Our Mission

Completion of a Girls at Work, Inc. program empowers each girl, using power tools, to overcome adversity and build the confidence needed to face current and future life challenges with her own unique and powerful voice. Most of our young builders are challenged by personal family struggles exacerbated by the challenges of economic hardship. In fact, over 90% of our girls need full or partial financial sponsorship to participate in our programs.

If you would like to dig deeper into how we utilize our resources and programs to maximize our outcomes and impact, click here to review our Theory of Change document developed by Nancy Boyer, Ph.D., in December of 2021.

It’s time to for girls to rewrite their narrative to one that showcases them as powerful and capable. Our vision is a world where every girl feels confident and capable.

We Build Leaders

Girls at Work, Inc. builds leaders.

Our programs are designed to build confidence, strength and resilience through building with power tools in our after school, team builds, and “Build Me Up” summer camps. Our workshops and meeting spaces are located in the Millyard in Manchester, New Hampshire.

In addition to our after school, middle school builds, vacation and summer camp programs, we can customize a program for you and your organization. For birthday parties, home school groups, youth organizations, non-profit, women’s and/or team builds, we’ll develop a build event that sharpens critical thinking and fosters teamwork and connection.

We’ve worked with groups to build picnic tables, benches, outdoor classrooms, raised beds, bird houses, bookcases, chairs, window boxes, and tiny, free libraries! You provide the people and we’ll provide all the tools and materials you’ll need to complete your project while improving their teamwork.

Schedule a tour and see what the buzz is all about!

“I am blown away by the impact this program has on the girls served. I believe that all girls should have the chance to participate and find voice, confidence and success in this program.”

Nancy Frankel

Girls Scout Camp Director and board member of the
National Board of Directors of the American Camp Association

Leadership

Our Board of Directors

Donald E. Bossi, Ph.D. is a General Partner with Technology Venture Partners (TVP) and has been actively engaged with the firm’s venture-capital investments, both as an operating executive and as a representative of the firm. As Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of two TVP portfolio companies, Aegis Lightware, Inc. and Inlet Technologies, Inc., Don was pivotal in leading the expansion efforts of both companies, as well as positioning them for successful acquisitions. In addition, he has served in key Board and Advisory roles across several TVP companies at various stages. Prior to TVP, Don was Group President of JDS Uniphase Corporation’s Transmission Products Group, a division that grew ten-fold under his leadership. Don also served as President of FIRST, the leading global non-profit organization that inspires young people’s interest in science, technology, and engineering. Don holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is an owner of a number of U.S. patents. Has also serves on the Boards of Directors for several privately held companies and non-profit organizations.

Martha Dickey is the Area Director for Merrimack County at Granite United Way. She recently completed her MBA in Leadership from Franklin Pierce University, and brings over 20 years’ experience in fundraising, corporate relations and leadership development to the Board. During her career, she has improved advancement operations at FIRST and the Friends Program. A Massachusetts native, Martha resides in Northfield and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren in her “free” time. She is a tireless advocate in the Mental Health space and has helped pass legislation in New Hampshire around mental health and suicide awareness and prevention.

Ken Hamel has over 38 years of operations, finance and Information Technology experience in the technology industry. He has a long-tenured history at SAP, a global software company, joining in 2003 and held numerous leadership roles on the global senior executive team including Executive Vice President.  Previous to SAP he served as Vice President at Oracle Corporation and prior to that several years in financial management at Digital Equipment Corporation.  He is currently serving as a Senior Advisor at Bridge Growth Partners, a private equity company focused on technology companies. Ken is also on the Board of Syniti, a privately held software company. Ken is currently a Corporator at Perkins School for the Blind and previously served on the Executive Board of Daniel Webster Boy Scouts Council.

Kate Lafond is passionate about elevating people and communities. She is a SNHU graduate with a B.A. in Sociology and is pursuing her M.B.A. She has extensive experience working in local government and non-profit finance and administration. In looking for other ways she could contribute to local communities she discovered Girls at Work, Inc and got inspired by the opportunity to support and amplify the organization’s mission and work. In addition to supporting the organization, Kate is also excited to learn how to build with power tools herself.

Lauren Smith is the Chief of Staff for Mayor Joyce Craig in Manchester, New Hampshire. In her current role, Lauren oversees all administrative, policy, communications, and operational activities for the Office of the Mayor. Previously, she served as the Communications Director for a local labor union and led the public relations division of a communications agency on the seacoast. She is a graduate of Leadership Greater Manchester, a former Harvard Bloomberg City Leadership Initiative Member and a New Leaders Council Fellow. A Midwest native, Lauren holds a B.A. in American History and B.A.J.M.C. in Advertising from Drake University. In her spare time, Lauren attempts to read one book a week, with varying success.

Christina Stahlkopf is the Head of Fashion Brands, Global Consumer Insights for Hasbro. Christina is an innovator, pioneer methodologist, sociologist, author, and academic lead. She combines analytic rigor with imaginative thinking to help brands achieve their ambitions. In 2022, Christina nominated and pitched Girls at Work, Inc. to her Hasbro colleagues worldwide – out of 30-50 worthy organizations, Girls at Work, Inc. was ranked in the top 5 nonprofits globally!

Dr. Shanita Williams is a TEDx speaker, coach, author and the Associate Vice President of Talent Engagement and Inclusion at Southern New Hampshire University. For the last 15 year, Dr. Williams has helped organizations think about how to cultivate engaged and inclusive cultures that empower employees to reach their highest potential. As a leader in HR, she partners with Senior Leaders and Executives to understand employee engagement trends and develop strategies that help the organization recruit, retain, empower and develop world class talent.

Our Staff

Elaine Hamel

Executive Director, Program Leader & Founder

Elaine believes teaching girls and women how to use power tools to build provides an experience that shatters the lens of powerlessness that so many struggle with. Girls need extreme measures to silence the voices of self-doubt that consume them at every turn. She believes building does just that and also enables them to discover that the most powerful tool in their arsenal is their voice. Elaine has:

  • Empowered well over 15,000 girls through building since she founded Girls at Work, Inc. in 2000;
  • Graduated the Leadership Greater Manchester program;
  • Over 25 years experience as a general contractor specializing in residential renovations;
  • Led 6 service trips to rebuild New Orleans homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Elaine Hamel Founder of Girls at Work

Melissa Cotter

Program Instructor

Melissa Cotter is a NH native. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Endicott College. After falling in love with woodworking in college and working several years as a carpenter, Melissa is now a program instructor at Girls at Work, Inc. She loves the confidence that girls gain and the excitement they have after building their first projects. Melissa believes that programs like Girls at Work, Inc. are crucial for young girls to realize their potential and open up doors for their future. When she’s not teaching young girls how to use power tools, she is spending time with her family and endlessly renovating her Manchester home.

Melissa Cotter - Building Instructor

Erika Cross MacDonald

Program Instructor

Erika joined the team in 2022. Before arriving at Girls at Work, Inc., Erika served the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter (NSKS) for nearly 20 years in a number of roles, including Director of Finance and Administration, Finance & Facilities Manager, as well as a member of the Board of Directors. Prior to and during her tenure at NSKS, Erika was the sole proprietor of Shoebox Automation: Bookkeeping for Small Business and Nonprofits for 20 years. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking, creating, and volunteering. Her personal tagline is “Working to make the world a better place!” – and she does this every day by empowering our young girls and building their confidence.

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Joe Gallagher & Craig Young

Building & Project Prep Team

Craig & Joe are our two, amazing building project prep volunteers. These dedicated gentlemen arrive every single weekday morning to prepare lumber and materials for the projects the girls will be working on each afternoon, as well as for our off-site team builds. Craig and Joe volunteer well over 1,000 hours annually. Without their dedication and hard work, we would not be able to offer the programming we do!

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Nick Zaharias

Director of Development

Nick was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. He has led rebranding and marketing campaigns and has raised over $100M in his career and is passionate about helping the girls in need; Nick has helped organizations like Elliot Health System, Tilton School, The New Hampshire Public Health Association, VaxWell New Hampshire and his alma mater, UConn, improve and expand their program offerings. At Elliot, Nick was instrumental in their largest capital campaign in the Hospital’s history to construct the new Regional Center for Cancer Care in Manchester.

Nick Zaharias, Director of Development

You Have the Power to Empower

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