A Celebration of Girls’ and Women’s Leadership Like No Other


It was bound to be an Installation like no other, because it was held in a Zoom webinar—the first time in 92 years when the sound of live applause did not fill a shared space.

Indeed, it was a historic night of many firsts. The centrepiece of this longstanding Branksome Hall celebration of girls’ and women's leadership and community was a pre-recorded conversation that shone a light on the authenticity and humanity that lies at the heart of leadership.

The riveting line-up included “CK” (Purks) Hoffler’80, CEO of The CK Hoffler Firm, the trailblazing Atlanta-based law firm; Torie Williams'17, a past President of the Black Students’ Network at McGill University; and Grade 11 student Maria, a founding member of the Diversity Council at Branksome Hall.

There were common themes among the three panelists’ voices, as they spoke about our shared humanity, their insights into leadership, and reflected powerfully on their lived experience as Black women.

“I find myself in positions where I’m called upon to speak on behalf of my community, because I’m often one of the few Black people in the room,” said Williams. “I try to use my platform to bring others to the table.”

It was “CK” (Purks) Hoffler’80, who most powerfully articulated the lived experience of racism—not in her role as a pioneering lawyer, but from the personal perspective as a mother of Black teenage sons. Despite her incredible success—she has represented and is also counsel to Civil Rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson—she described how it feels to live with fear for the safety of her teenage sons.

Several weeks ago she received a text message from one, saying he had been stopped by the police because he was in a high-end car and “driving while Black,” she said. “I’m ferocious in a courtroom, but I have told my son that if he is ever stopped by the police, you put your hands on the dashboard and you do not move. This is the tragedy of where we live now.”

After recognizing Grade 6 leaders and Graduating Year representatives, Branksome’s Campbell Clan was announced as the 2019-20 winning clan, and this year’s Prefects were installed.

“This Installation was truly special,” said Principal Karen Jurjevich. “I’ve heard from members of our community that they laughed, they cried, and I think we all were provoked to reflect and to want to do even more to ensure we are fully living out our shared values of sense of community and inclusiveness.”

Learn more about Branksome Hall here: https://www.branksome.on.ca/

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