Inaugural Women’s Retreat

Rodel welcomed 23 current and former Fellows to Chicago for the inaugural Rodel Women’s Retreat this past June. Attendees came from 17 different states and evenly represented the political parties. Half of participants were serving in elected positions and the other half worked in roles outside of elected office.

The weekend kicked off with a session on U.S. foreign policy featuring Notre Dame Political Science Professor Karrie J. Koesel and Chicago Council on Global Affairs Senior Fellow Dina Smeltz. Rodel Class of 2017 Fellow and former Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Amy Murray moderated the conversation, which covered the rise of authoritarianism globally, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and U.S. policy toward China. The panel concluded with an important discussion of how foreign policy affects state and local elected leaders and their constituents as well as ways that Fellows can effectively support democracy at home and abroad.

Washington University in St. Louis Law Professor Rebecca Hollander-Blumoff led a discussion on women’s leadership across industries and around the globe. The group discussed readings on the ways in which representation and inclusion improve decision-making. Next, Nichole Bauer, Professor of Political Communication at Louisiana State University, shared the latest research on public perceptions of women leaders. Attendees discussed how these research findings related to their own experiences.

One of the highlights of the weekend was a workshop on women’s leadership in the face of divisive issues led by V. Kaye Monk-Morgan, Chief Impact Officer at the Kansas Leadership Center. Dr. Monk-Morgan challenged attendees to approach adaptive problems with innovative, thoughtful, and collaborative strategies.

The retreat concluded with a workshop on branding strategies facilitated by Tamara Edwards, Founder and CEO of TE&Co. Throughout the weekend, attendees participated in mindfulness activities including a restorative yoga session and a Paint and Sip program led by Rodel’s very own Samantha Thompson-Foster.

Many thanks to the Rodel Women’s Retreat planning co-chairs Amy Murray and Melisa López Franzen who helped make the weekend a great success. Tonya Schuitmaker, Rodel Class of 2014 Fellow and former President Pro Tempore of the Michigan State Senate said of the retreat that “I came away energized to move forward in serving my community and with a whole new set of friends. It is always great to hear other perspectives. It restores my faith in humanity that we all have more in common than what separates us.”