Young women from the Middle East and North Africa gathered in Doha, Qatar, to improve their leadership skills, thanks in part to the organizing efforts of La Follette School alum Katie Croake.
"The participants were students, civil society leaders and political activists from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar and Yemen," Croake says. "During the week we were in Doha, they gained the intellectual tools, comparative knowledge and practical skills they need to become leaders in their communities."
Croake designed and implemented the Young Women Leaders Academy as part of her job as program manager with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in Washington, D.C. The institute is a nonprofit organization that strengthens and expands democracy worldwide. Croake graduated in 2003 with a master's degree in international public affairs.
Seminars addressed women's leadership and social and political issues in the Middle East and North Africa. Sessions also covered public speaking, conflict resolution, advocacy and fund-raising. Throughout the week, the women worked in small groups to develop political campaigns, including platforms and media plans, that they presented on the academy's final day.
"Each participant came to the academy wanting to strengthen the role of women leaders in their own countries," Croake says. "After the academy, we place them in internships with parliaments, political parties or civil society organizations where they put what they learned into practice."
"These women are amazing," Croake says. "To be so young and so dedicated to improving the lives of people in their countries has been inspiring for all of us who worked with them."