Girls learning, leading, succeeding

Girls Summer Entrepreneurship Program

Dana Hall’s Girls Summer Entrepreneurship Program 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. Financial aid may be available.
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 lectures to the development of their own idea. The program will culminate in the teams pitching their business plan to potential investors in a business plan contest -- “The Dragon’s Lair.”

    • Understanding the relationship between successful innovations and consumer value
    • Gaining exposure to marketing research
    • Developing a detailed business plan
    • Gaining real entrepreneurial experience in pitching a concept to potential investors
    • Taking advantage of Boston’s business resources
    • Creating an immersive residential experience with morning, afternoon and evening activities
  • Faculty

    Program Director Dr. Gwen Ortmeyer P12, 16 

    Throughout her 19 years of business consulting, Gwen Ortmeyer has helped business teams design and execute market and business strategy. Dr. Ortmeyer is also active in the design and delivery of in-house executive learning programs in marketing, competitive strategy, market planning and implementation, and business management. She has specificdomain knowledge in the marketing discipline, including such areas as branding, positioning, integrated marketing communications, pricing, retailing and market research.

    Dr. Ortmeyer has worked with executives in many different firms including Unilever,Seagram, Newell Rubbermaid, Amgen, AT&T, Avon, Boston Scientific, Cisco Systems, Citibank, Corning, DuPont Dow Elastomers, Fleet, Gilead, Honeywell, Household International, Kimberly-Clark, Land’s End, Life Technologies, National Starch, Navistar, Norfolk & Southern, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Praxair, PSE&G, Siemens, Specialty Minerals and Texas Instruments.

    Dr. Ortmeyer has served as an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Columbia and Harvard Business Schools and as an Associate Professor of Business Practice at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. In addition she has taught in executive education programs at various business schools including Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Columbia.  Dr. Ortmeyer received her B.S. from the University of California at Berkeley and her Ph.D. in Management from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

    Program Coordinator Michele Gerdes

    Michele Gerdes has spent 15 of her 27-year teaching career at Dana Hall. She has taught students in 6th through 12th grades in both mathematics and science. She is the current recipient of the Blair Jenkins Faculty Chair for Math and Science. At Dana Hall, Gerdes serves as the Middle School Mathematics Coordinator, the Standardized Testing Program Coordinator and a member of the Admission Committee. From New York University she earned both her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and her Master’s Degree in Science Education.

    Assistant Program Director Anita Lavakumar

    Anita Lavakumar spent 10 years working as a Computer Engineer and Systems Analyst and later switched her career to fulfill her dream of becoming a math teacher. She has been at Dana Hall for two of her seven-year teaching career and has primarily taught Mathematics. Recently, Anita has been able to bring her engineering experience to Dana Hall and has taught courses such as Principles in Engineering and AP Computer Science. She earned her Bachelor's in Science Degree from Tufts University as a Computer Engineer and a Masters in Education from UMass Lowell.

  • Young Alum Mentors

    Young Alum Mentor Coordinator

    Kelly Billings '12

    Kelly Billings graduated from Dana Hall in 2012 and University of Southern California in 2016. In college, she majored in Environmental Science. In college, she developed an interest in education and took opportunities to develop her skills as an educator including being an SAT tutor, outdoor education, and student teacher. Kelly has just finished her first year as a high school Biology teacher in Oakland California and is receiving her California Teaching Credential from Loyola Marymount University in June 2017. Kelly previously served as a mentor at GSEP and helped her team create a customizable cooler.

    Young Alum Mentors

    Leonora Strobel Eckstein '16

    After graduating from Dana Hall in 2016, Leonora will take a gap year before attending Santa Clara University. Leonora will be participating in a program called Winterline during her year off; she will learn practical life skills while traveling the world for nine months. Leonora participated in GSEP in its inaugural year in 2014, and she was a member of the winning team called Team Spark. GSEP inspired Leonora to pursue numerous other entrepreneurship programs, namely Youth Cities March-to-May Bootcamp, and Catapult Business Incubator hosted by Harvard iLab. Leonora is on the road to being tri-lingual: German is her first language, she maxed out the Spanish program at Dana Hall, and she speaks English. Her venture for the Youth Cities program was centered around this passion for language. Leonora is still working on her ventures from Youth Cities and Catapult.

    Alia Malek '16

    Alia Malek graduated from Dana Hall in 2016 and currently attends Northwestern University. She plans to major in Learning and Organization Change with minor in Psychology and an integrated marketing certificate. At Northwestern, Alia is part of the women in business club and an investment management group. She hopes to one day go into either the consulting or marketing fields. She participated in GSEP in its inaugural year in 2014 where she and her team designed an eco-friendly, yet trendy swimsuit line.


    Susanna Maheras '16

    Susanna Maheras graduated from Dana Hall in 2016 and is a rising second year at the University of Virginia. She plans to major in Public Policy within UVA's Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Susanna hopes to pursue a career as a lawyer and then eventually go on to teach. She loves working with kids and greatly enjoyed mentoring local elementary school children in Charlottesville this year. She was a participant in GSEP in 2014; she and her team pitched their idea for “Bicycharge,” a bicycle-powered phone charger.

GSEP Photos


Email GSEP or contact Program Coordinator Michele Gerdes.

GSEP In The News

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  • Area Studies Symposium

    Favorite Assignment
  • Blue Key Club

    Favorite Activity
  • Middle Eastern Studies

    Favorite Class

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  • Caroline

    "Middle Eastern Studies has been my favorite Dana Hall class because both the teacher and the discussions always kept me engaged and excited to learn more."
    -Caroline '18