The NEW Leadership™ model developed by CAWP has been tested and refined at the national, regional and state levels and has been adapted to various regions and political cultures. The National Network partners have demonstrated that NEW Leadership is effective in meeting its goals of teaching college women the importance of civic engagement and helping them develop the skills and confidence to become politically active.

"NEW Leadership™ is a tremendous program, with a
proven track record of building women leaders."

Governor Barbara Roberts, Chair
NEW Leadership™ Oregon Advisory Board

NEWL National Network

About NEW Leadership™


NEW Leadership™ was created by CAWP to address the historic and contemporary under-representation of women in American politics.  Women continue to be under-represented in all aspects of American politics. In 2015 just 19%of the seats in the U.S. Congress are held by women, 20 in the Senate and 84 in the House of Representatives. Women make up only 24% of the state legislators in the United States, and only six of the 50 states have women governors. Although women constitute over 50% of the population and have outvoted men in every national election since 1980, women have made only modest gains in representation in our state and national decision making bodies over the past two decades.

Research shows that women bring different priorities and experiences to public life. Having more women in politics brings fresh perspectives that are often under-represented in political decision making. Many college women are engaged in public service and are active in community and volunteer organizations, but studies have shown that young women are significantly less likely than young men to be interested in politics or to view political involvement as a priority.

CAWP programs help women develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to get involved in politics and public life. NEW Leadership™ is designed to reach college women in particular. The program teaches them to recognize the value of civic engagement and the importance of having women in positions of political leadership.


The NEW Leadership™ program began in 1991 with four-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. This generous grant allowed CAWP to develop and test the NEW Leadership™ model. The original NEW Leadership™ summer institute was national in scope and included students and speakers from across the country.

In 1994, CAWP took the lessons learned from the national program and established NEW Leadership™ New Jersey, which has been held annually at the Eagleton Institute since then.

NEW Leadership™ New Jersey focuses on state and local politics and grassroots political activity. State focused programs offer significant advantages. Participants learn about state and regional politics and meet women leaders from their own communities who serve as role models and mentors. Many program alumnae have continued both personal and professional relationships developed during NEW Leadership™ and have received professional advice, internships, and even job offers as a result of connections made at NEW Leadership™

In 1997 and 1998 CAWP began developing partnerships to create regional NEW Leadership™ ™ programs. CAWP partnered with the Stennis Center for Public Service at Mississippi State to develop NEW Leadership™ South, and with the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life at the University of Missouri, St. Louis to develop NEW Leadership™ Midwest.

The NEW Leadership™ National Networkbegan in 1999 with a 3 year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. CAWP’s experience with the state and regional programs made it clear that regional partnerships were the best way to expand NEW Leadership™ ™ and make the program available to college women across the country.  

The NEW Leadership™ Curriculum        

The NEW Leadership™ ™ intensive six-day residential program exposes students to women leaders from a variety of roles in the public arena, discussions about women and leadership, and hands-on skills-building exercises. NEW Leadership™ ™ uses a variety of pedagogical techniques, including small and large group discussions, panel sessions, interactive workshops and student-driven group projects.

NEW Leadership™ is based on a six point curriculum: 
1. Teach students about women's historical and contemporary participation in politics and policymaking.

NEW Leadership™ encourages students to examine the connection between community service and politics and the traditional definitions of politics and leadership that reinforce barriers to women’s inclusion. Historical biases in academics, government and the mainstream media continue to present a view of politics as a “man’s world.” As a result, college women today generally learn very little about women's role in politics and policymaking. Through games and activities, students learn about the important historical contributions women have made in American politics, the small number of women in high level government today, and the under-representation of women in positions of wealth and power throughout United States today.

2. Connect students with women leaders who make a difference in the public sphere.

Strong role models can serve as powerful sources of inspiration. At NEW Leadership™ , in addition to political women who come to serve as  speakers or panelists, a few women leaders stay for the entire six-day program and serve as Faculty in Residence (FIR).

The FIRs play a critical role during the program by providing students with examples of the day-to-day world of politics and activism. Students get to know the FIRs as women with public and private lives, compelling stories, and the desire to make a difference in their community.

Over the years, many NEW Leadership™ speakers and faculty have expressed an increased commitment and interest in mentoring young women after being exposed to the enthusiasm of the NEW Leadership™ participants.

3. Help students explore the demands of leadership in a diverse society.

We believe that it is essential for leaders in the 21st century, to address issues and concerns of diversity. At NEW Leadership™, students  interact with people who have different ideas, backgrounds, and life experiences from themselves. Students, speakers and program staff represent a diverse population in terms of background, race, ethnicity, party affiliation and socio-economic status.  NEW Leadership™ creates a safe space where students have the opportunity to discuss the difficulties associated with leadership in a diverse society. We stress that one can challenge an idea while still respecting the individual and can disagree without being disagreeable.

4. Cultivate students’ leadership skills.

NEW Leadership™ students participate in interactive workshops to develop leadership skills such as public speaking, conflict resolution, networking and advocacy training. Students have opportunities to practice these skills throughout the program. For example; the networking workshop is followed by a reception where students will practice “working the room.”

5. Enable students to practice leadership through action.

Experiential learning is key to the program’s success. During the summer institute, students discuss their own ideas about leadership and politics and participate in exercises that give them hands-on experience.  Political action projects have students work in small groups to research an issue and make presentations aimed at influencing public policy, or they will debate a bill in a mock legislative session.

6. Engage students in activities that will enhance their career development and expand their career opportunities.

NEW Leadership™ programs include sessions that help students as they consider career options and prepare for the transition from school to work, such as a workshop on finding and internships or one on interviewing. Panelists introduce  career options in government, non-profit, or advocacy work. 

Implementing the Curriculum

Each aspect of the NEW Leadership™ summer institute is designed to serve the overall goal of educating and inspiring women to become political leaders and to reinforce a particular aspect of the NEW Leadership™ curriculum. In working with our Development Network partners over the years, we have found that there are many ways to successfully implement this curriculum. No two National Network partner programs are identical, yet all incorporate the NEW Leadership™ curriculum and energize their participants to get involved in the political process.



“There has never been a more important time for women to step up and lead…Preparing women for leadership positions is an important and essential task, and the NEW Leadership ™ Network is making that happen."
Hannah Pingree, Former Speaker, Maine House of Representatives

Bring NEW Leadership™ to Your State

Each year CAWP selects up to three institutions to join the NEW Leadership™ National Network. Selected schools agree to send two representatives to observe and participate in NEW Leadership™ New Jersey and the partner training institute.

Any unit within a non-profit institution of higher education is eligible to become a partner, including, but not limited to, academic departments, student life offices, research organizations, and public service/leadership centers. In selecting partners, preference will be given to institutions in regions not currently represented in the Network. Institutions with a history of serving women of color are particularly encouraged to apply.

CAWP seeks National Network partners who demonstrate:

  • Experience developing programs that meet the distinctive needs of women students.
  • A commitment to multi-partisan women’s political education programming.
  • A commitment to recruiting participants and speakers who are diverse in race, ethnicity, political ideology, and sexual orientation.
  • The potential for working with other educational institutions in the state or region.
  • Access to women leaders, including elected officials, political activists, community leaders and women and politics scholars.
  • Support from the home institution for establishing and continuing the NEW Leadership™ program and a commitment to assign a key staff member to oversee the project.
  • A proven track record of raising funds to support similar projects and the support of the home institution to undertake such fundraising.

Call for proposalsavailable here

For more information contact:
Christabel Cruz
NEW Leadership Program Director

National Network Partner Programs

NEW Leadership™ New Jersey
Center for American Women and Politics
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Christabel Cruz

NEW Leadership™ Idaho
College of Social Sciences and Public Service
Boise State University
Cathe Scott, program manager

NEW Leadership™ Illinois
Institute of Government and Public Affairs,
  University of Illinois
and the Conference of Women Legislators
Kathy Harrington Sullivan

Iowa N.E.W. Leadership  
Women's Resource & Action Center
University of Iowa
Linda Stewart Kroon

NEW Leadership™ Maine
Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center
University of Maine
Susan D'Angelo

Mississippi N.E.W. Leadership
Mississippi University for Women
and Stennis Center for Public Service
Melinda Lowe

21st Century LeadershipAcademy
Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life
University of Missouri - St. Louis
Lynn Voss

Tri-College NEW Leadership™  
Minnesota State University, Moorhead
North Dakota State University at Fargo and Concordia College
Deborah  White

NEW Leadership™ Montana
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center
University of Montana
Sara Rinfret

NEW Leadership™ Nevada
Women's Research Institute
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Jean Marie Munson


NEW Leadership™ New York    
Center for Women in Government & Civil Society
University at Albany
Dina Refki

NEW Leadership™ New England  
The New Hampshire Institute of Politics
Saint Anselm College
Dr. Elizabeth P. Ossoff

NEW Leadership™ Ohio
John Glenn School of Public Affairs
The Ohio State University
Shadia Jallaq

N.E.W Leadership Oklahoma
Carl Albert Center's Women's Leadership Program
University of Oklahoma
Lauren Schueler, M.Ed.

NEW Leadership™ Oregon
Center for Women’s Leadership
Hatfield School of Government
Portland State University
Traci Rossi

NEW Leadership™ Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics
Chatham University
Dana Brown

NEW Leadership™ South Carolina
Winthrop University and College of Charleston
Katarina Moyon

NEW Leadership™ Texas
Center for Women's and Gender Studies
University of Texas at Austin
Nancy Ewert 

Alene Moris National Education for Women’s Leadership
The Women’s Center
University of Washington
Heather Hudson      

NEW Leadership™ Eastern Washington
Washington State University-Spokane
Veronica Puente
Gonzaga University
Cynthia Stavrianos