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University of Iowa News Release


May 19, 2011

Dvorsky to give keynote address May 26 for UI institute for women leaders

Women from across the state of Iowa will have the opportunity to develop leadership skills during the University of Iowa Women's Resource and Action Center's (WRAC) fourth annual Iowa National Education for Women's (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute.

This year's institute, with the theme "Women Building Sustainable Communities," will be held Monday, May 23, through Friday, May 27, on the UI campus.

Sue Dvorsky (photo, left), chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, will give the keynote address for the institute. Her speech will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 26, in the UI Old Capitol Museum. A reception will be held prior to the keynote address, starting at 5 p.m. Both the reception and keynote address are free and open to the public.

Thirty female students from the UI and 10 other institutions across the state will participate in the intensive, five-day, residential institute, which is designed to develop women's leadership skills, support their engagement in civic life and create opportunities for them to build relationships with leaders on the local, state and national levels.

"One of our main goals is to support and encourage women to run for public office since women are drastically under-represented in elected office," said Laurie Haag, WRAC program developer. "But we also emphasize that leadership happens in different ways and in many different places, and that the skills our participants develop here will help to sustain them in a variety of roles."

Iowa N.E.W. Leadership takes place annually in the early summer and is open to female students attending any post-secondary institution in Iowa as well as to Iowa residents who attend a college or university outside the state. This year, participants are coming from the UI, Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, AIB College of Business, Northeast Iowa Community College, Drake University, Dordt College, Augustana College, Mount Mercy University, Morningside College and Luther College.

The institute works to "identify and empower women advocates with the goal of increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in all sectors of public leadership."

To achieve this, the institute experience is built around a challenging curriculum, which includes strategic communication exercises, effective fundraising training, formal and informal policy analysis, in-depth examination of conflict and collaboration, and a hands-on advocacy simulation.

During the week, the participants will get to know elected officials, community activists and policy advocates who offer their skills and stories to strengthen the program's content. Each year, three established community leaders or faculty-in-residence also work with the participants.

This year's faculty-in-residence are: Regenia Bailey (photo, top right), city council member, City of Iowa City; Iowa Rep. Renee Schulte (photo, bottom left), House District 37, Iowa General Assembly; and Mira Yusef (photo, bottom right), executive director of the Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa.

Each year, participants are also involved with a volunteer project. This year, the women will help with the Habitat for Humanity's WomenBuild project, from 5:40 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, at the Dottie Ray House, 2705 Whispering Meadows Drive, Iowa City. Participants will either help with framing the building or shingling.

Heather Hulbert, executive director of the National Security Network in Washington D.C., will also join the participants Thursday, May 26, to talk about policy development. The students will research policy related to social networking as their action projects. Each year, participants research and create arguments related to faux policies that are created for the project. This time, they will focus on concerns related to social networking.

The participants -- all female undergraduate and graduate students chosen by a panel of university and community leaders -- are engaged in a broad range of disciplines, including sports studies, biology, marriage and family therapy, business administration – sales and marketing, linguistics, film and video production and mathematics.

Participants were selected based on their leadership, intellect, maturity, ability to confront adversity, capacity to observe and reflect on their own strengths and challenges; the diversity and depth of their personal, academic, and work experiences; and an articulated commitment to political engagement, community advocacy or public policy.

The program is dedicated to maintaining nonpartisan integrity, a commitment to diversity and financial accessibility for all of its participants. The program is offered at no cost to participants.

The program receives support from the following: the UI Division of Student Life; UI departments and colleges; external institutions whose students are selected for the program; and individuals through tax-deductible contributions to WRAC.

For more information or special accommodations to attend the reception and keynote address, call 319-335-1486. For more information on the institute, visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,; Laurie Haag, WRAC, 319-335-1489,

Editor's Note: If you are interested in covering the institute and want a complete schedule of events, contact Laurie Haag at 319-335-1489 or Lois J. Gray at 319-384-0077.