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.


Over the week I have found great ways to be myself, but what really surprised me was that I was not judged. My peers were encouraging and helpful the whole time.
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.)


Knowing now that I can talk in front of people without being nervous or scared gives me so much more self-confidence then I had before I came. When I talk in front of people it makes me feel proud of myself.

Learn More

List of 4 items.

  • 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 is 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 Belliveau is a Dana Hall Upper School science teachers. 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 Belliveau. “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 been a part of many diversity initiatives, including the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE) Diversity Workshop and Diversity Directions. For the 2016-17 school year, Sarah will be the faculty advisor to Bridge (Dana's Gay-Straight Alliance). She has 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. The past four years, 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 an advisor for the Peer Education Program, multi-season coach, and fitness instructor. 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. Outside of Dana Hall, Margie currently is a Central Mass. Club Lacrosse Coach.


    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 Health and Wellness teacher at Nashoba Brooks School in Concord, Mass. 

    Young Alumnae Mentors


    Why Amanda thinks that GSLP is an important program: "Being able to harness your leadership skills at a young age is very beneficial for life. This program gives participants the chance to discover who they are as individuals, while opening them up to new opportunities and encouraging them to take healthy risks. GSLP is important because it provides girls with the chance to obtain these skills for the first time, and for girls to further improve their pre-existing skills. It also builds confidence in girls. Before participants can understand what type of leader they are or who they want to be, they need to be confident in themselves and GSLP allows them to discover that confidence. Being confident when entering high school can dramatically change a girl’s experience in a positive way because it helps a girl live more comfortably in her own skin."

    RAYA HUSAMI '16, GSLP '13

    Why Raya thinks that GSLP is a particularly important program: "I think that an all-girls environment is extremely important for leadership training. The girls that come to the program learn and grow together. No one is an expert or completely experienced, but by the end of the program, they are much closer than they were at the beginning of the program. Every girl, even the mentors, find her strengths and weakness in a safe, judgment-free environment. By the end of the program, they’re equipped with proper leadership tools and, most importantly, confidence. I want to help girls grow like I did when I was in GSLP." 

  • 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 2017 High School Mentors

    The Girls Summer Leadership Program calls upon Dana Hall's own "resident experts" to help develop the program curriculum and also to mentor the participants during the week of the program.

    The High School Mentors are current 11th and 12th grade student leaders who have been significantly involved in leadership, diversity and/or service at Dana Hall and elsewhere.

    GSLP High School Mentors 

    Name: Ruthie '18
    Hometown: Wilmington, Mass.
    Why Ruthie thinks that GSLP is an important program: “When I started high school, I felt a little lost. I wasn’t sure what to expect about classes and workload, or friends and social scene. I wish there had been somebody to show me the ropes, explain what to expect, and guide me in a way that eased my anxiety about starting school. GSLP is so important because it provides that mentorship from current high school students and GSLP alumnae who have been through this program as well.”

    Name: Christina '18, GSLP '14
    Hometown: Natick, Mass.
    Christina’s leadership style: “One of my main leadership strengths is being inclusive and aware of others’ feelings. I lead best by talking to people who seem left out. I know what it is like to be on that side the equation, and I am aware it is a sensitive topic. I'm very skilled with one on one attention.”

    Name: Steph '18
    Hometown: Westwood, Mass.
    Why Steph thinks that GSLP is an important program: “The Girls Summer Leadership Program is important in helping young girls develop confidence and leadership skills to prepare them for the transition from middle school to high school, which can prove to be a difficult journey. Starting off in any school, it can be hard to find your voice as an individual, and being able to share your own opinions confidently is key to succeeding in high school. GSLP helps girls develop solid leadership skills so that they will be prepared for the choices, opportunities, and situations that they may encounter in high school and beyond. I've learned through my own experience at Dana how important it is to be a self-advocate; instilling that in girls sets them up for their lives in high school and beyond. It is also great to kick off the summer bonding with girls who are going through the same transition that you are, sharing common concerns, goals, and questions about high school. Having the opportunity to create lasting friendships while honing your leadership skills, and building confidence is rare, and that is what makes GSLP a fun, necessary, and important program.”

    Name: C.C. '18, GSLP '14
    Hometown: Holliston, Mass.
    C.C.’s leadership style: “I would describe my leadership style as strong and present. I am usually the one to take the group under my wing and mentor them to success. I try my best to get all members of a group involved as well as help them discover things about themselves along the way. I am also comfortable with listening to others as they take charge. I always try to create a healthy environment for all the people in the group to work effectively and in an orderly fashion."

    Name: 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 at Dana, 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.”

    Name: Naomi '18, GSLP '14
    Hometown: Dorchester, Mass.
    How Naomi’s own GSLP experience impacted her:
    “I attended GSLP in the summer of 2014 and really enjoyed it. I learned about who I wanted to be in high school and what role I wanted to take in the Dana Hall community. This program provided me the space to set some future goals for myself and to write out the steps I needed to take to get there. It really helped me to visualize and plan where I wanted to end up. Because of the goals I set for myself of wanting to be a leader in Dana, I ran for Boarding Representative in my freshman year. I was part of Blue Key and now, I am currently one of the heads of SHADES. I also had the privilege of volunteering at Boston Children's Hospital this past summer. My experiences have given me opportunities to solve problems, speak out and create a space where others can speak as well. GSLP gave me the opportunities to meet the most incredible people who I am still friends with. GSLP was such a warm, friendly environment for me and I want to be part of creating that environment for girls attending this program."

    Name: McKenna '17
    Hometown: Wellesley, Mass.
    What McKenna wishes she knew then:
    "One thing that I’ve learned in high school that I wish I knew in 8th grade is that there is no set style for leadership, that different people can be leaders in different ways. When I was younger, I thought that there was only one clear style of leadership: the strong-willed and outspoken person. But as I’ve gotten older, I think my view of leadership has definitely changed. A 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."

    Name: Jane '18
    Hometown: Chestnut Hill, Mass.
    Why diversity, of Dana Hall’s four pillars, is important to Jane:
    “I think that diversity is a very significant aspect of Dana Hall because the diverse community that surrounds Dana shapes who it is. I am a member of both SALAM and Kesher and have enjoyed learning about different religions and cultures. One very cool, unique thing about Dana Hall is how it is half boarding and half day. It is really neat to see the number of international students who are sometimes 15-20 hours away from home. I have created new friendships and bonds with girls whose first language is not English. Diversity is incorporated in all aspects of life at Dana and that’s what makes it so special.”

    Name: Sydney '17, GSLP '13
    Hometown: North Falmouth, Mass.
    Why Sydney thinks that GSLP is an important program: “Transitioning to high school is, for many students, like jumping into the unknown. It’s a new educational environment with new teachers, new expectations, and often new classmates. While it is not a simple transition, it can be made easier if one has the right tools. The Girls Summer Leadership Program does a great job at providing such tools to rising freshmen girls; by helping to build participants’ leadership skills and self-confidence, GSLP provides girls with the ability to go through the transition with a positive mindset and with the confidence to dive right into the opportunities that high school has to offer. In addition, I believe GSLP is an important program because it introduces its participants to networking, which is a significant aspect of high school and beyond. Learning how to make connections and speak with adults one does not know is important in order to be confident when one faces these experiences in high school, college, and the workforce."

    Name: Ryland '18, GSLP '14
    Hometown: Edgecomb, Maine
    How Ryland’s own GSLP experience impacted her:
    “The primary reason for my wanting to help with GSLP is my own GSLP experience. It was incredible to be in an environment tailored to my needs as a rising female freshman in high school. I feel a great commitment to the notion of leaving a place better that I found it, and am excited to put this into practice with GSLP. The summer after I did GSLP I attended a program at the Eleanor Roosevelt center called Girls' Leadership Worldwide that reaffirmed in my mind how valuable girls’ leadership is. Last year, I was on the Global Youth Advisory Council for the Representation Project and helped them develop their youth outreach as well as their leadership summit in San Francisco. Now, I am at the School for Ethics and Leadership which is basically 15 weeks of advanced GSLP. I am becoming more and more excited to influence my community and am learning so much about how I can do that. Last year while completing my community service hours, I volunteered at the nonprofit FARMS, a nonprofit that works to educate students about food insecurity and local agriculture, I realized just how broad my options of work are. Finding things that I care about is how I will live a fulfilled life and I hope to share this at GSLP.”

    Claire '18
    Hometown: Wellesley, Mass.
    Claire’s leadership style: “My strength in leadership is that I am good at decision making. I can look at a project or situation and make a decision right away and stick to it, and is normally the right decision. I am a very decisive person. But I am also very good at compromising and have lots of patience if the rest of the group is not up to speed on my fast decision making.”

    Saraly '18
    Hometown: New York, New York
    Why Saraly thinks that GSLP is an important program:
    “GSLP is an important program because it is focused on the transition from 8th grade to high
    school which is a huge jump for many people. High school is a time when a lot of personal
    growth occurs and also where many girls are faced with different situations for the first time, but this program acts a ‘crash course’ for the girls to learn about themselves such as their values, what type of leader they are and how to deal with certain circumstances and issues. GSLP also has a very personal aspect where the girls get to be placed into small groups and are in a safe environment to go through daily activities and allows them to feel comfortable being themselves in this program, so their experience can be one of the most fulfilling and enlightening. This program helps give the girls participating a head start on this transition from 8th to 9th grade and give them the confidence and support network they need to take high school by storm.”

GSLP 2018

June 23- 29, 2018
Application Deadline
April 6, 2018


Interested applicants should download, print, complete and return the four part
application (below) by April 6, 2018. Prospective applicants can mail or email applications.
Girls Summer Leadership Program
Dana Hall School
45 Dana Road
Wellesley, MA 02482



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."
    -Paige '20