Idaho Senator Cherie Buckner-Webb led
aspiring student leaders at Caldwell High School in a discussion of the
book "Secrets of Powerful Women: Leading Change for a New Generation."
February 27, 2017
"There's something special that happens
when you get a group of powerful women in a room... and shut the door,"
wrote Andrea Wong in the forward of her book, "Secrets of Powerful
Women: Leading Change for a New Generation."
Wong, who is the former president and CEO of Lifetime Network, goes
on to describe what specifically happened in the summer of 2008 when
Lifetime, in partnership with CosmoGirl!, gave 16 teenage girls
exclusive access to dozens of the most politically powerful women in
America. "Behind closed doors," she wrote, "seasoned politicians of both
parties let down their guards and shared intimate details of their
professional and personal experiences with great candor, humor, and
Something similar to that started in November of 2016 in Boise State
University's Upward Bound program. On Tuesday nights, high school women
participating in the college preparation program met with a diverse
group of regional leaders from all sectors to share in readings and
discussion of Wong's book. Caldwell High School senior Lydia Flores
says that as a Hispanic woman, she connected with the "Book Club," as it
became known, because it was a safe place to talk about issues
affecting Hispanic women and women of color who aspired to leadership
It was there that she and other first-generation students asked and
heard other students ask questions they'd been harboring about their
futures. "In my AP classes there are less Hispanic women," she explains.
"I felt that I should speak up more and represent the Hispanic women
more." So it was that the Book Club evening with Idaho Senator Cherie
Buckner-Webb struck a particular chord with Flores when she spoke about
the multiple pressures on women of color in leadership positions.
"Book Club" was the brainchild of Boise State Upward Bound
educational specialist Josh Engler. His Upward Bound classes included
many high school women in leadership positions such as class presidents
and yearbook editors who were from low-income backgrounds and might be
first in their families to go college. He was concerned that these
women were lacking leadership training and mentoring commensurate to
their goals. Then he found himself among a small handful of men
attending last fall's panel presentation "Women in Leadership:
Empowering Career Growth Through Storytelling and Mentorship" at COE's
35th Annual Conference. The panel focused on the importance of taking
leadership roles and connecting with mentors about challenges and
successes specific to leadership. "I left inspired and wanting to find
ways to connect the young women in my program to women leaders in my
community, particularly women of color," he says.
Engler got to work immediately. He connected with panel participant
Kimberly Jones, COE Vice President for Public Policy and Communications,
who referred him to like-minded thinkers in Washington, D.C. and Boise.
Soon he built a schedule of eight influential women speakers* who could
each commit to reading parts of Wong's book with the Upward Bound
students and leading them in discussions in topics from politics and
speaking up, to golf.
Engler's second book club, open to all Upward Bound students at
Caldwell High School, kicks off this week with Caldwell mayor Garret
Nancolas facilitating discussion of John C. Maxwell's book, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader.
*Betsy Hunsicker, Chief Executive Officer, West Valley Medical Center
Cristina Medrano, School Counselor, Washington Elementary School
Shalene French and Anita Wilson, Superintendent and Principal, Caldwell School District
Sherri Ybarra, Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction
Tess Hamzeh, Data Analyst, Hewlett-Packard
Kimberly Jones and Selene Ceja, Public Policy and Communications, Council for Opportunity in Education
Cherie Buckner-Webb, Idaho Senator (District 19)
Maria Mabbutt, Small Business Owner, Power of Translation