From Harvard Square to the Oval Office

Oval Office Cohort
From Harvard Square to the Oval Office: A Political Campaign Practicum (Oval Office) is a non-partisan initiative of the Women and Public Policy Program that provides a select group of Harvard graduate students with the training and support they need to ascend in the electoral process at the local, state, and national levels. *

Application is currently closed for the 2022 cohort. Please subscribe to WAPPP's email list (top right of this page) to receive the latest information on future Oval Office opportunities. 

Learn more

Our students form a robust network of women in government who support each other as they advance their careers. We believe that providing these tools and building a supportive network within the ranks of professional politics are necessary steps in correcting the large-scale gender imbalance in the United States' government and around the world.

The Oval Office program is designed to teach students to run for office through hands-on trainings, by growing their professional and personal network, and connecting them with women leaders who have shattered the glass ceiling in the public sector.

Strategic programming starts each fall and finishes each spring, and students meet regularly throughout the academic year. The Barbara Lee Women in U.S. Politics Training Program and Lecture Series skills-training sessions bring the nation’s leading campaign strategists, fundraisers, and organizers and provides “behind-closed-doors” mentoring sessions with leading figures in American political life. These are unique opportunities for students to gain invaluable first-hand guidance. Past speakers include former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12th), former Congresswoman Anne Northup (R-KY 3rd), and former Governor Christie Todd Whitman (R-NJ).

Participating students may apply for financial support for summer internship funding, giving them the chance to utilize acquired skills in a real-world political setting. They will also have the opportunity to advance their political careers by connecting with elected officials, campaign professionals, and Harvard Kennedy School alumni at networking events throughout the year.

The Oval Office program is open to all Harvard graduate students, including international students. Upon completion of the program, students are encouraged to remain active in the Oval Office network. Ultimately, our goal is to fill the political pipeline with women, striving towards equal representation in government.

The Barbara Lee Women in U.S. Politics Training Program and Lecture Series

From Harvard Square to the Oval Office is made possible through the generous support of Barbara Lee, Joanne Egerman, and the Bleicher Memorial Endowment Fund.

Oval Office Alumnae Serving in Government

The Oval Office program is designed to teach students to run for office through hands-on trainings, by growing their professional and personal network, and connecting them with women leaders who have shattered the glass ceiling in the public sector. Oval Office graduates have held elected and appointed political positions across the world. Currently, 37 of our Oval Office Alumnae are actively serving in public office.
Clare O'Neil

Clare O'Neil

MPP '08; Oval Office '08
Parliament of Australia Member for Hotham/Shadow Minister for Justice; Shadow Minister for Financial Services
2013 — present; 2016 — present; 2018 — present
Sharon Clarke

Sharon Clarke

MC/MPA '13; Oval Office '12
New York City Civil Court Judge
2014 — present
Jennifer Benson

Jennifer Benson

MPA '16; Oval Office '15
Massachusetts House of Representatives District 37; Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Joint Chair
2008 — present; 2017 — present
Amelie de Montchalin

Amelie de Montchalin

MPA '14; Oval Office '14
National Assembly 6th Constituency of Essonne Representative; Whip of La Republique En Marche! at the National Assembly's Finance Committee/Secretary of State for European Affairs
2017; 2017 — 2018; 2019 — present
Heather Hamilton

Heather Hamilton

MPA '16; Oval Office '16
SelectBoard Member, Brookline Town Government
2017 — present
Nancy Chaires

Nancy Chaires Espinoza

MPP '06; Oval Office '06
Elk Grove Unified School District Board of Education Representative Area 6; President, Elk Grove Unified School District Board of Education
2016 — present; 2017
Abiola Seriki Headshot

Abiola Seriki

Oval Office '09
Director General, Office of Education Quality Assurance, Lagos State Government
2019 — present
Lynsey Heffernan

Lynsey Heffernan

MC/MPA '19; Oval Office '19
SelectBoard Member of the Shrewsbury School Committee
2019 — present
More

Oval Office Network and Inspired Programs

This map represents the impact that WAPPP's political training program "From Harvard Square to the Oval Office" (Oval Office) has produced on women's political representation. Through elected, appointed, and high-level public administration positions, Oval Office alumnae are closing gender gaps in political leadership. Also as a result, similar institutions around the world have been inspired by the successes of the Oval Office program – replicating its methodology across continents in the world. Click on the colored dots to view where Oval Office alumnae are making policy changes; and click on the flags to view the different replication programs, modeled after Oval Office. The interactive tool was created and designed by WAPPP Research Fellow Giovana Rodrigues Manfrin.

Impact Map

impact map