Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Logo Trans (3)

Trailblazer Stories

Ariel Belgrave-Harris Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Spotlight (2)

Ariel Belgrave-Harris

CEO / Gym Hooky

Ariel Belgrave, C.E.O. at Gym Hooky, is a health and fitness coach, stress management expert, corporate wellness trainer, and sponsored Under Armour athlete. Through her signature approach, The L.E.A.N. Method™, she's helped 2000+ busy women eat better, move more, build confidence, and avoid burnout.

Before becoming a full-time wellness entrepreneur, Ariel spent over a decade as a corporate Human Resources leader for Fortune 100 companies like JPMorgan and Facebook. She also was the Founding Program Director of /dev/color, a nonprofit focused on helping Black software engineers advance in tech. Today, she fuses her past experiences and health expertise to create engaging wellness training for her tech clients.

Ariel's energizing personality and commitment to wellness has earned her opportunities to partner with Fortune 100 companies, influence the health programs of top colleges, and receive recognition from major outlets, such as The Today Show, N.B.C., Women's Health, Shape, Elle, Glamour, Refinery 29, PopSugar, Entrepreneur, and The Huffington Post.

She is a native of Brockton, MA, and a graduate of Boston College, where she earned her bachelor's degree in Psychology/Pre-Med and played D1 club rugby. You can catch her dancing, traveling, learning how to D.J., and trying new recipes outside of work.

Why is education important?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without an education. As a first generation college student and the daughter of immigrant Caribbean parents, there was a lot to learn about the world that was very different than what I grew up in. An education gave me access to knowledge, people, and opportunities in every aspect of my career – as a the girl working in finance, as the nonprofit leader, as an HR leader, and even as a social media influencer. It has given me financial stability , independence, global connections, and the opportunity to make an impact doing the things I love.

I’ll be the first to say that education goes far beyond getting a college degree. I read 1-2 books a month to expand my knowledge. I also hire coaches to help my improve my craft as an expert in the wellness field. Education is an evolution because there will always be room to learn and grow.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
Careers don’t have genders. Be whatever you want to be. You got this.
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Ari Squires

CEO / Brand Manager

As an accomplished international business mogul and inspirational speaker, Ari Squires found her voice by writing and speaking about her personal story of incarceration and homelessness to million-dollar entrepreneurs and how ultimate success is simply a matter of releasing one's mental and emotional, financial, and generational chains.

She does not play any games when it comes to helping hungry entrepreneurs reach and surpass their profit goals. As the SHE-EO of Profit Attraction Academy and Release the Chains Training Centers, Retreats, and Podcast, Ari provides brand management services for her clients using problem-solving high dollar product creation and online and offline profit strategies.

Her signature training programs —Brand Mastery Masterminds and Silent Money—have helped students attract a multitude of paying fans, leads, investors, and sales, increasing their ROI through live events, relationships, offline sales, speaking, and consulting by using her profit attraction methods.

As an inspirational film director and self-mastery trainer, Ari is devoted to the mission of helping organizations and individuals who are in transition create the lives and businesses that they love.

Why is education important?
Education is important because it’s one thing that can never be taken away from you. The more education you consume, the more opportunities you’ll attract and the more powerful you’ll become. My education has impacted my journey by allowing me to stay ten steps ahead, guaranteeing my success, while guiding me in the direction I choose to go.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
As you embark on your journey, always choose yourself first. That may sound selfish to some, but if you’re not putting your needs and desires first, you’ll be of no good service to anyone or anything else.
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Faida Fuller

Chief Operating Officer / Vital Voices Global Partnership

Faida Fuller is a mission-oriented, non-profit leader serving as the Chief Operating Officer at Vital Voices Global Partnership. At Vital Voices, she oversees all operational, administrative, and internal functions ensuring that the systems, policies, and guidelines enable the organization to fulfill its mission to its highest potential. In addition, she is a strategic partner to the CEO, helping to lead organization strategy development and implementation.

Faida is a passionate leader with experience in social impact and education equity. Before Vital Voices, she served as Chief Operating Officer at Friendship Public Charter Schools, helping to expand the network to fifteen campuses serving over 4000 students. She also worked in various other roles to drive impact and equal access to quality education at the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in Washington, DC, focused on providing public school choice grounded in innovation, opportunity, and excellence. Faida is a proud graduate of Spelman College and sees her most important role as mother of her two children. She is co-founder of Beaded Souls in her spare time – an African import and design business.

Why is education important?
As a passionate advocate for education equity, I believe that education is life changing. It can be just one teacher, one subject, one educational experience that opens undiscovered doors for a student. My most treasured educational experience was at Spelman College. I never knew how powerful I really was until it was instilled in me by the teachers, fellow students and validating environment. My closest friendships, mentorships, and admiration for The Black Woman was born on that campus.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
Find the courage to see the beauty in your authenticity, uniqueness, boldness, everything that makes you who YOU are. It is your superpower, your strength, and what the world needs right now!
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Angelique Sina

President / Friends of Puerto Rico and Cafe Ama Love

A Girl Scout and an Entrepreneur since she was seven years old, Angelique Sina is now President and Founder of Sinabel Group, Panorama Farm, and Friends of Puerto Rico. Her mission is to motivate more women and girls to start small businesses. Angelique is a former relationship manager at the World Bank's International Finance Corporation and is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford University. In 2016, she was appointed Commissioner for the Latino Community by the Mayor of Washington, D.C., and was a nominee for Forbes 30 under 30. In addition, she serves as a trustee of the New York Foundling and AT&T's Millennial Council and is an avid golfer who likes to explore different cafés.

Why is education important?
Education will always be your investment as it’s the only thing that will be yours.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
We as women will always have opportunities to act, study and undertake new goals.
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Nicole Hargrove

Enterprise Simulation Leader / Strategio

Over twenty years of IT Industry experience across engineering and architecture. I utilize my passion for continuous learning, collaborating with multiple teams and client-focused engagement to help companies drive digital transformation. I have been involved in all aspects of enterprise digital transformations, using Design Thinking, Cloud, AI, DevOps, Integration and Data strategies to create a better customer experience. I have designed and created PoVs, PoCs, led workshops, made technical documents, led responses to RFI/RFPs, acted as the voice of the customer by sharing customer feedback with product management teams, interviewed prospective hires, and mentored/coached many technologists. I am passionate about teaching the next generation technology skills. I do this through volunteerism with various organizations. In addition, I love to learn new things, travel, attend live concerts, and spend time with family and friends. My motto is Sharing Knowledge is EMPOWERMENT and KEEP LEARNING!

Why is education important?
When I speak about the importance of education I am not limiting education to the societal norms of school education but expanding it to include boot camps and being self-taught. Education brings structure, opens up our creativity, and provides opportunity for us to explore vast subjects. My various forms of educational experiences – university, classroom of life, boot camp, and self-teaching – has impacted my journey because it makes me think outside the box and come up with different ways to teach. My diverse thinking has allowed me to challenge customers to transform their business models, solutions, and how they improve their customer’s experience.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
One thing I would like for these girls to know is the comfort zone will keep you stagnant. The comfort zone sounds like naysayers, internal doubt, and fear. One step at a time day by day stay on the path to fulfill your purpose in spite of the temptation of the comfort zone.
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Hope & Faith McCorkie

Small Business Owners / Interdisciplinary Visual Arts

D.C. born, Hyattsville raised twins Eleisha Faith & Tonisha Hope McCorkle hold BFA’s from New York University in Studio Art. Formerly enrolled in the Visual and Performing Arts program at the Jim Henson School of Arts, Media, and Communication in Hyattsville, Maryland, the two have been curating, studying, and creating art since they were 13. At the age of 17, the twins lost their mother to the rare lung condition of Sarcoidosis. Since then, the two have used their art as a space of healing, creating immersive experiences that engage with loss, grief, and identity. After spending almost a decade developing their crafts individually, they have decided to come together and form an interdisciplinary collaboration. The dynamic duo dives into concepts of reconstruction and resilience, traveling dimensions and embodying life and growth, soul food, magic, hope, and faith in their work.

Why is education important?
Education has been extremely important to our growth and understanding of ourselves and our work. We adopted several new skills and techniques from our teachers and professors that we still incorporate to this day. Despite what was going on at home, our creative program at our high school empowered us to use art as expression and practice artistic disciplines that we would later come to love and enjoy. It was in school where we learned to become individuals and begin cultivating and growing our interests in writing, music, and art. College helped further expand our ideas; We were blessed to receive full rides to New York University. The school gave us the studio, time, and materials needed to tell our story and visually create our experiences. It was there when we first came together for our solo exhibition OUR SKIN, OUR LOGO, documenting our journey thus far and preparing us for our future artistic career. Education opens doors to endless opportunities for the future!!!
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
Never give up. Ever. Never give up on yourself. You are always capable of amazing things!! And as you constantly evolve, you will always have obstacles, haters, and those that disagree with you. But staying strong and true to yourself. One thing we learned in life and in therapy, is that your response matters. It’s okay to grieve, it’s okay to be sad, and it’s okay to fall, but you have to be strong, for you! When you get back up and overcome that challenge, you did it! You did that!! This eventually pushes you to be the best YOU that you can be, building your character and confidence to face it all! You’ve earned the ‘resilience’ patch, it resides within you and aids when times get tough.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for anything. There’s so many resources, opportunities, help, etc. in the world. If you have a question, ask it! If you have an idea, talk about it! There’s so many connections that can be made and so many people that can lend an ear to listen, and so many people that are there to assist your journey.
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Sonya Holland

Senior Assistant Vice President / MIL Corp

My name is Sonya Holland, and I am where I am today because of my parents, church, community, and the strong men & women who came before me. My Dad, Joseph Holland, was the first Black Army helicopter pilot. From an early age, my parents stressed education. I did well academically throughout high school and college. I knew it was essential to study hard and connect with other students, role models, and teachers who were focused on elevating me to the highest level of success. I completed high school, college, and graduate school. I have worked as a cashier at Wendy’s, as a bank teller and then the Bank Branch Manager, as a programmer/developer on an IT project, as a Project Manager, and now I am a Senior Assistant Vice President of a consulting firm.

Why is education important?
Education opens the door to all that the world has to offer. There are so many different types of cultures, languages and lifestyles. With each educational advancement, the job opportunities were expanded, which typically meant a higher wage. Please see the examples below: • High School Diploma – Babysitter and Cashier at fast-food restaurants • College (freshman through senior) – Bank Teller • Bachelor’s degree in Finance – Bank Branch Manager • MBA degree in Information Systems – Programmer/Developer and eventual move into Management
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
If you can dream it, you can achieve it. Remember, mistakes are just opportunities for a 2nd chance to excel.
Shamiah Kerney Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Spotlight

Shamiah Kerney

Chief Recovery Officer / Baltimore City

I am a longtime public servant and was most recently selected as the Chief Recovery Officer in July 2021 for the City of Baltimore. In February 2022, I was chosen as a 2022 Face to Watch by the Baltimore Business Journal. Before this role, I served as the Deputy Director of Performance Management in the Executive Office of the Mayor for the District of Columbia. In that role, she evaluated service delivery to D.C. residents and businesses provided by District government agencies and assessed equity in budgeting decisions. I was previously a senior analyst at the United States Government Accountability Office with the Financial Markets and Community Investment team. As a part of this team, I conducted program audits and evaluations at the request of Congress for federal programs related to housing, disaster assistance, insurance, small business assistance, and the U.S. financial systems. In addition, I enjoy volunteering and have served in leadership roles for various non-profit organizations. Finally, I am a proud graduate of THE Clark Atlanta University, earning my Bachelors in Criminal Justice and Masters in Public Administration from this exceptional university.

Why is education important?
Education has opened the doors to rooms and conversations I never could have been a part of without it. Education has allowed me a seat at the table and to provide the insight and lived experience that are needed when decisions are made–especially pertaining to government and public policy. My presence alone has changed conversations, particularly when I am the only or one of a few minorities or women. My educational experience also gave me the confidence and ability to use my voice.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
Life is full of curves and detours. You will never travel on a straight path, but that is ok! The important thing is to keep traveling toward your ultimate destination and happiness. Also know that it is ok to chart your own path. Your life’s journey is not meant to be like anyone else’s…it is uniquely yours.
Lisa Carlton Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Spotlight

Lisa Carlton

Vice President Regulatory Affairs / REGENXBIO Inc

Lisa is currently Vice President of Global Regulatory Affairs at REGENXBIO Inc. She has over 25 years of experience in regulatory affairs and medical/technical writing in the government/non-profit sectors, with most of her career in the pharmaceutical/biotech industry. After completing her BS in Biochemistry at NC State University, Lisa obtained an MS degree in Medicinal Chemistry and Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, followed by postdoctoral research at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in the Laboratory of Immunogenetics. She lives in Washington DC with her family and currently also serves as Vice-Chair the (and Parent Trustee) on the Board of Trustees for E.L. Haynes Public School. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the TSC Alliance, a local non-profit dedicated to research in the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex.

Why is education important?
Were it not for my education, I wouldn’t have had the means (or interest) to get out of my small, rural NC hometown.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
It’s OK not to know everything, but use your experiences to find out.
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Asha George

Executive Director / Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense

Asha M. George, DrPH, is the Executive Director of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense. Previously, she served in the U.S... House of Representatives as senior professional staff at the Committee on Homeland Security. She has also worked for various other organizations (including government contractors, foundations, and nonprofits) and with all federal departments and many agencies. Dr. George also served on active duty in the U.S. Army as a military intelligence officer and paratrooper. She is a decorated Desert Storm Veteran. She serves on the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the board of Healthcare Ready. She is a member of the National Academies of Sciences Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Disasters and Emergencies, steering committee of the Pandemic Prevention and Biodefense Center, and member of the Preparedness Leadership Council. Dr. George holds a Doctorate in Public Health from the University of Hawaii, a Master of Science in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor of Arts from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a graduate of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, run by the Harvard University Chan School of Public Health and Kennedy School of Government.

Why is education important?
Without higher education, I would never be able to do the things I do today.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
You can do anything if you are willing to work hard every single day and do everything you can to accomplish what you set out to do.
Monique Johnson Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Spotlight

Monique Johnson

Owner / Empowered For Life Fitness

Monique Johnson is the owner and founder of Empowered For Life Fitness, LLC. She holds training as a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, corporate wellness presenter, CrossFit Athlete, kickboxing, and Mayweather boxing instructor. Monique's passion for kickboxing has allowed her to be showcased internationally and domestically with Century Martial Arts.

She makes training motivating, challenging, and fun. Monique has helped hundreds of individuals change their lives through fitness. She finds value in empowering others in the gym and life.

Monique is also partnered with local non-profit organizations in the community, providing services for opportunity youth on educating the importance of having a healthy lifestyle through exercise and movement.

She has other professional roles as an Academic Services Specialist at Johns Hopkins University, helping to guide high schoolers with their educational goals.

Why is education important?
Interestingly enough, I went to college for Business Management after high school, and two years into my studies, my entire life changed! I was forced to work and eventually landed a position in higher education, all the while growing more interested in small business ownership. I could see a way to use my talents through fitness, and the rest is history! I engage in continuing education within health and wellness to stay current with trends. Education is important; it allows you to expand your knowledge. No one can ever take away your knowledge. Keep learning so that you can change history.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
You are worthy of greatness. Speak up and let your voice be heard, even if it’s the only voice. Don’t play small, step out on faith and leave a positive impact on the world, and most importantly, be kind to yourself and live your truth.
Audrey Johnson Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Spotlight

Audrey Johnson

Director for Economic Innovation & Strategy / John Hopkins University

Audrey Johnson is the Director for Economic Innovation and Strategy at John Hopkins University and John Hopkins Health Systems. She is responsible for economic diversification and innovation in the university and health system footprint to incite emerging sectors, strengthen assets, support growth, and solve complex challenges. In 2019, Audrey was selected as the Healthcare Champion of the year and received the Community Leaders Award by Women of Prince George’s. In 2021, Audrey was named President-elect of the National Association of Health Service Executives, Baltimore Chapter, and after eight months in the role, ascended to President. In addition, Audrey is an Advisory Board Member of the District of Columbia Community Anchor Partnership, Advisory Member of the Greater Washington Partnership, Capital Region Rail Vision Committee, and Board Member of Art with a Heart. She has an undergraduate degree in Economics from Howard University, a Master of Business Administration in Finance from The George Washington University School of Business, and completed The Academy for Women and Leadership, Executive Education at the Johns Hopkins University, Carey Business School.

Why is education important?
Knowledge sets us free. My educational experience, both primary and college prepared for navigating the real world. I attended the public school system in my hometown, Oakland, CA and I credit my ability to excel without having all the ideal resources. Howard University let loose the confidence, strength and possibility inside of me.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
I have two things I would like for them to know and believe: 1) trust God; 2) and help others if you can help them.
Michele Joseph Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Spotlight

Michele Joseph

Executive Director & Founder / Student Global Ambassador Program

Michele Joseph is the Student Global Ambassador Program (SGAP Leaders). SGAP Leaders is a non-profit leadership program that empowers underserved youth (ages 13-18) to take action on real-world problems by using STEM to solve sustainability and social justice challenges. Over the years, SGAP Leaders has inspired, engaged, and empowered upwards of 4,206 students from 78 middle and high schools.

Ms. Joseph attained her MBA in strategy and marketing from Georgetown University and her BSc in Biology/Environmental Sciences from the Catholic University of America. She was the team lead for Net Impact while attending Georgetown University. She also earned a certificate in Sustainable Practices for the Workplace and has taught entrepreneurship to promising high school students at the WEB Dubois Scholars Institute at Princeton University. She is currently pursuing her certification as a Climate Change Professional (CC-P). In addition, she has over 15 years of strategy, marketing, and branding experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Why is education important?
Both my parents were educators and emigrated to the US from Trinidad. They instilled in me at an early age that education is the pathway to freedom and personal success. I can testify that it is. Between my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I traveled as a Wilhelmina runway model through Europe, the Caribbean, and the US (initially, much to the chagrin of my parents). However, I learned about different cultures, languages, and people. I saw Americans through the lens of people in different countries. I developed empathy and understanding. I call it “my education” after “my education.”
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
Explore your interests and do not limit yourself. “Seek where your imagination takes you, and keep an open mind to your possibilities”
Kori Hill Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Spotlight

Kori Hill

Strategy Consultant / McKinsey & Company

Kori Hill is from Baltimore, MD, and graduated with her bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). She obtained her MBA from Cornell University. After UMD, she received her CPA license and worked at EY and Freddie Mac as a financial auditor. Post-MBA, she joined McKinsey & Company's DC office as a strategy consultant. In Kori's spare time, she enjoys mentoring underrepresented minority students through organizations such as the CollegeBound Foundation and volunteering with her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Why is education important?
Education is a key unlock to transcend socioeconomic classes and create new opportunities for yourself. As a first-generation college student, pursuing higher education enabled me to see the world, open my mind to new ideologies, meet lifelong friends, and pursue career roles that I never dreamed of as a child.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear” President FDR. Throughout your life you will encounter many frightful challenges, but know that you are powerful and can do anything that you put your mind to. To do so, you must release behaviors of self-sabotage, negative self talk, and the need to be validated. You got this!
Danielle Conley Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Spotlight

Danielle Conley

Deputy Counsel / President of the United States

Danielle Conley is Deputy Counsel to the President in the Office of the White House Counsel. In that role, she works on a wide variety of legal issues related to domestic policy, including voting and democracy, policing and criminal justice reform, and racial, gender, and LGBTQI equity issues. Before joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Danielle was a partner at WilmerHale, a large law firm in Washington DC. Danielle has represented companies and universities in high-stakes government and internal investigations and several civil rights matters. For example, she was a vital member of the trial team that successfully defended Harvard University in a case challenging the University’s consideration of race in its admissions process. In addition, Danielle served as Associate Deputy Attorney General at the United States Department of Justice during the Obama Administration. She worked on a wide range of litigation and policy issues and managed some of the Department’s most significant civil rights enforcement actions.

Danielle also previously served as a fellow at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and as a law clerk for the Honorable Rosemary M. Collyer on the United States District Court. She has been recognized for her work in the public and private sector by the National Law Journal, the Washington Business Journal, and the Diversity Journal. In 2017, Danielle was recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as one of Washington DC’s “40 Under 40.”

Danielle is a graduate of Tulane University and Howard University School of Law.

Why is education important?
My grandfather drilled into my head from an early age that with a good education, determination, and a little bit of grit, the sky was truly the limit. He grew up working in cotton fields in the segregated south and ended up going to college, and eventually to graduate school, despite all of the incredible obstacles and barriers that Black people faced in the 1950s and 60s. He set an incredible example for my family — and my own career path would not have been possible without my educational journey.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
Always know your worth. Do not let anyone define you or your future. Only you can do that. One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?” Always remember this.
Demi Adebo-Adelaja Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Spotlight

Demi Adebo-Adelaja

Public Health Researcher / The Aafiyah Project

Dr. Demi Fauziyyah ADEBO-Adelaja is passionate about disrupting health disparities. She’s a trained public health researcher with over 20 years of experience in community development. Her interest in public/community health was first sparked by the opportunity to serve as a peer health educator during her undergraduate years. This interest was further deepened when she worked in the community as an HIV counselor to youths faced with inadequate access to healthcare in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2020, a renewed interest in addressing health disparities emerged in light of the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on African Americans in her home residence of Prince George’s County.

Dr. Demi founded The Aafiyah Project to help address two of the root causes of health disparities that created a perfect storm of adverse health outcomes experienced by the Black community at the beginning of the pandemic. The Aafiyah Project addresses 1) access to health information through culturally competent health promotion programming and 2) low educational achievement through academic achievement opportunities to K-12 students. With these two focal areas and Dr. Demi’s leadership, The Aafiyah Project is beginning to help build a legacy of health and wellness in the community.

Dr. Demi earned her doctorate in Management of Public Health Services from the University of Maryland Global Campus, a Master of Public Health degree from Emory University, and her bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Why is education important?
I believe that education is not just about learning a collection of facts and knowledge in a classroom setting. For me, it certainly started there, in the classroom, but by far, my biggest source of education has been in the communities where I have been able to apply those classroom learning in the real world. In college, I knew I had an interest in the health field but wasn’t quite sure about the definitive field. One of the most important experiences that helped give me direction was a volunteer position as a peer health education in my second year in college. Before then, I had a narrow view of health-related careers, i.e., medical practitioner, pharmacist. The community-based training I underwent as a peer health educator, which was very much untraditional and hands-on, served as an added layer of education that helped guide my decision to study public health.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
One thing I would like for girls to know as they embark on their various life journeys is to “think outside the box” and explore unconventional paths, especially when it comes to their education. The world is their oyster as they are in a position to make use of the opportunities that life has to offer.
Elyse Bonner Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Spotlight

Elyse Bonner

Environmental Engineering / Graduate Fellow

Elyse Bonner is a 2021 graduate of Tuskegee University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science. Elyse grew up in St. Louis, MO, and currently resides in Columbus, OH. During her junior and senior year at Tuskegee, she was selected to be a 2019 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Education Partnership Program (EPP) Undergraduate Scholar. She interned at NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD, where she participated in meaningful research projects and ultimately decided to further her education to become an Environmental Engineer. Elyse is currently a first-year Dean’s Graduate Enrichment Fellow and National Science Foundation (NSF) GEM Fellow in the Environmental Engineering Graduate Program at The Ohio State University. Elyse works with Dr. Linda Weavers’ whose research focuses on emerging contaminants and innovative technologies. Elyse’s research focuses on Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) treatment and reservoir management. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, cooking, traveling, and exploring new trends in the beauty industry in her free time.

Why is education important?
I believe education is one of the greatest keys to opening the doors of endless opportunities in life. It is important to remain curious and seek after knowledge, which leads to continuous growth and development. There is ALWAYS something to learn, and everyone should aspire to become a lifelong learner. I was introduced to STEM as a junior in high school. There, I began my exploration into Environmental Science. I participated in a volunteer program with the Missouri Botanical Gardens, where I taught 4th-grade students ecology. Not only did this program help to open the eyes of many children about the future paths they could take in STEM, but it opened my eyes as well. The educational program played a significant role in my decision to pursue an education and career in STEM.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
Remain curious and keep exploring. Some of the best advice I received was to say “yes” to new opportunities to broaden your knowledge and experiences. As opportunities arise in school, explore them because some of those experiences may help define your interest and direction in life with greater confidence. Be very mindful of the words you allow to speak into your life. Meditate on good things while speaking positive affirmations to yourself and about yourself. Strive to become a lifelong learner. With knowledge comes growth and development. Always network! Ask for business cards and participate in informational interviews with people you find interesting. Lastly, when people tell you the sky’s the limit, believe it! Never underestimate your abilities. There are so many available careers in the world, and within each of those careers, someone has to do it, so why can’t it be you? Go after it because if you can believe it, you can achieve it!
Elizabeth Thrush Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Spotlight

Elizabeth Thrush

Vaccine Advocacy Officer / United Nations Foundations

Elizabeth Thrush is the Vaccine Advocacy Officer on the Global Health team at the United Nations Foundation, providing advocacy support for UN Foundation’s polio and broader immunization portfolios. Before joining UN Foundation, Elizabeth worked on the immunization team at the Pan American Health Organization, Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), providing support for the countries of the Americas on immunization and surveillance activities polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases. Elizabeth holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree focused on global health and behavior change communication. When she isn’t advocating for vaccines, Liz can be found riding her bicycle around DC and practicing yoga at Yoga District, where she is also a yoga teacher.

Why is education important?
Interestingly enough, I went to college for Business Management after high school, and two years into my studies, my entire life changed! I was forced to work and eventually landed a position in higher education, all the while growing more interested in small business ownership. I could see a way to use my talents through fitness, and the rest is history! I engage in continuing education within health and wellness to stay current with trends. Education is important; it allows you to expand your knowledge. No one can ever take away your knowledge. Keep learning so that you can change history.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
Never stop dreaming big!
Rachel Simon Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Spotlight

Rachel Simon

Sr. Director of Product Marketing / Diligent Corporation

Over 19 years as a marketing and sales professional, Rachel has worn many hats. She is currently Sr. Director of Product Marketing at Diligent, a SaaS technology company focused on helping corporations, the public sector, and nonprofit boards run their organizations effectively and with purpose.

Starting in retail sales during undergrad, Rachel found her way into SaaS technology sales at Blackbaud, at first making cold calls as a Business Development Representative and eventually earning her own sales territory. After four successful years in sales and completing her MBA at night, Rachel sought to evolve her resume with leadership and strategy-oriented positions. First, she moved into sales management and then product marketing. She covered an increasing business portfolio, took on projects and roles expanding into sales enablement, market and product strategy, and spearheading an M&A transaction (the first time a public company purchased a woman and BIPOC-founded startup!).

Rachel holds a BA from Syracuse University in Political Science, Philosophy, and Communication & Rhetorical Studies and an MBA from The Citadel.

Why is education important?
My education helped give me the foundation I needed to pursue so many paths: to think critically and communicate clearly.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
There are so many paths to your goal, and so many ways to define success. Sometimes the well-worn path, or the expected goal just isn’t the right one for you. Research your options, be open-minded, and don’t be afraid to be your own advocate!
Brenda Perez Sisterhood Summit 2022 - Spotlight

Brenda Perez

Program Analyst / DOEE Office of Urban Agriculture

Brenda Perez (she/her/ella) is an award-winning community activist who is passionate about the environment and immigration. She has a master’s degree in Water Resources Management from The University of the District of Columbia and works for DOEE's Office of Urban Agriculture. Recognizing that climate change is a time-sensitive issue, she strives to be inclusive and open up spaces for action in communities that have been impacted disproportionately.

Why is education important?
Education is important because your knowledge can never be stolen from you. My mentors, teachers, books, and community are all part of my educational experience. They have opened my mind to new ideas and have given me the confidence to advocate for myself and others.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
My mom and my grandma are my sources of motivation. I try to call them every day to remind myself of where I come from and how far we have come as a family.
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Patrice Arrington

Assistant Athletic Director / Flint Hill School

Patrice Arrington is the Assistant Athletic Director and Head Women's Volleyball Coach at Flint Hill School in Oakton, Va. She handles all logistics and schedules of all the sports teams at Flint Hill. Arrington is a sponsor of the Athletic Academic Counsel as well as the Black Student Union (BSU). The athletic department collaborates with all divisions of the school to make sure the students are given opportunities for success on and off the court.

This past fall, Arrington coached her team to their 11th Virginia State Title and 20th ISL league Title, her first as the head coach at Flint Hill. Because of the success of her team, Arrington was named Co-Coach of the year for the Washington Post along with her sister Perette, Head Coach at Wilson High School in Washington, DC.

Prior to Flint Hill, Arrington was the Director of College and Career Services at Wilson High School, where she counseled students with their career choices and advised them through the college selection process. She created action plans through tutorials and academic mediations, regarding undergraduate and postgraduate studies, by providing resources and opportunities to encourage college and career exploration. She pioneered daily tasks in community outreach initiatives, by building relationships with local/district leaders and Wilson High School stakeholders through positive and active engagement. Additionally, she is an Advanced Placement (AP) testing coordinator, NCAA school representative, the Title IX representative, and the Women’s Sports Liaison, assisting in the recruiting process and student-athletes' collegiate athletic eligibility.

Prior to her work at Wilson High School, Patrice played professional volleyball for 12 years and was a 4-year member of the USA Women’s National Volleyball team and helped them qualify for the Olympics in 2000 and 2008. During her career, she played for several professional teams in countries such as Holland, Belgium, Russia, Italy, Puerto Rico, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. She received several awards including MVP of the Russian Super League.

Patrice has coached volleyball at the collegiate level for both The George Washington University and Fordham University, where she was responsible for recruiting and other team preparations. She is a certified personal trainer, specializing in performance enhancement training, weight management, and Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT). Along with her sister, Perette, the two have coached the Wilson High School Volleyball team to 20 DCIAA Championship titles, 2 third-place State finishes, and most recently, runner-up in the DC State Championships. Additionally, the Wilson High School volleyball team was ranked 10th in the Washington Post All-Met Sports for the first time in history in 2017. Currently, Patrice also coaches for the Metro Volleyball Club of DC’s 18 Travel team, which is ranked 7th in the country.

Patrice graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. degree in sociology and a minor in psychology. While attending the University of Oklahoma, she played volleyball as an outside hitter and ran track. She earned AVCA All-American honors and still holds records for Oklahoma and the NCAA. Patrice graduated with her Master of Arts Degree in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown University and earned a certification in Fundamentals of Global Sports Management from New York University’s Tisch Institute of Global Sport.

Why is education important?
Education is important because the more you know the better. It’s something that someone can never take from you. My educational experience impacted my journey because I had a lot of foreign language experience and was able to speak four different languages throughout my career and really immerse myself in different cultures.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
Your light shines bright always. Never let anyone dim that light.
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Perette Arrington

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Perétte Arrington earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Seton Hall University and a Master of Arts degree in counseling psychology from Howard University. She continued her graduate training at The George Washington University and earned a Doctor of Psychology degree in clinical psychology.

As a Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Arrington has worked in a variety of mental health settings such as a group home for pre-adjudicated youth, therapeutic foster care, a residential treatment facility for children and adolescents, and a group practice focusing on the psychological assessment of learning disabilities. Dr. Arrington has a part-time private practice located in Rockville, Maryland and for several years, served as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Clinical Psychology at The George Washington University supervising doctoral candidates in psychological evaluations and report writing. Dr. Arrington currently serves as a Clinical Psychologist with the DC Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) School-Based program and has been assigned to Wilson High School for the past 11 years. The School-Based program is a joint effort between the District of Columbia Public and Charter Schools and DBH, and it is designed to support a school environment in which all students are emotionally prepared and ready to learn.

At Wilson, Dr. Arrington has been an integral part of the Wilson Parent Community Drug Prevention Network often collaborating with the Wards 3 & 4 DC Center for Prevention. She also assists with the coordination of the Wilson Mental Health Team, a multidisciplinary team servicing the mental health needs of the students and families at Wilson High School. In addition to providing individual, group, and family therapy to the students and families at Wilson, Dr. Arrington works with entire classrooms of students to educate them on issues plaguing our youth today, including suicide, domestic and dating violence, substance use & abuse, and bullying. Facilitating psychoeducation training for staff and parents on various topics related to mental health also is an aspect of her day-to-day functions at Wilson High School. As an employee of DBH, Dr. Arrington has been appointed by the DC Mayor's Office to serve on the Task Force regarding the city-wide initiative related to body-worn camera videos. Dr. Arrington collaborates and assists DBH, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the Mayor's Office with providing clinical support to families viewing the body-worn camera footage related to the police involved death of their family member(s). eligibility.

Prior to joining the Wilson High School Tigers’ athletic staff in 1998, Dr. Arrington was the head volleyball coach for the junior varsity squad at Sidwell Friends School in 1997. She was one of the head coaches of the DC Juniors Volleyball Club from 1997 through 2002, and also served as interim Club Director in 2002. She served as an instructor at the Nike Volleyball camp at The George Washington University in 2001 and ’02. Dr. Arrington also served as a Graduate Assistant coach for the women’s volleyball program at The George Washington University from 2000 to 2003. She was a volunteer coach in 2004. In addition, she was one of the head coaches for Metro-American Volleyball Club in 2005. Dr. Arrington received her Increased Mastery and Professional Application of Coaching Theory (IMPACT) certification in 1998. At Wilson, Dr. Arrington’s teams have won 19 out of 21 City Championship titles and posted a DCSAA Volleyball State Championship First Place finish in 2021, and a 2017 and 2019 DCSAA Second Place finish since she took over as the head coach in 2000.

Dr. Arrington’s career awards include DCIAA Coach of the Year in Volleyball (Fall 2021); The Washington Post Fall All-Met Co-Coach of the Year-Volleyball (December 2021); DC State Athletic Association Coach of the Year-Volleyball (Fall 2021); Coach of the Season, Wilson High School (Fall 2019); National Federation of High School Coaches Association 2017-2018 Coach of The Year for the District of Columbia; National Federation of High School Coaches Association 2017-2018 Sectional Coach of the Year (Mideast Section); Coach of the Season, Wilson High School (Fall 2017); Outstanding Coach of the Year, Pigskin Club of Washington (February 2017); Coach of the Season, Wilson High School (Fall 2014); Coach of the Year, Wilson High School (May 2003 & 2012); The Washington Post Fall All-Met Coach of the Year-Volleyball (December 2011); Coach of the Year, District of Columbia Women’s Sports Association (June 2011); and Public School Coach of the Year, Women’s Sports Foundation (February 2003).

Dr. Arrington played competitively (semi-professional) in 2014 and 2015 with the Chesapeake Rising Tide which is a United States Premiere Volleyball League (PVL) team representing the Chesapeake Region. Dr. Arrington took a year off from playing competitively but returned to the 2017 USA Volleyball Open National Championships with Fog Canada 40’s to win the Gold medal in the age division in 2017, 2018, and 2019. She continues to play volleyball in her spare time on a competitive USA Volleyball Adult Women’s volleyball team. She also plays coed softball in the spring and summer, and she enjoys snowboarding and playing golf. The Oxon Hill High School graduate and Fort Washington, MD native currently resides in Washington, DC.

Why is education important?
Education has always been a driving force in my family. Even as a young child, I have aspired to pursue higher education even before athletics was a factor in my decisions. Playing volleyball opened the educational doors and provided a means to afford college tuition. Additionally, my volleyball playing and coaching experience afforded me the opportunity to pursue my doctoral degree. With my education, I am empowered to continue striving for excellence and to encourage children and adolescents to do the same. One shouldn’t take educational opportunities for granted. In the classroom is where presidents, doctors, lawyers, philanthropists, and leaders are developed. It starts with education; education can make impossible dreams come true. I am a living example of what you set your mind to accomplish, you can achieve.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?

You miss one hundred percent of the shots that you don’t take. Set your goals and go after them!

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Ish Singh

Relationship Banker / Truist

My name is Aishwarya Singh, Ish for short. I received a degree in fine arts and marketing in 2021. During my academic career, I worked retail jobs to pay for my diploma and graduated with no debt. During my time at Kutztown University, I participated in the Business Idea competition and won second place for my idea. I did not even expect to win, I just worked hard and received results.

Why is education important?
Education is important because people take you seriously. Unfortunately, we still live in a world where we need to prove ourselves in order to be heard. The more education you have the more doors open. I also believe in continuing education and that does not have to be just in college.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?

 I want the girls to know that if you are struggling now, that life does get better. Getting involved and networking can take you further in your career. Every day if you strive to make good choices and surround yourself with ambitious people, you will see immediate results.

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Yolande Matthew

Director of Segment Performance and Optimization

Serves as the leader of Truist Emerging Markets Segment Performance and Optimization Team supporting our high priority client growth segments including Underbanked/Unbanked, Young Professionals, Multicultural Banking and Teammate Banking. Key areas of focus includes Performance Reporting and Analytics, Incentives, Enablement & Training Execution and Administrative Support. ,

Experience: 17 years of financial services experience leading diverse teams and high impact projects (Corporate Function and Client Facing)- Retail Sales, Client Experience, Analytics, Execution. Bachelor’s in Business Management & Finance - Brooklyn College, New York.

Volunteerism: Her passion for community and financial inclusion inspires her to give back and she continues to leverage her skills in execution and program management to support organizations such as Operation HOPE, Junior Achievement and United Way. She is also a Co-chair for Truist’s Greater Washington Region BOLD BRG (Black Organizers, Leaders & Doers Business Resource Group) where she helps lead the efforts to engage teammates to make a positive impact in our local communities through education and volunteerism.

Personal: Yolande immigrated to the United States in 1998 from the island of Grenada and has been able to give other family members the same opportunity that she received in 1998 to immigrate to the United States to pursue their dreams. When Yolande is not working she enjoys spending time with her husband, watching football, traveling and practicing wellness to help live a balance life

Why is education important?
Education arms you with the foundation and provides stability. Increased your chances of better life career. My journey to getting my bachelors was one of many challenges but I stayed the course and in doing so positioned myself for better career opportunities. It is something I am proud of and no one can take that away from me.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
Stay focused on your journey! Build solid relationships (mentors, sponsors)! Give back! Own your enthusiasm, engagement, and execution! Say yes more, knowing that you will sometimes fail, which is ok. Still, it is all about growth and learning.
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Angela Canady

Allergist / Immunologist

I am originally from Kansas City, MO and moved to Washington, D.C. in 2013. I was 14 years old when I decided I wanted to become a pediatrician. I attended Xavier University of Louisiana and graduated in 2001 with a degree in Biology Pre-Med. I decided to stay close to family and attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City for medical school and residency. After residency I completed my training in Allergy/Immunology at the University of Kansas. After moving to D.C. in 2013 I joined a private practice and I have established myself as a successful allergist within the D.C. area. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

Why is education important?
Education is the foundation for a successful future. Through my education, I learned self-confidence as well as the value of hard work and determination. Education is an important aspect of any career and is essential for growth and development.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
If you have faith, stay focused, and believe in yourself you can achieve success.
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Raheema Abdulaleem

Deputy General Counsel / Executive Office of the President, Office of Administration

Raheemah Abdulaleem was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. Her parents are both Philadelphia public school teachers and Raheemah graduated from public high school in Philadelphia. After graduation, Raheemah attended Yale University where she graduated in 1998 with distinction in her major. She graduated from Harvard Law School in 2001. After she graduated from law school, Raheemah worked at two nationally-recognized law firms. In 2009, Raheemah joined the federal government as a Senior Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. Currently, Raheemah works as Deputy General Counsel in the White House, Executive Office of the President, Office of Administration.

Why is education important?
Education is vitally important because it helps you grow and develop as an individual. Education also exposes you to a wealth of new and different opportunities. My educational experience has impacted my journey because it gave me a solid foundation and allowed me to truly believe that I could do anything that I worked hard for and set my mind to achieving.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?

As you embark on your life’s journey, know that you will make mistakes, face challenges and encounter setbacks but never give up! You must believe in yourself, make sure that you surround yourself with other people who will support you, motivate you, challenge you and encourage you to succeed.

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Shawn Smith

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Ms. Shawn Smith is the Senior Physical Scientist for International Programs in the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), where she coordinates, plans, and provides policy recommendations on international cooperative technical activities related to nuclear materials safety and safeguards programs. Ms. Smith has 20 years of experience advising Federal, State, Tribal, and foreign governments on technical and policy matters regarding nuclear regulation and radiological public health. In addition, Ms. Smith has extensive international experience, which has included serving as the United States (U.S.) representative to Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) Radioactive Waste Management Committee Regulators Forum and as the U.S. representative on several advisory and working groups at the International Atomic Energy Agency and the NEA. Before joining the NRC, Ms. Smith worked as an Associate Engineer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University and has completed post-graduate studies in international relations and public policy at the Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies.

Why is education important?
Education is important because it provides you with something that no one can take away from you. Someone once told me to be a sponge for learning and soak up as much as I can, also that there is something to be learned from everyone you encounter from the custodian, to the President of a company. My education opened doors that led me to my career journey. My education at an HBCU provided a stable, nurturing, and encouraging environment for me to set and achieve goals, and empower me to be the person I am today.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
Life is truly a journey….there’s no need to rush it, but be hungry for your goals because you deserve it if you put in the work to get it!
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Autumn Dea

Film Editor

Autumn Dea is a Philadelphia, PA area native and a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts. She received a BA in film with a double minor in media studies and psychology. Today, Dea resides in Los Angeles, CA where she works full-time as an editor on film, television, and commercial projects. Her most recent feature film, Shithouse, directed by Cooper Raiff, won the Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature at SXSW 2020. Additionally, Shithouse was named Vanity Fair’s 10 Best Movies of 2020. Her work in television has also received accolades including an Emmy for The Future of America’s Past for PBS, and inclusion in the Tribeca Film Festival for the documentary feature The Death of My Two Fathers. Previously, in 2019, Dea was an Assistant Editor on Black Is King, Beyonce’s 85-minute elaborate visual album nominated for Best Music Film at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards. In 2018, Autumn was one of four editors selected in the competitive Film Independent Project Involve Fellowship. She is represented in film and television by the GERSH agency and commercially by Whitehouse Post.

Why is education important?
I feel that education is a important because it helps foster confidence. Knowledge and preparation are super powers that help us step into our craft as confident and competent individuals.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
I’d like them to know that it’s okay to fail. Not everything will go as planned, but it’s better to fail than to not try at all. Bet on yourself!
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Jada McNair Black

Lead Superintendent / Gilbane Building Company

My name is Jade McNair Black. I am a Superintendent for Gilbane Building Company, a general contractor, in Washington, D.C. I graduated from Virginia Tech in 2017 with a Bachelor's in Building Construction and I received a Master's in Construction Management from Drexel University in 2020. As a superintendent, I've had the opportunity to work on schools, roads, underground utilities and other really cool projects. I oversee different areas of work onsite, such as scheduling, trade workers and materials which are necessary to build out a construction project. At Gilbane, I am the Chair of UJIMA, which is an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for Black/African American employees and allies that exist to foster an inclusive culture in Gilbane. Outside of work, I am the Community Service Chair of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) NOVA Chapter and I am the founder/CEO of a skin care company, Sweet Therapy. My accomplishments have opened so many doors for me to be a leader within my field and my community which continues to guide me on my journey to success.

Why is education important?
Education is important because it provides a foundation for you to be able to decide what you want to do and how to do it. Education can be in or out of a classroom. My education experiences in school allowed me to learn about many different fields, improve my professional skills and ultimately led me to my love for construction. My education experiences out of school, such as working jobs until I picked my career, allowed me to engage with many different people, hear their stories, learn about what they know, and improve my personal and people skills, which I use in my everyday life.
What is one thing you’d like for our girls to know as they continue through their high school education?
Be open to accepting and learning from the yes’ and no’s throughout your life’s journey. These are learning experiences, but make sure that as you learn things in life that you take the time to teach, support and encourage other girls after you. This is how you leave your mark on the world.

Girls Global Academy (GGA) is an all-girls public charter high school in Washington, DC.  We will provide a diverse group of young women a global education that ignites empowerment and develops the confidence to influence change for global benefit.

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Phone: 202-600-4822
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