Message from the Director
Welcome to the Elizabeth J. Somers Women’s Leadership Program (WLP), a one-year, residential academic program at The George Washington University. This selective program welcomes first-year students from all GW Schools and Colleges to build community and develop leadership skills while living together on the Mt. Vernon campus. The WLP was founded in 1999, but it carries forward a legacy of leadership in women’s education that is nearly 150 years old. The Mt. Vernon Seminary (later the Mt. Vernon College and now GW’s Mt. Vernon campus), was founded in 1875 by our namesake, Elizabeth J. Somers, to become the only institute of higher education open to women in DC. Today, WLP continues to create opportunities for learning and leadership on the beautiful Mt. Vernon campus
Students apply to WLP along with their application to GW, and they select between four cohorts:
- International Arts & Culture
- Science, Health, & Medicine
- Globalization, Economics, & Business
- International Politics
For all cohorts, WLP provides students the opportunity to take their foundational courses in a small class and with a dedicated faculty member, allowing the development of meaningful and supportive relationships. WLP students also take University Writing (a required course for all GW students) with peers from across WLP cohorts, from talented faculty who incorporate women’s perspectives into their courses.
The keystone of the WLP courses is the weekly leadership symposium, designed to help young leaders imagine and prepare for the many possibilities that lie ahead of them. This dynamic course offers students special guest speakers, engaging workshops to build leadership and professional skills, and off-campus events that draw on the unique resources of Washington, D.C.
Outside of the classroom, leadership opportunities, social events, and a peer mentor program enhance the program and help to build a supportive, collaborative community of student leaders on campus. WLP students live together in Somers Hall on the Mount Vernon Campus during their first year, and many students choose to live together on Foggy Bottom in their sophomore year and beyond. Activities on campus also connect WLP students with other special programs on the Vern, like the University Honors Program, and build a strong, vibrant campus community through shared social and co-curricular events.
As the Director of this outstanding program, my top priority will always be the WLP students. I hope that each and every student feels welcomed, supported, and valued throughout their time in the program and beyond. I am very eager to hear from WLP students, past, present, and prospective, about what they hope for their program, and anyone can reach out to me with concerns, suggestions, or ideas. Finally, if you would like to see what we are up to throughout the year, follow us on Instagram and check out our blog.
Program Coordinator, Science, Health, & Medicine cohort
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences