2019 SMARTgirl Leadership and Mentoring Summit Wrap Up

SRQ MEDIA was pleased to host the 2019 SMARTgirl Leadership and Mentoring Summit at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota on Friday, March 15, 2019. Powered by the SRQ MEDIA Women in Business platform, SMARTgirl is an innovative program designed to engage girls in 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades in imagining their future careers and creating the tools they will need to succeed through mentorship, soft skills training and hands-on workshops with some of the community’s top women leaders.

The crowd of SMARTgirls arrived to the Hyatt Regency Sarasota bright and early– ready for a day of engaging, empowering programming. The guests were welcomed by two workshops designed to spark creativity: a Mythic Story Station and a Superhero Team Station. Facilitated by the SMARTgirl Class of 2019 Mentors and SRQ staff, the activities were great icebreakers that encouraged team building.

The SMARTgirl Class of 2019 Mentors helped facilitate the next part of the program- the Dream Career Incubator. Nearly thirty volunteer mentors who represented a wide variety of professions each ran three mini-mentor sessions. The team of SMARTgirl mentors offered direction and advice to the girls, asking questions about what their interests are and where they can see themselves in the future. Our mentors also offered the young leaders insight into the professional world and encouraged the girls to follow their passions and dreams.    

The 2019 SMARTgirl Leadership and Mentoring Summit luncheon began with a welcome by Mark Smith of The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art followed by inspiring remarks by the 2019 SMARTgirl Keynote Speaker, Roxie Jerde of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Encouraging the audience of SMARTgirls to demonstrate curiosity, comradery, and collaboration in their everyday lives, Jerde noted that, “Everyone in this room has the potential to impact a cause, another person, and our community.” Jerde described the impact that her experience as a former Girl Scout had on the way she views collaborative thinking and shared, “All of us are smarter than one of us.”

Next, SMARTgirl Partner Alumni Speaker, Britney Guertin of Visit Sarasota County addressed the audience and recalled how the encouragement and support she received through the Boys & Girls Club helped provide a foundation to achieve her potential. She encouraged the young audience to follow their passions and to participate in the Bright Futures Scholarship program.

To kick off the program’s final workshop, the audience learned how prevalent bullying is in each SMARTgirl’s experience at school. 3.2 million students are bullied each year and over 70% of young people say that they have witnessed bullying first hand. The 2019 SMARTgirl Leadership and Mentoring Summit ended with a dynamic anti-bullying workshop led by Blair Bloomston of Game On Nation. Through group activities that promoted connectivity, empathy, and confidence, Bloomston stressed the importance of finding common ground and “laughing with” instead of “laughing at.”

Bloomston encouraged young women to find strengths in one another and to become active in their communities. By the end of the workshops, laughter resonated throughout the room as all in attendance harnessed Bloomston’s spirit of play.

SRQ MEDIA would like to thank the sponsors who made the 2019 SMARTgirl Leadership and Mentoring Summit possible: Career Edge, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, New Balance of Sarasota and University Park, New College of Florida, Sue Ellen’s Floral Boutique, and The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Thank you to host sponsor Hyatt Regency Sarasota, audio visual sponsor PSAV, and to our 2019 Participating SMARTgirl Partner Organizations: Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota County, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, and the YMCA.

We are grateful for our fantastic SMARTgirl Class of 2019 Mentors for taking time out of their busy day to share their wisdom and their stories with our SMARTgirls: Mireya Eavey, Gabriele Harris, Shauna Donahue, Susan Moseley, Joy Randels, Katy McBryer, AJ Lee, Ph.D. Kendra Simpkins, Jeannie Perales, Carol Danisi, Alyson Goldy, Jennifer Caraviotis Simms, Lyndsy McDonald, Liz Brookins, Bernadette DiPino, Laurie Pike, Leymis Bolanos-Wilmo , Kameron Hodgens, Ph.D., Paige LeMay, Morgan Gerhart, Tammy Kovar, Erin Watson, Angelica Brady, Casey Siljestrom, DVM, MPH, Major Sherri Sanders, Nadia Kemel, Lee-En Chung, Rochelle Nigri and Nikki Taylor.

And lastly, we thank our 2019 SMARTgirl participants for joining us. You are our community’s next generation of leaders and we look forward to watching you learn, grow, and thrive!

Click HERE to view more photographs from the program.

Don’t forget to save the date for the next Women In Business Program: the SRQ Women in Business Hear Me Roar Leadership and Awards Luncheon, taking place at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota on Thursday, May 2, 2019 Click HERE to purchase your online tickets. Tickets are now available for $75/per person. Sponsorship tickets for a Table of 10 are available for $850 and and sponsor tickets for a half-table of 5, $425. We look forward to celebrating our fabulous presenters and award recipients at this year’s Hear Me Roar Program with you!

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