Update on Women in Public Service Project with U.S. State Dept.

Members of the Mount Holyoke Community Email
October 21, 2011

We are writing to share three developments now underway as first steps in our partnership with Sister institutions and the State Department.

As you know, in April we shared Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement about the Women in Public Service Project, an important new collaboration between Mount Holyoke, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Smith, Wellesley and the U.S. State Department. The project is designed to increase the participation of women in public service and political leadership in settings around the world. Since the announcement, a steering committee of representatives from each of the founding institutions has been working to realize Clinton’s vision and lay the groundwork for an enduring and collaborative forum to support current and future women leaders worldwide.

The U.S. Department of State will host a colloquium on December 15 to launch the initiative, drawing women leaders from around the world to address an invited audience of women in public service and politics. The speakers will share critical factors in their own success, provide a range of national and cultural perspectives, and offer strategies to attract talented women to public service. This inaugural event, featuring global policy makers, scholars, public officials, and innovative thinkers, will create the foundation for training institutes, replicable and sustainable around the globe. Through these institutes, we aim to inspire and equip women in every country to enact solutions to improve governance, expand civil rights, and combat corruption. In addition to the invited alumnae, students, faculty members, and community members who will be privileged to attend the colloquium, the proceedings will be made available via webcast, thereby extending the program’s reach beyond space and number limitations.

A second committee began meeting in September to shape the first institute, the Women in Public Service Project Summer Institute, to be held at Wellesley in 2012. Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, convened the first call with committee chairperson Kavita Ramdas ’95, former head of the Global Fund for Women. Other Mount Holyoke members of the committee include Suzanne George ’90, a principal of global strategy firm Albright Stonebridge; Mona Sutphen ’89, former White House Chief of Staff and current appointee to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board; and Vincent Ferraro, Ruth Lawson Professor of Politics.

In addition to the December colloquium and the anticipated Summer Institute, the Women in Public Service Project will be launching a multimedia website to share news, events, and stories of women who are developing new and innovative global solutions. Through technology, the world will be inspired by women like Mount Holyoke alumna like Sadiqa Basiri Saleem ’09, cofounder and board member of the Oruj Learning Center in Afghanistan, who works to educate Afghan women and girls and promotes access to education, healthcare, and civic participation; and Mary Hughes ’74, founder of The 2012 Project and a sought-after campaign manager and advisor for candidates at the state and national levels. Mary’s efforts have resulted in a number of firsts for women in public service: the first woman in U.S. history to lead her party nationally in Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi; the first woman Superintendent of Schools in California, Delaine Eastin; and the first openly lesbian judge elected in the nation, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Donna Hitchens.

These are exciting first steps in constructing a worldwide network of women leaders and change agents. We believe that participating women, connected by technology and supported by global experts, will enter or continue in the public sector with enhanced leadership skills and renewed energy. They will model the spirit of Mount Holyoke’s commitment to purposeful engagement in the world, and we are proud to play a role in this effort.

Lynn Pasquerella ’80
President, Mount Holyoke College