NeW is pleased to announce the winner of the Young Women’s Leadership Retreat Essay Contest winner, Riley Sutherland!

NeW asked high school juniors and seniors to write an essay on what opportunities and challenges emerging technology presents to current and future leaders. With almost four hundred essay submissions, the contest was enlightening and competitive.

We are pleased to announce the winner of the Young Women’s Leadership Retreat Essay contest is Riley Sutherland! Riley is a junior from Liberty North High School in Kansas City, MO. Find out more about what leadership means to Riley below. Congratulations, Riley!

1. What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership, to me, is being willing to not only identify key issues, but actively seek solutions while accepting and evaluating the value of criticism incurred along the way. It means being not only willing to listen to all sides of a disagreement, but placing all possible effort into understanding each side in its entirety before finding a compromise between these voices.

2. How have you been challenged as a leader?

The main challenge I have faced in leadership has been a lack of commitment within members of the group. No matter what the size of the group, the individuals I have run into in numerous organizations have wanted participation for personal benefit rather than the advancement of group interests. Frequently, when it appears they can no longer reap personal benefit from a group, they quit. Trying to show individuals the importance of advancing group goals has been the hardest challenge I’ve faced.

3. What activities have you been involved in?

Mock Trial, Model United Nations, Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of Kansas City, Cross Country, Track, National Honor Society, Key Club, Girl Scouts, National History Day, Yearbook, Clay County Historical Society Museum volunteer and docent, Link (freshmen orientation group), FRESH (drug and alcohol prevention group)

4. Who are your leadership role models? Why?

My biggest leadership role model is Abigail Adams (the wife of John Adams, our second president). Although Abigail lived in an era in which women were denied the outlets for political participation we currently have access to, she constantly sought out avenues for influencing public policy. Abigail not only fought for expansion of education throughout the young republic, but she also fervently fought for extension of property rights to women. Mrs. Adams was willing to reach out to her husband’s colleagues, including Jefferson, with her feelings on women’s rights. Upon asking John to extend rights to political participation to women, John decided the reason for excluding women from politics was their lack of property ownership. To counter this, Abigail took a stand by creating a will (directly opposing lack of women’s rights to property ownership by claiming property as her own), and passing property down to younger, married female relatives to perpetuate this act of rebellion against property ownership standards. I sincerely admire Abigail’s efforts to extend the rights of political participation to all genders, as well as her ability to find more innovative methods of creating a change in a world where she lacked traditional participatory methods (such as voting). This is reflective of tenacity and determination I aspire to in my own leadership.

There is still time for high school seniors and college students to apply for the Young Women’s Leadership Retreat. The application deadline is May 15. Apply today!

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