1girl is deeply saddened by the loss of our board member, Dr. Patty Cunningham.
1girl would not be the organization it is today without the guidance and support of Dr. Patty Cunningham. Dr. Patty met the 1girl co-founders when they were just finishing college and piloting the first 1girl program. When many other potential advisors passed because it was a brand new idea, Dr. Patty believed in what we were trying to do, and she believed in us.
Dr. Patty was one of the most remarkable women we have ever known. Brilliant, courageous, relentless in her pursuit to uplift individuals and communities, and audacious in challenging others to do the same.
During our very first meeting with her, she committed to join our Board of Directors and help us build the organization. As one of our very first board members, Dr. Patty offered guidance and support that was vital to keep the organization going. She asked thoughtful questions and challenged us to think critically about how we could best serve girls in our community.
Dr. Patty connected us with Champion Middle School, where we held our first official program in the fall of 2013. Over the course of that year, she worked tirelessly to design the program, conducting intensive research to determine how best to teach leadership to our girls.
As importantly, she became a mentor for the 1girl co-founders. Young and optimistic, the co-founders had energy and excitement for the work that Dr. Patty channeled in the right direction. She taught the basics of working with girls, designing curriculum, creating community partnerships, and raising money for our work. But Dr. Patty wasn’t just there for 1girl – she was there for us as individuals. When we were going through difficult times personally, she was always there to help.
Over the years, Dr. Patty helped build 1girl into what it is today. She was fiercely committed to our girls and facilitators. She served as the Ohio State Chapter Advisor and the 1girl Programming Committee Chair, all while still serving as a board member.
We are all grateful that we had a chance to work with Dr. Patty. Her commitment to social justice constantly inspired us, and we learned so much from her. She became a great friend to all of us, and she was always there to offer support and encouragement.
Her impact goes infinitely beyond her involvement with 1girl. She demonstrated this same commitment with numerous initiatives to support the community.
Dr. Patty, we sincerely thank you for your service to 1girl, your commitment to social justice, and the pleasure and honor of working with you over the past nearly four years.
In honor of her service, we have created the Dr. Patricia Cunningham Memorial Facilitator Scholarship for 1girl chapter members at The Ohio State University. Dr. Patty did so much to support students, and this scholarship will allow her impact to carry on and touch even more lives.
With love and gratitude,
Aditi Bansal, Sheila Maina, & Shelby Kretz, Co-Founders
Alfred Yates, Jacki Emmenecker, and Petre Ghitescu, Board of Directors
Stephanie Union, Executive Director