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September 05, 2012

New Academy, Workshop Move Progress Forward

By Heidi Opdyke

ProgressA new professional academy and workshop in the U.S. capital are designed to help women and girls make progress in mastering the art of negotiation.

The Negotiation Academy and Speak Up! D.C. are the latest efforts of the Heinz College and the Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society (Progress), an outreach program based on the research of Linda Babcock, the James M. Walton Professor of Economics at Heinz.

Negotiation Academy

For the new Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women, the lessons start before participants even sign up.

The first step, said MJ Tocci, director and co-founder of the academy, is for women to negotiate with their companies to send them to the academy.

"Before you ask your boss, figure out how to articulate why this academy experience is good for you and good for your organization," she said.

Women should be prepared to address their employer's concern that they will use the experience to negotiate for a raise, Tocci said.

"Remind them that negotiations are about so much more than money and if women negotiate all day, every day on behalf of their organizations, it makes sense for them to become really good at it," she said.

Women can watch a series of videos at to help them approach supervisors about the opportunity. The academy includes 80 hours of intensive workshops combining direct instruction with interactive group exercises and individual coaching. The first class will be January to May and will meet one consecutive Friday and Saturday each month for five months. Distinguished professionals and faculty from Carnegie Mellon and Northwestern University will conduct the classes. Tuition is $15,000.

"The target audience for the academy is women who feel there is a gap between where they are now and where they want to be," Tocci said. "Women from early on in their careers to those with decades of work experience can benefit from all the academy has to offer. We are never done improving these essential skills."

Tocci said that by spacing out the coursework, participants incorporate lessons into their workplace and then build on their knowledge each month with the academy faculty, their classmates, strategic partners at their organizations and coaches. With this approach, the academy has the potential to change the world, she said.

"It's not that we can solve all the problems and eliminate all the obstacles that women face in the workplace," Tocci said. "But negotiation is the intervention that can make the biggest difference for women to get what they want and for their companies to truly leverage women's talents. If you can't solve discrimination, how do you negotiate around it? If you can't solve gender stereotypes, negotiate around them.

"Organizations committed to promoting more women to leadership and to retaining talented women will benefit greatly from this academy, because as we know well, allowing all talent to bloom benefits everyone."

Speak Up! D.C.

Girls in Pittsburgh have had the opportunity for the past four years to learn how to harness their voices to make a positive and immediate impact in their personal lives.

Now the girls in Washington, D.C., will have the same opportunity. Progress will host a "Speak Up!" workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., on Sept. 22 for girls between the ages of 7 to 12 at the U.S. Capitol building. Participants will learn to build confidence as effective negotiators, recognize more situations as negotiable, and embrace negotiation as preferable to accepting the status quo, engaging in direct conflict, or giving up.

Ayana Ledford, executive director of Progress, selected D.C. as the offsite host for the workshop due to the Heinz College's strong presence in the community. The planning committee for the event includes representatives from the offices of Speaker of the House John Boehner, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and national organizations (Girls on the Run, Healthy Teen Network and Running Start).

Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run, will be the keynote speaker for the event. Girls on the Run's vision is to see a world in which every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. The Georgetown Step Team and Batala, an all-woman drumming group, volunteers from U.S. AID, the D.C. community, and Heinz College also will participate.

"Our program is unique, powerful and impactful. Hosting the workshop in D.C. at the United States Capitol helps to make it special. I don't know how often girls have opportunities, especially for young girls, to go through a training at the U.S. Capitol. Ledford said. "If you look at the number of women in leadership positions represented on the Hill, this program will surely inspire them, too."

For more information, contact Rachel Koch at or 412-925-6741.