FRISCO, Texas - Education. Inspiration. Empowerment.
These are the themes that transpired during the second annual Ladies First: Breaking Barriers virtual panel discussion hosted by the Dallas Cowboys and Character Playbook powered by EVERFI.
Cowboys executive vice president, Charlotte Jones welcomed over 1,000 middle school and high school students logging in from across the country to join a powerful conversation, moderated by NFL Network's MJ Acosta-Ruiz, navigating the ever-growing landscape of women in sports, the impact women can have in the industry and how each panelist has overcome challenges and "lifted as they climbed."
On the front office side of the game, Emily Cruz Robbins, senior director of community relations and alumni affairs for the Dallas Cowboys, was joined by Samantha Rapoport, the NFL's senior director of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In addition to Cruz Robbins and Rapoport, the panel featured Callie Brownson, the Cleveland Browns chief of staff and newly promoted assistant wide receivers coach and Ashton Washington, scouting assistant for the Chicago Bears.
Both Brownson and Washington have paved the way as the first in their positions. Brownson became the first woman to coach an NFL position group during a regular-season game in 2020.
"You walk as if you belong there and, in your mind, you belong there," said Washington, who in 2021 became the Bear's first full-time female scout.
After discussing how to tackle relevant topics is Character Education, students were able to ask the panelists their own questions and gain valuable insight on how to break into the industry and pursue their passions.
"You belong in football and if you love this sport, we want you in it" encouraged Rapoport. "If you are questioning whether you belong or not, we are here to look you in the face and tell you that you absolutely do."
About Character Playbook
Character Playbook is a digital social emotional learning program sponsored by the NFL that's composed of two courses - Healthy Relationships and Mental Wellness Basics. Together, these digital courses provide learners with the tools to address their mental wellbeing and interpersonal relationships on a foundational level. To bring these courses to life, EverFi offers Character Playbook (CP) LIVE, CP Experience, CP Classroom Visits, and more.