The Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series is a political leadership development program started in 1990 to increase the preparation, number and influence of Republican women in local, state and national elected and appointed offices.
The Lugar Series annually selects through an application and interview process, 20 outstanding, self-nominated Hoosier women to participate in political training. Women accepted in this program have demonstrated long-term success, leadership in their careers or community and have an interest in developing public policy.
Day-long classes, led by local, state and national Republican leaders, are held monthly for eight months, including a four-day seminar in Washington, D.C. These sessions are designed to encourage, prepare and inspire class members to position themselves for key elected and appointed offices. The Lugar Series is educational in nature and does not take positions on issues or support individual candidates. The program is run by a board of volunteer women and an executive director who are committed to the full participation of women in the Republican Party and in government.
A 1988 political fundraiser for Senator Lugar, organized by businesswoman Judy Singleton, sparked the beginning ideas for the program. Singleton knew a number of women willing to contribute to political campaigns, but the absence of a strong network limited the scope of influence they were able to have within a political realm.
Encouraged by the desire of women to effect change, Singleton organized the first-ever, all-female “Businesswomen For Lugar” luncheon. This event raised over $26,000, with 475 women attending, making this the most successful fundraiser for Senator Lugar’s U.S. Senate re-election campaign.
Women from around the state called to encourage further political action. In 1989, Singleton determined that partnering a women’s leadership development program with Senator Lugar, one of Indiana’s most popular elected officials at the time, would be the most effective way to increase women’s participation in government and politics.
Singleton recruited Teresa Lubbers and Barbara Maves, who both previously worked for Senator Lugar, and Melissa Martin, owner of a political marketing firm, to expand and develop the program.
The morning of Dec. 8, 1989, is identified as the breakfast where it all began when Singleton, Lubbers and Martin met with Senator Lugar. Enthusiastically supportive, Lugar assigned his Indiana State Director, Sue Anne Gilroy, to work with the group to implement what we now know as the Lugar Series.
Under the volunteer leadership of founders Singleton, Lubbers, Gilroy, Martin and Maves a full Board of Governors was assembled. In the matter of six-months, the board formed a not-for-profit, designed the training program, arranged financing for the start-up and marketed the program statewide.
With a growing number of interested women, the first class was selected in the summer of 1990. Senator Lugar keynoted the opening session held on October 29th with a speech entitled “The Formation of Public Policy and Ethics in Public Service.” Since then, numerous local, state and national Republican leaders have met with the classes and eagerly assisted participants in increasing their roles in the public arena.
Over 85 percent of the Series’ graduates have significantly increased their level of participation in government and politics, including precinct work, fundraising, campaigning, running for office and obtaining key-appointed staff positions and seats on commissions.
To date, almost $2 million has been raised to support the goals of the Lugar Series and to provide scholarships for participants. These funds have primarily come from women donors, through individual contributions and an annual fundraising luncheon. Minimal in the beginning, corporate contributions have grown substantially as companies recognize the need for expanding the role of women as business and political leaders. In 1994, PSI Energy contributed $10,000, becoming the Lugar Series first corporate partner. Ice Miller, Duke Energy, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana and Monarch Beverage are the current sponsors of the Lugar Series.
PSI Energy’s contribution as the first corporate sponsor enabled the hiring of Dottie Hancock as the Lugar Series’ first part-time executive director. As the program continued to grow, Ice Miller and the Women’s Hospital of Indianapolis agreed to become corporate sponsors in 1996. This allowed the Series to hire Holly Davis to serve as the full-time executive director in 1997. Following Davis’s term, Sandi Huddleston was selected to serve as the second full-time executive director in 1999. In 2009, Anne Hathaway, president of Hathaway Strategies and former Republican National Committee Chief of Staff, became the Lugar Series Executive Director and is still serving today.
The success of the Lugar Series and its participants has prompted other leaders worldwide to replicate the program. Since 1993, the Lugar Series has inspired similar programs in Illinois, The Lincoln Series; New Jersey, the Whitman Series; Ohio, The JoAnn Davidson Ohio Leadership Institute, just to name a few. Today, there are 11 active excellence in leadership programs across the country. The ripple effect traveled internationally, setting an example for Romania, Ukraine and Russia as a part of the International Republican Institute and Venezuela and Peru as a part of the Latin American/Caribbean Women’s Democracy Network.
In its 33rd year, the Lugar Series has alumnae in positions in nearly every political and governmental venue in the state and all the way to the White House. The Lugar Series has been honored with over two decades of empowering Hoosier women. This year, we are pleased to welcome the Class of 2022-2023.