Danielle Blunt Craddock is a social entrepreneur, advocate for youth, and founder and director of Girls Inspired & Ready to Lead, Inc. (GIRL), a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to empowering and preparing today’s girls for tomorrow through promoting academic achievement, career preparation, leadership development, community service, and a positive self-image.
Danielle earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Old Dominion University and a Master of Arts degree in higher education-student services from George Mason University. In 2013, she was awarded the MLK, Jr. Cultural Foundation, Inc. Outstanding Educator Award and The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. Northern Virginia Chapter Excellence in Mentoring Award. Northern Virginia Magazine named Danielle one of the Northern Virginians of the Year for 2014, and the Fairfax County NAACP awarded her a 2014 Community Service Award. In 2015, she was named one of Leadership Arlington’s 40 Under 40.
Danielle’s passion for inspiring girls began in college where she tutored and mentored a fourth grade girl at an elementary school located across the street from the college campus. Because of her mentee’s progress, Danielle and her mentee were selected to be featured in a video on mentoring produced by the Norfolk Public Schools. After graduating college, Danielle returned home to Fairfax County and began mentoring middle and high school girls, meeting once a month at a local community center for “Girl Talk.” Realizing that girls in the suburbs, as well as those in the inner city, face challenges of homelessness, low academic achievement, low self-esteem, bullying, and exposure to negative images of women in the media, she decided to expand her mentoring efforts and formed GIRL in 2010. She has worked for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program at UNCF and the National Society of Black Engineers Headquarters.
As an advocate for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education for girls, Danielle has partnered with George Mason University Women and Gender Studies Center to offer a STEM conference (March 2013) and with George Mason University College of Science to create FOCUS (For Girls of Color and those Underrepresented in STEM), a STEM summer camp for middle school girls, which grew from 18 girls in 2014 to 93 in 2016.
Committed to the empowerment of young girls, Danielle often speaks at schools and civic organizations throughout the community, hoping to inspire girls to dream and believe that they can accomplish anything that they desire, remembering these words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”