Be the woman you needed as a girl.

This is one of the many mantras that guide my work.

There was a time when I would get so annoyed whenever I read or heard about celebrities who said they didn’t want to be a role model. “You are a role model whether you like or not!” I’d yell at the TV screen or the magazine in my hands. 

But one day I had to declare this to the mirror. When I was an English teacher, I realized – from teacher evaluation forms and conversations with students – that being a teacher also meant being a role model. This terrified me. 

Though I was irritated with the rich and famous for complaining that young people looked up to them, now I get it. To know that the words you say and the things you do could have a course-altering effect on a young person’s life is scary. But it’s also inspiring and can be the best motivation for getting out of bed in the morning. So I decided to lean into the idea of being a role model and even after I left the classroom full-time, I tried to find ways to continue to mentor young women.

That’s why one of the highlights of 2021 for me was the opportunity to work with the young women of GirlSpring — an empowerment program for teen girls in Alabama.

Not only did I get to help them plan content for their online magazine, but I also helped them with their first book project — Empower a Girl, Change the World. The book featured essays, articles, poetry and more.

So, I was elated to learn that the girls voted to make me one of the three honorees at this year’s GirlSpring Winter Party, set for January 27.  If you’re in the Birmingham area, I hope you will join me at this swanky affair to support me and to support these amazing young women. (All guests must show proof of vaccination or negative COVID test and masks will be provided.)

You can RSVP for the party here.

Here are some ways you can empower a girl, and change the world:

  • Support GirlSpring. If you can’t make it to the party, you can support GirlSpring with a tax-deductible donation. Any amount helps! Donate here.
  • Be a mentor. Take the time to mentor a girl in your community, church, or family.
  • Live out loud. You know the saying, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Share your story so that you can be the example a girl needs to go after her goals.