By Heather Valentine
Sitting among over 300 women at Supervisor Cindy Chavez's Women's Leadership Policy Summit felt like a natural fit for me and the 11 Notre Dame students who attended. What better atmosphere than one that showcases powerful, strong female leaders from all ages and backgrounds for Notre Dame students?
After hearing opening remarks from local female leaders, students had a chance to attend two workshops of their choice. Topics included current and important matters in our community including housing, transportation, wage and equity, policy initiatives, and how to be an effective advocate. All sessions were run by women and the message of the day was about empowering each other to step up, bring up others, and be the change you want to see in the world.
Students had the opportunity to network with women (and men too) from various industries. The event also showcased a resource fair where attendees could learn about activism and ways to get involved in local issues of importance. At the keynote luncheon, women, including Patricia Gardner, CEO of Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits, shared wisdom about how to have a long career in leadership and activism and how to work with others we may not agree with.
Arushi '20 shared, "Surrounded by strong women of all ages, backgrounds, and sectors, I not only felt empowered, but I was able to visualize myself among them some day. Growing up, I viewed government as a field manipulated by elite men, but the summit showed me the diversity of the political sector that is continuing to grow. The summit was fundamental in demonstrating the impact that women can have when they take the reins of their own lives and have the confidence to use their voice."
"Being in a room filled with women that had come together to learn how to use their political voice inspired me to use mine," shared Anika '20. Kristine '22 added, "The Women's Leadership conference was an incredible, empowering experience that I had the wonderful opportunity to attend! It helped me understand how I can be an advocate later in life, as well as in the present."