equipoise news volume 17
|equipoise news volume 17||spring 2011|
|The other day, as I watched the landscape here in Jackson Hole shift from snow squalls to rain to brilliant sunshine, I thought about the earth’s authentic voice, and how human presence has often manipulated or muted that original voice. I thought about the voices of women and girls here in Wyoming. What do OUR authentic voices sound like? How often do we use them? How often can we use them? And what holds us back when we want to use them?
In this issue of our newsletter, we celebrate some fine authentic voices: engaged legislators, emerging leaders and mentors/mentees with gifts to share. We are excited to introduce a new voice and vision to The Equipoise Fund family, “Raising Girls,” our newest program, under the grace and guidance of Carrie Kirkpatrick.
As the landscape shifts-in nature, socially and politically-let us continue to find and use our authentic voices, and encourage others to do the same.
Leap into Leadership:
Wyoming Women Asked to Run
The bipartisan Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus, a project of the Equipoise Fund, and its partners assembled nearly 225 men and women in Cheyenne in February for “Leap into Leadership,” the annual gathering that features workshops and discussions aimed at increasing the number of women in leadership positions in the Equality State.
“Be rebellious enough to run,” said Rep. Mary Throne of Cheyenne, drawing on a letter written by Abigail Adams in 1776 to her husband John. Representatives Throne, Harvey and Berger shared stories of their own roads to the Legislature, ranging from self-considered strategies to invitations from community members. Representative Berger, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, encouraged attendees to get involved and become the leaders they can be, in every level of their lives. State Auditor Cynthia Cloud, herself a graduate of Leap into Leadership, noted that, “We need to work harder to identify women interested in making a difference in their communities and their state.”
A speakers’ panel included lobbyist Larry Wolfe, attorney with Holland and Hart, who asserted that the Wyoming Legislature might be a more diverse and representative institution if legislators were paid a year-round salary and offered state health insurance. Participants then discussed drafting a bill to support salaried pay for legislators as a way to make the legislature more representative of Wyoming citizens.
Motivated by the engagement and enthusiasm of attendees at the February event, the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus is partnering with the Wyoming Women’s Foundation to offer local Leap into Leadership trainings for women, in Evanston on May 11th and in Gillette on May 12th. Please contact info [at] wyowlc [dot] org (Melissa) for more information on the Evanston event, or sarah [at] wywf [dot] org (Sarah Mikesell-Growney) for the Gillette Event. The Equipoise Fund is proud to be a sponsor of these trainings that provide more access to women’s leadership training in the state.
We’d like once again to call attention to the Wyoming Women to Watch website, a storehouse of movers and shakers from across the state and an initiative of the Wyoming Women’s Foundation. It’s a fantastic tool for connecting women experts in Wyoming with their communities, with a searchable database to help you access women as speakers, mentors, board members, candidates, or resources for expert opinions. If you know a fabulous Wyoming woman who should be included, please visit www.wyowomentowatch.org to nominate her now.
The 2012 Project
The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) awarded Wyoming Representatives Sue Wallis and Lisa Shepperson their Political Courage Award in February for sharing their personal stories and lending a human face to the most personal of public policy issues. Representative Shepperson is a rancher and a Republican living in Natrona County. Representative Wallis, also a Republican, also a rancher, lives in Campbell County. Shepperson and Wallis were awarded the “Political Courage” award for sharing personal stories and testimony during hearings on two abortion bills recently introduced in the Wyoming House.
More on this story can be accessed here.
The CAWP Awards included:
Best Display of Civility went to the women of the U.S. Senate, led by Senator Barbara Mikulski, who’s been convening bi-partisan dinners and dispensing sisterly advice for more than two decades.
The Political Courage Award: Wyoming state legislators Lisa Shepperson and Sue Wallis, and Congresswomen Jackie Speier and Gwen Moore, for sharing their personal stories and lending a human face to public policy issues.
Slow Poke Award: It’s a tie. Hollywood AND Congress. Only 16 percent of executives in the entertainment industry are female, the same as the percentage of women serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Representatives Shepperson and Wallis were so compelling that The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC celebrated them in special coverage of Wyoming politics. You can watch video from that program here, the pertinent part of the discussion starting at about 2:15 into the broadcast and in depth coverage of our Wyoming representatives at 4:30. You can also access the interview with the legislators here.
For more information on CAWP and their efforts on behalf of women’s issues, click here.
Dubois launches Womentoring Program!
In February 2011, Womentum launched a pilot Womentoring program in Dubious, Wyoming, thanks to the invaluable financial support of The Equipoise Fund and Wyoming Women’s Foundation. Since its inception in the Jackson Hole area, Womentum has aimed to share the Womentoring program with other communities around Wyoming, and this first pilot project brings together a diverse group of women with the potential not only to utilize Womentum training, but to grow it exponentially.
The Dubois Womentors include: a school counselor with degrees in art and psychology; a woman who started her own drop-out prevention program; a dancer who makes her living as a speech-language pathologist; the retired director of a college development office who previously took jobs for only one year at a time so that they and she never became stale; an outdoor/experiential educator who raised sheep for 15 years and now runs an international bed-and-breakfast inn; a young West-seeker and freelance writer who owned a restaurant and now leads horse tours; an airline pilot who thrives on change and is currently the mother of three under three years; and a woman who is passionate about politics, music, writing and horses.
This project attracted the notice of the Casper Star Tribune in January with a news article, an editorial and a follow-up letter to the editor. If you’d like to catch up on this conversation, you can access the Casper Star Tribune archives via these links:
Editorial: “Mentoring program is good for Wyo women“
Letter to the Editor: “Women’s issues are everyone’s issues“
The Equipoise Fund is thrilled to officially launch its newest program, Raising Girls. Based on the experiences of Jackson Hole-based mom Carrie Kirkpatrick, the program provides a forum in which parents, caregivers and educators can share research-based best practices for rearing healthy, confident and thriving girls.
Raising Girls and The Equipoise Fund coalesced when Carrie and Equipoise President Mickey Babcock recognized not only the complementary nature of their two endeavors, but also the synergy and capacity-building of a collaboration. “I am so grateful to Mickey and The Equipoise Fund for allowing me to turn my interest and passion into a public service that can reach a broader audience. I hope those who impact girls’ lives will be inspired by our resources and discussion, enabling them to better help girls navigate modern challenges and opportunities.”
Raising Girls hosted a lively community book discussion in February at The Wort Hotel in Jackson to examine The Curse of the Good Girl by bestselling author Rachel Simmons, founder of Girls Leadership Institute.
The next event, likely a speaker panel, is scheduled for Monday, May 9 at Teton County Library in Jackson, from 6-8 p.m. Look for more details on the website, www.raisinggirlswyo.org, which launches on April 22nd.
The White House Project
The White House Project is embarking on a project to leverage technology and social media to help spread TWHP’s message of personal empowerment across the globe. New White House Project leader Tiffany Dufu, who recently took over the reins from longtime leader Marie Wilson, pointed out in an interview on the TWHP website that, “The fact that the corporate table is not as diverse as the people within the organization, and in the country, is negatively inhibiting the ability to innovate.”
Point taken. In fact, Newsweek Magazine, in the March, 2011 issue on women’s issues, presented this finding from the World Economic Forum:
That data should spur some of our readers to sign up for The White House Project’s 2011 schedule of Go Lead trainings. The Rocky Mountain focus is once again in Denver, Colorado, scheduled on April 20 (focus on privilege and racism; institutionalized racism), May 18 (communications training) and June 15 (topics to be determined). You can keep current with Go Lead trainings and with TWHP’s news.
Our program with the University of Wyoming continues to produce great results. Sandra King-Savic, who interned for the Wyoming Women’s Foundation last year, has graduated and is now applying for graduate school in political science. And Tara Busch, who interned with the foundation a couple of summers ago, is finishing her Master of Arts thesis while in Kazakhstan, working with women’s empowerment organizations.
Finally, Alanna Reid interned with Wyoming Women’s Foundation last fall. As a result, she is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis on sculpture and an eye toward activism. She is especially interested in exploring the effects of sexual assault, rape and women’s health through her art.
Authentic Voices of Wyoming: Bravo!
Representative Sue Wallis is serving her third term for Wyoming, having been elected to the legislature in 2006. She’s a rancher and writer living in northern Campbell County, who founded and serves as executive director for the Cowboy State Free Press. She is also a leader in the nationwide organization, United Horseman, and spends a number of hours reviewing food policies. Asked about her outlook on government service, she said, “I have some basic, fundamental principles on which I base any action or decision, and they’re grounded in individual rights and liberties. I am committed to protecting those rights and liberties, especially when we witness attempts to mandate to women how they should live their lives. Every person has the right to choose their own food, their own medical treatments and their own manner of addressing their personal decisions.”
Representative Lisa Shepperson, in her third term as a legislator, just became a new mother with her husband Gus Garnhart. A big Atta Girl salute to new baby girl LaVoye Evalyn Garnhart! Talking about her perspective on state politics, Lisa had this to say: “Women, especially young women, are not well represented in our political world. There are only 14 women legislators in our great state, less than 16% of our legislature. Yet, throughout the state, women make up about 50% of the population. I focus on encouraging young women to get involved at every level, on convincing them that they can make a difference within the political sphere here in Wyoming, because they bring a totally different-and totally necessary-perspective to the political scene. My message is simple: Get involved!”
Newly elected Senator Leland Christensen, installed in January, 2011 for District 17, had this to say about his experiences in the legislature so far: “Each person has a unique place in the state. We have a population that is diverse, but each person contributes to the whole, varied tapestry of our community. There are a lot of people with great ideas, and with balance, we can make those ideas work.”