Recently, Newsweek magazine devoted its cover story to "Women and Power," highlighting the work of some of the most visible women in politics, government, media, entertainment and sports.
I was proud to see the incredible and innovative leadership skills of Gov. Janet Napolitano, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and new media mogul Arianna Huffington, among others, featured for everyone to read.
But, I think that it is equally important to point out and praise the numerous women across the country, many in the most unlikely places, who are also leading public (but not necessarily high-profile) lives and helping to change their communities at the grassroots level. This next generation of women leaders need recognition, attention and support.
Over the past couple of years, The White House Project has been helping to build the foundation for the next Napolitano and Franklin through a program called Vote, Run, Lead. Since its inception, Vote, Run, Lead has trained over 1100 women, with more than a 100 of them running for public office at the local level and over 50 percent of them winning.
What's more astonishing is that these women come from a diverse range of backgrounds, ethnicities, and incomes. Unlike the increasingly self-funded campaigns of many candidates running for House or Senate, many of these women make less than $30,000 a year. And instead of affecting change at the national level, they are working tirelessly to influence change at the local community level as a State House representatives or City Council member.
By adding these new voices to the mix, we are seeing new perspectives on critical issues such as immigration, housing, poverty, health care and education.
If we can bring women in numbers into elected office at all levels and from each political party, then we truly can change how leadership looks at the top and at the grassroots level.
And maybe this time next year, we will be looking at one of these unheralded women gracing the cover of Newsweek.