This semester, Nancy Bocskor, the director of the Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, is bringing her enthusiasm for civic engagement to the University of Kansas as the fellow at the Dole Institute of Politics.
Bocskor will fly from Denton, Texas, to Lawrence once a week to lead a seven-week discussion series at the Dole Institute. However, this is no large feat for the woman who has worked in 28 different countries across six different continents.
Bocskor “teaches citizens in the United States and internationally how to communicate with passion to affect change in their communities,” according to the Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy at TWU.
“My passion is helping women who have never had a voice in any of these places,” Bocskor said.
Every semester, the Dole Institute invites students and community members to participate in a seven-week discussion program facilitated by a new Dole fellow. Each speaker proposes a unique, bipartisan topic to Bill Lacy, the director of the Dole Institute, Bocskor said.
Bocskor said this year’s topic, “Create Change: Women, Democracy, and Global Politics,” needed to be addressed, having never been discussed by a fall fellow before. Bocskor has worked with a focus on women and politics for roughly the last decade.
Caitlin Riffer, a sophomore from Overland Park studying political science, has been going to discussion groups since she started at the University. This year, she co-coordinates the event.
Riffer said Bocskor's global expertise and insight into real-world issues are what makes this year’s program so unique.
“My favorite part of the program is how well it centers women in politics,” Riffer said.
Each week for seven weeks, Bocskor brings guest speakers to discuss related topics. Six out of the seven guests are women with unique political expertise. Just a few of the names on the lineup include Farhat Popal, senior program manager for the Women’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute; Susan Markham, an advocate for gender equality; and Natalia Arno, founder of the Free Russia Foundation.
“We’re all friends no matter our political affiliation because our mission is to help women,” Bocskor said.
The program features a variety of perspectives and cultural backgrounds, but Bocskor’s mission is simple: make people more aware of what activism looks like and help them find their voice.
"I like to say, 'Walk in with a dream, and I can help you walk out with a plan with achievable steps,'" Bocskor said.
Bocskor’s connection to the Dole family goes back to her college days. While studying at Otterbein University, she was chosen as an intern for the 1976 Dole campaign.
“The Dole family has been very close to my heart ever since I was a sophomore in college,” she said.
Since then, Bocskor has traveled the world, written a book, launched civic engagement programs, and won numerous awards for her work, according to the Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy at TWU.
This fall, she turns her attention to the students and community of Lawrence.
“I’m here to show them there’s a world outside their backyard,” Bocskor said.