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Faqs About the Institute

Below are some frequently asked questions about the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life. For further information, call 314-516-6623, or email:

What is the Sue Shear Institute?
In 1996, the Institute for Women in Public Life was founded at the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL). Its focus was to serve the needs of the students, a majority of whom were female. The Institute is a non-political, non-issue, educational entity focused on making government accessible to all Missouri citizens by encouraging women's full participation in the policy process. For further information and data, see the Institute’s History.

Who is Sue Shear?
Elected in 1972, this 55 year old mother of 3 was one of the first women legislators to represent St Louis County and also to be elected in her own right. She served through 1998 and championed early childhood education, including the creation of “Parents as Teachers;” the growth of the UMSL campus; protections for senior citizens and educational opportunities for incarcerated women. Her 26 years in office is the record for a woman in the MO Legislature. She received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from UMSL in 1998. For further information and data, see Sue Shear’s biography.

What are your educational programs?
The Institute’s course offerings include two college student leadership development programs.

The 21st Century Leadership Academy
Founded in 1998, the 21st Century Leadership Academy is an intensive week-long residential leadership development program designed to inspire civic engagement and encourage women’s public sector leadership. . This week-long program includes opportunities to meet with community, public and private sector leaders who serve as role models and mentors. Participants enhance their public speaking, networking and negotiating skills. For further information and data, see the 21st Leadership Academy and Leadership Academy testimonials.

We are always proud of our Leadership Academy alumnae and their accomplishments. Please see our 21st Leadership Academy alumnae updates.

The LEAD program
Held throughout the fall semester, the LEAD program supports and encourages students' civic engagement and instills in them a passion for women's public sector leadership. Specifically, LEAD participants gain self-confidence through training in negotiation and networking skills, increased understanding of their leadership strengths, and interactions with women leaders. For further information and data, see the LEAD program.

We are always proud of our LEAD alumnae and their accomplishments. Please see our LEAD alumnae updates.

The Institute also offers several educational programs for the broader community. This group of programs is offered on a varied schedule through the UMSL office of Continuing Education.

Inside Scoop on Boards and Commissions
A panel of government executive office staff members (State, County and Municipal) and one or more person who is serving on a public board discuss the challenges and importance of public service, the rigors of the selection process, including background checks. The board member(s) share the motivation for serving on a public board, including learning more about government operations and a field that may be within their own expertise. For further information and data, see Inside Scoop on Boards and Commissions.

Pipeline to Local Office
Offered annually in the later part of January, this two evening program focuses on campaigns for local government and school boards offices. Topics include figuring out the number of votes needed to win, who the voters are, developing a realistic budget, fund raising, creating a constructive calendar cost effective ways to reach targeted voters. For further information and data, see Pipeline to Local Office.

Pipeline to Public Office
Offered in November of odd numbered years, this 1.5 day program covers the general formula for a successful campaign. This program covers many of the same topics as the local office program and also includes public speaking skills and practice module. In addition, the challenge of identifying likely voters in both primary and general elections is covered. For further information and data, see Pipeline to Public Office.

For over a decade, the Institute has joined with the Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater St. Louis to host a workshop on the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan’s application and selection process. The Sue Shear Institute keeps the only publicly available data base on the diversity of the membership of the courts that are part of the Missouri Plan as well as the diversity of the Commissions that are responsible for selecting the three member judicial panel from which the Governor appoints the new judge.

Since 2010, the Judicial Selection Commissions has held public interviews for all judicial vacancies. The Institute Director Eveloff has attended many of these interviews. For further information and data, see Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan Judicial Statistics.


How is the Institute funded?
The Institute’s primary funding comes through the University of Missouri’s higher education allocation, which is recommended by the state’s Coordinating Board for Higher education and must be approved by the Legislature and the Governor every year. In 1998, the Institute was allocated about $250,000. Since then, depending on state revenue, it has seldom been higher and often as much as 10% has been held back due to budget constraints.

Additional funding comes from fees charged for education programs, donations from over 500 individual supporters, foundations, and corporations, including: Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, the Institute of International Education, and the UMSL Women’s Leadership Council.

How else does the Institute educate and encourage women in public life?
The Institute and staff work with other organizations to provide education and encouragement. The staff of the Institute gives talks about the state of Women in Public Life to community groups as well as more academic talks to other universities, including Washington University, St. Louis University, Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, Missouri State University, and others.

The Institute also has affiliations with regional and national groups that track and promote women’s civic engagement, including: The Center for American Women and Politics, Rutgers University; The Infinity Project, University of Minnesota; Vision 2020, Drexel University; the 2012 Project.

For additional information please see our Fact Sheet (PDF 240KB)