LEAD ‘Girls Rising’ Expo delivered inspiring, one-of-a-kind experience for local girls, parents

Students of Gina Tate’s THE POINTE! Company and Technique Conservatory.

LEAD ‘Girls Rising’ Expo delivered inspiring, one-of-a-kind  experience for local girls, parents
November 17
12:15 2022

LEAD Girls of NC, a local nonprofit founded in Winston-Salem, hosted nearly 100 local girls and their parents at its annual “Girls Rising” Expo which was held on the campus of Salem College. The free, two-day Expo featured an opening movie night followed by a full day of high-energy workshops, inspiring presentations, and parent conversations led by local community leaders. LEAD Girls NC works within the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and in the community to provide a variety of programs designed to inspire, motivate and empower girls in grades 6-10 to lead at school, at home and with their peers.

“This Expo was such an important time for us and these girls to interact in person especially as we consider how incredibly difficult and traumatic these past two-plus years have been for our community’s young people,” said LEAD founder and executive director Joy Nelson Thomas. “Now, more than ever, we need to be pouring into young girls and empowering them to use their voices and make good choices.” 

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines and Mayor Pro Tem D.D. Adams welcomed the crowd of Expo participants and volunteers with a special proclamation of Oct. 29 as LEAD Girls of NC Day. In addition, community and business leaders, including retired District Court Judge Denise Hartsfield, Salem College Associate Director of Admission Ashley Curry, and Triad Voice founder Chelsie Hart-Smith, served as presenters, lunch table captains, and Expo volunteers. 

Award-winning author Chrystal D. Giles, a champion of diversity and representation in children’s literature, was the event’s featured speaker. Ms. Giles’ debut book, “Take Back the Block,” was widely acclaimed and recognized as an NPR Best Book. Her next novel, “Not An Easy Win,” will be published in February 2023. All Expo participants received a copy of “Take Back the Block.”

“We’re incredibly grateful to our girls and their families for being part of the Expo and to the nearly 60 volunteers who made this two-day event so successful,” said Thomas. “It is very meaningful when our girls have the opportunity to see adults standing alongside them during these influential years in their life when there is so much going on physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and academically.”

For more information on LEAD Girls of NC, visit

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