P R E S S R E L E A S E
August 29, 2016
American Mayor and Libyan City Councilors
In mid-August Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters was sent by the Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) to North Africa to consult with 40 of the first ever elected Libyan women city local government councilors. The WDN is an initiative of the International Republican Institute (IRI) located in Washington D.C.
The purpose of this assignment was to help “empower women to lead” their City Councils by educating participants on how to be effective local government officials. Training forums focused on how to improve communications with their constituents, leveraging social media, networking with other women throughout Libya, goal setting, and putting an emphasis on the importance of developing an expertise with government issues.
“Working with some of the first women to ever be elected to anything in Libya was truly a humbling and exuberant experience,” reflected Mayor Waters, “an experience where it was my intention to use my government experience to help impact their evolving democracy for the benefit of all Libyans.”
Libya is currently in the Post-Gadhafi and Post Revolution era. Libyans are rebuilding their democracy starting with efforts writing a new national constitution and an aggressive focus on strengthening 100 cities throughout the country. This is an exciting, crucial and significant time for Libya.
* * * * * *
CHISINAU, REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA (2015) – Met with Moldovan Women Leaders on campaigning effectively in the Capitol City of Chisinau. Moldova is East of Romania.
TBILISI, GEORGIA (2015) – consulted with the International Women’s Political Leadership Academy in the Capitol City of Georgia, a former Russian country, north of Turkey; Ukrainian, Georgian and Moldovan women leaders were in attendance.
* * * * *
October 4, 2013
From Seminole to Somaliland and Back
Last month Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters was sent by IRI and USAID, two international support organizations, to Hargeisa, Somaliland, to provide consulting services to elected local government officials and political party leaders in this East African country.
The purpose of this assignment was to work with City Councilors and Mayors on how to “Better Communications…For a Better Democracy.” These training forums focused on how to be more effective government officials; how to improve communications with the people of Somaliland; how important it is that elected and party officials work together on outreach events and the significance of the planning and hosting of Town Hall Meetings.
Mayor Waters, with the oversight of the IRI Somaliland Country Director Bojan Ristic, and consulting partner Steve Pier, of Occident and Orient Development, Houston, Texas, trained over 150 people.
“Working with the good people of Somaliland was truly a humbling experience,” reflected Mayor Waters, “an experience where it was my intention to help make a difference in helping to enhance their democracy and improve the political process for the benefit of all Somalilanders.”
Somaliland is an unrecognized, self-declared de-facto sovereign state that is internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia. They have been a democracy for only 22 years.
* * * * *
April 10, 2013
LESLIE WATERS APPOINTED TO
WOMEN’S DEMOCRACY NETWORK COUNCIL
Leslie Waters, Mayor of the City of Seminole, former Florida State Legislator,
President/ Founder of the Leslie Waters Government consulting firm, and Adjunct Political Science Professor at Eckerd College, has been selected as one of 14 American women to serve on the Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) Council, headquartered out of Washington D.C. and chaired by Cindy McCain, the wife of Senator John McCain.
“Over the years I have worked with Jordanian elected women city officials, with Bosnian women Members of Parliament. In Africa I spoke from the floor of the Southern Sudan Parliament to women state and national legislators, facilitated “Campaign Workshops” for Egyptian women running for Parliament, and in Sri Lanka instructed women on how to effectively advocate their government,” explains Mayor Waters.
The Women’s Democracy Network is an Initiative of the International Republican Institute. The Council is instrumental in supporting WDN’s mission of empowering women around the world to greater activism and leadership in public life. By connecting women to resources and to their counterparts around the world, they will learn new skills to help build thriving communities for their families and lasting democracies for their people. The Network of women is currently active in 61 countries in every region of the world.
Mayor Waters says, “It is an honor to be asked to continue to bring my own business, campaign, political, legislative, and civic experience to the WDN Council in an effort to educate and connect aspiring women leaders across the world on ways to enhance their democracies.”
* * * * * * * * * *
Sri Lankan Women Energized to Advocate
August 11, 2007
Representative Leslie Waters, Speaker Pro-Tempore, who served in The Florida Legislature from 1998-2006 before term limits took effect, just returned from a “democracy training” assignment in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, the island country at the tip of India.
She conducted workshops in the Central Province cities of Kandy, Matale, and Nuwara Eliya with 80 activist women who were interested in learning the tactics behind advocating and establishing business contacts with their governmental authorities. The mission statement as set out by International Republican Institute, a non-partisan organization, focuses on advancing democracies world-wide.
Wearing beautiful flowing saris, many of the attendees arrived to the workshops after long bus rides from their homes in rural areas. Their positive and participative attitudes sparked lively interactions. Training was translated in two languages, Sinhala and Tamil, during the sessions.
Political participation in Sri Lanka is driven largely by patronage and personal gain rather than representation, which just serves to disengage the majority of the population from the democratic process. The women participants said “Enough is enough; our elected officials must learn to listen to the people, and we must educate them!”
At the conclusion of the third workshop one of the key lady activists expressed appreciation for the training, and that Leslie Waters had brought them 100 years forward!
“I have conducted ‘democracy training’ sessions in Indonesia, India and Thailand in recent years” reflected Leslie Waters, “but these beautiful Sri Lakan women touched my heart with their intenseness, their personal sacrifice and their commitment to helping to make their government more responsive to all Sri Lankans.” “Unlike in the United States where so many take so much for granted, and get annoyed at everything political, it was wonderful to witness these ladies eagerly embrace political action advocacy.”
Leslie Waters is available to present “democracy training” presentations to interested community and civic groups. Americans can be proud of the assistance our citizens at all levels of government provide to new and evolving democracies around the world.
* * * * * * * * * *
Representative Leslie Waters, Speaker Pro-Tempore of The Florida House of Representatives, on August 31, 2006, hosted a delegation from the Civic Party of Kazakhstan at her St. Petersburg legislative office.
An overview of state government, the role of The Florida Legislature, and the experience of participating in the excitement and frenzy of the election process was all part of a week long democracy training mission.
Leaders of the Civic Party were focused on Florida’s Primary Election for most of their visit, especially to observe the numerous intra-party contests, to watch the process of absentee and early voting, and to tour the Supervisor of Elections office. They personally became involved in a political rally for Gubernatorial Candidate and subsequent Governor Charlie Crist, wearing campaign stickers, waving campaign signs along the roadway, and meeting the candidate as he greeted campaign supporters. They observed the involvement of the press, important for citizens new to “freedom of the press.” These Civic Party leaders even participated in some door-to-door canvassing, providing campaign materials to local voters during their week visit to the United States.
“To get a glimpse of all the hard work that goes into the campaign process” says Representative Waters “was a terrific learning experience for these Kazakhstan political leaders. It was my honor to share with them a most basic democratic process, and that is the election of our government leaders.”
The self-funded delegation came to Florida under the direction of Josh Burgin of Plant City, the current Kazakhstan Country Director for the International Republican Institute.
* * * * * * * * * *
In the summer of 2004, Representative Waters had a two-week assignment conducting training seminars for newly elected Indonesian officials. The trip was organized by an international democracy building organization, the International Republican Institute (IRI), and funded through the National Endowment for Democracy.
Representative Waters instructed 60 newly elected officials from the local through the Parliamentary levels of government on the basics of communicating with the public, organizing a civil society, managing the political process, good governance, budgeting, ethics and the importance of transparent representation.
Both a heart warming and exhilarating experience, Representative Waters said the Indonesian leaders were eager, inquisitive and excited to receive ideas and suggestions on how to implement a representative democracy.
* * * * * * * * * *
Representative Waters joined legislative leaders from eight other states on a ten-day, July study tour to China. This study mission was hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures and sponsored by E-Bay, EDS and the International Conference of Shopping Centers. After a US State Department briefing, meetings were held with government and political officials, and trade, cultural and historical experts in Beijing, Chongquing, Chengdu and Shanghai.
“It is clear that mainland China is going all out to build an increasingly affluent society, and to enhance mutual understanding and friendship between U.S. and China,” reflected Representative Waters. “Also, more and more Chinese people are eager to travel and see other parts of the world. I can see tremendous potential in VISIT FLORIDA allocating significant resources in marketing to the Chinese tourist market.”