Woman on the Rise
Program Manager, Envision Lead Grow
By Melissa M. Stewart
Anyssa Reddix decided to kickstart her leadership career as an 8-year-old. It was then, as a young but self-confident kid, that her life as a "Girl Boss" began when she formed Toddlers Thinking Together, or T3, a summer program designed to help toddlers learn to read. Inspired by her younger brother, Reddix used T3 as a platform to launch her lifelong commitment to teaching and empowering others with critical life skills.
Reddix now spends her days empowering young women as the program manager for Envision Lead Grow, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit mentoring program with the intention to end the cycle of poverty through entrepreneurship. She plans and organizes year-long mentoring activities for young "Girl Bosses"; develops curriculum, summer camps, webinars and monthly and annual activities for the organization; and created the Entrepreneur Institute. This annual, three-day event invites Fortune 500 executives to meet and speak with young girls in order to help them reach their personal and professional business goals.
In 2017, ELG's first program year, more than 414 middle and high school girls signed up to become Girl Bosses, and 250 additional girls were added in 2018. Reddix's devotion is certainly a key to the organization's success, but she says working to build a community around ELG and offering no-cost programming is far from simple.
"We are a growing, relatively new nonprofit, so as we expand to different states, it becomes exhausting at times to get our purpose across in new areas and to get community support to actually bring the girls into our program," Reddix says. Thankfully, Reddix doesn't give up easily, especially since she's been able to witness first-hand the results of her dedication.
"I attribute where I am today to the support system I have and some of the incredible relationships I have strengthened and formed over the last few years," she says. "I have a remarkable mother [Angela Reddix, CEO of healthcare management and IT consulting firm ARDX and creator of ELG], who is my biggest role model. Working with her so closely through Envision Lead Grow has taught me so much about what matters in the world and who I am."
As a sophomore in college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, what mattered most to Reddix was developing a sense of place for herself and her peers.
"As a woman of color, there weren’t many resources that connected to my specific walk and difficulties I faced, because there was such a small population of us," Reddix says. This inspired her to institute Spark, a retreat for first-year women of color. Reddix developed the curriculum and facilitated many of the activities. She feels she was able to make a tangible influence.
"To see a need and fill the void to be able to help change the lives of some incredible young women is one of the best things I have ever done," she says.
And she's done plenty in her young life. At the age of 13, Reddix became a published author with the publication of Magic of Friendship, a novel of teens and preteens navigating middle school. She used her book as a platform to speak at local schools and help young girls develop greater self-confidence and social awareness.
Photo by David Uhrin
Today, when she's not engrossed in Envision Lead Grow, Reddix serves as a teaching assistant to first-year students at Norfolk State University. Using skills she learned at UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School, she works with freshmen business students to help them develop the critical study and life skills necessary for their success in college.
Reddix has already shared so much of her knowledge and positive attitude to empower others, but she says she still has a lot to learn.
"It has taken me a better part of this year to begin embracing the discomfort and how much uncertainty there is, both personally and professionally," she says. "I am learning more about my values, my standards, my passion and my mission. Amongst all of the chaos, I am learning to enjoy the adventures."
One of Reddix's missions is to create 1,000 girl bosses across the country by the year 2020. So far, she has worked with middle school girls from nine different branch cities, including Coastal Virginia.
"Every time I see or receive an update from a girl or her parents," she says, "I am just so grateful to be able to be a small part of their story."