The empowerHER story starts with a young girl who has lost her mother. However, ours is not a story about our grief necessarily, but about just how we draw strength from one another - and how we empower one another.
empowerHER supports young girls who have experienced the early loss of their mothers. By creating enhanced experiences surrounding our events, we instill confidence and reduce isolation through a community of sisterhood that offers hope to each of the girls we serve.
empowerHER is the only organizations in the country specifically working to address the struggles of girls whose mothers have died. We serve 130+ girls throughout Massachusetts by providing an integrated series of programming featuring year-round group events and retreats. Events such as our signature Mother’s Day Retreat, Beach Bash, Writing Workshops and more are designed to build a supportive peer community and remind girls they are not alone in their grief.
Events take place in tandem with a thoughtful one-on-one mentor match program with caring and responsible community volunteers. Mentorship gives them a strong female role model as they traverse the difficult terrain of grief and as they mature into young adults. All programs and activities are provided at no charge to the family.
"I envisioned an organization that would allow us to talk about the loss of a young mother in our community and ways to offer help to the family that would not be intrusive."
— Cara Belvin, empowerHER Founder
Cara Belvin is passionate about volunteerism. She spent countless hours as a breast cancer advocate, and it was in this role that she saw a need in the community. Her own mother passed away at the young age of 37 after a two-year battle with breast cancer when Cara was just 9 years old. Cara’s extended family and friends assisted in filling the void left behind by this profound loss. empowerHER was formed out the gratitude she felt for all the layers of support her family received growing up – And, now as a mother, she felt it would be as much for these mothers as it would be for these young girls.
She frequently presents on issues surrounding adversity, women’s empowerment, and social entrepreneurship. Cara is the lead producer of HBO’s The Conversation: Stories that Matter speaker series, and the episodic digital series The Dinner Conversation about women powering through their grief. Her efforts to support young girls have been featured on the ABC Boston Affiliate Channel 5 and on PBS NewsHour with Judy Woodruff.
MEET OUR TEAM
Diane Burke, Executive Assistant
Diane served as an administrative volunteer for empowerHER for one year before becoming the first employee for the organization in 2017. Diane brings enthusiasm and integrity to the position. In this fast-paced environment, Diane brings flexibility, structure and attention to detail as well as an incredible attention to detail. Diane’s supportive and positive outlook ensures all staff and volunteers achieve their goals.
Diane works closely with all corporate partners, donors, and volunteers to grow and expand our community partnerships and maximize all in-kind support. Diane works closely with all families and supports both the development and mission functions of empowerHER. Diane has had a long history of critical and supportive roles. She has held executive positions in human resources and other support roles in the healthcare field, most recently at Southboro Medical Group and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. She is passionate about her family and about supporting all others with a deep commitment to the growth and sustainability of empowerHER.
Joanie Quealy, Mentor Program Coordinator
Joanie joined the empowerHER family as a volunteer in 2014 after learning about empowerHER’s good work in the community through a local newspaper article. Joanie donated her time and talent to the Mentor Program for 3 years before joining the staff as the Mentor Program Coordinator in 2017.
While Joanie cannot relate to the loss, the mission of empowerHER touched her soul. She is also a devoted member of the empowerHER Board of Directors. Joanie, by profession is a Registered Nurse and has worked with children and young adults for more than 30 years. She spent 17 years at Southboro Medical group working with a team of pediatricians providing well care and urgent care to hundreds of families. Most recently, Joanie worked at Boston College Health Services providing nursing care to campus students.
Allison Daraskevich, Creative Director
Allison began her story at empowerHER as a volunteer in 2016. She designed and coordinated the graphic components of the first-ever large gala and has been invested in our mission ever since. Allison donated her time and talent to the website redesign, created marketing collateral, and built the empowerHER brand as a volunteer committed to furthering the mission of empowerHER. As a result of our exponential growth, Allison was hired as the first Creative Director in 2017 and helps to tell the empowerHER story through various mediums.
With over 20 years’ experience in design, Allison brings with her a broad background working with various industries - from restaurant groups, to architects and accountants. She finds her work at empowerHER to be the most meaningful to date as empowerHER gives these most inspiring girls a voice and is proud to be a part of the amazing empowerHER family.
Eileen Walker, IT Manager
The mission of empowerHER spoke to Eileen Walker the moment she learned about the organization. She started by volunteering for office administrative tasks in 2015. Eileen’s education as an engineer and background in construction management led her volunteer focus to data management and technical solutions. She has implemented a custom, integrated database system tailored to empowerHER’s needs.
empowerHER is about connection; technology is about connection. The two together create a beautiful synergy of possibility. Eileen continues to explore new ways to move empowerHER’s mission forward through technology. She joined empowerHER's staff as the IT Manager in January 2018.
Kristan Pavona, Volunteer Coordinator (Volunteer Position)
Kristan first became involved with empowerHER as an Events Coordinator for the annual yoga event and was in awe of how empowerHER touched the lives of these young women. She assumed the role of Volunteer Coordinator of the 2017 Gala, and as a result, transitioned into her current role as the Volunteer, Volunteer Coordinator.
In her past life, Kristan served as a Project Manager until 2009 when she made the life-changing decision to stay at home with her two children, AJ and Graziella. In her spare time, she loves traveling, playing tennis and spending time with her family. She is honored to spread the beautiful mission of empowerHER and build upon and manage the amazing army of dedicated volunteers.
- BOARD OF DIRECTORS -
empowerHER is proud of the outstanding leadership and invaluable contributions made by the
following members of our Board:
Cara Belvin, M.S., President
Founder & Executive Director
Dolly Di Pesa, Board Chair
Managing Partner & CPA
Di Pesa & Company CPAs
Erin Devine, Finance Chair
Susan Daileader, CFP, CLTC,
Vice President, Financial Advisor
Emily Miller, LMHC, Mission & Programs
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Center for Integrative Counseling & Wellness
Bob Burke, Director
CEO & Founder
Sue Di Pesa, Director
Jack Conway Realty
Joan Quealy, RN, Mission & Programs Chair
Mentor Program Coordinator
Patty DeMarco, Partners Program Chair
EP-C, Health Fitness Specialist
Ohrenberger, DeLisi & Harris, LLP
Author, Motherless Daughters
Nobel Weather Associates
Each semester, empowerHER partners with Boston College interns looking forward to a career in the nonprofit sector. If you are an undergraduate or graduate student from another college or university and interested in creating a valuable internship opportunity, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Megan Karcher, University of Massachusetts Amherst Undergraduate
empowerHER welcomed junior economics major Megan Karcher as a digital marketing intern during her winter break. “I grew up in Scituate, MA, and I got involved with empowerHER because as someone who lost their father at a young age, I know how important it is for young people to have others to look up to. I think the idea of empowerHER is inspiring and I am so glad to be a part of it.”
Rachael Villiers, a Psychology graduate from England taking a year out from studying to gain some volunteer and work experience before continuing to Clinical Psychology or venturing to Medicine. Rachael shared "Fortunately, I have close family living in Scituate and was privileged to be offered an internship at empowerHER. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to be involved in all the hard work put in behind the scenes to make a difference to so many young girls lives, and I can truly say the experience has inspired me. I hope to return to support empowerHER and live in the USA in the near future!"
Samantha Murphy, Boston College Undergraduate
empowerHER welcomed sophmore Samantha Murphy as a programs intern during her winter break. "I grew up in Scituate, MA and want to be involved with empowerHER because it is making such a difference in our community and beyond. I went to an all-girls high school and through my experiences with my peers, I learned first hand how important it is to empower and support other women in their journeys. In my free time, I like to run, cook, and spend time with my friends and family."
Amelie Lyons, an English and Women & Gender Studies major, served as our Mentor Outreach Coordinator internship and helped to expand our reach like never before. Amelie was born and raised in New York City, which she loves, except for when the subways are being rerouted. She fostered her love of working with non-profits that empower girls over the summer while interning at Girls Write Now and thankfully shared her experience in youth mentorship with empowerHER.
Katie Lindahl, a Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies major, served as our Mentor Program Coordinator and grew our activities and one-on-one mentor program with great enthusiasm. Katie has a passion for combating gender violence and empowering women and previously interned with a number of non-profit organizations in Washington, DC in the areas of fundraising and event-planning. She was involved in mentorship and leadership programs at BC, most notably the Emerging Leader Program for freshmen students.