Almost 2,000 days ago, or 5 years to make it easier, on May 1st, 2015, I received an email congratulating me on becoming a FFL Cabinet Member. I can remember squealing as I sat in my room of my college townhouse. Then, I had to go catch the bus to go to my on-campus summer classes. So, I immediately threw on my FFL tank top to share my pride with the world. I pulled up my social media apps and found that I was being bombarded with the love and excitement of the cabinet members welcoming me, tweeting me with their excitement, and being in a group chat of ladies who just couldn’t be more excited to have me join their exclusive group.
Shortly after joining, the mentor/mentee program started. In fact, I got paired to be mentored by the founder of FFL, Amanda Owens. I couldn’t believe it. From the beginning, I definitely turned to her for advice, random things that she could relate to (she was a recent alumni of East Carolina University where I was attending), and she was the one who convinced me to write my first FFL article about Calvin Coolidge.
About a year later, I went to Turning Point USA’s first ever “Young Women’s Leadership Summit” in Chicago. This was going to be my first time meeting a few of the FFL cabinet members and meeting the founder, Amanda. I was over the moon when I arrived. The other FFL members and I bonded so quickly and we stuck together throughout the conference. I met Amanda and completely fangirled like many young women do when they first meet her. After I left that conference, I felt more connected with these women than I could’ve imagined.
Then, a change needed to happen. It seemed like our original name of “Future First Lady” was coming off as us not wanting to aspire to be the president or that we were fine with having a seat behind the leader. It was becoming a distraction from our mission and that was to empower and support young conservative women. Our founder, Amanda, came to this tough decision to change the organization’s name to Future Female Leaders. Before we shared the news with the public, Amanda took the time to set up conference calls with all the cabinet members and contributors to explain the change and allow for us to voice any concerns. There were a few members who were originally bothered by it, but because I knew Amanda on a personal level, I trusted her and knew she was doing what was right. To this day, I love Future Female Leaders’ message that women aspire to be everything, whether it really is being a first lady or being president. Women can decide for themselves.
Then, FFL started making moves and decided to showcase our organization and message at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference. I was lucky enough to be invited to represent Future Female Leaders throughout the conference. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I arrived at the airport and met up with a few of the other cabinet members. We all wore our matching shirts and I was instantly connected to them all. We Ubered to the Gaylord hotel where we were staying. Immediately upon arrival, we needed to go up to Amanda’s room to meet up with everyone else who had arrived earlier. We had about 20 people plus Amanda’s family crammed into a room. The excited murmurs were swirling as we anticipated what the weekend would look like. This was the weekend where we truly became known as “the girls in the elephant skirts.”
That first night, after our meeting with Amanda and settling into our room, I headed back up to Amanda’s room where it was just me, my roommate at the conference, our Cabinet Advisor Kayla and Deputy Cabinet Advisor Caroline, as well as Amanda, our Founder. Amanda, Caroline, and Kayla can be no-nonsense when they need to be, but they are truly the nicest and funniest people. We stayed up live tweeting a primary debate. When that ended, we stayed up talking until 2:30 am. This probably wasn’t wise when we had a 6:30 am wake up call, but it was worth it.
The next day, all the cabinet members dressed in our elephant skirts, nude heels, and white shirts. We set out across the lines and crowds with ribbons of stickers hung over our shoulders. People loved seeing the cute outfits and the awesome stickers as well as hearing about the work that we do at Future Female Leaders. Unfortunately, some members of the media didn’t find it as like-able and eventually used the pictures of our legs to mock us. Little did they know, that only fueled our passion. I left that conference inspired and motivated.
A few months later and the next time I really got to spend time with other FFL Cabinet members was at “Winter in West Palm Beach” in 2016. There, I met new cabinet members that we had recently accepted and we all had an awesome dinner. It was an immediate sisterhood. Getting together with people you’ve met on the internet may be the start of every modern thriller story, but it is also how I’ve met some of my very best friends. Spending time on these trips with women you barely see is so fun. Believe it or not, you cry when you leave each other again. Thankfully, I knew this wasn’t the last time I would see my fellow FFL members.
For two summers now, I have been fortunate enough to travel to TPUSA’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit as an ambassador for Future Female Leaders. While there, I have shared FFL’s message and you can often find me working behind the booth — which is one of my favorite things to do at conferences. Of course, I always want to be out walking around and talking to people but behind the booth, I get to interact with people who are actively coming to talk about FFL or want to support Future Female Leaders with a purchase from our store.
In addition, attending the Young Women’s Leadership Summit with Future Female Leaders changed my life. This was where I first heard Kimberly Corban’s story. While, I will not share Kimberly’s story here because it is not my story to share, you can read her exclusive interview with FFL here. Her story opened my eyes up to what my role in sexual assault survivor advocacy could be. I juggled my feelings as I was someone who hasn’t been assaulted personally, but felt protective over women who had. I got to meet Kimberly Corban and thank her for sharing her story. Kimberly Corban spent so much time encouraging me to take up advocacy because I was so passionate on the issue. Because of her, I volunteer at a domestic violence and sexual assault survivor center.
It’s these experiences with these people that have made me who I am today.
It’s Amanda, Kayla and Caroline, who took a look at an application and saw potential in me that no one had yet. I can’t believe I have been a part of such a wonderful organization for so long.
To everyone in my FFL family — both old and new, thank you for being the most supportive group of girls and being such a joy to be around. I look forward to seeing you all again very soon with our high heels on the ground.
To Aryssa, we are the veteran Cabinet Members. We have gone through this journey together. Even though we had a rough start (we somehow both didn’t like each other but we never had a reason? Oh to be young and full of yourself), I am so grateful for your friendship and love spending time with you whenever I see you!
To Caroline and Kayla, thank you so much for being the best and always being so kind when I need a question answered. Y’all are the backbone to FFL. In fact, I wish people could see how much y’all do behind the scenes. I’m also grateful for how quickly you all took me under your wings and have guided me for the past five years.
Lastly, to Amanda, thank you for taking a chance on some mouthy girl from Twitter. Your mentorship has been the best thing for me during my five years. You’re incredibly wise, well-spoken, and easy to get along with. You’ve always put others before yourself. It shows through your dedication to Future Female Leaders. You’ve created such a warm space for conservative women to get to know their fellow conservative or libertarian activists. You’ve created a sisterhood that I am so blessed to be a part of. Thank you for being such a loyal friend, a wonderful boss lady, and being everyone’s biggest cheerleader.
I love you FFL and I can’t wait for 5 more years, and another election cycle, with you.