By Nick Mariano
MT. VERNON — —
Some of the area’s preeminent leaders will assemble this week in a display of success and influence unlike any many in their audience has ever seen or knew existed.
The fact that they — a mayor, judge, doctor, minister and fundraiser — are women means, to this audience, everything, said Angela Moore of Developing New Attitude.
The fact that they all come from Jefferson County means just as much, she added.
Developing New Attitude will host 42 girls in grades 6 through 9 at a lunch Friday with five women whose accomplishments might serve as examples of leadership that they, the students, can also one day achieve, Moore said.
“We wanted to give these girls an opportunity to see professional women leaders right here in our own area so they know they can strive forward locally or seek futures elsewhere,” Moore said. “We want them to see we have strong leaders here.”
The Young Ladies Leadership Luncheon will feature Mary Jane Chesley, Mt. Vernon’s mayor; Shawna Hall, a board member of the Rend Lake College Foundation; youth minister Tineka Doggan; pediatrician Marjorie Nwosu of Crossroads Community Hospital, and Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Nicole Villani.
Each of the role models will give a presentation on leadership and will also spend time with the girls during the lunch, to be held 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Crossroads Community Hospital. The event is sponsored by the hospital’s Healthy Woman program and area businesses.
Developing New Attitude, Moore said, was founded earlier this year to mentor young people and provide positive reinforcement through a variety of educational programs and activities. One of its first activities was a trip in June to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn.
Moore said the age group was selected because of the few opportunities in the area designed to foster positive attitudes and behavior before students reach high school.
Absent role models or mentors in their lives, Moore said, many children have little reason to believe they can succeed and ultimately become discouraged to a point that is difficult to overcome as they get older.
“We just hope to give these 42 young ladies a memorable day and experience they haven’t had before,” said Moore, whose husband, Donte, is the DNA’s chairman and who helped found the group along with a small group of people who “all believe in the common cause of it.”
Still in the process of applying for its tax exempt status as a non-profit organization, Moore added that “we don’t see the point of waiting to make our impact.”
Chesley will tell the girls it is not too soon to begin thinking about their futures and careers, she said. Whether in Mt. Vernon or elsewhere, a large number of opportunities requiring leaders exists for them to pursue.
She will also emphasize the importance of leading by example, whether as a professional, a volunteer or an elected official. It all begins with education, she insisted.
“Knowledge is power and I want them to be powerful and help make Mt. Vernon be a powerful place,” the mayor said.