Girls learning, leading, succeeding
External Programs

Girls Summer Leadership Program

The Girls Summer Leadership Program seeks to cultivate in its participants Dana Hall School’s core values of integrity, leadership, diversity, and service, as well as respect for self and others. The program provides participants with a unique opportunity to prepare themselves for the challenges and choices they will face as high school students.
Whether participants will enter a co-ed or single-sex high school environment in the fall, the Girls Summer Leadership Program is designed to help girls find the tools they need to navigate this transition with confidence and self-awareness.


I think the biggest thing I gained from GSLP was more confidence in myself and in my abilities. 
At Dana Hall, we understand that girls are different than boys. We know that each girl can lead in her own way. We encourage young women to take risks, find their strengths, and discover their voices. The Girls Summer Leadership Program provides a special setting for girls to work with high school and adult mentors to gain valuable skills and resources that they can take with them as they enter high school.

The Girls Summer Leadership Program is a 7-day/6-night residential program open to girls who have completed eighth grade and will enter high school in the fall. (Girls may be entering any high school; the program is not restricted to those entering Dana Hall.)


GSLP allowed me to be more confident in who I am. I gained a little more confidence to public speak, but I will probably still get nervous. 


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  • Program Details

    In specially-designed workshops and activities, girls build leadership skills, focusing on communication, decision making, collaboration, conflict resolution, anti-bullying and ally training, problem solving, and understanding differences. 

    Participants in the Girls Summer Leadership Program:

    • Examine different leadership styles/attributes and find their strengths
    • Participate in a local service project
    • Use technology to enhance connections and experience
    • Work with experts in the field of girls and adolescent development
    • Aspire to be a leader in their high school communities
    • Leave with a support network they can continue to connect with after the program ends
    • Experience dorm life
    • Have fun! 


    Under the direction of Dana Hall School’s Dean of Students Kristin Ryan, participants in the Girls Summer Leadership Program work with a network of high school mentors, young alumnae mentors, and adult mentors including Dana Hall faculty, community members, and Dana Hall alumnae.

    Dana Hall's Campus, Facilities & Resources

    The program takes place on Dana Hall’s beautiful 52-acre campus in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Under the supervision of residential faculty members, girls live with roommates in Dana Hall dormitories.

    Participants have access to:

    • School’s technology
    • fields
    • classrooms
    • Dining Hall
    • Shipley Center for Athletics, Health and Wellness (includes an indoor pool, climbing wall, dance studio, and weight and fitness room)
  • Program Faculty


    Program Director
    B.A. Middlebury College
    M.Ed. Harvard University

    Kristin Ryan holds a Master’s in Education in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University and has been a part of the Dana Hall community since 2000. In her role as Dean of Students, Kristin leads the Student Affairs department at Dana Hall. Kristin has developed Dana Hall’s student leadership curriculum, which includes facilitating regular leadership workshops for 60 student leaders, and has presented on leadership education at a number of national conferences. As an on-campus faculty member, Kristin enjoys living alongside students and taking part in the various elements of boarding school life. “With training and support, I feel strongly that every girl has the ability to take on the challenges of high school with confidence and self-awareness. By focusing on each individual’s strengths and exposing participants to various leadership models, this program will leave each girl with a better understanding of herself, as well as her own aspirations for high school.”


    Assistant Head of School
    B.A. Cornell University
    M.Ed. Harvard University

    Rob Mather has been at Dana Hall since 1992. He served for many years as Dana Hall’s Director of Studies and was a faculty member in the Social Studies Department. Rob works closely with the Academic Dean and Department Heads’ Committee to help foster academic growth and curriculum development across the disciplines. In various roles during his tenure at the School, Rob has served as a teacher, coach, class advisor, and administrator. He lives on campus with his wife and two daughters. “Dana Hall is a special place, and I’m delighted we’re able to welcome participants from across the country to our beautiful campus. More importantly, though, I’m excited by the opportunity to engage them with the exceptional leadership curriculum the School has developed over the years.”


    Program Faculty
    B.S. College of Engineering, Northeastern University

    Sarah Jacobs is a Dana Hall Upper School science teacher. She teaches a freshman course in conceptual physics and a junior and senior course in algebra-based physics. In addition to being a classroom teacher, Sarah oversees students’ academic transition to Dana Hall as the Academic Class Dean for the 9th grade. In this role, she works closely with students as they acclimate to the culture and customs of Dana Hall. 

    "My favorite part of every year is the 9th grade class retreat,” says Jacobs. “Students are getting to know one another, while working on leadership challenges on a high ropes course. Like these 9th grade students, I am looking forward to working with the GSLP participants as they get to know their own strengths and challenge themselves to push beyond their comfort zone.” Sarah has also engaged in many diversity initiatives and professional development opportunities, including the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE) Diversity Workshops, National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) People of Color Conference and Diversity Directions. Sarah is the faculty advisor to Bridge (Dana's Gay-Straight Alliance). She has also served as the Educational Technology Facilitator for the Science Department, working with teachers and students to navigate the implementation of 21st-century skills in the classroom. Sarah has also coached a variety of sports at Dana Hall, including ice hockey, softball, field hockey, and personal fitness.


    Program Assistant
    B.A. St. Lawrence University
    M.S. Regis College (MA) 

    Margie Bailey is the Shipley Center Program Coordinator at Dana Hall School. In addition to her duties in the Athletic Department, Margie is a faculty facilitator for 10th Grade Forum, co-leads the Peer Education Program, multi-season coach, and 8th Grade Advisor. Before arriving at Dana Hall, Margie was a four-year Varsity Lacrosse starter at St. Lawrence University and was formerly the Assistant Lacrosse Coach at Regis College.


    Professional Mentor Coordinator
    B.A. Union College 
    M.Ed. Boston College

    Guida Mattison '98, worked at Dana Hall from 2003 -2014, and holds a Master's in Education Administration with a focus in secondary schools. Guida worked primarily in the area of Health and Wellness. In this role she developed health curriculum, organized programs and taught classes to grades 7-12. In addition, she has advised, coached and lived in the dormitories. Guida is a Dana Hall alumna, attending from seventh through 12th grade. "My time at Dana Hall has made me realize the benefits of single sex education and the environment it creates to support and encourage all girls. I am very excited to be a part of this program, which I feel is a great representation of all that the school stands for." Guida is currently a Middle School Health and Wellness teacher and Secondary School Placement Coordinator at Nashoba Brooks School in Concord, MA.

  • Week In The Life

    The Girls Summer Leadership Program is curriculum is based on six pillars for the development of strong leaders. These are themes we focus on throughout the week at GSLP within our various activities and workshops.

    Here are some examples of activities the girls will engage in:


    The girls...
    • Discuss the qualities of an effective leader
    • Participate in hands-on activities (both in the classroom and outdoors) to help them discover, develop and hone the various leadership skills they each possess 


    The girls...
    • Define integrity and reflect on dilemmas and personal conflicts they have face to explore the role integrity played in its resolution
    • Reflect on relationships with parents and the ways to develop strong lines of trust and communication within these relationships 


    The girls...
    • Participate in workshops that develop networking skills
    • Reflect on a spectrum of personal comfort for communicating in different situations
    • Interact with peers in fun off-campus excursions 


    The girls...
    • Envision the type of leader they want to be and set goals to achieve this ideal
    • Share their goals with the group and make a commitment to achieve these goals 


    The girls...
    • Engage in discussions surrounding identity and diversity
    • Explore the issues surrounding bullying and develop ways to be an ally


    The girls...
    • Reflect on the importance of service and on their own experiences of giving back to their own communities
    • Organize and engage in a day of community service related activities

Meet the 2019 Young Alumnae Mentors

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  • Deena '18, GSLP '14

    Hometown: Wellesley, Mass.
    How Deena’s own GSLP experience impacted her:
    “Going through GSLP helped me grow as a leader in a way I am not sure I ever would have without the program. At GSLP I learned a lot of new communication, leadership and organization skills, and further developed the skills I already possessed. Going into the program I was very nervous. At GSLP I was meeting so many new girls. In the short time that we were there I grew so much, and watched girls become strong leaders over the course of the week. This may not seem like a big thing, but for me it was a very transformative time learning how to approach new people in a new situation. During my first three years in Dana’s Middle School, I had grown very comfortable with everyone and did not put myself in situations where I was meeting new people my age very often. After GSLP I was more comfortable approaching new girls on the first day of school, and had an easier time transitioning into our new grade that was now doubled. At GSLP I also made many close friends (I still talk to some of the girls who went to the program who do not attend Dana). From my experience at GSLP I know how important and fun this program is and so I would love to be a part of helping the girls through this same process of growth.”
  • McKenna '17

    Hometown: Wellesley, Mass.
    What McKenna wishes her 8th grade self knew: 
    One thing I’ve learned in high school is that there is no set style for leadership, that different people can be leaders in different ways. The leader might not always be the loudest or most outspoken person in the classroom, but the person who has something important to say and has the courage to say it. You don’t have to be a particularly vocal or involved leader, but you can be a leader by simply being respected and speaking up when it truly counts.

Meet the 2019 High School Mentors

List of 9 items.

  • Alli '20

    Hometown: Wellesley, Mass.
    What Alli wants to contribute as a mentor:
    “I believe the greatest source of my quiet leadership has come from persevering to overcome personal challenges I have faced. When I was 10 years old, I learned that I was legally blind in my right eye and that I had a mild processing-speed learning difference. I had to adjust many things in my life to overcome these and be successful in the way I wanted to be. At the end of 9th grade, I had just finished competing at the New Balance Indoor Track national competition when I suffered an injury that has lagged on until recently. For two years I have had to stop running, see countless doctors, and watch my teammates run and improve. It has been the most challenging thing I have ever faced. However, I have learned the value of staying focused no matter what and that sometimes things happen for a reason. I have also learned that the most important thing is not giving up on something if you truly love it. I would look forward to sharing these real-life experiences with the girls at GSLP. ”
  • Audrey '19

    Hometown: Wayland, Mass.
    Why Audrey wants to be a GSLP mentor:
    “I love working and meeting with new people. I remember the GSLP brochures and emails that came to my house before I came to Dana. Unfortunately, I had to go on a family trip during that week and had to miss GSLP. I knew that once I went to Dana, I would want to be a part of this program in some way. Being a mentor and helping other girls make friendships are something that I want to see and experience. I want to look back on my ninth grade experience and share it with the girls who are nervous about coming into ninth grade at Dana (or any other high school); especially because I remember being in that position.
  • Brittney ’19 GSLP ‘15

    Hometown: Brockton, Mass.
    Why Brittney wants to be a GSLP mentor:
    “The summer before my freshman year, I participated in the Girls Summer
    Leadership Program. I entered the program knowing that I had a loud voice and a lot of opinions, but I never considered myself a leader. My time at GSLP taught me how to use these qualities as a leader. I learned that being a leader does not always mean being the loudest voice in the room, but often times being the best listener. I learned a leader is not always the strongest person in the room, but the one who can acknowledge their weaknesses or in other words, “hug their monsters”. I know what GSLP does for girls because I am one of those girls.”

  • Jules '20 GSLP ‘16

    Hometown: Dedham, Mass.
    What Jules wants to gain from this experience:
    “I hope to come out of this experience knowing that I did my best to help an incoming freshman that is in the shoes I once stood in. I hope to be able to formulate my passion for leadership and see how I can pursue it in the future; learning from this experience will open my eyes to new a leadership experience (and honestly one I've been hoping to be a part of since day 1 of GSLP). I hope to come out of the experience knowing more about future Dana freshman, establishing friendships that (I know) are amazing to an incoming student.”

  • Kayla '19

    Hometown: Wellesley, Mass.
    What Kayla hopes to gain from this experience: “I am hoping to make deep and meaningful connections with my peer leaders at the program. I think living and working together as leaders will be bonding and very rewarding. I want to establish a relationship with the girls I mentor and be an ally for them as they approach the challenges of life in high school. I want to see progress made in the week we spend together in whatever form this may look like. I also want to have the experience of challenging myself to work with 8th graders for long periods of time. In the long term, I want to use this opportunity to further develop my skills in mentoring young people in different situations such as community service and being a camp counselor. I want to be more confident in my leadership and want to learn ways in which to earn respect and trust from younger children.”
  • Kristen '20

    Hometown: Boston, Mass.
    Kristen’s leadership style:
    “My leadership style differs for the type of situation I’m put in. In places I’m comfortable
    in, Dana Hall being one of them, I will always be present and usually take charge. I enjoy
    being active in groups and taking people under my wing. Also, I find it gratifying to have
    people discover things about themselves along the way, such as their type of leadership style, among many more things. Leadership comes in all shape and forms, and every person possesses it differently."

  • Maya '20

    HometownDouglasville, Ga.
    The pillar of Dana Hall that means the most to Maya:
    “Integrity is one of the most important values I hold in my life and I do everything I can to integrate it into my leadership style. When I take on leadership roles, I make sure that I am honest and kind in every single endeavor I choose to set forth to do. This goes for long term projects, presentations, speeches, and even day to day interactions. Integrity is something that cannot be replaced. It’s an infallible recipe for success in leadership and I use it every day of my life. Integrity makes me both a better person and a better leader. I intend to keep improving.”
  • Megan '20 GSLP ‘15

    HometownWest Roxbury, Mass.
    Why Megan wants to be a GSLP mentor:
    “One reason I want to be a mentor is because I did the GSLP program before going into 9th grade and I had an amazing experience. I loved all the lessons we were taught throughout the week and I loved having the opportunity to meet new people. I looked up to the rising seniors and I would love the opportunity to improve my leadership skills and be a role model for rising 9th graders.”
  • Micah '20 GSLP ‘16

    Hometown: Lathrup Village, Mich.
    What experiences Micah will contribute:
    “I participated when I was going into freshman year. GSLP also isn’t the first leadership came I’ve been too as I did a couple back home in Michigan during my middle school summers. At Dana, I've also participated in the Community Day of Learning by hosting a workshop, participating in S. H. A. D. E. S, and doing community service with my peers on the weekends.”

GSLP 2020

Dana Hall’s 2020 Girls Summer Leadership Program will not be able to run in June of 2020. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has mandated that all schools stay closed through June 29, which includes the dates for this year’s GSLP (June 20-26).

Plans are already underway for the 2021 Girls Summer Leadership Program, and we hope that eligible girls in (those that will enter 9th grade in the fall of 2021) will consider applying for the program. More details will be posted in the next academic year.

GSLP Photos


Phone: 781-489-1880

List of 3 items.

  • Geometry

    Favorite Class
  • Moving into my dorm

    Favorite Memory
  • Riding

    Favorite Activity

List of 1 items.

  • Paige

    "My favorite Dana Hall activity has been riding because the trainers at the Equestrian Center are really great and helpful. I always feel like I'm learning and improving while having fun."