Meet the WPLN Fellows: Kendall Webb
In 2022, WPLN launched its first-ever Fellowship for nonprofit management. As part of the program, fellows help build the capacity of our organization and assist our State Partners who identify, engage, and train women on the ground to seek public office. This year, WPLN continues this program with its second cohort of three outstanding young women.
Meet Kendall Webb, WPLN fellow from Hot Springs, Arkansas. Kendall is pursuing her Bachelor’s in History at Mercer University and is expecting to graduate in 2024.
[WPLN]: What about WPLN's mission do you feel most passionate about?
[Kendall]: Many advocates for women’s political representation focus on achieving gender parity, or a set percentage of female representation of 51%. While increasing the percentage of women in office is important, WPLN’s mission extends far beyond the end of an election cycle or achieving a statistic. Women, once in office, make large, positive impacts on government and policy. Center-right women generally focus on the issues most important to Americans: fiscal responsibility, education, and creating a safe and improved America. The past three years have been characterized by record-high inflation, an unprecedented education crisis, and increased polarization, escalating the need for competent, focused, and qualified politicians with real policy solutions. Center-right, female candidates generally focus on these “kitchen table” issues and often work across the aisle to create common-sense solutions that benefit the most Americans. By diversifying the voices included in policy conversations, policy solutions can be more thoughtful and effective. While increasing the statistics of women in powerful elected positions is exciting, the beneficial outcomes for constituents and American democracy are more impactful.
What are you most looking forward to with your Fellowship?
WPLN’s leadership boards contain some of the most successful, competent female leaders in politics today, and I am very excited for the opportunity to learn from them and their decades of experience. This organization truly understands the importance of network building and creating supportive communities through connecting like-minded women nationwide. I am absolutely amazed by the wonderful ladies in our network, and I look forward to learning by their example and mentorship.
What do you see as one of the biggest challenges for women in leadership today?
Despite record-high numbers of female representation and encouragement in leadership, many women still lack the internal confidence and efficacy to seek leadership roles. Psychology research at UC Santa Barbara determined that women are more self-critical and less confident in their leadership abilities than their male counterparts. A lack of self-confidence partially explains the reluctance many women feel when considering running for office or seeking leadership positions. Thanks to the work of ceiling-breakers and organizations such as WPLN, women are often reminded of how capable, smart, and qualified they are for leadership positions; however, our next challenge is helping women intrinsically believe in their own efficacy.
How do you plan to impact your community post-graduation?
After graduation, I plan to return to Washington, D.C. to pursue a career in campaigns and communications. My passion for helping women achieve elected office is a lifelong one, and I plan to continue working with strong, inspiring women throughout my career. My ultimate goal is to help encourage and prepare women to run for office in my community.
What is your favorite quote by a woman who has impacted your life?
"I don’t know that there are any shortcuts to doing a good job"- Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. I have always admired Justice O’Connor’s tenacity, intelligence, and leadership. The first female member of the United States Supreme Court, O’Connor recognized the historical significance of her position while not letting herself be defined by her gender alone. Justice O’Connor served her nation with dignity and grace, even after her retirement from the Supreme Court. An advocate for civics learning, Justice O’Connor saw the importance of education and understanding the American system of government. I hope to emulate Justice O’Connor’s intelligence and grit as I continue throughout my life and career.