Recently, I had the privilege of attending a program in Austin called NEW Leadership Texas, a conference sponsored by Austin’s Center for Women and Gender Studies which sought to teach a small group of politically-minded women about the ins- and outs of public policy and give us the resources we need to change our communities, cities, states, and nation for the better. Each day was crammed with lectures, panelists, and other activities that would take far longer to describe in one single blog post. But I would hope that this brief overview of my experience would leave others feeling just as motivated and galvanized as I did.
In six short days, I had many inspiring encounters with dozens of strong, determined, independent female politicians including campaign managers, judges, city council leaders, senators and state representatives who consistently amazed me with their grace, authenticity and confidence. One particular highlight for me was the opportunity to introduce the Republican National Committeewoman of Texas, Mrs. ToniAnne Dashiell. She discussed with us the importance of knowing your strengths and accepting the fact that not every one of us would hold public office, highlighting that politicians are far from being the only ones who represent and fight for the American people. Similarly, each guest speaker provided invaluable information from the necessities of campaigning and governing to essential aspects of effective and efficient negotiation. As a political science major, I felt that these panels provided me with something I had desperately needed but never gained until now; a sense of accountability. These women, all while juggling numerous corporate and political ventures as well as families of their own, did not allow their desire for change to remain confined to cocktail rants and frustrated Facebook posts. Instead they took action, many of them overcoming substantial obstacles to do so and executed the reforms they wanted to see. Prosaic as it may seem, it truly made me think “If they can make it, why can’t I?”
There are so many more examples I could provide, but overall, it meant a lot that so many of these women were kind enough to share a part of their story with me. With each passing anecdote I was left feeling increasingly awe-struck. Some disclosed personal struggles and battles that they had overcome, while others discussed the work they were already putting into their communities. I don’t think I’ll easily forget sitting at a Kerby Lane at 1 am, eating giant pancakes, and discussing how to educate others on the effects of human trafficking. In so many ways, my trip to Austin was like a trip to a different world. A better world. One that I wanted to be a part of. There was something that a number of our panelists told us, which I found myself repeating as I drove back to Dallas: If the women of NEW Leadership Texas represent our future, then I can’t wait for tomorrow.
B.A. Political Science
Class of 2019
The University of Texas at Dallas