Mackenzie Cabot, senior health science major with an emphasis in health policy and leadership, has gained most of her experience in a classroom setting. Now, within the same walls where she receives her education, Cabot has the opportunity to learn from some of the nation’s most influential women.
“This is a time in our lives that we are just starting to figure out who we are and what we want to become,” Cabot said. “There comes a time when we need to hear other stories from people on their failures and successes and how they got themselves to where they are today in order to better help ourselves to develop into what we are trying to become.”
Cabot is one of 100 students granted access to “Transforming America: Women and Leadership in the 21st Century,” a three-day conference focusing on the accomplishments of women in leadership positions within multiple professional fields.
The conference, convened by the Andrus Center for Public Policy, begins on Wednesday, Sept. 4 and runs through Friday, Sept. 6. Student scholarships for registration fees were made possible through a partnership between Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) and the Andrus Center at Boise State.
According to ASBSU President Ryan Gregg, ASBSU decided to fund conference registration because they knew there would be interest from students and anticipated there would be students approaching them about attending.
“If we agreed to do 100 (registrations) at once, the Andrus Center agreed to give us a big discount,” Gregg said.
Director of The Andrus Center, David Adler, Ph.D., created the theme of this conference after the decision to award Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice, with the Andrus Leadership Award. Justice O’Connor will also serve as keynote speaker at the conference.
The overarching theme, according to Adler, is focusing on the challenges and hurdles that have confronted women in the workplace, while also assessing the work still remaining on the path to equality. Adler’s first step in bringing his vision to reality was sending out invitations to those whom he referred to as, “highly acclaimed women.”
“Who better to address these kinds of concerns than women who have been high achievers in the workplace,” Adler said. “They have risen through the ranks; they have certainty endured the same points of discrimination that have hit other women in the workplace; they have dealt their entire lives with issues like equal pay and promotion discrimination.”
Over the course of the conference, keynote speakers will hold a number of lectures and panels. They will cover issues ranging from overcoming mistakes, feminism and censorship to risk factors, success and Hollywood’s treatment of women. The conference will convene with a “call to action.”
“We hope that we can develop a plan of action out of this conference so people are enlightened; they are informed,” Adler said. “Then we will move toward a public policy action agenda; how do we improve the working climate for women in Idaho; how do we address the problem of unequal pay, so forth.”
While the conference is geared toward equality for women in the workplace, Adler emphasized the importance for both men and women to attend and learn from the topics discussed.
“Warren Buffet said last spring that, ‘America is wasting half of its population, half of our brainpower and talent when we don’t promote women,’ and that is really a message to men because men are in positions of power,” Adler said. “So why are they not taking advantage of the immense talent and brainpower and creative and managerial skills that women possess?”
By funding scholarships to the conference, ASBSU and The Andrus Center have provided learning opportunities to many students who may otherwise not have had resources to attend. According to Cabot, free entrance offers students the chance to take part in something beneficial to them on multiple levels.
“I anticipate to be more educated on the lives of current women leaders and what it takes to be as successful as they have made themselves,” Cabot said. “Also, I hope to get an added boost of confidence and motivation to help me to continue with my plans for my future and career as a woman.”
Gregg also expressed his personal interest in the topic of the conference.
“I’m a firm believer that the untapped talent of women and girls is the unfinished business of multiple generations,” Gregg said. “The more we learn about including women where decisions are being made, the more we’re realizing what we’ve been missing out on.”
Gregg went on to explain the conference and topics discussed will impact students in varying ways, from eye-opening to those students not fully aware of facts surrounding women and leadership, to interesting and engaging for those aware of those facts.
“For those who aren’t sure how they feel or maybe feel as if we shouldn’t be encouraging women to participate, well, maybe they’ll get their viewpoint challenged a little bit,” Gregg said.
On a broader level, Adler explained the importance of hosting this conference with lineups comparable to those held in areas such as Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.
“This is a game changer,” Adler said. “This is a paradigm shift for Boise and for Idaho, showing that Idaho can in fact address the most important issues and we can think in Boise. You don’t have to be in Washington or New York to confront the greatest challenges confronting America.”
-Sandra Day O’Connor
Retired U.S. Supreme Court
Justice and 2013 Andrus Lead-
ership Award recipient
Vice President, Worldwide
Public Sector, Amazon
The New York Times sports
columnist and golf writer
-Anne Taylor Fleming
Associate Director of the Sun
Valley Writer’s Conference
Former Democratic Congress
woman from Arizona
Professor, author and televi-
sion news commentator
Chair of the Board and CEO of
Former ambassador to Finland
and Chair of the Board of
Governors of the American
Former NASA astronaut and
current distinguished educator
in residence at Boise State
Astronaut and Director of the
Johnson Space Center
International banking expert
and CEO of CameoWorks