Liz Fleuette’s 9-year-old daughter wants to be the first female president of the United States.
It’s a dream the Ridgefield mother wants to encourage — not just for her daughter but for all girls in the community.
That’s why Fleuette has set out to launch Ms. President U.S. — a program for girls between fourth and eighth grade to learn about leadership, civic duty, and public speaking, while envisioning themselves as leaders in their communities and their country.
“I thought it was a very interesting concept,” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi, who has joined the group’s advisory board. “[I] understood very quickly why her attention has been focused on girls from fourth to eighth grade.”
Marconi said that there are programs and classes that teach students in ninth grade — and above — all the options and possibilities they have in their education and careers, but there is a lack of groups for younger girls.
The Board of Selectmen has included the organization in the Friends of Ridgefield 501(c)(3) — the town’s registered non-profit that can accept donations for other organizations — so that Fleuette can begin accepting enrollment in September.
Girls in leadership
Fleuette said the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Everyone she asked to be on the board of advisers has accepted, including Marconi; Boys & Girls Club Director Mike Flynn; Sen. Toni Boucher; Pamela Miles, chairman of the Ridgefield League of Women Voters; Brenda McKinley, the new library director; Hildi Grob, executive director of Keeler Tavern Museum; Superintendent Dr. Karen Baldwin, and Glori Norwitt, chairman of the board of the Danbury Women’s Center.
“We’ve had 228 years of some fantastic male presidents, but we’re 50.8% of the population and we haven’t had a female leader,” said Fleuette.
“There’s also lots of positive ramifications when women are in leadership positions: they tend to focus on education and health. It’s important that we see female representation.”
The program will run the length of the school year, with monthly sessions and panel discussions.
In March 2018, the girls will start campaigning for their own presidential election, ending with a speech the whole community is invited to attend.
The winning candidate will have the opportunity to accompany the first selectman on various speaking engagements he has throughout the year, including the Memorial Day parade.
“I was very interested to have girls at a younger age begin to have a better understanding of how our government works,” said Marconi, “not just at the federal level, which is often the discussion at school, and then state government, but they learn very little about local government, and this program addresses that.”
The project is at its early stages, and Fleuette is still working on funding.
She said there will be enrollment fees, but part of her funding plan includes scholarships so that every girl can take advantage of the opportunity.
“I’m really excited,” she said, “just to see that enthusiasm, I want to keep it alive. That drive can lead them to wonderful places.”
For more information and upcoming events, visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MsPresidentUS/