Women’s Leadership in Public Policy Scholarship Blog | January 2015

Four students received scholarships to attend the 2015 Women’s Leadership in Public Policy Seminar in Washington D.C.

Sponsorship by PLEN Board of Directors Members Naomi Senkeeto and Jona Van Deun,  and  PLEN Supporters Barbara Kline, Michael E. Dunn, Sally McDaniel, Jane O’ Grady, Sandra Swirski, Elizabeth Canales, Gary Kaenzig, Helen Kaenzig, and Mary Frances Pearson made it possible for four students to attend the seminar. 

Laura Allard, PLEN Scholarship Recipient – Sponsored by Barbara Kline and Michael E. Dunn
Junior, Wells College

WPP15_Photo Laura Allard_FINAL


I am honored to receive a scholarship from PLEN, which was made possible through the generous support of my co-sponsors Barbara Kline and Michael E. Dunn. I learned about PLEN during my freshman year, but didn’t know if the Women’s Leadership in Public Policy Seminar would be right for me, as I had never considered a career in public policy. However, Susan Tabrizi, the Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at Wells College, told me the worst thing that could happen during the seminar would be that I would not want to pursue a career in public policy. At the end of the seminar, the best thing happened instead: I discovered that I want to pursue a career in public policy.

PLEN has taught me that there is no right or wrong way to have a career. The accomplished women who met with us on various panels and at networking events have different levels of education and various jobs in the private and public sectors, yet each speaker has a successful public policy career. I always thought that I would go to law school to become a Civil Rights Litigator and an Advocate, but I now realized that I am more interested in advocacy after attending the seminar. I am excited to pursue my options in the world of public policy, and I am considering obtaining my Masters in Public Policy while working for a think-tank or nonprofit organization after graduation, rather than obtaining my Juris Doctor degree. If you are passionate about making a difference in the world, but don’t know which policy issue you want to focus on or your career options, the Women’s Leadership in Public Policy Seminar can help you see all the opportunities available to you.

Alicia Frausto, PLEN Scholarship Recipient – Sponsored by Jane O’Grady, Sandra Swirski, and Jona Van Deun
Sophomore, Claremont McKenna College 

WPP15_Alicia Frausto Blog Photo_FINALI first saw a flyer for the PLEN Women’s Leadership in Public Policy Seminar on my college website, but never thought that I would be able to go. I come from a working class family, and the cost of flying across the country for the seminar was definitely not in our budget. I am so grateful for the support I received from PLEN, Jane O’Grady, Sandra Swirski, and Jona Van Deun. This opportunity would not have been possible without them. Attending the seminar was definitely a life-changing experience because it taught me the importance of networking and building relationships throughout my career. I felt empowered by the various workshops including salary negotiation and resume building. The friendships I made at PLEN have continued to grow although we are no longer in DC together. I made friends from India, China, Portugal, and five different states; I met amazing women from non-profit, government, and corporate organizations. The seminar exceeded my expectations and made me feel confident and prepared to pursue a career in public policy. The seminar confirmed my thoughts and motivated me to continue pursing my goals. As a Latina woman, I am motivated to increase the representation of women of color in Washington, D.C. The greatest advice I learned in the seminar was to never doubt my own potential and to persevere even when the odds are against me. I learned that my weaknesses are not weaknesses, but rather they are areas for improvement and growth. I learned that even if I do not fulfill every job requirement on an application, I apply anyway. I learned that as women we have to help each other, not tear one another down, and the PLEN network definitely provides me that support. I am proud to be a PLEN alumna, and I know that every woman who goes through this program will do great things one day. The next time you see a flyer for something that seems impossible, don’t shy away. One opportunity leads to another, and you never know what you can achieve unless you try.


Kate Connolly, PLEN Scholarship Recipient – Sponsored by Sally McDaniel and Naomi Senkeeto
Senior, University of Oregon 

WPP15_Kate Connoly Blog Photo_FINALWhen I first read about PLEN’s Women’s Leadership in Public Policy through my university, I was determined to attend. Luckily, with the generous aid of Sally McDaniel, Naomi Senkeeto, and the University of Oregon’s International Studies Department, I was able to make this dream a reality.

Attending this seminar opened up a new world for me. I have always had an interest in education and issues of social justice. The realm of public policy is one mode to make the change I wish to see in the world. However, never having had any substantial experience in politics or policy-making, I lacked the experience to determine if this was the path for me or how I could get started in the world of public policy.

After my exposure to the wealth of knowledge and experience on the various panels, I can truly say that I could see myself working in the policy world. The seminar was an incredibly demystifying experience, showing that there are countless ways to break into the policy world and even more directions to take your career once you do. PLEN’s opportunities for networking, with both the policy gurus in D.C., as well as my fellow students, has given me a headstart in building professional connections with inspiring women whom I can go to for advice about careers and life.

Now back in Oregon, I feel determined and reinvigorated to begin carving my own path and to take every opportunity that comes my way. I am so grateful for the PLEN staff, panelists, and policy organizations who contributed to this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Katrina Kinsolving, PLEN Scholarship Recipient – Sponsored by Elizabeth Canales; Mary Frances Pearson; and Helen and Gary Kaenzig
Graduate Student, George Mason University  

WPP_Katrina Kinsolving_FINALIt was truly an honor to have been selected as a scholarship recipient for the PLEN Seminar on Women’s Leadership in Public Policy. As a DMV local, I have a good deal of familiarity with Washington, D.C. However, in terms of professional experience, the glass ceiling is very much a reality. This seminar was wonderful in pushing through that barrier for me. I was able to connect with and learn about so many policy organizations that I never would’ve been able to engage with on my own, along with improving on more professional skills like negotiating salary and networking.

However, what I thought was most impressive was the diversity of the speakers. All of these successful women came from various cultural and economical backgrounds  and in their own way, each persevered through struggles to get where they are now. They were willing to share those stories with us; the students with the current struggles, and that made all the difference in the quality of their encouragement and advice. They really made this an invaluable experience for me and I am very grateful to now be a PLEN alumna. I can’t wait to see how I’ll be able to give back to this organization in time and my one piece of advice if you’re reading this is to take advantage of this opportunity!