Inside The Statehouse: Girls State’s Profound Effect on Current State Leaders

Steve Flowers



The Alabama Boys State and Girls State programs have been the spawning ground for Alabama political leaders for
generations. It is a marvelous civic contribution that the American Legion has sponsored for almost a century in our state.
The prominence that Boys State has played is immense. However, Girls State may very well be eclipsing the boys in this
generation, given the amazing array of women who are currently leading our state.

Gov. Kay Ivey was a young high school leader growing up in Wilcox County in the early 1960s. Ivey was selected for Girls
State and had a week there that left an indelible impression on her. She went on to Auburn University, where she was a student
leader. For over 40 years, Ivey has come back to Girls State every year as a counselor, advisor and speaker. She is devoted to
Girls State.
Dr. Cathy Johnson Randall has been one of the state’s most respected leaders for 50 years. She was the most outstanding
student at the University of Alabama when I arrived in 1970. She earned her undergraduate degree and got her doctorate from
the Capstone.
In her early career years, she was an administrator at the University of Alabama. She has been a premier businesswoman,
philanthropist and Tuscaloosa Civic leader in her adult life. As a teenager, Randall was a Girls Stater, to say the least. She was
elected governor of Girls State. She then went on to Washington and was elected president of Girls Nation. Furthermore, her
daughter Kate was elected governor of Girls State like her mother and — get this — Kate was also president of Girls Nation.
Randall’s late husband and Kate’s father, Pettus Randall, was governor of Alabama Boys State. It is doubtful any family in
America, much less Alabama, will ever match that family lineage.
Randall and Ivey took a young lady from Enterprise under their wings when she arrived at Girls State. That student leader
was Katie Boyd Britt. Britt became governor of Girls State. She then went on to the University of Alabama and pledged
Randall’s sorority, Chi Omega. Britt was elected student government president at Alabama, then married Crimson Tide
football star Wesley Britt. Last year, Katie Britt was elected as our United States senator at the ripe old age of 40.
The list of Girls Staters that are current state leaders does not end with Ivey, Britt and Randall. Supreme Court Justice Kelli
Wise was a Girls Stater, as well as past Justice Lyn Stuart. Federal District Judge Anna Manasco is a Girls State alumna from
around the same era as Wise. Mary Margaret Carroll from Ozark, who is one of the state’s top lobbyists, was a Girls Stater
with Britt and a Chi Omega with her at Alabama. She was also SGA president at the University of Alabama. Liz Filmore,
Ivey’s chief of staff, got her start at Girls State.
Many of these women have bonded through the Girls State program, especially Ivey, Randall and Britt. They are like sisters.
The fourth sister in this close-knit group is Lee Sellers of Montgomery. Sellers grew up in Montgomery and has lived there all
her life. She was a prominent Girls State leader as a teenager before becoming executive director of Alabama Girls State 21
years ago. She and her husband, Supreme Court Justice Will Sellers, are some of Ivey’s closest friends. Lee Sellers is the glue
that keeps this band of Girls State alumnae together.
Sellers will more than likely bring this group of state leaders back to welcome this year’s group of teenage Girls State
leaders when they arrive next week to Troy University for the 81st meeting of Alabama Girls State. There will probably be a
future senator or governor in attendance.
Our current governor, Ivey, is the first elected female Republican governor of Alabama. She will not be the last female to be
elected governor of our state. In the future, my prediction is that there will be mostly female governors and presidents in future
years. It is a fact that the majority of college enrollees and graduates are female.
The reason most future governors and presidents, and probably Supreme Court justices, will be women is because currently
60% of law school graduates are females, and this is expected to grow to 70% in the next decade.
See you next week.
Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16
years in the state legislature. Flowers may be reached at


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