October 21, 2011
Dear Alumnae and Friends,
Last spring, I wrote with news of the Women in Public Service Project, a partnership of the U.S. State Department, Smith College and our sister institutions—Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke and Wellesley—to increase the participation of women in public service and political leadership around the world. Since the announcement of the project, representatives from each of the founding institutions have been working to realize Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision and lay the groundwork for an enduring forum to support current and future women leaders worldwide.
The project will have its public launch on December 15 with an international colloquium at the State Department, a highlight of which will be a keynote address by Secretary Clinton. The event will draw women leaders from around the world to address an invited audience that will include alumnae and student and faculty representatives from each of the founding colleges. In the weeks before the colloquium, the project will launch a multimedia Web site to showcase the stories of women creating solutions through public service and to make the colloquium proceedings, including the secretary’s keynote, publicly available via webcast.
Featuring global policy makers, scholars, public officials, and innovative thinkers, the colloquium will help create the foundation for women’s training institutes that will be replicable and sustainable around the globe. These institutes will inspire and equip women to improve governance, expand civil rights, achieve positions of influence in governing bodies and combat corruption.
Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, recently convened the initial meeting of an international steering committee to plan the pilot WPSP summer institute, which will be held at Wellesley in 2012. Ambassador Verveer’s colleague, Smith alumna Farah Pandith ’90, who serves as the State Department’s special representative to Muslim communities, has been a key mover in the formation of the project, helping ensure that the Sister colleges’ legacy of education for leadership is leveraged to address today’s challenges around the globe.
The colloquium and the pilot summer institute are exciting first steps in the WPSP initiative, which promises to change the face of public leadership around the world. I look forward to sharing news about this promising collaboration in the run-up to December and beyond.
Carol T. Christ