For The City Times Staff
To celebrate Presidents Day, State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) read a story book to local second-graders at Howe Elementary School in Wisconsin Rapids.
Grace for President tells the story of a girl who, stunned to discover that all U.S. presidents have been men, decides to kick off her own political career by running for president of her class. She faces off against a popular boy and wins in a surprising way.
The lesson? That women – whether Grace or Senator Lassa herself – can run for office, win, and lead.
Senator Lassa was first elected to represent the 24th Senate District in 2003, and has served in the Wisconsin Legislature since 1998. In addition to serving as Senate Democratic Caucus Chair, she is ranking member of the Senate Economic Development Committee and a former chair of that committee.
Many children, asked to name a leader, think first of men – the leaders they see most often in the news, the ones celebrated with holidays and statues. As they see more women leaders, it becomes easier to envision wider possibilities – including, for girls, the chance that they could step into such roles themselves. Hearing the story of Grace and meeting Senator Lassa put women’s leadership in the spotlight.
Grace for President, written by Kelly DiPucchio with illustrations by LeUyen Pham, also provides an introduction to the Electoral College system, as Grace’s classmates are assigned to represent states with varied numbers of electoral votes.
The book, published by Disney-Hyperion, was made available to women lawmakers across the country – both in Congress and in state legislatures – by Teach a Girl to Lead™, a program of the non-partisan Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. Support for distributing the book came from the Hess Foundation. After reading the story to children, the lawmakers will donate their copies to school libraries.
CAWP created Teach a Girl to Lead™ to inspire girls and young women to follow in the footsteps of women leaders, past and present. Making women’s political leadership visible to America’s youth will help both boys and girls grow up with more inclusive ideas about who can lead.