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CPS all-girl’s school to host ‘Genius Has No Gender’

Five of Chicago’s most powerful women, including Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd’s president and CEO, are joining forces to reveal to young girls how they shattered the glass ceilings in their industries and why careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, are the undeniable paths to future success.

The Young Women’s Leadership Charter School of Chicago will host its Ninth Annual “Girl Power” Luncheon and fundraiser on Thursday, April 6 at the Drake Hotel, located at 140 E. Walton Place in Chicago.  The event’s first-ever panel format will offer YWLCS students and an audience of business professionals the opportunity to hear top women executives describe how they have emerged as leaders in their male-dominated industries.

Participants in the panel discussion, aptly named “Genius Has No Gender,” will also include:  Nelda J. Connors, founder and president, Pine Grove Holdings, LLC; Caralynn Nowinski Collens, chief executive officer, UI-Labs; Dr. Opella Finley Ernest, senior vice president and HCSC chief clinical officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois; and Akilah Townsend, environmental specialist, Environmental Design International, Inc.

Kimberly E. McCullough-Starks, president of the school’s board of directors, says the luncheon is important not only for operational reasons, but it also allows students to see examples of individuals who worked hard to achieve great success.

“By partnering with businesses and entrepreneurs we make sure that our students have a front row seat to what they can expect when they graduate,” according to McCullough-Starks.  “Our mission is to provide every available resource so that our girls can excel beyond their dreams and leave their own indelible marks in the world.”

The “Girl Power” luncheon is the largest fundraiser for the 17-year-old high school, which reports 100 percent graduation and college placement rates, as well as 85 percent college retention rates among its mostly African American girls.

School officials hope to raise $650,000 from the luncheon’s proceeds. The cost is $16,000 to educate each student per year, and while there is funding from Chicago Public Schools, there is a $4,000 gap per girl that must be raised from private contributions.

For more on the “Girl Power” luncheon, including information on purchasing tickets, visit www.ywlcs.org, or call  312-949-9400.

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