By: Beatrice Bangura
Macee Whitehead, our 2015 Philanthropist Of The Year, isn’t your average twenty-something young woman. She’s already making her mark on the world as the founder of “It Gurls,” an organization founded to help motivate young women in the city of Baltimore and beyond to live their best lives. Whitehead is also the founder and owner of The Carroll School Of Dance, a studio that offers a variety of dance classes for those ages 2 and up. Whitehead manages to have a career and still give back to young women in every way possible and she hasn’t even hit 30 yet.
What inspired you to start It Gurl’s?
I feel like there are a lot of Baltimore City girls growing up without guidance. It Gurls teaches young ladies about setting goals, creating resumes, losing your virginity — things that aren’t really discussed and I wanted to create a space where subjects like those could be talked about.
Were you nervous knowing that you’d be dealing with a group of teenage girls, who can sometimes be a little difficult at that age?
No not really. I’ve always been a people person. I also have a dance school. So many of the girls I taught there joined It Gurls.
You didn’t have any big sponsors or lots of support. You really started it girls out of the kindness of your heart, why?
It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I love kids and they inspire me. Our first summer session was last year and I saved up money so that I could do this. The girls are motivation for me.
When young women leave one of your It Gurl sessions, what do you want them to leave feeling like?
Motivated. I want them to know they can come to me with any questions they have. I want them to be able to go out and inspire their friends. I want them to feel like they can do anything. I had this one [woman] want to apply to a job and we looked over her resume. She didn’t have much experience but put together a resume for her and she got the job on the spot. I always say there are never wrong but logical decisions and I want my girls to know that.
What women do you look up to?
My mom is definitely an influence to me. She owns a mental health clinic and she mentors/counsels all kinds of people. Michelle Obama and Oprah are also women I look up to. Anyone that is set on making a difference and wanting change is who I look up to.
What are the top five things you need in life to be an “it” girl?
- Goals — Always want to move to the next level in life.
- Great personality
- Presence as in knowing the proper attire to wear
- Driven. You can be an “it” girl in your own way. Just send positive energy into the world and people will gravitate towards you.
What advice can you give to a young woman out there trying to follow in your footsteps?
Always be yourself. Never focus on what the next person is doing, instead focus on you. Put yourself first, live life to the fullest and don’t be afraid to explore the world and all it has to offer.