The Op-Ed Project, featured at length by The New York Times and by Katie Couric on her CBS Notebook Series, raises the voice, profile and leadership potential of women experts in all fields. We work with top universities, nonprofits, corporations, women’s organizations and community leaders across the nation. Our program is designed to share the tools of powerful argument, and also to inspire and cultivate a sense of thought leadership by encouraging participants to see their potential impact on the world.
The Op-Ed Project has worked with several of the world’s largest financial institutions, media companies, and leading management consulting firms, as well as The White House Project’s Corporate Council (top women executives from Fortune 500 companies) and Yale School of Management. In the corporate context, our program is designed to provoke and advance thought leadership, making women executives more visible and more valuable.
Studies, including two recent reports by McKinsey, have demonstrated the link between the presence of women’s voices in corporate management teams and companies’ bottom lines. And yet, the lack of women’s voices here is among the most pronounced. Despite their growing ranks as CEOs, owners of small businesses, and members of corporate boards, women continue to be underrepresented in companies’ executive structures, in the media as leading voices on the private sector, and in key business forums. For example:
Source: The Corporate Council / The White House Project
We tailor every program to the needs and culture of an organization. In the corporate context we focus on powerful argument and thought leadership, not op-ed publication per se (although top level executives do sometimes wish to publish op-eds). Commonly requested options are:
INTRODUCTORY SEMINAR (1.5 - 2 hours) addresses concepts and structure of effective short-form argument, including: how to establish authority, quickly and decisively; how to build consensus and change minds (the difference between being “right” and being effective); and how to make a powerful, evidence-based argument for an idea or cause that you care about. We explore what we know and why (“credibility” and “expertise”), and ways of thinking bigger about what we know and our potential value. Executives leave with a greater sense of the value of their knowledge and experience, and how to clearly communicate it.
FULL SEMINAR (4-6 hours, over one or more days) expands on the introductory seminar in concrete, immediate terms. We explore how to present ideas quickly and powerfully under pressure; how to preach beyond the choir; how to preempt counterarguments, and ways of escaping a pigeonhole. We review techniques and tools of persuasion that appear in some of history’s most powerful arguments (speeches, essays, op-eds and more that have changed the world). We examine the building blocks of persuasion and the value of seeing your argument as part of a bigger picture—and yourself as part of a larger conversation. Executives typically emerge with working drafts of concrete, powerful written arguments for ideas, policies or causes they are championing.
EXECUTIVE SEMINAR SERIES: A regular series can be tailored to a group’s needs, to provide ongoing coaching or follow up, to develop women’s leadership and voice in specific business contexts, or to accommodate a revolving group.
In the non-profit context, The Op-Ed Project focuses on op-ed writing for concrete, measurable results, and also as a metaphor for making a bold, fair, persuasive case for the ideas and causes you believe in, wherever that may take place – on TV, on the steps of congress, in a PTA meeting, in a board meeting, on a blog. Seminars revolve around understanding the greater potential value of your knowledge and experience, and communicating it effectively to make an impact. We tailor every seminar to the needs of an organization. Our seminars can be designed to empower staff members as well as members of the communities that are served by your organization.
We tailor every seminar to the needs of an organization. The most frequently requested options are listed below.
INTRODUCTORY SEMINAR (1.5 - 2 hours) Begins with an exercise geared to get participants to express ideas or causes that they care about, and areas of knowledge or expertise that they are interested in pursuing further, although they may not know how. It focuses on what we know and why ("expertise"); how to frame our knowledge and experience for maximum impact; the components of a powerful evidence-based, value-driven argument; strategies for preaching beyond the choir, and ways of thinking bigger about what we know and our potential value. We explore how participants can triangulate and expand their areas of expertise to be able to publish—and think—more broadly. The introductory seminar is not just about writing op-eds; it's about making a bold, fair, persuasive case for the ideas and causes you care about—wherever that may take place.
FULL SEMINAR (7 hours / 1+ day(s)) Expands on each element of the introductory seminar, and can be done in a full-day format, or in multiple sessions over two or more days. It focuses on how to present ideas quickly and powerfully – thereby earning the right to a longer conversation; strategies for making a greater impact – including how to escape a pigeonhole, how to make an "old" but important argument fresh again, and how to build consensus among those who may disagree with you (the difference between being "right" and being effective). We discuss etiquette and strategies for pitching; how to build relationships with editors and publishers (how to achieve the author editor "mind meld"); and the value of seeing your argument as part of a bigger picture—and yourself as part of a larger public conversation. We also read a sampling of the greatest arguments of all time—essays, speeches and op-eds that have changed the world—so that we can consider why they were so powerful and what approaches and techniques we might borrow.
University Program: Own Your Voice, Change the World
The OpEd Project works with top universities across the nation—Stanford, Yale, NYU, City University of New York and UCSF, among others. Our highly-interactive, energetic program is built around experiential learning and thought leadership: it is designed to share the tools of powerful argument, and to inspire and cultivate a sense of social responsibility by empowering participants to see their potential impact on the world. It is also designed to increase the number of women participating in public debate and contributing to public knowledge. Why is this important? Our national conversation currently reproduces the voices and opinions of only a small fraction of society: mostly white, mostly privileged and overwhelmingly male. The op-ed pages of our nation’s top newspapers and online sites are 85% written by men. What is the cost to society when half of the nation’s best minds and best ideas – women’s minds and women’s ideas – are missing? What would be the return to us all, if we could capture that brain power?
The OpEd Project is unique in its focus on concrete, measurable results. Participants have published commentary in national, regional and local newspapers, as well as online. As a direct result, they have received book contracts and been invited to apply for fellowships, appeared on radio and television, expanded their teaching and research careers, been invited to graduate schools (including Columbia Journalism School), delivered speeches before national audiences, started non-profit organizations, been hired to advise leading news magazines, exposed plagiarism in the college application process, proposed new tax policies, advocated for better privacy laws on the internet, advocated for alternative energy policies, testified before congress, and changed recycling policy in their home town.
Want to know what Universities think? Watch the testimonial videos from our Yale, Princeton, and Northwestern programs!
We tailor every seminar to the needs of the university's program. Below are the seminar options.
FULL-DAY SEMINAR (7 hours) + one year of access to OpEd Project National Network of Mentor-Editors. The highly-interactive, energetic full day seminar is built on a series of exercises, scenarios and experiential learning around thought leadership, and is designed to make participants think more carefully and more expansively about what they know and why it matters. We explore how to present ideas quickly and powerfully under pressure; the source of credibility; the components of powerful, evidence-based argument; the difference between being “right” and being effective; and strategies for making a greater impact, including how to escape a pigeonhole, how to preach beyond the choir, and the value of seeing your argument as part of a bigger picture—and yourself as part of a larger public conversation. We review techniques and tools of persuasion that appear in some of history’s most powerful arguments (speeches, essays and op-eds that have changed the world), and we discuss strategies for pitching ideas (anywhere). Participants leave with an op-ed draft, and will have ongoing access to OpEd Project resources, events and mentors.
TWO-DAY (FULL + “TRANSLATION”) SEMINAR + one year of access to OpEd Project National Network of Mentor-Editors: The two day seminar combines a full day seminar (see above) with a second day of guided work and hands-on individual feedback, in which we bring one or several OpEd Project mentors to work directly with seminar participants on their op-ed drafts, accompany them in exercises designed to expand the way they think about their particular expertise, and help them “translate” scholarly research into the lingua franca of public debate. The second day, also called our “translation” seminar, gives participants the opportunity to share their ideas and arguments—sketched and drafted in the full seminar, and fleshed out overnight—with each other in a language that is broadly accessible (and perhaps not previously available to them), which serves to foster community among colleagues and cross-pollination of ideas. The goal of this second day is to ensure all participants act on the ideas they generated in the first day, and leave with a solid op-ed which they will submit for publication. Participants will have ongoing access to OpEd Project resources, events and mentors.
CREATING PUBLIC INTELLECTUALS: FELLOWSHIP MODEL: The OpEd Project’s fellowship model is intended for individuals and organizations that are committed to working for bigger results over the course of a year, and it’s goal is to transform women (and in some cases, minority men) academics and professionals with knowledge and expertise that would be of public value into public intellectuals. Participants convene quarterly (or at regular intervals), for a total of four seminars throughout the year: an initial full- or two-day OpEd Project “thought leadership” seminar that begins the fellowship; two mid-year seminars led by OpEd Project staff and Mentor-Editors, which focus on areas of common interest and scholarship and are designed to stimulate cross-pollination of ideas, find connections between participants’ areas of focus and current newshooks, and generate concrete op-ed results; and a final convening to recognize the accomplishments of the participants. In between these quarterly seminars, OpEd Project mentor-editors oversee the group throughout the year, leading weekly (non-obligatory) check-in chat sessions, as well as a monthly conference call designed to encourage and support participants in reaching their goals. Fellowship participants are asked to set individual goals of producing a set number of op-eds during the program year (minimum of one per quarter), with the support of our mentors, to reach an ambitious collective result. By partnering with us in this way, universities and organizations strengthen their internal community of experts, enhance these experts’ voices and contribution to public knowledge, and also increase their institution’s public presence.
Cost depends on length of seminar, number of seminars requested, number of participants. Please contact us to inquire.