Recognized leadership conference for Tennessee girls goes virtual during pandemic

Posted at 8:19 AM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 09:19:50-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nearly 500 young women invited to participate in a leadership conference featuring state leaders are still meeting this week albeit virtually.

The American Legion Auxiliary hosts Volunteer Girls State once a year in Nashville. For a week, rising high school seniors are immersed in discussions about government.

"We think these are important conversations and important practice to offer female leaders across Tennessee," said Jessica Taveau, an organizer. "We're really focused on making sure that women across Tennessee understand the importance of voting and understand why it's important to be an engaged and informed citizen."

Volunteer Girls State is virtual this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some states chose to cancel their conference, but not Tennessee's chapter which planned several discussions about the anniversary of women's suffrage.

"Tennessee being that deciding vote in the ratification has a special place in history and also then everything that came after that to make sure all women had the right to vote. I think it was one thing we couldn't lose this year and we really felt like we wanted to honor the women who had been selected to our program by offering a discussion of that big part of Tennessee history," Tavaeu said.

Conference panelists include state supreme court justices, a former Army major and journalists, including NewsChannel5's Jennifer Kraus.

"The panelists get a lot of hope from these women [who are] from such a diversity of backgrounds and political ideologies, who come together and talk to each other respectfully and understand their votes matter and their citizenship matters," Taveau said.

High school students who are interested in attending a future summit should speak to their guidance counselor. More information is available here.