MADISON, WI – It almost sounds like a fairy tale. Once upon a time, Wisconsin Women in Government would award annual scholarships to women interested in pursuing careers in public service and then hold a spring gala to celebrate the recipients. Of course, along came 2020. The 2020 WWIG gala was just one of the countless events postponed at the eleventh hour due to the pandemic.
The gala is the organization’s biggest event and a key fundraiser that pays for the scholarships to women pursuing government-related studies at a Wisconsin college or university. Like most signature events, the gala is a substantial undertaking and is planned by a working committee months in advance. When decision time for 2021 arrived, the future of public gatherings was not entirely clear.
So the board decided to host the event in the only way that seemed possible: virtually.
“We knew we did not want to skip the gala two years in a row, but we also knew that our regular gala format would not be viable,” said WWIG President Teresa Lueth. “Once we started considering a virtual gala, we realized it actually presented an opportunity for us to welcome more attendees from more parts of the state to our event.”
While WWIG is open to anyone working in government or government-related businesses in all parts of the state, the organization tends to draw most of its members from Madison and Milwaukee where most of its regular programming is held.
A virtual gala would remove those kinds of geographic barriers.
“There are women in all parts of Wisconsin working in all levels of government. They work for villages and counties, for state courts, federal agencies, and in the offices of elected officials,” Lueth said. “This is the first time the gala has been equally accessible to everyone, regardless of where they live.”
Lueth adds that she hopes the featured speakers attract new attendees to the event. The board lined up Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, authors of Notorious RGB, for last year’s gala. When COVID postponed the event, both Carmon and Knizhnik agreed to postpone their appearance. Then, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg—the subject of their book—passed away, and interest in her life and jurisprudence has only grown.
“As a Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg was one of the highest-ranking women in government, and she was, of course, an advocate for women,” Lueth said. “We already knew our speakers were perfect for this event, and now they are also perfect for this moment in time.”
The WWIG gala is at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14. Tickets are $50, and registration is open to the public. Visit http://wiscwomeningovernment.org/gala/ to learn more.