Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact Remarks 2018
First, I have to do a shoutout to another founder sister who had a vision for social impact and just threw the backpack over the wall with courage and conviction. Here we are 10 years in Kristen van Ginhoven! Lets give her a round of applause. This is hard work! Thank you as well to Monica (COO of Womens Fund of Western Massachusetts) for asking me to speak on behalf of LIPPI.
I was invited to the inaugural cohort of LIPPI in 2011 as a brand new founder who had an idea of how to help community members and organizations move towards integration and mutual respect. Within two years I was tackling systemic barriers of race while working with public safety officials and community leaders. I needed affirmation, information, and support. And WFWM was offering this new leadership program fashioned after the White House Project. LIPPI, who earned its name at the end of our first cohort from Carla Oleska the Executive Director of WFWM at the time. She was inspired by the growth and expression of her LIPPI participants and was reminded of her grandmother saying, "Carla, now don't get lippy!" And she said, "Women! Get LIPPI!" So we weren't sure what we thought of it at the time, but what we did know for certain is that we were beginning to form a network of driven LIPPISTAS with a shared identity and experience.
LIPPI was formed to give women of all career and educational backgrounds access to women impacting social change through service, policy work, and serving in office. They provided monthly workshop opportunities for leaders to share their journey and skills and wanted to inspire us to take action. This was a nourishing and challenging space. We had homework assignments to heighten our awareness and sense of agency while working for social change.
LIPPI has always been interested in equitable access. I have sent our Women to Women participants of immigrant backgrounds and various ethnic backgrounds and underrepresented women to LIPPI, and many have received scholarships. I have had the opportunity to train four cohorts in cultural competency and equity and without LIPPI, BRIDGE simply would not be what it is today. I am grateful for the opportunity!
Every month, Carla Oleska reminded us: when you help a woman, you help a family, a neighborhood, and a community. Not only has LIPPI served me in my leadership role at BRIDGE, but soon after LIPPI, I threw in my hat and applied to serve as a Commissioner. In 2012 I began my role as an appointed official to our regional Commission on the Status of Women and since then, I have served as Chair for 3 years and advocated for more regional commissions. I lead webinars for the National Association of the Commissions for Women (NACW), and I've had the pleasure of being a conduit for women's voices from our County to the State House in partnership with our regional commission. LIPPI is needed today more than ever. I am so proud to be a part of this incredible community of women leaders.