EMPOWERING OUR YOUTH

Meet the panelists


Madeline Haynes — moderator


ALI Ghilarducci — Austin voices for education and youth

Ali obtained her BA in Political Science from Scripps College, an all women’s Liberal Arts College in Claremont California. After graduation she worked as a Summer Enrichment Program Coordinator, which solidified her passion for supporting families to engage in their children’s education and in their community. Realizing the Spanish language skills she acquired in college weren’t going to cut it, she soon traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico to attend a Spanish Immersion school for four months. Upon her return she began working on a Domestic Violence Hotline and leading seminars on healthy relationships at local schools. In 2014, Ali came to Austin to serve as an AmeriCorps member with the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas where she led ESL classes as well as PALS (Play and Learning Strategies) parenting classes. Presently, she is right where she wants to be in her role at AVEY, learning about the richness of her community and working with families to make it stronger. Despite the well-known challenges facing this rapidly growing city, Ali is content to call Austin home and might never cease to delight in its supreme bikability and agreeable weather. Outside of AVEY she can be found out and about on her bicycle or nourishing friendships with her refined vegetarian cooking.


elena carey — girls empowerment network

Elena is Development Coordinator at Girls Empowerment Network (GEN). Previously, Elena worked as Administrative Director at Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, a green building and sustainable design nonprofit in east Austin. She has also served as Volunteer Coordinator for Movability Austin, which works to improve downtown mobility. Beyond work, Elena volunteers for Austin Bat Cave, a creative writing nonprofit for youth, and STEMed Labs, a STEM education nonprofit for youth. Elena studied Anthropology and Environmental Policy at the College of William and Mary. She runs, reads, writes, and creates mixed media cards often.


laura donnelly — latinitas

Laura Donnelly minored in Computer Science in 1993 at Fairleigh Dickinson University in NJ. She learned (ahem, preparing to date herself) Basic, Fortran and C before the internet was a thing. 23 years later, she is back in tech education introducing Latina and other girls of color to Javascript, CSS, HTML, robotics and more in addition to the fun of digital media production. She co-founded Latinitas magazine in 2002 as a graduate student in journalism at UT Austin in order to present more positive representations in media of Latinas. Latinitas' after school, weekend and summer programming was launched in 2003 and has served over 25,000 girls since with media, technology and cultural literacy lessons. Latinitas has been the only agency in Austin delivering digital media and tech education in a bilingual format for over 15 years, one of a handful nationwide. And, it's working 63% of Latinitas coding workshop attendees had never coded before. Long term impact shows 93% of Latinitas program alumni are high school graduates, 81% are college students - in light of Latinas having the highest school drop out rates, this impact is powerful. In 2010 Laura was awarded Austin Under 40's Arts and Entertainment category and YWCA's Austin Woman of the Year, “Leader of Promise.” In 2015, she and her co-founder were given Hispanicize's Positive Impact Award in Miami, Fl, a national conference focused on media and arts by actor and advocate Luiz Guzman for their work using media to empowering Latinas. This year, Laura was selected for Austin Mayor Adler's Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequity and also participates on ACC's Office of Equity and Inclusion's Community Engagement committee and Manor ISD's community advisory group. She is engaged to architect Jon Salinas and has a 7 year old "Latinito" named Lucas.


Steph Adriaenssens — The miracle foundation

Steph joined the Miracle Foundation in January 2016, after interning with the organization for a year. She loves pursuing her passion for measurable, sustainable nonprofit work while helping empower orphans to reach their full potential.

As Development Coordinator, Steph supports the Development team, aligns the Development strategies in the US and India, and manages data entry and integrity.

Steph graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in Public Health and a concentration in Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofits.


Kreasha "Kay" Williams — the wantabes

Kreasha (Kay) Williams is a teen advocate, transformational speaker, and full time creative. At age 21 Kreasha founded her first company Thrift Outside The Box, a curated subscription service that provided style and fashion for the everyday women on a budget. After graduating from Texas State University with a Bachelors in Family Consumer Sciences- Fashion Merchandising and Bachelors of Business Administration at age 22 she became the youngest Store Manager at a fortune 500 fashion company. Kreasha managed over 22 million dollars in sales and over 100 employees. Before breaking out on her own she spent most of her free time volunteering at various Girl Empowerment Organizations and Youth Centers putting in over 4500 hours. She developed a passion for the process of reaching back and pulling forward the girls coming up behind her. While traveling the country Kreasha speaks to the Generation Z teen girl, helping her find her very own Super Power and become exactly who she wants to be. In 2016 she co-founded, The Wantabes a Creative Agency that puts together perspective changing campaigns, projects, and initiatives for girl centric companies all over the world. She spends her free time fueling her passion by hosting what The Wantabes like to call Ignite Girl Power workshops, discussions, and seminars highlighting different perspectives to sheltered young girls all over the world.