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Open letter from directors regarding ICL and WLI

As a result of programs like the Institute for Civic Leadership (ICL) and the Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI), in conjunction with curriculum in many disciplines, women’s leadership training at Mills has provided support and opportunities for our students to implement high levels of community service and civic engagement activities.

This dedicated commitment to community engagement can be witnessed in student-led campus events like the 2008 voter registration drive led by the Mills College Democrats (Fem Dems), the election night celebration led by students of WLI, ICL and the Public Policy Program, and the 2008 student parenting symposium Uplifting Student Families: A Round Table Discussion on Educational Success, put on by the Mills Mothers Club. It also can be seen in student clubs like Sisters Inspiring Sisters, which tutors and mentors middle school girls in near-by schools. The commitment also exists in a range of independent student projects including Moms Mentoring Moms, an ICL-funded project by ICL alumna Martha Braithwaite.

Now in its ninth year, ICL has crossed a significant milestone, as its number of alumnae reached and then passed one hundred. In the face of challenging economic times, we increased and strengthened our collaborations with other Mills programs, such as the Women’s Leadership Institute, the Public Policy Program and Career Services, and helped to produce some of our most significant campus-wide events, including the amazing election night celebration. Additionally, ICL has partnered with off-campus community organizations including the Earth House Leadership Center.

ICL is so much more than a leadership development program; it is a space where women from a wide variety of academic majors, political viewpoints and life experiences have room to explore the issues and ideas about which they are most passionate. The Citizen Scholars of ICL are encouraged to challenge and expand their own ideas about social change, as well as fundamental assumptions and theories about leadership itself, and whether there is such a thing as “women’s leadership.” This inquiry is fleshed out through two courses, Women’s Leadership Seminar, and Literature and Social Change, as well as through community discussion.

Additionally, their personalized internships with a community organization or government office offer the opportunity to witness and practice the theories of the classroom and apply them to real and meaningful experiences in their communities. The support they receive from their ICL mentors, local women activists and leaders who volunteer their time as mentors, also aids in this process, as does intentional community building among the cohort. “The Institute for Civic Leadership was in many ways a major turning point for me,” reflects 2004 ICL Citizen Scholar Caroline Kemp. “My ICL internship with Outer Voices was also a major turning point. It introduced me not only to a woman who has since become a mentor and a member of my family, but also gave me the confidence to use my voice.”

As the WLI transitions out of Mills, we whole-heartedly support the continuation of the ICL. As the leaders of these two programs, we are delighted, and very proud, to announce the opening of the 2009 ICL recruitment period. ICL is seeking 16 undergraduate women from Mills and UC Berkeley d who wish to explore and deepen their leadership potential through an even deeper engagement with community projects and social justice. We welcome you to explore and learn more about the program and how it may support your academic, career and community involvement goals.

For more information about this opportunity, that has now become a leadership rite of passage and academic experience as well contact Michaela Daystar, program coordinator at (510) 430-3234, or