Our Mission

Completion of a Girls at Work program empowers each girl with tools to overcome adversity and build the confidence needed to face current and future life challenges with her own unique and powerful voice.

Many of our young builders are challenged by personal family struggles exacerbated by the limitations of economic hardship.  We strive to build partnerships with organizations sharing a mutual ambition to support girls from communities at-risk. Funding and support from local and national sources subsidize program costs for our community partners, including Title 1 schools, seeking to provide opportunities to prepare girls with the problem solving skills and personal strength to rise above the challenges encountered at home, in school, and on the job.

Our vision is a world where every girl feels confident and capable.

Our vision is a world where every girl feels confident and capable.

Girls at Work Builds Leaders

Girls at Work builds leaders. Our programs are designed to build confidence, strength and resilience through building with power tools in our after school and “Build Me Up” summer camp.

Our workshop is located in Manchester, NH. In addition to our after school, vacation and summer camp programs, we can customize a program for you and your organization.

From birthday parties, home school groups, youth organizations, non-profit, womens and give back 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, raised beds, bird houses, bookcases, chairs, window boxes and little free libraries!
You provide the people and we’ll provide all the tools and materials you’ll need to complete your project!

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

Elaine Hamel Founder of Girls at Work

Elaine Hamel

Founder & Program Leader

“I believe 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. Our girls and women need extreme measures to silence the voices of self doubt that consume them at every turn. I believe building does just that and also enables them to discover that the most powerful tool in their arsenal is their voice.”

  • Over 25 years experience as a general contractor specializing in residential renovations.
  • Has led 6 service trips to rebuild New Orleans homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina
  • Has empowered over 15,000 girls through building since founding Girls at Work in 2000
Sue Champagne - Executive Director

Sue Champagne

Executive Director

Sue is a life-long resident of Manchester and is passionate about making a positive impact on her local community.  She graduated from Dartmouth College and the University of New Hampshire School of Law. She was a prosecutor for the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office for several years before deciding to devote her energy and focus to her family. She has extensive Board experience as a former president of the Webster House Board of Directors, a member of the Board of Directors at Mill Falls Charter School, St. Catherine of Siena School and Manchester North Soccer League.

Sue fell in love with the mission of Girls at Work when she took a building class with her youngest daughter years ago. Sue and her family have been strong supporters of our organization ever since.  She is excited about Girls at Work and its potential and has taken on her role with enthusiasm and energy.  She intends to expand the program’s reach to even more girls and to form partnerships with other non-profit organizations who share our mission.

In her free time, Sue enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.

Melissa Cotter - Building Instructor

Melissa Cotter

Building 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.  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 are crucial for young girls to realize their potential and open up doors for their future. While she’s not teaching young girls how to use power tools, she is spending time with her family and endlessly renovating her Manchester home.

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.

Faina Bukher is the Program Director for the Changemaker Collaborative and provides leadership to programs such as the annual New Hampshire Social Venture Innovation Challenge, the annual summer Social Innovation Internship program, the Semester in the City program, as well as other events throughout the year. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and Women’s Studies from Purchase College, an M.A. in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and an M.B.A from the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at UNH. As part of the Social Justice Educator’s team at UNH, Faina facilitates social justice workshops to faculty, staff and graduate students. In her previous roles at UNH, Faina was the Coordinator of the Social Justice Leadership Project, Assistant Coordinator of the Women’s Studies Program, and a Residence Hall Director. She has also taught a number of undergraduate courses including Introduction to Women’s Studies and Leadership for Social Change through the UNH Women’s Studies Program, and Paul Changemakers in the Paul College of Business and Economics at UNH.

Tamara Croteau was raised in Windham and earned her degree in Accounting/ Finance and Computer Information Systems from Southern New Hampshire University. With over 20 years of accounting and bookkeeping experience, Tamara is currently the Accounting and Human Resources Manager for Stoneface Brewing Company. Tamara enjoys spending time with her husband and their two children who keep them busy with crazy schedules.

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.

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.

You have the Power to Empower

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