PLEN’s mission is to increase the number of women in top leadership positions influencing all aspects of the public policy process.

For four decades, PLEN has been preparing women for public policy leadership. Whether this means opening up their eyes to possible careers, training them to negotiate their first salary, or helping them build the networks and confidence to get ahead, PLEN has been there to help young women forge their own path as leaders. Our year-long celebration will highlight PLEN’s rich history within the women’s movements for equality, showcase prominent alumnae, and look back at the impact we’ve made while continuing to break down barriers for future women leaders.

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The Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) is the only national organization with the sole focus of preparing college women for leadership in the public policy arena. PLEN is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, D.C. Through introducing college women to role models, career paths, and skills trainings before they enter the workforce, PLEN’s mission is to increase the number of women in top leadership positions influencing all aspects of the public policy process.

Each year, PLEN brings hundreds of women students from colleges and universities across the country to Washington, D.C. They experience first-hand how public policy is shaped and implemented at the national level. They are better prepared to become the next generation of public policy decision makers. Students meet with and learn from female leaders making and influencing public policy at the highest levels in Congress, the courts, federal agencies, the private sector, policy research and advocacy organizations, and the media. These women leaders serve as teachers as well as mentors. Students and schools report this experience is invaluable.

Founded by a consortium of women’s colleges in 1978, PLEN’s member schools include some of the nation’s oldest women’s colleges like Douglass Residential College of Rutgers University, Mount Holyoke College, Mount St. Mary’s University, Newcomb College Institute of Tulane University, Notre Dame of Maryland University, Smith College, St. Catherine University, and Wesleyan College.  Currently, 55 percent of our students are women of color or from groups under-represented in the policy arena. Women who have participated in PLEN programs have gone on to be leaders in congressional offices, federal agencies, nonprofits, and advocacy organizations.

From PLEN Alumnae:

“In Washington, it means something to say you were a PLEN student.” – Kristin Haffert (1995), Founder and President, Haffert Global

“If there's one thing that has stuck with me more than anything since the PLEN seminar, it's that women can do absolutely anything.” –  Luiza Kinzerska-Martinez (2017), Undergraduate Student, University of Miami

“PLEN opened the door and I give it all the credit for getting me here.” – Alejandra Ceja (1995), Former Executive Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, U.S. Department of Education

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Since 1978, PLEN has brought thousands of women from across the country to Washington, D.C. to explore careers in policy and connect with women leaders. PLEN seminars enhance class work and curriculum by giving students valuable access to women leaders in Washington, D.C. from the legislative, executive, and judicial branches; agencies; nonprofit organizations; and the private sector.

Women, Law, and Legal Advocacy 

Explore a range of legal professions, from issue-based advocacy to government services

Women in Health Policy

Meet women at the forefront of the nation's most pressing healthcare and public health policies

Women in Public Policy

Hear from women working on a variety of policy issues and gain advocacy skills lobbying on Capitol Hill


Discuss key issues with women leaders working in the increasingly significant STEM policy field


Gain insight on Capitol Hill by learning from women influencing the legislative process


Start your international policy career by connecting with women whose work has a global impact

Recommend a student to attend a PLEN seminar!

Recommend a young woman to learn more about PLEN, and we'll send her information about upcoming events and seminars

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For 38 years, the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) has been changing the lives of thousands of college women across the U.S. and the world. With a very modest budget, PLEN provides high-value career building and mentorship opportunities in Washington, D.C. to develop the next generation of women leaders. PLEN's cost-effective, career-boosting seminars serve a diverse student population of traditional and non-traditional college women. PLEN offers its programming to fit around students' school and work schedules, providing efficient, affordable seminars that help build resumes and change lives.

PLEN's goal is to provide all college women with access to influential decision-makers and effective career training so more women, from every corner of the U.S. and the world, have a clear path to top leadership in government, international relations and business.

Your support means PLEN can continue its mission to develop the next generation of women leaders. See what PLEN students have to say about the PLEN path to leadership.


PLEN is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your donation is 100 percent tax deductible.  Learn more about sponsoring a PLEN seminar.

For information on PLEN sponsorship or for information about the many benefits of becoming a Member Institution, please contact: PLEN staff or 202-872-1585. PLEN's programs are available to all students from both Member and Non-Member colleges and universities.

You can easily support PLEN by making us your charitable organization of choice through AmazonSmile. Just log-on to your account and choose PLEN.

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College women who participate in our programs are uniquely prepared to enter the public leadership pipeline because of their experience with PLEN. As a national leadership organization committed to educating and training the next generation of women leaders, PLEN and our members share the conviction that programs designed specifically for women are critical to the development of women leaders in our society.

Students from PLEN member institutions receive discounts on all PLEN seminars. Membership is open to all colleges and universities and subsets within them such as political science departments, women’s studies programs, women’s centers, and career development centers.

PLEN provides three membership levels: associate member, consortium member, and full member institution.  Membership fees are paid in the summer, which provides students with discounted prices throughout the academic year.

If your institution is interested in becoming a member, please contact us at or at (202) 872-1585.  Learn more.



Alumnae Network

Whether you came to a PLEN seminar last year or 20 years ago, getting involved with the PLEN Alumnae Network is an important step in connecting with other amazing PLEN women and supporting future PLEN leaders.  PLEN alumnae are located in Washington, D.C. and across the country, so there are many ways to get involved!

If you’re interested in getting involved with the PLEN Alumnae Network, email and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on ways you can support and stay involved with PLEN.

The Plenary

The Plenary is an online community blog for PLEN alumnae and supporters to mentor, collaborate, and share essential professional and life lessons they’ve learned during and after their PLEN seminars.

PLEN is all about mentorship, networking, and support, and these themes constantly resonate in all of our lives.  Whether you’re months or years out of your seminar, in DC or not, still in college or in the C-Suite, we want to hear from you!  Share your PLEN story, professional tips, and life lessons online with the entire PLEN network.