Just for You: Leadership Training Programs


  1. Text references
    1. The Student Leader – Bella Savitsky in high school and college. 1935-1942, pp. 12-20
    2. The National Women’s Political Caucus and a women’s agenda for the 1972 presidential campaign. 1972, pp136-47
    3. Wielding Power – A Force for Change in the US Congress. 1970-76, pp. 112-133 and 150-166
    4. Organizing a conference, neutralizing the opposition, building a movement – the National Women’s Conference in Houston. 1977, pp. 196-214
    5. Loss, resilience, and moving on – Bella Abzug’s runs for Senator, Mayor, Congress. 1976-1986, pp.169-193
    6. The International Women’s Movement –Bella Abzug as an international activist who changed the UN and became a model to women around the world. 1990-98, pp.263-279

  2. Thought questions (Download pdf)
    1. Analyze Bella Abzug’s leadership skills, her strengths and weaknesses, and how she used different leadership platforms.
    2. The force of personality – how does personality work and how does it not as a leadership tool? What allowed Abzug to be upfront about her personal ambition?  What was the relationship between that ambition and her personality and her commitment to social justice?  How did she use her personality or compensate for it when she needed to?
    3. Exerting power – What are the differences between working within the system and pushing from outside the system?  What are the different strategies and skills you need?  Where are they are the same, and how can we create synergy between the two types of action.
    4. Coalitions and partnerships – What kinds of alliances did Bella Abzug build in order to achieve her goals?  How did she create working relationships with a range of people?
    5. How did Bella Abzug deal with set backs and failures, and how did her failures set the stage for the next steps
    6. The personal is political – How did Bella Abzug’s personal life support her public roles?
      1. Martin Abzug: A model for the political spouse.
      2. Bella Abzug’s circle of friends: a personal and professional support network.
    7. What in our society today would change the way a modern day Bella Abzug operates, and how would she have to adjust to be effective?
      1. Rise of the right wing and fundamentalism of all sorts
      2. Technology
      3. Changing demographics, and increasing multiplication and fragmentation of identity

  3. In Their Own Words: Quotes for Discussion (Download pdf)
    1. “I was motivated by hope.  I still am.  Everything that goes down I take seriously.  I’m pained by it, but I still have the optimism that it can be changed.” (Bella Abzug p. 53)
    2. ”I never opposed the high moralistic ground.  It’s a significant part of leadership of any kind.  Lacking that, you don’t have leaders.  You have phonies.” (Bella Abzug p. 86)
    3. “It’s one thing to be an activist.  But it’s another thing to be willing to take that level of activism to governance….  [Bella Abzug] was willing to take her activism to another level…taking on a whole other burden of responsibility.” (Ron Dellums p. 111)
    4. “She did it basically by force of personality.  If you look at why things are achieved, it is leadership, and that really is personality.  She understood very well the character of herself and played to that.” (Edward Kennedy P. 133
    5. “ As I travel around the world … I am always meeting women who introduce themselves by saying, ‘I’m the Bella Abzug of Russia,’ or I’m the Bella Abzug of Kazakhstan,’ or I’m the Bella Abzug of Uganda….I know what they really mean is that they’ll never give up.”’ (Hillary Clinton p. 284)