Dr. Cindy Simon Rosenthal

For the 2017 legislative session, Oklahoma will rank next to last in the nation for the percentage of women elected to state legislatures. The National Education for Women’s (N.E.W.) Leadership, an annual five day program, provides Oklahoma’s next generation of female leaders with the tools and convictions necessary to benefit our state in this increasingly diverse world.

N.E.W. Leadership is a non-partisan program designed to educate, inspire, and empower undergraduate women to become leaders through public service and politics. It equips its graduates with the capabilities to remove the barriers faced by women in public life. Its students embody a mosaic of majors, ages, racial and ethnic background, religious faiths, economic classes and personal experiences. Their common thread is their desire to grow in their leadership skills and better the state of Oklahoma.

Selected students participate in skill-building workshops, campaign and policy simulations, leadership exercises, networking opportunities and a day-long visit to the State Capitol. They hear from Oklahoma’s most prominent female local and state officeholders, community advocates, tribal leaders, political activists, and educators. This year, N.E.W. Leadership will graduate its fifteenth class.

This program is spearheaded at OU by Dr. Cindy Simon Rosenthal, whom I met when I attended N.E.W. Leadership in May 2016. At the start of those five days, I had no idea what to expect. I also had no idea how this program would change my life.

Dr. Rosenthal has served the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center at the University of Oklahoma since 1998, where she is currently director and curator. She has been a professor of political science since 1995 and has a joint appointment to the women’s studies faculty. Her research and writing, primarily focused on women in politics, are regularly published in a number of journals.

OU’s N.E.W. Leadership program was developed by Dr. Rosenthal in 2002 and has seen tremendous success since then. N.E.W. Leadership and the Center's companion programs, under the umbrella of the Women's Leadership Initiative, have been honored each year by Oklahoma’s Journal-Record “Woman of the Year” celebration as a program “making a difference.”

Most importantly, Dr. Rosenthal exhibits the foundations of N.E.W. Leadership in her daily life: she served three years on the city council of Norman, Oklahoma before she was elected city mayor in 2007. She won her re-election for a second term in 2010.

Thanks to Dr. Rosenthal and N.E.W. Leadership, I learned so much through the available sessions, guest speakers, and experiences of my peers. I have no doubt that the relationships and connections I forged through N.E.W. Leadership will continue to grow me throughout my career and life. In those five days, I was equipped with tools and relationships necessary to make my mark. Most importantly, N.E.W. Leadership gave me, and fourteen other classes of women, a firm belief that I can change the world.

This Year's Nominees

Click on nominees to read more about them.

Nominated by Shannon Rich
Nominated by Sharon Mocabee-Sisco
Nominated by Casey Shupe
Nominated by Kay Harsha
Nominated by Philip Wong
Nominated by Shane Fernandez
Nominated by Stephanie Giacomo
Nominated by Melissa Baldwin
Nominated by Caryl Parsons
Nominated by Tori Garrett
Nominated by Taprina Milburn
Nominated by Barbara Butner
Nominated by Dawn Byram
Nominated by Marcus McEntire
Nominated by Debby Hampton
Nominated by Ruben Reyes
Nominated by Pamela Ballard
Nominated by Cristi Twenter
Nominated by Mandi Mays
Nominated by Melissa York
Nominated by Laurie Tilley
Nominated by David Rackley