LEAD Girls NC host third annual soirée

Joy Nelson founder of LEAD Girls NC congratulates Brittany Shuff during the 3rd Annual LEAD Girls soiree on Sunday, March 3. Shuff is the first participant in the LEAD Girls program to graduate from high school.

LEAD Girls NC host third annual soirée
March 07
00:00 2019

March 1 is the official start of Women’s History Month in the United States. While we celebrate the women who have made history with their contributions to society, we must also ensure that young girls and preteen girls have the necessary tools and resources to become leaders and history-makers in their communities as well. And last week more than 200 people came together to celebrate a local organization that has been doing just that for the past three years, LEAD Girls NC. 

Founded by Joy Nelson in 2016, the mission of LEAD (Learning Everyday Achieving Dreams) Girls NC is to encourage and mentor girls to aspire and achieve greatness academically, emotionally and creatively. From humble beginnings as an after-school program with only six girls, today LEAD serves more than 150 girls in middle schools in Forsyth and Guilford Counties. 

During the LEAD Girls Soirée on Sunday, March 3, an annual gathering that serves as a fundraiser for the program, Nelson, who is a graduate of Salem College and a certified life coach, said when girls have a strong foundation and someone who believes in them, they can do anything. She said after college and seeing how many girls in the community needed a positive role model, she decided to follow her heart. 

“… I knew I was ready to get into action and those girls needed me. We have girls in our program who have experienced things no child should have to experience. We have girls who don’t have parents to care for them and girls who want a future but have no idea what that could be or how to get there,” said Nelson. “In LEAD our girls discover a safe environment. They learn to problem solve, support their peers and communicate effectively. They set high expectations for themselves.” 

According to Nelson, since 2016 more than 300 girls have benefitted from the LEAD program, but there is still work to be done. Statistics show in Forsyth County, one in three girls struggle to achieve stability in adulthood and girls in our community are more likely to end up in poverty or homeless. 

“To sum it up, LEAD gives a future and we need you to be in their corner. Currently we’re in two middle schools and we have our Saturday community program. There are eight more Title I schools that need us,” Nelson told those in attendance during the soirée. 

“… We can make a remarkable impact in this community.”

Along with raising funds for the program, the soiree held at the Village Inn Event Center also served as an opportunity for LEAD to highlight some of their supporters and girls who are enrolled in the program. This year’s honorees were Karl Yena and Heather Scales. The LEAD Girl Award was presented to Brittany Shuff, a senior at Carter G. Woodson and the first LEAD Girl to graduate from high school. Shuff, who will attend Fayetteville State University in the fall, is a leader who is always willing to go above and beyond to help others. 

Nelson said, “She’s a leader. Always willing to head up projects and even stays late on Saturdays to held me clean. She’s eager to go to college and take on the world and I know she will.”

After accepting her award, Shuff read a poem she wrote about her experiences with LEAD Girls NC called “A Black Girls’ Undefined World.” The poem talked about overcoming obstacles and reaching your dreams. 

She read, “… I’m going to choose to stand before you as I am and I’m going to walk my path with integrity and there’s no one who will be able to stop me from being me.” 

An unofficial tally of the funds raised during the event last weekend topped $17,000. During the soirée, Nelson personally thanked individuals and organizations that made donations to the program.

For more information on LEAD Girls NC, visit

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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