Expert Speakers

Our mission is centered on providing girls with factual information delivered by subject matter experts, so they will have a base of knowledge that is grounded in facts.

All of the sessions in our Empowerment Workshop Series are led by licensed, professional women who generously provide their expertise and guidance on a volunteer basis.

Keep scrolling to check out all of our expert speakers, or click below to view speakers for each of our sessions:

"Empowering Preteen Girls"

Session Speakers

Melanie McKean

DO, PhD

Melanie is a psychiatrist at McCallum Place Eating Disorder Centers in Webster Groves. She is board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and has extensive clinical experience and expertise in women’s mental health.

Melanie is a member of the Gateway Chapter of National Charity League, Inc., and serves on the boards of The Wilson School, the St. Louis Diaper Bank, and the St. Louis Chapter of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals.

Melissa Douglass

MSW, LCSW, DCC

Melissa is the founder of Goal Driven Counseling, an online group private practice supporting individuals navigating education, career, life transition and mental health concerns. She received both Bachelor and Master of Social Work degrees, while also earning a certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the University of Missouri-St Louis.

Melissa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Distance Credentialed Counselor, with several years of volunteer and professional experience with youth and adults in juvenile detention, community, education and inpatient psychiatric hospital settings.

Stacy Peebles

MSW, LCSW, PhD

Dr. Stacy Nakia Peebles (Dr. Stacy), is an Emotional Wellness Practitioner with extensive experience providing services to individuals seeking support in navigating through life’s challenges. Dr. Stacy’s goal is to empower clients to make positive and informed decisions that will lead to a sense of well-being and serenity. Dr. Stacy takes a holistic approach to health care, with a focus on promoting a sense of self-love and empowering clients to live the meaningful life that they deserve. Dr. Stacy, is a Licensed Psychotherapist (LCSW), Certified Empowerment Coach, Certified Reiki Master and Kemetic Reiki Practitioner.

Dr. Stacy, has over twenty years’ experience in assisting clients in developing a plan of action to meet their goals. She has worked in a variety of settings, with diverse populations to include: criminal justice/legal system, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, EAP and Managed Care. Dr. Stacy is currently in private practice where she specializes in working with women around self-esteem, relationship issues, stress management, and work-life balance.

Dr. Stacy Nakia Peebles, educational credentials include a Bachelor of Social Work Degree from Tennessee State University, Master of Social Work Degree from Washington University and PhD in Public Policy Analysis and Administration from Saint Louis University. Dr. Stacy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

Valentina Penalba

PhD, LMFT

Valentina has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Clinical Psychology, a Master’s in Psychobiology and a PhD in Medical Family Therapy. She has experience working with individuals, couples and families, specializing in assisting those with depression, anxiety, grief/loss, trauma/PTSD, life cycle and transition issues, medical conditions and relational distress.

Fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, French and English, Valentina has worked in different countries with multicultural families for the last 25 years as a marriage and family therapist.

Kathryn Beskrowni

PLPC, NCC

Kathryn holds a Master’s degree in Clinical/Community Mental Health Counseling from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. A Boston native, Kathryn was accepted to serve through AmeriCorps at College Bound during her first two years in St. Louis, which allowed her to work directly with high school students and their parents as they navigated the difficult college admission process.

Through College Bound, Kathryn facilitated a girls-only group called GROW, taught social-emotional learning curriculum to 10th-12th graders and worked with outside community providers to support high school students in learning about themselves. 

Tina Cummings

LPC, NCC

Tina Cummings earned her Master’s degree in School Counseling from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and her Educational Specialist degree in Mental Health Practices in Schools from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to starting her private practice, she worked for six years as a school counselor in both elementary and middle school settings. 

Her current therapeutic work focuses on empowering young women and teenage girls to recognize their strengths and achieve their full potential.

Brynne Downum

MS

Brynne earned her Master’s degree in Clinical/Community Mental Health from Western Illinois University. She has several years of experience in community outreach focused on social and emotional wellbeing.

Brynne cherishes the opportunity to speak to youth about empowering themselves and being their own advocates.

TaJuana C. Jones

MSW, LMSW

TaJuana has 10+ years of field experience in children’s services and mental health. In 2011, she earned a Master of Social Work degree, with a specialization in clinical practice with individuals and families from the Saint Louis University, School of Social Work.

TaJuana has served children and families at BJC Healthcare and is currently providing clinical therapy services to elementary aged children through St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She also is the founder of Children’s Therapeutic Outlet & Activity Centre, LLC, a social outlet and development center for children and adolescents.

Tiffany J. Walehwa

MA, LPC

Tiffany is a trauma-informed therapist that has experience working with a diverse population that includes children, adolescents and adults.

Dedicated to creating an inclusive environment, Tiffany conducts training throughout the year to effectively serve marginalized communities, including those in the LGBTQIA community.

Julie Walther-Scheibel

MEd, LPC

Julie has a Master of Education in Community Counseling and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Missouri. She has a private practice specializing in tween and teen girls and is passionate about the mind, body, spirit connection, incorporating emotional and physical fitness in her work with girls.

Julie leads programs on the topic of empowerment, provides specialty “Power” workshops and runs a Transition Camp for girls.

“Promoting a Healthy Body Image”

Session Speakers

Claire Conroy

MS, RD, LD

Claire is a Registered Dietitian, currently working as Special Event Coordinator for Dining Services & Nutrition at Washington University. She received her Bachelor’s in Nutrition & Dietetics with an emphasis in the Culinary Arts, and received her Master’s in Medical Dietetics. 

Claire believes in promoting nutritional wellness for mothers and children, educating individuals about cooking, and encourages all to live mindfully. Claire is a firm believer that all girls should be empowered in their youth!

Katie Fann

MS, RD, LD, CDE

Katie is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and a Certified Diabetes Educator, and she holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition from Saint Louis University.

She has 5+ years of experience in nutritional counseling for weight loss and weight management, diabetes management, chronic disease management and sports nutrition, currently working for Mercy designing and running a weight management program for all ages.

Throughout law school and her career, Natalie has continued working with and serving nonprofits in various capacities, including working in the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, as well as at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri with the Community Economic Development Program. Natalie also worked with nonprofit groups as part of her practice at Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C. and on pro bono matters through Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts.

Lori Jones

PhD, MPH, RDN, LD

Lori Jones is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian, currently serving as an instructor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Saint Louis University and as Program Manager for Nutrition Services. 

She earned Master’s degrees in Public Health and Nutrition, and a PhD in Higher Education from Saint Louis University. Lori is particularly interested in community nutrition and has worked with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children in Illinois, the Healthy Community Nutrition Education Initiative doing food stamp nutrition education in Missouri, and the St. Louis City Louis Department of Health.

Lauren Landfried

PhD, RDN, LD, FAND

Lauren is Director of the Didactic Program at Saint Louis University’s Nutrition and Dietetics department. She received her Bachelor’s in Animal Sciences and worked in the field for a few years before finding her passion in Nutrition and Dietetics. Lauren obtained her Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and her PhD in Public Health from Saint Louis University.

Through her experiences, she has been able to combine her love for animals and human nutrition by putting emphasis into sustainable, healthy and just agricultural practices and to push for food justice.

Lauren Kaempfe

RD

Jacklyn Malt

PT, MS, PhD

Jacklyn has over 25 years of professional experience in the female body, health and nutrition, currently serving as an outpatient therapist specializing in pelvic health and wellness with CORA Therapy.  She also serves as an adjunct faculty member for Maryville University, sharing her expertise in exercise science and healthcare management. She obtained her Bachelor’s degrees in Physical Therapy and Science from Maryville University, before earning her Master’s in Science and then her Ph.D. in Health Promotion and Wellness from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo, Utah.

Jacklyn credits GITK’s programming with “giving me my daughter back” when the older of her two GITK graduates had a life-changing ‘Aha’ moment upon completing the GITK curriculum. “GITK forever changed the trajectory of my relationship with my daughter, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Devon Murray

MA, RD, LD

Devon is a registered dietitian and fitness professional with over 12 years combined experience, currently working as a dietitian at BJC HealthCare and as a head coach at Orangetheory Fitness.

She earned her Master’s in Human Sciences and Health Communication from Fontbonne University.

Rachel Neukirch

LCSW

Reshaunda Thornton

RD, LD, CSSD

Reshaunda is the owner of BetterVessel Nutrition, providing nutrition consultation and customized nutrition program development for weight loss/management, sports and medical-related nutrition, and for people who desire to eat healthier. Before creating BetterVessel, she held a position as a sports nutritionist in a sports training facility.

In addition to emphasizing the importance of proper nutrition, Reshaunda is passionate about physical activity at every level. She has expanded her business to areas of corporate wellness and motivational speaking in regards to healthy lifestyles.

Blair Van Coutren

RD

Gretchen Wallace

MS, RD, LD

Gretchen Wallace MS, RD, LD, has been a dedicated professional in the eating disorder field since 2016, with a rich background in treating adolescents and young adults. Her career spans work on college campuses, including SLU and WUSTL, in eating disorder treatment facilities, and managing her nutrition practice, Full Life Nutrition Counseling.

Outside of her professional endeavors, Gretchen enjoys exploring new restaurants, hiking, camping, and relaxing with her husband and dogs, Rita and Barry, or catching up on her favorite TV shows. She is deeply committed to early intervention, aiming to prevent body image concerns and dieting behaviors from escalating. Wallace is passionate about educating young girls on maintaining a healthy relationship with food, their bodies, and exercise, feeling profoundly grateful for the opportunity to influence positive change.

Molly Ulishney

RD, MS

Molly is a Registered Dietitian and certified Personal Trainer. She completed her Master’s in Nutrition with a focus in Physical Performance. Molly has a background in athletics and although she is a retired athlete, still enjoys living an active lifestyle through weight training and outdoor activities such as hiking.

Molly loves to educate groups and individuals about nutrition and body image because knowledge is power!

“All About Safety”

Session Speakers

Christy Allen

Police Sergeant

Christy is a veteran of the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department, currently holding the rank of Police Sergeant. An alumni of Webster University, Christy holds a Master’s degree in Management and a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice.

Christy is a mentor, health and fitness blogger of her own website, XTYFIT.com, and former professional bodybuilder who still loves to workout daily, travel the world and jump out of airplanes for leisure.

Erica Anderson

Police Officer

Erica is a police officer with St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in District 3, working as a patrolwoman, Cherokee St. Beat Officer and Community Engagement Officer. 

Prior to this, she was an elite basketball trainer and coach, teaching athletes the mental and physical game of basketball and how to apply the training and skill set on and off the court. Erica holds a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from Harris-Stowe State University.

Christy Allen

Police Sergeant

Christy is a veteran of the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department, currently holding the rank of Police Sergeant. An alumni of Webster University, Christy holds a Master’s degree in Management and a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice.

Christy is a mentor, health and fitness blogger of her own website, XTYFIT.com, and former professional bodybuilder who still loves to workout daily, travel the world and jump out of airplanes for leisure.

Nikki Brown

Lieutenant

Lieutenant Nikki Brown is a commander with the Department of Public Safety at Harris-Stowe State University. She has worked in multi-tier functions in law enforcement in the Division of Patrol, Division of Special Operations and Division of Operational Support, and she has served as an adjunct instructor with Lindenwood University, University of Phoenix and Odessa College.

In 2021, she was appointed to the Texas Transfer Advisory Committee Discipline Specific Subcommittee on Criminal Justice.

Heather Moore

Police Officer

Heather has been a police officer with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for 15 years and is currently assigned to District 6 working the overnight shift. She earned a Criminal Justice degree from Lindenwood University.

Sheila Phillips

Police Officer

Sheila has been a police officer with St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department since 2015 and is currently assigned to District 1 as a patrol officer. While with the department, she has served within the Human Trafficking unit to save many young teen girls and help them re-enter into society successfully.

Sheila has a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from Harris-Stowe State University and is working on her Master’s degree in Criminology at Columbia College. She has committed her time outside of work to various youth groups to help empower them and teach accountability, stability and strength.

Shetrina Bransford

Police Officer

Shetrina is a police officer with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police department, currently serving as a Field Training Officer, training new police officers when they graduate from the St. Louis Police Academy.

Since joining the department, she has assisted the Warrant and Fugitive Division in transporting violent offenders from other states back to St. Louis. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Webster University in Criminology.

Nikki Brown

Lieutenant

Lieutenant Nikki Brown is a commander with the Department of Public Safety at Harris-Stowe State University. She has worked in multi-tier functions in law enforcement in the Division of Patrol, Division of Special Operations and Division of Operational Support, and she has served as an adjunct instructor with Lindenwood University, University of Phoenix and Odessa College.

In 2021, she was appointed to the Texas Transfer Advisory Committee Discipline Specific Subcommittee on Criminal Justice.

Quianna Caruthers

Police Officer

Quianna has been a police officer with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for 12+ years, currently as a School Empowerment Officer in District 2, where she and her partner focus on creating positive working relationships with the school personnel.

Their objective is to encourage positive attitudes regarding the police role in society and to inform students of their rights and responsibilities as a lawful citizen.  Quianna has a Bachelor’s degree from Lindenwood in Information Technology and plans to pursue her Master’s degree. 

Jazmon Garrett

Police Officer

Jazmon is a police officer with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, currently assigned to District 3 as a Community Outreach Officer. She also serves as a Liaison Officer for Cherokee Street and the South Grand Ave Business District.

Jazmon earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology at Webster University and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree.

Sarah Bodi

School Counselor

Sarah is a School Counselor and former Patrol and Juvenile Officer. Graduating from Missouri Valley College with Bachelor’s degrees in Criminal Justice and Sociology, she began her law enforcement career with the Creve Coeur Police Department, where she served as a Patrol Officer, School Resource Officer and Juvenile Officer within the detective bureau for 10 years.

Completing her Master’s degree in School Counseling, Sarah currently works at Hixson Middle School in the Webster Groves School District as a middle school counselor.

Carrie Brandt-Schulte

Lead Detective

Carrie is a longtime veteran of law enforcement, currently serving as the lead detective for all juvenile, sex crimes and computer forensics investigations for the Chesterfield Police Department.

Carrie is a past president of the Missouri Juvenile Police Officer’s Association, a current member of the International Homicide Investigator’s Association and Deputy Report Officer for the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Major Case Squad. She has participated in a multitude of criminal investigations specifically geared towards the protection of child victims. 

LaTora Hoskins

Police Officer

LaTora has been a Patrol Officer with the Olivette Police Department since January 2022, previously serving three years with the St. Louis Metro Police Department.

Deanna Jenkins

Police Officer

Deanna is a police officer with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, currently serving as the Community Outreach Officer in District 5. She teaches Gang Resistance Education and is involved with several other organizations that focus on positively encouraging others and self-awareness. Deanna majored in Criminal Justice and plans to pursue her Master’s degree.

Kanisha Roberts

Police Officer

Kanisha is an officer for the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department, assigned to District 1 in South City.

She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Criminology from Webster University in 2017. Kanisha is a wife and mother of two.

“Let's Talk Puberty”

Session Speakers

Molina Dayal

OB/GYN

Jill Scherbel

OB/GYN

Dr. Scherbel’s journey began in her hometown of Belleville, IL, where her roots run deep. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN in 2007. Amid pursuing her Medical Doctorate at Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University, she embarked on another meaningful journey—marrying her high school sweetheart, TJ. Graduating from medical school in 2011, her path led to Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, IL, where she immersed herself in the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Her journey of dedication and compassion reached a milestone in 2016 when she completed her training and brought her expertise to St. Louis. Dr. Scherbel has been honored to stand by the side of countless women in the St. Louis community ever since. With her own large family of six children, she brings an added layer of empathy and understanding to her patients. Today, alongside TJ, she nurtures their family in the embrace of Glendale, MO.

Anita Wilson

ANP, FNP

Shvetha Zarek

MD

Shvetha is Medical and Practice IVF Director of Oma Fertility of Saint Louis. A highly rated, Double Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist and IVF physician, she is known for unparalleled patient care, excellent pregnancy success rates and a dedicated work ethic. Shvetha has been practicing medicine for nearly 20 years, receiving multiple Top Doctors honors.

She is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Medicine and has served as Assistant Professor at both The George Washington University School of Medicine and University of Missouri-Columbia.

Meredith Spiekerman Byers

M.D.

Meredith is an Associate Professor of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine and serves as the Co-Director of Women’s Imaging at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters and Progress West Hospitals, specializing in mammography, breast MRI, and ultrasound-guided interventional procedures.

She is also a featured community speaker for the Barnes-Jewish Hospital system and has hosted her own BJC Med Talk on the importance of mammography.

Sara LaRue

OB/GYN

Sara is an OB/GYN affiliated with Mercy Hospital. She completed her undergraduate education in Physical Therapy/Health Science at Maryville University, and graduated from A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2016.

Janet Matuszek

OB/GYN

Janet is a board certified OB/GYN with more than 30 years of experience. In 1999, she founded Women’s Care Specialists.

Janet has served as the first woman Medical Staff President at St. Luke’s Hospital and was elected to serve as a representative of the Medical Staff Association on the Medical Executive Committee in December 2013. 

Megan Mohrman

OB/GYN

Megan earned her medical degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, where she served as Chief Resident during her last year and received Baylor’s award for best research for her work on uterine atony. 

Megan is fluent in Spanish, a skill that proved vital during her time in Texas, as well as her medical volunteer work in Mexico, and service as a translator for LaClinica Medical Clinic in St. Louis. 

Caroline Morgan

OB/GYN

Caroline earned her medical degree from Medical College of Ohio. She joined Women’s Health Care, Inc. in 2006, after completing her postgraduate training at Washington University.

Her practice is affiliated with St. Luke’s Hospital. She thoroughly enjoys working with young women and being their first contact with women’s health and the OB/GYN experience.

Terri D. Morris

DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, CCM

Terri is Assistant Professor at Goldfarb School of Nursing. She has over 40 years of nursing experience. Terri received her Doctor of Nursing Practice and Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing Science from Webster University.

She belongs to the American Nursing Association, National Association for Healthcare Quality, Midwest Nursing Research Society and Case Management Society of America.

Angela Warner

MSN, WHNP

Angela received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at University of Missouri-Columbia and began working as a nurse in Labor and Delivery at St Luke’s Hospital. 

She joined Women’s Care Specialists, LLC, as a triage nurse in 2006, while working towards her Master’s in Nursing with an emphasis on Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner.  She became board certified in 2009 and has been taking care of women age 14-90 years old ever since.

Shvetha Zarek

MD

Shvetha is Medical and Practice IVF Director of Oma Fertility of Saint Louis. A highly rated, Double Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist and IVF physician, she is known for unparalleled patient care, excellent pregnancy success rates and a dedicated work ethic. Shvetha has been practicing medicine for nearly 20 years, receiving multiple Top Doctors honors.

She is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Medicine and has served as Assistant Professor at both The George Washington University School of Medicine and University of Missouri-Columbia.

Sandra Braden

RN

Sandy is a registered nurse at Washington University School of Medicine. She has over 20 years of experience in OB/GYN in various aspects of care, including labor and delivery, postpartum, home care, operating room, postoperative and clinical care coordination, and to name a few.

She has an interest in adolescent teaching of puberty, sex education, STI prevention and education.