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Helping young women learn the ropes
Riceboro native, WTOC news anchor Dawn Baker giving back to youth
Members of Dawn Bakers leadership academy, Dawns Daughters pose for a photo. Since its inception, the year-long mentoring program has grown to include 56 students. Baker, a longtime news anchor at WTOC in Savannah, is from Riceboro. She and her mother, Lulu Baker, conduct the academy. - photo by Photo provided.

Dawn Baker, the Riceboro native, is no stranger to the region as a long-time anchor for WTOC news.  

In 2011 Baker became an author when she released “Dawn’s Daughter:  Everything A Woman Needs To Know.”

Baker has since formed “Dawn’s Daughter Leadership Academy: A Premier Leadership Experience,” to prepare young women for the rough and tumble world.

Recently, Baker, along with her mother, Lula Baker, hosted her second annual Leadership Academy on the campuses of Savannah Technical College on White Bluff Road in Savannah.

The five-day conference covered such topics as dressing for success, self-esteem, climbing the ladder in a male dominated field, no means no, dealing with sexual pressure, as well as dozens of other topics presented by guest speakers in their field of expertise.  

Why did Baker decide to get involved in mentoring young women?

“I wanted to develop a program where we could help. With my mom, Lula Baker, by my side, we put young ladies in the same room with some of the top professionals to teach them the skills they need to become successful in their personal and professional lives. Through interactive workshops, field trips and community service, they learn everything from financial planning, goalsetting, self-esteem, how to overcome obstacles, how to become an entrepreneur, personal safety tips, conflict resolution, how to deal with bullies, preparing for the SAT, good old-fashioned morals and values and a whole lot more.”

Baker felt it was time  for an academy to help young teens deal with the fast paced times they live in by connecting them with professionals in various fields.

“I have met so many smart, young professionals through the years who were tops in their careers , but didn’t understand the basics,” she said. “I wanted to develop a program where we could help.”

It’s growing. Last year the academy had 28 students. This year, 56 students enrolled.

Among those who attended is  Cecilia Taylor, 17, a senior at Liberty County High School.

Taylor said, “I learned of the academy through my counselor, Mrs. Debra Motley-Reed who saw my potential as a leader.”

Taylor feels the most important thing she gained was experience in networking, getting to know individuals making connections she can use in the long run.

This is Taylor’s second year attending the academy and she hopes to return as a volunteer after she graduates from high school.  She also urges others to attend.

“I would let others know about my experience at the academy because the lessons taught there aren’t really taught much at school,” Taylor said. “So, learning how to be successful, independent, and well-rounded young women is what Dawn and the other speakers teach us.”

The academy runs year round. It includes a week in the summer and follow up quarterly Saturday sessions throughout the year.

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