“A leader is brave.” Girls on learning authentic leadership

Every year at Girls Leadership, we build communities that are strong enough for girls and gender expansive youth to show up as their authentic selves. Want to learn more about what works? We’re proud to share this video with educators, youth-serving professionals, and anyone else who wants to help girls reach their leadership potential  


We’ll be real with you, in this midst of the mental health crisis, the work is harder than ever. The key lesson this year from Girls Leadership Program Manager Cat Del Castillo: Stick with it. All year. You can’t give up on the power of community. 

“This is an incredibly hard time to be a teacher. The social emotional needs of students are sky high. When we teach new skills, especially ones that center on vulnerability, it’s not going to work the first time, it’s probably not going to work the second or third time either. You have to stay the course, you cannot give up. It took me nearly an entire year …to get girls to sit in a circle, share their ideas and listen to others. And now, at the end of the year, the youth can speak to why the experience was worthwhile. But we couldn’t have done that if we’d given up in October.”  

In our Power Labs, we taught students to connect to and value their most authentic and unique selves. Celebrating authenticity and difference is critical mental health work when girls are coming of age in a culture that teaches them their self worth comes from being perfect for everyone else, whether that’s friends, teachers, parents, college admissions boards, or romantic interests. Self-worth is the internal anchor that grounds us against the sea of extrinsic pressures, which is why it’s the foundation of what we do at Girls Leadership. 

Leadership means knowing yourself and recognizing that you have the capacity to influence others and change spaces just by existing as your fullest self.”

– Cat Del Castillo, Girls Leadership Program Manager

This program is made possible by the support of The Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation.

Click here to learn more about our professional development training, including our upcoming Collective Belonging learning retreat happening June 26-28 in Oakland, California. Don’t wait, there are only a few spots left in this training!

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