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Public Leadership Education Network PLEN

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Leadership Development

Mission: The Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) is the only national organization with the sole focus is preparing women for leadership in the public policy arena. PLEN’s mission is to increase the number of women in top leadership positions influencing all aspects of the public policy process.

Results: Founded in 1978, PLEN has served thousands of women, of which 50% are women of color or from other populations historically under-represented in public policy leadership.

Target demographics: College Women

Direct beneficiaries per year: Each year, PLEN brings about 250 women students from colleges and universities across the country to Washington, D.C. for a weekend or week to experience first-hand how public policy is shaped and implemented at the national level.

Geographic areas served: National

Programs: Students meet with and learn from women leaders making and influencing public policy at the highest levels in the Congress, courts, federal agencies, corporate sector, policy research and advocacy organizations and the news media. PLEN’s Program Schedule http://plen.org/programs

Community Stories

69 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

The seminar that I took in January was incredibly eye-opening for me. I am about to graduate from UVA and I am on the job search and am thinking of my possibilities after I graduate. The PLEN Seminar on Women and Public Policy was empowering because I felt so much more informed after I went and got a lot of information in options that I have as a college graduate. But it was also empowering to see so many powerful women and hearing them speak about the impact they have on all levels of government and in different arenas of policy like education and the environment. It was really helpful to also learn the importance of networking through the other young women in the room as well as the women who came to speak. I would have liked more time to get resume critiques but other wise it was a really great week long seminar!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I received a Student Leadership Grant to attend the PLEN Women and Public Policy Seminar this past January. The experience exceeded any expectation I could have imagined as it has changed my trajectory and continues to provide me with opportunities due to the relationships and networks I was able to develop in the week I was there. PLEN allowed me to see myself through a different lens and gave me the the tools to develop a path that is all my own. Pamela O'Leary is the new Executive Director and I believe that under her leadership PLEN will continue to grow and provide a wide range of opportunities for all of those who are fortunate to have the experience. I am so glad that I attended and am now part of a vital Alumnae network. I can't wait to present at my school about the experience and encourage other students to step outside of their comfort zones and see themselves differently. PLEN is not just for Politics majors, it is for anyone who wants to be involved in lasting social change and develop as a leader. To be in the company of such amazing and diverse women is something I will never forget. the program was well organized and the speakers interesting and available.

Client Served

Rating: 4

PLEN's Women and Science/Technology Policy Seminar is a great way to be integrated into Washington DC's science and policy world. I learned first-hand from experts and practitioners in the field about their life experiences and specific trainings. My favorite experience was the tour and speaker at the National Institute of Health as well as the small group session with the Congressional Research Library. The program schedule offered engaging, inspiring speakers and the program leaders were very approachable and sweet. This seminar is a great opportunity to learn about the positions you may one day strive to achieve. This a great learning experience with opportunity to think about your career life in a new light.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was a PLEN seminar student my sophomore year in college, the experience changed my life. I came to DC for the first time, I PLENs program that introduces young women to policy and government showed me a whole new world and change my life forever. I returned to school with a new plan, returning to DC as soon as possible. That very summer I attended the PLEn internship program where I worked for an international women's research and advocacy group. I built up a great DC professional network, PLEN helped me with my resume and my interview skills. After graduation returned to DC and have been involved with PLEN ever since. I have spoken to student seminars and I am now an alumni representative on the Board of Directors. PLEN is yet again giving me an experience that I wouldn't normally have as a young professional. This is what PLEN does opens young women's horizons to the possibilities and helps make those possibilities into realities.

PLEN changed my life and has changed that of women for more then 25 years. The small seminars with women working in policy across the career spectrum from new grads to seasoned professionals give students a great perspective of possible career paths.

Val R.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This past January I had the extraordinary opportunity to participate in PLEN's Women in Science & Technology Policy program in Washington, DC. This program was excellent in helping me to broaden my horizons as far as my knowledge of career opportunities go. We met with nearly 40 women in 4 days of meetings who were quite inspiring leaders to interact with. They were all so helpful and I know some of them will be future mentors. The women who spoke all brought something new to the table for discussion- the PLEN staff were excellent recruiters! I am relatively sure that every attendee of PLEN was satisfied with their experience- and our PLEN class had students from age 18-36! Everyone walked away with enhanced perspective on their careers in science. Though I had a wonderful experience with PLEN and always recommend it to others, I do consider myself lucky to have attended. The cost of the trip is expensive to say the least, had I not had aid from my university and been attending the S&T seminar that was funded by Abbot, I would not have been able to afford the trip. I wish that the organization was able to bring costs down to offer PLEN to more students, I believe this is one of their goals.

Client Served

Rating: 4

The Public Leadership Education Network opened my eyes to the opportunities available for women to serve in public leadership roles in capacities that I was previously not aware of. The week long seminar helped to clarify my goals and objectives. It also afforded me the connections necessary to head me in the right direction. Women are under represented in the pubic policy arena, yet they bring a unique and necessary dynamic to the process which is needed in today's increasingly diversifying world. The guest speakers were women so passionate about their careers that the listener could not help but walk away from this seminar feeling empowered. I would recommend this Nonprofit for anyone interested in helping women elevate our gender as a whole. Young women need to see and hear the stories of these champions for inspiration and hope that one person CAN make a difference, but they will also see that when we stand together, no one can put us under. Increased participation and the expansion of this program to the college campus would be a way to strengthen this organization.


Rating: 4

got elected to be the steering committee member of REC, a NY based non-profit who fights against the evil practices in corporate sector that harm the environment, joined women empowerment campaigns, interned with Chairman of Political party in Tbilisi, Georgia, etc.
PLEN has strengthen my belief in women empowerment and in my myself.