Gina Marten, Executive Director
Gina’s journey with Girls in the Know began as a participant in the 4 week empowerment workshop series in 2009. She immediately got involved by volunteering. In 2011, Gina was invited to be the keynote speaker for GITK’s annual event, Passport to Power. Shortly afterwards she began assisting the GITK Founder, Lori Lander. In August, 2012 was invited to take the leadership role of Director.
Gina’s many volunteer efforts include working with the Archdiocese of St. Louis in developing parenting workshops, serving as speaker and panel participant for the Mercy Mother-Daughter Tea, a Right Start Educator, ENDOW facilitator, and PSR Catechist. Along with her husband, Dave, she serves as a Kirkwood Coordinator for World Wide Marriage Encounter. In 2010 Gina added author to her list of talents after writing the Heart to Heart Mother-Daughter Journal.
Gina’s passion for collaborating and marketing stems from her early career in sales with Xerox, MetPath Laboratories and pharmaceutical sales. Gina graduated with a BS in Marketing from Southwest Missouri State and worked in sales most of her career. She attends church at St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood, MO. In her free time Gina enjoys spending time with family, working out reading and baking.
Jean Sawin, Program Director-Chicago
Jean first became involved with Girls in the Know as a participant with her 12 yr-old daughter. Her experience with the program motivated her to become involved with the organization. She’s excited to assist in providing the same opportunity to other trusted adults and their pre-teen girls.
She lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters. Additionally, Jean coordinates a literature program at her daughters’ school. In her spare time, she enjoys playing tennis and coaching girls’ softball.
Sarah Saffold, Program Director
Sarah joined Girls in the Know in the fall of 2015 as an Empowering your Pre-Teen girl speaker after being introduced to the program through a friend. Upon learning that the organization could use some help with coordinating programs, Sarah approached Gina about becoming more involved and did part-time program coordination starting in fall of 2016. With a strong desire to do more with the program, Sarah was delighted to become the Program Director in May of 2017.
Sarah has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Mental Health from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, along with two Bachelors degrees in Social Work and Spanish. Her prior experience includes working with children and their communities/families in the child welfare system using a family centered system of care. In addition, she worked for a company providing networking, event planning, marketing, content writing and accounting/HR services. This combination of backgrounds brings the perfect amount of experience to this position and is what excites Sarah about her current role with Girls in the Know. She is also an adjunct academic advisor with the Brown School of Social Work.
Sarah has two daughters who reinforce her passion for inspiring and empowering girls to make healthy & confident decisions. In her spare time, she loves to run, sing on her church’s worship team, try out new places around St. Louis with friends, bike and spend time in Forest Park or the Missouri Botanical Gardens. In the summer you can find her by a pool and she loves to travel.
Lori founded Girls in the Know in 2009, and served as Executive Director until 2012. Currently, she remains on the Board as President and Founder. Lori is also the co-founder of Language of Happiness, LLC. This organization provides online and group workshops to encourage and help women lead a life of true meaning, fulfillment and personal growth.
In her spare time, Lori enjoys traveling, boating, dinner with friends and most of all she enjoys quality time with her husband, Steve, and their three daughters.
Karen Smoller, Treasurer, RubinBrown, Tax Manager
Karen is Part Time Tax Manager at RubinBrown LLP, focusing her work during tax season. Karen’s Clients primary consist of individuals and small businesses. When Karen is not at work or with kids, she isvolunteering with Ready Readers and sits on the board of directors for Treasurer Parent Association Board for MICDS and The J Associates Board. In her free time, Karen enjoys spending time with her family out at their barn.
Jessica LaBozzetta, Secretary & Event Committee Chair
Jessica is the Special Events Manager of Venture Cafe Foundation – St. Louis. She’s been planning non-profit special events since 2006, most recently at the Nine Network of Public Media, the local PBS member station. There she created unique environments for live tapings, special receptions, grand openings, community festivals – all to bring public television alive within the community and to engage with the donors who make it possible. Now onboard at Venture Cafe, she is focused on activating the new Cortex Commons, a space dedicated to bringing the innovation community together outside. She also serves on the membership committee for YNPN St. Louis, a group passionate about educating and connecting young nonprofit professionals in our region.
Janelle Wadsworth, Wells Fargo Advisors, Compliance Consultant
Janelle is a Vice President at Wells Fargo Advisors whose responsibilities include substantive review and analysis of securities regulation. She received her MBA from Webster University, and BA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Janelle is a native of Virginia who is passionate about children and an advocate of education. Before transitioning to St. Louis, Janelle had spent much of her time volunteering in schools through programs such as Bright Beginnings, Reading First, and Junior Achievement. In St. Louis, Janelle has continued to be involved with education through the Wells Fargo Advisors partnership with Saint Louis Public Schools.
Janelle is an ultra-runner and PADI Divemaster who is dedicated to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Her free time is spent with her family and supporting charitable causes through sporting event participation in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Kara Friedman, MICDS/Private Practice, Middle School Counselor/Therapist
Kara grew up in St. Louis and received her Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Miami University. She then went on to earn her M.S. & Educational Specialist degree in Counselor & Counseling Education from Indiana University. She worked as school counselor in Atlanta GA for 10 years before joining the MICDS community. She is passionate about working with children and adolescents regarding the trials and tribulations of growing up as well as more serious mental health problems.
In addition to working as a school counselor, Kara also has a private practice in Clayton. She sees not only adolescents, but also works with adults focusing on issues around anxiety, depression, life transitions, parenting struggles and challenges in the family system. Kara has a passion for helping children and has recently become a “Big” for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program.
Laura Al-Shathir counsels clients ranging from individuals and small business owners to multi-national corporations, limited liability companies, S corporations and non-profits. She provides tax and business planning advice in various corporate transactions as well as serving as special tax counsel to corporate tax clients in IRS exams.
She also negotiates and implements mergers and acquisitions, real estate deals, including Internal Revenue Code Section 1031 transactions, and executive compensation plans, providing a particular emphasis on relevant tax considerations and requirements, such as Internal Revenue Code Section 409A.
Laura is devoted to a variety of non-profit and pro bono work, including forming and providing legal advice to non-profit corporations and helping organizations obtain and maintain their tax-exempt status.
Laura is an adjunct professor of law at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, teaching Basic Business Principles for Lawyers. In 2014, she was named a “Missouri Lawyers Weekly Up and Coming Lawyer.”
Maria Ray, Maryville Technologies, Client Services Director
Maria has been in the Technology industry for over 17 years and is a Principal, Client Services Director at Maryville Technologies Inc., an independent consulting and professional services firm focused on enabling clients to increase the capability and efficiency of their business via technology. Prior to joining Maryville Technologies, Maria served as a Senior Director of Cloud Business Operations & Managed Services Engineering at CenturyLink.
In addition to being a Technology Leader, Maria has a passion for helping others and as the mother of an eleven-year old daughter, Girls in the Know’s mission is near and dear to her heart. In her free time, Maria enjoys the outdoors, spending time with her family and volunteering at her daughter’s school where she currently serves as the class chair.
Emily co- anchors News 4 This Morning as well as. News 4 at Noon. After joining KMOV in July of 2012, Emily reported from the St. Charles County newsroom, where she was responsible for writing, shooting, and editing her stories each day. She joined the morning show reporting team in the fall of 2013.
Emily is a St. Louis area native. She grew up in Washington, Missouri, and attended the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri as a fourth generation student.
After graduation, Emily was a reporter at WVEC, an ABC affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia. There she covered everything from breaking news and crime, to tornadoes, hurricanes and the 2011 Virginia earthquake. Emily also reported extensively on the local military community covering deployments and homecomings for the Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force installations. It was here she fostered a deep appreciation for military service members and their families. Emily won her first Emmy award in 2014 for contributing to a KMOV colleague’s report. She won a Missouri Broadcasters award for the same story.
Tiffanne Becks, St. Louis Cardinals, Manager, Cardinals Care
Tiffanne earned her Masters of Business Administration and Masters of Sports Administration from Ohio University in 2009. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Sports Management with a Minor in Business from Southeast Missouri State in 2007.
Following graduation from Ohio University, she began her career in nonprofit as a program coordinator with the St. Louis Cardinals community foundation, Cardinals Care. She then spent a few years with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri as an Associate Director of major gifts. She returned to Cardinals Care as Manager in September 2015.
She feels her call in life is to help others and she has a deep passion for empowering youth and helping them to realize their dreams. In her free time she is involved with leadership at her church, teaches in the children’s ministry and coaches high school girls basketball. She and her husband, Jamarr, are soon to welcome their first child, a baby girl.