NEW Leadership Pennsylvania™

The National Education for Women's (NEW ) Leadership Pennsylvania is an intensive, week–long, residential leadership and public policy institute designed to educate and empower young women for future political participation and leadership. The program addresses the under–representation of women in the political arena by focusing on the role of women in politics and policy making in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Each year approximately 35 students from colleges and universities across Pennsylvania are selected to attend. NEW Leadership Pennsylvania™ is a part of a national network of NEW Leadership programs developed by the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University.

During the NEW Leadership Pennsylvania™ summer institute students will:

  • Meet with successful women leaders to discuss politics, public policy and the importance of women’s leadership.
  • Participate in skills–building workshops on networking, public speaking and strategic communication.
  • Network with a diverse group of women who share a commitment to shaping the public agenda and making a difference in their communities.
  • Practice leadership through action.

2016 Practitioner-in-Residence

Commissioner Barbara Cross

The Honorable Barbara Bechtol Cross was appointed to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners by the Ninth Judicial District, Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas on May 5, 2008, to fill an unexpired term. She was then elected to the Board of Commissioners in November, 2011 and served as the Chairman of the Board.

Born and raised in McKeesport, PA. Barbara is a 1975 graduate of Chatham College for Women, Chatham University where she serves as member of the Alumni Board.

Upon graduation she was commissioned an officer in the US. Marine Corps where she would continue her 25 year career, retiring in 1999 with the rank of Lt Col. LtCol Cross was re-called to Active Duty from 2004-2006 to support the Global War on Terrorism.

Lt. Col. Cross's extensive military background includes Logistics, Finance/Budgeting and Intelligence. In addition to various military schools and programs she received a Master of Science degree in Organizational Development and Leadership, from Shippensburg University.

Barbara's community service includes membership on the Carlisle Regional Medical Center's Bio-Medical Ethics Committee, Board member of Leadership Cumberland, Lay Ministry at St John's Episcopal Church, and past Board member of the United Way of the Capitol Region. Governor Tom Corbett appointed Barbara to serve on the PA Commission for Women.

In her role as a County Commissioner, Barb served as a member of the Cumberland County Cooperative Extension Board, Cumberland County Conservation District, Cumberland-Perry Drug & Alcohol Commission, and Victim Witness Policy Board. She was an active member of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP), serving as Chair of the Governance Committee, a member of the Election Reform Committee, and also serving on the Military Family & Veterans Committee.

Barbara and her husband reside on a small farm near Carlisle where she served her township as a member of the Planning Commission and as Vice-Chairman of the Zoning Hearing Board.

Past Practitioner–in–Residence

+ 2015 Practitioners–in–Residence

Justice Cynthia A. Baldwin

Valerie McDonald-Roberts

Justice Cynthia A. Baldwin has indeed enjoyed a prestigious career. Justice Baldwin dedicated eighteen years of her life to the Pennsylvania judiciary where she served with distinction. She was nominated by Governor Edward G. Rendell to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to serve an interim term in December 2005 and was overwhelmingly confirmed by the Senate on February 15, 2006. She retired from the Court January, 2008. On March 3, 2008 she became a partner at Duane Morris LLP in the trial practice group.

Prior to her nomination to the Supreme Court, she served on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas for over 16 years in the Civil, Family and Juvenile Divisions. On February 15, 2010, she became the Vice President and General Counsel for the Pennsylvania State University, a public state-affiliated university with an annual budget at that time of $3.8 billion, 25 campuses throughout Pennsylvania, a medical school, a law school, a total enrollment of more than 90,000 students and 39,000 employees. Baldwin served as the university's first in-house legal counsel, where she launched and developed a legal counsel's office at Penn State before retiring in July, 2012. Currently she utilizes her considerable legal experience to do mediations and arbitrations.

Hon. Erin C. Molchany

Valerie McDonald-Roberts

Erin C. Molchany was appointed in 2015 to serve as Director of the Southwest Office of Governor Tom Wolf. In this capacity, Ms. Molchany assists communities and stakeholders by representing the Governor and serving as his liason in 16 Counties within Southwestern PA.

Prior to working in the Wolf Administration, Ms. Molchany was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives where she served from 2013-2014. During her tenure in the PA House, Rep. Molchany represented the 22nd legislative district in Allegheny County prior to redistricting. She was a member of several standing committees of the House including; the Education Committee, Consumer Affairs Committee and Human Services Committee. Rep. Molchany also served on the PA House's bi-partisan and bi-cameral Equality Caucus, Women's Health Caucus and co-chaired the Life Sciences Caucus.

Rep. Molchany's path to public service started in the non-profit sector. From 2005 through 2012, Ms. Molchany served as Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP). During her 7-year tenure as Executive Director, PUMP's annual operating budget more than doubled, an additional staff member was added for the first time in a decade to accommodate the high demand for programming, and the organization became 90 percent sustainable thanks to its successful social enterprise, the Pittsburgh Sports League (PSL). Her tireless commitment to the organization helped to connect young people in the Pittsburgh region to their communities, an effort that inspired many to stay and invest in its growth and prosperity.

+ 2014 Practitioner–in–Residence

Valerie McDonald-Roberts

Valerie McDonald-Roberts

A native and life-long resident of Pittsburgh, Valerie is married to Theodore Roberts, Jr., has four adult children, a son-in-law and ten grandchildren.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology and Master of Science degree in Forensic Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh, both summa cum laude.

Valerie brings 24 years of diverse governmental experience having served as appointed Allegheny County Manager of the Department of Real Estate, elected Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds, City of Pittsburgh Council Member, and Pittsburgh School Board Member.

She has served on over 30 non-profit boards and organizations, and has received over 25 awards for her public service including the Pittsburgh Business Times Women in Business, YWCA Tribute to Women Leadership Award, Carlow College Woman of Spirit, and the New Pittsburgh Courier Woman of Excellence.

She has been a children’s Christian educator for 30 years and had served as Girl Scout leader for 8 years.

As Chief Urban Affairs Officer, Valerie oversees all housing, non-profit and faith-based initiatives of city government, with responsibilities over the Housing Authority, the Commission on Human Relations, and with a particular focus on underserved neighborhoods.

+ 2013 Practitioner–in–Residence

Nancy Bocskor is a sought-after speaker and internationally renowned expert in applied democracy. She is a trainer and consultant whose client list includes citizen activists and organizations in the U.S. and abroad who desire to communicate with passion to affect change in their communities. In a report on the global influence of Nancy’s work as a political educator, a major German newspaper described her as a “democracy coach.” She is equally recognized as a passionate and inspirational advocate for women’s participation in leadership, politics and government.

The author of Go Fish: How to Catch (and Keep) Contributors: A Practical Guide to Fundraising, Nancy is a professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management where she teaches courses in strategic communication and fundraising.

Nancy serves on the board of Running Start, an organization that encourages young women to enter public service.  She served as a faculty member of The 2012 Project, a program sponsored by the Rutger’s University Center for American Women and Politics to encourage women to run for political office. A past Vice President of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale, she chaired the school’s Curriculum Committee for five years.  Nancy recently joined the Board of Advisors for the Center for Second Service, an organization dedicated to getting veterans elected to Congress and sponsored by George Washington University.

+ 2012 Practitioner–in–Residence

Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky

In 2012, the Practitioner-in-Residence was former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky.

Marjorie is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a CBS News Foundation Fellow at Columbia University. She began her career as a television journalist at WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. In 1992, Marjorie was the first woman elected to Congress from Pennsylvania in her own right and she was the first Democrat since 1916 elected from Pennsylvania’s 13th District. In 1995, Marjorie served as the Director of the United States delegation to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. Today she is the President of Women’s Campaign International (WCI), a group that provides advocacy training for women throughout the world and a member of the Vietnam Education Fund, a Presidential Commission that focuses on scientific education and exchange between the United States and Vietnam. She also teaches" “Women Leaders in Emerging Democracies” and “Dealing with the Media” at the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania and has lectured at universities throughout the country.

+ 2011 Practitioner–in–Residence

NEW Leadership Pennsylvania™ 2011

Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper served as a Practitioner-in-Residence during NEW Leadership Pennsylvania™ 2011.

Click HERE to hear Congresswoman Dahlkemper talk about NEW Leadership and her mission to empower women.


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