BOISE — Three students from Idaho State University joined nearly two dozen female undergraduates, representing six Idaho colleges and universities, at NEW Leadership Idaho, a weeklong training designed to encourage women to become community leaders and run for public office.
Mackenzie Lloyd, Kayla Parnin and Camie Peña attended the program from ISU. The women all remarked on the surprising sense of camaraderie witnessed among presenters. Lloyd commented that her perception of politics changed as she realized that people are not as divided as we think.
“I got to see that both sides can be opposing and still have a healthy work environment and get coffee and hang out. You don’t see that harmony between people anymore and it was so refreshing,” Pena said.
Boise State hosted the residential workshop, with students living on campus and attending a minimum of 10 hours a day in workshops then returning to the dorms for independent and group work.
The bipartisan curriculum is based on a program developed by the Center for American Women in Politics (CAWP) but has been adapted to include training specific to Idaho. For example, Idaho’s program emphasizes local leadership in the form of nonprofit work and participation in city and county politics as opposed to CAWP’s more targeted goal of encouraging women to run for higher office. Director Lori Hausegger points out that public service leadership is needed at all levels and for many women, the starting point is local.
Research suggests that women are just as likely as men to be elected when they run for an office; however, they are considerably less likely to run. Women typically need to be asked multiple times before they will seek public office, whereas men don’t express that hesitation, regardless of their level of qualification. As Hausegger says, “we want to make that first ask now and show young Idaho women that they are every bit as qualified as their male peers.”
This was the fifth year for Idaho’s NEW Leadership program so about a third of the participants are still in college. However, Hausegger points to signs that the program is beginning to show results. “One of our students was recently hired as Senate Minority Chief of Staff, another is working as a Program Specialist in a nonprofit, a young woman still attending Boise State is the Campaign Manager for District 18 and just last week one of our former students was in Washington DC, where a team she was on won a national campaign to ‘Innovate Against Hate.’”
Collaboration and civility are common themes throughout the week. Not only do students participate in workshops designed to teach them these skills but that message is reinforced through the choice of guest speakers. Representatives Ilana Rubel (D) and Christy Perry (R) have been involved with NEW Leadership Idaho every year since its creation in Idaho and made a joint appeal for support at NEW Leadership’s Mentoring Reception. In all, 9 Republican legislators and 9 Democrat legislators have participated in NEW Leadership Idaho.
About NEW Leadership Idaho
National Education for Women’s (NEW) Leadership is an award-winning program designed to educate and empower the next generation of women leaders. The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, developed the innovative program in 1991 and branched out to invite other universities into its Development Network.
The first Idaho program was held in 2014. NEW Leadership Idaho is administered by Boise State’s School of Public Service, which allows program participant’s close proximity to our state legislature. However, to fulfill its mission and be successful, New Leadership requires wide spread student participation from all of Idaho’s Colleges and Universities. Learn more at new-leadership/.