This week we caught up with Kelly Nestman, Center Administrator and Program Coordinator for the Center for Women’s Health Research and Innovation (CWHRI).
When we first met Kelly, she was a 15-year-old with a vision and a commitment to empowering women and girls. Her vision included a program for high school and middle school girls called STRONGER that would empower girls to become their own advocates in schools. Her GirlGov cohort recognized her passionate vision by awarding her $1,200 in real grant funds during their Mock Congress sessions.
Since then, Kelly has grown older, but has not lost that fiery passion for women and girls that we first saw years ago. As a student at Chatham University during the Chatham’s transition into a coed college, Kelly was right there to ensure that women remained at the forefront of Chatham’s future. She played an essential role in the founding of the Chatham University’s Women’s Institute––an initiative advancing the women and gender equity.
Now, a ATHENA Young Professional Award Finalist and a GirlGov Retreat Chaperone, we caught up with Kelly to chat:
WGF: How has GirlGov impacted your journey?
Kelly: GirlGov impacted my journey and career immensely. GirlGov inspired me to question where I came from, and the ideals that I had been raised to believe. Girl Gov gave me the tools I needed to realize my full potential, and fight for what I believed was important. Above all – GirlGov showed me what it was like to be an intersectional feminist and leader.
WGF: What was it like being on the “other side” of the retreat, being able to mentor?
Kelly: Being able to mentor these girls was such a great experience. Seeing them grow and learn was empowering, even for myself! I was extremely impressed with the committee meetings that I sat in on. These girls were committed to creating change for other girls in the region, and they are clearly a force to be reckoned with! I also loved that the girls felt comfortable enough to seek my advice both personally and professionally.
WGF: What words of wisdom do you have for young girls who want to make change?
Kelly: My advice for young girls is: Find what you are passionate about. Once you find that, commit to it fully. Be yourself, and continue to fight, even when you feel like giving up. But above all, take care of yourself. If you need to take a night to just watch Netflix and eat ice cream, do it!