TOBI JO GREENE, Founder & Director
Tobi’s work experience over the past 20 years has been related to the empowerment of individuals of all ages, including the development and implementation of environmental education programs, Facilitating Personal Empowerment and Team Building Ropes Courses, Sexual Health Education, Sexual Assault Awareness Education, Self Defense Instruction, Rape Crisis Counseling, Advocating for victims of sexual assault, as well as various team coaching positions. She has her Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation Administration with a concentration in Environmental Education. The Girls Empowerment Workshop was developed from a combination of Tobi’s passion, experience and desire to empower young people with information, a deep self worth and a voice to go along with it. Tobi has a son and a daughter who have both been participants in this program for several years.
SHANNON KAY SKILLERN, Lead Facilitator & Trainer
Shannon joined our team in the Summer of 2009 as a camp volunteer and has since dedicated herself to TGEW as The Director of Education, Lead Facilitator and Teacher Trainer. Shannon is a Health Advocate and Specialist in the Ojai Valley. Shannon is the mother of five children, three boys and two girls and enjoys most things outdoors; hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking….Shannon is a facilitator on the journey to dropping into the self. She believes that by tuning into your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals you will be empowered to live as you were meant to live; with radiance and beauty.
She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she was trained in more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. She now dedicates herself to the empowerment of women and children through education and the practice of awareness.
CASEY MURPHY, The Boys Empowerment Workshop Lead Facilitator
Casey joined our team in the Fall 2012 and works as a Lead Facilitator in our Boys Workshops. He is an experienced instructor with teens in outdoor & wilderness education, rehabilitation therapy and yoga. Casey has been working and learning with youth for 15 years now. He spends most of his days working with teens in Ojai exploring bowmaking, tracking, listening and yoga. Becoming a mentor for teens is one of Casey’s passion.
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SHARLYNDA HORTON, Board of Directors and Lead Workshop Facilitator
Sharlynda supports efforts to end domestic violence and empowers youth to end dating abuse. She has served as an Early Childhood Educator, High School Teacher, Reading Instructor, Duke Hospital School Language Facilitator, and Community College Adjunct English Instructor. As a Qualified Mental Health Professional, Sharlynda worked with a team of professionals, community members and families to provide person centered treatment plans, crisis response, skills training, psychoeducational activities, and advocacy for children and adults. She earned a B.A. in English and Chemistry minor from East Carolina University, and an M.A.T. in Secondary Education from the University of Southern California. Sharlynda enjoys educating and empowering others and works tirelessly as a leader in our workshops as well as organizational leadership in our curriculum and Board of Directors.
KATIE MUNDLE, Wilderness Coordinator and Workshop Facilitator
Katie joined the Girls Empowerment Workshop in 2016 as a grant writer and is currently training to be a workshop facilitator. She has had the privilege of working with youth and teens for over a decade as a camp counselor, sports coach, yoga teacher, and wilderness guide. It is her love of wilderness that Katie is most excited to share with the girls in her role as Camping Director for TGEW. Every summer Katie leads backpacking trips for teens in the Eastern Sierra; focusing on natural history, health, and mindfulness. Katie trained with the Art of Yoga Project, an organization that seeks to rehabilitate teenage girls in the juvenile justice system by teaching them art, yoga, and journaling. Combining wilderness experiences with yoga to empower teens is Katie’s passion, and The Girls Empowerment Workshop is overjoyed to have her on our Team.
JEANINE MURPHY, Board of Directors and Workshop Facilitator
Jeanine sits on the board of the TGEW and was first introduced to the program as a board member of the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation. As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Mental Health Clinician for Ojai Unified School District, she participates as a guest lecturer for the workshops. Jeanine is a registered trainer of SafeTALK (suicide awareness for everyone) and a national trainer/consultant for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Jeanine has worked with children, adolescents and their families for over 20 years and believes that our youth need the opportunity to not only discuss the many challenges they face today, but also the opportunity to feel empowered to ask difficult questions, get to know themselves better and feel confident as they navigate through the stages of their development.
“I feel strongly about the mission of TGEW and am honored to be a part of a program seeking to educate, empower and elicit positive change in our youth.”
Ma. Christina Fernandez, Workshop Facilitator
Christina began presenting on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) to The Girls Empowerment Workshop in 2016 and joined the education team as a facilitator in January of 2018. Christina has been working in Education since 2002 in various positions such as paraprofessional, translator, tutor, camp counselor, and ultimately teacher. Christina graduated from CSU Channel Island with a bachelor’s in Mathematics with an emphasis in Education. Then went on to earn her Single Subject Credential in Mathematics with a Masters in Technology in Education. She is now back to it working on Administrative and Leadership credential in CSU Channel Island. Christina is currently working as a math teacher and lead teacher at Vista Real Charter High School. Additionally, she received training on the sexual exploitation of children and has worked on educating her community on this important subject. Christina is passionate about empowering women and girls and in her efforts to educate, empower and inspire our youth.
KASEY LENNON, Board of Directors
Kasey volunteered in some of our very first workshops for the Junior High Girls, and currently serves on our Board of Directors. She is a loved and valued guest speaker in our workshops, as well as camp chaperone. Kasey is involved in her community, and cares deeply for people. As a lover of nature, mother of two grown children, and local business owner, Kasey appreciates the process of life. Kasey served as an Executive Aide to Supervisor Steve Bennett for many years as well as Secretary to the non-profit, Meiners Oaks Business & Artists Association and currently has returned to school for a Bachelor’s degree.
“I am delighted to play a role in the very important mission of The Girls Empowerment Workshop.”
DENISE RAZANA MOROKE, Workshop Facilitator
“Each time I step into a workshop I am amazed to see the wonderful growth each student experiences throughout the sessions. I am reassured that the time and energy we put into each and every session is truly worth it. I am excited to see what more is to come!”
LAURA DIXON, Workshop Facilitator
Laura Dixon is an English teacher at Vista Real Charter School, an independent study school in Ventura. Previously, she taught junior high and high school English in Northern California. During her time working with youth, Laura has realized the importance of empowering young women. She has also worked with struggling adult readers through the Ventura County READ program. Laura is an alumni of CSU, Chico. There she earned her single subject teaching credential, a B.A in English Education, and a minor in Art Studio. She lives in Ventura with her husband and young son.
KRIS GRECO, Board of Directors
Kris is an active member of TGEW Board of Directors. She has served on several boards in The Ojai Valley because of her love for our community. She lives in Ojai with her husband and 2 children.
“With all the conflicting and sometimes negative messages our kids are bombarded with everyday I believe TGEW is important and timely. Teaching our children to be empowered is good for them and their future. I look forward to doing the meaningful work with this group of amazing people.”
HANNAH GREENE, Workshop Assistant
Hannah began as a participant in The Girls Empowerment Workshop in 2006, and was much of the inspiration behind its development. After participating for many years, Hannah developed into a positive addition to our team as a Mentor to the Junior High School Girls, a Camp Leader in our Wilderness Adventures, workshop assistant and an Ambassador throughout her daily life. Hannah is the first and only girl to have played Football at her high school, earning two CIF rings and earning the honor as the highest scoring female in the county as her teams Kicker. She has volunteered at Camps for children with Autism, which she found to be one of her favorite experiences, has a passion for animals, and is currently a full time college student studying Business.
IRENE MARTINEZ, Workshop Assistant
Irene G. Martinez began working with The Girl Empowerment Workshop in 2017 at the VRCHS Port Hueneme Site. Irene graduated from Rio Mesa High School and then pursued a career in Electrical Engineering. After graduating from Loyola Marymount University in 1986, Irene worked as a Project Management Engineer for Naval Air Weapons System Point Mugu until August of 1998. She then entered the Education field receiving her Master’s in Education from Pepperdine University in 1999. Irene has worked in various settings from traditional Middle School to High School here in California and Colorado. She is currently working at Vista Real Charter High School where she teaches Mathematics and Guitar classes. Irene is passionate about empowering woman to achieve their full potential in all areas of their lives. Irene is also an amateur song writer.
YAMIKO KAWALE, Malawi Sister Program, GEM, Founder & Director
YAMIKO KAWALE started and runs a sister program in Malawi, GEM. As a school teacher, Yamiko has found passion in educating and empowering young girls. She has worked hard and successfully in generating interest and providing empowerment programming for the girls in her community, where her program is growing and gaining recognition.
To donate toward or get involved with this collaboration please click here: PROJECT GEM MALAWI
For more information on Yamiko’s Program Click Here
YOLANDA FLORES, Board of Directors and Bi-Lingual Workshop Facilitator
After learning first hand of the limited resources in her community for Spanish speaking parents Yolanda established a resource group for Spanish speaking parents and has become a valuable member of her community. Yolanda runs a weekly educational and support group for Spanish speaking parents, serves on our Board of Directors and is passionate about the empowerment of girls. She is currently working with TGEW Director to provide Sex Education workshops for Spanish speaking parents, with the goal of providing culturally sensitive information in a safe environment, to empower parents to speak to their children.
CHEYENNE JENSEN, Self Defense Instructor and Workshop Facilitator
Cheyenne’s background in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing provides for skilled and effective instructing at her family gym, Ojai Valley MMA, she is passionate about self-defense training as a means of empowerment for girls and women. Cheyenne works in collaboration with TGEW and Ojai Valley MMA to facilitate self-defense training for the girls in our programs and community. Cheyenne is also training as a workshop facilitator for TGEW and is passionate about educating young people to make empowered decisions in life.
CHIANY DRI, PoC Advocate & Curriculum Developer and Workshop Facilitator
TESSA MAGILL, Therapeutic Wilderness Programs
Tessa is an Ojai native and licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working in the field since 2012. She currently provides therapy for students of Ojai Unified School District and clients of Maple Counseling Center in Ojai and Ventura. Tessa is passionate about working with individuals in need and helping guide teens with skills in facing life’s challenges, becoming well-rounded individuals and having integrity in their actions. She spends her free time with friends and family, hiking, walking her dog and being outdoors as much as possible. She is enthusiastic about getting people outdoors to reduce stress and learn in the process of connecting back to nature. These passions and professional experience are hat led Tessa to TGEW to develop wilderness based therapeutic workshops for teens.
CHENEY CALDWELL, Wilderness Advocate and Trip Leader
Cheney was born and raised in Ojai fostering an early connection to Nature. In her early twenties she helped charter a young humanitarian service organization, Ventura Rotaract Club, and served as president for two years. The role enlightened her to the innate power and agency of youth, and sparked a desire to learn more. She returned to college and studied Sociology with an emphasis in Institutions; after earning her Bachelor of Arts degree, she was disillusioned with the precarious health of the Commons: water, land and air. Her adventurous spirit and curiosity about South American wilderness led her to spend 9 months over 2 ½ years traveling in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Perú; recently, she lived and worked on a reserve in Argentine rainforest for five weeks. The kindness and hospitality that Latino strangers extended positively overwhelmed her, and reminded her of all the people who said: “You can travel to South America alone— you’re a woman!”. Having chaperoned several TGEW campouts, it became clear to her that youth are generally lacking contact with the natural world. She hopes that by creating a safe space to explore Nature and self, young women will be inspired to be wild, become stewards of the Commons, and follow their true north.
DIANE STEELE, Malawi Education Team, Sewing Instructor
Born in Californian, Diane’s home based business in Ojai California is inspired by her passion to sew and create Thoughtful Gifts of Art.
A dressmaker-designer and entrepreneur, Diane studied with a German-Swiss fashion designer patter maker for 2 years. Diane’s Mother taught her to sew when she was 5 years old and she has been sewing full time ever since. Diane’s keen sense of beauty and creativity enables her to blend function with artistic beauty, keeping her creations fresh and innovative. It is this passion which brought her to TGEW team, where she has been running “Community Sew In’s” and making menstrual kits for girls in need for our sister program in Malawi. To get involved with this project or learn more, please click here: PROJECT GEM MALAWI
“Teaching sewing to all age’s and gender is so rewarding and a dream come true.”
ELISE GARRETT, Nurse Midwife and Malawi Education Team
Elise has always been interested in women’s health, as a nurse practitioner at Salud Para de Gente, her goal is to help women take an active role in their own health. By truly listening to women explain what they need, and giving them that information, she hopes that women will be empowered to make healthy choices for themselves and their families. Elise earned her degree in Midwifery at the University of California San Francisco. She worked for many years as a labor and delivery nurse, doula, and childbirth educator. Elise spends a lot of time either coaching or playing soccer. She loves to be outdoors playing on the beach or in the forest with her husband and two kids. Elise is representing The Girls Empowerment Workshop as our female health educator in our project collaboration with GEM Malawi.
SUZANNE FELDMAN, Ojai Valley Youth Foundation Liaison
Suzanne is on the Board of the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation, a youth organization supporting The Girls Empowerment Workshop and other programs aiming to support and inspire youth in the midst of their tumultuous teenage years. She has over a decade of experience in non-profits; everything from running a no-kill dog shelter in Santa Barbara to advocating for the Los Padres National Forest to getting kids out into their local watersheds with State Park environmental education programs. In all of her past positions, as well as her undergraduate and graduate studies, Suzanne had a focus on education and involving youth. Her passion has found its home with the Youth Foundation programs and kids they serve. www.ovyf.org“I cannot express the joy I felt being part of The Girls Empowerment Workshop; I was witness to friendships beginning, confidence expanding, self-respect blossoming, and plain old fun at every session. This program embodies my personal belief that through open, respectful conversations we give our children the greatest gift, knowing that someone cares and that they are essentially and forever worthy of it. The experience of a program like The Girls Empowerment Workshop is invaluable for youth.”
CARRIE WIDENER, Workshop Facilitator Trainee, Seattle WA