Several William Smith students recently took a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a seminar sponsored by the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN).
Each year, PLEN hosts female students from colleges and universities across the country, bringing them to Washington, D.C., to experience firsthand how public policy is shaped and implemented at the national level.
Tess O’Leary ’14, Cynthia Uwicyeza ’16, Virginia DeWees ’16, Ali Ware ’16, Mary Kathleen Burke ’16, Haley Richardson ’17 and Annabel Cryan ’16 took part in the Women and Policy in the Global Community seminar, which was held from May 19-23.
The women heard from keynote speaker Cristina Antelo, principal at the Podesta Group, visited the U.S. Department of State, and attended multiple workshops ranging from “Careers in International Health Policy,” “Salary Negotiation,” “Increasing Access to Education for Women and Girls,” “Working in Foreign Policy in Congress” and “Work-Life Balance with PLEN Alumnae.”
The William Smith students also learned what it takes to get a job in Washington by attending various coaching sessions on such topics as networking, and resume writing to help them find jobs and fellowships. Young professional women were in attendance to describe how the job search works in Washington and senior level women offered assistance in opening doors to help the students get their start in the industry.
“My favorite part of the trip was connecting with both professional women and students my age and sharing our passions and interests,” says DeWees. “I have never had the opportunity in my life to meet so many inspirational, professional women in the workforce before, so it was very uplifting and motivating for me to see women in the workforce being successful and happy.”
William Smith students have a history of being represented at the PLEN conference each year. Among those who have attended include Kelly Biggs ’11 and Anna Hertlein ’12, both of whom now have jobs in D.C. Biggs is currently assistant director of development at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She was also elected this month to PLEN’s national board of directors. Hertlein is currently working as secretary to the president at American Postal Workers Union. The Colleges also have another connection to the organization; Associate Dean of William Smith Lisa Kaenzig has served on the PLEN national board of directors since 2011 and is currently the vice chair.