Leveling the Playing Field
Eve Pearlman finds inspiration at Girls Inc.
Photo by Dave Strauss
Getting back more than she gives is how Eve Pearlman feels about being the new board president of Girls Inc. of the Island City. Pearlman is a longtime Alameda journalist who kept close tabs on Alameda when AOL’s Patch launched. Today, she is a community engagement strategist and CEO of Spaceship Media, a journalism venture she co-founded that brings together people on opposite sides of difficult political and social issues. She believes in the Girls Inc. mission of empowering young girls and women to be smart, strong, and bold.
Tell me about Girls Inc. of the Island City.
GIIC’s programming is designed to support the development of each girl as a whole, supporting girls in valuing themselves, taking risks, and developing their own strengths. Basically, GIIC helps get girls ready to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers … and grow up healthy, educated, and independent. In Alameda, GIIC offers after-school programs for elementary school-age girls at the Santa Clara headquarters, science and literacy programs in five elementary schools and school sites, and onsite programs for teens. GIIC members are eligible to apply for college scholarships. One GIIC senior won $20,000 for college last year. Our program is not designed for any one type of girl. It is open to all types from all socioeconomic backgrounds. I am continually impressed by the inspired work Girls Inc. does to support the girls in our community.
What are some little-known facts about Girls Inc.?
Girls Inc. of the Island City is an affiliate of the national Girls Inc., founded in 1864 in Connecticut. There are more than 80 chapters thriving across the country. There are three Girls Incs. operating in the Bay Area in addition to two other Bay Area affiliates (which can sometimes be confusing to people). GIIC serves girls in the city of Alameda. Girls Inc. of West Contra Costa serves girls in Richmond and San Pablo. Girls Inc. of Alameda County works with girls in Oakland and San Leandro. Though GIIC’s programming is for girls only, since 1981 GIIC has provided AUSD elementary school students with on-site, licensed child care for both boys and girls under the banner of Alameda Island Kids. GIIC serves more than 1,000 young people a year. The impact and education girls get from this organization can serve a young woman for a lifetime in so many arenas.
What motivated you to take on this leadership role?
GIIC is just the sort of organization I wish I’d had access to in my youth. Their intentional programming to support young girls and teens in following and engaging their ambitions is remarkable. I have deep respect for the organization nationally as well as the inspired leadership of Alameda’s CEO, Christine Chilcott, who has built on the work of Karen Kenney, who led GIIC from 2005 to 2014. My personal favorite program is Best Foot Forward in which the elementary-age girls interview and then introduce inspiring role models from the community at our annual luncheon, Women Who Dare. I wish I’d learned to speak to a crowd at that age. This year’s celebration is on Feb. 10 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Center on Lake Merritt. We invite everyone to attend, especially with their daughters. Women Who Dare is a great way to get connected to this community of bold and ambitious girls and women. I was also incredibly impressed by the Eureka! Program, which is a national five-year program that encourages girls to explore career paths in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I’m telling you, this organization is incredible.
How can others get involved?
There are so many ways to get involved. We have a need for onsite volunteers with homework help, walking to and from school buses, and speaking to our girls and teens about careers. We welcome community members to serve on our key committees like communications, events, and finance. And we accept donations of new or gently used items all year for our holiday sale. We are always eager to hear from mentors and role models in the community and, of course, appreciate financial support as well. If you’re interested in volunteering or donating, reach out to our development department at 510-521-1743, ext. 201.
On a personal level, what has Girls Inc. done for you?
Everyone always says they get more than they give when they give, which happens to be true for me in this case. Each time I engage with the girls in the program, I am heartened by their confidence, clarity, and focus. I am inspired and emboldened by their energy and hopefulness, both as I continue to create my own professional path and as I think about the politics and policies around gender issues that can create a more level playing field for generations of young women to come as they pursue their own ambitions and careers. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve GIIC organization and feel like the lucky one. I love Alameda and love how this organization serves its young women.
Editor’s Note: Eve Pearlman is a former contributor to Alameda Magazine.