8 Berkshire Women Selected for Leadership InstituteEASTHAMPTON, Mass. — Eight Berkshire County women have been selected by The Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts as members of the 2010-11 Leadership Institute for Political Impact.
A new initiative of the Women's Fund, the 10-month curriculum is designed to create a cadre of effective and powerful women leaders in the region and to train local women to run for elected office.
Focusing on areas such as community organizing, the legislative process and policy-making, fundraising and campaigning for office, LIPI is designed to give women the tools — but more importantly the confidence — they need to become political leaders.
"We believe that a critical way to address the problems facing our communities is to engage the talents and the input of women at all levels and in all sectors of decision making," said Carla Oleska, chief executive chairman of the Fund. "With this project we will create wave after wave of confident, skilled, politically savvy women leaders who will be at the forefront of strengthening our communities."
Nakeida Bethel-Smith, an outreach educator at the Elizabeth Freeman Center
Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant, co-founder and director of Berkshire Resources for the Integration of Diverse Groups and Education, or BRIDGE
Ariane C.Blanchard, Great Barrington Housing Authority Commission member and volunteer BRIDGE Youth Corps coordinator
Eliza Crescentini, executive director of Berkshire South Regional Community Center
Tanya A. Hills, director of CHP-South Berkshire Youth Coalition
Susan Olshuff, fundraising consultant in Lenox
Marla N. Robertson, mentoring program director for Railroad Street Youth Project
Becky Schirber, an acupuncturist and chef in Lenox
They were publicly recognized as new Leadership Institute members on May 6 at the Delaney House in Holyoke. Their yearlong participation in the institute begins in June.