The bipartisan Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus and its partners assembled nearly 225 men and women in Cheyenne February 3 & 4, 2011, for speakers, workshops and discussion aimed at increasing the number of women in leadership in the Equality State. On Thursday, February 3, Governor & First Lady Mead attended a reception at Little America co-hosted by the Wyoming Women’s Foundation that featured three women in leadership in the Wyoming House of Representatives: Rep. Elaine Harvey, Rep. Rosie Berger and Rep. Mary Throne. Also in attendance were Secretary of State Max Maxfield, State Auditor Cynthia Cloud, Superintendent of Schools Cindy Hill and over a dozen state senators and representatives.
“Be rebellious enough to run,” said Rep. Mary Throne of Cheyenne, the House Minority Whip, drawing on a letter written by Abigail Adams in 1776 to her husband John. Rep. Throne, Rep. Harvey and Rep. Berger shared stories of their road to the Legislature, ranging from a conscious plan carried out over five years to being asked to run after approaching over 20 men to represent her district in the legislature. Rep. Berger, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee spoke of her experience as a committee chair, and encouraged attendees to get involved and be a leader in every level of their daily lives.
“Be rebellious enough to run” -Mary Throne
On Friday morning, State Auditor Cynthia Cloud, herself a graduate of Leap into Leadership, hosted breakfast in her office in the State Capitol. “We need to work harder to identify women interested in making a difference in their communities and their State,” said Auditor Cloud. Following breakfast, attendees received tips on how to advocate for change and create an effective message in workshops offered by The White House Project, National Conference of State Legislatures and Equality State Policy Center.
Liz Brimmer of Brimmer Communications moderated a panel of speakers Friday at noon including lobbyists and activists Mike Ceballos, Mary Ellbogen Garland, Deanna Frey, Sarah Mikesell Growney, Katharine Kunz Wilkinson and Larry Wolfe. Mr. Wolfe, an attorney with Holland & Hart, kicked off the panel by asserting that the Wyoming Legislature might be a more diverse and representative institution if Legislators were paid a year round salary, such as $20,000 to $25,000, and offered State health
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it” -Mary Garland
insurance. Ms. Frey of the Wyoming Children’s Action Alliance concurred that our citizen legislature is not representative of the people of Wyoming; and at the end of the day, participants discussed drafting a bill to pay legislators an annual salary.
In closing, President and Co-Chair of the John P. Ellbogen Foundation Mary Garland encouraged participants to get out of their comfort zones, just like she did to participate in the lunch panel, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it,” she said.