“A sisterhood of support.” It’s a phrase often used at Girls Inc. Indy, not just because we believe in it, but because we live it. Girls Inc. is a sisterhood, one that is girls-only, physically and emotionally safe, of high expectations and mutual respect. What I admire about this phrase is that it doesn’t stop at the threshold of Girls Inc. programming, but lives on throughout the Indianapolis area, spreading through the Hoosier corridors. There is precious value in sisterhood. Allow me to illustrate a few examples:

In June, I experienced my first Touchstone Awards Luncheon. Touchstone is a special event hosted by Girls Inc. of Indianapolis, during which we honor four exceptional women of achievement who invest in the next generation of female leaders. This was a special year, indeed. Two honorees, Deborah Hearn Smith and Patricia Wachtel, were women who dedicated their careers to supporting girls in Central Indiana. Deborah Hearn Smith is the retired former CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, who had been serving Girl Scouts since the 1970s. Pat Wachtel is my predecessor, a woman with an incredible legacy serving Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis as CEO for 11 years.

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What stood out to me the most from Pat’s and Deborah’s speeches was their emphasis on the power of collaboration, not competition. Although some may think of the Girl Scouts and Girls Inc. in opposition, competing for programming, girls, and funds, we are compliments. We are sisters, working toward equality, parity, and the education of our girls for them to be strong, smart and bold. Deborah and Pat’s example lives on as Danielle Shockey, the current CEO of the Girl Scouts, and I have met and discussed how we can take our sisterhood to the next level.

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Another example comes immediately to mind. I had the privilege of speaking on a BraveCamp Indy panel this past week with women who move mountains during their day jobs, from corporate powerhouses, to foundations, to a deputy mayor. We were all in it for the girls. BraveCamp challenges girls to step outside of their comfort zones to explore the greater purpose of technology, while guiding them to see themselves as the authors of their own lives. Though we had never worked with one another, the panel wove common threads in our remarks: be kind, work hard, and grow your sisterhood network. Though an outsider may think of BraveCamp as a competitor of Girls Inc., their founders understand the power of sisterhood and specifically reached out to our Girls Inc. girls to see if we had interested girls for the program. When women support women, incredible things happen. This is powerful.

Finally, I have found my sister leaders at Indiana Girls Inc. affiliates to be incredibly welcoming and dynamic individuals. The level of information sharing, collaboration, and support amongst the Hoosier Girls Inc. is astounding. We all have issues our girls are facing that cross county lines, from the opioid crisis, to cyber bullying, to healthy sexuality. Together, we are partnering to tackle how we address these issues for our girls and our communities. We truly are a Girls Inc. sisterhood of support.

At Girls Inc. Indy, it is imperative we practice what we preach, which is why we are taking deliberate steps to meet with unique partners in Indianapolis and beyond to realize our limitless potential to inspire strong, smart, and bold girls in the Indy area. As we approach our 50th year in Indianapolis, I look forward to sharing our plans for taking collaboration and sisterhood to the next level. After all, alone we are strong. Together, we thrive.