Fort Mill High School senior Erica Daly is working toward closing the gender gap in public office positions.
Daly has organized Mentoring Future Women Leaders on March 15 at Glennon Community Center in Tega Cay with a panel of women leaders sharing tips and lessons they’ve learned.
The four panelists are Fort Mill Mayor Guynn Savage, York County councilmember Allison Love, Fort Mill School District chairperson Kristy Spears and Tega Cay Mayor Pro Tempore Heather Overman. The panelists will cover topics such as what to expect as a public leader; the skills, expertise, habits and attitudes that make for an effective leader; and advice for running a successful campaign.
“It is important for women to have more equal representation in policy decisions, because every policy has an impact on individuals and families sooner or later, in some form,” Daly said. “With more comprehensive input at the state and federal level reflecting population demographics, the quality and effectiveness of legislation should improve.”
Savage said introspection and respect for other opinions is a valuable leadership skill.
“We all bring something to the table. When you are honest with yourself, you will know what you bring, and what you do not,” she said. “Build good relationships on respect and common goals, not just with those who think like you do. Collaboration is critical. Look for the win-win. You can disagree with someone and still respect them and be respectful.”
Daly, who plans to earn a degree in public policy, was chosen from a competitive application process for Emerging Public Leader, a week-long training at the Riley Institute at Furman University, held in June. Students are required to organize and complete a community service project. She chose women in leadership because, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, South Carolina ranks in the bottom 10 U.S. states for women in elected office.
“It is important for women to mentor other women to develop the leadership skills and access the networks they need to be effective,” Daly said.
She drew inspiration for the event from her involvement in political clubs at Fort Mill High School. Once every month, the clubs meet for town hall style debates, where they discuss broad political concepts and specific political issues.
“I joined this group because I wanted to gain perspective about different views, challenge my own views, challenge my ability to dissect and evaluate the arguments of others and further develop my communication skills by expressing my own arguments with logic and reason,” she said. “I believe this experience has helped me become more collaborative and reflective.”
Overman said she is continually impressed by the next generation and offers a few pieces of advice.
“Embrace change. The one thing I know for sure is that things change – constantly. Be adaptable and be willing to take feedback,” she said. “Don't be afraid to fail. You can't change something if you have never tried. Overcoming failure is part of the process. It makes us stronger and more resilient. Every failure offers a great learning opportunity.”
Want to go?
Mentoring Future Women Leaders is 7-8 p.m. March 15 at Glennon Community Center in Tega Cay. The event is free, but seating is limited. Register at eventbrite.com/e/mentoring-future-women-leaders-tickets-43393403839. For more information, call 803-431-1883 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.