“It always pays to raise your hand and step up to the challenge,” spoke Christina Norman as she offered advice during her keynote address to approximately 300 guests at Junior Achievement’s annual Smart Women Make Change on Sept. 26.
Held at the Florida Blue Conference Center, this year marked the event’s fifth anniversary of raising awareness and funds for Junior Achievement of North Florida’s JA Girl$ initiative.
The luncheon opened up with a powerful performance from Ribault Middle School’s STEP Team.
Three girls who have participated in JA Girl$ served as emcees: Janae Byrd, Empowerment Resources; Geornisha Webb, MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation; and Lily Paternoster, Waverly Academy, pulled on heart strings and encouraged smiles as they commentated and displayed what it means to be part of JA Girl$.
Most important about JA Girl$ are the lives it touches. Geornisha Webb participated in the program at the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation seven years ago and shared her story with the crowd.
Following Geornisha on stage was Neve, a student at PACE Center for Girls, who told her emotional story about PACE and JA Girl$ giving her hope after a traumatic past.
Donna Orender, a smart woman in her own right who is former president of the WNBA, introduced keynote Christina Norman. Christina is a media executive and strategist who has served as CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Network and president of MTV and VH1. She liked the idea of ‘Smart Women Making Change’ and talked about three women who made change in her life, sharing words of wisdom that shaped who she is today.
Norman said being from the South Bronx, she never dreamed that running a TV network was something she could do. She learned from her Aunt that, “Where I was from didn’t determine where I would go.”
She reminded the audience of the power in the example all of us set, that young people are always watching and looking up: “You being you is the most powerful thing you can do…all of your actions can be an inspiration to someone else.”
Smart Women Make Change initiated in 2006 and has since showcased the work of JA Girl$, a program that has taught Junior Achievement’s financial literacy lessons to more than 13,000 girls and young women. Please visit jajax.com or contact Elizabeth Paulson at Elizabeth@jajax.com to learn how you can make a difference in the life of a girl!
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