Students Attend Empowering Young Women LEAD Conference


On Thursday, March 8, young women from across central Kentucky came together for the annual Young Women LEAD conference (LEAD stands for Leadership, Education, and Development). Young Women LEAD is a day of empowerment for high school girls, teaching them about breaking stereotypes, having a successful career, and being a leader in their communities. The conference is very focused on these aspects, as proven by its mission statement: “Young Women LEAD will provide high school girls with a meaningful experience designed to help them discover their innate qualities and strengths and to challenge them to reach higher levels of personal growth and development.”

Young Women LEAD was founded in 2009 by a group of female executives from Louisville, KY, in an effort to promote self-esteem, confidence, and leadership in high school girls. Through a six month study, they found it would be beneficial to local cities and communities to hold a one-day conference with these ideas, the likes of which did not exist anywhere in the country at the time. At the conference, there were breakout sessions in the morning (each student attended two sessions), followed by lunch, with keynote speaker Jesse Funk afterward.

Breakout sessions included Be Bold, Be Confident: a session on female empowerment and how to overcome negative stereotypes; Working Towards Wealth: a session on knowing how to make the right financial decisions after graduation; and a STEM Career Panel showcasing jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in an effort to get more women in the fields of STEM. Junior Hayleigh Burrows spoke of her experience in one of the sessions she attended: “I liked the ‘Working Towards Wealth’ session…which was all about how to become wealthy by future careers and finances.”

Berea Community High School has sent students to the conference for the past few years. This year, BCHS sent twenty-five young women to the conference, with some students from every grade. “The experience of going to YWL [Young Women LEAD] will stick with me forever,” freshman Kylie Randall remarked of her experience. “All the joy, laughter, and empowerment after attending is unforgettable. Hearing the struggles and success stories of many strong women will continue to inspire me.”

Kylie also has a message for other young women: “Never ever let others tell you what you can and cannot be. You get to make those choices for yourself.” Young Women LEAD inspired and empowered those who attended this year, fulfilling its mission and ensuring that another generation of young women will become leaders in their communities.