For the members of Girls Inc. Westchester, Strong, Smart, and Bold is more than a tag line – it’s a way to live.
It’s also what got me involved with the organization ten years ago, shortly after the Westchester affiliate was founded. Besides being shocked that there was an organization empowering women which I hadn’t heard of, my interest was peaked by the foundation it was built on: Strong, Smart, and Bold.
Those words really do empower you. (I always wear my Strong, Smart, and Bold T-shirt to the gym.)
By empowering girls to live Strong, Smart, and Bold, Girls Inc. prepares under-served girls across the country for success in college and beyond.
But what sets Girls Inc. apart is how the organization empowers girls. Instead of telling girls they should be confident, Girls Inc. develops evidence-based programs that give girls the tools to believe in their confidence.
With trained staff facilitating programs, Girls Inc. girls learn everything from financial skills and public policy to STEM and positive body image. The Girls Inc. Girls Action Network (a special team established by the national branch of the organization) even released a #DearGirl letter this month encouraging members and volunteers to foster a positive image of mental health. #DearGirl was part of a larger, network-wide advocacy platform to support girls’ mental health.
Thanks to generous financial donations, Girls Inc. Westchester girls have access to the best resources in a space all their own. The Girls Inc. room at New Rochelle High School is a safe place for girls to share their goals and work out their problems, and it’s one of our proudest developments.
Volunteers and board members play a critical role in raising the money to provide girls-only safe spaces and skilled program facilitators. We know the Girls Inc. model works, so our job is to find the funds to make it happen. Over the years, I’ve spoken to all kinds of people, trying to show them the benefits of supporting these girls and the difference that support can make in their lives.
My favorite recruits, however, are my colleagues at Axis Promotions (asi 128263). The convincing was easy (they were hooked almost as quickly as I was), and the annual project – we provide SWAG bags for the Girls Inc. Westchester fundraising gala each Spring – has become a rite of passage for my team and an opportunity to get even more promotional product companies involved.
This year’s SWAG included a donated bag from BIC GRAPHIC (asi 40481), a discounted lunch container from HIT Promotions (asi 61125), and a donated microfiber cloth from TEKWELD (asi 90807). It’s been a nine year tradition that we can’t wait to continue.
I try to bring new Axis team members to the gala each year to introduce as many people as I can to these inspiring girls. It’s here that we get a chance to learn about the incredible things they have achieved – from overcoming harmful self-esteem issues to becoming the first in their family to graduate high school.
Affiliate founder Sally Baker summed up the organization best at this year’s gala. “By teaching girls how to live Strong, Smart, and Bold, we’re helping each one gain confidence, find their voice, and speak up for themselves and for others.”
Joan Bluestone Landorf hails from Pittsburgh, PA. She earned an MBA in Marketing from NYU Stern School of Management. She honed her marketing skills in Brand Management at Clairol, before starting her own business, Corporate Visions. Joan and Larry Cohen, Axis’ president, were friendly competitors for 10 years before merging their businesses. Joan’s been with Axis for 15 years and loves it. Her favorite parts are mentoring rising Axis stars and building relationships with her clients. Joan also serves as Chairman of the Board of Peernet, is an active member of the Women’s President’s Organization and a board member of Girls Inc. Westchester. However, her proudest accomplishment is raising her millennial kids, Ali & Greg, with her husband, Andy.