OUR MENTORS

 
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Our team of professional mentors have extensive experience in youth development and women’s studies.  Each member of our team has been background checked and throughly vetted.


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LYTASHA MARIE BLACKWELL

LyTasha is a writer, educator, motivator, and lover of words. She has been featured on stages with legends such as Nikki Giovonni, Dr. Johnetta B. Cole, Ericka Huggins and the late Dr. Maya Angelou. She is currently a Student Advocate and Adjunct Professor at Southern Connecticut State University (teaching Intellectual and Creative Inquiry Seminar). She has an M.A. in Women's Studies from Southern Connecticut State University where she focused on Programming and Curriculum Development. She is the Founder of "She's A B.O.S.S.-- Beyond Ordinary Setting the Standard" which focuses on young urban women ages 14-25.

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ERIKA BRUNWASSER

Erika Brunwasser is a New York State Certified counselor who has been working with K-12 students for more than eight years. Erika has worked in some of New York City's most diverse and largest public schools. During her time as a school counselor, she saw a great need for girls to have female role models and mentors.

 
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JENNIENNE BURKE

Jennienne Peoples Burke is a Stamford resident, longstanding mentor and community advocate for youth and educational opportunity. Mentored throughout her own high school years, Jennienne has paid if forward, serving as a mentor throughout the region and nationally for both high school and first generation college students.  Young Parent’s Speaks, a support group for young teen parents in Stamford, CT, A Better Chance of Darien mentoring high achieving minority girls from the NYC tri-state region and with national America Needs You Program’s New York City affiliate, to name few.  As the Vice President of the Stamford Board of Education, Jennienne is focused on developing district-wide college and career readiness goals to prepare students to navigate and work in 21st Century careers. 

Professionally, Jennienne works full-time for Aetna, a CVS Health company in healthcare quality.  Jennienne’s health career began as a Clinical Microbiologist after graduating with BS in Medical Technology and continued as Health Educator after completing her MPH at New York University.  Jennienne is married with two sons.

A lover of culture, creativity and traveling, Jennienne can be found “wandering around NYC neighborhood getting “lost in the sauce”...at the drop of a dime! Always an adventure, magical and restorative!

 
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KATIE CAMPBELL

Katie Campbell is a 7th grade Social Studies teacher at Saxe Middle School with 12 years of teaching experience. In addition, she has coached girls volleyball at the middle and high school level for ten years. She has her BA from Skidmore College and MA from Sacred Heart. She feels strongly about empowering girls to discover and explore the dynamic characteristics which make them unique and valuable parts of the larger community. Her life motto is, “Don’t forget to be awesome!"

 
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MEAGHAN DAVIS

Meaghan Davis is the Founder of The BRAVE Institute. She first established BRAVE in the Spring of 2013 while working as a social studies teacher in Connecticut. Meaghan attended the University of Connecticut for both her undergraduate degrees in History and Education, as well as her graduate studies in Education, Feminist Studies, Nonprofit Management, Peace Studies and the Human Right to Education. Her experiences with teaching and learning have had a profound and rewarding impact on her life and has further developed her genuine belief in the transformative power of education and leadership for social justice. Meaghan truly believes in the positive power of humans and she is determined to help humans discover their best self and realize their own full potential. She continues to be inspired everyday by the words, actions and stories of courageous people from around the world. Meaghan is fiercely dedicated to living BRAVE and bringing the BRAVE mission to life.

 
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ELISE DESIMONE

Elise is a third-year graduate student at Fairfield University, earning her sixth-year certificate in school psychology. She is completing her internship at Farmingville Elementary School in Ridgefield. Elise graduated with Psi Chi honors from University of Connecticut with her bachelor’s degree in psychology. Elise’s previous mental health experience includes working as a research assistant at the Anxiety Disorders Center at Hartford Hospital and being a coach at WeeZee, a therapeutic sensory gym for children. Elise’s passions that she’d like to bring into her mentoring include positive psychology, resilience, gratitude, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence. She’s so excited to help build confidence in our next generation of women!

 
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JENNIFER H. DEVINE

Jen has spent the bulk of her professional life working in all aspects of professional theatre in New York City and beyond, and she remains a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. Jen is the Founder and President of Mocking Bird Arts LLC, which has been providing creative educational, professional development, and coaching services to schools, organizations, and individuals since its inception in 2014. She is a 2004 summa cuma laude graduate of Hunter College, and this fall is commencing work on a Masters Degree in Management from Harvard University. Jen is also a devoted wife to Nicholas, the proud mother of two young kids, a dedicated volunteer, and actively developing several writing and speaking projects.

 
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KIMOLEE ERYN

Kimolee Eryn is a Hartford raised writer, self-published author, painter and filmmaker. Aside from her love of art, Kimolee has become an advocate for self-love as well as a candid voice for mental health and emotional wellness. She uses her art to advocate for social justice, women empowerment and against domestic violence. 

Kimolee is a storyteller utilizing her art forms to encourage self-reflection and growth. She enjoys the freedom to be vulnerable that creating provides. Along with writing and directing an experimental short film called Take Back Your Crown (which has been featured on several blogs including AFROPUNK.com) she has also released her debut book, Control: Ambitions Of A Fighter, which seeks to encourage readers to take account of their lives and be proactive about their mental health.  

Kimolee believes in creating for a purpose beyond the purpose of creating. She holds that a life should be lived not just to sustain itself but to cultivate peace, love and growth in all adjacent beings and hopes to exemplify that in all that she does.

 
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RICCI GOLD

Ricci is a recent graduate of Fairfield University with a degree in Spanish. She is also working as a Literacy Aide at her former elementary school. Ricci plans on returning to school in the fall of 2020 in order to pursue a masters degree in school counseling. One of Ricci’s main passions includes helping students one on one or in small groups to help them succeed as students and productive members of society. She also enjoys singing, attending musical performances, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.

 
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MARY-CAITLIN HARDING

Mary-Caitlin Harding is an attorney at the Victim Rights Center of Connecticut. The Victim Rights Center of Connecticut is non-profit organization that provides legal services to victims of crimes. Prior to working at the Victim Rights Center, she worked as an attorney representing children with disabilities to make sure they were receiving appropriate educations.  In her free time, Mary-Caitlin loves to spend to with friends and family, especially her 6-month old nephew! Mary-Caitlin just recently found out about LiveGirl and was incredibly inspired by its platform. She cannot wait to be a mentor!

 
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KELLY IDARRAGA

Kelly is the Support Group Coordinator and Bilingual Educator at The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education in Stamford, CT. She is responsible for co-facilitating support groups for primary and secondary victims as well as educating the community on topics regarding sexual violence both in English and Spanish. She aspires to help make a difference in young girl’s lives so that they may continue to be motivated and empowered.

 
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FARRELL LINDEMANN

Farrell Lindemann is a social worker who believes in the resilience, strength, and uniqueness of adolescent girls. Farrell graduated from Boston University in 2014 with a Masters in Social Work and a specific focus on clinical work with adolescents. She believes that important work happens for teenagers in a group setting, as teens will always remember the advice and encouragement they receive from each other. Farrell has worked with amazing and inspiring teen girls in a residential setting and currently spends her volunteer time as a mentor and group facilitator at her local church.  As a mother of a young daughter, an older sister, and female social worker her interest in empowering young women in Fairfield County is professional— and personal! 

 
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STEPHANIE LUCZAK

Stephanie’s interest and experience in child advocacy lie in creating more equitable opportunities for children and families, grounded in the social work value of dignity and worth of the person. She is a first-generation college student born and raised in New Britain, CT. Stephanie received her Bachelor’s Degree in both Political Science and Communications from the University of Connecticut, where she then went on to receive her Master’s in Social Work with a concentration in policy and practice. She currently works at the Help Me Grow National Center where she works to support a national network of 30 states implementing the Help Me Grow model, which focuses on helping families learn about early childhood development, linking families to appropriate resources, and improving the early childhood system to promote healthy child development. Previously, Stephanie has worked in different capacities with youth in foster care as well as children with disabilities. While much of her current work is focused at the systems level, Stephanie is also passionate about working directly with children and youth and she is excited to serve as a LiveGirl mentor!

 
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SARA NELSON

Sara is a seventh grade Social Studies teacher at Saxe Middle School in New Canaan. Sara attended the University of Connecticut where she studied History and Secondary Education. Sara previously worked as an Assistant Trip Director for the Alternative Breaks Program overseeing and training team leaders. She also served as an intern at the Connecticut Historical Society where she taught diverse students in grades K-12 from the Hartford area using artifacts, images, exhibits, and hands-on activities. Sara is passionate about gender equality, equal educational opportunity, and community service.

 
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CARLY NUSSA

Carly Nussa is a graduate student working towards a Masters in Education. She received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Connecticut in 2017 before deciding to pursue a career in education as a high school math teacher. Carly is currently working as a substitute teacher until she receives her teaching certification. She feels passionate about female empowerment and started volunteering with LiveGirl in 2018. She is so excited to be a mentor! 

 
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MEGAN PALLADINO

Megan is a New Canaan native and small business owner. She is a Quinnipiac University graduate with a BS in Business Management and enjoys channeling her creative energy into her event planning company Events by Megan Rose. Megan is passionate about encouraging girls to pursue their dreams and create their own opportunities. She is an avid believer in mentorship and leading by example.

 
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CAROLINE SIMMONS

Caroline B. Simmons serves as a Connecticut Congresswoman representing the 144th District in Stamford, Connecticut. She is House Chair of the Commerce Committee. Previously, Caroline worked at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for four and a half years. As Director of Special Projects in the Counterterrorism Coordinator’s Office at Homeland Security, Caroline provided support for DHS’s domestic and international counterterrorism programs. Before this, Caroline interned at the U.S. Department of State for the Middle East Partnership Initiative within the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, where she assisted with economic empowerment programs in the Middle East. Caroline received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in 2008 and a Master of Arts degree in Middle East Studies from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University in 2011. Caroline also studied at the American University in Cairo, Egypt and the Arabic Language Institute in Fez, Morocco. She currently serves on the Board of the Women’s Business Development Council.

 
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CHELSEA STARKS

Chelsea works as a freelance marketing consultant. She attended Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford, CT and is an alumni member of the Stamford/Norwalk chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc. Chelsea graduated cum laude from University of Hartford with a major in Marketing and minor in Psychology. In her Junior year, she was selected to be inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success, among the top-performing students. She was also honored as a member of Beta Gamma Sigma - the international business honor society. Chelsea donates spare time working with small groups at her church and attends service missions trips outside of the country. She is passionate about empowering women and young girls to realize their innate gifts and potential to pinpoint their goals and actualize their dreams.

 
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ANNETTE L. THOMPSON

Annette L. Thompson is a business owner and entrepreneur born and raised in Norwalk, CT.  She received her B.S from The Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and her EMBA from UCONN before starting her eclectic career in Marketing, Promotions, Project Management, Interior Decorating, Property Management, Legal Assistant and Event Planning.  In addition to her vast career, Annette is involved with many local organizations serving on their boards and as an active member.  Annette has served as Former Vice President and current Teen Advisor for the Stamford-Norwalk Chapter of Jack & Jill of America Inc., President of the Board for the Norwalk Mentor Scholarship Dollars of Scholars, Treasurer of the Board for Parkway Assembly of God in Norwalk, Junior Achievement Entrepreneurial Instructor at Norwalk High School and graduate Mentor of the Norwalk Mentor Program. When Annette is not working or active in her community, she enjoys planning adventures with her daughter Mackenzie and spending time her mother Ann.

 
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ALISON WALLER

Alison wears two hats at LiveGirl. She is the full-time Program Manager and serves as a Professional Mentor. In addition to her work at LiveGirl, Alison is a certified Sexual Assault Crisis Advocate and volunteers for The Center in Stamford. Alison graduated summa cum laude from the University of Hartford with a major in History and minor in Gender Studies and completed her Master’s Degree in Women’s History from Sarah Lawrence College.  Most recently, Alison served as Program Manager for Women Presidents' Educational Organization (NYC). Prior to this role, she worked for the American Friends Service Committee and was a Congressional intern for Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY).

 
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ASHLEY WATSON

Ashley is SO excited to be a mentor for LiveGirl! Ashley is a psychotherapist, life coach and kundalini yoga and meditation teacher with a decade of experience specializing in working with tweens, teens and young adult women heal anxiety, depression and any limiting beliefs that is holding them back from creating the life they desire. Ashley has a private practice both in Greenwich and Westport, CT where she brings her two dogs with her to see her clients. Ashley loves yoga, crossword puzzles and binge watching shows while cuddling with her husband and two dogs.

 
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TYLER WELCH

Tyler is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University with a degree in Communications and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Media Literacy and Digital Culture. She has a passion for learning and loves to connect with people. Tyler is excited to see what she can learn from LiveGirl. As a girl who could have used a program like LiveGirl, Tyler is excited to give back to young girls and further their self-confidence and empowerment by being a mentor.

 

EMILY WINTER

Emily Winter is a third year graduate student at Fairfield University, studying for her sixth year certificate of advanced study in school psychology.  Presently she is completing her full-year internship in school psychology at Joel Barlow High School in Redding.  Emily graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Connecticut College with her degree in psychology and human development, and Alpha Sigma Nu with her master’s degree in school psychology from Fairfield University.  A former three-season NCAA collegiate athlete, Emily ran cross country and track and field at Connecticut College, and presently coaches the girls’ team at Joel Barlow as well as train for half marathons.  Emily’s prior experience is in the mental health field, formerly working on an inpatient psychiatric unit at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, an adolescent residential treatment facility at Discovery Behavioral Health in Fairfield, as well as volunteering as a helpline counselor for the National Eating Disorders Association in New York City.  At Fairfield University, Emily is a body image and eating disorder researcher, seeking to understand the impact of school personnel language on developing student body image.  Emily is passionate about empathy and emotional intelligence, positive psychology, female empowerment through athletics, and overall helping girls feel confident! 

 
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JUANA YANES

Juana Yanes is the Counseling Coordinator & Child Advocate for The Center in Stamford, Connecticut. She is responsible for providing both English and Spanish crisis intervention and counseling to victims of sexual assault and their families throughout the community. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University and received her Masters of Science in Criminal Justice from Iona College. Juana is passionate about serving as a positive role model for girls while empowering them to be leaders.