Endowment: Harvard Kennedy School – Women and Public Policy Program

The Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School is a leading research center examining gender disparities in politics. It is at this important institution that The Barbara Lee Family Foundation has helped establish the Barbara Lee Women in US Politics Training Program and Lecture Series endowment.

From Harvard Square to the Oval Office: A Political Campaign Practicum (the Oval Office program) is a non-partisan initiative that provides a select group of Harvard graduate students with the training and support they need rise through the ranks at the local, state and national levels. These students form a robust network of women in government who support each other as they advance their careers. Ultimately, our goal is to fill the political pipeline with women, striving towards equal representation in government.

Recent graduate, Varina Winder had this to say about the program:

“In addition to the women experts who teach and mentor us, Oval Office brings together a peer network of impressive, driven women classmates who provide great inspiration and support.

I view politics as a way to affect change on the issues about which I care. I think it’s important that young women: 1) Vote! 2) Know we can engage at any level and 3) Realize that having young voices in politics brings a different perspective and added diversity.”

The Barbara Lee Women in U.S. Politics Training Program and Lecture Series starts each fall and finishes each spring with students meeting regularly throughout the academic year. The training sessions bring the nation’s leading campaign strategists, fundraisers, and organizers to campus and provide students the opportunity for “behind-closed-doors” mentoring sessions.  Past speakers include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 8th), Congresswoman Anne Northup (R-KY 3rd), and former Governor Christie Todd Whitman (R-NJ).

The Oval Office application process is open to all Harvard graduate students, including international students. Students who have completed the program are encouraged to remain active in the Oval Office network and many go on to careers in public service.