The Women’s Policy Institute: Update from Mariya Taher

WPI - DV teamSince October, I have been a part of the 2013-2014 Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) as part of the domestic violence team. The Women’s Policy Institute is a yearlong program of intensive advocacy and leadership training retreats in Sacramento that teaches women activists and grassroots organizations how to successfully navigate the labyrinth of Sacramento.

During the program, women work in teams to develop and implement specific policy advocacy projects of their choosing with a mentor who is experienced in public policy work. The other members of the domestic violence team include Maria Caprio from the Shanti Project, Melodie Kruspodin from Peace Over Violence, Nicole Marquez from Worksafe, and Julia Parish from Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center.  Our team mentor is Krista Niemczyk from the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

In the last three months, WPI Fellows have attended two retreats to learn about possible policy project and prepare ourselves to meet with state legislators, staffers, lobbyists, consultants, and others who will be of importance during our fellowship year and as we attempt to lobby for a bill to pass. During the second retreat, fellows also meet with legislator offices to present their policy ideas and discuss them with influential legislators. The Domestic Violence team had 14 meetings with legislator offices and government consultants to discuss possible legislation that would help domestic violence survivors.

At this point, our team is gathering the feedback received from the meetings and hoping to decide which policy goal to work towards for the coming 2014 legislative year.  As our policy idea is solidified, I will be sure to keep W.O.M.A.N., Inc. community informed of our progress during this next year and the steps it will take to pass a piece of legislation that can help survivors of domestic violence.

~ Mariya Taher

To learn more about the Women’s Policy Institute, please visit


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