Investing in Young Women Leaders at the Second Annual Young Women Rock! Leadership Luncheon

On Sunday, May 19, 2013, we hosted our second annual Young Women Rock! Leadership Luncheon: Investing in Young Women Leaders. We would like to extend a huge thank you to all who joined us in the James Room at Barnard College to celebrate our mentees completion of the Young Women Rock! Program and to honor their strength and potential, recognizing the importance of investing in their leadership.

As you know, Young Women Rock! is The Women Worldwide Initiative’s after-school leadership and personal development program that currently serves Brooklyn teenagers. We focus on empowering their self-confidence, building a sisterhood, and challenging them to discover and fulfill their potential.

We were delighted to have Anika Rahman, President and CEO of Ms. Foundation for Women, give the opening keynote speech at the Luncheon. She gave a personal account of what it was like to move to America as a female Bangladeshi immigrant and how her parents supported her from the start. Anika interacted with the YWR! mentees during her keynote, asking them about their goals and how they hope to achieve them, as well what impact Young Women Rock! has had on them. Pilot, doctor and forensic scientist were just a few of the girls’ aspirations. Anika empowered our audience to wake up each day and “rise,” encouraging us to push past obstacles, work hard and focus on making a difference in our community.

Untitled1The Luncheon provided guests with two insightful and inspiring workshops. The first workshop, Finding Your Voice: Who You Are and What You Stand For, was hosted by award-winning writer and educator, Vanessa Martir. Vanessa teaches writing throughout NYC public schools and also facilitates the Writing Our Lives Workshop, which she created at Hunter College. During her workshop, Vanessa honed in on the importance, especially for women and girls, to find their voice early on and to use it, loudly and proudly. The second workshop, which focused on career development, higher education and diversity was hosted by Maria Aponte, Internship & Experiential Education Coordinator of Diversity Initiatives at Fordham University. Workshop attendees were given an inside look at what is expected of them in higher education and how to best prepare for that journey, in addition to how to develop the career you want.

Jehmu Greene, President of JSG Strategies and Fox News Contributor, closed our Luncheon with a powerful statement, “be yourself.” Jehmu inspired the women and girls in the audience by her story of traveling from Austin, Texas to Washington, D.C. to pursue her dream of entering politics with only ten dollars in her pocket. She related to our high-school aged mentees by sharing some her most embarrassing moments and teaching them her learned tricks of the trade when it comes to public speaking – adrenaline is never a bad thing!

There was a lot to celebrate on May 19th. Our girls have spent a year learning about themselves – their strengths, their worth, their dreams and their potential – as well as learning about their peers and their mentors. We discussed issues that affect their health, personal identity, self-esteem and futures, as well as issues that affect women and girls globally. In weekly sessions, we broke barriers, stereotypes and social pressures that not only affect women and girls, but particularly affect women and girls of color and immigrant backgrounds.Untitled2

We have seen our group of girls grow and develop their leadership skills, become even more well-rounded and cultured, think of their community and outside their community, help and support one other, and find their own voice. “They now confidently use the word “leader” to describe themselves, and will forever have a sisterhood that respects and supports them,” shared TWWI Founder and Executive Director, Uraidah Hassani. They have looked inward to visualize themselves outside of their social circumstances, allowing them to see their limitless potential, and the courage to live out that potential. We are incredibly proud of their achievements in Young Women Rock! and look forward to seeing all that they will achieve in the years ahead!

View photos!

Special thanks

Young Women Rock! Mentors
Speakers: Anika Rahman and Jehmu Greene
Workshop hosts: Vanessa Martir and Maria Aponte
Barnard College and Columbia University
The Complete Package Catering
Blessed Confections
Flavor Catering
Havana Central
The After Hours Flowers
Brandon Braithwaite
Jeffrey Pliskin
Gina Goico
Teddy Adolphe

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