Bringing the Bay Area Together to Support Girl Up!

After seven months of brainstorming, planning, and organizing, I helped host the first Bay Area Leadership Summit! The summit was put together by a group of my friends here at Stanford and hosted by Castilleja, an all-girls school in Palo Alto, Calif., dedicated to creating women leaders. At the summit, there were more than 60 middle and high school girls from over 25 schools all over California!

The day began with Girl Up Partnerships Officer Dory Gannes giving an overview of Girl Up. Attendees heard stories about the girls we work with on the ground and learned about how Girl Up is working to give them opportunities.

Check out more pictures from our event!

Next, the girls went to workshops taught by a group of Stanford students. They learned about the issues facing girls in developing countries and worked in small groups to come up with innovative solutions to these problems. The groups came up with so many great ideas, ranging from in-home filtration systems that could provide people with clean water to cell phone software that could help educate girls! They also learned about outreach and advocacy and participated in a Stanford Design School activity to plan their own Girl Up event.

Attendees had the chance to write letters to the girls we work with on the ground and to try to carry jerry cans full of water—the same jerry cans that girls in developing countries have to carry for an average for 4-6 hours per day!

After the break, we were fortunate to be joined by Tamsin Smith, the founder of the (RED) campaign. Tamsin told us her personal story and reminded us that it’s okay to feel like the “odd duck”—in fact, she said that has become an important asset to her success.

We were also incredibly fortunate to have Girl Up Champion and Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Soni with us! Fresh off of her trip to Girl Up’s programs in Guatemala, she shared stories from the girls we work with on the ground as well as her own personal story, including how she had “fallen in love with working hard.”


We ended the day with cupcakes and a screening of Girl Rising, 10x10’s documentary on the importance of educating girls and the stories of some of the most marginalized and resilient.

It was incredible to be surrounded by girls from so many different backgrounds, families, communities, and schools working together to support the same cause. Our summit showed me that amazing things can happen when you bring together a group of passionate and empowered adolescent girls. Because while we are strong, together we are stronger.


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