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 2018 Young Alumnae Mentors

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  • 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.

  • Raya '16, GSLP '13

    Hometown: Wellelsey, Mass.
    How Raya's own GSLP experience impacted her: 
    I went through the program, so I’ve been on the other end of it all. 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, it is safe to say that they are much closer than they were at the beginning of the program. Everyone, even the mentors, find her strengths and weakness in a safe, judgment-free environment. And by the end of the program, they’re equipped with proper leadership tools and, most importantly, confidence.

Meet the 2018 High School Mentors

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  • Amaechinna ’19

    Hometown: Marlborough, Mass.
    Why diversity, one of Dana Hall’s four pillars, is important to Amaechinna: “Diversity has always been something that I strive to look for in all areas of my life. Not only with race, but also in something as simple as a research project. When we have to pick a research topic, I always look for something that I have never seen before or heard of. Although doing the norm would be easier, ignoring the underrepresented would do nothing but brush areas where light does not shine under the rug. I believe that diversity is the key to success because it not only shows that difference is ok, but it says that it is appreciated, and it is heard. For a young girl to see a woman in the boardroom of an office of executives that consists of only men shows that little girl that she can be just like her, and she can achieve any dream that she wants.”
  • Anna ’19

    Hometown: Dedham, Mass.
    Why Anna wants to be a GSLP mentor:
    “I want to help with the growth of other students. I’ve had some pretty big challenges thrown at me in the past couple of years, and I have grown in ways that I didn’t think I ever would because of them. I’ve often thought that I would love to be a teacher because I want to be someone who is there for her students every step of the way; I want to be someone who others can look up to. I want to be there for these girls right before they enter high school as someone who they can look up to and talk to, and I believe my experiences have prepared me to be this person.”

  • 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.”

  • 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."

  • Cali ’19

    Hometown: Boston, Mass.
    What Cali hopes to gain from this experience “I hope to gain a better understanding of myself as a leader and mentor and how to exercise my influence over a group of people in a positive way. The beauty of leadership, in my opinion, is that there is always room for improvement. We never learn how to be the ultimate leader, for there are always skills that we can build upon and experiences we can learn from. While I do hope to be able to have a positive effect on my mentees during the program, I’m also hoping to learn a lot from them throughout the experience. I also hope to gain perspective on the girls’ backgrounds, and how they differ or align with mine. I genuinely believe that the only way to broaden your perspective is to listen to others and allow yourself to be vulnerable. GSLP seems to be the ideal environment for listening as well as sharing, and I would love to be a part of both.”
  • 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.”
  • Kate ’19

    Hometown: Needham, Mass.
    Why Kate wants to be a GSLP mentor: “Seeing other people grow with my help is the most rewarding feeling. I believe in the mission of this program, and would love to support it. In high school, leadership skills are incredibly important, and not just for club heads and class presidents. Leadership is often associated with taking charge and making decisions. But leadership also includes setting a positive tone in a group, or giving advice to others while they are making a decision. I think it is important for rising ninth graders to discover their own leadership styles, and how they can grow and improve from there. As a GSLP mentor, I believe that I would be a positive role model for the rising ninth graders.”
  • 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.”
  • Lucia ’ 19

    Hometown: Newton, Mass.
    Why diversity, one of Dana Hall’s four pillars, is important to Lucia: “Being around a diverse group of people and learning in diverse situations is the only way to open your mind to new perspectives. Sometimes that can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it is the only way to even attempt to understand people who live or lived in different environments or situations than you. I make a real effort to attend all the diversity meetings at Dana Hall, and I go to SHADES (multicultural awareness club) and Salaam (club that educates students about Islam) every time they hold a meeting. I believe that going to these meetings has made me a better leader because I usually listen, and do not talk very much in those meetings. By closing my mouth and opening my ears, this allows me to listen 100% and take in what people are saying. I would like to pass on that understanding to the younger girls participating in this program.”
  • Mimi '19

    Hometown: Wellesley, Mass.
    Why Mimi wants to be a GSLP mentor: “I am excited about the possibility of being able to use my knowledge and skills that I have acquired during high school to help younger students. I attended the Girls Summer Entrepreneurship Program at Dana Hall last summer, and although this is not the same program, I found the mentors to be extremely helpful in guiding younger students, including myself, throughout the experience. These mentors set a great example for the younger girls, which was very powerful for me and I always looked up to them. After attending this program, I was inspired to continue my participation in Dana Hall’s summer programs and have been wanting to be a mentor for GSLP ever since. The role of a mentor is very significant, and I think that this would be a wonderful opportunity for me to take advantage of this position and use it in the best way possible.”

GSLP 2019

June 22-28, 2019
Application Deadline
April 5, 2019.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.


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



2017 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