Women in RI: Women's Policy Institute

Women in RI: Women's Policy Institute

Paula Hodges

My work in the common good and political advocacy sectors are defined by the women who brought me up in the world. My impatience stems from seeing the slow pace of change for gender norms in the home where I grew up. My career was unfathomable as a naive Missouri farm girl. Then I met Mindy. She was a pay-it-forward manager and chief of staff who hired me as an intern and wouldn't let me go. She coached and navigated me around every career pivot and barrier. Networks are a constellation of mentors, pipelines, alma maters - professional and personal associations. Often these networks are implicit. They expand the obstacles that divide those who were born into the norms of public service and those of us who stumble upon public service after strife and righteous indignation call us to change the world.


I'm excited to spread the word about the 2019 Women’s Policy Institute - a free professional and personal growth opportunity to catalyze more women leaders in Rhode Island.


Study after study demonstrates that when we believe and deliver on gender parity in City Hall, the State House, or the boardroom, we shift culture. And you know what they say about culture - it eats strategy for breakfast. Where we pretend and dance around authentic gender equity, we don't accomplish the innovation that women in leadership can spearhead. Women take into account so many factors for how our decisions affect others and how resources should be used for the advancement of our families, futures, and community. Gender parity will help us solve some of our most pressing societal problems, but we have to change public institutions and corporate cultures.


As the facilitator for Women's Fund of RI's  2019-2020 Women's Policy Institute (WPI), I take it as a personal mission to mentor and unlock the potential for each participant to become their own best advocate. Be it in their career and as they consider how they can impact public policy – be it behind the scenes or out front as future candidates. WPI is a cohort leadership program and an opportunity to train women to take more roles to advance Rhode Island for generations to come. The nine-month program supports developing soft and hard skills for public relations, policy, networking, and advocacy. Moreover, we want to ensure participants can come away with a strong orientation on how to map power and influence policy outcomes.  Participants will find ways to leverage the skills and networks to engage the system - this isn't just an academic exercise. We have much work to do. Here are a few R.I. reports on the status of women and families to fire you up.


Deadline to apply is August 16; we hope to see you in the mix.


P.S. And if you're not already a mentor, consider who you can help along this year. If you don't have a mentor, think about who you admire and whom you could learn from and make the ask. We all need a cohort to get the work done. There's never been a more critical time than now!