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Lakeland University is launching a new initiative to empower women and make sure their story is heard.

Lakeland University's new Women's Leadership Institute (WLI) will create resources to help female students achieve their professional and leadership goals.

The institute will serve female students enrolled through Lakeland's main campus and its evening and online programs, as well as Wisconsin Technical College System students who will be seeking a bachelor's degree after graduating with their two-year associate degree.

Dr. Susan May, president of Fox Valley Technical College, is serving as chair of the institute's Board of Advocates. She said the institute is an ideal expansion of the strong relationships Lakeland has with Wisconsin's Technical College System.

"I've seen firsthand how Fox Valley Technical College students and graduates have benefited from our outstanding partnership with Lakeland for more than 40 years," May said. "This new institute's focus on developing unique opportunities for women leaders is so needed, and expanding these opportunities to female students from our technical colleges is of particular interest to me.

"I look forward to working with Lakeland in shaping outstanding leadership experiences for the next generation of women leaders in eastern Wisconsin."

May leads a board filled with other technical college, community and Lakeland leaders. A complete list is here: https://lakeland.edu/pdfs/WLI-board-of-advocates.pdf.

The institute will be offered through each of Lakeland's seven centers located throughout Wisconsin – Chippewa Falls, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Neenah, Wisconsin Rapids and Lakeland's main campus in Sheboygan County.

Students can get a head start on a Lakeland degree by taking two courses that have a specific focus on women in leadership while they're still enrolled at their technical college. The courses would count for credit at Lakeland and women are eligible for scholarship support.

Participation in Lakeland's WLI will set students up to seamlessly transfer to Lakeland upon earning their associates degree and graduate with a bachelor's degree in as little as 18 months based on their transfer credits, earn scholarships and discounted tuition and earn credit for prior learning or current work projects.

Students that enter the Women's Leadership Institute will be introduced to a variety of formal and informal learning opportunities providing opportunities to grow their leadership skills and abilities.

"We'll be connecting students in the institute with other women in similar situations," said Jess Gaffney, director of the institute. "We're going to provide our students with a support network that will motivate them to do better professionally and personally, not only for themselves, but for their families."

Students will receive support through the LU-ONE mentor program, admission to the National Society of Leadership and Success Lakeland Chapter and additional programming opportunities including involvement in SOAR: Women Reaching Higher (Lakeland's professional women's networking event), guided book reads and other networking opportunities.

Women will also be encouraged to learn about pathways in nontraditional fields offered at Lakeland such as computer science and criminal justice.

For more information, contact Gaffney at or learn more online at Lakeland.edu/WLI.

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