By Jessica Buchleitner
S. Raye Mitchell is on a mission.
In addition to holding a graduate degree in business and law degree from Harvard University, operating a successful, dynamic law firm in Oakland and recently receiving a Jefferson Award, she still has a few things up her sleeve.
A few progressive things for the community, that is.
Through her I C Hope: Making a New Reality Foundation, Mitchell is introducing girls and young women to valuable community mentors and positive role models. She said she believes introducing them to new perspectives and experiences will aid them to redefine their realities positively.
“I am into experiential touch it, learn it, do it, love it, get burned by it and grow from it because there is just no way you can be great without some exposure to some tough times,” Mitchell said of her hands-on approach. “That is part of the strengthening that leads to greatness.”
The foundation educates and invests in the growth of multicultural girls and young women as “Socialprenuers” and exists with the hope of changing the “downward cycle” experiences of these girls by attacking crucial issues of low self-esteem/body image, self-acceptance, eating disorders, childhood obesity, limited access to positive role models, career opportunities and the entertainment industry.
The foundation utilizes new media channels and entertainment platforms to educate at-risk girls ages 8-18 to develop self-help skills. Mitchell said she hopes this will help these girls and young women gain sustainable values systems, better self-esteem and mature into healthy citizens.
“I am trying to create a new reality for our young girls and for the outside world to see” explained Mitchell. “The reality is not that which they portray in the media. The reality our girls need to see is that what they are being told in the entertainment industry and the media is not who they have to narrowly define themselves to be.”
I C Hope: Making a New Reality Foundation was formed in 2007 following the Don Imus controversy where radio host Imus allegedly insulted the Rutgers women’s basketball team, women and women of color. Mitchell noticed that the voices of the girls were not the forefront of the discussions buzzing in the media. She felt these insults served as an example of the ways media can inhibit “greatness,” a word she uses often and expressively to describe her mission.
“Creating greatness means dealing with those things that can inhibit your notion of being great,” she said. “Self esteem, self acceptance, body image, access to greatness … all of these things concerning our girls prevent them from shining.”
On Aug. 28, the I C Hope: Making a New Reality Foundation – in association with other recognized local organizations – hosted the G.U.R.L.S. ROCK summit in downtown Oakland. The summit featured speakers on a variety of topics including body image, global citizenship, business, health and entrepreneurial skills. This event was organized to be a “game changer” program for Bay Area girls, introducing them to new ideas and positive role models. Mitchell said she would like to see the G.U.R.L.S. ROCK summit grow and expand beyond Oakland.
“I would like to see a global girl’s summit one day soon – like the G8 summit – harvesting the power, resource and energy of our girls” Mitchell said.
Working in the community is how Mitchell defines her self. She has always worked hard through her life to achieve the “greatness” that she now passes to girls and young women. Despite tough times in her past, she has proven to be a cunning and resilient victor, attaining many impressive accomplishments academically and professionally.
“I grew up extremely humble,” Mitchell said. “We were poor and early on I was exposed to some things that helped me formulate a new vision of where I can go. I learned to use the skills I had because throughout my life; important people invested in me.
“These girls need to see that whatever their circumstances are, they can achieve whatever it takes for them to define themselves,” she added. “They can achieve greatness.”
For more information on I C Hope: Making a New Reality Foundation, visit www.ichope2.com/takeaction.html. For more information about S. Raye Mitchell, visit the Mitchell Law Group webpage at www.mitchelllawgroup.com/index.html.
Raye Mitchell invites legal community to boost diversity with global leadership effort for girls of color
By Western Edition staff
On Aug. 28, The Making a New Reality Foundation will launch PROJECT G.U.R.L.S. – a global initiative to engage girls of color in leadership development and utilizing their own voices to create change. The initiative begins with the inaugural G.U.R.L.S. Rock Summit in Oakland.
“It’s a big deal. It is a game changer for girls of color and a journey toward a 2012 global leadership summit to be held in Washington, D.C.,” said Raye Mitchell, founder of The Making a New Reality Foundation and recent recipient of a Jefferson Award for Public Service. “It will be the first global summit, about, by and for girls of color.”
The goal of the Project G.U.R.L.S. Global Leadership Summit is to change the game and to take action. Girls and Girls of color will experience leadership in the global community – and the global community will experience and see girls of color in leadership roles.
Organized by Making a New Reality Foundation, Project G.U.R.L.S. – an acronym for Growth, Unity, Respect, Leadership and Success – is a growing coalition of grassroots organizations including Girls for A Change, Girls Moving Forward, OBG Adventure Camp and Cinnamongirls Inc., to name a few.
In conjunction with the launch of Project G.U.R.L.S. and the push for the 2012 Global G.U.R.LS. Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., Mitchell – a Harvard Law School educated attorney – is challenging the American Bar Association, the Commission on Women in the Profession and the legal profession to support girls of color through grassroots programs such as G.U.R.L.S. Rock and Project G.U.R.L.S.
These organizations are two of many “innovative tools” that can be used to build diversity and support long-term retention of women of color in the legal profession.
“Our goal is to break down barriers to success and build cultural competence and acceptance of women of color in leadership roles,” said Mitchell.
The return on investment for law firms participating in Project G.U.R.L.S. is that the firms begin to adopt new skills to break down barriers and build acceptance that women of color are the new generation of leaders.
“When a lawyer’s or law firms’ first experience with girls of color, if any at all, is one limited to triage situations, even pro bono relationships and social good, the relationship starts off on unequal footing and never recovers,” Miller said. “It carries over and limits perceptions and interactions with women of color seeking to rise within the law firm environment.
In recognition of Charlotte E. Ray being the first African-American woman lawyer, the leadership teams advocates that the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession establish The Charlotte E. Ray Change Leadership Awards to encourage the legal profession to think big – and act big – and create change and opportunity for women of color in the profession. This award is not limited to women of color as recipients.
For more information about Project G.U.R.L.S., visit www.ProjectGurls.org. To learn more about the Charlotte E. Ray Change Leadership Program, visit www.GurlsGlobalSummit2010.org.