Getting women elected is focus of public forum, Feb. 27

“Improving Women’s Participation in Elected Office” will be the topic of discussion as women representing Missouri’s Republican and Democratic parties visit Washington University’s Hilltop Campus for a public forum at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 in Room 201, Rebstock Hall.

Sponsored by the University’s Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy, the forum is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the forum director, Melinda Warren: 935-5652;

The event opens with a keynote address by Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics.

The following panel discussion will feature Harriet Woods, former Missouri Lieutenant Governor and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, and Sarah Steelman, a Republican and current Missouri State Treasurer.

All three speakers will be available for a closing question-and-answer session. Audience participation is encouraged.

Participant Biographical Sketches


Debbie Walsh is the director of the Center for American Women and Politics(CAWP) at Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics. She joined the CAWP staff in 1981. She earned her B.A. in political science from SUNY Binghamton and her M.A. in political science from Rutgers, where she was an Eagleton Fellow. As director, she oversees CAWP’s research, education and public service programs. She is frequently called upon by the media for information and comment and speaks to a variety of audiences around the country on topics related to women’s political participation. First as director of CAWP’s Program for Women Public

Officials and now as the Center’s director, Debbie has led the Center’s extensive work with women officeholders and organized more than a dozen national conferences for women officials, ranging from small meetings focused on issues such as women’s legislative caucuses, women in legislative leadership, and training programs for newly elected women legislators to CAWP’s quadrennial national Forum for Women State Legislators, to which every woman state legislator in the country is invited. In 1984 she served as the Associate Producer of a documentary film “Not One of the Boys” which aired on the PBS series, Frontline, and had a viewership of six million people.


Harriett Woods is the former Lieutenant Governor of Missouri and a Past President of the National Women’s Political Caucus. Her life has been devoted to public service and advancing women in public decision-making. She teaches at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Pace University and Hunter College in New York, and is the author of Stepping Up to Power: the Political Journey of American Women, (Westview Press). Her public service includes eight years as a city council member in University City, MO; eight years as a Missouri State Senator; and two years as a State Transportation and Highway Commissioner. She was the first woman to serve on the Highway Commission, as well as the first woman elected statewide in Missouri. In 1982 and 1986, she was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate. She currently is a Commissioner on the St. Louis Convention and Regional Sports Authority by appointment of the governor. Woods attended the University of Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan. She has honorary doctorates of law from the University of Missouri and Webster University in St. Louis. She lives in University City.

Sarah Steelman is the first Republican woman in Missouri history to be elected to the office of State Treasurer. A working mother with a long career in public service, Steelman became Missouri’s 44th state Treasurer on January 10, 2005. She is responsible for the management of more than $19 billion in Missouri’s annual revenue, and oversees the investment of more than $3 billion in long- and short-term investments in the state’s portfolio. She also is in charge of the state’s efforts to return more than $300 million in cash and valuables to citizens through the unclaimed property program. And, she serves as chairman of the state’s Higher Education Savings Board, which administers the Missouri Saving for Tuition, or MOST program. This program helps citizens save for the college education of their children through a tax advantaged investment program. Previously, she served two terms as a Missouri state senator in the 16th District and as deputy director of Missouri Department of Natural Resources. She also served as director of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program in Rolla, where she resides with husband, David, and their three sons.