We are excited to announce a new format for empowHER 2021 - stay tuned for registration soon!

2020 Leadership Retreat for Girls

April 25, 2020 @ The Breslin Center

The 2020 empowHER Leadership Retreat is cancelled as of March 23, 2020.

Out of an abundance of caution, the 2020 empowHER Leadership Retreat has been cancelled due to COVID-19. Learn more here.

All participants must be registered and have the following forms filled out prior to participations:

Join us for a one day retreat for girls in grades 4 through 9.

In celebration of our five years of reaching young girls with empowerment and inspiration, and in order to improve our ability to reach an even more diverse group of young women, we are pleased to announce an updated one day format for 2020.

This one day retreat comes in response to participant feedback and will allow us to concentrate on the most effective sessions of the event. It also maximizes space, presenters, volunteers and commitment from both parents/guardians and attendees.

With the help of sponsors, we reach girls from the 4th through 9th grades with support and education through our interactive workshops. empowHER girls embrace their strengths and differences, build their self-confidence and participate in giving back to their communities.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsorships and grants make this event accessible to all girls.

Support comes from corporate and individual gifts, as well as grants from charitable foundations.

Thank you to our amazing 2020 Sponsors!

Empowerment Sponsors

Confidence Sponsors

Resiliency Sponsors

Thank you to our 2020 Sponsors! We cannot do this event without our sponsors. They are critical to the success of our event every year.

In addition to being a part of empowHERing 450 young girls, and the promised logo placement and sponsor recognition listed in the sponsorship packages below, your logo and empowHER sponsorship is promoted through the following outlets (as shown as actual media and digital coverage in 2019 with an expected increase in 2020).

Mentoring Opportunities

Looking for an uplifting and exciting mentor opportunity?

We need women 18 – 24 years of age to mentor around 10 young women in 4th – 9th grade.

Mentoring for the empowHER Leadership Retreat means:
• Being a role model,
• listening ear, and
• facilitator for your group on April 25, 2020.

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Volunteer Opportunities

Are you looking for a fun-filled, fulfilling and active volunteer opportunity?

Volunteer to help empowHER 450 4th – 9th grade young women!

We are looking for individuals who are available either the afternoon of April 24, 2020 for setup or the event day of April 25, 2020 (or both)!

Past volunteers have shared how fulfilling the experience is and the overwhelming sense of gratitude in being able to help potentially change the trajectory of so many young women’s lives!

Itinerary/Schedule (8:00am - 3:30pm)

2020 Retreat Sessions

Keynote - Anne Bonney

Leaping into the Unknowns

Life requires a lot of decisions. Unknowns accompany those decisions. Unknowns mean risk, and risk’s co-pilot is fear! What a fun combination! Many people allow their fear of unknowns stop them from moving forward, but not after this presentation! In this fun, interactive keynote, courage igniter Anne Bonney gifts the audience with tactics for dealing with that fear. She debunks common myths about fear, and energizes everyone to dive into unknowns and create a strong, successful, resilient life.

Anne Bonney is a fun, energetic speaker, author, podcaster and workshop facilitator. After 20 years in highly successful leadership positions, Anne founded Different Shoe Enterprises and now uses her experience, education, and expertise to ignite her audience’s courage to embrace discomfort; in change and in communication. She shares fun and relevant stories, time-tested knowledge and immediately applicable strategies for making positive changes in your life.

4th & 5th Grade Sessions

Confidence is Power

We will discuss the importance of thinking about the body in a way that focuses on what it can do rather than on how it looks. Within this framework, we will explore listening to your body and learning what it needs, moving your body in a way that is best for you, and foods that fuel you in order to build confidence and self love.
4th & 5th Grade

Presented by Kyle Holsinger-Johnson, Bianca Guess, and Nikki Racine

Building Community through Kindness

Often times building friendships is no easy task, this workshop will help girls learn the tools in creating and sustaining community through the lens of kindness, compassion, and genuine connection.
4th & 5th Grade

Presented by Sakina Ibrahim and Morgan Stone

6th & 7th Grade Sessions

Social Media: Friend or Foe?

In this workshop, participants will explore their relationships with social media. We will also explore how social media can be used as a tool for building your own brand and as a creative outlet. Participants will leave with a renewed sense of purpose related to their engagement with social media, and use it more as a tool for growth rather than a source of stress and symbol of social pressures.
6th & 7th Grade

Presented by Isabella “Izze” Copeland and Stacey Fenton

ConqHER Your Stress

Worry and stress can be challenging; however, these feelings can be useful, motivating, and productive. Learn how to recognize when anxiety becomes too much and develop techniques to promote courage in the face of fear and stress.
6th & 7th Grade

Presented by Natalie Moser

Be Kind In Your Self Talk

Sarah Bove is a mental health therapist who owns her own private practice in East Lansing. Sarah received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and her Master’s degree in social work from Michigan State University. She specializes in treating teens and college students. Sarah is a certified TRAILS coach through the University of Michigan, a program designed to integrate mental health into the school system. She is passionate about helping young women manage stress and anxiety and be the best version of themselves.
6th & 7th Grade

Presented by Sarah Bove

8th & 9th Grade Sessions

Capturing Confidence for the Teen LeadHER

In this workshop we will discuss how to develop confidence, how to summon it when we need it, and how it can help with our leadership in school, clubs, sports and other activities. We’ll also talk about connecting with other people, and some specific skills that we can put into action to make new friends, and encourage people to follow us.
8th & 9th Grade

Presented by Anne Bonney

#GirlBoss: Owning Your Success

This powerhouse panel of CEOs will inspire participants to set out on a path toward their dreams. Each panelist will share her journey to becoming a #GirlBoss – the challenges, the celebrations, and the lessons they learned. Being a leader starts with finding your voice and believing in your goals, and these leaders will tell you all about it!
8th & 9th Grade

Presented by Jill Marlan, Amanda Hayhoe-Kruger, Kelly Preston, and Janice Milligan

Parent Session

Boundaries and Bravery: Understanding How to Best Support Your Youth

Samara Hough is the Clinical Supervisor for Michigan State University Center for Survivors. She received her Master’s degree in Social Work from Wayne State University with a concentration in Family Systems. Samara has a passion for working with survivors and families. She is a native of the Flint area where she and her partner Eddie Hough have two children Chris (20yrs) and Tahlia (8yrs).
Parent Session

Presented by Samara Hough

Self-Defense Workshop

Self-Defense: Options for Safety & Confidence

This self-defense workshop serves as an introduction to verbal and physical skills that will help girls realize their personal power. Girls will learn physical techniques standing up and also effective movements on the ground. This will be accompanied by drills to help develop strong verbal skills.

Presented by Tanya Panizzo

Giving Back to Your Community

Community service has always been an important part of empowHER. This year, our empowHER girls will help benefit “Suitcases 4 Kids”, created by local teen, Skylar Medes. Read below to find out what you can bring to help this great organization!

At our closing session, participants will get to meet Skylar and hear from ePIFanyNOW, another organization who helped Skylar reach her dreams!

Suitcases 4 Kids

Suitcases 4 Kids was founded in 2014 by Skylar Medes! The Medes family has been a foster family for seven years and have had 15 foster children during that time. When Skylar was in the 6th grade she noticed that most of the foster kids that came into their home had very little clothing, personal care items or a suitcase/bag to carry their items. Some children would have clothes and other items they brought with them that they carried in a garbage bag or a paper box, but most of them came with only the clothes they were wearing. This made her realize that when children come into a new foster home, they would not have many essential items they need right away. So, Skylar started to collect gently used clothes, suitcases/bags and personal care items to give to her foster siblings. Eventually she expanded her donations and has been able to offer a suitcase full of belongings to over 300 foster children. When she won the 2017 Y-PIF (Youth Passing It Forward) Award, with the help of Sally Babbitt (a local lawyer) she decided to become a non-profit organization.

We are asking empowHER participants to help Skylar and her organization! If you can please bring a donation for children in foster care, you will be helping kids in your community. Personal care items are always needed: socks, underwear, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo/conditioner or lotion, or gently used suitcases/bags. Skylar will make sure that these donated items are given to children in foster care so that they can have items of their own! Thanks for your help!

Giving Back


The mission of ePIFanyNow™ is to create a revolution of positive transformational experiences through exponential acts of kindness. The spelling is a bit unusual… but you too can have an epiphany right now to Pass – It (Kindness) – Forward. We know that when you do something kind for someone else, it’s eventually returned to you! We believe strongly that Mahatma Gandhi was onto something big when he said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Each year ePIFanyNow™ organizes a large group of people to come together and celebrate the power of kindness. If you want to experience something powerful (non-religious and not political) and lots of fun, then please join us for our annual gathering. We will honor local youth passing kindness forward with the annual Y-PIF™ Award and we will also honor a local HERO making a difference. The next ePIFanyNow™ event is scheduled for Sunday, May 3, 2020 from 1-3 p.m. at the main headquarters of the MSU Federal Credit Union located at 3777 West Road in East Lansing.
Giving Back

Presented by Carrie Rathbun Hawks

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