Hardy Spotlight: Faith!

Meet our March Spotlight, Faith Barnes

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 March, we’re introducing you to Faith Barnes, chair of Hardy Girls Healthy Women’s Board of Directors. She is responsible for keeping things organized, fundraising for the organization, and helping to plan and facilitate all of our board meetings.

How did you get involved with Hardy Girls?
My introduction to Hardy Girls was about 13 years ago when I attended a workshop to learn about how I could empower my daughter and girl clients to understand media messages and take action.

What do you do at HGHW?
I joined the board in 2017 and currently I serve as the board chair.

What’s a typical day like for you?
On a typical day regarding work for HGHW I will look at and review the financial statements and if anything seems out of line I will note it and ask Kelli or the treasurer for an explanation, review committee meeting notes, consider people for contributions and/or board service, develop the agenda for the board meetings and the development committee meetings, develop the agenda for my monthly conversation with Kelli, and attend the 20th Anniversary Committee meetings via zoom. Right now I am focused on GR!A and trying to sell tickets by following up on emails I have sent to friends and family. My most important responsibility for HGHW is to thank our board members for all the work you do for HGHW. I don’t think I can thank you all enough for pulling your weight and moving us forward!

What’s one thing you love doing as part of HGHW?
What I love about being on the board of HGHW is having the chance to talk with people about the organization. I love listening to the stories from the Girls Advisory Board, Muses and Kelli, our Executive Director, and Sarah, our Program Coordinator.

What do you wish you’d known earlier or that someone had told you?
I wish someone had told me that the social constructs in our society were developed by white, heterosexual, eurocentric men. These constructs were assumed to be the only voice we needed to hear. I wish someone had told me that my voice and perspective were equally important!

What have you learned from Board Members, the Girls Advisory Board, and Muses?
From the board members, I have learned that they are willing to do the work for the organization if they can see that we are all working for the organization. The Girls Advisory Board has shown me the importance of connection; and Muses share their wisdom around how to listen and be patient with adolescents.

You have a free day to yourself — what do you do?
I love to be outside and get exercise so cross country skiing or biking or getting a massage or meeting up with one of my girlfriends.

Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about you?
I speak french and people tell me I’m funny!

What are you happiest doing when you’re not in school or at work?
Happiest being outside and doing something with my husband and, when they are around, my children.

Favorite place in Maine?
Sitting on the front terrace at our house on Mt. Desert Island.

Hardy Spotlight: Lily!

Meet our February Spotlight, Lily Wilson

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. Our February Spotlight is on Lily Wilson, one of HGHW’s amazing Muses! She is a senior at Colby College, originally from Milwaukee, WI. Read on to get to know more about her work at Hardy Girls and about life in Maine.

Hardy Spotlight

Lily Wilson, Muse

How did you get involved with Hardy Girls?
I got involved my freshman year when another Colby student I really looked up to told me about the Muse program. She graduated a few years ago but we got dinner last night and had a great time catching up on life (including HGHW!)

What do you do at HGHW?
I am a part of the Muse Program as a Muse, and I’m a program leader. That means, every week I meet with a Coalition Group from Waterville Junior High School with my co-Muse Katie. As a program leader I get to work with the wonderful Sarah Lentz (Program Coordinator) and fellow Colby student Meg Charest to create schedules and Muse trainings.

Hardy Spotlight

Lily Wilson, Muse

What’s a typical day like for you?
My role as a Muse means that every Tuesday I meet with the Girl’s Coalition Group. I also meet with the other program leadership pretty often to talk about what is ahead in the next few weeks!

What’s one thing you love doing as part of HGHW?
Working with the Girl’s Coalition Groups is amazing every single week. I am so inspired by the energy and perspectives that the group brings. Each student has so much brilliance in them! I especially love getting to see that brilliance grow in the group dynamic over the course of the year.

What do you wish you’d known earlier or that someone had told you?
That it is okay to be “too much.” I spent a lot of time trying to keep the things that really fired me up from ever being expressed too loudly, too seriously, or too often. I felt like I would isolate myself if I really got angry or was too persistent, especially about activism. HGHW has helped reinforce in me that there are communities of support all around, especially if we build them, and that I can get angry and get things done!!

What have you learned from Board Members, the Girls Advisory Board, and Muses?
I learn constantly from the Muse community! The way that they respond to challenging conversations in coalition groups, and the general commitment to raising the voices of young women and non-binary folks, are powerful examples I am always looking to follow!

You have a free day to yourself — what do you do?
I would get outside! A walk, skiing, surfing, or running. Maybe making some bread.

Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about you?
I played electric bass in a girl-band for one semester! I wasn’t very good and it didn’t last long, so it’s sort of secret. It was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done, though.

Hardy Spotlight

Lily Wilson, Muse

What are you happiest doing when you’re not in school or at work?
Spending time with friends and family. Really anywhere and doing anything (or nothing), but especially in the outdoors.

Favorite place in Maine?
So many to choose from! Tie between Tumbledown Mountain or Higgins Beach.

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 (period.org), 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

Hardy Spotlight: Kelli!

Meet our January Spotlight, Kelli McCannell

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. To start this new year, we’re introducing you to our phenomenal leader, Kelli McCannell. Kelli is HGHW’s Executive Director, and she does an incredible job helping this organization thrive and grow. 

How did you get involved with Hardy Girls?
I saw the organization on my first visit to Maine (in 2009) and stalked professionally since then. When the ED job opened up, I’d just had my second son (he was 4mths) and couldn’t resist applying.

Hardy Spotlight: Kelli

Kelli McCannell, HGHW ED, with members of GAB, board & staff

What do you do at HGHW?
I focus on operations and fundraising. Because we are a small nonprofit, I also do some programming (which I love!!). In operations, I make sure we have someplace to work, people to do the work, and a bunch of behind the scenes logistics. With fundraising, I make sure we can pay for all of that! 🙂

What’s a typical day like for you?
I’m typically applying for grants (or sending reports for ones we already received), following up with donors, checking in with coworkers, working on graphic design (flyers, letters, social media – oh my!), posting on social media, reading recent articles to follow trends on gender and girls’ development, and more! 

What’s one thing you love doing as part of HGHW?
There are soooo many things I love doing at HGHW. I LOVE talking to adults about how to take youth seriously. I love talking to young people about media and watching the whole conspiracy of girl/women stereotypes open up in their minds while they realize “No wonder I feel this way!” I love driving a group of teenagers and overhearing their conversations on the minutiae and the big parts of their lives – they are so smart and hilarious and caring.

What do you wish you’d known earlier or that someone had told you?
I wish I’d known that most things don’t matter. So many little things in life felt so big to me — getting a perfect score on a test, are people noticing that I didn’t shave my legs today? should I share my thoughts in this class/meeting/interaction? what if I sound stupid?, how long do I have to wait to respond to someone I want to talk to without seeming too eager?, do I have something in my teeth?, would friends tell me if I stink at this?, am I allowed to be proud of my artwork? — and it’s exhausting to care that much all the time! No one was really looking at me because they were mostly too self-conscious of themselves. No one remembers when I had stubbly legs or told an unfunny joke. There are better things to spend my energies on. How am I showing people I love them? How am I changing the world. Those are questions to hang out with!

What have you learned from Board Members, the Girls Advisory Board, and Muses?
Relationships have always been the most valuable mirror for me. When I see our Girls Advisory Board being comfortable in their voices and owning their passions, it inspires me to do the same. When I see folks setting healthy boundaries, it shows me ways to do that, too. I really appreciate watching folks be vulnerable, navigate challenging conversations, and be genuine. It helps me see examples of what that looks like and adapt it for myself. I’m always impressed with folks grace, humility, and strength. GAB and Muses also teach me lots of updated vocabulary and theories!

You have a free day to yourself — what do you do?
Oooh, so rare. A good chunk would be spent reading – outside if possible or some comfy place inside. And if I didn’t get completely lost in the book for the whole day, I’d add whatever art project I’m currently working on. Right now, it’s a quilt for my oldest friend. The math of quilting, the colors of the fabric, and the physical aspect of sewing are all so calming to me. I lose time and feel accomplished.

Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about you?
I love singing. I only do it in the car, the shower if no one is home, and sometimes with my kids. I think I’m pretty good, but depending on the song, my kids want none of it. 🙂

What are you happiest doing when you’re not in school or at work
Being silly with my kids. I love when we all get laughing and can’t stop. When we end up out of breath and giddy. It feels so joyful.

Favorite place in Maine?
Lake George in Skowhegan is such a little gem. There’s a big-enough beach, shade, place for dogs, and enough of a lake to canoe in. We can spend hours there with very little sibling-fights. When we leave, everyone has pink cheeks, sandy feet, damp butts, and is ready for an early bedtime.

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.
marketing@hghw.org 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.

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! 


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.”

Molly Woodhouse

Molly Woodhouse

Molly is a junior at South Portland and it is her first year on the Girls Advisory Board. She enjoys running, babysitting, science, volunteering, participating in her school musical, and helping others. Molly believes this is an amazing program in which she can empower girls around her community and cannot wait to see where this opportunity takes her.

Five Questions with Molly

Favorite book: Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Blythe Baird
Favorite feminist anthem: Praying by Kesha
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant: In school
Perfect day (in one sentence): A summer day at the beach with friends.