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Pace Alumna is Appointed to the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group 

Angie is a recent high school graduate and valedictorian of Pace Center for Girls, Palm Beach. She was a former secretary of the Pace Center for Girls Leadership Council and was a member of Leadership Grow of Palm Beach County. Angie currently serves as a 2022 Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Youth Ambassador. 

We sat down with Angie as she reflected on her experience at Pace and her journey to where she is today.  

Angie at her 2022 graduation from Pace.

How did you find Pace? 

I was at a rough patch in my life to the point where public schools weren’t working for me. I was getting in a lot of trouble and causing my family significant issues. An officer was transporting me and recommended Pace to me. Initially, I did not want to go to an all-girls school.  But I decided to give Pace a try. I enrolled in Pace with a 1.7 GPA. I remember it correctly because I was failing and had gotten so off track in school. I really didn’t care about life at that point.  

What support did you receive at Pace?  

Once I was enrolled, things just started going right. I wasn’t used to a setting where people were positive and wanted to help me get better. I started feeling much more comfortable with telling my story without having to feel judged because Pace was such a safe space for me. 

I started participating in the Girls Leadership Council and progressively leveling up in Pace’s Growth and Change System. I enrolled in Pace’s Reach Program and the Life Coach Program. Everyone helped me stay on track.  

I went from being a straight ‘F’ student to a straight ‘’A student. I finished my senior year with a 3.5 GPA and was the valedictorian. In 2022, I won the DJJ (Department of Juvenile Justice) Youth Ambassador Award. And that’s when the DJJ Department in Tallahassee reached out to me to see if I’d like to submit an application to go into the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group. 

Tell us more about your experience advocating for girls. 

I was the Secretary of Pace Palm Beach’s Girls Leadership Council and a member of Leadership Grow of Palm Beach County. During that time, I would advocate for mental health support because a lot of girls unfortunately go through a lot of challenges with substance abuse and family issues.  

What changes would you like to see in the Juvenile Justice System?  

I think the main change is finding the underlying cause of girls’ challenges and not just focusing on wrong doings. I also think there can be improvement in taking care of people in the Juvenile Justice System who have mental health challenges. A lot of people do not end up getting mental health support and that’s why they can end up going back into the system. I’m thankful I was set up with Pace and a therapist.  

Tell us more about why you were chosen to be the 2022 Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Youth Ambassador. 

I think a lot of things contributed to me being chosen. Of course, me previously being involved with the DJJ system, and then my work advocating for fellow girls on Pace’s Girls Leadership Council. I also participated in Pace Day at the Capital and was able to meet and speak with a couple of Senators.  

What motivates you to raise your voice for change?  

I think what has motivated me the most is when other girls share that they look up to me.  

At Pace Day at the Capital, I was able to join other girls in sharing our stories and advocating for change in record expungement. I feel like adults can say something, but when it’s coming from a girl who’s been through the experience, others are willing to listen and see what they can do in terms of changing the system for the better.  

What future do you envision for yourself? 

I’m proud of myself and I owe a lot to Pace. I improved my academics drastically and have heard from different universities and state officials. My love is real estate – ever since I was younger and would drive by all the mansions on Palm Beach Island with my mom. I’m interested in architecture and staging houses for them to be sold. I hope to one day have my own brokerage.  

We continue to be inspired by the growth and development our girls demonstrate to make their communities stronger for all. 

Pace Day at the Capitol remains an essential component of the Pace advocacy strategy with respect to appropriations and legislative priorities.  It also provides an opportunity for Pace girls to participate in the legislative process, by testifying before committees, engaging in mock debate on specific bills, and by advocating with their individual legislators. 


Meet Four Pace Girls Making a Difference in Their Community

Sophia, Alyssa, Katlyn and Olivia are part of the Girls Leadership Council (GLC) at Pace Broward. As November is the month of midterm elections and voting, the girls connected to discuss the importance of civic engagement. 

Before finding Pace, Sophie was dealing with self-confidence issues and struggling with attending school “I used to be like a turtle. They go in their shell all the time and they get scared, that was me,” she said. After finding Pace, Sophia became more passionate about education, and in the future, she plans on joining the Air Force, since her grandfather was a Marine. 

Alyssa found out about Pace through the Reach program. “I’ve been able to get the credits that I need,” she said. “The teachers are really helpful, and they don’t make me feel uncomfortable with asking for help at any moment.” 

Olivia was struggling with focusing in school and completing her homework. After she found out about Pace through her therapist, she came to Broward, and her ability to complete her assignments improved dramatically. 

Katlyn found out about Pace through family and friends as she was looking for a space to help improve her mental health. In the future, Katlyn sees herself becoming a theater actress.  

As members of the GLC, the girls practice advocating and finding their voice within the safe walls of their classrooms. They inspire change, mentor younger and/or new girls, engage with public officials to share their stories and promote the needs of all girls. 

Girls learned about the importance of exercising their right to vote by participating in a mock election.

“I can advocate for the girls in a way that the staff can’t,” Sophia said. “I can help bring concerns up and provide staff with more understanding.” 

“I feel like our role is to set a good example for the other girls,” Alyssa said. 

One example of the members of the GLC sharing their concerns is when Katlyn was invited to a homecoming from a different school and a few of the girls came together to sign a petition requesting a homecoming for Broward. They shared the petition with staff, and it is currently in review. 

“We’re just trying to get things to help the girls see that Pace is an amazing place,” Katlyn said. 

Alyssa, Member of Pace Broward’s Girls Leadership Council

Another example of the members advocating for change involved Alyssa bringing attention to the city bus hours.

“A lot of us girls take the city bus. We needed to get out earlier in time for the bus. Certain girls would have to go home early only because they were making it home like six, seven o’clock at night because of where they were living at and all of that. Because I’m in the GLC, I was able to bring this issue to the attention of staff faster. When the bus schedules change, Ms. Orlane looked at the schedule and made sure there was a balance for us. Instead of getting out at 2:50 pm, we now get out at 2:42 pm.” 

When the girls have a complaint, they set up a meeting with the staff to discuss their concerns and have an open and honest discussion of how to address them. 

“It’s being a voice for the other girls when talking to the staff,” Olivia said. “I try and take everyone’s well-being into account when we have the meetings. I think about how this affects the other students.” 

Some of the girls dealt with cyberbullying and to combat this issue, the members of the GLC came together to create a bully box, where girls can anonymously share their stories of bullying and harassment. This has helped to uplift girls’ voices and curb the issue of bullying dramatically.  

In the coming months, the GLC at Pace Broward will elect a president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary. They will build a campaign and engage directly with the girls, encouraging them to vote for who they believe will serve each position best. 

As the girls prepare for their own campaigns, they discussed the importance of civic engagement within their community. 

“It’s important to have representation,” Sophia said. “It’s like a way to provide a set of rules within the community.” 

“Voting is a right,” Alyssa said. “Everyone has the right to be heard and their opinions are to be listened to.” 

“What I envision for women in the future is that people don’t see them as weak and people won’t see women below men,” Olivia said. “We should be seen as equals to them.” 

“I want women to know that they can do anything that they put their mind to and they don’t have to stay hidden because a man or even another woman brings them down,” Katlyn said. 

Are you a girl who’s interested in Pace? Know a girl who may benefit from our programs? Click here to learn more about life at Pace and how you can enroll.


Celebrating International Day of the Girl 

Pace Center for Girls joins the United Nations and global communities in commemorating the 10th Anniversary of International Day of the Girl, celebrated annually on October 11. 

Pace has focused attention on the need to address the global challenges girls face and led the charge on women’s empowerment since 1985, with more than 40,000 girls and 23 communities served to date. Yet, the need for communities to unite in support of girls and young women with a common vision of a just and equitable society remains prevalent. 

As part of the Community Solutions program, Pace is hosting Thinley Wangmo Lama, a fellow from Nepal. Read a message from Thinley in honor of International Day of the Girl: 

Thinley Wangmo Lama with CEO Mary Marx

Dreaming Big Through Humble Beginnings 

Guest author: Thinley Wangmo Lama, CSP Fellow 2022 

My family belongs to Limi Valley, a remote village in the northwestern part of Nepal bordering the Tibetan Autonomous Region. My grandparents lived a nomadic life and were sheep and yak herders. My father, being the eldest son, took the responsibility to offer us a better life. And he struggled hard to educate us and finally moved the entire family to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. I was born in Limi Valley and moved to the city when I was 4 years old.  

Limi Valley Nepal
Limi Valley, Nepal

I feel blessed to have received an education and a better life because many women of my age group in Limi Valley are still unable to read and write as well as struggling with the village lifestyle. Now, I have reached a stage in life where I can financially support my family and help with my community development. I treasure my humble beginnings and always live my life filled with gratitude.  

My experiences have shaped me into who I am today. I am a visionary person and have a sense of responsibility to give back to the community.  

I would describe myself in three words: ambitious, hardworking, and compassionate.  

➔   Ambition: My ambition has led me to apply for the Community Solutions Program (CSP), sponsored by the US Department of State and implemented by IREX, through which I got the opportunity to come to the U.S and work with Pace Center for Girls for 4 months. Thus, I am getting the opportunity to learn about the administrative and functional areas of a non-profit organization as I plan to start my own for underprivileged women in Nepal.  

➔   Hard work: I believe working hard is the key to success. We are all given a certain amount of opportunity in our lives, whether it is big or small — your willpower and hard work will determine the end goal. I have faith in myself that my hard work will help me achieve my dreams.  

➔   Compassion: If you ask my friends, family, and colleagues to describe me as a person, most of them would draw me as a compassionate and kind person. I also believe the same because helping others gives me the most sense of satisfaction compared to everything else, I do in my life. This is the reason behind my initiative to offer education to the women in my village and take part in social welfare activities. Currently, less than 10% of the female population is literate in Limi Valley. My goal is to reach an 80% female literacy rate in the next 5 years.  

Thinley Wangmo Lama with women from her village
Thinley Wangmo Lama with women participating in her female literacy program.

I am a strong believer in lifelong learning and have faith that everyone is capable of growth and change if given the opportunity. But my life has not always been like this. All of us face different challenges and we struggle to overcome them.  

In my case,  

  1. Until high school, I used to lack confidence and did not believe in myself.  
  1. In college, I struggled with relationships and faced many conflicts which led to losing close friends.  
  1. Until now, I am learning how to become an effective communicator and a good public speaker.  

Have I overcome all my shortcomings? No, but it is a work in progress. Over time, I have realized that life is about learning at every stage and embracing the changes. Hence, I admire and try to live by the quote “this too shall pass.” I hope welcoming this quote into your lives makes a difference.  

I am grateful to be part of this program where I can sharpen my skills, embrace growth and change and focus on my strengths. I am fortunate to be part of Pace Center for Girls vision where all girls and young women have Power, in a Just and Equitable society. This vision will reach more women in Nepal through my learnings at Pace.

Thus, I would like to conclude, by wishing you all “Happy International Day of the Girl.”


Celebrating Women’s Equality Day

August 26 marks Women’s Equality Day, a day celebrating the anniversary of the 19th amendment, which prohibits states from denying the right to vote on the basis of sex. At Pace, many of our girls are excited to exercise their right to vote for the first time in this year’s midterm elections. In addition to providing community, trauma-informed care and academic support, Pace encourages our girls to lift their voices through civic engagement.

Brynassia, a senior at Pace Polk, believes that voting is an important way for women to share their opinions and beliefs. “We should take advantage of voting because people really fought hard for us to vote to this very day,” she says passionately. 

Josalin, a 10th grader at Pace, shared that she found her voice since joining Pace. “I believe voting is important because it gives everyone a voice, and it helps level the playing field. It’s not just about voting – it’s the act of having something that everyone else can have and sharing equality,” she says.  

Although she’s not eligible yet, Josalin looks forward to voting when she’s eighteen. “I’ve always been excited to vote and put my own opinion out there. Being here at Pace makes me excited to shape the future as it comes.” 

Brynassia and Josalin learned about Women’s Equality Day through their education at Pace. Learning about the fight for equal rights and inclusivity is just one of the many ways that Pace teaches our girls that their voices and goals are valid. 

Josalin shared a bit about the Women’s Equality scrapbook art project in her Spirited Girls class. Each girl will choose an inspirational woman and write about how they have impacted their community. Josalin chose the Queen of England because she was “inspired by the monarch’s support for inclusive laws that uplift women.”

“The beauty of the Spirited Girls class is that we can explore all creative avenues. Our girls begin to feel better about themselves when they feel like they have a special talent – whether it’s poetry, art, or other means of expression. They find the power to lift their voice and express themselves,” says Michelle Taylor, who teaches the class.  

Josalin takes the creative aspiration she developed through Spirited Girls seriously. She wants to be a fashion designer who makes inclusive clothing. “I want to study design and fashion, but after that, I want to start my own business making clothes. I want to design clothes that anyone can wear. […] Clothing that a boy can wear and someone non-binary can wear,” she shares.  

Most notably, Pace reminds our girls that they have a supportive community behind them on their journey toward greatness. Brynassia tells us that “there are times where I’m probably goofing around with the teachers, but when I have a serious conversation that I want to talk about, they’re all ears, and everybody’s listening […] because I know they care about what I want to say.”  

Before joining the Pace community, Brynassia struggled with behavioral health and needed a safe and loving environment for healing and self-discovery. Today, she aspires to attend college in Alabama and become a registered nurse to help women deliver babies. The affirmative care she received at Pace helped guide her passion for helping others. Brynassia can achieve her goals today because of the progress made by women over the last 122 years.  

As she looks toward her future, Brynassia thinks back to when she first joined Pace. With a grin, she says, “ever since [I joined Pace], I’ve just been doing great.”  

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Are you a girl who’s interested in Pace? Know a girl who may benefit from our programs? Click here to learn more about life at Pace and how you can enroll.  


Mental Health Matters: Pace Center for Girls, Collier at Immokalee Helps Girls Look Towards the Future

Published in Old Naples News Aug/Sept/Oct 2022 Edition

Before coming to Pace Center for Girls, Collier at Immokalee, Kimberlee began to see her world unravel — and with it, her mental health. She slowly started opening up to her therapist, Ms. Jama, and together they created a strong partnership and plan grounded in trust and care.

“The mental health needs in Immokalee are significant. The stigma is real everywhere, but especially in this community. For many girls, coming to Pace is one of their first opportunities to learn about mental health and to see what self-care is,” shared Jama Thurman, Social Services Manager at Pace Collier.

Without support, many girls, like Kimberlee, can struggle to find the best path forward and consequently develop harmful coping mechanisms that hinder their journey to a brighter future.

“People should give therapy a chance. Therapy has helped me find my confidence and motivation in life,” shared Kimberlee. “I don’t talk to many people about my personal life, but I talk to Ms. Jama and she helped me.”

At Pace, we believe all girls, regardless of their story, deserve safe and supportive spaces to heal that help them to become strong, compassionate and successful women. Our exceptional team of counselors, therapists and educators take into consideration each girl’s unique strengths, experiences as young women, and history with trauma when creating their individualized plans of care.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health challenges were the leading cause of disability and challenging life outcomes in young people, with the Surgeon General Reporting in 2021 that up to 1 in 5 children ages 3 to 17 in the US have a reported mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral disorder.

Complex mental health challenges must be met with a multifaceted approach to support, which is why Pace’s model is designed to meet girls where they are both physically and developmentally.

“Part of the work we do here at Pace is to help girls find their voice. This is a huge part of any girl’s mental health journey,” shared Vitina Monacello, Therapist at Pace Collier. “For our girls, it’s really owning and embracing their stories in full context. It’s not disowning the difficult emotions or the hard things that’ve happened to them, or the struggles they’ve had. It’s finding their voice in all of that and making sense of their story for themselves so they can move forward.”

Beyond the pandemic and the added stressors this brought on, the adolescent and teenage stage is one of great transformation, both physiologically and psychologically. Navigating this crucial stage of development can be difficult and requires guidance, support, empathy, and safety.

“I found something at Pace that you can’t find at other schools. I found a family that cared about me and my future, and I believed I could do whatever I set out to do. I found an extension to the family I already had that was uplifting and a positive driving force in my change for the better. Like countless girls before me, I found myself as well,” shared Prescilla, a Pace alum.

Sometimes just asking a girl how she is doing can be a crucial step to prevention or to beginning a healing journey. If you know a girl who could benefit from Pace’s programs, please visit here.