Hardy Spotlight: Katy!

Each month, those of us working with Hardy Girls Healthy Women want to share the talent and vision of some of our incredible staff, volunteers, students, and board members. For our holiday edition of the monthly spotlight, we’re psyched to introduce you to one of our newer board members, Katy Dodge. Every month Katy offers HGHW her valuable time and energy by serving on the Board of Directors, and bringing her skills to the development committee. She is currently on sabbatical as she does some soul searching to find the career and educational path that is in line with her values and interests. Katy grew up in midcoast Maine & now calls Portland home.

How did you get involved with Hardy Girls?
I was matched with Hardy Girls Healthy Women in 2019, after graduating from the Maine Association of Nonprofits Emerging Leaders Program, a program that teaches community leaders about nonprofit Board service.

What do you do at HGHW?
My involvement with HGHW started on the marketing committee, and I am now on the board of directors and development committee.

What’s a typical day like for you?
In my short time working with HGHW, I have already learned a great deal! I’ve learned about how nonprofits operate behind the scenes, the roles and responsibilities of board members and committee members, how to conduct efficient, productive meetings, how to write a press release! 

From the GAB (GIrls Advisory Board) members and Muses I hope to learn more about the experiences, interests, challenges, and new perspectives of this new generation of girls. So much has changed, even since I was in high school and early college. I am fascinated by how these changes in our culture, the social movements they are creating and witnessing, the vocabulary they possess will shape their girlhood and womanhood, and how they will then change the world. I am in awe!

What’s one thing you love doing as part of HGHW?
My favorite part of my involvement with HGHW is the sense of pride I get from contributing to the success of an organization that directly impacts the lives of girls and young women in such a profound and positive way. The mission of HGHW feels like essential work to me, and it gives me a sense of peace to know I am helping make tangible change for girls in a world that can feel so discouraging and harmful for them, and where progress feels so slow.

What do you wish you’d known earlier or that someone had told you when you were a younger woman?
I wish someone had encouraged and guided me to focus more of my mental and emotional energy on me, my “future self” and my hobbies and interests, particularly creative ones, when I was younger. As a tween and teen girl you start to get bombarded with damaging messages, both subtle and explicit, about where your value comes from. Most often it’s around your looks, weight, sexuality, and external validation from men and/or partners. I would encourage all girls and young women to interrogate and reject these messages and spend their energy developing their burgeoning talents and passions.

You have a free day to yourself — what do you do?
On a day to myself I love to workout, cool down with yoga, have a big black iced coffee and go on a thrift shopping adventure.

Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about?
I have a green thumb, create a mean Halloween costume, and am a pretty confident public speaker.

Favorite place in Maine?
My favorite place in Maine is any of its beautiful beaches surrounded by beach roses and sun. 

Hardy Spotlight: Molly!

Each month, those of us working with Hardy Girls Healthy Women want to share the talent and vision of some of our incredible staff, volunteers, students, and board members.

For our October spotlight, we were thrilled to hear from Molly Woodhouse – a member of HGHW’s Girls Advisory Board (GAB), and a board member. GAB is a program for 9 – 12 graders to work on their leadership skills, engage in social action projects, and keep the staff and the Board current on issues.
GAB’s mission: We are a group of Maine high school girls passionate about girls’ and women’s empowerment. We are inclusive of all races, classes, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientation, and abilities. We create community conversations, listen to girls and give them (and ourselves) opportunities to find their voice, support each other, create change, and embrace uniqueness.
GAB’s biggest annual accomplishment is the design and execution of all of the keynote speeches and workshops at the Girls Rock! Conferences.

We asked Molly a bunch of questions; read on to hear what she has to say!

How did you get involved with Hardy Girls?

I applied after my sophomore year in high school. I was thrilled to be involved in such an amazing organization and was thankful to have this platform to use for activism.

What program are you involved in? What is your role? Can you explain it a bit?

I am on the Girls Advisory Board, which is a group of high school girls. We put on conferences for 4th-8th grade girls and put on workshops informing them about different topics. Last year I put on a workshop on how women are perceived in the media. This year I am putting on a workshop on activism and how young girls can bring activism back to their communities. I am also on the board of directors and relay information between the two groups.

What’s a typical day like for you?

During our GAB meetings, we all chat about life and plan for our conferences. We learn about new topics by talking to different speakers. During the board meetings we discuss more about the nonprofit as a whole, and always looking for ways to improve programs.


What’s one thing you love doing as part of HGHW?

I love putting on the conferences and seeing the difference that we are making in the lives of young girls. I am constantly inspired by their eagerness to learn, but also to have a fun time doing so.

What do you wish you’d known earlier or that someone had told you when you were a younger woman?

I wish someone told me to cause a ruckus at a younger age!!

You have a free day to yourself — what do you do?

I love exploring new places and being outdoors. I would most likely drive to a mountain and hike to the top. I would love to sing and dance in the forest of unknown mountains. 

Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about?

I love to write poetry!!

What are you happiest doing when you’re not in school or at work?

I am happiest when I am in nature with friends. I love watching the sunset from the beach and I love the feeling of accomplishment after hiking a new mountain! I also love to relax, as I have grown up, I have learned the importance of laying down under a comfy blanket and watching tv.

Favorite place in Maine?

My favorite place in Maine has to be Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth! It is so beautiful and a great place to have a picnic with friends! 

 

Hardy Spotlight: Meg!

Each month, those of us working with Hardy Girls Healthy Women want to share the talent and vision of some of our incredible staff, volunteers, students, and board members. For our first monthly spotlight, we are super excited to introduce you to Meg Charest – one of Hardy Girls Healthy Women’s Muses, who is also serving on the Board of Directors this year. Muses, in case you don’t know, are students at Colby College who volunteer their time, passion, and energy to facilitate and participate in Girls Coalition Groups with middle schoolers in the greater Waterville area.
We asked Meg a bunch of questions; read on to hear what she has to say!

How did you get involved with Hardy Girls?
I grew up in the Portland area, so I knew Hardy Girls from seeing GAB in action and from the Girls Rock! Awards, but I really got involved with Hardy Girls when I came to college and learned more about the Girls’ Coalition Groups–I was really excited to work with girls* in the greater Waterville community and it has really been an amazing three years getting to know a bunch of brilliant young women* in the local schools.

What program are you involved in? What is your role? Can you explain it a bit?
I’m involved with the Girls* Coalition Groups program, so I go with a co-Muse once a week during the school year to a local middle school and we work with a group of about 10 female-identified young people and work together to think about the issues relevant to the girls in the group in their environments and together build capacity and community through working together to learn about the different issues that strike accord with the group. The role of a Muse is kind of like that of a facilitator at the beginning of the year, and by the end I’m a support figure as the group members develop relationships with one another and direct the group more independently.

What’s a typical day like for you as a Muse?
On a typical group day my co and I drive to the school we are working with, check in, and meet with our group in the same place every week for 45min to an hour. We usually start group with a Rose, Bud, Thorn (everyone shares something good from the last week, something they are looking forward to, and something that wasn’t so good), which I really like as a way of checking in with everyone and hearing everyone’s voice right off the bat. From there we have a conversation and sometimes do an activity about a topic that the group chooses–we’ve done women in politics, bullying, mental health, gender in sports, gender in media, and a bunch of others. It’s really cool to see what is interesting and salient to the girls* in the groups, and how they choose to direct their explorations of those topics–every group I’ve worked with has really amazed me with the intention they have with their interactions and the way they take care of each other and check in with one another as they delve into issues.

What’s one thing you love doing as part of HGHW?
I really love when I get to go to the Girls* Rock! Conference. I love watching GAB in action because they are just amazing, and it’s been a super empowering experience for the girls* in my groups, who, even for just a few hours, are surrounded only by people who want to know what they have to say and take them seriously. The whole event is just such an amazing example of what young women* are capable of accomplishing and such a celebration of power and information, and I love that it is an intergenerational space that is youth-driven in such a meaningful way. It’s an honor to be part of that space and experience the efforts of remarkable young women* paying off and creating impact.

What do you wish you’d known earlier or that someone had told you when you were a younger woman?

I wish I had known that it is possible to accomplish really amazing things with people who aren’t your friends through collaboration. I think as a woman, I’m really fortunate that society affirms friendships, especially friendships with other women because those relationships are incredibly powerful and deeply important to me. However, they aren’t the only relationships that are important to know how to cultivate, and I don’t think that young women are always shown that or encouraged to seek out relationships that aren’t romantic partnerships or friendships. For a long time I thought the people I worked best with would also be my close friends, and sometimes that is absolutely true, but as I’ve had more experiences, I’ve realized that really amazing things can happen through working relationships, and that it isn’t realistic, efficient, or necessary for all of those relationships to be friendships–sometimes a shared goal is all that’s needed to make change happen and starting to understand that has really changed the way I approach projects and develop action plans. Coalition work is so important!  

What have you learned, or can you imagine learning from the middle school students you work with?
I’ve learned so much from the students I work with, it’s hard to choose just one snippet to share… I think I’ve learned a lot about ways that saying no and/or developing an individual way to participate or not to participate is a really powerful way to share brilliance. Sometimes my co and I will come with an activity planned or an idea of how we would ideally like the conversation to move, and sometimes the group is really excited about those plans and sometimes they aren’t, and they share that feedback with us. Being assertive and sharing an idea or a need that is different from what peers are saying or from what people who are older than you are saying can be hard and takes a lot of courage, so that’s something I really admire about the students I work with and that has taught me a lot about how I approach resistance and sharing different ideas in other areas of my life.

You have a free day to yourself — what do you do?
I’d probably start the day with a run–I’m lucky enough to live only a few miles from the ocean when I’m not at school, so running to the water is one of my favorite things to do. From there, I’d probably read or write outside for a little bit, maybe at the beach, and then finish the day out by cooking dinner with some friends or family and enjoying some time with them.

Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about?
No useful ones but I can ride a unicycle and I’m trying to teach myself to fiddle which I’m hoping will be a talent soon…

What are you happiest doing when you’re not in school or at work?
I really love to be outside, especially with friends or family–hiking, running, biking, canoeing, and swimming are some of my favorite things to do in the outdoors, but I also really love to just hang around and read, paint, or write in my journal.

Favorite place in Maine?
I love all of it but I’d have to say the Downeast area–Schoodic, Blue Hill, and Stonington are some of my favorite places to visit.