Message from the Executive Director 2023 Year-End Update

By the numbers 2023

As we close out 2023, here’s a snapshot of what the great team at WPI has been working on this year.


We offered 16 core Women, Policy and Political Leadership certificate courses, enrolling over 463 undergraduate and graduate students. Our dedicated faculty include top academics and practitioners:

  • Dr. Karen O’Connor, Jonathan N. Helfat Distinguished Professor of Political Science
  • Kate Black, Adjunct Professorial Lecturer
  • Dr. Diana Carlin, Adjunct Professorial Lecturer
  • Dr. Rebecca DeWolf, Adjunct Professorial Lecturer
  • China Dickerson, 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
  • Susannah Wellford, J.D., Adjunct Professorial Lecturer

WeLead Campaign Training Program

Now in its 19th year, our non-partisan WeLead program successfully positions young professional women to run for office or lead a political campaign. Our 665+ alums work in the halls of Congress, campaign war rooms, K Street offices, state legislatures, city councils and corporate boardrooms across the country. 

The emerging leaders in the class of WeLead2024 hope to expand their influence in a political or professional leadership role. They have already worked with top political practitioners, expert speakers, and leadership coaches on how, why and when to run for office, and will start raising money for the program in December as part of the WeLead Fundraising Challenge.

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’s Voices at the Forefront”: As the 2024 election comes into focus, Gender on the Ballot and the Benenson Strategy Group investigate whether women across the country are more interested in political issues and more motivated to get involved in politics at a local, state, or federal level.

The study reveals that women are engaged in politics, supportive of women elected officials, and tuned into conversations about hot-button issues such as reproductive rights and inflation. However, women are also burnt out, financially strained, and increasingly concerned about extremism in politics.

To learn more about this new research, check out our Gender on the Ballot website where you will find key takeaways, memo, and our press release.

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 nearly 12,000 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 9 discussions featuring 16 guest speakers including:

  • Dr. Anastasia Curwood, author and Professor of History and Director of the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies at the University of Kentucky

  • Dr. Elizabeth Cobbs, author and Melbern Glasscock Chair at Texas A&M University

  • Rebecca Boggs Roberts, author

  • Amanda Hunter, Executive Director of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation; Lindsay Vermeyen, Senior Vice President with Benenson Strategy Group; Mabinty Quarshie, USA Today’s National Political Reporter 

  • Erica Dhar, Director of Global Alliances with AARP’s Office of International Affairs; Julie Miller, Director of Thought Leadership, Financial Resilience at AARP; Julia Manchester, The Hill’s National Political Reporter 

  • Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer at AARP; Susan Reinhard, Senior Vice President and Director of the AARP Public Policy Institute; Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI); Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-VA)

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

  • Katherine Spillar, Executive Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation and Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine; Lucy Gettman, WPI Instructor

  • Dr. Diana Carlin, author and Professor Emerita at Saint Louis University; Anita McBride, author and AU First Ladies Initiative Director

WPI Lunch and Leadership Series

In fall 2022, we launched our “Lunch and Leadership” series to provide students the opportunity to speak in an informal small group setting with women leaders in politics, journalism, and public service.

This year, our featured guest speakers included, China Dickerson, Washington DC’s ANC 2B04 Commissioner and Political Strategist; Rana Abdelhamid, human rights organizer and congressional candidate; Danielle Vogel (WCL/JD ‘07), adjunct professor at the Washington College of Law and the Kogod School of Business at American University; and Shilpa Phadke, WPI instructor and former Deputy Director of the White House's Gender Policy Council, who shared their insights and experiences with the group.

With the 2024 elections coming into focus, 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!