Group aims to increase women’s leadership in Wyoming

Nearly 300 women were elected to city, county, and state positions in last November’s elections, and at least 12 participants of past Leap into Leadership events were among them, according to the Wyoming Women’s Foundation (WYWF). Leap into Leadership events have been co-hosted by the WYWF and the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus (WWLC) annually since 2008, with the aims increasing women’s leadership at all levels.

According to Wyoming House Rep. Rosie Berger, (R-Big Horn), “this is about having a diverse conversation where male and female constituents are both represented in the most effective manner.” Berger is the House Speaker Pro Tem, and Chair of the Corporations Committee, and founder of the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus.

Big Horn County and Fremont County voters elected the greatest number of women to office in Wyoming in 2012, and WYWF and WWLC say the hope to build on those successes by encouraging more women to take on professional and civic leadership positions.

On May 21 in Sheridan and May 22 in Riverton, Leap into Leadership workshops will give area women tools to take on larger leadership roles, including information about local boards and elected positions. Trainer Katie Groke Ellis will use a nationally proven curriculum developed by The White House Project that empowers participants to network, seek local women mentors and build a coalition. At lunch, women will hear from local area panelists that will share how they balance responsibilities with their leadership roles. The Sheridan panel will include Rep. Rosie Berger  (HD-51) and the Riverton panel will include Rep. Rita Campbell (HD-34).

“Becoming a leader at work or in her community can often improve a woman’s economic situation,” WYWF executive director Richelle Keinath said in a prepared statement. “Through Leap into Leadership, the Women’s Foundation works toward its mission of economic self-sufficiency for all Wyoming women.” More than half of the graduates of local Leap into Leadership workshops held the past two years in Cody, Evanston, Gillette and Laramie said they were contemplating a run for political office afterwards, and 100 percent said they would consider serving on a volunteer board in the future.

An early bird registration fee of $20 is available for those who register by May 3; all participants must be registered by May 14 and scholarships are available.  Visit www.wywf.org for event details and registration.

Event sponsors include George B. Storer Foundation; Ann Gardner, State Farm Insurance; BNSF Railway; Cablevision/Optimum; Devon Energy; Donna & Dave Kinskey; Kennon Products Inc.; Peak Consulting; Powder River Energy Corp.; Ptolemy Data Systems; Rocky Mountain Power; Rep. Rosie Berger; and the Wyoming Community Foundation.

Founded in 2006, the bipartisan Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus is a project of The Equipoise Fund; for more information, please visit www.wyowlc.org. The Wyoming Women’s Foundation invests in the economic self- sufficiency of women and the future of girls; for more information, please visit www.wywf.org.

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