Communication is key, listen to your constituents, and don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone. These lessons were among the many shared by Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi, Roxbury First Selectwoman Barbara Henry, and Ms President US 2018 Hersha Chauhan at the Local Leaders in Connecticut session of Ms President US on October 25 at the Ridgefield Library.
Ms President US is a Ridgefield-based non-profit program aimed at inspiring elementary and middle school girls to become active members of their community and learn about civil leadership. Meeting subjects range from public speaking to gender equality, and are often organized and facilitated in part by high school mentors.
Last Friday’s meeting started with girls working in small groups to brainstorm local issues that interested them. The girls then developed ideas for potential town ordinances that could be implemented to address these issues. Topics included bullying, climate change, school maintenance, English learning classes, and helping the homeless. Each group then presented their ideas to the local leaders, who gave helpful feedback to help them understand how they could become involved in solving their respective problems. The small group activity was followed by a Q&A session with the panelists, with questions ranging from why they ran for their positions to how they could make an impact in specific fields.
When asked about the most important aspects of holding their position, First Selectman Rudy Marconi spoke about the importance of communicating with, and listening to, the people around him, emphasizing the need for open-mindedness and empathy in his role. Similar ideas were expressed by First Selectwoman Barbara Henry, who recognized the girls in the room as “empowered young women” who were already taking steps to educate themselves about making a difference in their community. Ms President US Hersha Chauhan further explained how her role in the program helped her develop more self-confidence and public speaking skills, which are important for greater success down the line.
For more information about Ms President US, visit the program website at https://www.mspresidentus.org.