

While Grace remains one of the 15 youngest Democrats in Congress, she has been ranked the 8th most-effective legislator in the Democratic Party according to the Center for Effective Lawmaking. She serves as Chair of ASPIRE PAC through which she supports Asian American candidates across the country, and works to ensure that Asian American voices and concerns are heard in the political process.

Grace is the national leader on issues pertaining to menstrual hygiene product safety and availability. She successfully fought for the provision of menstrual hygiene products to homeless women, fights for their availability to incarcerated women, denounced the discriminatory tampon tax in New York, and has introduced federal legislation that would require menstrual hygiene product labels to include a list of ingredients.

In February of 2017, Grace was elected Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee where she focused on winning back the House in 2018 and winning back the White House in 2020.

Grace represents the only congressional district located entirely in Queens, New York, where she continues to live with her husband, Dr. Wayne Kye, a professor at New York University’s College of Dentistry, and her two boys. She attended New York City public schools, including Stuyvesant High School, received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, and earned her law degree from Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Mara Gerstein ’93 is the Executive Director of The People PAC, founded by award-winning TV and film producers and former digital/tech executives to apply the tools and techniques of their work to progressive, pro-democracy candidates and causes. Since 2017, The People has created digital ad campaigns in support of 134 state legislative candidates in ten states. The People’s affiliated nonprofit, The People Votes, partners with grassroots organizations to conceive and execute messaging programs that use data-driven, targeted, digital content to persuade and mobilize disenfranchised voters.

Mara is also an award-winning audio producer and former director of digital projects for several companies, including SapientNitro (now PublicisSapient), where she led delivery for its New York interactive marketing services team. After a post-2016 election move to one of the country’s 206 “pivot counties,” Mara co-founded Show Up Long Island, to organize community activists. Mara has a masters in media studies from The New School and a BA in History from Brown University.

Dr. Arati Kreibich ’93 is an activist, community organizer, scientist, and former candidate for Congress. She immigrated to the U.S. when she was 11 years old with her parents and two younger brothers because they believed in the promise of America.

Arati earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005. Her research focused on the science of opioid addiction, relapse, and stress. Arati lives with her husband Thomas and their two children, Neil and Jay, in Glen Rock. She and her family love hiking, reading, and spending time with their dog, Bailey and cat, Max.

Arati successfully ran for Glen Rock Borough Council in 2017, becoming the first South Asian person elected to the Council. In office, she’s made combating climate change a priority by leading Glen Rock to town-wide clean energy consumption and a plastic bag ban.

In 2020, Arati stepped up again and ran for Congress. Her campaign mobilized over 1,100 volunteers, was endorsed by Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Sen. Bernie Sanders, and attracted national media attention.

Arati earned 34% of the vote, significantly more than any Democratic primary challenge to an incumbent NJ rep in at least the last decade.

Hannah Rosenzweig ’93 is a documentary film director and producer. Since serving as Hillary Clinton’s personal videographer for her 2008 presidential campaign, she has produced media for female candidates and elected officials nationwide. She co-directed and produced “Surge” (2020), a documentary on Showtime about the record number of first-time female candidates that ran for office and upended politics in 2018. Hannah is a JustFilms Fellow with the Ford Foundation for leaders working at the intersection of storytelling, media, and social change. She has a masters in public health from Columbia University and a BA in history from Oberlin College.

If you have any questions, reach out to [email protected]. The Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association office is currently unable to take phone calls to our main line. Please email us to schedule a phone call. 

Note: The Panelists will be speaking in their personal capacities, not in their official capacities. The views expressed will be their own and do not necessarily represent the views of their respective organizations.