Women's Campaign School at Yale Crosses Geographic, Political Boundaries
NEW HAVEN - Women from a dozen nations and 18 U.S. states gathered last week at the Women's Campaign School at Yale to learn the nuts and bolts of serving in elected office.
Both seasoned politicians and political newcomers came from as far away as Douala, Cameroon, and as nearby as New Haven City Hall for five intensive days at the annual school to hone their skills in such areas as campaign fundraising, assembling a campaign team, the art of political debate, opposition research, effective polling, conducting media interviews, and using social media networks to build a constituent base.
Seven Connecticut residents worked alongside such women as Pranvera Lipovica of Kosovo, senior program officer for the National Democratic Institute who has been directly involved in state-building following the 1999 conflict in Kosovo, and Miriam Lexmann of Slovakia, a permanent representative of the Slovak Parliament to the European Union who plans to run for the European Parliament in the next election.
Of her time at the Women's Campaign School at Yale, Kosovo's Lipovica says, "I cherish any opportunity that enables me to gain new knowledge which I can use to help train more women in Kosovo for office or leadership roles...After my week in New Haven, I will go back home and tell everyone in Kosovo how amazing American women are."
Despite coming from such locales as Beijing, China; Dublin, Ireland; and Amman, Jordan, the international participants worked easily and cooperatively with their American peers from states including North Carolina, Alaska and California in the open, non-partisan atmosphere the Women's Campaign School at Yale seeks to maintain. Among the many notable speakers over the five-day program were: Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-Texas), Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman (D-Connecticut), North Dakota State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt (R-North Dakota), public affairs consultant Liz Abzug, director of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute, and Mary Jane Volk of EMILY'S List.
Noted Connecticut social activist and Women's Campaign School at Yale President Patricia Russo, who serves on the board of directors of the Washington-based National Association of Commissions for Women Foundation, said, "The Campaign School exists to bring forward talented, committed women who are looking to make a difference. Regardless of political affiliation, women are under-represented on all levels of public service, and we are changing that. This is an intensive week, in which some very intense, inspiring women gain the confidence and the know-how to run for office, manage a campaign or in some other key way influence public policy."