Follow The Leader By Stephanie

Do not be the woman who sits and watches things get done; be the woman that gets things done!

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Life, as we know it, has almost always been dominated by men, especially in politics. Even though in recent times women have been given more opportunities to contest and achieve the highest post, there is still a sort of “unstated” distrust toward women. However, women are constantly proving many of society’s outdated and untrue assumptions and stereotypes wrong.

Women have what it takes to lead and to lead well. We have the power to stand up to all of the political turmoil that is sweeping through our country and help change laws and public policies in a way that has never been done before. Women are making their marks, making a difference, and leaving their footprints in the sands of time.

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This is exactly what I am striving to do. I have always had a passion for politics and, after a 20-year career in politics, have become one of Washington’s most sought after advisors and strategists.

Originally from Gainesville, Florida, I graduated from Harvard and later became the the General Counsel to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. I have been recognized for my contributions to the legal field, garnering the Black Women Lawyers Rock Award, as well as recognized by Loop 21/Impact DC as one of the 40 Under 40 Most Influential in Capitol Hill. My political commentary can be heard on numerous outlets including The Hill, Sirius XM Radio, and One America News Network. Currently, I am the CEO of the elite political consulting company, Mickle Public Affairs Agency.

My book, Follow the Leader: Believe in Yourself. Craft Your Future, was written to empower and motivate women to get involved in the political process. All it takes is confidence from a leader who genuinely cares and understands why women hold back.

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In my book, I hope to help women learn:

  • Why it’s important for them to get involved in the political process.

  • Which topics are taboo.

  • How to close the gender gap.

  • How to let go of the superwoman syndrome.

  • Where women of color fit in.

  • How the divine influences women.

It is within us to reach out for our goals and aspirations and, if we can only believe, we can achieve it.

Interested in reading it? Order here.

Growing Though Challenges By Debora

My name is Debora Laizer. I am from Tanzania. I came to the U.S. to pursue my Masters in Business Administration at John Carroll University.

      What empowers me is believing the fact that, every human being in this world, has a part to play and purpose to fulfill. It takes a long time for many people to identify their inner self or their strengths. As a matter of fact , it took me a while to discover my inner strength and to be able to accept myself. There is a saying that “You cannot make an omelet without breaking some eggs”. The reason I am stating this is due to what I have experienced in life. Nothing comes without a cost. It takes constant courage, faith, patience, hope and being able to accept the reality that failings and problems are a part of success.

      My dream is to become the biggest and most successful entrepreneur. I have a plan to start my own Food Truck Business here in Cleveland, Ohio. Let me briefly talk about my history. I was born in Tanzania, in Arusha. I will never forget the year 2004, when I lost my best friend and the only person who knew me better than anyone. That person was my mom. It was a tragic event, and it took my whole family to a place that was full of pain and family drama. My dad was hurt by what happened and became very distracted. It took him many years to stabilize since his wife left him with very young children. This resulted in a huge set back as a family. There was a huge attack from my mother’s family towards my dad. Her family started accusing him for the cause of my mother’s death.

      The attack made the situation even worse to the extent that they started going for his wealth. Sadly, they took advantage of the situation, and the fact that my dad was still grieving from what happened. When this happened, we were still young and my youngest brother was still breastfeeding. We lost everything and basically had to start over again. This resulted in us losing the whole year at school by staying home, since my dad had to look for other options to be able to take us back to school.  

        This made me realize that no matter how much life knocks you down, you have to choose to get back up. If my dad gave up to the fact that he lost everything they fought for with his wife, then I probably wouldn’t even be here in U.S pursuing my masters. Based on this situation, my dad services as a role model to me. He helped me to believe that in no matter the hardship I experience there will always be an exit plan. This reminder keeps me believing, hoping, and having faith that there is nothing in life that can hold me down. Having to lose my mother at a very young age was one of the biggest, roughest, and most heartbreaking moments in my life. However, I was able to overcome the hardship I experienced.

       Generally, any heartbreaking moments that we experience in life should not determine our fate. As Bradley Whitford said that, “Infuse your life with action. Don't wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen... yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.” So, always try to be optimistic in life. There is no problem in life that has no answer. My advice to everyone is, always try to look for the good things in the bad things. Always opt to win or learn in life and erase a mindset of losing. Your mindset shapes how you react towards most problems you face. Remember that life is 10% of what happens to you and the 90% remaining, is how you react to it.

         Jim Rohn said that, “Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins.'' As I said before, problems are always a platform to grow. Great things always come from great challenges.

Create the Life You Want to Live by Coralie

When I graduated from high school in 2016, my future plans included starting to study, like everyone else, at a university in The Netherlands. Never had I imagined that this would, in fact, turn into a three-year-long process that would take an unimaginable amount of twists and turns.

Right away, I faced challenges that made me stay in Germany and pushed me to start studying a Bachelor of Sociology online. At first, I really only thought about this year as a “buffer year”, where I would take a couple of classes just to keep my academic skills and to get ready for when I would “really start studying”. Of course, it wasn’t that simple.

In 2017, I faced more challenges that made me, for the second time, have to delay my entry to university by a year. It may seem trivial, but seeing your friends and classmates from high school all attend university and live the student lifestyle can seriously lead you to doubt yourself and what you are doing with your life! Nevertheless, I decided to make this second-year count! Long gone were the days of being disappointed about having to postpone university, I was not about to waste one more minute on something I had no control upon.

I began taking a load of classes with the aim of graduating from my online Bachelor within two years; a year earlier than expected. I also decided to start tutoring to get some money on the side and took the one I had accumulated while working in a local ice cream shop to book a volunteer trip to Morocco. This was my third, Spain and The Netherlands came before. This time, as with the others, I was studying classes that fit the work I was doing in Morocco, and it was a life changing experience. I came back to Germany two weeks later, knowing that I wanted to go back, and this time much longer.

In February, I volunteered in Uganda for a month while studying full-time. I applied to more universities to start a second Bachelor and was accepted! I conducted a small-scale, observation-based research with the Ugandan people I was volunteering with. A few months later, I ended up presenting this research at a conference in Poland. That was it, I was happy and looking forward to finally studying in a physical university, like everyone else.

That same year, I decided to launch my first website: a blog dedicated to my volunteer trips, academic papers, and other general ideas. Then, in August, I launched my second website and business: CoachCoralie, to offer my tutoring and editing services online as well.

Then September came. I moved to London, where I was meant to start studying. I was certain that this time, it would work. But it didn’t. Once again, I faced the troubling reality that I had to choose between studying in my dream university and my right to live in Germany, the place I grew up in, the place I call home. Lots of tears were shed, numerous hours were spent evaluating the pros and cons of staying or leaving. Leaving my dorm, which I had just moved in. Leaving my new friends, my aspirations to become a graduate of this incredible university. A hard choice, to say the least. Nevertheless, I made the right one: I chose to pack up because, sometimes, some things just aren’t meant to be.  

I spent the following three weeks on my laptop searching feverously for internships, NGOs to volunteer with, anything to do really, for this year. One thing was for certain: I was not going to lay in bed, in Germany, crying about my poor luck.

I found the Mayshad Foundation, as well as another NGO in Greece, where I wrote this post, and secured two internships in my field. I then became a writer for the Mayshad Mag. I was approached by a Canadian company to write articles for them, too. I continued writing posts for my blog, Years of Change, and ran my small business. Most importantly: I didn’t give up.

Although the past two and a half years have been full of challenges, emotions and difficult decisions, it all worked out in the end because I opened my eyes to the incredible opportunities the world has to offer. It worked out because I decided to think outside of the box, started new projects, and because I didn’t look at it as this terrible ordeal I was stuck into, but as an opportunity to do something new, something different, something that not everybody else does!

Fast forward six months later, I am finishing this post after having spent six weeks in Greece, two months in Morocco, having attended Ted conferences and international summits on human rights, and am now planning to move to London this coming September.

The moral of this post is that you have the power to create the life you want to live. No matter what challenges you are facing, the number of times you feel stuck, or how much you want to give up, there is always something you can do. It’s up to you to get up in the morning, to contact the people who can help you and to work towards reaching your goals.

You can do it!

Learning Self-Defense Is Empowering By Amit, Founder of Krav Maga Cleveland

My first step into martial arts was almost a decade ago, at a training center owned and run by this woman, who happened to hit like a truck. I signed up then and there because I knew this woman would really teach me how to fight rather than show me fancy moves that only worked for big, strong guys. What started there has now resulted in owning and running my own place.


Over the years, I have known, trained with and befriended many strong and amazingly talented women. I have observed and realized that women often turn out to be better fighters than their male counterparts The ability to adapt quickly to changes in the fight, improvise, observe and understand the situation, awareness, resilience, grit, – qualities that, research has shown, come naturally to women – are brought to the forefront during training.


When I was younger, I noticed that parents would encourage their sons to learn martial arts, but very few enrolled their daughters. Instead, girls would often be packed off to art, dance and told to temper their aggression. To this day, I never understand why boys tend to dress up as superheroes, soldiers, firemen, etc. for Halloween, whereas girls typically dress as angels, princesses or fairies. There are plenty such examples that come to mind. While there is absolutely nothing wrong in learning art and dance, or dressing up as princesses, the expectations, and confinement of roles, stands out thereby limiting imagination and potential.

I do not intend to “mansplain” anything. But I do believe that teaching girls and women how to fight is a huge plus. Is it all we need to empower them? Absolutely not, but it is one step closer, and growth is being better than you were yesterday. Yes, our daughters are angels, but let them be angels who can stand up for themselves in a dangerous situation!

Benefits of Learning Self-Defense:

  1. Increased Confidence

    You can enhance your sense of self-discipline and self-control through self-defense. Knowing that you are capable of defending yourself is extremely empowering.

  2. Increased Physical Fitness Levels

    Self-defense can increase an individuals endurance, strength, agility, coordination and balance.

  3. Ability to Defend Self

    Safety, safety, safety! Self-defense teaches an individual how to be more aware of her surroundings, as well as escape and protect herself from an attacker.


Join Krav Maga Cleveland and Empowered & Poised June 7th for our Parent-Daughter Self- Defense class! Register today to reserve your spot.

How to Heal From Bullying By Lexi

Bullying is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance,” according to “The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time." Students often describe bullying as when “someone makes you feel less about who you are as a person.” With about 21 percent of US students aged 12-18 being bullied, it’s no surprise that bullying, both in schools and online, has become incredibly problematic. Bullying is not a harmless part of growing up but rather causes a number of negative effects that can be gradual or immediate.


Bullying can manifest in different ways and at any age. It could come from a peer, friend, authority figure or co-worker. It can also be physical, verbal, or through the internet. Bullying can create high levels of social anxiety, a sense of loss of dignity, self doubt, and reluctance to participate in group activities. If not taken care of as quickly as possible, it can cause lasting strain on an individual.  


Growing up with a supportive, loving family, and plenty of friends to socialize with, I didn’t have many worries. It wasn’t until high school that  the bullying really started to affect me. It began with negative comments about my personality and appearance, followed by being ignored by people who I had previously considered my friends. This behavior began to develop into being criticized and shunned by a majority of my previous girlfriends.


Multiple times a week one of the few friends I had left would inform me of a new rumor that was being circulated about me. At first, I tried everything I could to attempt to get these girls to like me again and put all the rumors to rest, but sadly, nothing worked. I went to a large high school which was attended by roughly 1,500 students . This being said, it wasn’t only a few people who I had felt embarrassed and excluded by, it was the majority. At this point I had only a few friends left at school that I felt at ease around. I started driving home for lunch every day to eat alone and avoid having to go into the lunch room and face everyone who seemed to hate me. I stopped getting invited to social events and being a part of the fun memoires everyone was making together. I felt rejected. I didn’t know what to do next or how to make it stop.


I finally found my way back to happiness after becoming close friends with some of the girls on my club soccer team and taking the necessary steps to heal myself. My new friends and I all went to different high schools which made it easier to transition myself into their friend groups without judgement. Although I had new friends to attend fun activities and hangout with, I still had to brave attending school every day. I became stronger and started to not let the unkind words spoken by other girls affect me. I learned that words can hurt, but only if you let them, and that it is imperative to take the necessary steps to heal after being bullied.


Tips for Helping Yourself Heal


1. Acknowledge the bullying you experienced: Victims of bullying often try and minimize the effects by pretending it never happened or by blaming themselves. One way to begin the healing process is to accept that you were bullied and you were not responsible for it.


2. Create a safe space in your home: This place should be somewhere where you can be yourself without any judgment or criticism. Your home can be a place that combats your feelings of fear, isolation and worry that bullying can cause. When you are in this safe place try to practice mindfulness and focus on the positives in your life.  


3. Get involved in activities that bring you joy: It is easy to sit and dwell on the hurt you may feel from being bullied. Joining a club or activity like biking, theatre, running, mindfulness, art or photography will help get your mind off of the hurt you feel and can bring you cheerfulness as well as some potential new friendships.


4. Find someone to talk to: Sharing your feelings and experiences with someone you feel comfortable with is critical. This could be a therapist, teacher, counselor at school, parent, friend, or any trusted adult. There are also a variety of online support groups as well. Seek out  support and know that you are never alone.


5. Know your value and worth: Bullying can frequently lead to lower self-esteem. One reason you may struggle with a lower self-esteem is because you may feel as though your reputation has been tarnished. Don’t buy into the lies or rumors that were said about you, and replace them with positive affirmations of all your best qualities and attributes. A great way to do this is to write down positive characteristics about yourself.  For instance, you may write down what others like about you, what you are good at, and what you like about yourself. Start with “I am…” and then list these positive qualities. You might say “resilient,” “hard working,” “kind,” etc. Shift your focus to the positive things you have going for you and reject the cruel things that were said about you.


If you are being bullied, remember that it is never your fault. Bully behaviour often stems from the insecurities, trauma, and projection of the bully - but that doesn’t make it any less hurtful. Also, bullying doesn’t only happen with kids - adults can be bullies, too. You may need to protect yourself from abusive, toxic, or controlling people by utilizing the steps above.


Think of the most beautiful flower - maybe an orchid or a tulip. People can say whatever they want about the flower, but that doesn’t change its inherent essence. Likewise, nobody can dull your light. Be kind to yourself, and remember that self-worth is an inside job.

Author bio: Lexi Klinkenberg is a writer at Redfin, a technology-enabled real estate brokerage. Redfin’s mission is to redefine real estate in the customer’s favor.

Helping Myself by Giving to Others by Nicole

My whole life I had considered myself to be Christian, but I never really practiced my faith or had a relationship with God until about two years ago. Throughout college I desired to become stronger in my faith, but I wasn’t ready to make it a priority at that time. Immediately after graduating, I moved to a different state where I told myself things would be different. I searched for a church to attend and after only a few visits to two different churches in my area, I picked the second one to be my church home. Little did I know then how the messages and people from that church would impact my life now.

Like many girls and women out there, I struggle with loving my genuine and true self. Often as a result of failing at loving myself comes negativity towards others in terms of jealousy. I sometimes spend more time than I’d like to admit on social media scrolling through pictures of women who I wish I looked like. I eventually learned that this habit was self-destruction. I was being much meaner to myself with social comparison than anyone else had ever been to me.

One of the most important things I’ve learned while becoming stronger in my faith the past two years and try to apply to my life every day is the power of giving. I used to get extremely anxious and stressed when having to discuss money with anyone because I was always broke. I wanted to fit in and appear as cool as everyone else, so I would spend any money I made or received on material things. Meanwhile, my mental health was at stake because I was constantly trying to gain approval from others. A lot changed for me when I spent four short months in Salt Lake City, Utah to complete a practicum for my graduate program just last year! The home I stayed in (rent-free) belongs to two of the kindest people I have ever met and the parents of a friend I met at church… funny how everything simply fell into place for me.

I would have never thought so much could change in only four months and was shocked by how much I didn’t know about myself yet. I discovered three main things that changed my whole outlook on life… how beautiful and incredible our world truly is, my love for adventure, and God’s grace. The couple I lived with demonstrated a life led by God every day and I desired to be like them one day. I began tithing, meaning giving 10% of the money I earned away to others who need it more than me. Meanwhile, I didn’t have a steady job when I lived in Utah, I just babysat here and there and the little money I did have was running out. In fact, by the time I left Utah and went back home, I was nearly $500 in credit card debt.

Fast forward only a couple of WEEKS, I got a serving job. Only a couple of weeks after that, that same serving job also helped me get a nannying job and I was able to pay off my credit card within a month. I continue to tithe every week, giving some money to my church and some to a jar kept in my bedroom which I call my “give jar.” I suddenly stopped caring about material things, have more money saved than I’ve ever had in my life, and my anxiety decreased dramatically.

I had no idea what God wanted me to do with the money I had saved in my give jar, but I knew it was going to have a purpose eventually. That time came sooner rather than later when I found out a girl I used to work with at my serving job and her two daughters resorted to sleeping in a homeless shelter. I invited her  to stay at my house and that one night turned into a few weeks thanks to the generous hearts of my mom and stepdad whose house I currently live in. The three of them quickly became part of our family and I received the sisterly relationship that I had been praying for for a long time. Although we had given her some things to help her get back on her feet, she has helped us by putting God’s vision in our home and our hearts.

It is impossible for us to see the big picture of life, no matter how much we think we know what’s going to happen next. However, there is a higher power that has a plan for every person and He will take care of you if you have a little faith.

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Everything Happens for a Reason By Krista

I am Empowered & Poised through encouraging others to be the best versions of themselves. Sports have always been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. Between dancing, kicking soccer balls, and hitting softballs, there was much preparation to be done beforehand both physically and mentally. Over the course of my time playing sports, there were many life lessons to be learned, but one lesson that has had the most impact on me is encouraging others to be at their best.

However, what really sparked my interest in pursuing a career in the health & wellness industry was a serious knee injury that changed my life. In 7th grade, my soccer team and I were warming up before a game and my knee gave out and down I went. It was in that moment I wanted to pretend that nothing had happened and carry on with the rest of warm ups, but my parents had the right mind in taking me to the doctor to get it checked out. It was discovered that I ruptured my ACL and would be out of sports for approximately 9 months, which for me was devastating considering how important playing sports was for me. After the surgery, I was officially on the road to recovery from this gruesome injury. From there came months of physical therapy, accompanied with many tears from frustration, smiles from regaining an old ability back, and every emotion in between. It was from my time in physical therapy that I realized that I would eventually like to have a career in the rehabilitation/sports medicine field, however I wasn’t sure of what exactly I wanted to specialize in yet. I did overcome this obstacle as I made it back into playing competitive sports within an 8 month recovery.

Years have passed, and today I am currently a senior at the University of Mount Union who will be graduating in about a month with my Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science supplemented with three minors in physical education pedagogy, sport business, and athletic coaching leadership. I have decided that my career goals will consist of personal training, sports performance training, and an eventual goal to becoming a Health and Physical Education teacher.

Without this serious injury, I know that I would definitely not be in the position that I am in today, without all the experiences that I have faced over the years leading up until now.  Everything happens for a reason.

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Two Isn't So Terrible!

Holy moly! We cannot believe that it’s been two years since founding Empowered & Poised.


We are happy to share that in year two we have accomplished the following:

  • Developed countless amazing partnerships, most of which can be found on our new partners page. Here are just a few of the many highlights:

    • We had a fabulous year in partnership with the South Euclid Lyndhurst School District, implementing our first ever 15 week in-school curriculum at Greenview Upper Elementary.

    • We took part in our largest event yet, the Dare to Dream Retreat, at John Carroll University.

    • We implemented 5 grants on the topic of Creativity & Entrepreneurship thanks to the Young Entrepreneur Institute and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. If you are an educator interested in implementing entrepreneurship into your curriculum I highly suggest attending the Enspire Conference.

    • We had our first ever Mother Daughter Self-defense class in partnership with Krav Maga Cleveland.

    • We ran a wonderful workshop series at Charles A Mooney, where we were able to meet with the girls once a month during the fall semester to empower and educate them about social, mental, and physical well-being.

    • We had some fun in the sun with the girls at the St. Martin Deppores Family Center, as well as at the Pepper Pike Learning Center.

    • & so much more!

  • 100+ women offered to share their deepest and most heartfelt stories through our weekly blog. We also had a handful of community partners share their expertise on a variety of topics that pertain to helping the young women in our communities. If you do not receive our blogs please subscribe.

Again, a special thank you to every single person who has contributed in any way, shape, or form to this year’s success. We are excited for what the future holds not only for Empowered & Poised as an organization, but for every individual who is a part of our community.


Our events page is always up to date with the latest programs and workshops we offer!

We’re offering a few open enrollment programs that you can still sign your daughter up for this summer!

Stay tuned for what’s to come in year three! <3

Facing Fear by Christine

Pre-Mountain Climb

Last summer, I traveled to South Africa on a three week mission trip. At the end of the trip, we had the opportunity to explore Cape Town. As a group, we knew we had three days to soak up all Cape Town had to offer. We learned about a popular landmark called Table Top Mountain. After we researched what we could do on Table Top Mountain, we found out that we could take a cable car to the top of the mountain where there were shops, snacks, and a restaurant. I was nervous from the start to even go to the top of the mountain due to my fear of heights. Once I heard about the cable car I was a little relieved because I knew I would not have to hike up the mountain and deal with my fear of heights.

Morning of the Climb

As a group, we were dropped off at the bottom of the mountain. It was a beautiful sunny day outside with no cloud in sight. Locals mentioned to us to go to the top of the mountain on a non-cloudy day to get the best view of Cape Town. We were blessed with such a beautiful day. Once we arrive, we found out that the cable cars were out of commission due to yearly maintenance. That meant one thing, we had to climb up to the top of the mountain to see the breathtaking views that everyone talked about. As a group, we decided to climb. I had one water bottle and was wearing non-hiking shoes. I knew it was going to be a challenge for me due to my fear of heights. There was nothing to hold on to as we were walking up the mountain. Just you and the ground. My shoes slipped on some of the rocks and my heart stopped.  An hour into the hike I finish my water and realize how scared I actually was. I did not look down because I knew it would freak me out and the fear would make me want to go back down. Let me tell you, it got harder and harder to breathe as you walk up. Two hours into the hike I wanted to quit and go back down. I saw how far up we were and I was scared. I told myself I couldn’t do this anymore. With encouragement from my boyfriend, he told me, “You have to step up to the plate and swing the bat.” I decided to continue up and not look down. I finally made it up the mountain after three long hours of climbing. It felt so good to be on flat land.

After the Climb

This hike was a challenge mentally and physically. Three hours to get up the mountain and two hours to get down. My stamina was challenged along the way and I’m glad I was able to push through the negative thoughts of wanting to quit.  I was not prepared at all for this adventure, but I am glad I was able to make it to the top and face my fear of heights. I learned I can’t go through life letting negative thoughts stop me from challenging myself. Today, when I start to doubt myself I say, “You have to step up to the plate and swing the bat”.

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You Are Enough By Zyann

Hello , my name is Zyann Walker and I am 16 years old. I attend John Marshall School of Engineering and I am honored to give a little detail about my personal issues I dealt with in the past to help other girls that may be going through the same or similar problems. To begin with, first I would like to apologize to each and every female who has been through or is currently going through bullying issues or insecurities within themselves. You are beautiful and strong and there is nothing wrong with you at all. You are going to get older and realize you are better than some nasty words that are said or written about you. I learned to love myself no matter what people say about me or how they make fun of me because words are just words. I used to be bullied about my height because I was very short and how my ears were so tiny for my head and how my nose was too big for my face. Those were insecurities that I always had until now. I learned to accept the fact that I am beautiful just the way I am, and so are you. Dealing with those insecurities, I always wanted to get surgery when I was older to fix those problems. As I’ve grown, I have realized words are just words said out of a bully’s mouth. I don't ever want you to change how you look because of another person who makes fun of you. The best way you can deal with a bully is to talk to an adult you trust like a teacher or parent or to simply just ignore them. Thank you for your time and for listening to my story. I hope you are able to read this and realize your own worth and beauty.