40 Weeks of PLEN

In celebration of PLEN’s 40th anniversary, we are looking back and highlighting a PLEN memory in the weeks leading up to our signature event. Each week, we’ll be showcasing the historical moments, diverse students and alumnae, professional networks, and inspirational leaders and mentors that make PLEN unique. While women are still underrepresented in the public policy sphere, PLEN has been and will continue to provide women with the confidence, leadership training, and connections they need to break down barriers and be the next generation of policy leaders.


  • all
  • Diversity
  • History
  • Networking
  • Mentorship
  • Leadership
  • Bipartisanship


Stories from the PLEN community

“When I was in law school at the University of Texas I remember reading about this absolutely fearless University of Texas Law School alumna, Sissy Farenthold, who broke all kinds of glass ceilings. She served as the only woman in the Texas State House of Representatives, she ran for governor, she co-sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment into the Texas State Legislature, and she was the third woman to have her name put into consideration for Vice President of the United States. While I’ve never met Sissy in person, she has served as an inspiration to me for many years, and it was such a treat to see her legacy in action when I spoke to PLEN students last year.” 
Gabriella Morris, Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, UNICEF USA


“I have been a PLEN presenter for almost thirty years. In 1998, when I joined the President’s Interagency Council on Women at the State Department, I started speaking to PLEN students. In every job since then, I have had the pleasure of meeting amazing young women who are changing the world. Today, as the CEO of Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital, I find that many of the issues college women bring up in our talks are also the questions young Girl Scouts want addressed. Congratulations PLEN for being a catalyst for change in women’s lives, and thank you for providing a space where young women can explore the world and feel empowered and fulfilled.”
Lidia Soto-Harmon, CEO, Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital (PLEN Mentor Award Honoree, Speaker, and Supporter)


“As a firm with a strong commitment to gender equity and inclusion, K&L Gates is proud to support PLEN’s Women, Law, and Legal Advocacy program. We are always impressed by the incredible women who participate, and we love hearing about how their PLEN experience enriches their lives.”
Valerie A. Jackson, Senior Advisor to the Management Committee and Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion at K&L Gates (PLEN Mentor Award Honoree; Former PLEN Advisory Council Member; Scholarship Sponsor)


“I attended the Women in Global Policy seminar, and that was my first time in Washington D.C. I was more than excited and happy to meet a real ambassador: an experience that changed my life. It made me see that I could be in that position one day. I learned so, so much and I’m forever grateful that I got a scholarship to attend. I have had more opportunities to go to Washington D.C but I can never forget my time at PLEN where I connected with women from all over the United States of America and international women.”
Oluwatobi Oluwagbemi, Contributing Writer, University Chronicle (PLEN Alumna)


“As a sophomore at Rutgers University in March of 2010, I attended PLEN’s Women & Congress seminar during my weeklong spring break. While my classmates and friends were vacationing, I was falling in love with Washington, DC and all it had to offer. The energy and opportunity in the District drew me in, and I spent each day of my PLEN seminar wondering, ‘How can I get here one day? What will it take for me to work here?’ Fast-forward to 2018, I am proud to call DC my home and have been enjoying my time and career trajectory in this vibrant and one-of-kind city. In 2015, I moved down to DC from New Jersey and started on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Federation Relations team working in membership. In October 2017, I started at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) as their membership manager. I am proud to work for a national organization devoted to advancing local public health.

“PLEN was the start of my DC love story – a story that is still unfolding today. My first memory of riding the escalator up at the Capitol South metro stop and taking in my surroundings alongside my PLEN group was very moving. I remember looking at the young professionals around me, just going about their daily commute, and hoping I too would be there upon graduating. PLEN’s seminar provides a full-picture scope of DC for the young women who attend, touching on all industries and interests within the public sector. I would highly recommend this program to any student as the PLEN experience served as the cornerstone of my professional life.”
Lindsey Santamaria, Membership Manager, National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) (PLEN Alumna)


“During my daughter’s Women in STEM Policy PLEN seminar, she experienced real world networking. These skills, that are often missed during a traditional undergraduate education, armed her with a new toolkit to reach her goals. Learning that it’s a career jungle gym, not a linear career pathway, where one must take skills from each professional opportunity and apply it to the next, further empowered her and challenged her to take opportunities in a field still dominated by men.”
-Dr. Helene Sheena (Parent of a PLEN Alumna)