According to a press release about this year’s event, several undergraduates from across Montana met at the University of Montana in Missoula with local, state and national leaders to aid in the development of leadership skills. They engaged in open-minded discussions, workshops and hands-on projects. The goal was to bring new ideas to different communities and improve community leadership and engagement.
“We are fortunate to house a program to advance the role of women across our state,” said Dr. Sara Rinfret, academic director of the Montana NEW Institute. “It allows our students to be part of a nationally recognized cohort of women to advance their leadership skills.”
The program parallels the University of Montana’s SEA (Safe, Empowered, Accelerated) Change initiative, a campaign dedicated to providing a safe and empowering campus for all women and a community that accelerates influential lives.
“I spoke with influential women in local and state government positions. I learned new skills about networking and how to connect with people to create changes for the better. We heard the quote “you can’t be what you can’t see” over the course of the program, and that as women, we need to step up into leadership positions. We need to be more worried about being brave than being perfect. This conference showed me that women can do anything, and we need to start doing a better job of supporting other women and advocating for ourselves,” stated George after being asked what she took away from the program.
Leadership skill training like the Montana NEW Leadership Program may help women bridge the gap between political interest and political leadership by influencing women to be active and feel empowered to participate in politics.
“There were a lot of great girls and inspiring guest speakers that I got to meet. Sara Rinfret talked about how your path isn’t going to be completely straight and that you can be all over the place and still end up where you need to be, or even in a better place than you planned. That was a big thing for me,” said Hanser when asked about what she learned at the program.
The Montana NEW Leadership Institute is hosted by UM’s Mansfield Center. The Mansfield Center promotes ethics in public affairs and leadership, as well as global understanding in the spirit of Sen. Mike Mansfield (1903-2001) and his wife and life partner, Maureen Hayes Mansfield.
For more information, please visit the program’s website.