One Hundred Teen Girls Meet Florida Legislators at Pace Day at the Capitol

April 03, 2023
Pace Day At The Capitol

Pace Center for Girls (Pace), a nationally recognized model that provides education, counseling, training and advocacy for girls and young women, hosted its annual Pace Day at the Capitol event on March 28-29, 2023. More than 100 Pace girls from across the state met with members of the Florida House, Florida Senate and other elected officials and leaders to share the impact of Pace’s model.

“When we provide the support girls need, they achieve success in all areas of their lives, leading to positive outcomes for themselves, their families and the communities,” said Mary Marx, President and CEO of Pace Center for Girls. “Pace Day at the Capitol provides an opportunity for girls to participate in the legislative process, by testifying before committees, engaging in a mock debate voting on specific bills, and by advocating with their individual legislators.”

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. 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.

A panel of members of the Pace Board of Trustees focused on Women in Politics and outlined the panelists path to their current role in politics and encouraged Pace 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 Jossmarie,16, a sophomore at Pace Jacksonville.  

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.

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.