ELS Attendee Spotlight: Meet Hadley Brown

July 21, 2021

DECA leaders from across the country gathered together in Washington, D.C. from July 10-12, 2021 for the first in-person DECA Inc. conference since 2019. The event was filled with energy, learning and fun as leaders grew and returned home ready to maximize their momentum.

Meet Hadley Brown

During the Emerging Leader Summit, I had the opportunity to visit with Hadley Brown, the Tennessee DECA Association President. She is going into her junior year of high school and has competed in many competitive events virtually and in person. Her biggest goal for the year is to “increase Tennessee DECA spirit through a variety of initiatives and surprises.” Be sure to follow @DECATN on Instagram to follow along!

What is your DECA story?

“I stumbled into DECA, to be completely honest, and for that, I am so grateful. The student leadership team at my high school is very dedicated to DECA, and I knew the emerging leaders and entrepreneurs were people who I wanted to learn from. At the end of my freshman year, I competed in the Principles of Hospitality and Tourism event and I loved it! I loved being a professional in competition and getting to be a part of the DECA community. When I decided to run for a Tennessee DECA leadership position, it was because I wanted to further the opportunities for students just like me who didn’t even know all the possibilities available. Every day I learn something new from my amazing officer team, the members in Tennessee and the leaders across the DECA world.”

What was your main takeaway from the #DECAELS?

“My main takeaway from ELS is the saying we repeatedly heard: 'Impact matters more than initiative.' Quite honestly, I felt defensive the first time I heard it. The statement did not resonate with me initially. As I continued through the workshops and sessions, however, I began to understand. It is so important to follow through for others, not just begin projects for personal gain. Initiative and impact are both important, but as a leader, the impact solidifies the reason for standing up in the first place.”

What was your favorite part of the conference?

“My favorite part of ELS was meeting new people! I loved the diverse backgrounds and experiences of student leaders from across the country. I learned unique things about DECA associations and even more unique things about the members who inhabit them. I lightly use the word “networking” because it could signify personal gain from relationships, but networking was crucial at ELS because it allowed leaders to diversify their perspectives by learning from others.”

What advice would you give to your fellow DECA members?

“Do something that makes your stomach turn a little. Push yourself to shake hands (or elbow bump) and share your story. The only regrets I have, are when I don't take a chance. To every member who wants to get involved, I say ask the people who have come before you for advice, take a chance on yourself then make sure the path is laid for the people who come after you. I believe in you, but now you need to believe in yourself!”

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