A special “academy” convenes this weekend to train women who plan to run for public office in Iowa. The “Blueprint for Winning Academy” is sponsored by 50-50 in 2020 — a bipartisan group that aims to have half the people in major elected offices in Iowa be women by the end of the decade.

Maggie Tinsman, a former state senator from Bettendorf, says 2020 is the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in America.

“We think women have a great knowledge of how to compromise since they do it in their lives all the time and we think that’s what democracy is all about so we think they’ll be excellent candidates and, hopefully, legislators,” Tinsman says.

Fifteen Iowa women who are either candidates this year or will be in 2014 will participate in this weekend’s academy. They’ll learn about public speaking, fundraising and how to run a campaign. Tinsman’s first campaign for public office was in the 1970s, when she ran for the Scott County Board of Supervisors. Her friends raised doubts about her run.

“They said: ‘You have two liabilities. One, you’re a female and we have never elected a female in Scott County’s history and second, you’re a social worker and who would trust you with property taxes? No one,'” Tinsman says. “I said, ‘I believe in helping people within a budget and you don’t go over the budget.'”

Tinsman served as a Scott County Supervisor for 11 years and then ran for the Iowa Senate, where she served for 18 years. The Blueprint for Winning Academy starts this afternoon at a West DesMoines hotel and continues tomorrow.

Tinsman, a Republican, and Jean Lloyd-Jones, a Democrat from Iowa City, serve as co-chairs of 50-50 in 2020. Lloyd-Jones is also a former state legislator and she was the Democratic Party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate in 1994. Tinsman was a GOP primary candidate for the U.S. Senate, in 1998.

Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds plan to attend one of the opening events of this weekend’s academy.  Organizers plan to match the 15 women at the academy with a mentor from their political party and set up job-shadowing experiences in Des Moines and Washington, D.C. so the women can see how women in elected office navigate those centers of political power.