A Call to Service: Women in Government
Sunday, Dec.5 | 2-3:30 p.m.
Sponsored by the Toll Fellows Program, open to all attendees
The 2010 election cycle is dubbed “the year of the woman” as record numbers of female candidates made the ballot across the country. For a country where men are now a minority but only a small fraction of elected offices are filled by women, this is an important trend. Join a panel of Toll Fellows alumni for a discussion on how to encourage more women to enter the political pipeline and run for office in the future.
Delaware Rep. Deb Hudson – 1998 Toll Fellow
Deborah Hudson began her career of public service as a teacher at Claymont Middle School and an educator at Winterthur Museum. Her first experience with elective office came in 1986 when she won the post of New Castle County Prothonotary. In 1994, she made a successful bid for the 12th Representative District seat, which she has held ever since. The district is located in north-central New Castle County.
Never one to shy away from controversial subjects, Hudson has been an outspoken champion of improving state funding to charter schools. She has also sponsored legislation that sought to establish a legal and regulatory framework for conducting stem cell research in the First State. A leading supporter of good government and open government legislation, Hudson has backed initiatives to give the public more access to the budgetary process. She also successfully supported an initiative to stream the audio of the House of Representatives’ proceedings on the Internet.
Hudson is also noted for her financial expertise. During her tenure, she has served as the chair of the House Revenue and Finance Committee and is a current member of the Delaware Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) – responsible for issuing the revenue estimates on which the state operating budget is based. A full-time legislator, Rep. Hudson currently serves on the House Revenue and Finance Committee; the House Economic Development / Banking / Insurance & Commerce Committee; the House Gaming & Pari-mutuels Committee; and the House Housing & Community Affairs Committee.
Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta – 2009 Toll Fellow
Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta was elected to the Supreme Court in 2006. Saitta began her judicial career a decade earlier when she was appointed as a Las Vegas Municipal Court judge in October 1996. Two years later, she was elected a judge at the Eighth Judicial District Court.
Prior to taking the bench, she was a senior deputy attorney general where she served as the children’s advocate for Nevada. Her commitment to children continued after she left that office. As a district judge, Saitta was appointed by Gov. Kenny Guinn to the Nevada State Juvenile Justice Commission, and created the Clark County Missing and Exploited Children Comprehensive Action Program that coordinates with the U.S. Department of Justice. Her efforts have won her recognition, including the "For the Children" award presented by the Office of the Attorney General in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Nevada’s children, the District Attorney Outstanding Service Award, and the Child Advocate of the Year (2001). In 2000, she won an Angels in Adoption award from the U.S. Congress. In 2005, she was named one of the Top 500 Judges in America by Law Dragon publication.
As a district judge, Saitta developed the Southern Nevada Fatality Review Team, and the specialized Complex Litigation Division for case management of construction defect and other voluminous cases. The latter received national recognition as one of the top programs in the country in 2003 from the National Association of Counties.
Kansas Sen. Vicki Schmidt – 2007 Toll Fellow
Kansas Sen. Vicki Schmidt has long been dedicated to serving others. The longtime Topeka resident and Wichita native graduated from the Kansas University School of Pharmacy in 1978 and has worked for nearly three decades as a pharmacist.
It was through her work as a pharmacist Schmidt was first given the opportunity to work at the state level. She was appointed by then-Gov. Bill Graves to the Kansas State Board of Pharmacy in 1996. Between 1996 and 2002, she held positions of president, vice president and chair of the Legislative Task Force. The path led her to testifying before committees in the House and Senate, where she argued policy restructuring. In 2004, at the urging of colleagues and with the support of her family, she ran for, and won, the open seat in the 20th Senate District.
As a legislator, Schmidt serves as chair of the Joint Committee on Rules and Regulations, vice-chair of the Public Health and Welfare Committee, vice-chair of the Physician Workforce and Accreditation Task Force, a member of the Senate Committees on Transportation, Financial Institutions and Insurance, Public Health Strategies, and Ways and Means. She also serves on the Joint Committee for Information Technology, Health Policy Oversight, Kansas State Advisory Council on Aging, Capital Area Plaza Authority and State Employee Pay Plan Oversight Committee.
North Dakota Treasurer Kelly Schmidt – 2009 Toll Fellow
Kelly Schmidt was elected North Dakota’s state treasurer in November 2004. She was re-elected in 2008. She is the incoming president of the National Association of State Treasurers.
Since taking office, she has worked to bring cost savings and efficiencies into the treasurer's office. She has promoted localized economic development through an initiative called BidND which fosters economic growth. BidND has placed millions of dollars in North Dakota communities, garnering additional interest income for the state.
As state treasurer, Schmidt serves as a member of the North Dakota State Investment Board, the Teachers Fund for Retirement Board, North Dakota Board of Tax Equalization, North Dakota State Historical Society, and the North Dakota Board of University and School Lands. She currently serves as chair of the National Association of State Treasurer’s Foundation, which oversees the educational activities of the foundation which include the New Treasurers Symposium, the International Project assisting Mexican Public Finance Officials as well as initiatives to promote financial literacy across the nation. She is a member of the board of directors for the National Jump$tart Coalition and the American Savings Education Council.