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Amherst teen connects with leaders in Washington, D.C.

Joe Biden and Tara Murty

Joe Biden and Tara Murty Purchase photo reprints »

It was all part of the second annual AnnPower Vital Voices Leadership Forum last month during which Murty, of Amherst, and 50 other teens from across the country listened to lectures, took part in communications training sessions, saw presentations on social change and met with mentors.

The conference, which is organized each year by the Ann­Power Vital Voices Initiative, a partnership between Ann Taylor parent company Ann Inc. and the Vital Voices Global Partnership, is designed to provide young women with the leadership skills to affect global issues and implement their ideas at home.

In addition to Clinton and Hudson, Ann Inc. CEO Kay Krill spoke to the students.

“The most empowering part was getting the chance to meet the mentors, the other girls and the speakers,” Murty said. “We were able to work really closely, and each day I was able to spend time with them to talk about our ideas and how we want to implement change in our own communities.”

One of the mentors was Kah Walla, an activist and presidential candidate from Cameroon.

“She’s essentially starting a revolution in a country where there’s a lot of inequity and people’s voices are not being heard,” Murty said of Walla. “She was so down-to-earth, and it was incredible to see that she was a leader in her nation and she took time away just to speak with us.”

Participants attended the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards ceremony, where they met Biden.

“It was really inspiring, because we got to see these women who were awarded for their work in their communities throughout the world,” Murty said.

Murty said by virtue of attending the conference, she is now part of the Vital Voices network, and will be able to remain in contact with the mentors and the other teens she met at the conference.

She said that she plans to employ the skills and connections she gained from the program to raise awareness about issues such as human trafficking, equality for women in STEM education, and sexual assault on college campuses.

“I’d like to create a dialogue between college and high school girls about these topics that are often very taboo,” Murty said.

Recently she organized a showing at her school of the film “Girls Rising,” which documents the efforts of girls across the globe to gain an education in countries where that is often difficult to do.

“It’s easy to think that we can jump right to making the change, but first people need to realize that the change needs to be made,” Murty said.

“The AnnPower conference was really amazing,” she said. “It was a life-changing experience.”

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