Blair Brettschneider, Founder & Executive Director
In 2010, Blair moved to Chicago. Soon after starting a position in development at a refugee resettlement agency, Blair began tutoring a teen refugee girl whose story, challenges, and determination inspired what would become GirlForward. Blair has always been passionate about working with adolescent girls, especially within immigrant and refugee communities. Blair has a B.S. in Communication from the University of Miami and a Professional Certificate in Nonprofit Management from North Park University’s Axelson Center. In 2011, she was selected by the Department of State as one of two Youth Delegates to represent the United States at the UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris, France, specifically for her work with refugee girls. In 2013, Blair was honored as one of five recipients of the Chicago Foundation for Women Impact Awards for her work with GirlForward, and was also chosen as a 2013 CNN Hero. When Blair is not at GirlForward HQ, she can be found in the park with her awesome dog, at the spin class with the loudest music, or at the city’s best taco and/or ice cream-serving establishments.
Ashley Marine, LSW, Director of Girl Engagement
Ashley received her undergraduate degree from Xavier University, where she concentrated on social work and peace studies, before receiving her master’s degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago. During her undergraduate studies, Ashley studied abroad in Ghana, where she collaboratively provided street education with girls engaged in migrant labor work. Ashley’s work and studies have primarily been focused on inequalities based on gender and sexuality, empowering women and girls and advocating for their rights. In her free time, Ashley enjoys singing show tunes, dancing, and exploring all that Chicago has to offer.
Temi Famodu, Director of Communications
Temi is originally from Minnesota and received her undergraduate degree from DePaul University in International Studies. She spent the majority of her senior year in Budapest, Hungary and has enjoyed various other international travel since then. When she’s not at GirlForward, or eating at a yummy restaurant nearby, you can find her chatting with her friends about identity development or planning an adventure. Next on her list is Nigeria to visit her extended family, and learn how to make her dad’s famous Egusi stew!
Emily Kane, Director of Education
Emily received her undergraduate degree at Drake University where she studied English and Secondary Education. After graduation, she taught middle school with Des Moines Public Schools. To continue work in educational equity, Emily joined Teach for America Milwaukee. In Milwaukee, she taught for two years at the Hmong American Peace Academy where she developed a love for teaching English language learners. The resiliency of her ELL students has inspired her to continue work within refugee communities. Emily is currently completing a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Concordia University. Emily’s other passions include running, traveling, hiking, ice-cream, and her rescue dog, Oakley.