After a year of scandal rocked the Missouri Capitol, Christine Page knew something had to change.
House Speaker John Diehl was forced to resign over his relationship with a 19-year-old House intern. Sen. Paul LeVota resigned shortly thereafter over allegations of sexual harassment by two former interns. Meanwhile, dozens of women spoke up publicly last summer about what they described as widespread sexual harassment in the Capitol.
“It would have been easy to sit back and look at what the culture has become at the Capitol and say, ‘It’s only a few bad actors,’ ” Page said. “But that would have been a missed opportunity to really do something positive and proactive to improve things in Jefferson City.”
Page and a group of women with longtime ties to the Capitol met and planned for months on a new organization that they hoped would empower women in the statehouse. That effort culminates Tuesday when the Women’s Policy Network of Missouri will officially launch with a Capitol reception.
The group hopes to connect female interns with elected officials, staffers and lobbyists who can act as mentors.
“Especially for women starting their careers in Jefferson City, it’s helpful … if a situation is getting out of control,” Page said. “They need someone they can trust who has their back.”
Page said the “connectivity between women in the Capitol isn’t what it should be, and we need to do more to build those relationships, across the aisle and across industries in the Capitol.”
Page, who is director of government relations at Missouri America Water, said the formation of the Women’s Policy Network of Missouri was a group effort. Page said the group’s launch committee is Ali Appleton, Leann Chilton, Monica Combest, Ellie Glenn, Jessica Grove, Tishaura Jones, Jennae Neustadt, Jessica Pabst and Linda Rallo.
The reception will take place from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday. The event sponsors include Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, House Speaker Todd Richardson, Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny and House Minority Leader Jake Hummel.
Those wishing to get involved with the group can do so by filling out a survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/77QGM9G.