Who Runs the World? Empower Women’s Panelists


Empower Panel

Emma Shanahan, Staff Writer

On Friday, March 16th, the club Empower hosted a women’s panel to inform and empower students to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. The club invited six women to share their stories and answer questions about how they got to where they are today. The panelists included Eileen Savinelli, Anne Phillips, Kelly Ayotte, Chante Bonds, Amelia Keene, and Kaitlin Gibson. Each woman has come from a different background, and climbed the ladder of success, rung by rung, to reach their goals.

(L to R) Abby Poisson, Olivia Brennan, Kylie Audley, Eileen Savinelli, Kaitlin Gibson, Kelly Ayotte, Chante Bonds, Amelia Keene. Not pictured Anne Phillips.

The first panelist, Eileen Savinelli, is a GHS graduate who is now a sophomore at Franklin Pierce University. Two years ago, Eileen founded the club Empower in order to help people realize that they can follow their dreams. When asked “Have you ever found yourself believing in artificial limits placed on you because you’re a woman?”, Eileen referenced how when she was in high school, the only people that went to the weight room were guys. It was extremely intimidating. “Guys would give me looks” Eileen stated. Instead of backing down, she began a weightlifting board for girls, since the only one in there was for men. At this point someone in the audience of the panel shouted “Eileen inspires me!” She is currently devoting her time to the heptathlon, as she runs on the track team in college. She plans on going to school for physical therapy. Eileen also founded a club in college called Hope Happens Here, a mental health awareness club. Throughout the entire panel, Savinelli frequently came full circle to the idea that more girls need to step up and speak up, and she brought that idea to this panel, and to the minds of the students in the audience.


The second panelist, Anne Phillips, is an inspiring woman who has dedicated most of her life to helping others. She currently works at the NH Charitable foundations. In the past Miss Phillips volunteered in the central african republic, teaching health education and communications in schools. When Mr. Pyszka asked “At what point in your life did you realize that you do have power?”, She responded that there wasn’t a specific point in time, but rather all her life she thought “there’s a world out there that [she] can act on.” This made Phillips one of the most unique panelists on Friday due to her outlook that it’s hard to take credit for what she does, because she feels that helping people is what she was born to do.


Third panelist, Kelly Ayotte, is a former US senator 2010 – 2016, grew up in New Hampshire, and now lives in here. Miss Ayotte was the first women attorney general in the state of NH. She went to both Villanova and Penn State to get her education. Kelly Ayotte is an inspiration to many women as she was in term while she was pregnant, and has accomplished many goals in a male dominated occupation. In response to the questions “Why is empowering young people important?”, Ayotte stated that “You’re the future, you’re our leaders, you’re gonna take over.” Ayotte was later asked what lessons she had learned through the process of establishing herself as a senator. She was reluctant to share how she learned to “Looking internally and reflecting on what you did wrong” and also how “You learn to be yourself.” Miss Ayotte represented a distinguished female, who didn’t allow her physical appearance to define her.


The fourth panelist, Kaitlin Gibson, is a GHS grad, just like Eileen Savinelli, but graduated in 2007. She also Graduated from UNH with a degree in accounting. Gibson now owns and operates Fusion Mechanical Services. The best advice that she had shared was to not “turn away because you don’t want to get rejected.” Kaitlin Gibson is “still figuring out who she wants to be”, but is empowering young people everyday.


Fifth panelist, Amelia Keene, is a Legislator and the Executive Director of NH Young Democrats. She was in the army reserves. Keene graduated from Nashua North and graduated from UNH Manchester with a degree in biology. Amelia Keene is a 1st term state representative. In her answers, Keene addressed a topic that really stood out. How she, like many others, are restricted by something physical about them, and not evaluated fully by their ideas, knowledge, and performance. “It becomes offensive when my looks proceed me” says Keene when talking about a situation in which someone was surprised by her abilities because she is a woman. Keene discusses how she is grateful that she doesn’t have to think “I’m doing this because I’m a woman” or “I can’t do this because I’m a woman” and offers advice to the crowd on how to overcome that situation.


The sixth panelist, Chante Bonds, is an assistant women’s basketball coach who also plays on the Boston Renegades Women’s Football Team. Bonds played on Bentley Basketball team, but started her career on an AAU Basketball Team. Bonds states how “You all have a voice” when speaking to the crowd. Bonds also shares an inspirational story of how in middle school, she organized a two-hand touch football team, and was only girl that played, and has been breaking societal gender norms since then. When asked “Who are your mentors?” by Empower advisor Mrs. Galamaga, Bonds quickly said her mom. Bonds discussed how her mom helped her find what she’s passionate about, and thinks that everyone else should too.


By the end of the panel, each person in those step room seats felt empowered. After hearing the stories of how people just like them, came to follow their dreams, and live a life they are passionate about, the trials and tribulations of life seemed slightly more approachable. Chante Bonds stated how she “just did it” when talking about the steps that she needed to take, and she feels that everyone else can just do it too. Each speaker centered their stories and answers about how it is necessary to keep your peers empowered, and keep yourself empowered, because empowerment makes movements and causes change where change is due. So in the words of panelist Amelia Keene… “Empower the crap out of each other.”