First Ever EmpowHER Retreat A Huge Success


“We want [these girls] to embrace their strengths and differences, and take positive steps forward, knowing that they matter and have the power to make a difference for themselves and their future communities.”

These are the words of Suzy Merchant, head coach of the Michigan State University Women’s basketball team, explaining the purpose of the first ever EmpowHER Retreat.

“Our hope is that these young girls walk away with the necessary skills to take on the personal and professional challenges in their lives.”

Now more than ever, young people (particularly girls) need mentoring and guidance in the art of being confident. Some of the most well-known professional women like Merchant and the staff at the MSU Eli Broad College of Business created the EmpowHER Retreat to make a difference.

The event took place April 29 and 30 and hosted 150 fifth through ninth graders in mid-Michigan at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. The retreat was created to give young girls skills and confidence to take on the personal and professional challenges that they face at their young age and in the future. Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 1.55.59 PM

The EmpowHER retreat began with a speech from Elizabeth McCormick, a former U.S. Army Black Hawk pilot and winner of numerous awards in the Army and military for her expertise and accomplishments in her field. Along with this speaking presentation, the participating girls had four sessions that they attended with each one focusing on a different facet of issues that girls have to face as they grow. The sessions discussed social media use, dealing with unfriendly friends or bullying, loving yourself through self-care and fitness through yoga.

Each of the workshops were taught by experts in their respective fields, like Stacey Fenton, business consultant and motivational speaker; Kimber Bishop-Yanke, founder of Girls and Boys Empowered; Kathleen Livingston, contemporary circus performer with Violet & Fortuna; Tashmica Torok, executive director of the Firecracker Foundation and Toni Thomas, certified yoga instructor.

Kristin St. Marie, assistant director of open enrollment programs for the Executive Development Programs at the MSU Eli Broad College of Business, noted that empowering girls at a young age really adds to their confidence in the future.

“I’m so proud to partner with Suzy Merchant and this EmpowHER retreat,” said St. Marie. 

“I share her vision for inspiring greatness in young girls. If we set these girls up for success today, while they are still young, they’ll have the confidence and resiliency to build a positive future for themselves while inspiring others to do the same.”

Visit to learn more about future events and to learn more about this great program.

Tags: Breslin Center, east lansing, empowerment, EmpowHER retreat, May 2016, suzy merchant


Megan Martin

Megan Martin is a Communications Specialist at M3 group and a graduate of Calvin College in Grand Rapids. She is a foodie, a lover of art and tea and everything outdoorsy.

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