Government Shutdown Did Not Deter 14-Year-Old Next Gen Game Changer's Dream to Change the World

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Dr. Raye Mitchell—author of "The New Game Changers" and CEO of GURLS Lead, a Global Leadership Program—assists Helen Kassa, Founder of a Global Initiative, to fulfill her dream to meet First Lady Michelle Obama.

“I had already shared with Congresswoman Lee Helen’s amazing journey as a young global leader and when the congresswoman invited me to the women’s brunch honoring her appointment, of course I needed to find a way to bring Helen.

Every since 14-year-old San Francisco Bay area resident Helen Kassa started her global leadership project at the age of eight, supporting underserved school children in Ethiopia, she dreamed of the day she could meet Michelle Obama and tell her about her project, Giving Hope to Kids Like Me, and how Mrs. Obama inspired her to keep pushing ahead. Helen, who wants to go to Harvard, was thrilled with a dream-come-true opportunity when her mentor, a Harvard Law School alumnae of Michelle Obama—Dr. Raye Mitchell, CEO and founder of GURLS Lead, a Global Leadership Program—notified Helen that she was selected to join her at the October 13, 2013 Women’s Brunch in San Francisco, hosted by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (CA 12th Dist.), in honor of Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s (CA 13th Dist.) appointment as the Representative of the United States to the 68th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, with special guest First Lady Michelle Obama.

“I had already shared with Congresswoman Lee Helen’s amazing journey as a young global leader and when the congresswoman invited me to the women’s brunch honoring her appointment, of course I needed to find a way to bring Helen.” said Dr. Mitchell.

However, a week before the scheduled brunch, it was postponed due to the government shutdown. “I was so impressed with Helen’s maturity in receiving the news. I was more amazed when she said that the government shutdown will not dampen her fierce determination to introduce her educational foundation to First Lady Michelle Obama and Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Nancy Pelosi.”

Instead of being deeply disappointed, Helen—an emerging global game changer—reminded Dr. Mitchell of what Dr. Mitchell once told her, “persistence is a highly valued strategic tool for any game changer to have in her innovation toolbox.” Helen got to work and began a letter writing campaign to invite the Congresswomen and the First Lady to her next event in Los Angeles launching her 2014 project to lead a group of girls along with Dr. Mitchell, to Ethiopia on a trip called "Leadership Journey for Change."

Operating under the belief that girls are the new global game changers, Helen hoped to extend her special and personal invitations to the Congresswomen and Mrs. Obama to attend the private dinner reception Dr. Mitchell is hosting for Helen on Saturday, November 9, 2013 for invited guests of the Consulate General of The Federal Democratic Republic Ethiopia. Helen had already completed a bold move of obtaining letters of introduction to the consulate from Congressmen John Garamendi (CA 3rd Dist.) and Michael Honda (CA 17th Dist.) inviting the Honorable Ambassador Zerihun Reta (Consul General of Ethiopia) and the Honorable Mr. Essayas Gota, (Deputy Consul General) to the gala launch; both of whom confirmed attendance.

“I can’t let something like the government shutdown stop me from moving forward to do something to change the world. I am deeply passionate about expanding access to education and innovation for both boys and girls as tools to help communities around the world better themselves,” said Helen as she prepared her letters. What’s next for Helen? “ I am thinking about sending an invitation to Queen Latifah as both Dr. Mitchell and I have such respect for her work and would love to meet her also. Dr. Mitchell added, “ There is more to come on this story as Helen is a great example of a one woman (girl) army building a team for global disruption."

Founded in 2010, GURLS Lead, a Global Leadership Program (formerly known as G.U.R.L.S. Rock) is a global leadership-training initiative of The New Reality Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. As a social entrepreneur program, GURLS Lead is meeting the needs of the talented, academically driven, and motivated to lead and serve the next generation of global leaders looking to build their skills. GURLS Lead provides a forum to nurture and train the next generation of game changers, innovators, and global leaders. GURLS Lead has a different approach to supporting the growth and development of girls and especially girls of color, ages 8 to 18. “G.URLS.” stands for growth, unity, respect, leadership, and success. To learn more about getting connected to Leadership Journey for Change and GURLS Lead, visit and

Dr. Raye Mitchell is a “Top-idea Maven,” real-life “fixer” and innovation expert who helps ordinary people create breakthrough impacts. A successful litigation attorney and graduate of Harvard Law School, Dr. Mitchell is now acclaimed as an award-winning humanitarian and social entrepreneur recognized for her contributions for mentoring girls and young women to become global leaders and innovators. Dr. Mitchell is also co-founder of "The M.B.A. Series Executive Development Program," which provides leadership training for people aged 12-40. She is the author of several books, most recently "The Laws of the New Game Changers: How to Make Breakthrough Impacts That Take You Forward." To learn more about Dr. Mitchell, visit


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