/ How a soccer event is turning young women into leaders

Cindy Parlow Cone still remembers the 10-year-old girl she met in India at a Goals for Girls leadership summit. The president of U.S. Soccer and two-time Olympic gold medalist was running a session on being a leader when the gradeschooler chimed in and said she didn’t think of herself as a leader. 

“So, we dug in,” Cindy said, “and started talking about some of the misconceptions about leadership—such as the need to have some sort of fancy title, or the need to have a certain amount of money—and then what the truth actually is, which is that each and every day there are multiple moments where you have the opportunity to have a positive impact on someone’s life.

“It could just be a kind word to someone who’s struggling with something. It could be smiling at someone and opening the door for them. You never know what one small act of kindness can do for someone. 

“At the end of the session, this girl came up to me and said, ‘Cindy, I never thought of myself as a leader until today. But now I get it.’ And that girl, I’m sure, has gone on to do many amazing things, because she was transformed into understanding that anyone with any disability, from any country, with any amount of money, can affect positive change in their environment.”

Stories like this are why Domo has been supporting Goals for Girls’ annual leadership summits since 2019, including the first-ever digital summit, which was held this past July and attracted more than 150 young women from around the world. 

“Domo helps us create opportunities for kids to go to our summits, which typically take place in India, South Africa, and the U.S., and always bring girls together from different communities and backgrounds,” said Cindy, who has been involved with Goals for Girls summits since 2010 and is the organization’s vice chair.

“Many of these girls have never left their village or their township. But through these summits, they get to meet other girls in similar situations, and connect with them, which is so important on so many levels. They come to realize they are not alone, and do have the power to lead change in their communities.”

Among the ways leadership summit participants can make a difference is by taking on the Goals for Girls Challenge, which asks girls to develop and carry out a long-term, community-based program—called “We Are The Change” projects—that requires more than leadership skills in order for it to succeed.

“While we always say ‘lead’ and ‘leadership,’ what we’re really talking about are life skills,” said Cindy, who became the first female president of U.S. Soccer in March.

“If you learn how to interact with people in a positive way, if you learn how to navigate ups and downs in life, if you learn how to treat yourself well and to treat others well, if you learn that you are of great value just the way you are, then you will find yourself on a path to where others are following your example, and you’re empowering others to go on this path of leadership, too.”

To learn more about Goals for Girls, past “We Are The Change” projects, or how to get the 2020 Digital Summit Kit, click here.

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