Students Fight Back!
girls fight back!
Boundaries, Bystander Intervention,
Sexual Assault Awareness,
Violence Prevention, Self-Defense
Sexual Assault Awareness,
Violence Prevention, Self-Defense
Meet the girls
BREE SWARTZ – senior national speaker
Bree is a graduate of Purdue University, where she studied Mass Communication and Theatre, was an ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts and a Co-Captain for the Purdue Golduster Dance Team. Her self-defense training includes IMPACT Chicago, FAST Defense, adrenal stress confrontations and the GFB Speaker Academy. She is also a Certified Victim Advocate. Bree is an actress in NYC when not on the road with GFB/SFB, where she is an active member in The Community, a nonprofit theater group founded by fellow William Esper Studio graduates. Bree has coordinated and lead audition workshops for the organization to create a place for growing actors to work on their craft. During her time in Chicago, where she first became a GFB speaker, Bree mentored a young theater group in the suburbs of Chicago through classes and talks on the importance of being an artist. More recently, Bree helped coordinate an incredibly successful meditation workshop for the Clairvision School, which is a dynamic, interactive two-day workshop that unfolds a systematic method for achieving a state of inner stillness, focus and clarity of purpose. Although Bree is currently awaiting her approval for Big Sister, she finds time to work with local youth through her work with Puppetonia at Symposium Bookstore, an inner-active, educational children's show. She gets her funny-on and hones her public speaking skills through improv comedy classes at Upright Citizen Brigade in NYC. Bree finds time to "play" by spending time with friends, family, seeing shows, writing, dancing, reading and taking classes at the nonprofit Yoga to the People.
NICOLE SNELL – senior national speaker/booking agent
Nicole received a full scholarship to Cal State Long Beach as a President’s Scholar, and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Speech Communication. While at CSULB she volunteered with the Learning Alliance and worked with InterACT, a social justice performance troupe developed in response to the high incidence of sexual assault on college campuses. She is now a member of the professional InterACT team providing sexual assault prevention training for the Department of Defense and colleges nationwide. Her self-defense training includes IMPACT LA, the GFB Speaker Academy and local self-defense classes. In addition, she has completed 40 hours of Victim Advocacy Training. Nicole is also an active volunteer for Taking the Reins, a non-profit organization that teaches leadership, responsibility and confidence to underserved middle- and high-school girls primarily through horse care and riding. Nicole works as a freelance Line Producer for TV & Digital projects in her spare time.
MORGAN CROUCH – national speaker
Morgan Crouch graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned a B.A. in Art History with an emphasis in gender & critical race. Morgan studied improv and comedic writing at The Second City Training Center and iO Chicago. She is a graduate of the GFB Speaker Academy 2013, with training in FAST Defense.
GINA KIRKLAND POLESETSKY – president + den mother
Gina graduated from Amarillo College and West Texas A&M University with an A.A. and a B.A.. She worked as an educator and an event planner before opening Kirkland Productions, Inc., a college entertainment/speakers agency, in 2000. In 2007, she opened her second company, KP Comedy, and, in 2013, she channeled her lifelong passion for Women’s Issues into the purchase of her third company, Girls Fight Back. She is picking up the banner from the amazing Erin Weed to continue bringing the message of living a fearless life and combating violence against women to millions of young women across the country. She runs the GFB Speaker Academy, is a NOVA certified Victim Advocate, works in partnership with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office of the Department of the Navy (DON SAPRO) on issues of sexual assault prevention and bystander behavior, is a graduate of the Gavin de Becker Advanced Threat Assessment and Management Academy, IMPACT Los Angeles, FAST Defense, and currently sits on the IMPACT Los Angeles Board.
BETH TOWNSEND-SMITH – team member
Beth studied Psychology with Certification in Child and Family Studies at Roosevelt University and is also a graduate of The Adler School of Professional Psychology’s Art Therapy program. She has worked with special needs children, at-risk teens, and parent education groups across the Chicago area. When not out promoting GFB, she also teaches art and science. Beth is a Graduate of the GFB Speaker Academy 2013, with training in FAST Defense.
LEAH BONNEMA – team member
Leah majored in Cultural Studies at McGill University and wrote her Honor’s Thesis in Film and Women’s Studies. Huffington Post named her one of their Favorite Female Comedians and College Candy listed in her as one of the Top Ten Female Comics. She is regular on VH1′s 100 Greatest Series and has toured for the troops in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Leah is a graduate of the GFB Academy 2013, with training in FAST Defense.
ERIN WEED – founder
Erin founded GFB in 2001 at the age of 23 in response to the murder of Shannon, who was her close friend and sorority sister. Erin has won many awards for her work in women’s empowerment and social entrepreneurship. She was a columnist for CosmoGirl and is the author of Girls Fight Back! The College Girl’s Guide to Protecting Herself (now available in its 3rd edition). She is the creator of the GFB seminar seen by over a million women, and also the GFB Speaker Academy.
SHANNON MCNAMARA – inspiration
Shannon was murdered on June 12, 2001 just a few days shy of her 22nd birthday. While the world lost an incredible human being that day, heaven gained one hell of an angel. Shannon’s story has inspired over one million women to become their own best defenders, and to live the badass life each of us were intended. And for that, we are so grateful.