College of Arts & Sciences

Political Science Department

Women's Leadership Initiative

Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI)     

Are you interested in:

--Developing leadership skills with an academic focus?

--Providing framework for a peer and professional network through exposure to leaders on and off campus and a variety of activities?

--Educating women about public service?

--Weaving together theory, empirical, and practice of women’s leadership to create a firm knowledge-based foundation of leadership development?

Then, join the WLI!

WLI encourages and empowers female students to be leaders wherever they may find themselves, and supports that goal with events, speakers, educational experiences, conferences and programs, and skills-based workshops.  The initiative identifies and mentors female students of promise, equipping them with the skills and resources needed to be more effective leaders on campus and beyond.

Students who are active WLI members have the opportunity to plan events, coordinate guest speaker engagements, attend conferences and workshops, and take classes that focus on the importance of women in leadership positions.

WLI Student  Club

The WLI Student Club is the student-led branch of the Women’s Leadership Initiative.  In coordination with the Faculty Advisor, the Student Club sets the agenda for activities, events, and goals for the academic year.

To join or for more information on both WLI and the WLI Club, contact Dr. Becki Scola (

Annual Conferences

NEW Leadership Program

Sponsored by the PA Center for Women in Politics (Chatham), the NEW Leadership Program selects promising young women from college campuses across Pennsylvania to attend and participate in a week-long, residential program, where attendees develop their leadership skills through interactive networking, workshops, and policy advisement. During the program, students also embark on a two-day trip to Harrisburg, PA to meet and learn from current female state legislators about their roles, state government, and the importance of women in politics.

The Political Science Department, with the generous support of other campus sponsors, has established a tradition of sending 2-3 competitively selected students to attend NEW Leadership every June.  Of her experience at NEW Leadership in 2013, Ms. Ashley Hobson (‘14) stated that  “being surrounded by driven and motivated young women was inspirational” and that the skill she “learned from my week at Chatham University will better prepare for my future.”

Ready to Run Phily Conference (Bi-Annual)

Sponsored by the PA Center for Women and Politics, this nationally-recognized day-long workshop is aimed at “fostering women’s public leadership through education, empowerment, and action.”  In 2014, over 15 SJU students and faculty attended Ready to Run Philly, where they learned about the ins and outs of campaigns, fundraising, media, and public speaking.  Students remarked that they felt “very inspired and motivated” after attending the conference, and that they gained valuable skills that they can apply to their everyday lives.

Women of Color Annual Conference

The Annual SJU Women of Color Conference is a collaborative effort by the Office of Institutional Diversity, SJU Women of Color Planning Committee, and the Women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc; Omega Omega Chapter.  The day-long conference allows attendees to enjoy interesting workshops and connect with other women of all ages. The goal is to explore how to remain empowered and demonstrate leadership throughout our lives.

The WLI is committed to supporting the Women of Color Conference every year through faculty and student attendance and participation.  As a part of the 2014 conference, Dr. Becki Scola moderated a panel of local women of color office holders, who focused on sharing their experience, path to office, and advice for young women interested in public leadership.

2013/2014 Events and Programming 

February 2014-Speaker’s Series: Dana Brown, Director of the PA Center for Women and Politics

Ms. Brown spoke to SJU students about the status of women in PA politics and the importance of electing more women to our public institutions.

March 2014-Film Screening: Band of Sisters

Sr. Betsy Linehan moderated a discussion directly following our screening of Band of Sisters, which tells the story of Catholic nuns and their work for social justice after Vatican II of the 1960s. For Catholics who wonder what became of the nuns they knew in habits and convents many years ago, for activists who may feel profoundly discouraged given the problems of today's world, for women seeking equality in their church, and for people of all faiths yearning for an inclusive and contemplative spirituality, Band of Sisters challenges us to ask what really matters in life.

April 2014-Raising Ms. President

The Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Office of Institutional Diversity co-sponsored a screening of Raising Ms. President, followed by a panel discussion with local women officeholders.  On the panel were Rep. Mary Jo Daley, Rep. Pam DeLissio, Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, and Katie McGinty (’85, currently running for PA Governor).

Raising Ms. President is about raising the next generation of female political leaders. Studies show that when more women are at the political decision making table, their presence does make a difference, the problem is, women just don’t want to run. This documentary explores some of the reasons women don’t run for office and uncovers where political ambition begins.