The Elsie Hillman Chair in Women and Politics to host Congresswoman Liz Cheney


Congresswoman Cheney in 2017. Photo Credit: Liz Cheney official 116 Congress portrait.

Lilly Kubit

The Elsie Hillman Chair in Women & Politics is hosting a conversation with Congresswoman Liz Cheney Thursday, March 24, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Zoom.  

Established by the Hillman Foundation in 1997 and hosted by the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics (PCWP), the goal of the Elsie Hillman Chair in Women & Politics is to enrich and educate the Chatham University community about women in politics. 

The chair is picked every year and is always a woman who is a political leader, scholar, journalist and/or activist. Since 2011, the Elsie Hillman Chair in Women & Politics has held a conversation with the Chair, which is the selected guest. 

For its 11th chair, Congresswoman Cheney will speak about her work as vice chair on the House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Dana Brown, Ph.D. is the PCWP executive director and assistant professor of political science. She started at Chatham University in July 2010.  

Brown said the Elsie Hillman Chair in Women & Politics is important due to the big public leadership gap for women. 

“These types of programs raise the consciousness about the importance and value of women in politics, and it really shines a spotlight on where we can be improving,” she said. “We know that we have women leaders in our community, but they’re not necessarily at the decision-making table when it comes to public policy. We all lose when that happens.”

The program is quite popular in the community. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Elsie Hillman Chair in Women & Politics was held in the Campbell Memorial Chapel, where about 600-700 people would attend. Attendance dropped to just a few hundred after the pandemic started and the program moved to Zoom, but numbers have since increased. 

This year’s event has more than 1,000 unique registered emails. 

Brown feels like part of the reason registration is so high this year is because of Congresswoman Cheney. 

“Her politics are very conservative, which is, I think, what draws people to want to hear from her,” she said. “People are really interested to understand why someone who was such a prominent figure in the Republican Party would choose to stand up for democracy when so many other colleagues chose not to.”

Congresswoman Cheney’s work on the Jan. 6 Select Committee is the main reason she was selected. Brown feels that Congresswoman Cheney is an important figure to speak due to how serious the committee is to democracy. 

“As we are learning now from the Jan. 6 Select Committee work, we were actually very close to losing our democracy, and that’s not a hyperbole,” Brown said. “Even though she may be a very conservative figure … there is no discussion about climate change, LGBTQ rights, racial justice … if we lose democracy.”  

Despite this, some students are wary of such a conservative figure being featured on such an important Chatham stage. 

Chatham Democrats President Aidan Bobik is choosing not to attend this year the Elsie Hillman Chair in Women & Politics event. 

“While Rep. Cheney should receive approval for condemning the attempted coup on Jan. 6, she remains a right-wing conservative and a war hawk who has advanced a vision for this country and its role that is far beyond any praise,” said Bobik over email. 

Young Republicans Club President Jack Schmiedlin welcomes this opportunity to discuss politics with the congresswoman. 

“Whether you agree with Congresswoman Cheney’s beliefs or not, this is an opportunity to listen to ideas. I would encourage the school to provide more opportunities like this, with representatives from all sides of the political spectrum,” he told the Communiqué in an email. 

Both Bobik and Schmiedlin stressed that their viewpoints and words were their own and not shared on behalf of their respective organizations. 

Co-President of Chatham Student Power (CSP) Leah Whitacre lies somewhere in the middle of Bobik and Schmiedlin. 

“From a political standpoint, CSP officers are unlikely to support her just because she is a woman,” they said via email. “While we don’t align with her political stances, we think that space for discourse across the political spectrum should be allowed on campus, and this event does exactly that.”  

An online reception where students can talk with Congresswoman Cheney will take place from 5:15-5:45 p.m. before the webinar. Whitacre thought the reception was a great idea. 

“We appreciate the opportunity for students to ask questions and engage with her during the reception held prior to the webinar,” they said.

Brown encourages students to register for the reception before the webinar. Sign-ups for both can be found on