When Nancy Lemon started Girls With Confidence in 2011, she wanted to create special experiences for school-aged girls to develop self-love and grow brave spirits that would carry with them the rest of their lives and shine onto others. It was her desire to give girls the safe space she believes would have been greatly impactful in her own young life had such a place existed.
Prior to beginning Girls With Confidence, from 2008 to 2011, Nancy volunteered with a now closed youth support organization. Her volunteer work came from a deep place, as the work to equip strong-spirited and vibrant youth was driven from her own experiences and struggles.
Moving from Pain to Purpose
With her confidence shaken at a young age due to a childhood trauma, Nancy experienced the feelings of shame and the lack of proper supports to heal. Into adulthood, the events of her childhood manifested in an eating disorder, which Nancy battled for years.
Through years of counseling and personal work, Nancy found herself whole, healthy, and healed. Seeing the gap of programs to teach girls to love and honor themselves, make positive decisions, and navigate all that comes with growing up in the modern world, Nancy was inspired to continue the mission she had once served through volunteerism and now on a new path that this time she would forge.
Envisioning a World Where Every Girl Knows her Worth
In the years since Nancy founded Girls With Confidence, it has grown from Tampa Bay to cities and countries beyond. Nancy knows that all girls, no matter their background or socioeconomic status, struggle from time to time with self-perceptions and confidence. Every girl needs guidance, mentors, positive friends and places to be herself.
Through workshop series, camps, craft nights and other inspirational events, girls are given opportunities to rise. Nancy is proud of the work everyone involved with Girls With Confidence has accomplished to impact hundreds of girls who have heard the message of how to love themselves from the inside out and accept themselves wholeheartedly. One of Nancy’s greatest joys is seeing girls go through the programs from elementary to high school and come “full circle” by applying what they’ve learned to mentor the younger girls.
A little more you might want to know about Nancy Lemon...
Kristy attended the University of South Florida for both her
bachelors and masters degrees, receiving a B.S. in Business Management and M.Ed. in Educational Leadership. She has spent the last fifteen years as an elementary educator in Hillsborough County. Prior to teaching, Kristy was the Membership Director at the New Tampa Family Y.M.C.A.
As a teacher Kristy made it a priority to empower her female students, encouraging them to reach their full potential, particularly in the area of mathematics which is often a male dominated subject. She emphasized the value of looking for other girls to stand with and support rather than compete against. Girls with Confidence is the perfect landing spot for her to continue her work in mentoring young women.
Kiesha Stitcher leads our Pittsburgh chapter and has done a fantastic job working with hundreds of girls helping them to grow in their confidence and self-love. Her experience working with various non-profits such as Rescue Ridge, The Teen Chat Room, Ronald McDonald House, Girl Scouts of Western PA and The Salvation Army makes her a great fit for this role as Regional Director.
"It has always been a dream of mine to help young girls feel confident and beautiful…as they should! I am grateful that Girls with Confidence is providing me with the platform to make a difference."
Prior to having children, she was a Field Marketing Director with over 10 years of experience creating and executing events and marketing initiatives. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from California University of PA.
Kiesha is a proud mom of two amazing, kind and spirited girls- Brynlee and Ella. She and her husband Charlie reside in South Park, PA.
Annabell Mesa is a graduate of USF in the Elementary Education. Annabell has volunteered in numerous summer camps and programs working with elementary aged kids.
"I have always had a passion for wanting to help others and work with children. I am very excited to work with Girls With Confidence because our programs are so unique and incredibly important for elementary aged girls to learn ways to be more confident and believe in themselves."
Originally from Toronto, Ontario but has lived in Tampa for most of her life. Annabell's family is from Havana, Cuba and she's fluent in both English & Spanish.
Kristy lives in Plant City with her husband, Ryan, and their dog, Deuce. She loves reading, being outdoors, watching the Rays, checking out new restaurants, and spending time with family and friends, especially her niece and nephew.
Our Regional Director, Ann Mugisha is a 35 year old Ugandan and mother of 4 beautiful children (2 girls, 2 boys). She is a Professor and Head of Shepherd's House Junior School, a school that educates orphaned, needy, abandoned and vulnerable children in Mpigi, Uganda. The school has 176 kids of which 96 are girls and 80 are boys.
Ann is the founder of Teenage Girl Care Uganda, an organization that works to Mentor, Inspire and Empower the girl child from age 5 to teen age. She's passionate about leading, guiding and mentoring our young ladies of today.
"Meeting Nancy and Girls with Confidence is one of the best things that has happened to me and the girls. I am so excited to work with Girls with Confidence as this will enable us to learn new programs that will help the girls a great deal, expand their contact with the world, learn about their potentials and also know that they are the same as girls elsewhere in the world, This will help develop their self esteem for a life time!"
We welcome Kelly Russ to the GWC team. She is an almost native of the area, having moved to North Tampa when she was just five years old. Kelly later graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor's degree in Accounting and is a certified public accountant.
Kelly worked at the Home Shopping Network for eighteen years. This past November she decided to take a break. She is co-leader of her daughter's senior level Girl Scout troop as well as a volunteer at Pinecrest Elementary in the Media Center. Both of which she thoroughly enjoys. She just loves kids, plain and simple. Her daughter, Maggie, attended several Confident Girls sessions when she was younger and now volunteers through Girls with Leadership. Kelly says “I think now, especially with social media influencing our girls, we need to insure they are confident, brave and loaded with positive self-esteem. In this next chapter for me, I am thrilled to be helping our girls learn to become even stronger!"
We couldn't be more thrilled to have Nicole Miller join our team of Regional Directors and will be offering our programs in the Nashville area.
Nicole lives in Nashville with her husband and four children. She has been an active volunteer in the kids schools, serving as a room mom and on the PTA board. She also took on the role of leading her oldest daughters Girls Scout troop for 3 years. Her family recently moved from Tampa where her two daughters, ages 13 and 8 attended and enjoyed Girls With Confidence camps. Realizing that there wasn't something similar to Girls With Confidence in Nashville, she knew she had to bring our programs to the area.
" I think it's so important to mentor and teach girls to value themselves at an early age. To fully trust and believe in themselves so they can walk in confidence. I can't wait to share these amazing programs in my area."
Lisa is thrilled to be part of the team as one of the newest instructors. As a native to New York, Lisa grew up outside of NYC, completing her AS Degree in Business. At 19, Lisa decided to move across country, site unseen to Gainesville, FL. She dual enrolled in the Radiography program at Santa Fe, while also completing her Bachelors in Business Management at the University of Florida.
After working at the hospital for close to 3 years, her business background was the perfect blend to launch her into what is currently a 14 year career in Medical Device Sales, which ended up providing the opportunity for her to relocate to the Tampa, Florida area.
Within the industry, she was exposed to many instances where she learned how challenging it can be for a woman working in a male dominated field. She often helped others, and she herself accepted opportunities, to be mentored and grow. From these challenges, Lisa’s interest and passion to support young girls and women began.
"I believe deeply in two very important life learnings that I continue to work on and develop for myself. Always be your biggest advocate and find things that you love in life that allow you to be true to yourself. I am excited to help mentor and lift young ladies up."
Lisa currently resides in Lithia, FL with her husband of 10 years, Rashah, and two amazing and energetic boys, Jordan and Cameron, who all keep her on her toes. She has a small zoo at home, whose current roster includes a dog, cat, hamster and fish. In her downtime, Lisa loves to travel with her family and explore new places.
Danielle Anderson is bringing Girls With Confidence to Eastern Montana and we are so excited to have her join our team of Regional Directors. Danielle has a Bachelor of Science in Food & Nutrition, with a Dietetics Option from Montana State University. As a dietitian who follows an intuitive eating approach, she believes that true health comes from nurturing behaviors that enhance physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing – not by following external food rules or the number on a scale.
She has worked as a Technician at Seattle Children’s hospital, in the school classrooms as a SNAP educator and with the Mukilteo School District’s food service management company. Danielle works part-time for Montana No Kid Hungry to find innovative ways to ensure all kids and families have access to healthy food.
Her past experience in a children’s hospital exposed her to the damage that societal pressures, media, and diet culture can have on young girls and boys. As her and her friends’ children started school, she began hearing confidence and bullying issues become more prevalent. This led her to begin searching for a curriculum that would allow for a safe space for youth to build friendships, improve their confidence, cultivate self-love, and listen to their internal cues. This search led her to Girls With Confidence, and she is thrilled to begin her new journey with youth on important issues such as friendship, diversity, body image, and social media.
She enjoys living in her small, rural community with her high school sweetheart raising two wild boys, ages 8 and 4. Her hobbies include cooking for her family, gardening, hiking, golfing, meditating and yoga.
Rachel Mahoney is an amazing addition to our team of Regional Directors and will do great work by sharing our programs in Northern Utah.
Rachel was a competitive figure skater for 8 years and was a coach for 4 years. During that time she learned important life skills and loved seeing the confidence in her students grow each week. Since then she has volunteered with multiple different organizations including the Humane Society, The Single Parent Project and the Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center of Learning.
Rachel lives in Saratoga Springs with her daughter and two dogs. She is currently pursuing an associates degree in Accounting and works as an insurance claims adjuster. When she isn’t working she enjoys working out, hiking, sewing, and spending time with friends.
While reflecting on her life a couple years ago, she realized she was missing true self confidence and had been most of her life. In the absence of self love and confidence there were events in her life that she doesn’t want others to experience. Rachel wants to spend her time helping the youth build their confidence but quickly realized there were no options in the area. She comes to us energetic and excited to help girls increase their confidence, acknowledge their self worth and become better versions of themselves.
Sabiene Nieuwendam is a junior attending Newsome High School and she has been volunteering with Girls With Confidence over the past year. With the increased activities at our new center in Lithia and growth of Girls With Confidence, we've created a new position- Volunteer Coordinator and Sabiene is the perfect person for this position. Her duties will include managing the volunteer registrations, making sure we have enough volunteers for each event, communicating with volunteers on expectations, arrival and pick-up times, requests for more help, etc. In addition, Sabiene will also be the lead volunteer at many of our events and camps. The girls absolutely love Sabiene.
"I love to give back and interact with people of different backgrounds. I learned the importance of volunteering and giving back in my community from my Dad when the two of us would volunteer together every Saturday and from my Grandfather who sponsored people from South America to come to North America to create a better life for themselves and obtain better opportunities. I want to bring change into this world and impact others lives. and I am super excited to take on this new role at Girls With Confidence."
Sabiene loves to cook, read, travel and paint. When she heads off to college in 2023, she hopes to major in History and minor in Anthropology in college.
Our newest instructor and camp counselor is Olivia Babuka and we know your girls will absolutely love her. Olivia is a Junior at The University of Tampa and is studying Entrepreneurship.
Olivia has a strong passion for working with kids, as she has completed numerous hours of volunteer work with a local elementary school art class and has also been a nanny for the past two years. She is passionate about the fashion industry and loves all things creative.
In her free time, she loves traveling, hanging out with friends, and doing anything that involves art. In high school Olivia was President and Founder of Wolfz Wardrobe at Newsome High school, which was a fashion club that focused on curating a spring and fall fashion show where all the proceeds went to a local women’s shelter. Through founding this club, she learned how to be a leader, stay organized, and focus on a newfound passion of helping women in need.
“I have been raised to believe that everyone’s purpose in life is to help others, and without doing so you can never reach your full potential.”
Maddie Abdoney is another new instructor and camp counselor who will be assisting us this summer at our center in Lithia and we are so happy she will be returning to continue her involvement with Girls With Confidence. Her experience with our programs began in 4th grade as a camper which then led to her volunteering and mentoring our younger girls until she graduated high school. Maddie is excited to work with the organization this summer by taking on the role of lead counselor alongside Olivia.
“I am forever thankful to Nancy for the leadership skills and confidence she taught me throughout my years at Girls With Confidence and I am looking forward to helping other young girls throughout their journey in this program!"
Maddie is currently attending the University of Florida where she just finished her Junior year. She will graduate next year with a Bachelors Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and will be attending graduate school to obtain her Masters degree in Speech Language Pathology. Maddie is a member of Delta Gamma Sorority where she has served on their Executive Board as Vice President of Panhellenic and Honor Board. She also was a Recruitment Counselor for Panhellenic Recruitment where her role was to help potential members navigate the recruitment process.
Maddie has always been involved as a volunteer in her local community and continues to do this while in Gainesville by being active as a captain for Dance Marathon, an annual student run event that raises millions of dollars for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Maddie’s love for children has been evident in her experience as a teachers aide in two different preschools. In her free time she loves reading, going to the beach, exercising, and being in nature.
We are proud of our amazing team of support staff, instructors, regional directors, program directors and volunteers. Everyone has different backgrounds and experiences but what they all have in common is the love of our mission which is to help grow the confidence in our girls, and now with boys.
When we ventured down the road of starting Boys With Confidence, we've always had one person in mind that would be the perfect guy to help us do it and that guy is Greg Rusch. We are thrilled to announce we will kick-off Boys With Confidence Fall 2021 for K-5th grades and plan on offering workshops for middle school boys in early 2022.
Greg Rusch is the Director of Youth Ministries, Radical Hospitality, and Operations at Grace Community UMC at Fishhawk. He has a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of South Florida and is a 2013 graduate of YMI. He has been at Grace since 2002 and has been on staff since 2011. He also leads a ministry called Young Life in the lithia area. He is married to Cindy, a registered nurse. They have 2 children, Emily & Derrick.
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Caitlyn is originally from Pittsburgh, PA but spent majority of her life in South Florida. She was always heavily involved in volunteer projects in her community and wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of others. She moved to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida where she became an officer in her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. Her sorority showcased the importance of women empowering other women to realize their full potential.
Caitlyn received a B.S. in General Business and knew she wanted to work with educating and inspiring younger generations. It was then that she decided to pursue a career in education. Caitlyn has worked as a teacher for the past few years specializing in exceptional student education (ESE). Working with children of all ages and abilities, Caitlyn has enjoyed watching her students gain confidence and self-esteem. She is very excited to be a part of Girls with Confidence and looks forward to working alongside extraordinary women.
Caitlyn now resides in Brandon, Florida where she will be teaching K-8 ESE Mathematics this upcoming school year. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her dog named Buddy, restoring antique furniture, and reading
Jessica Rhodes is a native Tampa girl who was bitten by the theatre bug at an early age. She decided to pursue a degree in Musical Theatre and was admitted to The Boston Conservatory of Music. She trained there for two years before deciding to narrow her major to straight acting and made the big move to NYC. There she auditioned for the conservatory program at Marymount Manhattan where she received a talent based scholarship and went on to earn a BFA in Classical Theatre with a concentration in Shakespeare as well as a minor in Entertainment Business.
After college she had the good fortune of working as an actress in NYC and in regional theatres around the country. Always a passion for music Jessica has also consistently performed in bands, most notably “The Highlife Band” that had a 3-month residency at the Venetian Resort and Casino in Macao China.
In addition to performing she has had the opportunity to work with children in the arts which has brought her much joy. She is currently the director of the children's performing arts group, "Entertainment Revue" which she was a part of when she was a child herself. She also is a certified Yoga instructor who has been teaching and practicing for many years. She particularly loves teaching children’s yoga and believes that the practice of yoga is applicable to every age.
She is beyond thrilled to join the team at Girls With Confidence and she cannot wait to apply her experiences with this amazing program.
Savannah is currently in her senior year at the University of South Florida, where she majors in Biology with a minor in Environmental Science and Policy. Savannah began her career in science without any female role models, so she hopes she can be a role model to young girls interested in STEM. She is excited to work with Girls With Confidence.
When Savannah is not in class or attending lab, she can be found reading, at the beach, or thrifting! Savannah is interested in environmental causes and loves to learn how to be more environmentally friendly. Savannah spent her summer conducting research on porcelain crabs, she aimed to understand how porcelain crabs affect oyster recruitment. Savannah hopes to continue doing research after she finishes college and is currently interested in studying corals.