The Wisconsin Women's Network Policy Institute

The Wisconsin Women's Network Policy Institute provides intensive intersectional advocacy and leadership training for up to 25 Wisconsin women each year. Women selected are individuals with proven leadership or leadership potential who have an interest in promoting the advancement of women and girls in Wisconsin. Applications are welcome from women in all sectors, including individuals working in nonprofit organizations, academia, philanthropy, labor unions, and government.

The Policy Institute aims to grow the number of Wisconsin women who have the confidence, skills, and strategic know-how to successfully engage in their local and statewide communities on policy issues that matter to Wisconsin women and girls. The Institute is led by Vicky Selkowe, a public interest attorney and lobbyist who has nearly 20 years of Wisconsin-based policy advocacy experience.

Through a series of four two-day retreats in Madison, WI, participants are organized into small teams which select a specific, real-world policy advocacy project that closely relates to the Institute’s mission of improving women’s health, safety, and economic security. Through specific trainings provided to the group, Institute participants form and develop the skills to develop, drive, and advocate for their policy change, arming them with all the necessary skills for the future, and learning how to apply those skills to their own organizations and communities once the Institute’s formal training has concluded. Most important, they make real change in the process.

The Women’s Policy Institute Provides Hands-On Training:

  • In-depth, behind-the-scenes lessons on how state-level legislative & biennial budget processes really work;

  • Presentations about bias in policy-making and the challenges and opportunities surrounding advocacy for women’s health, economic security, and safety;

  • Hands-on experiences building support to advance a real-world proposal through the Legislature;

  • Training and real life experiences testifying at legislative and local hearings and meeting with elected officials;

  • Lessons and tips for engaging in local level policy advocacy;

  • Practice and feedback on effectively engaging the media on issues;

  • Extensive networking skills and opportunities.

When participants graduate from the Institute they are able to take what they’ve learned back to their communities and organizations where they will continue to engage in policy advocacy and educational efforts that advance the status of women and girls in our state.

The Wisconsin Women’s Network is committed to training women who represent all segments of Wisconsin’s diverse population. Women of diverse socioeconomic, LGBTQ+, racial, ethnic, generational, and geographic backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply!

Stay tuned for information regarding the 2018-2019 Policy Institute application process.

I am so happy we made this investment in our staff. Our staff described this experience as not only transformational, but something with an immediate impact on their daily work. I appreciate the thoughtful dedication to teaching, networking and requiring active participation. You are truly creating powerful leaders in our community.
— Maureen Fitzgerald, Hunger Task Force

A special thanks to  all of our generous donors who make the Policy Institute possible including the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the Evjue Foundation for your grant contributions last for the 2017-2018 Policy Institute. 

Policy Topics


  • Emergency assistance and homelessness prevention 
  • Lead poisoning mitigation 
  • Dating violence curriculum for WI schools
  • Medicaid coverage for Doula care
  • WI Well Women Program 


  • Address confidentiality program for victims of sexual assault (PASSED INTO LAW in 2016!)
  • Homestead tax credit, making housing affordable for low-moderate income residents
  • Breastfeeding accommodations in the workplace
  • Access to local, healthy food options for Wisconsin residents




The 2016-17 participants visited to the Capitol where they met with 31 legislative offices and dropped off their policy issue one-pagers at another 37 offices. A great day of advocating for women and girls in the state capitol!


The 2015-16 participants visited offices in the capitol to advocate on behalf of the Address Confidentiality bill ending in a bipartisan group 18 senators and 41 representatives signing on as co-authors, the eventual passing of the bill, and the creation of an Address Confidentiality Program in Wisconsin. 

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"I am involved with the Wisconsin Women's Network because WWN's Policy Institute is a shining example of women empowering women, a unique and powerful program that gives women the skills they need to tackle real problems in their communities and in Wisconsin."



"I have gained so many friendships, sisters and connections! I am forever grateful to the Wisconsin Women's Network Policy Institute for believing in women and investing in them, and for opening the door for a girl who didn't even know there was a damn hallway..."



"More than anything, the Institute has taught me that the policy world is accessible to me. I am able to, as a citizen, go  be influential in any given issue, that i don't need any special credentials. that's the message I'm going to pass along to friends: you can learn it, you can do it."