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SHERIDAN — Local women got a crash course in how to run for elected office Tuesday during the “Leap into Leadership” event held at Sheridan Memorial Hospital and hosted by the Wyoming Women’s Foundation and the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus.
Rep. Rosie Berger, R-Big Horn, kicked off the event by talking about the caucus and why she formed it several years ago.
“My guy friends would ask me why we have a women’s caucus, and I’d tell them, ‘Because we’re a minority. We need to get together and support each other.’”
Statewide statistics have supported Berger’s statement about women being a minority in elected positions.
According to the Center for American Women in Politics, Wyoming ranks 43rd in its proportion of women legislators at 16.7 percent.
In comparison, Montana ranks 18th with 27.3 percent, South Dakota comes in at 28th with 22.9 percent and Colorado comes in first with 41 percent. South Carolina came in dead last with just 10 percent.
Yet, across the U.S. in the 2008 presidential election women made up 60.4 percent of voters who showed up at the polls.
Approximately 75 women attended Tuesday’s training, which featured Katie Groke Ellis of Colorado. Ellis is the former national manager for the White House Project and a University of Wyoming graduate.
She outlined strategies and tactics for running a campaign, setting goals and having a multi-year plan.
“This isn’t about going out and running for president tomorrow,” Ellis said.
Rather, she emphasized that the skills taught Tuesday could help women get elected to any position they seek — from chair of a professional board to state representative. The same skills, she said, could help women advance in the private sector as well.
Attendees Tuesday also discussed how to market yourself and how to network, or as Berger called it “netweave.”
A panel of women featuring Berger, Northern Wyoming Community College District Board of Trustees Chair Kati Sherwood and Michelle Sullivan, founder of the Center for Inspired Learning Environments, spoke about their styles of leadership and how they ended up in their current roles.
Former Wyoming Auditor and gubernatorial candidate Rita Meyer concluded Tuesday’s event by sharing her experiences and a little advice with the women who make seek office or choose to climb to leadership positions in other sectors.
Meyer now serves as the Vice President – Wyoming for Rocky Mountain Power.