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.

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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 Alumna are actively serving in public office.
Christina Sharkey

Christina Sharkey

MPA '17; Oval Office '17
U.S. Embassy Counselor for Commercial Affairs, Czech Republic
2018 — present
Ellen Kwame-Corkrum

Ellen Kwame-Corkrum

MC/MPA '12; Oval Office '12
Managing Director of Liberia Airport Authority
2017 — present
Lori Ehrlich

Lori A. Ehrlich

MC/MPA '05; Oval Office '05
Massachusetts State House Representative District 8
2009 — present
Heather Hamilton

Heather Hamilton

MPA '16; Oval Office '16
SelectBoard Member, Brookline Town Government
2017 — present
Kosi Yankey

Kosi Yankey

MPA '16; Oval Office '16
Executive Director of the National Board for Small Scale Industries, Accra, Ghana
2017 — present
Lise King

Lise King

MC/MPA '11; Oval Office '13
Selectwoman, Town of Provincetown
2018 — present
Ivana Vukov

Ivana Vukov

MPA '12; Oval Office '12
Special Adviser to the Prime Minister, Government of the Republic of Croatia
2017 — present
Lynsey Heffernan

Lynsey Heffernan

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

Sharon Clarke

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

LEARN HOW TO RUN FOR OFFICE