Student participates in women in office program

Mindy Smith, an MPA student at Western Carolina University, recently graduated from the Women in Office Institute. Smith was one of only two participants from Western North Carolina.

Mindy Smith, an MPA student at Western Carolina University, recently graduated from the Women in Office Institute. Smith was one of only two participants from Western North Carolina.

Mindy Smith, a student in Western Carolina University’s master of public affairs program, has graduated from the Women in Office Institute.

Smith, who graduated in July from the seven-day intensive political leadership program for women interested in public office, was one of 14 participants from around North Carolina and one of only two from the western part of the state.

Smith, admitted to the Women in Office Institute in spring of 2011 after a rigorous application process, said she started gaining insight into herself and the political process almost immediately. “The first session was about emotional intelligence. It helped explain how I engage with people and how I handle situations. That session really set the tone for the entire institute,” Smith said, noting that she felt free to explore and build on her own strengths and weaknesses throughout the experience.

“Working in the Women’s Center at WCU exposed me to a lot of women’s issues that are prevalent in Western North Carolina,” Smith said, “It is important to represent not just the issues of women, but specifically women from this part of the state.” Smith hopes that her experience with the Women in Office Institute will help her build partnerships between WNC and Raleigh.

“We are really proud of Mindy,” said Roger Hartley, director of the master of public affairs program and an associate professor of political science and public affairs at WCU. “She is already a leader within the community at WCU, like many of our students, but she is one of the most externally active students in our program. We expect big things from her.” There will be a real opportunity for Smith to step into a role as a public official within the next five years, Hartley said.

The Women in Office Institute, sponsored by the N.C. Center for Women in Public Service, incorporates training from statewide experts in ethics, fundraising and public relations to prepare participants for service in elected and appointed office. NCCWPS is a nonpartisan organization that prepares women for elected and appointed offices statewide by providing comprehensive political leadership training programs.

“I am eager to watch this group of highly motivated women run for office and seek appointments in the next few years,” said Annette Taylor, executive director for NCCWPS.

For more information about the Women in Office Institute or NCCWPS, call 919-832-9996 or visit www.nccwps.org. For more information about the MPA program at WCU, contact Hartley at 828-227-3494 or rehartley@wcu.edu.