Governing Institute’s Women in Government Program Highlights Outstanding Contributions of Women in Public Service

The Governing Institute is thrilled to introduce the Women in Government Leadership Program Class of 2017. The profiles below highlight the remarkable public service, diverse experiences and goals for the future of the 25 women. Congratulations to these ladies for their selection from among the 100,000 women in office across the United States. 

The Class of 2017 is the third cohort of extraordinary women invited to participate in the leadership program. Individually, they are smart, accomplished, determined women at various stages in their political careers. Collectively, these women represent what one of my colleagues has referred to as “a network of communities and a community of networks.” Since the program was founded in 2014, they have recruited dozens of women to run for office. They have passed legislation and local ordinances to protect, empower and impact future generations of women, children and men. They have raised their voices in person, online and in the media.  And they have been role models for women and young girls who see them at the table, at the dais, debating on the floor and traveling the globe on behalf of their communities. 

These women are making a difference. We are honored to express our gratitude to the Class of 2017 for their service. We are also honored to provide the leadership development and resources necessary to help them meet their commitment to pay it forward. 


-- Julia Burrows

Director, Governing Institute



About the Program

The Women in Government Leadership Program was created in 2014 as an ongoing, program of the Governing Institute. Each summer, 25 women serving in state and local offices will be selected to participate in the bipartisan national program.

Statistics from academic institutions including the Center for American Women in Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University clearly show the number of women in elected office in local and state offices has largely remained stagnant since the early 1990s.The Governing Institute is making a deliberate and strategic effort to invest in programs and resources that support elected women in government. The Women in Government Leadership Program is one such program and has three primary goals.

First, to acknowledge and celebrate the work of women public servants by highlighting them in Governing.

Second, to provide leadership training and job critical skills during three in-person retreats where the cohort establishes relationships and a network with their class and program alumnae.

Third, the participants will be asked to pay it forward by mentoring the next generation of women running for office. We look forward to seeing the power and impact of these influential women now and in the future.

To nominate an individual for the Class of 2018, click here


2017 Honorees

Diane Allen

State Senator, New Jersey

Megan Barry

Mayor, Nashville, Tennessee

Rebecca M. Benally

Commissioner, San Juan County, Utah

Ruby Brabo

Supervisor, King George County, Virginia

Cynthia Cloud

State Auditor, Wyoming

Suzanne Crouch

Lieutenant Governor, Indiana

Debra Davis

Commissioner, Charles County, Maryland

Eileen Filler-Corn

State Delegate, Virginia

Karen Freeman-Wilson

Mayor, Gary, Indiana

Cindy Hyde-Smith

Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, Mississippi

Tameika Isaac Devine

Councilwoman, Columbia, South Carolina

Merceria Ludgood

Commissioner, Mobile County, Alabama

Lydia Mihalik

Mayor, Findlay, Ohio

Blair Milo

Mayor, LaPorte, Indiana

Holly Mitchell

State Senator, California

Cherelle Parker

Councilwoman, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Deb Peters

State Senator, South Dakota

Toni Preckwinkle

Board President, Cook County, Illinois

Crystal Rhoades

Nebraska Public Service Commission

Nily Rozic

Assemblywoman, New York

Evelyn Sanguinetti

Lieutenant Governor, Illinois

Julia Stokes

State Representative, Louisiana

Chelsa Wagner

Controller, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Betty Yee

State Controller, California

Niki Cid

Deputy District Attorney, Placer County, California