On Wednesday, November 29, our Young Women’s Leadership Project [YWLP] hosted a career panel with three community leaders to discuss opportunities and challenges facing professional women today. Panelists included Harrisonburg City Mayor Deanna Reed, Attorney Lindsay Brubaker, and Business Owner Sara Christensen. Panelists shared reflections about their personal journeys to leadership, answered questions, and offered advice to YWLP program participants. Visit the event photo gallery.
The YWLP enrolls 26 seventh and eighth-grade girls at Thomas Harrison Middle School identified by school counselors as showing the potential for leadership. The girls participate in weekly, out-of-school group learning opportunities and will also be matched in a one-to-one mentoring relationship with an adult female. The curriculum includes activities focused on healthy behaviors and relationships, self-esteem and self-expression, career exploration and leadership.
The project seeks to address growing challenges faced by at-risk adolescent girls in the Harrisonburg community which include substance abuse, a high drop-out rate, and a teen pregnancy rate that is nearly three times the state average for girls ages 15-17. Big Brothers Big Sisters employs its evidence-based, high-quality mentoring model to inform the development of the project and ensure positive outcomes for the young women enrolled.
The YWLP is a collaborative project between Big Brothers Big Sisters, Camp Horizons, Harrisonburg City Public Schools, and faculty at James Madison University. The YWLP, funded by Merck and private donations, is aimed at empowering at-risk middle school girls to develop self-confidence and become aware of their leadership skills and opportunities.
About the Panelists:
Deanna Reed is the current Mayor of the city of Harrisonburg. She is a native of Harrisonburg and currently serves as the Program Director for On The Road Collaborative. In January 2017, Reed became the first woman of color to serve both the city council and as mayor.
Lindsay Brubaker is an attorney and partner at BotkinRose, PLC. She was raised locally on a century dairy farm in Dayton. Brubaker specializes in agricultural, educational, employment, and commercial law. She is currently the only female attorney and partner at BotkinRose.
Sara Christensen is the owner of The Lady Jane vintage home décor shop in downtown Harrisonburg. She is a 2008 graduate of James Madison University. Christensen taught elementary school in Waynesboro before realizing her dream to open her own business in 2011.