Consortium for Women Leaders in Public Service (CWLPS) emerges from a shared vision and the personal commitment of its founders – mostly, Fulbright scholars – to the growth and evolution of women in leadership and to furthering the key role women leaders can play in promoting responsive and transparent governance throughout the Americas.
The CWLPS is an international nonprofit organization connecting women leaders and future leaders through training and mentoring in a global environment while building partnerships between public and private sectors. Though focused on women’s empowerment, the CWPLS is open to both women and men.
In 2013 Ada Gallegos, a Director in the Peruvian University System, was a Humphrey Scholar at the University of Minnesota. She was inspired by Hilary Clinton’s “50 by 50” plan that said 50% of decisions in government and business should be made by women by the year 2050. Ada wanted to create an organization that would provide leadership skills to future women leaders. She wanted to have an organization that would be sustainable beyond her time in government and could use the experiences of women who had already achieved success as mentors. To make this organization unique, she wanted to match women from North and South America so they could compare business practices and learn English and Spanish in peer to peer partnerships.
In August 2013, Deborah Pierce, retired FBI, Mary Angela Baker , Director of the Leadership Development Program at St. Catherine’s University, and Elizabeth Kautz, Mayor of Burnsville, Minnesota traveled to Peru. They met with Ada and several other women who were interested in supporting the concept of the Consortium. The three women from Minneapolis were matched to women of similar occupations in Peru. The Mayor of Iquitos was matched to Elizabeth and invited Ada and the Minneapolis women to meet in Iquitos with other women mayors from around Peru. A trip on the Amazon and a stay in a jungle resort followed, with two days of extremely interesting discussions with the mayors. Upon their return to Lima, the team was joined by Jill Cargile, another Fulbright scholar, who is the Head of the Language Program at Western Carolina University in North Carolina.
On August 25, 2013, the first Board meeting of the Consortium for Women Leaders in Public Service was held in Lima and officers were named: Ada Gallegos, President/Executive Director; Jill Cargile, Vice President/Treasurer; Deborah Pierce, Secretary. Mary Angela and Elizabeth were designated At-Large Board members. Board meetings were held every month on the first Tuesday of the month by Skype. In May 2014, the second Board meeting with all Board members present was held in Minneapolis. Decisions were made concerning a logo and website along with the signing of the Bylaws and Articles. (Elizabeth declined to continue with the Consortium due to work constraints.)
From September 2013 to July 2014, Deb worked with attorneys in Washington D.C. at Bracewell & Giuliani Law Firm to get the Articles of Incorporation, the Bylaws and the Tax Deductible status filed. As of June 24, 2014 all filings were completed and the CWLPS became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Bracewell & Giuliani have agreed to be our pro bono attorneys for future legal matters. Carol Sletner, retired Roseville Chief of Police, and Deb Pierce traveled to Peru to help Ada open the first chapter of the CWLPS.
On November 4 2014 Chapter Peru was launched to tremendous fanfare with speeches by the Vice President of Peru and the Mayor of Lima (both women!). Ada had identified a core group of about ten professional women who worked with her to start the Peru chapter.
In December 2014, Deb, Carol and Mary Angela started Chapter Minnesota.