The Cultivation of a Strong Community at the Girl Up Leadership Summit


Before coming to the Girl Up Leadership Summit, I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in, that the girls at the summit wouldn’t like me, and that I wouldn’t be able to connect with them. I could not have been more wrong.

During the three days of the conference, I was amazed at the generosity, kindness and community of the Girl Up girls. And our shared dream of gender equality and girls’ empowerment helped us create a stronger bond than I could have ever imagined.

“Our shared dream of gender equality and girls’ empowerment helped us create a stronger bond than I could have ever imagined.”

In watching speakers, we were able to soak up the advice and share our favorite and most inspiring quotes on social media. As the summit went on, I realized we shared favorite TV shows, senators and hobbies. While we came from all over the country (and the world!), we were able find commonalities like the challenge of recruiting new members to our Girl Up clubs and finding creative ways to fundraise.

At the same time, the diversity of the group allowed for creative, multi-faceted discussion. The depth and breadth of knowledge that was thrown at us in those three days forced us to compile our resources and in comparing notes, I was able to find new perspectives on every issue we tackled. The diversity in age at the summit gave me further perspective on the various levels of Girl Up, whether it be a middle school club or college campus, and forced me to think about what projects and ideas would best suit my audience.

Through going to workshops, being awe-inspired by FLOTUS, and lobbying on Capitol Hill together, I was able to meet some of the most incredible people. I met girls from all over the country and all over the world who had different involvements with Girl Up, and I was able to learn from their experiences.

Girl Up has always promoted community, and while I have participated in Girl Up Oregon coalition events and reached out to other clubs, I still felt alone in my efforts as a club leader. In coming to the summit, I was able to connect with and learn from other Girl Up members.

And while the summit may be over, the community we created continues on.