Empowering the Future Leaders of America


Verrado students participate in a Town Hall Q&A with the 10 speakers from Verrado’s first Women’s Expo. Each of the 10 speakers gave an example of one of the obstacles they had to overcome to dominate in a patriarchal society. Photo credit to Krysyan Edler.

Krysyan Edler, Editor-in-Chief

Verrado hosts its first annual Women’s Expo

Several successful public figures made their way to Verrado High School on April 13 for Verrado’s first annual Women’s Expo. Several students were able to learn from the personal experiences of 10 successful women from various fields. The expo will ran from 8:20 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Friday morning.

“The goal is to just bring awareness to women’s leadership,” assistant principal Mr. Saulsby said. “As we do more of these, we might have more specific goals, but right now it’s about awareness to kind of feel good about what we are doing, have some of our leaders in our community connect with our students.”

Students inspired by how these women were able to leave a mark in their respective careers. The expo began with a message from keynote speaker Katee Van Horn, the former Vice President of Global Engagement and Inclusion for GoDaddy. Then students participated in two breakout sessions from their choice of speakers and a town hall question and answer session.

“The goal of the event is to promote awareness of issues that not only affect women but extend to all humans,” librarian Mrs. Warren said. “The purpose of the Women’s Expo is to spotlight high-achieving women from our community that set a good example of success for our students. Honestly, I hope students come because they have an interest in the expo as well as in the speakers and their topics.  We want students to leave feeling motivated and inspired by these speakers.”

These successful women came from diverse backgrounds. Speakers included: restaurateur Andrea Shobe, historian and author Verlyne Meck, Shelly Hornback from the Litchfield Elementary School District, equestrian author Carly Kade, and the president and CEO of Arizona Food Banks, Angie Rodgers.

“Mr. Saulsby, Ms. Kocher, and myself came together and created a list of women we knew, whether personally or not, that were excelling in their fields,” Warren said. “We divided the list up and each contacted the women from our lists in hopes they would commit to the event. We successfully booked 10 women who are powerhouses in their field of expertise.”

Representatives from the US military also spoke, including Chief Master Sergeant Michelle M. Siau and the familiar face of Staff Sergeant Lorena Guerrero. Channel 12 News reporter Charly Edsitty and Edith Baltierrez from Arizona Women Leading Government organization and the city of Surprise’s Human Service and Community Vitality also presented.

“Hopefully somebody watching, male or female, can say, ‘man, i want to do that,’” Saulsby said. “It’s a chance to talk to some leaders that aren’t normally in the classroom. Sometimes we get speakers to come out for assemblies as a sort of ra-ra person. Those are good, and some of those are really great. But this is more about making those connections, so people can see successful women. I think it’s important for people to see and interact with success.”

Learning from role models can help students lead successful lives. The speakers at the Verrado Women’s Expo 2018 shared their keys to success, to motivate and inspire the future leaders of America.

“I think it would be a good learning experience,” junior Sophie Fabits said. “I really wanted to hear what they had to say.”

This event did not discriminate against members of the audience. While the speakers may have focused on women’s issues, young men were more than welcome to learn from the experts of their aspiring fields. Two young men were in the audience of this year’s expo.

The women we have booked to speak are experts in their field; their gender does not change that fact,” Warren said. “Young men can gain useful information from these women in fields they are interested in as well.”

Verrado administration looks to continue this annual event. They hope to expand it each year with plans for separate events to empower students of all backgrounds.

“That’s what it kind of is: to highlight the contributions, and in the future we would also probably have a day that focuses on our males. Just like we may have a diversity day, that we are thinking about having next year, that focuses on maybe our minority students, or our LGBTQ students, and others of some of those groups, so that they can feel empowered and apart of our campus,” Saulsby said. “It’s not just about guys and football. I want to make sure that every kid that walks through the door, whether they’re a football player or a dancer or a badminton player, that they all get the same experience: they all feel supported.”