For the first time ever, The White House Project, a national nonprofit group dedicated to getting women into positions of power, has created a three-day course especially for O readers who show leadership potential and have a vision for what to do with it. The training will be held in June for one weekend—check out the application by visiting www.thewhitehouseproject.org.
What to expect: Women Rule! will "take your passion and turn it into real purpose in the world," says Marie Wilson, founder of The White House Project, which has successfully trained more than 5,000 women in the past 10 years. The course will include lectures by outstanding women in business, philanthropy, and politics; coaching and workshops; and lots of good ol' girl networking. Each student will walk away with a plan for her original idea in hand. Part of what holds women back from leading, Wilson says, "is that mystery of How do you start something? When we show them what's involved and that they can do it, they realize they already have a lot of the skills, or that they can develop them."
Minnesota state senator Patricia Torres Ray can attest to that. After more than 17 years at state and county agencies helping low-income families on issues like education and healthcare, she grew frustrated that elected officials weren't doing more. "I realized I needed to make a difference from a different place," she says. She decided to run for office, but, she says, "I didn't know how to frame my message, how to respond to questions, how to speak about myself. I had tremendous doubts that people would receive me well." With the help of The White House Project training, she won handily in 2006 and plans to run for reelection in 2009. "It's not until we take that initial step that we realize we have what it takes," Ray says. "So my advice is, even when you think you're not going to make it, try. You may be surprised at what you're able to accomplish."
To check out the application, visit www.thewhitehouseproject.org/womenrule by April 11, 2008. We're banking on you to make a difference (we'll follow up in future issues of O). The truth is, women still represent the minority in leadership roles—from politics (16 percent of Congress) to business (3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs). Says Marie Wilson, "I hope this leadership training is the best virus we ever contaminate people with."