In mid March, 40 girls, age 16-17, from the cities and townships of  Newark, Jersey City, Middlesex, Elizabeth, Plainfield, Franklin, Bound Brook/S. Bound Brook, Flemington, and Phillipsburg, convened in Alcatel-Lucent’s Arnold Auditorium on the Bell Labs headquarters campus in Murray Hill, NJ for the first-ever LEAD ON! Leadership Development Conference.

The partnership between GSHNJ and Alcatel-Lucent, which employees 4,000 people throughout New Jersey, has two components.  The first component involved GSHNJ hiring several part-time staff members to facilitate the LEAD ON! Program for younger girls in public schools.  The second provides for the funding of several day-long conferences organized for girls and run by GSHNJ staff, Alcatel-Lucent volunteers and other in career professionals serving as mentors to run energetic, hands-on activities and multimedia presentations, emphasizing real-world, practical learning experiences in a conference setting.
 
The day-long programs introduce the girls to an array of role models and has them take part in leadership exercises to increase their skills, knowledge and abilities.  Also, there is emphasis placed on girls being aware of career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math as they are introduced to successful professional women across various fields and have a chance to try new activities.

The program at the Arnold Auditorium was a blend of community service, crafts and some serious planning for their future.  At the conference girls learned how to sew warm, colorful hats and scarves for the needy, crafted and designed traditional Guatemalan dolls engineered, built and tested “roller coasters,” and worked on a 10-year financial plan to get them started on envisioning and planning their financial futures.“We were pleased to be able to sponsor a program that gave these girls some tools to start thinking about what they need to do to reach some of the life goals they can envision for themselves,” said Beatrice Tassot, Executive Director, Alcatel-Lucent Foundation.

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“It was a fun day, but also a day that made a difference.” 

About Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey
The Lead On! Program focuses on developing self confidence and leadership skills and is based on GSHNJ’s successful Peer Leader Program, which is now in its 10th year.    Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey’s (GSHNJ) mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.  GSHNJ’s provides leadership development for girls at all age levels through programs that include science, technology, financial literacy, health, the arts, and outdoor and environmental awareness.  It serves over 25,000 girls, ages 5-17 and 10,000 adult members in the counties of Hudson, Essex, Union, Somerset, Hunterdon, southern Warren and parts of Middlesex.  For more information, visit www.gshnj.org.