WIG Hosts Denver Conferences

The Diabetes & Obesity Summit, which was attended by over thirty female state legislators from across the country, offered a deeper dive into diabetes and obesity policy. Healthy movement and walks were incorporated to keep the message of prevention holistically woven throughout the event. Presenters from the American Diabetes Association and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors highlighted the rising costs of diabetes and the important role of state policy for diabetes prevention. In addition, diabetes disparities and how cultural competency can improve outcomes were also featured, while patient advocates spoke about personal experiences with weight bias and managing diabetes. 
Legislator attendees reported that the programming was timely and much needed.  Kentucky Representative Joni Jenkins stated that obesity segments provided, “good information” that “really made me think,” and North Dakota Representative Kathy Hawken declared afterwards that “Education for diabetes management is a must.”
Immediately following the summit, the 18th Annual Western Regional Conference, attended by 45 legislators from across the region, featured expert speakers from a variety of industries. The conference kicked off with higher education policy presented in partnership with the Gates Foundation, and water rights in the western region were also discussed. Public health was also on the agenda with a segment focused on healthy pool guidelines and swimming safety. In addition, the conference had programming on domestic violence, mental health, and access to health care.
Programming specific to Colorado was featured at the conference, including a screening of the documentary trailer Strong Sisters: Elected Women in Colorado that highlighted Colorado’s rank as number one in the nation for percentage of female representation and its rich history of women political leaders. Marijuana policy was another timely topic as other states in the region look to see how Colorado’s experience with legalization has evolved. 
In view of the gold dome of the Colorado Capitol, conference attendees gathered at the newly built Ralph J. Carr Judicial Center for the State Night Dinner. The Center, which houses the Colorado Supreme Court, boasts an interactive learning center and displays local artwork. Chief Justice Nancy Rice delivered the keynote address in which she discussed the Center’s unique design, Colorado judicial hero Ralph J. Carr, and the state’s history of women in government.
During the course of the meetings, legislators were offered tours of a generic pharmaceutical manufacturing facility and a marijuana grow house.  These off-site events gave legislators a hands-on experience that provided a deeper understanding of critical policy issues presented at the conference.
The Future Women In Government (FWIG) leadership program, which invites exemplary young women from area universities to participate in a two-day leadership development program, was held in conjunction with the 18th Annual Western Regional Conference. Students were given the opportunity to network and participate in a leadership roundtable discussion, which brought together legislative and industry professionals in an engaging conversation on leadership and career paths.
Women In Government is proud of the policy conferences it hosted in Denver and will be hosting its upcoming 22nd Annual Midwestern Conference in Kansas City, Kansas from June 25-27, 2015, which will convene women legislators from across the region.