Shattering the Glass Ceiling

One Panel at a Time


Empower Panel

Life hasn’t always been so easy for these women; but they’re not afraid to share their stories.  Multiple young women in the audience hang on the edge of their seats captivated by the work world stories of the seven panelists.  Different backgrounds, different destinations, and different purposes in the world, but all coming together now, here, telling their stories for women of the future, who may just shatter glass ceilings.

At Goffstown High School, the Empower student group held their second annual Women’s Panel hosting women from the greater Goffstown area. Guests were asked to come speak and answer questions from students and staff regarding their lives as women in their community and careers.  The women discussed their past and their paths to their current careers.  The panelists also shared who influenced them along the way.  Last year, there were five panelists; this year, that number increased to seven.  The women included Reina Elizabeth Koistinen, Caitie Cotton, Kristina Johnson, Karen Pinkos, Lanna Martin, Mariah Cahill, and Jackie Pelletier.  Monica Galamaga and Kylie Connolly are the advisors for the Empower group, and hosted the event in conjunction with Ms. Therriault’s Women’s Perspectives classes.

“We’re hoping to host this event every year,” Galamaga said, when commenting on the panel.  Galamaga went on to remark, “we want to connect our students to strong leaders in our community that have made positive impacts and serve as great role models.”  Last year’s panel received positive reactions and was a great success.  Galamaga said former GHS student Eileen Savenelli founded the Empower club.  Galamaga explained that last year, “Eileen brought in speakers whose jobs might be deemed [not] traditional, or that empowered women to follow their dreams.”

The panelists ranged from a police officer to a senior manager at BAE systems.  These women were confident, explained their jobs and responsibilities and discussed their paths.  One of the panelists, Kristina Johnson, has been in both the New Hampshire Air National Guard and the Air Force.  Kristina was also a sales manger at Advance Technology.   She is currently an account manager at BCM Controls where she applies her passion for business and technology.  Despite the many setbacks that she’s had throughout her life, they haven’t stopped her from keeping her foot on the gas and striving for her dreams.  Her advice to students was, “don’t listen to anyone else- always follow your dreams.”

Empower ensured the panelists felt welcome with a luncheon prior to the panel.  A PowerPoint was presented at the beginning of the panel to introduce each panelist and explain their occupation.  Jenny Quigley, GHS student and Empower Officer, said she joined the club last year after former president Eileen Savenelli approached her about the group during volleyball practice.  Jenny feels that, “any woman can pursue anything that she wants.”  Since Jenny is a big basketball fan, she connected and was most interested in panelist Karen Pinkos, the women’s basketball coach at SNHU.  Jenny said, “it was amazing to be able to listen to someone with Coach Pinkos’ amount of experience.”  The panel discussion offered inspiration and possibility for female students to follow their passions and break those glass ceilings.

In addition to the panel, the Empower club also hosts other events such as the Women’s Shelter Drive for the YWCA.  Panelist Mariah Cahill who serves as a community Education Advocate at the YWCA (NH) spoke about the items Goffstown students collected for the shelter last year.  She said that many of the clients appreciated the feminine hygiene products because many of the women and children have fled their homes in the middle of the night with nothing.  Last spring, the YWCA recognized GHS empower founder Eileen Savenelli at their annual Empower Breakfast for her work on the drive.

If you are interested in joining the Empower group, you may contact Ms. Connolly or Mrs. Galamaga.