Women in elected office is forum’s focus

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

The event is sponsored by the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy and will open with a keynote address by Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics.

The subsequent panel discussion will feature Harriet Woods, former Missouri lieutenant governor and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, and Sarah Steelman, a Republican and Missouri state treasurer.

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

Walsh joined the CAWP staff in 1981. As director, she oversees the center’s research, education and public service programs.

She is frequently called upon by the media for information and commentary and speaks to a variety of audiences around the country on topics related to women’s political participation. In 1984, she served as associate producer of a documentary film Not One of the Boys, which aired on the PBS series Frontline and had a viewership of 6 million people.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York-Binghamton and a master’s in political science from Rutgers, where she was an Eagleton Fellow.

Woods is a past president of the National Women’s Political Caucus.

She teaches at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Pace University and Hunter College, and is the author of Stepping Up to Power: The Political Journey of American Women.

Her public service includes eight years as a city council member in University City; 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.

Woods attended the University of Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan.

Steelman is the first Republican woman in Missouri history to be elected as state treasurer. 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.

Steelman serves as chairman of the state’s Higher Education Savings Board, which administers the Missouri Saving for Tuition, or MOST program.

She served two terms as a Missouri state senator and as deputy director of Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The forum is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Melinda Warren at 935-5652 or warren@wustl.edu.