On March 7, 2013, the eve before International Women’s Day, PEARLS for Teen Girls (“PEARLS”) held their fifth annual Women Inspired to Lead: An Intimate Evening of Conversation and Inspiration in the Grand Ballroom of The Pfister hotel in Milwaukee. This annual event raises awareness about PEARLS, showcases their accomplishments working with at-risk teen girls of color in Milwaukee, is a source of fundraising so that PEARLS can continue their mission, and highlights some of Milwaukee’s most accomplished women leaders. This year's event Presenting Sponsor was BMO Harris Bank.
There were nearly 400 people in attendance. Following a networking reception, PEARLS CEO Danae Davis, J.D., kicked off the evening’s festivities with opening remarks followed by a short film presentation about PEARLS. Next, the event co-chairs: Nichelle Montriel, PEARLS alumna; Hydia Harris, PEARLS Girl and Teen Facilitator; and Stephaine Crosley, PEARLS Program Coordinator shared the positive impact PEARLS has had on their own lives and introduced the emcee for the evening, WISN 12 News anchorwoman Portia Young.
The 2013 Women Inspired to Lead Panelists were:
- Margaret Henningsen, Executive Director, Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee
- Meg Kissinger, Investigative Reporter on health and welfare for the “Milwaukee Journal Sentinnel”
- Hannah Rosenthal, CEO/President, Milwaukee Jewish Foundation
- Sharon Adams, President, Walnut Way Conservation Corporation
- Shante Stevens, Budget Analyst, Virginia National Guard, PEARLS alumna
Each of the women shared key strategies to becoming a successful leader based on their own life and career experiences.
Milwaukee has some grim statistics regarding teen pregnancy and high school graduation rates. According to PEARLS:
- Milwaukee has the 7th highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation.
- Only 50% of minority students graduate from high school in Milwaukee.
As such, PEARLS has two primary objectives:
- "To increase high school graduation and college acceptance rates among Milwaukee's girls of color.
- To work toward the goal set by the United Way of Greater Milwaukee to reduce pregnancy among 15-17 year olds by 46% by the year 2015." (source: PEARLS for Teen Girls)
Based on the 2012 data, PEARLS has been successful with the girls who participate in their structured curriculum. At the event, PEARLS CEO Danae Davis shared:
- 100% of PEARLS girls graduated from high school.
- 100% of PEARLS girls were accepted to at least one college.
- 99% avoided teen pregnancy.
To learn more about PEARLS for Teen Girls including how to make a financial contribution, volunteer, and participate visit PearlsForTeenGirls.com.