As a woman who has paved her way in an industry dominated by men, television producer Endla Thornton had to overcome many obstacles to establish a successful career that spans over 30 years. She did so with help along the way. “I had an amazing senior producer who, through her own experience and belief in my skills, helped in my growth as a producer.” Grateful for the nurturing she received from her mentor, Endla paid it forward. As an accomplished producer, she has mentored young women—high school and college students—as they explored opportunities in the television industry, including providing internships.

As a result, many of them have since established growing careers while learning how to navigate the barriers women sometimes face in any industry. Having helped young people grow in confidence as they identified their career paths is what motivated her to start The Girls’ Place Chicago. It gives her an opportunity to expand her outreach and explore another area of passion: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM).

Beginning with helping girls ages 7 to 14 build their confidence and establish healthy self-esteem early on, she hopes to spark and nurture their curiosity in STEAM industries as they recognize their talents and embrace their uniqueness on their journey toward living community-focused, successful lives.