A new training program is empowering women to gain the skills needed to enter the political arena.
Amy Kroll, a Presidential Leadership Scholar and spouse of an airman, is the founder of the LBJ Women’s Campaign School at the University of Texas at Austin. She has an eye on changing the political landscape for women.
“My husband and I both share a commitment to service and a love of our country. This is part of what drew us to one another. We are both fiercely patriotic, I show my patriotism by working in politics and democracy building, and he shows his patriotism by serving in the U.S. Air Force,” Kroll said.
The LBJ Women’s Campaign School trains women to run for office, manage campaigns, and get involved at every level of government through a bipartisan approach over the course of an eight-month training program. As a fellow military spouse with a shared love for public service, I was lucky enough to be selected for the inaugural cohort of the LBJ Women’s Campaign School in 2020. COVID-19 forced the structure of the program into a fully virtual format which allowed women to join from various parts of Texas and eight different states, giving someone like me the ability to continue pursuing my professional goals despite the circumstances.
The diversity of the speakers, classmates, and bipartisan approach to the program are among its greatest strengths. In today’s highly divisive society, I found great hope in learning alongside women changemakers who span the political spectrum and came prepared to bring their point of view to the table alongside their willingness to listen and collaborate with one-another. Working with a group of strong women from all walks of life gave me great insight into the unique experiences and expertise we had to contribute and the world-changing power we had when relying on one another that, in the end, will allow us to be better public servants.
Military families are uniquely fit for public service by the nature of their lifestyle. We are afforded an opportunity to relocate every few years, giving us the chance to see the best (and most challenging) aspects of our society. We would be doing a disservice to our experience if we weren’t using it to contribute to the improvement of our communities. And it is important that the voices of military spouses be represented in government.
“Military spouses are resilient, creative, flexible, and innovative leaders who are already serving their communities. These are exactly the qualities that we need in our elected officials. Additionally, military spouses have a deep understanding of how government decisions impact lives and take that responsibility seriously,” Kroll said.
There is clearly some magic in the ‘secret sauce’ Kroll has developed for this program. The first class graduated in January and three members have already declared their candidacy, with more prepared for the 2022 election cycle. When asked about the long-term effects she would like the LBJ Women’s Campaign School to have on women in public service, Kroll says, “my hope is that we are training leaders who not only have the skills and network to win, but also who are passionate, value-driven, collaborative, and innovative.”
The application for the second cohort is open until March 15.
“We are committed to keeping our tuition low so that cost is not a barrier to participate, we can only do that through the generosity of our donors,” Kroll added.