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Brittany Hogan: How a Small-Town Girl Uses Her Faith to Help Empower Others

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By Sym Posey | The Birmingham Times

Brittany Hogan, Founder and Executive Director of Empower to Conquer, remembers what it was like to grow up in small town in Coosa County, Alabama.

“There is no major anything in that area. We don’t even have traffics lights. It’s all stop signs and caution signs. Very rural. Because of that I wanted to put a youth conference in that area …  Typically, we must travel to experience something,” she said.

Originally from Huntsville, Alabama, Hogan moved to Coosa County when she was 12 because of her father’s job.  She said she often thinks about her childhood in two parts, before Coosa County and after moving. Nestled in the heart of central Alabama, the beautiful rural county only has approximately 11,000 residents according to the 2020 Census.

“It was a culture shock. Getting acclimated to life there, and not being able to be as involved in things like I was in Huntsville because the opportunities just wasn’t there. High school was hard. Because I had a growing faith in God, it wasn’t the popular lifestyle to live when you are in high school for me,” said Hogan.

Her personal journey on her walk with God is what inspired her to create Empower to Conquer, a youth development ministry based out of Bessemer, Alabama.

Founded in June 2009, Empower to Conquer serves 4 different highs schools – Bessmer City High City, Central High School Coosa County, A.H. Parker High School, and Woodlawn High School.

“We have a growing list of schools that want to be a part of.  We have a vision that every school has access to that. The goal is to continue to grow. I could not do what I do without my team.  I am grateful for them. Our students need this, [ especially] brown and Black students. They need to see us,” said Hogan.

In Huntsville, Hogan was very active.

“I played basketball since I could walk. My dad was my coach, my mom was always my cheerleader. We were always involved in church and community activities. “

Hogan said she felt “blessed to have wonderful parents that really disciplined us as kids. But one strategic opportunity for me was going to attend youth conferences growing up.”

Providing Opportunities

It’s important to give the youths a chance to experience different opportunities like conferences that she had the chance to attend, she said. “I just wanted students to experience God through conferences at an early age like I had,” said Hogan.

She pitched the idea of doing this youth conference in 2009, shortly after graduating from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). “I went to [UAB} for chemistry and physical therapy. This was not in the cards. But I’ve always had a desire for students to experience something that I’ve experienced. And one significant area is my faith journey.”

 With the help of her closest friend and family, Hogan said,” it took about three months, we planned our first Youth Conference, and the theme of that conference was empowered to conquer.”

“We had about 50 to 75 kids [from Coosa County] to participate over the course of the weekend and by the end we were like, oh, maybe this is a need, maybe this is something that students will gravitate towards. We prayed about it and went back and put some vision behind it and decided to make the theme the name of the organization,” said Hogan.

This year marks their 15-year anniversary.

“To us, an empowered life is one where students discover their unique gifts and have access to training, guidance, and opportunities to maximize their potential,” Hogan said. “We are passionate about helping students reach their limitless potential. We believe God has called them to do great things.”

Hogan said she feels it is “important to us that we get a chance to empower them with strong faith Foundation, with the career development that they need, as well as mental health needs.”

Once a year, Empower to Conquer hosts a retreat for students in Coosa County.

“The faith component is a retreat that we do annually for students, that strength base, the career development component is a limitless group. So that’s the education piece. And then the relationships piece is a mentoring program that allows students to have the emotional and social support they need.”

Sparking A Relationship

What started as a one-day conference in 2009  has evolved into a three-night retreat designed to spark a relationship with Christ and create disciples.

“We’re hosting our first three-night retreat. We did conferences where students will come and go, you know, maybe over the course of one or two days, in the beginning and all the way up until about 2018 and then we just felt like the Lord was leading us to do retreats, which would provide our students with an opportunity to get out of their environments and go somewhere else for a weekend.”

The environment is important given the demographic that Empower serves, Hogan said.

“One of the biggest things that I am proud of is the way that we have been organically growing with our students. We started off just doing youth conferences. Our mentoring program was not on our radar. We were doing conferences and doing career development through limitless groups.

“And then in 2017 we got the chance to partner with Bessmer City High School. We were working with career development, but they were about to do an empowering assembly for all the girls in the school and they asked me to be a speaker for this program.

“I spoke and they gave our volunteers the opportunity to pray with young ladies after the program if they wanted it. We were there the rest of the school day praying with students because they kept coming,” said Hogan.

A year after that program, Empower to Conquer came back to Bessmer City High school and launched their mentoring program. Initially, they launched the program for those same 13 girls that came to them after that program.

“I’m so proud that we got a chance to not just launch program, but we’ve been able to walk along side of students who really need us and really see them accomplish some of their goals …  To have seen so many of them not just make it to graduation but thrive after graduation is what I am most proud of,” said Hogan.

For more important about Limitless Groups, Limitless Mentoring, and Limitless Retreat, or Volunteer Opportunities, visit Empowered to Conquer – Faith. Education. Relationships.