On Tuesday, April 17, 2018, Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO of Girls Inc., gave a talk about “The Power of Mentoring: Shaping Lives, Strengthening Futures” for the 2018 Bank of America Program on Volunteerism. The evening was hosted by the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy and the Bush School’s new Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy.
Before the evening event, Judy Vredenburgh met with students in the Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship class at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, where she answered questions about her transition from the corporate sector to nonprofits. She offered some career advice for the students as well, encouraging them to choose an employer with a culture that matched their personality.
After a reception in the Presidential Conference Center, the Program on Volunteerism began with Dean Welsh delivering welcoming remarks and introducing honored guests in attendance, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, several Girls Inc. alumnae, and ten Girls Inc. girls from Tarrant County.
Bush School Professor William Brown, Director of the Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy, followed Dean Welsh with remarks about the new center and its work to support nonprofits small and large, and introductions of the center’s advisory board. He then provided a brief biography of Ms. Vredenburgh and an explanation of the work that Girls Inc. does to support girls nationwide through childhood and into adulthood. After a brief video presentation “With You in My Corner” about Girls Inc., Judy Vredenburgh took the stage.
Ms. Vredenburgh discussed a range of topics, including her own experience as a mentor. She emphasized the difference a mentor can make, pointing to a number of statistics to show that mentors can encourage girls to stay in school, avoid illegal drugs, and grow into strong, smart, and bold women. Ms. Vredenburgh concluded her remarks with a call to action for the audience to get involved and make an impact, whether through board membership, donating, or by becoming a mentor themselves. She then took a seat onstage for an exchange with her former colleague at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Bush School Assistant Professor Kenneth Taylor.
Dr. Kenneth Taylor, the recently appointed Director of Outreach and Professional Development at the Center for Nonprofits & Philanthropy, began his conversation with Ms. Vredenburgh by asking about the meaning of leadership, which she stated required influence as the most important factor. In response to Dr. Taylor’s follow-up questions, Ms. Vredenburgh explained that she left the for-profit sector to bring her values to a nonprofit position. She allowed that the transition was rocky at first, but has proved enormously rewarding. She also talked about the importance of diversity in hiring and the role of diversity in continuing to find innovative solutions to social challenges.
After the two speakers wrapped up their discussion, Professor and Mosbacher Institute Director Lori Taylor delivered closing remarks, and, together with Dr. Brown and Dr. Kenneth Taylor, presented Ms. Vredenburgh with a plaque honoring her advocacy and effective leadership on behalf of women and girls. The audience left abuzz with conversation about the importance of mentorship, inspired by the leadership demonstrated by Judy Vredenburgh and her organization.