Shantelle Dockett, a dynamic and skilled marketer, began her career in the entertainment industry working with networks such as VH1, MTV, Travel Channel and TV One as well has freelancing for several media companies. While working in television, Dockett also came to understand how impactful the media can be, specifically on young girls. She decided to take action and do her part to positively impact the lives of girls in her community (DMV area) and beyond.
Eight years ago, she brought a group of bright, business savvy, passionate young women together to form The Society for Girls, Inc., whose mission is to empower the next generation of girls to be smart, resourceful, and confident by engaging them in their communities, building their self-esteem, and encouraging them to make a positive mark on the world.
The organization has managed to touch the lives of close to 1000 middle and high school girls in Washington, D.C./Baltimore, MD metro area. Through educational programs, events, community outreach and local field trips, Dockett is on a mission to inspire young girls to be the change they wish to see in the world.
The Society for Girls Inc hosted their first “Inspire to Aspire” Brunch on October 22, 2017 to honor women in various industries who are making a difference in their communities. The event was held at the luxury 5 star restaurant Hamilton in N.W. Washington D.C. The honoree list included Ayo Thomas, EIC of WOE Magazine, Simona Noce, Jerri Evans, and Tonia Wellons. The organization also celebrated alumni’s who successfully completed the program and shared their life changing experience.
Left to Right: Kehli Cage, Ayo Thomas, Tonia Wellons, Jerri Evans Simona Noce, and Shantelle Dockett.
We had an opportunity to chat with Shantelle to learn more about the vision behind The Society for Girls Inc and her passion to inspire young women.
WM: Tell us what inspired you to start a non-profit to empower young women
SD: I’ve always had a special place in my heart for girls. I’ve started many girl groups over the year spanning back to when I was in high school. There’s something about female empowerment that resonates with me. I was in New York at the time freelancing and I always thought about having a non-profit geared towards girls and I said, why not now? It was during the recession and my gigs were slow and minimal at best and I walked to the library and checked out “How to start a Non-Profit for Dummies” book. I reached out to many of my friends that had a similar interests in helping the community. I’ve always felt that if you can empower and inspire a girl every generation after her will be empowered.
WM: What population of young women does your organization serve and why?
SD: Our organization serves minority girls 11-17. Our program girls reflect the next generation of women that look like us and we want them to feel empowered, loved, nurtured and supported. Society is rough on our girls, even in adolescent years our girls are seen as more mature and less innocent as if they don’t need to be protected. Our organization allows our girls to come and just be whoever they are. They don’t have to put on a facade, they don’t have to be tough, they don’t have to be strong, they can just be. It’s a safe space filled with love and support for the journey that they’re on.
WM: As women we understand the power of social media and how it contributes to the way we view ourselves in comparison to others. What programs have you developed to help build your girls self esteem beyond social media?
SD: We have a few programs that deal with media literacy. This generation has had the internet their whole lives. Everything they do revolves around being connected, whether it’s social media, texting, etc. When you’re connected 24 hours of the day of course those images make you analyze everything about yourself. It could be your looks, your personality, your amount of social media followers. Our media literacy programs teach our girls how to navigate through this social media comparison world, how to establish real genuine connections outside of snap chat, and how to communicate. We work to build the esteem of the girls and we celebrate their individual uniqueness.
WM: What do you want the girls to take away from the Summit?
SD: Each year the summit is about a different topic. We’ve covered bullying, media literacy, fitness and more. This year’s theme was ‘Dear Future Me.’ The goal was to provide the girls with insight and self-reflection in order to offer advice on how to become the women they are meant to be. If they made mistakes we wanted to build them up to see how they could still achieve their goals. At the close of the summit, the girls were able set what goals they want to achieve and the role and influence they want to play in their community.
WM: Why did you choose the theme “Aspire to Inspire?
SD: For the brunch we chose ‘Aspire to Inspire’ as the theme because that’s exactly what we do. Everyone that works with our organization are volunteers. We have over 20 women in various career fields and walks of life that dedicate countless hours to the organization simply to inspire a girl, to make a positive impact in the lives of girls. Every day we aspire to inspire them. That’s the goal of the organization every single day.
WM: What initiatives do you plan to implement for Society for Girls in 2018?
SD: Our 2017-2018 year is going to be busy! We have 5 programs this year. Two in Baltimore County (Lansdowne High School, Owings Mills High School), a program with Best Kids in DC, a program at Crossland High School that launches later this month, and our own pop-up program. In addition to our current program curriculum of media literacy, self-esteem, financial literacy, and civic engagement, we’re looking to include a focus on literacy, entrepreneurship, and personal development.
WM: Last but not least, define a woman who “Owns Excellence
SD: A woman who owns excellence is not perfect but embraces every misstep and learns from it. She uses the mistakes to make herself stronger, wiser, and better.
We salute The Society for Girls Inc, for creating programs which empower, educate and transform the lives of young women of color. Shantelle Dockett is truly a woman who “Owns Excellence”!!!