Girls Take Centerstage at Boys and Girls Club Summit

Girls are important. It was only 20 years ago that girls were added to the then ‘Boys Clubs’ to become the ‘Boys and Girls Clubs,’ but no deep thought was given to the types of programs that would benefit girls. So BGC of King County CEO Daniel Johnson pulled together a most impressive “Girls Summit” called InfluenceHer, of some of the most influential women in Seattle to learn what’s needed, and brainstorm ways to make great ideas happen.

In the photo at left, summit planning committee — yours truly, Patty Voelker, Sandy McCullough, Jann Blackbourn, Anita Crawford-Willis, Mary Hackett and Kimberly McKenna. Sheriff Sue Rahr at left.

Key speakers, from  brains to sports to gangs. We heard from Marja (pronounced MAR-ee-uh) Brandon, founder of the Seattle Girls school, who talked about neuroscience and the importance of brain development — the survival brain, feeling brain, and thinking brain, and when those things happen in a child’s development. And how it’s okay to be different.  Karen Bryant, President and CEO of the Seattle Storm women’s basketball team, (we led parallel lives growing up — oldest of 3 kids, played basketball, dad’s wanted boys, etc.) who talked about the importance of athletics and physical fitness, and how being part of a team helped her development growing up. King County Sheriff Sue Rahr talked about girls in gangs, and how low self-esteem often leads these girls into gangs, mainly as prostitutes. Her message was talking to girls about courage, and how being brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared, but you challenge yourself to get through the situation, which helps you grow.

Teen girls. Facilitator Kimberly McKenna did a great job of leading us through the morning, as well as interviewing three teenage girls who told us about some of the things they experience — from fitting in socially, to stress management with school and homework and activities, to their dreams of the future.

Brainstorming ideas to help. We broke up into groups under 3 ideas: leadership and character, health and education. Ideas on ways to help generate programs for girls flowed for nearly a solid hour. I can’t wait to hear the information that will be compiled by the Boys and Girls Clubs leaders, as well as staff. There was so much energy in the room surrounding ways to help girls move ahead and feel okay about themselves, and become future successes. I will keep you posted as I learn more!! A very exciting day in all.

At left: Women gather ahead of the summit meeting with Sheriff Rahr. Seattle Girls school founder Marja Brandon tells us how important recognizing ‘differences’ is.

Please visit for more information on Boys and Girls Clubs of King County.

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Jann Blackbourn

Margo, love your blog. Thank you for all you do to make our community a better place to live. You are terrific.