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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, January 17, 2020

‘She Can She Will’ program teaches girls what can be accomplished




Chattanooga Bar Association executive director Lynda Hood is serving as an UnBought & UnBossed mentor to Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy student Trinity Williams. - Photograph provided by Cindy Rix, Girls Inc.

Anyone who has met Lynda Hood has encountered a force of nature. Between what Chattanooga Bar Association President Steve Jacoway calls her “diligent and vigorous work” as the executive director of the CBA and her tireless efforts to raise money for local nonprofits, she’s earned a reputation as an energetic and passionate community advocate.

But Hood did not become a leader in a vacuum. Rather, she says others showed her the way when she was young, teaching her professional etiquette, how to interact with others and the importance of being kind to everyone.

“A lot of people taught me and poured into me,” Hood says.

Hood is now a 2020 UnBought & UnBossed honoree.

UnBought & UnBossed is part of the She Can She Will program at Girls Inc., a nonprofit on a mission to inspire and empower young women. The organization has nearly 60 years of service in Chattanooga and will serve more than 800 girls in 2020.

Through She Can She Will, girls learn about women’s history, the traits of leaders and the women who have impacted the nation.

Special emphasis is placed on Shirley Chisolm, the first African American woman in Congress (1968) and the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the U.S. from a major political party (1972).

She Can She Will participants also select an UnBossed & UnBought mentor from a pool of nominees chosen by the public. Girls Inc. removes all identifying information so the girls choose their mentors based on merit.

The program culminates in the annual UnBought & UnBossed Awards luncheon, during which each girl delivers a presentation about her chosen mentor.

“It’s about teaching the girls they have the ability to become presidents, CEOs, doctors, lawyers, nurses and good mothers,” says Cindy Rix, chief development officer at Girls Inc. “It’s about teaching them to become stewards of others and leaders in their community.”

Trinity Williams, an eighth-grade student at Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, is Hood’s mentee. Williams picked Hood based on her role with the CBA and her extensive community service.

“I might become an attorney someday,” she says. “I like government and politics. Those things are fun to study.”

Williams is also interested in teaching. “It would be fun to teach elementary school kids,” she says. “I don’t like when a child doesn’t know how to do something because no one ever taught them.”

Between now and the awards luncheon in April, Hood and Williams will spend time together doing things they choose.

During their initial meeting Dec. 3, they discovered a mutual love of arts and crafts, so their first excursion involved a trip to River City Pottery to paint stoneware together.

Since Hood and Williams both enjoy hiking, they also plan to hit the trails. And Hood is looking forward to watching Williams play volleyball for CGLA.

 “I loved playing volleyball when I was a student at GPS,” Hood says. “I’m excited about watching Trinity play.”

Rix says the casual nature of their outings will allow Williams to learn from Hood simply by spending time with her.

“It’s about teaching and learning just by knowing each other,” she explains. “We want it to be fun so the girls enjoy becoming leaders instead of being forced into it.”

Williams will also learn about Hood’s life, career and volunteerism in preparation for her presentation. This will help her hone her interview, research and public speaking skills.

“We place them in front of others to show they’ve become a leader,” Rix says.

Hood says she hopes to pass on her zest for life and strong work ethic to Williams. “I want Trinity to know she’ll have to work for the things she wants,” she says. “If I want something, I want to earn it; I don’t want anyone to give it to me.”

Rix adds she believes it’s important to teach girls important skills while they’re young and before other things become more important.

 “These girls are our future leaders,” she says. “We want to shape them while they want to learn.”

“It’s important to plant those seeds when they’re young so they learn good habits,” Hood adds.

While Williams is eager to learn about leadership, she’s more excited about the prospect of developing a lifelong friendship with Hood.

“It will be nice to have someone in my life besides my mom,” she says.

Hood says she is looking forward to the same thing.

 “I won’t want this end after the luncheon,” she says to Williams. “You’re stuck with me.”

The UnBought & UnBossed Awards Luncheon is scheduled to take place Wednesday, April 22, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

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