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 Alumnae are actively serving in public office.
Al Anood Bin Kalli

Al Anood Bin Kalli

MPA '15; Oval Office '15
Prime Minister's Office Strategies and Innovation Sector Advisor; Ministry of Cabinet Affairs Public Diplomacy Office Strategic Studies Division Advisor
2018 — present; 2016 — 2017
Jessica Altman

Jessica Altman

MPA '14; Oval Office '14
Pennsylvania Commissioner of Insurance
2017 — present
Shashank Shukla

Shashank Shukla

MPA '15; Oval Office '15
Indian National Congress Joint Secretary
2019 — 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
Decontee King Sackie

Decontee King-Sackie

MC/MPA '14; Oval Office '14
Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Deputy Commissioner General for Technical Affairs
2014 — present
Ellen Kwame-Corkrum

Ellen Kwame-Corkrum

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

Kathleen Selenski

MPP '07; Oval Office '06
First Executive Director of the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program
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
Heather Hamilton

Heather Hamilton

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