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The ICL Begins a New Semester

The Institute for Civic Leadership, commonly known around campus
as ICL, is a group of 15 women that join all of us here at Mills,
for one semester, each fall. The program is headed by Joseph Kahne,
Ph.D. and Kristi Schutjer-Mance, J.D. Kahne started the program
four years ago with the vision of establishing a program that aims
to prepare women to be leaders in a democratic society. 

The ICL program gears women up to take on
leadership roles and to make changes in the communities in which
they hope to serve. Facts show that women are more likely to
participate in community service and service learning, yet men hold
a large number of leadership roles in college and beyond. Diane
Tran, an ICL woman from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth,
Minn., said, “This has been my experience in middle and high
school as well. Girls are more likely to volunteer than young men.
It’s speculated that women sympathize with social issues and
that’s why they work in social services, where as men are
empowered by social institutions to create change at the policy

The program requires that, once at Mills, the
women take three pre-established and interconnected courses dealing
with leadership and democracy. They must also participate in an
internship in the community for a minimum ten hours a week, which
allows the participants to implement what they learn in their
classes.  The course work is hefty and the hours long, but the
women are all here to learn from the professors, each other and the
various communities in the Bay Area.  Marissa Villaluna, a
senior from Mills, said, “I applied to ICL because I wanted
to be around and learn from other young leaders. ICL can offer me a
chance to learn how women fit into government, which is something I
am very interested in.”

The women accepted into the program come from
all around the United States and abroad.  This semester, women
came from as close as San Francisco and as far away as South
Africa. They range in age from 19 to 50.

Two days before their classes began, the women
went on an intense 48-hour retreat, the first of three throughout
the semester.  The retreat is intended to instill a sense of
connectedness and provide an opportunity to work on team
building.  “The first retreat was the start of
intentionally building a community where we can learn from one
another and challenge ourselves to grow,” said Karoline Kemp,
a current participant in ICL from the University of Calgary in
Alberta, Canada.

The ICL program hopes to develop civic leaders
and to foster informed civic involvement. The women of this
semester’s program are excited to follow in the footsteps of
those before them and integrate these ideas into their careers and
daily lives.  Beatrice Sullivan, from Oberlin College in Ohio,
said, “I’m really excited to establish myself in a
community that cares about social justice and activism. I feel as
if I’ve lost this at Oberlin and I can gain it back in ICL at