Girls* Rock! Awards 2020

The Girls* Rock! Awards are usually my favorite night of the year. Being surrounded by my community, standing with girls, honoring the impressive work of local young people. Having to cancel the awards this year weighed heavily on our hearts. We’d committed to the honorees and their families, the community, the sponsors, young people – and then this pandemic seeped into our lives. Social distancing felt like the opposite of this event. Our goal has been to amplify their voices and bring people together in coalition… not avoid crowds and stay at least six feet apart.

In this separation, however, we’ve found moments of powerful connection. Video calls seeing the faces of our highschoolers planning how to virtually reach the middle schoolers from the (also cancelled) conferences. Emails from sponsors saying they support our mission, not just the events that couldn’t happen. Conversations with honorees and their families about recording videos of their speeches to create an online awards event – struggling with the size of video files, frustration with technology, and the mutual understanding of these weird times we are in together.

The creativity of connection that has emerged around the world illustrates the ingenuity of the Award winners. The systemic (racism, sexism, misogyny, xenophobia, and more) oppression being exposed during this pandemic highlights the vital work of the Award winners. The support rising up from neighborhoods and organizations exemplifies the power of community as built by people like these Award winners.

Join us for our first virtual Girls* Rock! Awards and hear from the honorees themselves how to challenge a society that ignores your brilliance. If you’re able, donate to our year-round work of taking girls seriously.

Executive Director, Hardy Girls Healthy Women

Thank you to our Sponsors!

2020 GR!A Keynote, Nadya Okamoto

Nadya Okamoto, who grew up in Portland, OR, is the 21-years-old Founder and Executive Director of PERIOD (, an organization she founded at the age of 16. PERIOD is now the largest youth-run NGO in women’s health, and one of the fastest growing ones here in the United States. Since 2014 they have addressed over 800,000 periods and registered over 500 campus chapters. In 2017, Nadya ran for office in Cambridge, MA. While she did not win, her campaign team made historic waves in mobilizing young people on the ground and at polls. Nadya published her debut book, Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement with publisher Simon & Schuster, which made the Kirkus Reviews list for Best Young Adult Nonfiction of 2018. Most recently, Nadya has become the Chief Brand Officer of JUV Consulting, a Generation Z marketing agency based in NYC. Nadya was named to InStyle Magazine’s “The Badass 50: Meet the Women Who Are Changing the Worldlist, along with Michelle Obama, Ariana Grande, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Nadya is a leading speaker about The Menstrual Movement, the power of Generation Z and youth activism, and overcoming adversity (and how she turned her experiences into a platform for advocacy).

Special Recognition, Safiya Khalid

Safiya Khalid is a politician and activist from Lewiston, Maine. A graduate of Lewiston High School and the University of Southern Maine, Safiya serves as a member of both the executive committee and the state committee of the Maine Democratic Party, and as vice chair of the Lewiston Democratic Party. She is currently working for Gateway Community Services as a Community Coordinator, helping asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants integrate into the American society. Prior to her current position, she worked as a clerk for the Joint Standing Committee on Labor and Housing in Augusta. She is the first elected Somali-American to the Lewiston City Council and is proud to be a member of the Emerge Maine Class of 2019. She is proud to serve and advocate for the people of Lewiston on the city council.

Meet our 2020 Girls* Rock! Award Recipients

Climate Activist
Anna Siegel, 13, Portland, is a youth climate activist. She was a founding member and leader of the Friends School climate action team, YELL (Youth Environmental Leaders League). The club joined with other local groups and helped organize and participate in city and state-wide rallies. Anna is a member of 350 Maine and Maine Youth for Climate Justice, as well as a representative of US Youth Climate Strikes (USYCS). As the Maine State Lead from USYCS, she organized the March 2019 climate strike and rally in Portland, which had over 800 youth in attendance, and the September 2019 global climate strike, also in Portland, with over 1,000 youth attending. Anna presented at TEDxDirigo last fall where she shared her experience of becoming a leading youth activist at 13. In addition to climate activism, Anna is passionate about art, wildlife, and birds.

Community Organizer
Lutie Brown, 19, Waterville, is blazing a new trail for girls interested in community organizing. When 75 Colby student and faculty votes were called into question following a city referendum vote, Lutie was one of three students to testify before the Voter Registration Appeals board on behalf of her peers. On the heels of that experience, Lutie campaigned to secure the Ward 3 seat on the City Charter Commission in November of 2019 and won. The road to victory was paved with vociferous opposition, but Lutie was not deterred because she understood the importance of student representation in the city’s charter reforms. In addition to her commission seat, she is a double-major sophomore, Chief of Staff of the Maine College Democrats, and the Local Engagement Chair of the Colby College Democrats.

Racial Equity Advocate
Gracia Bareti, 17, Westbrook, is a senior at Westbrook High School. She is of Congolese and Rwandan descent and is a first generation U.S. citizen. Gracia writes and speaks about her multicultural experience as a way to help other first generation children living in the U.S forge better relationships with their parents. She wants them to know they have a right to exist in both the culture to which they are born and the American culture in which they’re being raised. Gracia serves as a student representative for her public school board and is a supporter (as well as former camper) of the nonprofit, Seeds of Peace. In 2019, she attended Dirigo Girls State and Girls Nation where she was awarded Outstanding Senator in Washington D.C. She was 1 of 140 delegates worldwide to attend the International Congress of Youth Voices in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In late 2019, Gracia was a presenter at TEDxDirigo, where she gave an inspiring talk about that included her vision for “legislation that confronts an education system that is not representative of the people that utilize it, nor a world it exists within.” Gracia hopes to Major in International Relations with a possible minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies.

Morgan LaRochelle, 14, Hermon, is an award-winning inventor and a health advocate. As a Type 1 Diabetic, Morgan tests her glucose daily, which can be a frustrating process given that testing strips are very sensitive and results can be skewed if the stips make contact with dirty fingers prior to use. In response to an assignment from her science teacher, Morgan developed a Blood Glucose Test Strip Dispenser that inserts the strip directly into the monitor, eliminating contamination hazards. The device won first prize at the Maine Invention Convention in March 2019. She went on to compete at the national event where she won one of three Young Visioneer awards and placed 2nd in the eighth-grade category. Morgan is currently seeking a patent for her device so  it can be scaled for wider distribution. She also uses her voice to educate her peers about the severity of type 1 diabetes. She has personally endured bullying since receiving her diagnosis and believes that sharing her experience can open doors to more compassionate conversations about the disease.

Hardy Girls Healthy Women takes girls* seriously through year-round, statewide programs that put the power in their hands to challenge a society that ignores their brilliance. We dare adult allies to join us in standing with girls.

* self-identifying girls and gender expansive folks

Girls Rock! 2020 Conferences

March 14, 2020
It is with regret and disappointment that we have cancelled the Girls Rock! Conferences due to the health risks posed by COVID-19. As you are aware, health concerns hit much closer to home this week.

Our conferences bring so many young people together in coalition and the consequences of cancelling weigh heavily on us. However, the consequences of not cancelling felt much more dire. It is a decision we did not take lightly.

The Girls Advisory Board (our high-school group who plans and runs the conferences) will meet soon to discuss how to offer any portions of the conference online. We will provide updates on this very soon.

Please take care of yourself. Wash hands often. And thank you for standing with girls.

Girls Rock! Conferences are planned BY girls FOR girls. The high school girls on the Girls Advisory Board choose topics for the conference that are relevant to them AND YOU! GAB members design the workshops, are the speakers, and the workshop facilitators too. It’s a fun-filled day of learning, sharing, growing and includes lots of girl-powered activism!
The conferences are open to girls* in grades 4-8 and their chaperones. Registration is $20 per person with full and partial scholarships available. Lunch and a t-shirt are included with your registration. Conferences run from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and check-in begins at 8:30 a.m.

Thank you to our 2020
venue partners!

 Girls Rock! Southern Maine (PORTLAND)

Girls Rock! Eastern Maine (BANGOR)

Girls Rock! Central Maine (WATERVILLE) 

Hardy Girls Healthy Women takes girls* seriously through year-round, statewide programs that put the power in their hands to challenge a society that ignores their brilliance. We dare adult allies to join us in standing with girls.

* self-identifying girls and gender expansive folks.


Join the #JanuHairy2020
and awareness campaign

At Hardy Girls Healthy Women (HGHW), we’re interested in asking questions — of ourselves, and of the culture that shapes us. For the month of January, we’re thinking critically about our relationships with body hair. Why do we shave, or not? And do we make those decisions for ourselves? 

Join us in our #JanuHairy2020 fundraiser and awareness campaign! Start conversations about body hair, listen deeply to the folks who share their stories, and make a financial donation of any amount to support HGHW programming that helps girls* across Maine challenge a society that ignores their brilliance. 

This is how you can participate in #JanuHairy2020

1. Sign up and donate the money you’d spend on hair removal to Hardy Girls 

Donate your hair-removal money to building coalitions of girls across the state of Maine, and save your shaving-time for squashing gender norms!

Please don’t let money stop you from participating! We’ve set these levels of participation to accommodate (hopefully) everyone:
$10.35 – No razors for me this month!
$31.65 – Skipping my monthly bikini wax.
$84.40 – Brows, legs, and bikini wax will just have to wait.
$1 – I’m a student/don’t have the cash, but want to participate.


2. Become one of the 31 brave folks to be a part of our
#JanuHairy2020 photo essays

Share your personal story and experiences learning hair-related gender norms.
E-mail with #JanuHairy2020 in the subject line to receive more information about how to participate in the photo essays.

3. See what it’s like not to shave for a month!

What if you just didn’t shave, wax, or pluck for a month? What would you notice? How would you feel? Would other people notice? What would they say? Try not removing hair for a month to challenge the way you think about your body and the choices we all make about body hair.

4. Start conversations on social media with #JanuHairy2020

Ask your friends and family what they think about body hair and gender expectations on your social media accounts, or share a selfie and your experiences with body hair and learning gender expectations with your social circle. Start interesting conversations and use the #JanuHairy2020 hashtag!

Feeling bold? Try all 4 of the above!

Get creative! See what it’s like not shaving. Or donate personal care products to a women’s shelter. Talk with someone you trust about why they do or do not shave.

We welcome the participation of anyone who wants to challenge gender norms around body hair. We’d love for each person to choose a way to participate meaningfully.

Sign up to donate for #JanuHairy2020 to help us measure the fundraising progress.

Melissa Lozada-Oliva

Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a nationally-recognized poet and educator living in Queens. Her poetry–as the 2015 National Poetry Slam Champion who is widely known for her viral take down of the speech police and author of Peluda (Button Poetry)–explores, interrogates, and redefines the intersections of Latina identity, feminism, misogyny, nihilistic humor, and what it means to belong. “My poems are all about being a Latino child of immigrants, never having enough money, and the way my sadness for boys and my sadness for the world collides,” she told Vulture. “I want to say that I’m trying to make myself (and other millenials of color) feel less like an alien, but really, I’m trying to say that it’s okay to be an alien.”

Melissa’s work has been featured in REMEZCLA, Glamour, Maudlin House, Washington Square News, Luna Luna Magazine, The Kenyon Review, Fierce by Mitu, and Herstory. She is currently an MFA candidate at New York University, where she will start teaching in Spring 2019. Melissa has also spoken at Tufts, Johns Hopkins, and Harvard universities along with The Bell House, Brooklyn Bazaar, and Smith College. She facilitates and teaches workshops on slam poetry, the basics of storytelling and how to access humor through poetry.

Read/see/listen to her:
Her website, her twitter, her Instagram, watch her slam poetry especially Like Totally Whatever and Bitches

Five Questions with Melissa

Favorite book:
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Carmen Maria Machado
Favorite feminist anthem: Killer by Palehound
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant: twitter
Perfect day (in one sentence): I get a package. Inside the package is endless socks. Inside the socks is wads of cash. Then I get a phone call from Mark Ruffalo. He says “I love you Melissa & I always have” I say “I am taken.” He says “That is too bad but I thought I would take a chance.”

Shannon Carlock

Shannon Carlock, Administrative Assistant, grew up in Skowhegan and recently returned to Maine after many years spent fulfilling her teenage dream of living in big cities. She received her BA in women’s studies from UCLA and comes to HGHW with 15 years of experience as an independent support specialist and project manager. Prior to joining Hardy Girls, she co-founded and served as project manager of the Women’s Health Council of Benton Harbor, a citizen-led organization that transforms health outcomes through awareness, education, and advocacy. In addition to her work with Hardy girls, she serves on the board of Somerset Humane Society, leads the Maine chapter of Adoptees Connect, Inc., and continues to provide support services to entrepreneurs and creators.

Shannon lives in Canaan with her dachshund and 3 rescued cats. She never leaves home without her journal, a book, coffee, water, and pens. 

Five Questions with Shannon

Favorite book: The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Fran Meneses
Favorite feminist anthem: So many! But I’ve gotta go with No Scrubs – TLC, because Left Eye’s rap is still so good.
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant: Anyplace where I least expect to be confronted by an opportune moment.
Perfect day (in one sentence): A full tank of fuel, country roads, a good playlist, and the anticipation of discovering landscapes, eateries, and thrift stores as yet unknown to me.

Julie Zeilinger

Originally from the small town of Pepper Pike, Ohio, Julie Zeilinger had a big, bold idea to share with the world: what if feminism wasn’t a dirty word anymore? Julie is the founder and editor of The FBomb, a feminist blog and online community for teens and young adults, which she created when she was just 16 years old. Since then, she’s become a leading voice for teen feminists everywhere. It’s no surprise she was named one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Shake The World”, one of the “Eight most influential bloggers under 21” by Women’s Day Magazine, and one of Forbes Magazine’s “2016 30 Under 30”. Her writing has appeared in various publications including Forbes, Huffington Post, and CNN, and she managed to author two books before the age of 20: A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word (2012) and College 101: A Girl’s Guide to Freshman Year (2014). She is currently the content Strategist at Supermajority. She speaks often and to many. Her Twitter.

Five Questions with Julie Zeilinger

Favorite book: Everything Zadie Smith writes
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Favorite feminist anthem: Formation (Beyonce)
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant:  Twitter 
Perfect day (in one sentence): Sleeping in, eating a lot, and reading a good book.
How are you making a ruckus? By using my voice as a storyteller to tell truth to power.


CJ – Waterville High School – Vassalboro

Cj is a freshman at Waterville high school, and and it is their first year on the Girls Advisory board. They enjoy watching anime and cartoons, reading, volunteering, math, and art. Cj believes that this program is a benefit to everyone, even those who do not consider themselves feminists, and they are eagerly await the ways that they can enrich their community.

Favorite book: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Amelia Earhart
Favorite feminist anthem: Can’t Pin Me Down – MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant: Online
Perfect day (in one sentence): A hangout session with my friends.
How are you making a ruckus? I’m helping out at my local food bank.


Sophia – North Haven High School – North Haven

Sophia is a Freshman at North Haven Community School. Her favorite things to do are play fiddle, go swimming, and spend time with friends. She also participates in Basketball, Track, Rowing, Theatre, and is the student manager of the school garden. Sophia is looking forward to her first year of GAB and hopes to make a positive difference in the world.

Favorite book: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Amandla Stenberg
Favorite feminist anthem: Run The World (Girls) – Beyoncé
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant: In the car with Friends
Perfect day (in one sentence)A Summer day playing music and spending time with Friends. 
How are you making a ruckus?


Coltrane – Waterville Senior High School – Waterville

Favorite book: “Pay It Forward” by Catherine Ryan Hyde or “Wonder” by RJ Palacio
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Michelle Obama
Favorite feminist anthem: It’s kind of corny, but i’d have to say it’s “Amigas Cheetahs” by the Cheetah girls.
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant: my school cafeteria
Perfect day (in one sentence): Hanging out with my friends at the beach all day.
How are you making a ruckus? I am causing a ruckus in the community by asking questions, sharing my opinion, and making other people think and question what the are saying or think that they believe in.

Sarah K.

Sarah K. – Mount Desert Island High School

Sarah is a junior at Mount Desert Island High School and is passionate about feminism and music. She spends her time reading about powerful women, practicing her trumpet, and singing. She is a student representative for the school board, and is a member of TRI-M. She also enjoys spending time with her dog, Gus, and smashing the patriarchy!

Favorite book: Becoming by Michelle Obama
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Favorite feminist anthem: Like a Girl by Lizzo
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant: in a room full of anti-feminists
Perfect day (in one sentence): Driving around and listening to music with my friends!
How are you making a ruckus? By not being afraid to challenge the status quo in terms of social justice.