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Seminar steers girls toward a good future
Speakers encouraged girls to seek out mentors
Stephanie Woodard, solicitor general of Hall County, makes a point during a panel discussion Thursday at the Secrets of Successful Women Seminar. - photo by Tom Reed

To help their peers get the inside track on how to succeed as professional women, Tiffani Poole and Tatiana Madera organized a Secrets of Successful Women Seminar.

The event, which was held at the Hall County Board of Education Office, was their final project as participants in the Hall County Mentorship Program. The girls invited 11th- and 12th-grade girls from Hall County schools to sit in and soak up the knowledge being offered.

"We wanted to show other girls how these women were able to become successful business women, to prove to them that they could be successful businesswomen too," said Madera, an East Hall High School student.

The panelists included Sally Krisel, director of innovative and advanced programs for Hall County Schools; Carol Burrell, interim CEO, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Northeast Georgia Health System; Gainesville City Council member Myrtle W. Figueras; and Jeanne Buffington, executive director of Rape Response Inc.

Collectively, the women represented a variety of careers, including politics, education and hospital administration.
"We wanted to bring in women from all walks of life," said Poole, a student at Chestatee High School.

"They are all great business women in their own way."

Although they all walked different paths to get to where they are today, the women's messages shared a common thread of the importance of giving back to the community, presenting a professional image and embracing change.

They also encouraged the girls to seek out mentors in whatever field interested them and to be open to new experiences, even when they don't know how it will fit into their life plans.

"Be a willing spirit," said Stephanie Woodard, Hall County solicitor general.

"It floors me when I hear girls say they can't do something. When I was growing up, I never heard that girls don't do math and girls don't do science.

"The only thing that limits your future is you."

The women also encouraged the girls to keep a mindful eye on how they interact with others.

"Being successful isn't just about your academics, it's about your people skills as well," said Andrea Timpone, Elachee Nature Science Center CEO.

"It's not just about what you know, it's also about who you know and how you relate to people."

"You never get a second chance to make a good, first impression," added Kelly Anne Miles, a Hall County attorney.

Miles also told the attendees there was one lesson in particular she learned in Girl Scouts that has helped her throughout her career.

"One thing we were taught is to always be prepared," Miles said.

"I've never done anything that I wasn't prepared for. I may have lost cases, but I made myself a promise a long time ago that I'd never lose a case because I wasn't prepared."

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