Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG) is a multi-generational mentorship organization that connects professional women, college women, and elementary school girls. We champion the aspirations and promote the potential of girls from under-resourced communities through innovative mentorship programming.
Every week, we bring college women mentors together with girls in grades 3-5 at program sites around the Pittsburgh area. Using our unique, skill-building curriculum, mentors and mentees explore the stories of strong female role models and engage in growth-fostering activities and discussions. Our college women also build strong mentoring relationships with professional women, known as Strong Leaders, through one-on-one matches and Group Mentoring events.
Harvard University freshman Lindsay Hyde founded SWSG in Boston in 2000. The organization expanded to Pittsburgh in 2006, with Carnegie Mellon University as the only area college chapter and just two program sites. Today, SWSG Pittsburgh has grown to include six college chapters and operates in 40 sites across the region, serving more than 700 girls annually.
Create a pipeline of strong female leadership in and around Pittsburgh.
Facilitate opportunities for college women to receive support, career guidance, and an experienced perspective from local professional women.
Provide unique, skill-building curriculum grounded in strong female role models for girls in under-resourced Pittsburgh communities.
200+ college mentors from six college chapters are empowering over 700 girls at 40 program sites.
Laura Freedman, Partner, Southpointe Wealth Management of UBS Financial Services - Regional Board Chair
Hazem Alsahlani, Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives, UPMC HealthPlan
Lori Benvenuto, Partner, Ernst & Young
Nicole Bechtold, JD, Attorney, Reed Smith
Hank Cochran, Director, Financial Accounting Services and Support, Arconic
Louise Herrle, Managing Director, Capital Markets, Incapital
Aleya Crable Jennings, AVP, Group Account Director, Gatesman Agency
Kathleen Lovett, VP IT, Customer Channels Group, Thermo Fisher Scientific
Beth Marcello, Women’s Business Development Director, PNC
Michele McGough, President & CEO, Solutions4networks
Lee Ann Munger, Development Officer, United Way Women's Leadership Council
Toni Murphy, VP, Comcast Business Keystone Region
Savita Narasimhan, International Development Consultant
Cristina Ruggiero, Executive Director, National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh Section
Dawn Sauter, Founder, Workscape Inc.
Kristina Williams, Chief Operating Officer, Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh
Latasha Wilson-Batch, Executive Director, Best of the Batch Foundation
Prior to joining Strong Women, Strong Girls, Dr. Horner received her doctorate from Tulane University’s interdisciplinary City, Culture and Community program, with a concentration in Social Work. Her research examined innovative strategies for promoting social-emotional wellness among adolescent women exposed to risk or trauma. While pursuing her doctorate, Dr. Horner also founded HerStory NOLA, a mentorship project that leveraged college women as mentors to teach the art and skill of digital storytelling to young women and girls in New Orleans’ schools and youth centers.
In 2014, she was a recipient of Tulane University’s Changemaker Catalyst award as well as a NewDay Challenge grant for her work with HerStory. Dr. Horner has also presented nationally and internationally at academic conferences on HerStory’s unique model of youth development. She received her Masters of Science in Urban Geography from the London School of Economics in 2007, and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Urban Studies from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005. She was a 2004 National Truman Scholar.
“I am beyond excited to be returning to Pittsburgh to join the team at Strong Women, Strong Girls,” Dr. Horner said. “For over a decade, SWSG and its partners have worked to ensure that young women and girls can grow to their fullest potential by providing unique opportunities for positive support, skills development and mentorship. I look forward to continuing this work and to expanding our impact in the region. An investment in girls is an investment in our collective future.”
Dr. Horner has also served as the lead staff member for the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s Charm Bracelet Project and the Director of Operations for Carnegie Mellon University’s Hear Me initiative. In addition, she has worked directly with diverse groups of women, girls, and children as a career mentor, volunteer coach, teacher, and Big Sister. A proud native of Pittsburgh’s Northside, she spends her free time running on the city’s river trails, watching Steelers games, and cooking vegetarian food for her friends and family.
Raenelle Lowery joined Strong Women, Strong Girls in September 2015 as a Program Associate and AmeriCorps volunteer. She served SWSG through a Public Allies Apprenticeship for the 2015-16 program year and was hired as a Program Coordinator in the summer of 2016. A Pittsburgh native, the majority of her life has been centered around the east end. She has served as an academic tutor and mentor at Lincoln Elementary School and strives to be a resource and positive role model within her community. Raenelle studied International Relations at the Penn State University from 2011-13. Her passion for service influenced her decision to join Public Allies during the 2014-15 program year. During this time, she served as a Women’s Resource Center Coordinator with the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh, where she provided hundreds of women with support in accessing critical resources. Upon completion of her term with SWSG, Raenelle plans to complete her studies in International Relations and Women’s Studies.
Kelsey Waros joined SWSG as Program Associate for Site Quality and Performance in January of 2017. Kelsey comes to SWSG from a background in nonprofits. Prior to joining the SWSG team, Kelsey served as Communications Coordinator and Youth Leader at the Wilkinsburg Youth Project through Americorps. Her experience with Americorps solidified her career path in serving the communities of Pittsburgh. Kelsey has a wide range of experiences including working with the homeless population in Washington D.C. and teaching high school youth about gentrification trends through a global service learning nonprofit. She is passionate about fair trade practices and sustainability, and hopes to assist in creating a culture of empowerment, value, and mutual respect for women everywhere. Graduating in 2014 with a degree in Strategic Communication, she hopes to continue her education and major in International Development with a focus in International Organization Management.
Email Kelsey at [email protected]Kelsey at [email protected]
Before joining Strong Women, Strong Girls in December 2017, Kimmi Baston served as a communications professional in Clinical Marketing at UPMC. She graduated from Waynesburg University in April 2017 with a degree in journalism, marketing, and public relations after spending two years as the Executive Editor of Waynesburg’s national award-winning student newspaper. Kimmi’s time at Waynesburg secured her passion for both communications and service, which she seeks to combine in her work today. She spent three college breaks on domestic and international service trips with the school, in addition to engaging in a mission trip with her home church each summer for the last 12 years. Kimmi is a lifelong volunteer in her home town of North Huntingdon, PA.
Candace Carter has joined SWSG Pittsburgh as our Volunteer and Donor Engagement Manager. She is a native of Memphis, TN who completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Memphis earning her bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Nonprofit Management. Soon after graduating, she accepted an invitation to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay, South America where she focused on women and youth empowerment through entrepreneurship, leadership, and business management workshops. After completing 2 ½ years of service, Candace returned to Memphis, TN and worked for the local government assisting probationers with reentry into society by directing them to local resources and readjustment classes. In effort to continue to be proactive and informed, she attended Duquesne University’s MBA program focusing on Sustainable Business Practices to further advance her skills to be an asset to an organization with a mission to support youth and women.
“My Professional mentor helped me identify various professional goals, and she even wrote me a letter of recommendation for a great internship.”
“There was not a day that I left my site uninspired.”
“SWSG is a very rewarding experience for both mentors and mentees. I enjoy being a part of the greater SWSG community in Pittsburgh and feeling supported by everyone.”
“…one of the girls said…she now feels like a “strong and powerful black woman!” And has dreams of creating a career for herself.”
I watched many of my mentees gain confidence and learn to believe in themselves throughout the semester.