In lieu of its in-person session, American Legion Auxiliary Volunteer Girls State fulfilled its mission in 2020 by transitioning its programming to an interactive, timely, and virtual experience due to COVID-19 restrictions. The ALA Volunteer Girls State 2020 Citizens’ Summit took place over three days, May 26-28, in brief, two-hour sessions over the Zoom webinar platform. Quickly planning the innovative change over a six-week period, the staff structured the experience as a mix of dynamic speakers, interactive Q&A, and facilitated panel discussions.
More than 450 female high school leaders from across the state of Tennessee participated in the Citizens’ Summit and were welcomed by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, ALA VGS 2019 Governor McKinna Harvin, and ALA VGS Chairwoman Julia Wells.
The session opened with a thoughtful discussion of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and Tennessee’s role in its ratification, as well as a commemoration of Memorial Day and veterans’ service. Panel discussions covered the state judicial system, featuring a conversation with Tennessee Supreme Court Justices, as well as media literacy and the Fourth Estate with a panel of female journalists from across Tennessee. On the last day, the keynote speaker was Tennessee Senator Raumesh Akbari, followed by a panel of ALA VGS alumnae in public service roles across the state, all highlighting opportunities to actualize citizenship in the real world.