There is one engine that will continue to drive the future: the power of our girls and young women. We see every moment and new day as an opportunity for empowerment as we work to inspire and connect the next generation of leaders.
More than 100 Pace girls from across the state met with members of the Florida House, Florida Senate and other elected officials and leaders at Pace Day at the Capitol. During two days of meetings, training and programs, girls learned about policymaking, ways to effectively advocate for themselves, and how to authentically share their stories.
“The speeches really got to me. It was empowering to hear Chancellor Kevin O’Farrell say that I could be signing his paycheck in the future and one of these offices could be mine,” shared Sadie, 14, a Pace girl from Collier at Immokalee. “And, when Josefina Tamayo said, ‘I will, I can and I do,’ that really got to me.
Girls heard from Alice Sims, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Prevention Services for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Chancellor Kevin O’Farrell from the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Career and Adult Education, Josefina Tamayo, CEO of Volunteer Florida and Sen. Jennifer Bradley, Chair of Criminal Justice Appropriations, who hosted a mock Senate session on the merits of requiring middle and high schools to have a later start time.
“My favorite part of the day was the mock Senate session because I got to sponsor the bill,” shared Ryann, 17, a Pace girl from Jacksonville. “It felt like I was able to project to everyone that every girl has a voice. After participating in Pace Day at the Capitol, I’m inspired to hopefully work in legislation one day. I feel inspired to be one of the women I heard from during the Women in Politics panel and potentially have my own bill one day.”
A panel of members of Pace’s Board of Trustees focused on Women in Politics and encouraged girls to set goals and consider multiple career paths. The panel included former Sen. Anitere Flores, Brittany Perkins Castillo, Chief Executive Officer of AshBritt Environmental, and Marva Johnson, Group Vice President, State Government Affairs for Charter Communications, and was moderated by Tracy Mayernick, of The Mayernick Group.
“Because of Pace Day at the Capitol and the female legislators I met, I feel like I am not alone and capable of sharing my story to make a difference for future generations,” shared Jossmaire, 16, a Pace girl from Jacksonville.
“Pace Day at the Capitol gave me the opportunity to be myself, talk to other people and not feel uncomfortable,” shared Gabby, 14, a Pace girl from Volusia-Flagler.
“I was given a really cool opportunity to meet legislators who represent my community and other Pace girls,” shared Makaila, 18, a Pace girl from Citrus.
Women who have come before us have given present day girls and young women the opportunity to make their voices heard. Women like Vicki Burke, the founder of Pace Center for Girls, who is recognized in the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame for her impactful legacy.
At Pace, we know the strength our girls have individually, but we are stronger together. When we collaborate with one another, lift each other up and unify for a cause, we can accomplish great things.
Pace’s work has positively impacted the lives of more than 40,000 girls and over the past decade has contributed to a more than 60% decrease in the number of girls that are referred to Florida’s juvenile justice system. Eight out of 10 girls that attend Pace graduate from high school, pursue higher education or secure employment after the program.
The belief in our girls today will create lasting generational change, transforming our world for the better.
Pace Day at the Capitol was made possible thanks to a community of support who believe in the great in every girl, including TECO Energy, Florida Lottery and The Mayernick Group.