South Shore group concerned Michelle Obama initiative will cause confusion

CHICAGO-- Michelle Obama's blockbuster announcement of her "Global Girls Alliance" last week earned praise from across the globe, but one South Side group is concerned that spotlight could leave their good work in the shadows.

The South Shore-based nonprofit Global Girls Inc. has been around for 18 years, working with young Chicago women to develop their skills in the performing arts.

Obama's announcement of the Global Girls Alliance caught Global Girls Inc. Executive Director Marvinetta Woodley Penn off guard.

“I started seeing the emails and Facebook posts and people congratulating me. And I was like, 'no ... I’m not a part of this,'" Woodley Penn said.

Now members are worried people will confuse the two organizations while searching online or elsewhere. Global Girls Inc. has been a lifeline to many members for years, teaching performing arts and academic excellence and hosting life-changing trips to places like Kenya and Ghana.

Alumni Ryonn Renee Gloster is now an education major at Chicago State.

“They gave me discipline through theater and dance and it show me how to, like, work well with girls my age and to look at life in a different lens,” Gloster said.

Much of the concern has given way to jubilation after Global Girls Inc. reached out to the Obama Foundation’s Director of Community Engagement, who responded with a letter indicating theywould like to work together to help the organization.

“Right away he sent an email, 'We need to talk. Let’s sit down and have a conversation.' So I’m very hopeful that something very positive is going to come on,” Woodley Penn said.

The Obama Foundation could not be reached for comment.