The Why I ROCK Girls Conference celebrates its 5th anniversary this year. First featured in our TIO Newsletter in 2017, the Conference grew from 60 girls to more than 120 pre-COVID. Last year with COVID the in-person conference was canceled, but with support from community it was able to successfully pivot to a virtual conference that despite its last minute nature had more than 50 girls in attendance. This year we again capped registration for our virtual conference at 50 girls and developed a waitlist that continues to garner new names.
The conference is embraced and beloved by its community because of its very loud and clear message to young Black/African American girls that “you are amazing, you have purpose, you are loved, you are important, and you can do anything you set your mind to” as evidenced by the Black/African-American women leaders who make up their incredible roster. In the wake of an extreme social justice movement in the past year with the brutal deaths of George Floyd, Amaud Arbery, Breona Taylor (say their names) and so many more the world around us erupted in social unrest (finally) sending a clear message decrying hate and racism.
This Conference began as a mechanism for sending that same message early to young girls; e.g., “You are worthy. You belong!” Aspiring to build positive self esteem, culturally affirming identities, and interrupting negative narratives that plague Black/African-Americans and especially women. At early ages Black/African-American women are taught to self hate (their hair, their bodies, their personalities, their mere presence) through messages that reinforce they do not belong. This conference combats that through saturating these young girls with Black/African-American leaders from right here in the Northwest who are incredibly accomplished in their own right by facilitating culturally affirming workshops, hosting keynotes, facilitating panels, creating mentorships, and building lasting relationships with the girls for them to see a bright future for themselves.
This year our conference is blessed to have such notable women as representatives from the Oregon State Senate; the US Airforce; our Keynote, the amazing Kali Thorne Ladd (Kali Thorne Ladd Speaker | Punchline Agency); Tra’Renee, an Emmy Award-Winning TV Personality; Daytime Radio DJ for iHeartRadio’s number one-rated show “The Tra’Renee Show” on JAM’N 107.5 (Tra’Renee – JAM’N 107.5 (iheart.com); former host of the KATU-TV show “Afternoon Live”, and current host of her very own new show “Situations and Conversations w/ Tra’Renee” on KPDX; past Rose Festival Queens; a previous Miss Black Oregon; the Jordan Brand Product Manager; and our very own New York Times Best Selling Author Renee Watson from Jefferson High School.
I ROCK my Future ~ This workshop is all about how to take your incredible ideas and become a Girl Boss! This workshop helps inspire entrepreneurialism. It teaches the basics of owning a Business.
Our Facilitators are two wonderful African-American female company owners, Danielle Pritchett of Have You Been Featured Events Planning and The Ultimate Lemonade Stand; & Dorcie Johnson, co-owner of The Ultimate Lemonade Stand (which was featured on KGW news) and owner of Queen of Spades Catering.
I ROCK my Style ~ This workshop is all about loving our hair! It affirms Natural Hair “slays”! It teaches Natural hair care basics through techniques being taught on each girl’s individual head mannequin. It also weaves in the cultural stories and historical traditions of Hair braiding rooted in our African history.
I ROCK my Beauty ~ This workshop emphasizes, “my Black is beautiful!” It teaches beauty in every shade and how makeup is only an accessory that can enhance where we are already beautiful. This workshop is a makeup and skin care tutorial.
I ROCK my Culture ~ This workshop is all about Black Girl Pride and Black girl magic! It teaches and reinforces loving everything about you. It emphasizes how the shine of another never dims yours but rather both can be bright. It teaches self love and cultural identity through learning about historical and current incredible African-American women of influence.
I ROCK my finances – This workshop is all about what happens after making that first dollar! It introduces credit concepts around investment, my first credit card, my first job, what do I do with this check, and responsible spending. It introduces early understanding about why asset wealth is “a thing” and how to build it.