Who We Serve
She Believes in Me serves elementary age girls facing a wide variety of challenges on a daily basis.
Many are newcomers to the United States fleeing violence in their home countries. About 70 percent are English learners. Many lack space to call their own, with over half living in single family dwellings that house multiple family groups or non-relatives. The majority do not have the ability or financial opportunity to enroll in afterschool programs or extracurricular activities. They often care for siblings or younger relatives in the absence of a parent or guardian.
Research shows that girls living with these daily challenges also experience a rise in:
Evidence of self-harm
Risk of falling victim to sexual assault, abuse and human trafficking
What We Do
She Believes in Me offers girls the opportunity to participate in events designed to encourage, empower and inspire.
Themed monthly programs throughout the school year feature speakers, activities and crafts, providing experiences the girls might not otherwise have and opening their eyes to a world of possibility. Volunteer women and teen girls partner with students during events to provide connection, care and mentoring.
Studies have shown that girls with higher emotional well-being have:
Are less likely to use alcohol, drugs, or smoke
Do better in the classroom
Are less likely to bully others
Make better leaders
Who We Are
She Believes in Me was founded in 2018 by a group of school counselors, social workers in Herndon, Virginia. These professionals recognized an urgent and growing need to provide support to young girls in the community, many of whom were suffering as a result of poverty and trauma.
The mission of She Believes in Me is to empower girls by providing life skills and hope to those who come from diverse backgrounds, difficult socioeconomic conditions, and/or traumatic experiences.Through enrichment activities and mentoring, we teach girls that they are valued, cared for and can accomplish anything they set their minds to, allowing them to become confident and strong members of the community.
She Believes in Me is entirely volunteer-run, led by a board of directors and a dedicated group of people who truly care and believe that together we have the power to change lives.
Board of Directors
As a mother of three daughters, helping girls feel confident and have a healthy self-esteem has been Renee’s job for the last 25 years. As a School Counselor for 20+ years, Renee has been an advocate for children and is fueled by a passion to help children feel socially and emotionally strong. Prior to founding She Believes in Me, Renee worked with non-profit Code 3 Association to forge positive relationships between the police department and local at-risk communities. The success of this program was featured in the Washington Post and Associated Press and helped inspire her to go further to address the emotional needs of young girls in the community she witnessed daily through her work as a school counselor. Renee is a true believer in establishing a support system for young girls to help them become confident and strong community members. Helping to empower girls to live strong lives for a successful future is the reason Renee started She Believes in Me.
Michelle Galliano is an elementary school teacher in Fairfax County, Va. and has lived in the Northern Virginia area for 34 years. A stay at home mom for 12 years, she realized she loved working with kids and went back to school to earn a bachelor’s in education and become a teacher. She currently works at a Title 1 school and is passionate about giving back to the community as well as making a difference in children’s lives. Married to someone from a different culture and working with poverty-stricken immigrants, she is dedicated to building bridges where diversity exists and helping all children see their life potential and become successful members of society. It is through this passion and internal motivation in conjunction with the collaboration of others with similar aspirations that drove her to become part of the organization that is She Believes in Me.
Donna Ellison received her bachelor’s in social work and worked full time in that profession until her children were born. As a stay at home parent, she raised three strong, independent, successful, confident girls. Donna later decided to go back to work but sought to maintain a flexible schedule where she could utilize her background and help others. As a Special Education Teacher Assistant for a Title 1 Elementary School in Fairfax County, Donna loves working with this population and helping children realize their potential. Donna is also a Certified Yoga Instructor and is excited to incorporate her experience and wisdom to help girls learn breathing, stretching, and meditative techniques to reduce anxiety and build strength, self-esteem and confidence.
Kalli Levendis grew up volunteering at Title 1 schools in afterschool girl empowerment clubs. A recent graduate of Radford University, Kalli majored in Education and English and loves working with children. Kalli spent her college years working as a teacher’s aide at Montgomery County Schools, where her desire to help students living in poverty grew stronger. Her message is that girls can do anything they set their minds to. Kalli is the marketing director for The Simmons Team at Caliber Home Loans. She enjoys being able to use her creative touch to help her excel at her job. Kalli is an active mentor and role model for the girls in She Believes in Me.
Tanya Zinn Jones
Tanya began mentoring girls when she volunteered as a camp counselor and youth leader in her teens. Inspired by the relationships she built, she pursued degrees in education and became a literacy specialist and staff developer. Tanya has continued her work in education for over 20 years, serving primarily Title I schools and communities in Fairfax County Virginia. She loves the opportunity to be a student mentor every day! Her greatest joy is seeing her two grown daughters enjoy the fulfillment that comes from embracing their own challenges and succeeding. Tanya has extensive training as a leadership coach, and uses these skills to help others explore their thinking, imagine the possibilities, and create plans for their future. Knowing the impact positive role models can make in a young girl’s life, Tanya jumped at the chance to join the leadership team of She Believes in Me.
In the News
How to Become a Community Partner
She Believes in Me is seeking to partner with other organizations that want to make a difference in the lives of young women through fundraising, development, strategic collaboration, events and volunteer engagement.
Please fill out the form to connect or call (571) 446-0060.