elyssa headshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was 1:00 in the afternoon, a perfect Indianapolis spring day. The sun was shining, elementary school kiddos were running outside at recess. I was inside, right where I wanted to be. I was not at my desk or in a meeting at the Indiana State House. My co-facilitator was not at Salesforce, her usual place of work. The nine and ten-year-old girls surrounding us were not in class, recess, or lunch. We were together, talking about social media cyber-bullying. We talked about real-world examples of what the girls experience on a day-to-day basis. But most critically, we talked about solutions, and how we can use respect, empathy, and fairness to resolve issues with our online peers and our sisters in the room. Each girl closed the class with a vocal appreciation for one of her classmates’ stories, and a “thank you for sharing. Namaste.”

I can say without hesitation that what we do at Girls Inc. matters. This was a tiny slice of my experience as a volunteer facilitator at Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis (GIGI), and without a doubt, there is nothing more energizing, more impactful, than being an inspiration provider and an intermediary to strong, smart, and bold girls. Because of this story and so many other measurable outcomes, I am proud to be the new President & CEO of Girls Inc. Indy.

Every day in Indianapolis area communities, girls encounter significant challenges to their health, education, and independence. Girls are questioning their worth due to media images seen through an increasing number of online platforms. Girls are overlooked in class, particularly in areas of science, tech, engineering, and math, which is a problem in our city, recently dubbed the “Silicon Valley of the Midwest.” Girls are grappling with the balance of home and school, including mental health issues and aftermaths of the opioid epidemic in our Hoosier state. Further, as our country discusses the #metoo movement, one in four girls will experience sexual abuse or assault before she turns 17.

For all of these challenges, Girls Inc. is able to provide an environment, and programming that – together – empowers girls to succeed. In the Indianapolis area, we serve over 4,000 girls, delivering age-appropriate information and knowledge so girls can make decisions leading to healthy lives; succeed academically; and develop life skills to prepare for adulthood. Prior to moving back home to my native Hoosier state, I had the privilege to work with women and girls around the globe and have witnessed firsthand what the research demonstrates time and time again; investing in girls has profound returns on the community. I look forward to leading the Girls Inc. organization to the next level through innovation and depth of programming for our girls of Indianapolis—the next strong, smart, and bold leaders of the future.

 

In continued partnership,

 

Elyssa