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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU to Host 9th Annual Conference for Young Girls and Women

The ninth annual Hampton Roads Conference for Girls and Young Women, hosted by Old Dominion University on Saturday, May 20, will provide a forum to explore some of the complex and challenging issues facing young women today.

"Girls Rule the World" is the theme of the conference, which brings together role models and community leaders to provide inspiration and advice. During the 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday conference, participants will gather at Webb University Center to attend workshops and view presentations that are intended to inform and empower young girls and young women to become productive citizens and leaders.

About 400 girls, young women and parents attended last year's conference. This year's audience is expected to be larger. The conference is free and open to all young women ages 10-18 and accompanying adults from the Hampton Roads region and beyond.

To register online, visit: http://9thannualgirlsconference.eventbrite.com.

Kemba Smith and Danielle Craddock will deliver keynote addresses.

Smith, a graduate of Virginia Union University, is a domestic violence survivor, mother, former federal prisoner, public speaker, advocate and author.

At 24 years old, Smith was sentenced to 24 years in prison for conspiracy to participate in her boyfriend's drug activities, a non-violent, first-time offense. In 2000, after serving 6 1/2 years, President Bill Clinton commuted her sentence to time served.

Smith's book, "Poster Child: The Kemba Smith Story," recounts her traumatic real life experience. The book has been featured on CNN, Nightline, Court TV, The Early Morning Show, Judge Hatchett and a host of other television programs. Her story has been written about in several national publications including The Washington Post, New York Times, Glamour and People.

In December 2014, Smith was appointed to be a member of the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission by Governor Terry McAuliffe. She has been invited to speak at the White House and the United Nations as well as various colleges, universities, juvenile facilities, churches and conferences throughout the nation. Smith is recognized for her courage and determination to educate the public about the consequences of current drug policies and her commitment to serve youth and women.

Craddock, a social entrepreneur and advocate, is the founder of the nonprofit organization Girls Inspired and Ready to Lead, Inc. The organization is dedicated to empowering and preparing today's girls for tomorrow through promoting academic achievement, career preparation, leadership development, community service and positive self-image.

Craddock has built an extensive career around working with nonprofits and mentoring young girls. She has a bachelor's degree in communication from Old Dominion University and a master's in higher education student services from George Mason University.

Craddock often speaks at schools and civic organizations throughout the community, hoping to inspire girls to dream and believe they can accomplish anything.

Shannon Kendrick, senior vice president of marketing for the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, will moderate the conference. Kendrick earned her MBA from Regent University and is a graduate of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

For more information about the conference, call 757- 683-5759 or email connect@odu.edu.

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