Joe Sass, Deb Fitzpatrick, with Deb's thank you cake from the Gender, Sex and Policy Event Committee leaders

Joe Soss, Britt Heinz Amborn, Debra, Jenny Sanchez and Erin Olson, with Deb’s thank you cake from the Gender, Sex and Policy Event Committee leaders

Debra Fitzpatrick specializes in leadership and facilitation of diverse, multi-sector, interdisciplinary learning communities that build collective and individual capacity to lead.

Improving student’s ability to challenge assumptions and apply a critical lens to public policy and related processes by designing and teaching interdisciplinary Social Policy Topics courses.

Selected student comments:

“Discussion based class, challenged assumptions, assignments provided an opportunity to really examine and push on issues.”

“I felt stretched! I learned more in this class than in any other classes!”

“The challenge! The high expectations, the dialogue, the merger of stakeholders, research and opinions.”

“Incredible policy practical knowledge. Good at facilitating discussion, great feedback/ ability to critique and add strengths.”

“A strategic thinker, policy expert, women’s rights champion, approachable.”

“Kind, generous, open knowledgeable.”

“Deb encourages critical thinking and brought out complexities in topics. I felt challenged and grew deeply intellectually.”

“The course has eye opening readings, topics, and discussions.”

“Good listener, asks provocative questions, great topic selections.”

“This is the only class in my 3 years at Humphrey that has talked at all about gender inequality. I think this class should be emphasized greater to students. This has been one of my favorite classes at Humphrey.”

Increasing student leadership and learning through advising, internship placement, community connections, and board placement and support.

Selected student comments:

“Deb gave me the opportunity to take the lead on a research project examining race and gender in higher education. Her leadership style helped to better develop my quantitative and qualitative skill set, and gave me practical job experience. Most importantly, working with Deb has made me aware of gender issues in education policy that I had not considered on my own, and has reshaped the way in which I think about policy issues.” —Jennifer Olin, Research Assistant

Supporting women who aspire to elected and judicial leadership through partnerships, research, evaluation and programming. Learn more about Debra’s work with elected women and those aspiring to the bench.

A Push for Federal Court Diversity (Star Tribune, 2015)

Selected testimonials:

“Debra deserves praise for encouraging more young women to seriously consider running for elected office. Debra was there five years ago when I awkwardly practiced my first ‘stump speech,’ having little idea of what a ‘stump speech’ entailed. And she was there this year to give me a hug and support when I lost my first official bid for the Minnesota House of Representatives. She is an incredible, energetic, selfless support to so many of us, and I’m grateful for her leadership.”  —Jessica Webster

“[Debra’s] involvement with our group [women county commissioners] is essential to the success of women commissioners as we move forward with an agenda for change. We absolutely can’t do it without her.” —Rose Thelen, Wright County Commissioner

“Deb has played a key role in creating a nationally recognized model for advancing gender diversity on the bench. Lawyers, scholars and social scientists in other circuits in the United States have discussed emulating The Infinity Project to address gender and judging. Deb stands at the center of a national dialogue on public policies related to judicial selection and the importance of diversity on the bench.” —Lisa Brabbit, Infinity Project founder

Using a Gender Lens to Advance Gender Equity

Debra assembled a team to successfully apply for, design and carry out an Institute for International Education Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program Enhancement Workshop Using a Gender Lens to advance Gender Equity across Fields.  The workshop brings together mid-career professionals from across sectors and across the globe to better understand, express and implement a gender lens in their ongoing work.

Advancing understanding of the role courts play by designing and carrying out “You be the Judge” Workshops

Debra partnered with the National Council for Jewish Women and Gender Justice to develop and deliver a highly successful interactive workshop curriculum that requires participants to sit as judges in major gender-based court cases (pregnancy discrimination, reproductive health access and trans rights) in multiple states.  Participants are presented case facts, render a decision and are then exposed to what actually happened in the real world case.  The workshop is designed to help people who are active on public policy issues to better understand the importance of courts in their areas of interest and how to become engaged.  NCJW has produced and distributed the workshop curriculum nationally.

Building capacity of nonprofits and their leaders by collaborating on the design and coordinating the Feminist Leadership Fellows Program

The Feminist Leadership Fellows program supported and challenged existing leadership within feminist institutions. During the fellowship year, 20 executive directors of women-centered non-profits developed solid new ideas and approaches, strengthened their leadership capacities, built new and stronger networks to support their work, and developed a critical framework within which to address how topical issues affect both their long-term mission and day-to-day activities.  Learn more about the impact of this program: FLF Final Report.

Increasing relationships and collaboration between women legislators across political parties through periodic retreats

Debra worked with a bi-partisan planning committee to design and carry-out periodic residential retreats.  Women legislators developed skills in communication and coalition building while learning more about each other’s lives and goals.  Women Legislators Retreat Summary.