LEWISTON — On Thursday, May 31, the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute graduated its inaugural class of program participants, called Olympia’s Leaders, at Bates College.

Forty-five young women, selected from the seven Maine high schools serving Androscoggin County, graduated after participating in the institute’s program from its inception in 2015 through a three-year program rooted in the themes “My Values” (10th grade), “My Voice” (11th grade) and “My Vision” (12th grade).

The evidence-based program is designed to raise the confidence and aspirations of high school girls by helping them develop the skills required to be leaders in their lives, families, careers and communities.

Each year since the program launched, the institute has expanded — growing from seven to 36 partner high schools across Maine’s 16 counties. During the 2018-2019 academic year, there will be more than 450 Olympia’s Leaders supported by more than 200 trained advisors who deliver the curriculum.

Thursday’s special ceremony distinguished the inaugural class of Olympia’s Leaders and included remarks from the Honorable Olympia J. Snowe, former United States Senator and founder of the institute; Clayton Spencer, president of Bates College; Christina McAnuff, executive director of the institute; and select Olympia’s Leaders.

It also incorporated a networking activity with local industry experts, a tribute to former Sen. Snowe, and a formal graduation ceremony — in which participants received graduation cords and certificates of completion.


Snowe reflected on how Olympia’s Leaders have grown over the last three years, congratulated their notable accomplishments and new leadership roles, thanked them for aiding in the program’s innovation as pioneers of the institute and wished them well on their next steps into the future.

Among her final words to the graduates were: “I know you are armed with the skills to hold fast to your values, embrace your strengths and passions, listen to others, share your ideas and opinions respectfully and confidently and to navigate challenges by being flexible, open minded and resilient. You are leaders who will make meaningful change in our world.”

Bates President Spencer urged participants to continue integrating the program lessons as they matriculate to post-secondary education, saying, “This program is about finding what you were authentically meant to do. These impressive careers only seem like a straight line in retrospect. Figuring it out is half the fun.”

In the fall, more than 95 percent of the Olympia’s Leaders who graduated will begin higher education, with many attending Maine institutions and two at Bates College.

The Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to raising the aspirations of high school girls by helping them develop the skills required to be leaders in their lives, families, careers, and communities. The Institute was founded by Sen. Olympia J. Snowe
in 2015 to address the decreasing confidence levels of young women in Maine.

For more information, visit www.snoweleadershipinstitute.org/.

Former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe stands with the 2018 graduating class of the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute on May 31.

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