National Education for Women’s Leadership Program Builds Confidence and Boosts Leadership Skills
Twenty-seven young women from seven universities and colleges across Idaho recently converged on Boise State for the National Education for Women’s Leadership (NEW Leadership) program, where they learned hands-on leadership skills and met business, community, media and political leaders.
The weeklong session, hosted by Boise State’s School of Public Service, featured workshops designed to build expertise in areas such as public speaking, professional skills, leadership styles, diversity, and networking. The centerpiece of the week was an Action Project which divided the students into 4 groups (pro, con, committee members and media) and culminated in a mock committee hearing held at the Idaho State Legislature at the end of the week.
The program wasn’t all workshops and lectures, however, as students enjoyed tours of the Statehouse, Boise’s Basque District and the Idaho Human Rights Memorial. Students also had the opportunity to put their networking know-how into practice at a reception featuring Idaho First Lady Lori Otter.
The program requires a competitive application process. And while many of the students come from Political Science or Public Policy backgrounds, several other fields were represented as well. Maribel Carillo Ovalle of the College of Western Idaho appreciated the breadth of ideas she encountered. “What I love about this program is that they’ve tried to diversify that this year and bring different careers together so that we can formulate new ideas by networking and creating social bonds.“
NEW Leadership participants spent the week together in a Boise State residence hall, and Mashaal Hijazi of Idaho State was impressed by the way participants made quick personal and professional connections. “I think the most interesting thing has been the way we have already clicked as women who are leaders,” said Hijazi. “Now that we are surrounded by women who share the characteristic of wanting to be a leader, it’s crazy how strong that relationship can be within a matter of days.”
NEW Leadership was developed by The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University in 1991 and has since spread across the country. This year’s session, the third since NEW Leadership came to Boise State, introduced the participants to several women currently serving in the Idaho State Legislature, including Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett. Participants also met with powerful lobbyists, non-profit leaders and executives from companies such Micron and Idaho Power.
The Action Project this year focused on a bill proposing Tuition Lock. Idaho Public Television’s Melissa Davlin facilitated the media working group, Marilyn Whitney, Governor Otter’s Senior Special Assistant for Education and Government Services, worked with the “pro” group, Representative Julie Van Orden and Senator Lori Den Hartog supervised the “con” group and former Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet worked with the committee members .
NEW Leadership Idaho is directed by Political Science professor Lori Hausegger with program manager Cathe Scott. Other Boise State faculty and staff working with the young women included Annie Kerrick, Donna Llewellyn, Jerri Mizrahi, Jen Schneider, and Stephanie Witt. Former representative, Holli Woodings, acted as Faculty in Residence for the week and stayed in the residence hall with the students.
Several NEW Leadership alumnae returned to share how they are turning their expertise into action. “Already I’m definitely more confident when I meet people for networking,” said Gates Lawler, a mechanical engineering major, “I’m not as shy about being a girl in engineering, but I can be a strong powerful woman in a male-dominated field.”
Many students, including College of Southern Idaho Business major Nuru Soragha, were motivated by the success stories they heard. “It makes me want to do the same as them,” said Soragha. “It is pushing me to be more than my expectations.“
NEW Leadership does not promote a single leadership model, but instead endeavors to help students find their own approaches. Students were introduced to a variety of styles and encouraged to explore a wide range of activities and opportunities to affect public policy.
Boise State student Briana Hale looked forward to putting the lessons she’s learned at NEW Leadership into practice, “I’ve never been to something that was so inspiring to me. This has definitely confirmed the path that I want to go on. And I can’t wait to go out and apply what I’ve learned here.“