Message from the Executive Director 2021 Year-End Update

2021 Year End WPI

As we close out 2021, here’s a snapshot of what the great team at WPI has been working on this year.


We offered 12 core Women, Policy and Political Leadership certificate courses, enrolling over 270 undergraduate and graduate students. Our dedicated faculty include top academics and practitioners:

  • Dr. Karen O’Connor, Jonathan N. Helfat Distinguished Professor of Political Science

  • Dr. Rebecca DeWolf, Adjunct Professorial Lecturer

  • Lucy Gettman, Adjunct Professorial Lecturer

  • Laura Cox Kaplan, Adjunct Professorial Lecturer

  • Amanda Fuchs Miller, J.D., Adjunct Professorial Lecturer

  • Shilpa Phadke, Adjunct Professorial Lecturer

  • Dr. Vicky Wilkins, Dean, School of Public Affairs

WeLead Campaign Training Program

Now in its 17th year, our non-partisan WeLead program successfully positions young professional women to run for office or lead a political campaign. Our 600 alums work in the halls of Congress, campaign war rooms, K Street offices, state legislatures, city councils and corporate boardrooms across the country. 

Our current class of 24 talented young women are looking to expand their influence in a political or professional leadership role. The class has already worked with top political practitioners, expert speakers, and leadership coaches on how, why and when to run for office, as well as campaign management, communications, and media. Early next year, the class will work in teams to develop and execute a fundraising campaign. 

Through the support of your generous contributions, we are proud to be able to offer this program at no cost to the participants. We are also most grateful for the WeLead alum network that continues to mentor and inspire each new class to close the gender gap in political leadership.


Gender on the Ballot
In collaboration with the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, our nonpartisan project Gender on the Ballot, continued to examine and contextualize gender dynamics in politics. Following the election, our expert contributors have written blog posts, sharing their insights and analysis on topics such as the pandemic’s toll on women, intersectionality,and women’s political leadership.

Poll Release
She Votes: Women, the Workplace, and Pandemic Politics.” Through our Gender on the Ballot initiative, we worked with a polling team at Benenson Strategy Group (BSG) to investigate how the Covid-19 pandemic has upended women’s lives, highlighted inequities in health care, education and the economy, underscoring the importance of having women in political office.

WeLead Reader
Launched in fall 2018, the WeLead Reader is a carefully curated newsletter packed with news and research about women in politics. Delivered to inboxes on Saturday morning, readers can catch up on a week’s worth of important new developments about women running for office, serving as leaders, and engaging in the political arena. We are proud to have over 10,800 subscribers.

"Women on Wednesdays" Events

We continued our regular weekly series, "Women on Wednesdays," which brings together our WPI community together with dynamic and thought-provoking women leaders, authors, scholars, journalists, and activists. 

In total, we hosted 17 discussions featuring 26 guest speakers including:

  • MJ Lee, CNN White House correspondent

  • Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Jenny Kaplan, journalist and CEO of Wonder Media Network

  • Helena Andrews-Dyer, Washington Post reporter

  • Dan Morain, former Los Angeles Times reporter and editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee

  • Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, New York Times best-selling author and journalist

  • Amanda Hunter, Executive Director of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation; Katie Connolly, Senior Director with the Benenson Strategy group, and Errin Haines, The 19th’s Editor-at-Large

  • Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, New York Times best-selling authors

  • Former Congresswoman Donna Shalala (FL-D), Dr. Patrice Harris, the immediate past president of the American Medical Association and Laurie Rubiner, Executive Vice President for Domestic Programs of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

  • Robin Bronk, arts advocate and CEO of The Creative Coalition and Alysia Reiner, award-winning actress and producer

  • Karen Tumulty, Washington Post political columnist

  • Former Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA)

  • Susan Page, USA Today Washington Bureau Chief

  • Stephenie Foster, former State Department advisor

  • Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

  • AU Alumna Dr. Rebecca DeWolf, historian

  • Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Abby Ginzberg, award-winning film-maker

With a record number of women serving in Congress, we eagerly anticipate a busy and energetic year ahead. 

Only with your help can we offer more courses, enroll more students, train more young women to run for office, conduct more research, convene more special events, and ensure that women have a seat at all of the tables where the most important decisions are made.

And please consider supporting our work in 2021 with a $1,000, $500, $250, or $100 tax deductible contribution.

Together, we will change the face of politics!