Ten years of Young Women LEAD at ACTC | ACTC

Ten years of Young Women LEAD at ACTC

October 17, 2023


The tenth annual Young Women LEAD conference was hosted at Ashland Community and Technical College on October 12 and 13 at the Technology Drive campus. This year’s theme was “Be the change.”



High schools in attendance included Boyd County, Elliot County, Ironton High School, Lawrence County, Lewis County, Livingston Central, Rock Hill, Rose Hill, Symmes Valley, Tolsia, Wayne County, West Carter, Ashland Paul Blazer, Coal Grove, East Carter, Excelsior Academy, Fairland, Fairview, Ironton St. Joseph, Greenup County, Rowan County, Russell, South Point, and homeschooled students.


“This marks the 10th year of Young Women LEAD at ACTC,” Chrisha Spears, YWL Conference Director noted. “That means that over 6,000 girls have attended. There have been 6,000 opportunities to change a life, even if just for one day!”


The YWL conference is for high school girls and focused on Leadership, Education and Development (LEAD). The all-day event featured interactive breakout sessions, keynote speakers and lunch.


“I’ve been a part of YWL for the past ten years because I needed a program like this when I was their age. I needed a role model, a mentor, and to know that there had to be a better way. They are my ‘why.’” Spears added. 


This year’s conference featured one of Australia’s “100 Women of Influence”, Kate Gladdin, as the keynote speaker. She works as an international speaker, certified life coach, resilience specialist, podcast host, and published author of numerous books for teens. 


“The heart of my mission is helping to end the sense of helplessness that is so easy to feel when life is hard, unfair, and beyond our control,” Gladdin commented. “I want to be able to show these students that they can choose their response so they can turn their losses into gain and growth.”


The conference’s breakout sessions covered a wide range of topics including self-defense, finances, balancing business and family, STEM, the military, health care, and more. Breakout sessions were led by Megan Smedley, Paige Minnehan, Hope Harp, Tabitha Riffe, Amber Hudson, Sarah Smith, Elona Dunaway, Megan Celedonia, Megan Champlin, Kathryn Roberts, Lauryn Meadows, Heather York, Randi Stovall, Ashley Durkee, Bethany Pemberton, Kendall McConnell, Journey Jordan, Paige Weaver, Xava Grooms, and Cara Clark.


YWL is sponsored by Toyota, Ashland Community & Technical College, SOAR, Marathon Petroleum Company, UK King’s Daughters, Penn Station, IKORCC, Ashland Credit Union, G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Inc, Clark’s Pump-N-Shop, Kentucky Farmer’s Bank, Milton Hershey School, Commercial Bank of Grayson, Members Choice Credit Union, WellCare, Ohio Southern University, Pathways, First National Bank of Grayson, and Michelle Wilhoit Insurance.