The girls' civic leadership program, Ms President US convened a panel of Ridgefield's exemplary female leaders at Town Hall on Friday Oct. 13.   

First Selectman Rudy Marconi moderated the panel which included: Dr. Karen Baldwin, superintendent of Ridgefield Public Schools; Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark; Fran Walton, chair of the Board of Education; and Callie Whalen, member of the Ridgefield Youth Commission,

More than 50 girls in grades fourth to eighth are enrolled in the program, along with 25 high school girls serving as “mentors.”  

The mission of the non-profit, non-partisan, community-based program is to inspire and prepare girls to aim for the highest leadership positions and know they can achieve them.  The monthly civic leadership sessions culminate with a campaign and election at The Ridgefield Playhouse in May where girls have the option to run for "president" of Ridgefield.

Besides Ridgefield, the group has girls from neighboring towns including Danbury, Newtown, Woodbridge, and Woodbury.

“We hope to replicate the program in these and other towns in future years so that all girls can benefit from civic leadership development — something that is not yet offered at the elementary school level,” founder Liz Fleuette said.

Board member Paty Susana added: "Together, we hope to empower and inspire young girls to become leaders in their communities and ultimately the world at large. We aim to create change one girl at a time."

Dr. Baldwin focused on helping the girls understand the different pathways to leadership, including how participation in sports team can help develop leadership skills.  

Dr Baldwin is also an advisor to the program.

"As Superintendent of Schools, I'm thrilled to serve on the Advisory Board of Ms President US and to be a part of this important effort to create meaningful opportunities for girls to develop their leadership skills and think about ways that they can serve and make a difference for others within our community," she said.

To support or learn more about the Ms President US initiative, visit the website or Facebook page.