Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Legends of Girls State

  For almost 100 years, two of the best annual events for young Alabama high school leaders in Alabama have been the Alabama Boys State and the Alabama Girls State programs.

  These events are sponsored by the American Legion and the American Legion Auxillary. Boys State and Girls State are sponsored nationwide by the American Legion. The programs epitomize the American Legion’s mission to honor those who have bought us our American freedom.

  The Girls State and Boys State programs bring the brightest high school leaders together every June. These young Alabama leaders will be Alabama’s governmental leaders in the future.

  During the week-long sessions, these high school rising seniors develop leadership skills and action-based understanding of the governmental process that gives them a lasting foundation for success professionally and personally.

  Boys State has spawned Alabama’s governmental leaders for decades. I attended Boys State 50 years ago this month. I remember it like it was yesterday. It is a lifetime memory. You make friends that last throughout life and who have resurfaced my entire life. One of my contemporaries from Boys State, who became a lifetime friend, is current Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Tom Parker.

  Now that women have taken their rightful place in Alabama governmental positions, it is appropriate that our top two female leaders in Alabama got their start at Alabama Girls State. Gov. Kay Ivey and Business Council of Alabama CEO Katie Britt were leaders at Girls State. Katie Britt, who was young Katie Boyd, has always been an outstanding leader. She became governor of Girls State. 

  Kay Ivey has stayed extremely active as a board member and director of Girls State ever since her years at Auburn University. She has volunteered as a counselor for over 50 years. Ivey loves Girls State. In fact, when these young female leaders meet next week at the University of Alabama for the 79th time, Governor Ivet will address them as their governor and fellow Girls Stater.

  These young women leaders will organize and assume the roles of government leaders. They will campaign in mock parties called the “Federalists” and “Nationalists.” They will divide up into cities and become mayors and county officials. Then others will have bigger roles as state constitutional officers and Alabama Supreme Court judges. One will become governor. She and the lieutenant governor will go to Washington D.C. to attend Girls Nation. They may even run for president of Girls Nation. 

  Governor Ivey has mentored several Girls State leaders over the years. Lee Grant Sellers, “Mrs.” Girls State, was an outstanding leader from Montgomery. She is now the 18-year director of Alabama’s Girls State. Her’s husband, Will Sellers, currently sits on the Alabama Supreme Court. By the way, Lee and Will are Kay Ivey’s closest friends and confidants.

  We have had a president of Girls Nation mentored by Governor Ivey - Cathy Johnson Randall. Ivey bonded with Randall through Girls State. Randall has been one of the most outstanding leaders in Alabama over the past 50 years. She headed Kay Ivey’s Gubernatorial Inauguration Committee.

  I knew Randall as a student at the University of Alabama. She was by far the most respected leader on campus, male or female. She was president of everything on campus. While at the University, she was a Chi Omega, a Crimson Girl, SGA Senator and ODK member, and a member of Mortar Board.

  After graduation from the Capstone, she married Pettus Randall from Tuscaloosa, thus becoming Cathy Johnson Randall. Upon his death, she became the chair of the board of Randall Holdings. She is also on the boards of Alabama Power and Mercedes Benz.

  While in high school, Cathy Johnson Randall was elected governor of Girls State and then went on to become president of Girls Nation. Believe it or not, her husband Pettus, was Boys State governor and Boys Nation president. Furthermore, they have a daughter who was governor of Girls State and president of Girls Nation.

  About the author: Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

No comments:

Post a Comment