Developing Leaders at the NeW Leadership Retreat

August 13, 2020

This past weekend — Friday, August 7 through Sunday, August 9 — 46 NeW chapter leaders from across the United States gathered together in Newport on the Levee, KY, as well as virtually, for the annual NeW Leadership Retreat. This retreat brings together conservative women to help them build community with like-minded women. Attendees learned from one another, shared ideas, and formed lifelong friendships. The majority of the chapters in attendance were brand new to NeW — expanding the organization’s representation across the country.

Kicking off the weekend on Friday afternoon, chapter leaders were welcomed to Cincinnati by Nan Cahall, Southwest District Director for Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. Throughout her lunch keynote, Cahall stressed the importance of making lifelong connections with the women they were surrounded by, for they would always be there to call upon in a time of need. The NeW women took the opportunity that Cahall encouraged — connecting over ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery shortly after her talk. 

To conclude the day, NeW women were brought back together for dinner and a keynote address by Karin Lips, Founder and President of NeW, on “NeW Nation: A Vision for 2020 and How to Make the Case for Opportunity Feminism.” Lips shared with the women how conservatives can still be part of the feminist movement and how a conservative version of feminism can truly empower women.

To wind down for the evening, attendees enjoyed a showing of Legally Blonde.

Saturday was educationally well-rounded and jam-packed with informative sessions on the best practices to lead each aspect of a college NeW chapter, especially in unconventional times surrounding the uncertainty of COVID-19 restrictions. Madison Kutruff, NeW Campus Program Coordinator, led a discussion on tips and tricks to set up a successful NeW chapter on campus, where she discussed recruitment, retention, and leading online. In addition, Haley Supergan, NeW Campus Program Coordinator, taught chapter leaders how to pitch and promote NeW on campus. She shared online alternatives to tabling on campus, stressing the idea that social media provides an opportunity to share NeW’s brand, even when they are unable to meet their members in-person. 

While enjoying lunch, the women heard from Emily Hall, NeW Alumna and Yale Law student, as well as Charlotte Townsend, NeW Intern and NeW at College of Charleston chapter leader, during a panel titled “Stories from Successful NeW Chapters.” The two seasoned leaders shared their experiences serving as chapter leaders, as well as their advice on the practices that proved to be both effective and ineffective within their campus environments.

The women then heard from Inez Stepman, Senior Policy Analyst for Independent Women’s Forum, on “The Dangers of Socialism in America.” She explained that socialism does not take into account the fullness and the complexity of the human person, therefore the implementation of socialist policies would overlook crucial elements of peoples’ lives that are critical to the flourishing of American society.

Throughout the afternoon, chapter leaders took part in creative communications workshops on graphic design, social media marketing, and how to take good photos, led by Kathryn Alford, NeW Communications Manager. Attendees were then given time to work with the NeW staff on implementing much of what they had learned throughout the day and planning for a successful fall semester.

To conclude the evening, NeW staff and chapter leaders came together over dinner for an awards ceremony in which Hall returned to give an empowering keynote speech. Hall discussed her time in undergrad on Harvard University’s campus and the backlash she faced as a conservative. However, those experiences did not deter her from breaking glass ceilings in the conservative movement. To the seasoned chapter leaders, Hall advised them to invest in the younger conservatives who are working to continue the movement. “Spend time mentoring your successors,” she encouraged. NeW Chapter Award winners included American University, College of Charleston, The Catholic University of America, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Virginia.

On Sunday, the final day of retreat, leaders began their morning with a breakfast breakout session discussing three timely articles. The women also listened to informative sessions on recruiting members through social media with Alford, as well as a chapter roundtable with Supergan, Kutruff, and Townsend on how to be creative with chapter events, as well as the best practices to build a NeW executive board and transition leadership each year.

To wrap up the weekend, NeW chapter leaders heard from Kassy Dillon, Founder of Lone Conservative, where she advised the women on how to prepare for the 2020 election on campus and how to defend conservatism in the process. 

“It was amazing to meet so many other women who shared similar values and beliefs,” said Ashley Busby, President of NeW at the University of South Florida. “You can feel isolated when you’re considered an intellectual minority as a conservative woman on campus. NeW gave me an outlet to thrive in my beliefs and build friendships with other passionate conservative women!”

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