by Lauryn Bray
On Saturday, March 25, the KD Hall Foundation, a nonprofit organization for women and girls, will be holding an all-girl conference, for girls ages 11 to 17, to celebrate Women’s History Month. Rising Together: Advancing Pay Equity and Leadership Opportunities for Women and Girls will be about educating members of the Girls on the Rise (GOTR) program about pay equity and opportunity gaps, as well as to get more girls involved with GOTR. The Foundation’s annual conferences are an integral part of its goal to educate, mentor, and support young girls to become leaders and change-makers in their communities. The girls will hear from several distinguished guests, like Seattle Storm Community Relations Director and retired WNBA player Crystal Langhorne, and will be invited to participate in workshops centered around leadership, confidence building, entrepreneurship, and networking.
“The purpose of this event really is for our current girls to recruit 50 more girls. So we want 50 girls from the community to be able to come to our event and learn about GOTR,” said Kela D. Hall, board chair and cofounder of the KD Hall Foundation.
The KD Hall Foundation is also known for its Women on the Rise Leadership Conference. And in addition to its conferences, the Foundation empowers women and girls through its educational development and workforce preparation programs and workshops.
Hall started the KD Hall Foundation alongside her husband, David Hall, in 2015 after finding out that their first child — who they were originally told would be a boy six months prior— was actually going to be a girl. According to the Foundation’s website, the news altered Hall and her husband’s point of view and forced them to take into account the “reality of the challenges women encounter in the workforce.” Hall and her husband started the KD Hall Foundation to “make a world where women have not only the opportunities to achieve their dreams, but the skills and self-confidence to pursue them.”
GOTR is a leadership program for girls and young women ages 11 to 17. The program works with girls across the state of Washington but places particular focus on engaging girls from marginalized communities in South King County. The Rising Together conference will focus heavily on helping these current and prospective GOTR members build strategies to address the wage gap between genders. The conference aligns with the Foundation’s goal to help young girls be successful despite the hindrances that lie ahead of them.
“Hispanic women make only 56 cents for every dollar that white men make. When you think about that, that’s 44 cents they’re not getting. That’s almost half a dollar that they’re losing out on,” explained Hall. “These women, not only are they losing out on so much money, they’re more tired, they can’t afford the vacations white men can afford. It becomes a situation that is generational. [It creates] generational issues over time because you can never get ahead.”
According to data from the National Partnership for Women & Families, a nonprofit and nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness and equity in the workplace, Latina women are paid 54 cents for every dollar a non-Hispanic white man makes. Additionally, while Black women are paid 64 cents for every dollar a non-Hispanic white man makes, Native American women make only 51 cents. White, non-Hispanic women are paid 73 cents for every dollar a non-Hispanic, white man makes, while Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women are paid 75 cents.
“If we don’t do anything, we’re 257 years away from women and girls having equity in pay to white men,” said Hall. “Girls on the Rise is about providing girls with leadership competencies and skills to be able to mitigate and reduce that wage gap for them.”
Despite the odds against women, Hall is very accomplished. She has three degrees: a bachelor’s in mass communication from Oakland University, a master’s in business administration, and a master’s in adult education. Hall is also a former professor and four-time Emmy-nominated producer, and she just recently accepted an executive leadership position with the King County Library System.
Part of the leadership skills GOTR is working to instill is understanding the importance of giving back. “We actually are working on a partnership right now to do a community service project with women and girls in rehab and alcohol abuse centers. We are looking to do an event with them in May to give back,” said Hall.
In addition to this project, GOTR is also working on compiling a curriculum for schools looking to adopt the program. “We just created a pilot where GOTR will now become an in-school program. We’re looking to give our blueprint to the schools and hire their teachers and pay them to work with our girls five hours a week at their school,” explained Hall.
The Rising Together event will be catered by Ezell’s Chicken. Single fathers who wish to bring their daughters are encouraged to drop them off before the event and pick them up after.
“This event in particular is not for men to be in attendance, because we’re going to be talking about some very deep stuff, and we want our girls to be comfortable,” said Hall. “Mamas can come, aunties, grandmas — we really want women to come out and help us celebrate these girls.”
The KD Hall Foundation’s Rising Together conference will take place on March 25 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 2100 24th Ave. S. Those who are interested in attending Rising Together: Advancing Pay Equity and Leadership Opportunities for Women and Girls can RSVP via the KD Hall Foundation event website.
Lauryn Bray is a writer and reporter for the South Seattle Emerald. She has a degree in English with a concentration in creative writing from CUNY Hunter College. She is from Sacramento, California, and has been living in King County since June 2022.
📸 Featured Image: The 2019 Girls on the Rise Conference. (Photo: Ruthie Bly)
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