Undergraduate Women Convene for Montana Leadership Institute

June 21, 2019

MISSOULA – Undergraduate women from across the state will participate in the third annual Montana NEW Leadership Institute June 23-27 at the University of Montana. The weeklong residential program seeks to educate, empower and encourage college women to become politically active and to take on leadership roles. 

Students will meet local, statewide and national leaders and develop leadership skills through discussions, workshops and hands-on projects. Participants are encouraged to develop their leadership skills and share what they have learned in their respective communities. The program is part of the national bipartisan NEW Leadership program, developed by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

The Montana NEW Leadership Institute is a weeklong residential program for undergraduate women. “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.”

Women are widely underrepresented in state and national political offices. Only 30% of Montana’s state legislators are women, and none of the state’s national congressional delegation are women. Nationally, women hold only 28.8% of state legislative seats and 23.7% of congressional seats.

Despite these numbers, women demonstrate great interest in politics, Rinfret said. Leadership skill training like the Montana NEW Leadership Program may help women bridge the gap between political interest and political leadership.

 The program parallels UM’s SEA Change initiative, a dedicated campaign to provide a safe and empowering campus for all women and a community that accelerates lives of impact. The SEA Change initiative works to promote programs that remove societal barriers that prevent women from leading empowered lives and embraces opportunities that promote equality for women.

Applicants selected for the program and their home institution are listed below.

  • Blackfeet Community College participants include Katarina Walter, freshman.
  • Carroll College participants include Elizabeth Hodgson, junior; Katherine Anderson, junior; Eleanor Ferrone, freshman; Samantha Turdeau, junior; and Clare Fogarty, junior.
  • Montana State University participants include Allison Reinhardt, sophomore, and Amelia Maria McGrath, junior.
  • MSU-Havre participants include Jaclyn Bates, junior, and Erika Anderson, sophomore.
  • Rocky Mountain College participants include Kenya Straley, junior.
  • UM participants include Sophia French, junior; Chloe Loeffelholz, sophomore; and Clare Woody, freshman.
  • University of Providence in Great Falls participants include Kyla Harntell, junior.
  • UM Western participants include Courtney George, junior, and Chloe Hanser, sophomore.
  • Western Washington University participants include Natalie Wagler, freshman.

The program is led by Rinfret of the UM Department of Public Administration and Policy; Deena Mansour, administrative director of UM’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center; and Political Director Representative Kimberly Dudik of Montana House District 94.

The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center was created to enhance mutual understanding between the United States and Asia and to foster ethical public policy and leadership.

More information is available online at http://www.umt.edu/mansfield/academics/newleadership/default.php

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Contact: Sara Rinfret, Montana NEW Leadership academic director, 406-243-4702, sara.rinfret@umontana.edu.