Autumn Taylor has a ton of favorite memories from her 9 years as a Girls Inc. of Memphis participant. She doesn’t rank them but one does stand out. It was when she got to shadow a certain congresswoman—during her first stint as Speaker of the House—as part of Take Your Daughter to Congress Day, when she was in the eighth grade. A photo from her time there made the front page of The Washington Post.
“I got to shadow the lovely Nancy Pelosi,” Autumn says, “and I got an autographed book from her!”
As cool as that was, there are plenty more memorable moments—both large and small. She won a $15,000 Girls Inc. national scholarship and then attended the national Girls Inc. Celebration Luncheon in Los Angeles, where she was one of only a few scholars invited to speak. She was on a team of teens who won a coveted spot to attend the weeklong Girls Inc. Corporate Camp for Entrepreneurs in New York City. She was featured in Forbes Women as a result of her experience at Corporate Camp.
She learned photography thanks to a photo camp she and other Girls Inc. girls attended at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. And her mom was the first parent to be invited to serve on the Girls Inc. of Memphis board of directors.
All of those touchstones resulted in a young woman prepared for professional life and focused on servant leadership.
“Girls Inc. taught me how to be in a job setting and how to navigate the professional world,” Autumn said. “And community service is ingrained as part of what you just do. You do whatever is needed to help others.”
Autumn started Girls Inc. at 8 and was a participant at LDT Center from 2003 to 2012. She graduated high school in 2012, then earned a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, then a master’s in education from the University of Memphis.
Today, she teaches at Treadwell Elementary School, where she says she loves putting what she learned about public speaking and presentations into practice.
In both her personal and professional life today, she says, “I know and practice accepting others and celebrating our differences while understanding that girls and women all have something in common.”
Because of her positive experiences at Girls Inc., she feels a responsibility to pay it forward.
“The lessons learned have become ingrained,” Autumn said,” and I use the things I learned at Girls Inc. in my teaching.”
Of course, paying it forward is easier when you’ve received as much as she says she has from Girls Inc.
“I experienced more during my 10 years at Girls Inc. than most people experience in a lifetime,” Autumn said. “I was an artist, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a volunteer, a junior congresswoman, a host, a volleyball player, a leader. They showed me the possibilities were endless.
Girls Inc. Alumna
Participant from 2003 to 2011