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Girl Boss

'Girl Boss' Program Encourages Students to Be Bold, Confident, Themselves

Women leaders share experiences, advice with elementary-school girls

As a teen, Tiffany Patrick discovered her penchant to lead - to be a Girl Boss.

In school, if she saw something needed fixing, she fixed it. Even as a cheerleader she recognized her ability to get fans in the bleachers to do what she wanted them to do.

Now a vice president at Citibank with an MBA degree, "Mrs. Tiffany" oversees projects and people on a global scale. She is one of eight successful women leaders who are speaking with elementary-school girls at Emanuel P. Johnson Recreation Center as part of the pilot Girl Boss program at Parks & Recreation After School. The initiative teaches young girls what it takes to lead, and encourages them to look for opportunities to do so.

"Being a great boss means being a great leader," Tiffany told her nine young listeners one day recently. "Be prepared. Be confident. Be Brave. Be yourself."

Such advice is what Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation hopes the girls will remember. The women speakers offer personal insights and discuss what moved them forward in their careers.

The program supplements typical activities at the center such as board games, sports, arts and crafts, and homework. Parks and Recreation hopes to introduce the Girl Boss program at other recreation centers.

A BayCare executive, an events coordinator, Parks & Recreation supervisors, and the executive director of Positive Coaching Alliance are among the women speaking at Girl Boss sessions.

The Emanuel P. Johnson girls sat in a semi-circle around their guest speaker, listening and asking questions they wrote beforehand on slips of paper. Though interested in "Mrs. Tiffany" Patrick's current job, they might have been most impressed with a position she held while a student at the University of South Florida: helping feed giraffes at Busch Gardens.

After the session the girls wrote notes to Tiffany.

"Thank you for talking to us," wrote Madison, 5. "I think I am a leader like you and want to be a girl boss like you."

Nayelis, 11, described Tiffany as smart, amazing, and pretty. "Thank you for coming and teaching me to be me," she wrote.

Olivia, 8, learned to keep trying, to lead by example, and to care about what you do. "You showed me to be myself and be more than just another girl," she wrote.

Photo: Tiffany Patrick, right, a Citibank vice president, speaks with girls in the after-school program at Emanuel P. Johnson Recreation Center.

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