May 8, 2020
Meet the panelists and then click here to RSVP.
Debbie Walsh, director, Center for American Women and Politics
Debbie Walsh is director of the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. CAWP is nationally recognized as the leading source of scholarly research and current data about American women’s political participation. Its mission is to promote greater knowledge and understanding about women’s participation in politics and government and to enhance women’s influence and leadership in public life.
Walsh joined the Center staff in 1981 and became the director in 2001. She oversees CAWP’s multi-faceted programs that include:
- leadership and campaign training programs that empower women of all ages to participate fully in politics and public life;
- research illuminating women’s distinctive contributions, roles and experiences in politics and government, including the impact of women officeholders and women’s routes to elective office; and
- up-to-the-minute information and historical perspectives about women as candidates, public officials and voters.
Walsh is frequently called upon by the media for information and comment, and she speaks to a variety of audiences across the country on topics related to women’s political participation. She is a member of the Circle of Advisors to Rachel’s Network and was named one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s eNews. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY Binghamton and her M.A. in political science from Rutgers, where she was an Eagleton Fellow.
Abbie Hodgson, director of the Ascend Fund, Panorama
Abbie Hodgson is the Director of The Ascend Fund at Panorama. In her role, Abbie works to increase gender equity in political representation by investing in organizations that remove barriers and support women running for office.
Abbie brings more than two decades of experience in politics to Panorama. She’s worked on more than 100 campaigns at all levels, across the country, and even ran for office herself. Notably, Abbie served as a speechwriter for Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and chief of staff to the House Minority Leader in the Kansas Legislature.
Most recently, Abbie worked for The Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, DC, where she was responsible for developing and implementing legislative campaign strategies for a diverse group of public policy priorities across multiple states.
Abbie earned a PhD in Communication Studies from the University of Kansas, where she also taught for ten years. Her dissertation focused on how to increase the number of women in politics by improving the ways organizations recruit, train, and support women in the process of running for office.
Cherylyn Harley LeBon, partner, Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig
A trusted advisor, Ms. LeBon is a lawyer, advocate, and strategist with over 20 years of experience in senior leadership roles in Washington, D.C. and abroad. She is known for her candid strategic counsel, focus on corporate growth, and ability to transform organizations through her leadership and influence. She demonstrates a passion for people, process, and politics—initiating, maintaining, and leveraging strategic relationships with policymakers, media, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and industry. She previously served as a political appointee in the George W. Bush Administration; as a spokesman for a large political organization, and as Senior Counsel for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Clients have included multinational corporations, trade associations, nonprofit organizations, and NGO’s.
Given her passion for business and economic empowerment, Ms. LeBon is an advocate for improving educational opportunities for youth, entrepreneurship, and encouraging civic engagement. She serves on several boards and is an advisor to start-ups and small businesses. Ms. LeBon speaks on a variety of topics including philanthropic engagement, leadership, entrepreneurship, and small business development.
Angel Zimmerman, Managing Partner Zimmerman & Zimmerman
Angel Zimmerman is managing partner of Zimmerman & Zimmerman, P.A. in downtown Topeka, KS, a woman-owned law firm. Her firm is devoted to collection law of which she has been a part of for the last 25 years as office manager, partner and now owner. She is a Washburn School of Law graduate of 2006.
Community service is her passion and she has served in numerous organizations including president of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Topeka (AWE), Women Attorney Association of Topeka (WAAT), Kansas Women Attorneys Association (KWAA), and National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations (NCWBA). She has also chaired the International J. Reuben Clark Law Society Women in Law committee and the Entrepreneurial and Minority Business Development Women Initiatives for the Greater Topeka Partnership.
Her civic engagement appointment is with the Topeka Downtown BID Advisory Board.
She is the chapter author on time management for the ABA book, “Her Story.” She has also recently started a business/ life coaching and consulting company to especially engage women to be their own bosses.
This February she received the JRCLS International Woman in Law Service Award in Phoenix at the Sandra Day O’Conner Law School.
She is a proud mother of four amazing adult children and is privileged to practice with her husband, Larry Zimmerman, who has been at her side since high school debate days as rivals. Her motto: Bee Above Your Usual.