GREENSBORO, N.C. — It’s lunch with a purpose. The small group of middle and high schoolers gathered at a pizza joint in downtown Greensboro are part of Leadership LINKS, a small non-profit organization that Founding Board Member Tracey Nicole Hayes says is all about exposing girls to opportunities.
“We provide leadership education that facilitates impactful living, character growth and spiritual development,” said Hayes.
Hayes and the other volunteer board members are all graduates of the United States Naval Academy.
“We've been given a lot, and we know that to who much is given, much is required,” said Hayes. “We really just had a desire to give back to the next generation of leaders.”
The year-round mentorship program offers field trips, campus visits and community service projects. The only prerequisite to be involved is to be a girl in middle or high school.
“Something happens with middle school where people break into cliques and they start trying to self-identify, and sometimes we have a little bit of a main girl syndrome,” said Hayes. “We want to make sure that girls are confident enough in themselves that they can be strong without putting somebody else down.”
Leadership LINKS’ flagship program is a week-long summer camp called "Walk in Purpose." It includes workshops, self-reflection and hands-on experiences.
“We will introduce them to career fields that are traditionally underrepresented by women in the highest echelons of leadership,” said Hayes. “So we focus on STEM, business and entrepreneurship, media and arts, military and government.”
The organization inspires tomorrow's leader by exposing girls to new opportunities.
“There are so many opportunities that may not be immediately open to young ladies, and I want them to break down all those glass ceilings and not only do it for themselves, but reach back and bring other girls along,” Hayes said.
LINKS stands for love, inspiration, network, knowledge and service.
Leadership LINKS is hosting its second annual gala fundraiser on Saturday, November 2nd. Learn more information and buy tickets on the Leadership LINKS website.