Girls today face a unique set of challenges as they grow up. Having positive mentors and opportunity has never been more critical for ensuring girls (and of course boys) can reach their full potential.
I was driven at a young age, and for me, having positive role models was crucial. My grandmother and mother were two of the strongest women I ever knew. They always stood up for us. We faced many challenges growing up in the South in the 60s, but these two women taught me early on that I had everything in me to be who I wanted to be. Their support helped me to embrace sports at a young age. This love of sports led me to be the first in my family to attend and graduate from college. While completing my studies, I was introduced to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club in Greensboro, NC, where I took my first job out of college as a part-time athletic director. I grew into several roles of increasing importance, and my grandmothers’ and mothers’ words and lessons carried me as I began my career as CEO of a local Boys & Girls Club at just 25 years old.
Throughout history, so many strong women, like my mother and the women who started Boys’ Clubs back in the 1860s, have fought to have a better future for our nation’s children. As we approach International Day of the Girl, I’ve been reflecting on how far we as a nation, and our organization has come to support girls. While it may seem like it always has been, it was only 30 years ago, in 1990, that Boys & Girls Clubs of America officially added the ‘girls’ to our name to reflect the growing population of girls in Clubs around the country. I had already been with Boys & Girls Clubs for two years when this happened, but it energized me. Even then, I saw endless potential in what we could do to change the trajectory for so many girls throughout the country. I often think about this change now that I have my own children (one boy, one girl), and I recognize the importance in continuing to show young girls around the country their limitless potential.
Today, we have incredible role models for young girls to look up to these days. So many more than I had when I was a girl. Strong women like Oscar-award winning costume designer like Ruth E. Carter
, pro-tennis player and USTA CEO and president Katrina Adams
, or acclaimed veterinarian Dr. Dayna Wiedenkeller
– all once members at a Boys & Girls Club who gained the skills to become leaders in their fields and examples for girls everywhere.
But we must continue to do more because when we do, girls succeed. From our data we know Clubs are helping instill the essential life skills girls need to succeed. Whether it is making a difference in the community or not giving up when things are hard, local Clubs are helping empower a new generation of girls with limitless possibilities.
And for me, there’s no greater responsibility than to ensure all children, girls and boys, inherit a world that is kind, accepting, and full of opportunity.
Give More Girls a Great Future
Every girl deserves the chance to exceed beyond the circumstances that surround them. Your donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of America
will support programs
that level the playing field so every girl has access to the mentors, experiences and opportunities she needs to have a great future — and be the leader we all need now.