Young Women’s Leadership Institute

An engaging, hands-on experience created to empower young women in their everyday lives.

Two students, one with long blonde hair and wearing glasses, the other with dark hair, are smiling as they pose in front of the Lincoln Memorial for a school democracy program.
  • Date

    Late July/Early August 2023
  • Duration

    7 Day Residential Program
  • Location

    Los Angeles Area
  • Cost


2022 Summer Program Recap

Strengthening Young Women's Leadership in Civics

YWLI Summer Program in D.C.

The Young Women’s Leadership Institute brought together young women from across the nation for a seven-day residential summer program in Washington, D.C. Participants learned about various aspects of leadership and the opportunities they have to be leaders and change-makers in their communities. The program featured guest speakers, hands-on learning
activities, and culminated with the creation of eight community action plans. The point of the Institute is that these young women will take the community action plans that they created, and their new leadership skills, back to their home communities.

Guest Speakers

  • Rachel Kaganoff Stern, CEO, JSA
  • YWLI Alumnae Panel
    • Janelle Austin, Executive Director, George Floyd Global Memorial
    • Katrina Mulligan, Chief of Staff to the Secretary of the Army, JSA Summer Program Alumnae
    • Molly Ford, The Civics Center
    • Abbie Kaplan, CivixNow

Lesson Highlights

  • Introduction to Leadership
    • History of Leadership
    • Leadership theory and types of leadership
    • Leadership vs Management
  • Know Thyself: Leadership and Identity
    • Intersectionality
    • Building Empathy
  • Leading Through Crisis
    • Building Teams
    • Enabling Others to Act
    • Creating a Shared Inspired Vision

Other Activity Highlights

  • Culminating Project: Community Action Plans (topics from Summer 2022 YWLI include: period poverty, mental health, reproductive education, high school voter registration, neurodivergent education alliance, women's magazine, providing meals for students in the summer, translating health materials)
  • Student-led roundtables on current issues (Beauty Culture, Affirmative Action, Voting Age)
  • Critical Friends. Individuals bring scenarios from their life to a group to try to work through possible solutions.

About the Program

Junior State of America believes leadership is a skill that can be learned and nurtured through instruction, self-reflection, and practice. At the Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI), students will learn about the history of women’s leadership in the United States, gain direct experience in community organizing and action planning, and understand the opportunities they have to be leaders in their communities.

YWLI students will hear directly from women who are currently leading on critical issues in our country. Past speakers and presenters include: Ambassador Susan Rice; Senator Amy Klobuchar; Mayor London Breed; Dr. Brooke Rios, Executive Director of New Los Angeles Charter Schools; Dr. Kelley Le, author and climate science activist; Dr. Marie Peoples, Deputy County Manager, Coconino County; Deputy Chief Drennon Lindsey of the Oakland Police Department; Amanda Litman, Co-Founder of Run for Something!; Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett.

Who Should Attend?

The material for the Burd Institute is designed for high school girls in 9th-12th grade. The youngest group who can sign up for this experience are incoming 9th graders.

Key Takeaways
  • Meet inspiring women leaders
  • Implement community activism projects
  • Learn how to be a leader in your community
  • Make friends with students who share your interests

Goals & Outcomes

Students who attend Young Women’s Leadership Institute will:


Be better equipped to participate in government at the national, state, and local levels


Be able to lead and participate in civil conversations with people from different backgrounds and perspectives


Learn and demonstrate effective 21st-century leadership skills


Be ready to address current and future political, economic, and social issues facing the world


Be better suited to succeed in secondary and post-secondary education environments


Develop and hone essential critical thinking skills

  • This institute has helped me feel like I can make an impact in my community. I have been inspired to take action. I feel more confident and that my voice as a young woman is important.

  • Participating in this institute was an incredible step in my leadership journey. I pushed myself to grow, made lasting connections with my classmates, and learned more than I expected. It was an incredible experience.

  • I learned more about what women in the world face, and how they might overcome their problems. The amazing young women that I got to know this summer taught me a lot to know for when I leave my tiny island and explore the bigger parts of the world. By taking this class, I’ve gained confidence and knowledge. I believe in myself MORE, and I want to be brave—take risks.


Have questions?

How do I apply to JSA Summer Programs?

Do I need to be a member of JSA to attend Summer Experiences?

Are transcripts or letters of recommendation required for Summer Programs?

What is included in my tuition?

Are scholarships available for Summer Experiences?

Do I need to be vaccinated to attend in-person events?

How can I contact someone with questions?

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