By Katie Key
WASHINGTON – Last week, a PG&E scholarship enabled high school student Donzahniya Pitre to attend Running Start’s Young Women’s Political Leadership (YWPL) program in Washington, D.C.
Pitre came to Washington from Oakland to gain more skills, knowledge and fundraising ideas to utilize throughout her neighborhood. She joined 50 high school girls from all over the country for the YWPL six-day retreat aimed at giving young women the tools needed for a career in political leadership. The event included workshops led by experts in the field on public speaking, networking, fundraising, on-camera media training and advocacy.
Over the course of her week in Washington, members of PG&E’s Federal Affairs team, Jessica Hogle and Silvia Aldana, also introduced Pitre to the top staffer for her congresswoman, Rep. Barbara Lee. It was especially meaningful for Pitre to meet with a woman who shares her interest in criminal justice reform and ultimately used her political leadership skills to enact change on behalf of her community.
Pitre is a senior at Metwest High School and, in addition to her interest in criminal justice reform, she has become an advocate of restorative justice through her experience of resolving issues with bullies at school. Restorative justice focuses on making peace between the victims and the offenders, as well as the involved community.
“I want to work to one day see restorative justice used at schools across the country,” Pitre said. “I believe it is an effective tool in promoting peace and understanding.”
Hogle, PG&E’s director of Federal Affairs, said Pitre has already become fully involved in the process of channeling her leadership into politics.
“The public sector and the private sector alike realize the importance of the experience provided through Running Start’s Young Women’s Political Leadership program in young women’s early career development,” Hogle said. “Scholarships like the one PG&E provided Donzahniya help high school girls in need engage in meaningful activities that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, and help to inspire more young women to engage in political activism and leadership.”
Pitre currently works with nonprofit organizations in her community, including Voice of Witness, Justice Now and the Urban Peace Movement. Her community service will help her ultimately reach her goal of empowering change and getting more involved in politics.
“It is a goal of mine to get more involved in politics and learn about empowering ways to change these laws navigating through the system as a young woman,” she says. “I really want to improve my leadership skills and obtain other lifelong skills and empowerment that will help me with my personal and professional life when I am in college.”
As part of her PG&E scholarship, Pitre received travel expenses, room and board at Georgetown University, the week-long YWPL program, and a visit to the U.S. Capitol, among other activities. Her experience was similar to three high school girls who won a PG&E scholarship to participate in the program last year.
“This has been a phenomenal experience. Thanks to PG&E’s scholarship, I’m excited to use what I’ve learned in the Running Start program to effect positive change in my community through political leadership,” says Pitre.
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