Monday, December 12, 2011

Becky Canesse: Girls' leader extraordinaire

"You can't be what you can't see."

That quote by Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, was the message that Becky Canesse quietly pounded home Monday.

As long-standing executive director of Just for Girls, Becky Canesse knows the prophetic truth in those words. So she has spent years making sure that the girls who go through her alternative school in Manatee County get to meet strong role models. And Becky keeps those community leaders in clear sight for those girls.

During Just for Girls' annual luncheon meeting Monday, Becky spent almost two hours singling out volunteers, board members, community leaders and her award-winning staff. She proudly brought Marimar Urieta-Morales, an eighth-grader at Just for Girls, to the podium. As Marimar spoke of the confidence the all-girls’ school has given her, the knowing nods could be seen throughout the room.

Becky reminded us that the power of woman starts in the power of "Mom." Marimer's mom, Maria Lina Urieta, was there, and Becky thanked her in Spanish for entrusting her daughter to Just for Girls. (Marimer proudly poses with her mother, at right.)

Becky also recognized her own mother, honoring her with a donation to the new West Bradenton Center and asking others to do the same for their moms, loved ones and future generations of troubled girls.

But Becky Canesse forgot to pay tribute to the key reason this school is working: Becky Canesse. Others made sure they did:

"I just love this lady!" board member Murrie Bumpers declared as she thanked Becky for all she does.

And Just for Girls President summed it up: "You get good leaders, you hang onto them."

Here's hoping Becky Canesse leads the way for a long, long time.

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