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.
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.
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.
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.
Angel Rojas joined Girls With Confidence as an instructor in the fall of 2021. Angel has been married to her husband Jim for 27 years. They have 3 children- Alexa who is s24, Sarah is 22 and Daniel is 19.
Angel is originally from the Chicago area and has over 10 years of experience working with children teaching 2nd grade as well as Kindergarten. She has a Master’s degree in Education with a focus on reading.
"I love working with Girls With Confidence. It's an incredible opportunity to get back to doing what I love so much- working with kids."
Angel loves to scrapbook, travel and and workout!
Maddie has lived her whole life in Fishhawk and has had many amazing experiences here. She is a graduate of Newsome High School and is currently attending University of South Florida pursuing a major in Health Sciences.
Maddie has always had a passion and love for working with kids, so when she saw this opportunity she knew it would be a great fit! She has been a volunteer at Girls With Confidence for the past three years and has taken every chance to give her time and energy into the program. She loves to see the creativity each girl shows through crafts and hear their thoughts on discussion questions and topics. One day, Maddie hopes to reach her goal of becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.
“Making a difference in a kids life, even if it is the smallest thing, just to see them light up with so much joy and happiness is the best feeling. Knowing that you were apart of helping and bringing back that light is just amazing.”
In her free time she loves to cook, play the violin, and help others. Her family and friends are a huge support system for her and she is always sure to return the favor by making sure that they also feel supported, comforted and cared for.
Sabiene Nieuwendam is a graduate of Newsome High School. She has been involved with GWC volunteering over the past few years. 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. 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."
Arielle’s background with children includes parenting, childcare, and Kids’ Ministry, and she loves involving American Sign Language to open up communication between the hearing and Deaf community. In the future, she wants to pursue a career in ASL interpretation within a school or Ministry setting while continuing her education and building experience within children’s education, being a voice that guides future generations in life-changing ways. In her spare time, Arielle enjoys spending time with her children, playing the piano, attending movie premiers and theme parks, traveling, maintaining her fruit and vegetable garden, and snuggling her chickens.
Arielle is a proud mother of three, one girl and two boys. She is in College studying ASL interpretation and communications while working contract Security and runs a small business providing contributions to directly connected non-profit organizations. Most of her life involved transitioning schools due to a military lifestyle, and she experienced excessive bullying and peer pressure. Over time, Arielle learned coping skills and how to manage her emotions while growing self-confidence. She believes her experiences and acquired skills can help others who struggle with self-esteem, peer pressure, and bullying.
Stephanie was born on the East Coast but spent most of her years growing up in the Midwest. Stephanie relocated to Riverview, Florida in 2020 with her husband RAE, 2 kids - Sophia, 13yrs and Roland, 10yrs. As a family they enjoy beach sunsets, watching classic movies (Star Wars or BUST!) and traveling to new cities. Stephanie enjoys reading and reads 1-2 books a week. She looks forward to her daily walks, working in her yard and cheering on her kids on the court and at the ball field!
Stephanie brings over 20 years of leadership and coaching experience to Girls & Boys With Confidence. Over the course of her professional career she has maintained a strong focus in corporate training & development, from Finance to Health & Wellness.
In 2001, Stephanie unexpectedly lost her father to a massive heart attack. From this tragedy, she began a personal & professional journey in promoting living life to the fullest! To this day, she helps support and encourage others to invest in their overall health.
Shayla grew up in the Tampa Bay Area and was one of the first to attend Girls With Confidence. “The principles and lessons learned at GWC provided her with a guide through life.
Shayla graduated from Florida State University where she double majored in Business Management and Marketing, and minored in Psychology. While at FSU, she served as President of the Case Competition Club where she worked with a team to find innovative solutions to real-world business problems. She also was highly involved in her sorority, Delta Zeta, and enjoyed taking on leadership roles and making lifelong friends. She was involved with FSU’s kNOw More Student Advisory board which worked closely with FSU administration and students to create awareness and provide education on topics under the umbrella of power based personal violence.
Shayla has a strong passion for working with others, utilizing her skills to provide a safe and productive environment to help individuals reach their truest, most authentic selves. During her free time she loves spending time with family and friends and going for long walks.
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.
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
A little more you might want to know about Nancy Lemon...
“I’ve spent the majority of my adult life working with and supporting others to feel more empowered in their jobs, life and personal self. Being able to work on a team that's mission is all about investing in young girls’ & boys’ positive growth...is truly a gift.”
Shannon is a Florida native, born and raised in Miami, FL. An outdoor adventure enthusiast she developed a love for all things outdoors at a young age. Growing up, her weekends were spent on a boat fishing and diving or camping in the Everglades and Florida’s east coast. She and her husband moved to Tampa in 1997 and have lived in the Bay area ever since. Shannon has been married to her college sweetheart for 24 years and has three busy children. Her oldest son is in the Coast Guard, middle son is a student at the University of South Florida, and daughter is a student at Randall Middle School. Any extra minute is now devoted to spending time with her family, travel, fishing, diving, backpacking, and watching her daughter play lacrosse.
Shannon is a career educator with a passion for bringing the wonders of the outdoors to students of all ages. She believes learning and interacting with the natural world encourages self-actualization and builds self-esteem.
She earned a master’s and bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Florida and worked in various positions within the world of education ever since. Shannon’s experience as a classroom teacher, program developer, professional development consultant, trainer, and literacy coach gives her the ability to meet students where they are and empower them to grow confidently while exploring new challenges.
In addition to instructing for Girls With Confidence, Shannon is the program manager for Mosaic’s Coastal Education Center where she brings students from their classroom environmental studies to a fully immersive hands-on experience in Tampa Bay’s estuary and coastline.
Jessica Thomas is a passionate mentor and leader in the Tampa Bay area. A successful entrepreneur, Jessica is the owner of South Tampa’s premier eyelash salon “ Glam Bella Studio”. Jessica developed a passion for the artistry of beauty and makeup at a very young age which resulted in her pursuing a career as a licensed esthetician focusing primarily on eyelash enhancement services and makeup artistry.
Jessica is a firm believer that you can never learn too much and knowledge is vital to ensure you provide your clients with excellent service.
Jessica Thomas brings a wealth of experience supporting and uplifting the youth community having established her own business called Future Beauty Boss Camp. She empowers and teaches girls in underserved communities about entrepreneurship and educating young ladies on how to create and successfully manage their own business.
"I was inspired to work with young girls because I was a teenage mother and it was the strong network of women who pushed me forward. They showed me even if your path in life is not perfect, you can still be successful. I believe it truly takes a village to raise children and I love to be a part of molding the future leaders of the world."
Amy Hobbs is the newest member of the team here at Girls with Confidence. With many years of experience, Amy is excited to hit the ground running in her new position as instructor. She loves helping everyone reach their full potential and seeing them succeed.
Amy has volunteered for 10 years in the school system. She has serves on the scout committee for Troop 610, and volunteered the last 4 years with the Incredibulls Special Olympics event. She has a giving heart and loving working with children.
Amy’s family is very active in their local church. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends. In her free time, she loves attending concerts and plays, traveling, being outside, and most of all being at her “Happy Place”, the beach. Born and raised in Arkansas, she lived most of her adult life in Tennessee. Amy married her best friend Chris in 2003. Their family relocated to Fishhawk in 2017. Chris and Amy have two sons, Tyler (17) and Connor (16) and two fur babies.
Abbey has over 20 years of self management, customer service and event scheduling experience. Abbey is the owner of a successful photography business. If you follow our @luckylemonfarm on Instagram, she posts such wonderful pictures of the animals. Abbey has 3 children. 13,11,& 3 years of age and has been married for 16 years to her high school sweetheart.
If they aren’t at the beach on a Sunday, they are working together on a house project. Abbey is a mix of an animal/nature lover and a task oriented, list-maker. Abbey is very resourceful and has been a tremendous asset to our farm. If she doesn’t know how to do something, she will figure out how! She loves the challenge of being told she can’t do something and we welcome her drive to continue to help our farm and animals thrive!
She’s a firm believer in working hard and leaving things better than you found them. "Perseverance will get you far in life and help you rest easy at night."