Ericka G. / DeShong P.

(Indianapolis) Co-founders, A Girls Gift, Inc.

Big Idea:
Why should boys have all the entrepreneurial fun?
It’s true that women have made gains in business, but it’s still an old boys’ club.  How can girls envision themselves as successful women? How are girls taught to compete? When will we get to a point where girls can look in the mirror of creative success and see their own faces smiling back?  Learn about an initiative that is backing girls by investing in their ideas and dreams and helping to translate their gifts into entrepreneurial achievement.

In 2009, Ericka Gibson co-founded A Girl’s Gift, Inc, which teaches girls in grades 5-8 to produce solid, viable business plans in 5 days, immersing them in hands-on workshops on subjects such as business and financial literacy, science and technology, self esteem, the arts, and community service.

Raised in a Chicago home with seven sisters, Ericka Gibson witnessed firsthand her mother’s ability to mold compassionate, smart, and assertive girls. Her mother’s example helped shape her determination and commitment to excellence. A domestic relations mediator, lawyer, professional photographer, and mother, she is a visionary and motivator inspired to spread her passion and compassion outside of her professional life.

DeShong Perry-Smitherman is public relations manager at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis. An Emmy-award-winning former television news producer, DeShong is a past president of the Indianapolis Associate of Black Journalists, as well as a current board member, mentoring young communications professionals and developing summer programming for high school and college journalists.

DeShong is proud of her role as co-founder and co-executive director of A Girl’s Gift, Inc. She feels that if girls can work with each other in a non-threatening, non-assuming environment where female mentors guide them through activities, conversations, and positive self-talk, they’ll eventually feel more confident about who they are, what they can be, and what they’ll accept in their lives.