In order to increase the amount of women in public policy leadership roles, PLEN provides college women from across the country with the skills, connections, and confidence to launch their career. During our programs, we connect college women with the women who have, and continue to, break down barriers. “I didn’t have anyone who looked like me when I was starting out in my career,” said Vice Chair of the PLEN Board of Directors, Lisa Rice. “So now I want to be that person for the next generation.”
Lisa’s sentiment is what inspired us to hold a reception to thank the women who are integral to our success: volunteer speakers, moderators, resume reviewers, and hosts. Almost every session of our seminars rely on our volunteers who dedicate their time to speak to students. In the 2017-2018 academic year, we had a total of 283 volunteers from 229 different organizations around Washington, DC. Whether they’re venturing from Capitol Hill to a downtown office to speak on a panel, hosting a site visit at their office, or curating a day of speakers at the National Institutes of Health or State Department, our volunteers are essential to the day-to-day success of our programs, and to the overall success of PLEN alumnae.
At the reception, Angelica Mercado, a recent PLEN alumna from Mount Holyoke College, told us about how her search for a supportive professional community led her to PLEN. As an immigrant and a first generation college student, she was actively searching for a career path that she was passionate about and for the tools she needed to succeed. “At PLEN, I found lifelong friends, I learned that public policy is my passion, I met my mentor, and I have an internship in DC,” she told us. She spoke about connecting with a speaker at a PLEN seminar, who introduced her to her current mentor, who played a helpful role in her finding an internship in Washington, DC.
Angelica’s story is like so many others we hear at PLEN. Through connecting with speakers, students like Angelica are able to break into a seemingly impenetrable space for so many: Washington, DC. With the support of speakers, mentors, and alumnae who are ready to reach behind them and help the women coming up the ladder behind them, students like Angelica are able to establish their network and take the first steps towards their future career.
In addition to connecting her with her mentor, Angelica credited PLEN with convincing her why pursuing a policy career is so important: “I learned that my voice matters, and it matters now more than ever.”
We need more women like Angelica in policy leadership roles. Whether they’re chiefs of staff, top lobbyists, nonprofit executive directors, or running for office themselves, effective policy change includes diverse voices. In order to make sure diverse voices are represented, PLEN inspires college women of different economic and ethnic backgrounds, political and religious beliefs, and sexual orientations to get involved in the policy process by connecting them with the women who are breaking down barriers and paving the way for the success of the next generation.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who joined us at the reception and who have been involved in PLEN programs. We couldn't do this without you!
Thank you to our event sponsor!
Hayley Humiston is PLEN's Programs and Communications Manager, where her main focus is to plan the logistics of each seminar, and the organization's marketing and outreach.