Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the founder of the (NeW) Network of Enlightened Women, Karen Lips to the newsmakers line to discuss what motivated her to start NeW and how she intends to help conservative women find their voice in college communities.
Leahy: We are joined now by Karin Lips who’s the founder of the Network of Enlightened Women. A very brave person. Karin, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report this morning.
Lips: Good morning. Thank you for having me on and thank you for your kind words.
Leahy: So 2004 you are a student at the University of Virginia. I’ve been there, by the way, Charlottesville. Nice town.
Lips: It’s beautiful, isn’t it?
Leahy: It’s very beautiful of course. went to Monticello and went up and looked at to all around to the great historic facilities there. And of course, the campus is beautiful as well. But the intellectual freedom atmosphere not quite so beautiful. Tell us about your experience there in 2004 when you came back and told the officials at the women’s center that you wanted to start a conservative women’s group there?
Lips: Well, like many young people I had the experience of interning in Washington D.C. for my home state senator, Senator Lugar. I really appreciated the chance to be surrounded by smart and ambitious women who wanted to talk about the issues of the day and wanted to include conservative voices. I went back to UVA for my third year of college and sought out that environment. And unfortunately, as you hinted, the women’s groups weren’t open to more conservative voices.
I even went to our women’s center which is in a building right near the center of campus and had a tour with a faculty member there at the end. She had been recruiting me for all kinds of programs there. And I asked if they would be interested in co-sponsoring a group for conservative women. She looked at me like I was crazy, chuckled, and said not here. That was my experience.
Leahy: Yeah that’s the way it works isn’t it?
Lips: Yes, at a major public university. The woman’s institutions just weren’t open to more conservative voices. And as a result, I ended up starting the Network of Enlightened Women known as NeW and as a book club so that women could read the stories and hear conservative policies from conservative women.
I started that 16 years ago and it is continuing to grow one chapter at a time. And I’m excited to share that. We are on campuses across the country. We’ve got an active presence in Nashville with some awesome women from Belmont. A very active group. And we are going to be hosting our leadership retreat for our top leaders around the country in August in Chattanooga. I’ve never been and I’m really looking forward to it.
Leahy: Chattanooga is a wonderful place. And by the way, send all of your Belmont University chapter members here to The Tennessee Star Report. We’ll have them in the studio on the program. And I noticed you have media fellowship opportunities. We are always looking for great writers at the Star News Network. We have six conservative news sites in states around the country like Tennessee and Georgia, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota. And so right now here on the air, I will tell you any intern you send our way, we’ll work with them.
Lips: Well, I appreciate that kind offer. And you mentioned our student media fellows program. That’s a program we started because we truly believe that women are the future of freedom. and for women to be great advocates we’ve got to help train them. So this is a program where we help college students learn to write their first op-ed and do their first radio interview with the goal of getting them trained so they can become advocates of freedom and America’s founding principles and speak out for those.
Not just while they are students on campus but in the years to come and their communities. We think that’s just so important to get them trained because it seems like women on the left are pulling us further left like AOC and her Democratic socialism. They’re pulling us further left. And we need strong advocates on the right. And so that’s why we’ve got programs like our student media fellows training college women to write and be great messengers.
Leahy: Well, the other thing that I noticed is the huge peer pressure to be a brain-dead leftist on campuses today is I think unimaginable compared to what it was like years ago. How do conservative young women survive with that kind of intellectual onslaught against them?
Lips: It’s tough out there. We should not minimize that It’s just tough on college campuses. And that’s why I knew one of the things we needed to do is to create a community. We find college women that want that community and that want that intellectual home. Many of them feel very alone. One of the things in my job I get to see is we find these amazing women on these college campuses and a common theme is they just feel very alone.
So we create that community to bring them in. And then we are also working to make it socially acceptable might be a way to phrase it for women to self-identify as conservative and speak out. This year 2021 we deemed it the year of the conservative woman. And so as part of this program, we’re celebrating conservative women and really creating that national community. Each month we’re doing an online Facebook live discussion with a conservative woman leader.
In March Kay Coles James president of the Heritage Foundation on for a lively conversation. So we are highlighting and celebrating and promoting conservative women across our platforms. We are on Instagram where a lot of college students are trying to give them the chance to see that there are a lot of strong conservative women out there that they can aspire to be like.
Leahy: We are talking with Karen Lips the founder and president of the Network of Enlightened Women. My impression Karin is that the left on campuses today is bullying, intolerant, and mean-spirited towards anyone who says something other than what’s out there. We got about a minute left. Am I right? Am I wrong? What’s the outlook for the future?
Lips: Well in 2018, we published our first book. She’s Conservative: Stories of Trials and Triumphs on America’s College Campuses. And a theme that emerged is that conservative women were making a decision before they even stepped foot on campus to keep their views quiet. Not just because they worry about their grades but because they are worried about making friends. That social pressure and the atmosphere on campus needs to be fixed. And it’s a real problem if conservatives are deciding to self-censor before they even step foot on campus.
Leahy: Well, that’s a great story and a great effort. We wish you the best of luck Karin. Will you come into Nashville sometime and visit with us in studio?
Lips: I’d love to get to Nashville. What a great place. I’d be happy to stop in.
Listen to the full first hour:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Karin Lips” by Network of enlightened Women.