UWLP Mission & History

Mission & Goals

To strengthen the impact of Utah girls and women through informing, engaging, and developing their voices, confidence, influence, and leadership.

  1. Publish research briefs, snapshots, impact recommendations, and reports.
  2. Provide workshops, seminars, and other gatherings to help prepare and advance women of all ages for leadership.
  3. Gather and create resources.
  4. Assist women in finding women's groups, networks, and associations.
  5. Partner and collaborate with entities that have related goals and efforts (e.g., nonprofits, associations, colleges/universities, K-12 schools, companies, churches).


The seeds for the Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) were laid in 2008 when Utah's Commissioner of Higher Education, Bill Sederberg, and Assistant Commissioner, Lucille Stoddard, approached Dr. Susan R. Madsen about the troubling status of women and education within the state of Utah. This conversation led to the creation of the "one-year" Utah Women and Education Project (UWEP) in 2009, a major research endeavor focused on how to increase the rates of women attending and graduating from college.

By 2011, it became clear that a more organized effort was needed to assist Utah in figuring out how to move forward with a social change movement. Thus, in addition to UWEP, the Utah Women's College Task Force was formed by the Commissioner's Office in conjunction with the Utah Governor's Office. At this point, it expanded from a Utah Valley University project to a statewide effort supported by institutions of higher learning, business leaders, and the highest offices of state government. From this task force came the Utah Women and Education Initiative (a name change from UWEP), to serve as a hub for coordinating efforts promoting change and was supported/sponsored by a variety of organizations across many different fields.

Because the research and resources were so important, Dr. Susan R. Madsen remained focused on this work. Responding to requests for research on women's leadership in Utah, Madsen also started the Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) in 2013 and combined the two initiatives formally in 2016. Up to this point the work was conducted primarily by Dr. Madsen, a student, and some volunteers. However, with support from key UVU administrators, community supporters, and many donors, Madsen's statewide projects have extended in scope and reach to promote women of all ages and incorporates the importance of leadership as well as education. Robbyn Scribner joined UWLP as a critical partner in February of 2016 and has now become the part-time Assistant Director. During the summer of 2016, UVU also provided ongoing funding for a full-time Coordinator; this position has been occupied by Deirdre Miller since June of 2017. Over the past decade, Dr. Madsen and other committed individuals have hosted dozens of events and gatherings; produced and published scores of research briefs, snapshots, and resources; and connected thousands of women to the ideas, information, and inspiration they need to move forward with their own education and leadership goals. For a more detailed review of the history of this work, click here.