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College women from across Mississippi gathered at Mississippi University for Women for Mississippi NEW Leadership, a leadership development program for women interested in careers in public service.

COLUMBUS, Miss. — Statistics show that while women make up more than half of the U.S. population, they continue to be underrepresented in the political arena.

NEW Leadership™ Mississippi, a partnership between Mississippi University for Women and the John C. Stennis Center for Public Service, will educate college women about the impact they can have in public service and on the political process. The five-day residential institute is a national bi-partisan program developed by Rutgers University and will be held on The W’s campus May 20-24. Participants were nominated by their institutions and selected by the program directors.

About 20 participants representing community colleges, Mississippi colleges or universities and female residents of Mississippi pursing a bachelor’s degree out of state will interact with faculty-in-residence, as well as hear from a variety of women who have excelled in public service roles within the state. Sessions will include exercises that encourage development of skills such as public speaking, salary negotiation, conflict resolution, networking and advocacy.

On Tuesday, May 22, Constance Slaughter-Harvey, former assistant secretary of state and general counsel will deliver the keynote address at 6 p.m.in the Claudia A. Limbert Assembly Room in Cochran Hall. Slaughter-Harvey was the first African-American female to receive a law degree from the University of Mississippi and the first female African-American to serve as a judge in Mississippi.

Students also will hear from faculty-in-residence including alumna Kristie Metcalfe, staff attorney with the Mississippi Senate; alumna Amy Tate, government relations manager with TVA; program director Jenn Gregory and program assistant Andrea Myles, both with the Stennis Center for Public Service.

Melinda Lowe, interim director of The W’s Office of Outreach and Innovation, said, “While recent years have seen women make strides in leadership roles, they still remain underrepresented in nearly every level of government. Experts have pointed to a lack of recruitment and networking as part of the reason for the disparity, but NEW Leadership™ Mississippi is looking to overcome those hurdles. This unique experience gives students of varying backgrounds the chance to learn about the inner workings of lawmaking, and to meet with prominent women who are shaping public policy in Mississippi as elected officials, community leaders and issue advocates.”

W faculty and staff involved with the program include Lowe; Dr. Bridget Smith Pieschel, director of The W’s Center for Women’s Research and Public Policy; Drs. Erin Kempker, associate professor and chair of the Department of History, Political Science, and Geography; Chanley Rainey, assistant professor of political science; Karen Partain, Outreach & Youth programs specialist; and Janie Shields, coordinator of Outreach & Special Projects.
NEW Leadership™ Mississippi, participants will visit the State Capitol in Jackson Wednesday, May 23, and meet with women state agency leaders.
For more information about the program, please visit www.muw.edu/newleadership.

Article courtesy of Mississippi University for Women.