Montana Women Convene for Second Annual Leadership Institute

June 05, 2018

MISSOULA – Sixteen undergraduate women from across the state are participating in the second annual Montana NEW Leadership Institute until Thursday, June 7, at the University of Montana.

As part of the nonresidential program, the participants meet local, state and national leaders and develop leadership skills through discussions, workshops and hands-on projects. Participants share what they have learned in their respective communities and become more engaged in community leadership.

“Walking into the first day of the Montana NEW Leadership program was akin to stepping into the most thought-provoking, introspective and inspirational classroom the Montana University System has to offer,” said Dani Daly, a student at Montana State University and participant in the inaugural Montana NEW Leadership program. “A week of discussion and debate between individuals from all backgrounds and with varying interests reaffirmed my confidence in the goodness of my peers and in the abilities that I bring to the table.”

This year’s participants include:

  • UM in Missoula: freshmen Maggie Bornstein and Tara Walker-Lyons; juniors Leigha Acebedo, Hannah McDaniel, Sophie Moon and Sierra Pannell
  • MSU in Bozeman: freshman Madison Tandberg; sophomore Abagail Klonsinki; junior Wozek Chandler
  • Montana Tech in Butte: freshman McKenna Savage; sophomore Bonnie Joseph
  • UM-Western in Dillon: freshman Adrianna Pittman; sophomore Kacin Bolinger-Perret
  • MSU-Northern in Havre: freshman Ashly Graham; junior Taylor Etzwiler
  • Carroll College in Helena: junior Gabrielle Moreau

Leaders of the program include Sara Rinfret, academic director in UM’s Master of Public Administration program; Deena Mansour, administrative director of the Mansfield Center at UM; and Kimberly Dudik, political director representative of Montana House District 94.

The Montana NEW Leadership Initiative is part of the national bipartisan NEW Leadership program developed by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. CAWP is recognized as the national leading source of scholarly research and current data about American women’s political participation, and it works to enhance women’s influence and leadership in public life.

Despite wide underrepresentation in political offices – only 28 percent of Montana legislators and 20 percent of the members of the U.S. Congress are female – women cast more votes than men, and a higher percentage of eligible women vote in presidential elections than eligible men, according to CAWP. Leadership skill training like the Montana NEW Leadership Program may help women bridge the gap between political interest and political leadership.

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.

“With its focus on ethics and leadership, this program represents the core interests and hallmarks of Sen. Mansfield’s career,” Mansour said.

For more information on the program, visit


Note to media: Interview and photo opportunities are available.

Contact: Sara Rinfret, academic director, Montana NEW Leadership Institute, 406-243-4702,