Pathways to Public Service: Creating opportunities for young women in Washington
On November 19, 2014, the B.A. Rudolph Foundation hosted its first annual engagement event, Pathways to Public Service: Creating opportunities for young women in Washington. The event was intended to reconnect with the friends of the Foundation, as well as make important new connections with future mentors, ambassadors, and donors. The event was held in the landmark Kennedy Caucus Room within the Russell Senate Office Building, where historic hearings on the Titanic and Watergate took place, and where both John and Robert Kennedy announced their Presidential candidacies. In the presence of such history, we sought to inspire our guests to support our scholars, who hope to make their own mark on history. The high point of the evening was certainly hearing a passionate keynote address by a woman who continues to inspires us, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Senator Gillibrand spoke of her own journey to becoming a public servant, attesting to how difficult it can be to get a foot in the door in politics and Washington. Once she joined the US Senate, she quickly became a change maker. She has been a vital advocate for women not only through her work to pass legislation for protection against sexual assault in the military and improving the system to support survivors, but also to get women “off the sidelines” and to start being the change they want to see in the world. She spoke about the need to attend events, network, take that low paying entry-level job, move to a new city if need be, and find a mentor. It’s important to take chances and put yourself out there in order to get where you want to be.
Her message resonated with us because of her genuine passion, as well as the familiarity of her story. The Foundation provides access to the Washington experiences Senator Gillibrand spoke of by supporting the women we select to be scholars. We are proud to have such an ally, and know that the Senator and the Foundation are of like minds both in the need to have more women in Washington in key, change-making positions, and the need for the support to help them get there. We were truly honored to have our inaugural keynote speaker be such a strong female leader who has a real understanding of our goals and mission.