Girls learning, leading, succeeding

Girls Summer Entrepreneurship Program

Dana Hall’s Girls Summer Entrepreneurship Program (GSEP) offers first-hand experience in the evolving world of business for women in the 21st century. Through our program, we seek to build business acumen, as well as foster confidence, perseverance, leadership and creativity in each of our participants.
Under the instruction and mentorship of business educators and professionals, the GSEP curriculum engages participants as they learn and work collaboratively to: develop and present a business plan; gain exposure to the process for developing product and service concepts; learn financial and marketing basics, and strengthen their problem-solving and innovation skills.
The young women in our program will enter college and the work world with the advantage of having exposure to business skills, as well as a unique understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing female entrepreneurs today.


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  • Program

    Students will work in teams in the development of a business or product idea. They will learn about entrepreneurship by “being the entrepreneur” and applying tools and techniques learned in seminars to develop their own ideas. The program will culminate in the teams pitching their business plans to potential investors in a business plan contest: “The Dragon’s Lair.”
    Key program objectives include:
    • Understanding the relationship between successful innovations and consumer value
    • Acquiring real entrepreneurial experience in pitching a concept to potential investors
    • Gaining exposure to marketing research
    • Developing a detailed business plan
    • Engaging with leading industry executives
  • Faculty

    Jen DiRico '03, Vice President and Chief of Staff to the CEO at Toast

    As Chief of Staff, Jen DiRico works alongside the Toast executive team to establish and drive the operational rhythm of the business, manage strategic initiatives, and scale cross-functional programs. Jen joined Toast in 2016 to build and lead the Financial Planning & Analysis Team. Before joining Toast, Jen held various finance and consulting roles in the hospitality and SaaS space. Jen is a graduate from the University of Miami and holds an MBA from Simmons School of Management.

    Peter Gladstone, Lead Advisor for Consumer Strategy and Execution at the Harvard Innovation Labs

    Peter Gladstone leads programming and mentoring for all consumer-facing ventures at the Harvard Innovation Labs. He has taught Marketing at the undergraduate and graduate level at Bentley University and has over 20 years of consumer marketing experience having held marketing jobs of varying responsibilities for Gillette, Procter & Gamble and The Boston Beer Company. In addition to his work at Harvard, he is currently co-founder of three consumer product start-ups and sits on multiple advisory boards. Peter is a graduate of Brandeis University and earned an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

    Katie Murphy ‘05, Marketing Manager at New Balance

    Katie Murphy is a Marketing Manager on the North American Wholesale Marketing team at New Balance where she manages the marketing strategy for the Lifestyle Specialty, Athletic Specialty and Key Account Internet channels. These channels include all wholesale partners who sell New Balance – from Kith to Journeys, Bodega to Foot Locker, Amazon to Zappos. In that role, she is responsible for raising awareness and purchases both in-store and online, with marketing efforts directed towards specific targeted consumer groups. Prior to New Balance, Katie was an Account Manager at Digitas where she was responsible for work on a diverse portfolio including General Motors, Goodyear, Bank of America, and Lenovo. Katie is also on the Board of Directors for WISE Boston (Women in Sports and Events) where she is the Director of Communications, responsible for all member and events communications. Katie earned her undergraduate degree from Barnard College and her Master’s Degree from Harvard University.

    Michele Gerdes, Program Coordinator

    Michele Gerdes has spent more than two decades at Dana Hall. She has taught students in 6th through 12th grades in both mathematics and science, and has been working with GSEP since its founding. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from New York University.

    Cat Blakelock '10, Program Facilitator

    Cat Blakelock '10 is both an alumna and former Dana Hall faculty member. Currently living in Jacksonville, Florida, she is eager to return to campus to be a part of GSEP. A seasoned classroom practitioner, Cat is currently teaching at The Discovery School after having taught various levels of high school math and 6th grade math and science at Dana Hall. Prior to teaching at Dana Hall, she was a Teach for America Corps Member in New York City. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Cat serves as a Field Artillery Officer in the National Guard. She is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College and the Relay Graduate School of Education.


2021 Program

Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, the 2021 Girls Summer Entrepreneurship Program will not run.

GSEP Photos


For application materials, go to your grade’s Schoology page. Please contact Program Coordinator Michele Gerdes with specific program questions and financial aid inquiries.

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  • Dance

    Favorite Activity
  • Poetry project

    Favorite Assignment
  • Spanish III Honors

    Favorite Class

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  • Francesca

    "In my Literature Composition I class we did a poetry unit before winter break. Our poetry project was in collaboration with a school in Turkey. We created our own websites to display our works of poetry. The last day of school before winter break we were able to Skype with the kids from the school in Turkey, and it was so much fun to interact with students who were so far away. We were able to learn what their school was like, and how their classes worked."