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The beginning of the voyage

Dear Community,

I was asked why I am so passionate about the Dream Queen Foundation and Gals Lead Teen Mentorship Program. I have been pondering the question and decided to write an open letter to you, the community to explain myself and to inform you of why you should be as passionate as I am.

As a child I was bullied, had multiple medical diagnoses and situations that I could not control. I thought each of those situations or what I call circumstances were there to warn me, to protect me and to keep me in my place. The place fate had chosen for my life. It wasn’t until I was 36 years old that I discovered that those circumstances don’t define me but my reactions and choices are what make me who I am. This discovery has shaped the last eight years of my life. Circumstances and things that are out of my control can not define me and my life. What I can control is how I react to them and who I decide to be despite each of those circumstances is how I define myself.

Shortly after this discovery I went into business for myself as a financial professional, chose New York Life as my broker and began my new life. I was now a commissioned life insurance and investment advisor. I knew I wanted to serve my Southern Maryland community to inform them of the necessity of working with a professional to plan their futures and protect their families. This was when I discovered the Dream Queen Association, a networking group for women. I arrived and the experience was unlike anything I had before. I met a group of women led by Erin Lewis that were positive, purpose filled, and passionate. Erin was a light that I didn’t know I needed to see. She led with empathy and courage. She exuded everything I wanted to be. I was welcomed into the tribe with open arms. I learned to focus on community over competition, to give more than I expected to receive, and to be proud of who I am as a business owner. The women’s group changed my perspectives and earned me the friendship of two fellow Dream Queens who are still integral to my life Beth Graeme and Beverly Brown. I was living life with eyes wide open like I never had before. I was happy, I was positive, I believed in myself, and I was supported. Then Erin, Amy Thompson and Fontella Moody took the beliefs and lessons we were learning in our tribe and created the Gals Lead Teen Mentorship Program. They hosted weekend experiences and started the club program at Great Mills High School.

They were able to measure their progress through confidence assessments, open questions, and feedback from the schools showing improved grades and a reduction of referrals and absences. They created a curriculum and training program to teach other women to mentor more girls in the community. I was in the first training class ready to share all I had discovered in hopes they don’t have to wait until age 36 to understand, touch the lives of teens in our community, and help them find more clarity in their lives. In return I discovered so much about myself, my clarity, my confidence soared, and I became even more in touch with the person I am and the power I want to give to my community. Honoring who I am as a person and embracing that girl, that teen, and that adult, all of them are me and I am the sum of all my experiences and my reaction to each of the circumstances, the choices I made, all made me who I am today, who I am meant to be. With out each of those circumstances I wouldn’t be the person I am. I learned to let go of regrets and love each part of my life and be grateful for each one of them.

Let’s fast forward. My business started to thrive, I loved each of my clients and felt like I was making a difference in the world. In March of 2020 the world shut down and then in October my father had a stroke. My business started going downhill due to putting my family first and that was my choice. I knew the consequences and I still feel confident I made the right choice. I was with my mom and sister when he was released from the hospital. We cleaned, and fed, and cared for all his needs. We stayed at their home in Delaware for weeks at a time. In March of 2021 he had a heart attack and the same process started again and I didn’t think twice about being there. Later in 2021 I changed broker dealers and worked with another firm trying to find my way back to my career and it was not a good fit. In August of 2021, I found myself with out a broker or a job. As I was driving away with tears in my eyes at the choice I had made and failed to make work, the first call I received was from Deanne Daugherty, one of the Dream Queens who has become so dear to my heart, called me. She was thinking about me and wanted to reach out. My mind was blown that the universe/God/Creator had told her to call me. The coincidence was too much to be anything but divine. The next call I made was to Beth who had since taken over as Chair of the board for the Dream Queen Foundation, I was supposed to be the secretary but was not upholding what I felt I should be doing. I called her to apologize, to seek forgiveness, and was welcomed back with open arms. To her no forgiveness was necessary. It was a time in my life that I needed to be away to see where I needed to focus. When I returned to the Association and Foundation it was as if I was there the whole time.

Beth suggested that I take over the role of Executive Director while I was driving home from my career interruption. Got off the phone with me to call the rest of the board suggesting this as the solution to bring the organization back after COVID. I was honored, scared, unsure, and so many other feelings. I thought back to Erin, Amy, and Fontella and couldn’t imagine myself in those roles of influence. The board believed in me and my passion for the organization and I felt myself being plunged into the unknown.

I made the decision to believe them, to own the role, and do my very best. This role has been the blessing of a lifetime. I look back on my life and think about what I could’ve done if I knew the things I learned on my own and through Gals Lead and think about who I could’ve been. But there are no could haves, there are no regrets. I was there at that time in that place to help Southern Maryland, Maryland, and the country know how how to create a tribe, a community, true confidence, and so much more. Mental illness is on the tip of everyone’s tongues, mentorship a close second. The fear and worry for our teens are the highlight of so many conversations in our government all the way down our everyday conversations. I know that Gals Lead can help these teens find their true selves, get out of isolation, and find the confidence that was inside of them the whole time.

I am dedicated for the younger me, the adult me, my niece, my sister, all girls, non-binary and anyone who needs to listen. Now what?! A roller coaster, that’s what. We threw the Inaugural Gals Lead Veterans Day Festival, I started networking again and our name was getting out there.

I have three priorities right now. Paying for new clubs, recruiting mentors to lead new clubs, and obtaining buy in from schools, associations, organizations, governments, and more to make sure this program is accessible to all teen girls (she/her they/them). Most of all I am looking for others who have the vision, the time, and the courage to work with me to make this happen. I have the tools and the drive to do whatever it takes to start 5 new clubs in all 3 counties in Southern Maryland and to introduce us to the state.

There is my story. I hope it was informative, inspiring, or introspective for you the community. I feel sharing a story is the best way to connect us and to see how much we truly have in common. I hope someone reads this and reaches out to me asking what do I need to do to get this program in my school, how do I refer my therapy clients to your program, how do I donate, and I am open to any other suggestion in our community. I want to bring us together. I want to reduce isolation and quiet those little voices in the back of our minds that tell us we can’t. I know we can. I have lived the can. I can if I will it and so can all of you.

I can’t wait to meet you. I am so excited for the future, and I hope you will join me.



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