Meet Kristen: Real-Life Bat Girl

Bat conservationist Kristen Lear has always rooted for the underdog, and bats are one of the biggest underdogs out there. With many misconceptions about bats, Kristen’s mission is to share the importance of these amazing animals and to show everyone just how cool they are!

When Kristen was 12, she knew she wanted to do something to help bats so she built and put up bat houses for her Girl Scout Silver Award project. That first project launched her into a career as a bat conservation scientist, working to protect bat species around the world.

Kristen earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Zoology at Ohio Wesleyan University, and is currently completing her PhD in Integrative Conservation at the University of Georgia. She has led international conservation teams for endangered bats in the US, Australia, and Mexico, and leads local bat house projects in the communities in which she lives. 

Now an American Association for the Advancement of Science If/Then Ambassador and Lifetime Girl Scout, Kristen helps younger Girl Scouts and other community groups build their own bat houses to help bats in their own backyards.

Want to ask Kristen all your batty questions and learn how YOU can contribute to bat conservation? Register for Kristen’s bat house building workshop at #GirlsRockSTEM, the 2020 Play Like a Girl Summit on March 7th. In her workshop, Kristen will teach girls to build bat houses using power tools. The finished bat houses will help provide safe homes for bats in Athens, Georgia as part of the Athens Bat Connection. Kristen is excited to share her passion for bats with summit attendees.

Follow Kristen and her bat adventures on Instagram @batsforlife_kristen and Twitter @BatsForLife.


Play Like a Girl Summit Stage to Feature Danielle Breezy, Bat Conservationist Kristen Lear, a future Astronaut & More!

#GirlsRockSTEM, the 2020 Play Like a Girl Summit is fast approaching and we’ve got yet another reason why you’ll want to grab your tickets sooner than later. Tickets are on sale now! For more info about tickets, speakers and the latest news, visit our Summit page here.

Every year, the Play Like a Girl Summit brings middle school girls face to face with dozens of the most prominent names in business, sports, entertainment and beyond. This year, we’re proud to highlight some of the 125 women STEM Ambassadors, who are the face of a new campaign sponsored by Lyda Hill Philanthropies and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Play Like a Girl Summit stage will serve as the intersection of education and empowerment, bridging the gap between this generation’s most prominent voices and the next generation of STEM leaders. From Nashville’s own Chief Meteorologist Danielle Breezy and Faith Borden with the National Weather Service, to bat conservationist Kristen Lear and creative Kynisha Ducre of Google, the conversations and workshops set to take place are sure to inspire the next generation of innovators.


Roller derby skater and neuroscientist
Dr. Elizabeth Engler-Chiurazzi will make her Play Like a Girl Summit debut that’s sure to make a lasting impact and energize the crowd.


Optometrist
Dr. Feyi Aworunse will be on hand to inspire girls to visualize unlimited possibilities and bring their futures into focus for 2020 and beyond.

Award-winning software engineer Gracie Ermi, as well as Data Kind’s Chief Program Officer Afua Bruce will each share valuable gems from their remarkable journeys bringing engineering to social impact.

Electrical engineer Aisha Lowery will share the personal ups and downs of her career journey and guide girls to develop their own action plan through interactive “Failure not Fear” workshop exercises.

Disability and design activist Anaiss Arreola and Taylor Richardson, aka Astronaut StarBright, will take to the Play Like a Girl Summit stage for the first time, where they will shed light on a new wave of social and artistic activism anchored by next generation leaders.

Bat conservationist Kristen Lear will be on hand to expand on the work she’s done so far to help develop practical, equitable and meaningful solutions to bat conservation challenges around the world.

Plus, Chief Meteorologist Danielle Breezy will host the daylong conference and expo sponsored by Wells Fargo. The Summit will be streamed live online and will feature girl power music sets by DJ Tera “Jazzy T” Whitfield of 101.1 The Beat.

Additional names to be announced soon.

“This year’s Play Like a Girl Summit will feature a lineup of high-profile guests, electrifying STEM experiences and empowering talks as well as highlight inspiring girls and women who are changing the game across industries. The event will also feature an intimate one-on-one conversation with a future NASA astronaut,” said Research Neuroscientist and tech entrepreneur Elizabeth Ann Stringer who is a member of the Summit Organizing Committee. “Intergenerational programming spanning coding, robotics, aerospace and 3-D printing among other topics will provide the tools to facilitate education and growth through the sharing of real stories from real women in STEM.”  

For a full lineup of this year’s speakers and industry partners, visit www.iplaylikeagirl.org/summit.

 

 


Meet Gracie: Software Engineer Saving Our Planet

Gracie Ermi is a knitter, Seattle Seahawks fan and outdoor enthusiast—but that’s not all. In her professional life, she is a software engineer who builds technology platforms that just might help save our planet. Her work focuses on preserving ocean health and protecting endangered animals like elephants, sharks and killer whales.

Gracie earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Science at Western Washington University, and has worked at Vulcan Inc. in Seattle, Washington for the last two years. Using coding and a technology called machine learning, she builds artificial intelligence programs -- training computers to do the most tedious aspects of conservation work, so that experts can focus on more important elements of their job.

As an American Association for the Advancement of Science If/Then Ambassador, Gracie shares her story as a way to inspire people, especially women and girls, to pursue computer science as an avenue to make a change in their communities and around the world. She wants to emphasize to everyone that coding is not magic; with practice, anyone can learn to do it. Plus, learning to code bursts open a whole world of financially beneficial and socially engaging opportunities.

Gracie is pumped to attend #GirlsRockSTEM, the 2020 Play Like a Girl Summit on March 7th at Middle Tennessee State University. There, she will share how she went from a middle school girl who knew she wanted to make a positive difference in the world (but had absolutely no idea what computer programming was), to a computer scientist working at an organization whose mission statement is, “Make and leave the world a better place.”

In middle school, Gracie would have never predicted she would pursue a future in technology. Now, her coding skills give her the opportunity to work on projects that 13-year-old Gracie would be incredibly inspired by.

Do you care about solving climate change? Getting every dog adopted? Making sure that everyone has enough to eat?

Gracie, alongside her friend and colleague, Afua Bruce (Chief Program Officer at DataKind), will engage with attendees at the Play Like a Girl Summit to reflect on the kind of world they want to live in. Student attendees will be empowered to envision themselves contributing to these causes and more.

Gracie and Afua will show students how gaining technology skills can be a powerful avenue for creating the change you want to see in the world. It is of massive importance that we listen to and encourage the unique and powerful ideas of girls if we want to build a future where every person, animal and plant thrives.

Follow Gracie and her amazing adventures in STEM  on Twitter @gracieermi.


Apply to Exhibit: 2020 STEM Industry Expo

March 7, 2020 | 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

MTSU Student Union Building

The Play Like a Girl Summit – Industry Expo highlights converging industries leading innovation in Nashville and across the world and engages Summit attendees in experiential STEM education and career mentoring, hosting a diverse range of forward-thinking exhibitors ranging from promising startups to established industry leaders.

Interested in being a part of the most exciting STEM exhibition in Nashville this Women’s History Month? Then look no further than the Play Like a Girl Summit – Industry Expo. Unlike similar exhibitions, the Play Like a Girl Industry Expo is rooted in industry-led activations across converging industries intersecting STEM. Each activation is staffed by two industry professionals—ideally, women. In the afternoon after the Expo closes, these women join Summit attendees for lunch and the keynote presentation and, later, serve as mentors to groups of 8 girls challenged to pitch a tech-driven solution to a social problem impacting girls and women worldwide. 

The Industry Expo is open to innovative businesses and organizations including but not limited to the following categories: startups, female founders, content creators, lifestyle technology, marketing, manufacturing, design and innovation, robotics, hardware and software, gaming, esports, security and cyber security, social impact, sports technology, VR/AR/MR, online media, health and fitness, music technology, artist services and food technology.

For more info, visit iplaylikeagirl.org/summit. If you’d like to join in on the fun, please contact us at [email protected].

APPLY TO EXHIBIT

The Industry Expo is comprised of several immersive, key components, including the Meet the Scientist Experience, STEM Program Hub and College Fair.

Meet the Scientist

Meet the Scientist draws inspiration from converging industries that span the focus of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) plus arts, research and so much more. These exhibitions showcase inventive, emerging cross-industry technology, allowing students to personally meet real-life role models in STEM and engage in hands-on activities with a business product or service through live experiments, demonstrations and book signings.

STEM Program Hub 

The STEM Program Hub features high-quality STEM education programs, a space to learn about industry-supported camps and internships, and the chance to connect with fellow attendees. Whether attendees are seeking info about educational opportunities or need a quick recharge, the Hub is the place to be.

College Fair 

Summit attendees will visit the College Fair for casual networking with students and institutional representatives from a wide range of STEM disciplines and departments at some of Tennessee’s leading non-profit colleges and universities. Participating institutions will share details about scholarships and other opportunities to support students’ career interests in STEM.

The Industry Expo will include a live DJ and projected films. Each Meet the Scientist booth includes the following equipment:

  • 2 – Plastic Contour Chairs
  • 1 – 6’L x 24”W x 30”H Skirted Table
  • 1 – Identification Sign with Company Name 


Movie Q&A: Meet 'Troop Zero' star Bella Higginbotham

In an exciting plot twist, Dr. Kim was introduced to Nashville native Bella Higginbotham, cast member of Amazon Studios' original Troop Zero, after announcing Play Like a Girl's participation in an advance screening of the eagerly anticipated film this weekend.

Set in rural 1977 Georgia, Troop Zero stars Academy Award-winners Viola Davis and Allison Janney, Mckenna Grace and Jim Gaffigan, and centers around a misfit girl’s dream of making contact with outer space. When a national competition offers her a chance at her dream, to be recorded on NASA’s Golden Record, she recruits a makeshift troop of Birdie Scouts, forging relationships that last a lifetime and beyond. The endearing underdog tale also stars Mike Epps, Edi Patterson and Charlie Shotwell, and introduces Bella who plays Anne-Claire alongside Milan Ray and Johanna Colón. Troop Zero is directed by the award-winning directing team Bert & Bertie from a script by Academy Award-nominee Lucy Alibar (Beasts of the Southern Wild). Producers are Todd Black, Jason Blumental and Steve Tisch.

In celebration of the film's worldwide launch on Prime Video on January 17, Amazon Studios will bring an exclusive Troop Zero early viewing party to AMC Thoroughbred, located at 633 Frazier Drive in Franklin, on Saturday, January 11 at 11 a.m. Free passes are available and include the red carpet-inspired pre-party, autographs and photos with Bella, and the film screening. Each pass admits two guests and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis at the venue. Movie goers are encouraged to arrive early and must enter the auditorium together. Passes do not guarantee admission as free screenings can overbook.

Earlier this week, we did a Question & Answer session with Bella about her experience filming Troop Zero, her life on and off set and what she's working on next.

Tell me about the call. Did you read for the role of Anne-Claire or were you cast some other way?

First, we sent in a video audition for Anne-Claire and Christmas. I liked Anne-Claire better for me, and I’m glad they agreed, because Mckenna Grace is a fantastic Christmas! I got a call back for Anne-Claire in Savannah, Georgia and I met with the directors in Spring 2017. After that I was pinned for the role. (Which meant I was their first pick). It was supposed to film in the summer of 2017, but unexpected delays caused filming to be postponed. We waited about a year until we heard I was cast. I was over the moon when I got the good news! 

So who is Anne-Claire? What’s her story? What, if any, similarities do you have with the character?

Anne-Claire is a nine year old evangelist, who is sweet, shy, and a bit of an oddball. She wishes desperately to make friends, but because of her one eye, she has a bit of a hard time. I absolutely loved to play AC because of her awkward-y-shyness and sweet outlook on the world. Anne Clair and I have many differences, but we both are pretty quirky. 

Talk about a star-studded cast! Between Allison Janney and Viola Davis, there’s a lot of talent in this film. Who among them do you admire most and why? Did you have the opportunity to film with her or him? What was that like? What did you learn from them to improve your craft?

I was EXTREMELY lucky to have worked with such incredible actors and comedians. While on set, Miss Janney and Ms. Davis radiated professionalism and poise. They were both very nice and encouraging of us young performers. I soaked up… Click To Tweet It was also fun working with him because I'd previously seen his comedy shows and thought he was VERY funny. 

What was the filming experience like for Troop Zero? I’d imagine pretty different from what it was like on set for anything else you’ve done.

As a first movie/film experience it was amazing. I heard from the veterans it was different than most film sets because the atmosphere was so loving and welcoming. The directors, Bert and Bertie, both made the set as chill and fun as possible. We all had a great time filming even though it was was very, very hot in Louisiana in June! 

Have you had the chance to work with any of the younger actors previously? Was the chemistry between you and your younger cast mates those characters or did you develop your own formula?

I didn't know any of the other kids previously, but the first day we were all together, eureka! The perfect compound -- within 5 minutes, we became best friends. We have stayed great friends, and we will be forever. We see each other anytime we can, and I can't wait to see them next week at the premiere. 

How do you balance acting with school and regular kid stuff? Friends? Extracurricular? Study? 

Ha ha, that’s a good one. I’m home-schooled, so my studies are more flexible, I have a planner, and I have play dates and sleepovers like a normal kid. Honestly I’m not that different than most. Really, my extracurricular is acting!

Anything new in the works that you can share?

Last fall, I was able to participate in the reading of a new musical in development for Broadway, and I am hoping it will get funded because I would love to have a future with that show. Other than that, I’m just waiting to hear back from a few things I auditioned for.

What advice would you give to girls your age who have a desire to get into acting?

Start with seeing as much theater as you can and then start auditioning for local theaters or school plays. Yes, auditioning can be intimidating, but its worth it! If you get in to any local plays, nice! If you think its not for you, that’s ok! I’m sure there are other things that will fit your interests better. Figure out your talents, like singing, dancing, acting. Find the one, or more, you want to work on, and start lessons for those.  Stockpile some memorized monologues and songs in your repertoire. And remember, if you don't want to do something you don't have to, but if you don’t want to because your scared you’ll mess up, you should try any way or you might miss something incredible. And of course, be yourself!


Hadley Hall: A free spirit bravely growing into the best version of herself

“Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” puts the spotlight on five amazing middle school students whose shared love of STEM and sports transcends their differences. These young women — all Play Like a Girl program participants — are true embodiment of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities. Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, age: 

Hadley Hall, 12

School: 

HG Hill Middle

Hometown: 

Nashville

Favorite sport: 

Volleyball

Favorite STEM subject: 

Technology

Words you live by: 

“When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous.” —Michelle Obama

Video: This student creates space for girls to be free

How is she potential, realized?

“It’s a place where I can be myself.” That’s the way HG Hill Middle School student Hadley Hall emphatically describes her experience as a camper at Play Like a Girl last summer. Hadley, who is an independent thinker and all-around ball of happiness, pushes other girls in her space to be free, have confidence in their abilities and express themselves without conforming to the mainstream.

“Play Like a Girl has taught me how to be free and express myself without worrying about what others think,” she told us. Hadley, like many students her age, was somewhat averse to science and math when she started camp. But she loved the arts including liberal arts, fine arts, music, design-thinking and language arts. Some might even describe her as a walking comedy show or music playlist. However, Hadley had never known art to work in concert with other areas of STEM until her music production class.

“By integrating elements of art into the camp experience, we believe that students can use both sides of their brains—analytical and creative—to become the best thinkers of tomorrow,” said Play Like a Girl founder and CEO Dr. Kim. “The arts are critical components to innovation, so we seek opportunities like this to incorporate the artistic and design-related skills and thinking processes to student-learning in STEM because it’s important for students like Hadley to see the limitless possibilities available to them.”

The Nashville native is on a clear path to becoming the best possible version of herself and encourages other girls her age to do the same. Her friends from summer camp describe her as a wildflower: “Hadley is always so funny. I admire her confidence. She’s a free spirit, unbothered by the naysayers. She’s okay with Hadley,” said her peers.

Hadley not only commands respect and admiration in the classroom. She also captivates those who follow her onto the soccer field. She’s candid and honest about her own personal challenges, including dealing with failure which can be paralyzing for girls at her developmental stage.

According to researchers, more than half of girls lose confidence at puberty and seven in 10 girls avoid trying new things because they are afraid to fail. Eight in 10 of the girls surveyed said the pressure to please others and be perfect led them to fear mistakes, while 75% pointed to social media as a key contributor to that feeling.

Luckily, Hadley embraces failure as fuel to build her confidence. Since as early as she can remember, Hadley says her mother has encouraged her to rethink set-backs—whether missing a game-winning goal or failing a major test—as a way to build confidence and keep going. It’s an opportunity that she describes as “the bounce back.”

Throughout the year, Hadley has unknowingly created an environment where other girls feel free to try new things, make mistakes and are confident enough to try again. “I love Play Like a Girl because I can have fun and express myself,” she said. “When you’re there, you can just be yourself.”


Play Like a Girl presents ‘Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact’

Happy New Year -- 2020!

Turning the page on the past decade coincides with a page turning for Play Like a Girl. To kick off 2020, we are celebrating and telling the stories of girls from our programs, introducing a new(ish) website and expanding our partnerships and programming.

Having recently celebrated 15 years since our founding, we know what each new year represents. This year, in particular, is the culmination of a lot of hard work, strategic decisions and deep commitments. Our 2020 campaign is the result of months spent working to articulate what Play Like a Girl is all about, where we want to go and how we can best serve our girls into the future.

We are determined to focus on our mission and keep the girls we serve at the forefront of everything we do. How? We have laid out our vision for 2020 in two simple yet powerful words: Potential Realized.

For every project we take on — whether it’s summer camp, our annual conference, industry field trips and behind-the-scenes tours, lunchtime mentoring at local schools or social media campaigns — we do it all to help our girls recognize and reach their limitless potential.

Our evolved brand and strategic direction represent this vision. That’s why we decided to focus on the stories of phenomenal young women with “Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” to kick off the new year. The new campaign conveys the idea of growth, of real progress. Our new website is designed to be a welcoming, informative space. A place for you to learn more about our team, our work and how exactly we’re making good on our promise to champion equality and economic opportunity for all girls. We hope you return often for insights and information. 

Our founder and CEO Dr. Kim and her assistant Hannah pored through applications from past program participants to pick five young women who deserve the spotlight. The resulting profiles tell the stories of young women who have themselves evolved since joining their very first Play Like a Girl program or event.

These young women are middle school students who love sports, young women who fail as often as they succeed because they’ve learned to view failure as necessary. These are stories of young women who are changing the game on and off the field of play. These are young women with crazy dreams about their futures in this big, bold world and crazier beliefs about their abilities to change that big, bold world. These young women are shaping their communities and, in their own way, altering life for every girl everywhere. Theirs are stories which deserve to be told.

Meet all of our Potential Realized honorees--our 2020 student ambassadors. And share their profiles on Twitter with the hashtag #PotentialRealized.

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 


Play Like a Girl Announces New Board Members

Yesterday, we announced the appointment of nine new members to the Play Like a Girl Board of Directors effective July 1, 2019. These members will join the full slate of 13 professionals including officers and renewing board members for 2020.

"We are pleased to welcome nine new directors to Play Like a Girl's board and especially value the constructive discussions we have had with each of them about the vision and enthusiasm they bring to the organization," said Celeste Bell, Play Like a Girl's Chairwoman and Senior Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Publicis Media. "They join our team at an exciting time as we continue to drive our five-year strategic plan forward and build deeper relationships with industry in Nashville to fulfill our goal of helping young women develop the leadership skills they need for careers in the STEM workforce."

The Board regularly evaluates its composition to ensure it includes the appropriate skills, experience and perspective necessary to drive impact and growth for the organization, and with these director additions, Play Like a Girl has many exciting new opportunities. "We believe the refreshed, new local board and the management team led by our founder and CEO Dr. Kimberly Clay are committed to achieving outstanding results and maximizing opportunities for girls across Nashville and Middle Tennessee as we expand," said Bell who will serve for the duration of her board term as Chairwoman, alongside Board Secretary Dan Werly, Partner and Sports Attorney at Sievert Werly, LLC, Board Treasurer Sara Toussaint, VP of Sports Marketing at Wells Fargo. These board officers lead the recent search as members of the nominating and governance committee, chaired by renewing Director Jodie Gleason, VP Controller of Broadcast Music Inc.

The addition of these directors complements our board of directors' skills and experiences, and we are confident they will provide valuable perspectives as we continue to execute our strategic plan, drive change and enhance the… Click To Tweet

Newly-elected directors include Celeste Bishop-Stein, president and CEO of Bishop, Stein & Associates PR; Lindsey Ellis, Account Manager of Crosslin, PLLC; Missey Garcia-Smith, Vice President of Convention Services at Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation; Danielle Gaw, Director of Corporate Partnerships of the Nashville Sounds; Ellie Grove, Account Manager of Community Brands; Katie Grubbs, Account Executive of the Tennessee Titans; Campbell Mobley, Curator of Exhibitions of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens; Dr. Chevis Shannon, Research Associate Professor of Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and Ashley Wallace, Corporate HR Manager of Dollar General.

Play Like a Girl is a Nashville-based 501(c)3 charitable organization on a mission to harness the natural properties of sport to develop girls' potential to become impactful leaders in the STEM workforce.

We accomplish this by keeping girls active in sports through their middle school years, translating their athletic skills to leadership in the workplace. With the help of the Board of Directors, we are building a robust pipeline of diverse, motivated and well-prepared women leaders for the next generation of game-changing innovation.

 

 


Play Like a Girl Honors Goes Mobile

For the first time ever, the silent auction at the Play Like a Girl Honors is going mobile, allowing participants both at the gala and around the world to bid on a host of incredible items with proceeds from the event benefiting middle school girls.

The auction, which features more than 20 one-of-a-kind lots ranging from signed memorabilia and travel packages to game tickets to the Nashville Sounds and Nashville Soccer Club, will be held on Monday, November 26, exclusively using Handbid, an online platform that allows users to bid from their smartphones.

The Handbid app will replace the pen-and-paper auctions of the past. Whether you’re at the gala, at home or on the go, using Handbid is simple:

First, iPhone and Android users should visit the iTunes App Store or the Google Play store to download the free Handbid app. Once the app is opened, tap “GET STARTED” on the home screen, then follow the instructions to create and verify your account. (Be sure to use your cell phone as the phone number!)

Once you’re logged in, select “Play Like a Girl Honors (2018)” from the list of available auctions, and you’re ready to start bidding. The auction closes Monday, November 26 shortly after the 7 p.m. dinner program, so be sure to turn notifications on so you know if you’ve been outbid.

Still need help? Find a Play Like a Girl volunteer at the Silent Auction table. We’ll have iPads on hand and can help you get set up. And if you’re coming to the gala and are worried about connectivity while you enjoy the event, fear not: the Marriott offers free public WiFi, so you’ll always be online. The WiFi code is PLAGHONORS.

Don’t have a smartphone? We’ve got you covered too. Users can also access the auction through a web browser by clicking here.

This year’s auction will feature a once-in-a-lifetime one-on-one opportunity with the powerhouse Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire businessman Mark Cuban, and more. To see the complete list of items and place your bid, visit: www.handbid.com.

Item and experience highlights include:

  • Autographed sports memorabilia from Madison Keys, Maria Sharapova and tennis legend Billie Jean King;
  • Sit courtside at a Dallas Mavericks game with owner Mark Cuban;
  • The opportunity to own a guitar autographed by CMA Entertainer of the Year, Keith Urban;
  • An exclusive meet-and-greet on the set with the cast of CBS’s Blue Bloods including Tom Selleck;
  • Visit News Channel 2 studios and spend a day in the life of Chief Meteorologist Danielle Breezy;
  • Attend a 2019 Nashville Sounds game as a VIP guest;
  • VIP experience at the 2019 Taste of Tennis Miami with tickets to the Miami Open;
  • Attend the 2019 U.S. Open in NYC;
  • And much more.

The money raised through the auction will go to Play Like a Girl, which aims to advance the leadership and empowerment of girls by creating opportunities for girls in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and sports. During the Play Like a Girl Honors, supporters and viewers will be encouraged to make direct donations to Play Like a Girl by visiting the website: www.iplaylikeagirl.org.

Since 2004, Play Like a Girl been committed to advancing the leadership and empowerment of girls and women in our community. For nearly 15 years, the organization has offered middle school girls an eight-week afterschool program and summer camp opportunities focusing on confidence, college preparation and career readiness.

In 2018, the Play Like a Girl camp program evolved into a year-round corporate engagement initiative that unites corporate volunteers and students to prepare the younger generation for future success in STEM and sports careers.

To host a half- or full-day STEM and Sports Saturday corporate event for girls, companies in Nashville and surrounding areas can email [email protected].

Bidding ends at 7:15 p.m., November 26.


play like a girl honors gala

Behind the Scenes Look at Play Like a Girl Honors Gala Prep

It takes a team to plan a night, an experience like the Play Like a Girl Honors Gala. While that may sound a bit clichéd, it’s true. Behind the scenes, it takes a team that comes together through challenges, unexpected turns and a myriad of details to do what needs to be done, and have fun while doing it. To become the best kind of team, a true community of can-doers dedicated to one goal: celebrating the contributions of leading women and men in sports and the girls they inspire.

Take a look at how we’re preparing to knock the Play Like a Girl Honors Gala out of the park on Monday, November 26 at Marriott Hotel Cool Springs in Franklin, Tennessee.

Behind the Scenes with Play Like a Girl 

The First Play

Honors Gala preparation began on Saturday, August 18, 2018 at a watch party for Trisha Yearwood’s “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen” airing on the Food Network. This particular episode featured Trisha and her sister, Beth, as they volunteered for snack duty at a Play Like a Girl camp where they taught how to make Easy Snack Skewers and then had fun playing with the girls!

It was here that the Planning Committee was officially formed with volunteers from across industries at some of the biggest companies in the city, from Nissan and Schneider Electric to Vanderbilt, NC2 Media and CBS.

Volunteers were separated into teams in these functional areas: Marketing & PR, Production, Logistics and Procurement. Within these teams, volunteers have done planning work to execute Play Like a Girl Founder and CEO Dr. Kimberly Clay’s vision for the Honors Gala.

Our volunteers are supported by an eight-member Host Committee chaired by Kelly Ford and Danielle Breezy along with Honorary Chair Trisha Yearwood who will be in attendance at the Honors Gala.

Host Committee

  • Deon Brown
  • Sara Chain
  • Laura Lubin
  • Sheila O’Neil
  • Lindsey Paola
  • Nada Taha
  • Destiny Whitmore
  • Kim Wilson

In addition, our Gala Committee includes:

  • Leah Alexander-Otukpe
  • Allison Bailey
  • Carla Brookins
  • Caylin Bursch
  • Kristina Carter
  • Char Dennis
  • Katelin Ford
  • Lynne Garrison
  • Julie Herman
  • Allyson Lanahan
  • Janessa Lewis
  • Tracy Saunier
  • Kelsey Trainor, Esq
  • Kiarra Walden
  • Ashley West
  • LaPourche White
  • Olivia Woodbine

Getting the Ball Rolling

Our team started out strong with a video shoot and interviews with all the Honorees to show at the event itself. We also captured footage of eight of our girls talking about their sport and their experiences with Play Like a Girl.

We then began reaching out to local companies for Silent Auction donations and have worked with some wonderful people with whom we’ve developed strong relationships.

“It’s exciting on my part to find people throughout the area that have already heard of us and really want to donate to help our cause. It makes this so much fun to do.”

- Allison Bailey with NC2 Media, Volunteer

A special thanks to those who’ve donated products and services:

The Full Court Press

Play Like a Girl social media has been infused with Honors Gala content and we reached a milestone in October: 6,000 page likes! By and large we have grown our followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

“Social is picking up traction; people are excited about the Honors Gala and a lot of people are sharing content, more so than ever so it’s really an exciting time for Play Like a Girl.”

- Janessa Lewis with SmileDirectClub, Volunteer

A New Play

Being 100 percent volunteer run, one thing we face, as do many non-profits, is a struggle with organization, communication and accountability. Although volunteer Kiarra Walden joined the Honors Gala planning a few weeks in, she sought to remedy that struggle immediately by creating a Slack channel for free through their nonprofit program and also integrated MeisterTask with the channel.

Now communication is streamlined; we can see all the tasks that need to be completed, who’s assigned and if something isn’t done, another can easily jump in. We’re all on the same page!

“It’s so much more efficient to have a central communication hub, outside of email. And this is something we can use beyond the Honors Gala. It will help Play Like a Girl tremendously going forward not only by engaging volunteers, but with everything we do!”

- Kiarra Walden with The Crichton Group, Volunteer

Down to the Wire

With the Play Like a Girl Honors Gala now just a few weeks out our volunteers are working on our fabulous Silent Auction items; taking photos and getting descriptions ready as we prepare to launch our pre-bidding app which will run until November 25, the night before the event. You can also bid at the event!

And we’re busy with all sorts of last minute details; doing whatever it takes to create an event to remember even when crisis strikes. In mid-October when Dr. Clay suffered a stroke, our core volunteer team stepped up, made sure nothing fell through and stayed on schedule and on task.

“It’s been an honor to work with all these women, their support has been such a blessing to Play Like a Girl, and to me personally. Due to the leadership of Allison Bailey and Tracy Saunier, we will come close to doing an at cost event, a first in our almost 15 year history. Another milestone we hope to achieve is to bring on three new staff members; in our history we’ve never had a paid staff person. We’ve been 100 percent volunteer run. Our entire fundraising goal this year is to pay those three salaries.”

-Dr. Kimberly Clay, Founder and CEO, Play Like a Girl

Join us at the Play Like a Girl Honors Gala. The event will feature a cocktail hour with open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, live music, red carpet and more. Get your ticket today!

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