Research shows that women make government more transparent, inclusive and accessible. Women bring different priorities and experiences to public life, including perspectives that have been largely absent in public policymaking. Women change the way government works, and their voices are needed around the country. Ready to Run® is a non-partisan campaign training program to encourage women to run for elective office, position themselves for appointive office, work on a campaign, or get involved in public life in other ways. Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics’ (CAWP) model curriculum covers fundraising, positioning oneself for elected office, navigating the political party structure, media training, the nuts and bolts of organizing a campaign, mobilizing voters, and crafting a message.
Mississippi is the only state in the United States to never send a woman to Congress and never elect a woman governor. The goal of this program is to inspire women to consider becoming more involved as political advocates in their community and to run for elective office by equipping them with knowledge and expertise specific to barriers women face in politics.
Lindy Boggs’ life of public service leadership is proof that power and grace are not always mutually exclusive in American politics. Instead of demonizing her opponents, Lindy treated political opponents with respect and kindness. She won many important battles without resorting to angry confrontation, and often made friends of her enemies in the process. Lindy made politics look good.
To replace the Southern Women in Public Service conference, the Stennis Center organized the Summit of Southern Women Leaders on May 4-6, 2008 at St. Simons Island, Georgia. Approximately 150 women leaders from 14 states attended, including state legislators, statewide elected officials, mayors, judges, commissioners, cabinet officers, academic professors and business leaders who are interested in exploring ways that women can strengthen the quality and character of public service.
Since the first Southern Women in Public Service conference in 1991, the Stennis Center has developed a reputation for supporting the advancement of women in public service leadership. This annual conference has become the most significant bipartisan gathering of women political leaders from across the South.
The Stennis Center in 2010 created Lifting Leaders, a pilot mentoring program for college women interested in becoming leaders in public service. The first program is being conducted in Arkansas, matching exceptional women political leaders with young women who are emerging as leaders on college campuses in the state. The concept of this program came through the Stennis Center’s work with women political leaders in 14 Southern states over the past two decades. We hope that the Lifting Leaders program in Arkansas will be a model for similar programs in other states.