Founder and Executive Director
Whitney began her journey of youth work at the age of 16 as a summer camp counselor and knew that supporting children and teens was her passion. After obtaining her BA in Sociology from the University of New Hampshire, she continued in her quest to serve as a Child Protective Service worker later working with court involved youth and advocating for their wellness and safety. Whitney also saw first hand how teambuilding and communication can impact the lives of teens when she was the US Site Manager with Friends Forever, an international peace program that builds connections between Arab and Israeli youth from Jerusalem and Protestant and Catholic youth from Northern Ireland. Most recently, Whitney worked at the New Outlook Teen Center as the Community Liaison, a role that included both working with teens along with program development and fundraising (2004-2009). It was there that she had the opportunity to lead the “Young Women’s Adventure Group” and created “Kindness Corps” (a service-learning program). Whitney was inspired when she saw how participants who engaged in these programs were impacted in positive and meaningful ways. Starting in 2009 she further developed her community building and management skills as the Volunteer Coordinator with Beacon Hospice in Portsmouth. While reflecting on these professional and personal experiences, Whitney and Program Director Amy Bilodeau came up with the idea for “Seacoast Soul Models” with the hope that they could empower young women to discover their authentic selves as they become mindful, confident, creative, engaged leaders. Whitney lives in the beautiful community of Kittery, Maine with her husband Brandon and two daughters, who are both destined to be a future soul models!
Born and raised in New England, Amy has lived most of her life in Eliot, Maine. After graduating high school with a strong interest in art, Amy attended the Maine College of Art in Portland, ME where she received her bachelors in Fine Art. While home on school breaks, Amy worked at the Leaps and Bounds daycare where she discovered her second passion – working with children. Amy is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy which will connect her two passions - art and working with youth. She has attended the Mindfulness in Education Conference at the Omega Institute in the summer of 2015 and looks forward to incorporating these themes into her programs. She hopes that by helping to create the “Seacoast Soul Models” that she will help to create a space for young girls to explore unique opportunities and discover their own passions. Through her work on this project Amy has found great personal fulfillment through offering her skills and talents and is thrilled to see where this journey will lead.
Board Co-Vice Chair and Facilitator
Libby Hite is a native of the great state of Maine and has been working in volunteerism since 2008. After graduating in 2004 from Stonehill College in Easton, MA with a degree in Communication, Libby enrolled in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) as a Team Leader in Denver, CO. There she served for two years as a full-time member working with such organizations as the Boys and Girls Club, Denver Mountain Parks, American Red Cross, and Habitat for Humanity. Libby continues her passion for service and volunteerism with her current position in the Federal Government as she oversees volunteer programming, administers grants, and trains young adults in service. Libby credits her lifetime of service to her experiences working in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in LA/MS and Hurricane Sandy in NY. She believes as Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve”.
After two decades of performing part-time and regionally, Craig served as the full-time accompanist/co-arranger for three-time Juno Award winner David Francey, starting in the fall of 2006. He co-produced Francey's "Right of Passage" which won a best album Juno. He toured heavily for nearly 5 years, showcased by David for his own writing and performance skills. With the release of his folk-DJ charting album of original songs, "The Spokes Man," Craig returned to the stage much more as a solo artist. He has also toured internationally with the highly and widely acclaimed Gaelic-Americana artist, Kyle Carey. When not touring, Craig leads ukulele and songwriting workshops with individuals in rehabilitation after brain injury as well as hospice program participant family members. He also facilitates songwriting workshops with participants in the Upward Bound program at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.
Board Co-Vice Chair and Facilitator
Susan Neilson experienced the joy of teaching preschool for seven years and raising two children, before returning to a career as a paralegal. It was during her personal yoga journey she realized she could share her enjoyment of yoga playful postures, breath and relaxation with children while also encouraging confidence and creativity. Susan received her first children yoga instructor certification in 2007 through the Radiant Child Yoga program created by Shakta Kaur Khalsa. In 2008, she became a certified ChildLight Yoga instructor and in 2010 received her Yoga4Teens certification with Christy Brock. Susan resides in Portsmouth with her husband and yoga partner. “The joy I have sharing yoga with children continues to provide me with inspiration and serves as a reminder to make time to play and laugh together.
Chris grew up in Buffalo, NY and moved to New Hampshire in the mid-70’s with her husband. They raised two children and Chris earned her Masters in Science with Teaching from UNH. She taught Math at both the middle and high school level for several years, loved working with students, but then got interested in computers and accepted an IT position at Liberty Mutual. She held a variety of positions at Liberty learning not only about technology, but also the importance of communication, teamwork and leadership. She served as a manager in Liberty’s Technical Development Program for six years where she trained and mentored new hires, teaching them the skills needed to be successful in a corporate environment. Chris continues to look for opportunities to add balance to her life and help others. She currently serves as a hospice volunteer visiting patients and publishing a quarterly newsletter, and is excited at the prospect of helping to create a program for young girls that will enhance their self-confidence and provide them with coping tools to better identify and achieve their life goals.
Ever since Ashley was old enough to babysit, she has been drawn to helping families and children. Ashley graduated from the University of New Haven with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, with the idea of becoming a police officer.
During college she had an amazing opportunity to work with children who were visually impaired or blind at the Children’s Museum in New Haven, CT. She helped create the TEXTured Literacy Project that is still in full effect today! It was here where the seed of advocating and empowering others to do things they thought were impossible, was planted deep within her soul.
Ashley took this seed with her when she moved to New Hampshire. Shortly after, she realized that becoming a police officer was not the path she was on. Ashley had found her niche helping and encouraging people through other jobs and channels.
Whether it was working with children, teens or adults with various mental, physical or emotional capabilities, Ashley has helped people from all walks of life discover ways to find their voice and their independence. During her journey, she has worked as a lifeguard, volunteer firefighter, emergency medical technician and a social worker for the State of New Hampshire. Currently, she is in the process of becoming a postpartum doula and works as an adoption coordinator for a dog rescue agency.
Ashley’s little seed is still growing and learning from every soul she meets. Her desire to figure out how, when and where to plant this seed in others intensified when she had her own children. Ashley has an (almost) five year old son and a two year old daughter. It is her wish and hope to actively help change the world so her children and others can more easily find their voice, be proud of their authentic selves and gain skills to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Ashley lives on the Seacoast with her two lively and spirited children, her wonderful husband and her cat and dog. Ashley enjoys swimming, the beach, reading and learning about anything she can. To maintain balance through this on going and sometimes bumpy journey, she meditates, journals and tries everyday to be grateful and to laugh!
Holding a BA in Political Science from the University of NH, Amanda joined AmeriCorps upon graduation. Working in the VISTA program in Torrington, WY Amanda worked to create and implement volunteer opportunities while recording a state-wide database for volunteer retention. While working towards the mission of ServeWyoming, Amanda was also influential in creating the Young Professionals Group, Platte Valley Young Professionals as well as volunteering her time for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
Upon her move back to the East Coast, Amanda has worked with children who are differently abled, including time as the Administrative Coordinator for Under the Woods Foundation, a summer camp, in upstate NY in which Amanda was able to stretch her interests in the nonprofit sector through marketing opportunities, fundraising and writing grants. Amanda has been at the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce as the Social Media and Events Coordinator since July of 2014. Being immersed in the seacoast community implementing tourism and annual events, Amanda has quickly become familiar with the seacoast community and all of the wonderful people who live here.
Amanda sits on the Seacoast YMCA Board of Directors and is in the class of 2015 Leadership Seacoast program. Having joined the Board of Directors for Seacoast Soul Models in December 2015, Amanda is excited to be part of such a worthy, exciting and influential process as that of helping empower young women to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Amanda is also an avid runner, hiker (she is in pursuit of hiking all of the NH 5,000 footers), kayaker and loves to spend her free time with her fabulous group of girlfriends, her supporting boyfriend, her cat Maple who she is too in love with, and doting on her 5 year old niece Mattalynn.
Susan Smart grew up in Yarmouth, Maine and graduated from the University of Maine with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Services with a minor in Child Development. After graduation, Sue moved to the seacoast area with her husband. Sue worked as a mortgage processor for Southeast Bank until her first of two children were born. Sue was a “stay at home” mom for the next eleven years. She returned to the workforce in a part-time position at Liberty Mutual. She has worked for Liberty Mutual for the last nineteen years and is currently the manager of the IT Procurement team for Liberty.
Sue stays busy with family and friends traveling, playing golf and spending time enjoying their company. Sue likes to relax with a good book, knitting gifts for Christmas or baking for the family. Sue is excited to be involved with Seacoast Soul Models and to provide the opportunity for young women to learn new tools to teach them to be leaders in their communities.
Social Media Coordinator - Volunteer
Katie Shine brings a varying array of professional experience to Seacoast Soul Models. She holds a B.A., with honors, in Film Production from Keene State College. Her six years in the entertainment industry (Larry Levinson Productions, DreamWorks Animation SKG) honed her creative project management and production skills. Katie is a published writer (The Sound, Seacoast Online, The Edge Magazine, Super Girl Supper Club) and provides a unique and strong voice to our mission and goals. Katie’s marketing experience ranges from real estate, entertainment, music, health wellness to fitness, education, hospitality and non profits. In addition Katie provides a winning combination of content creation and social media know-how to all our Soul Model marketing initiatives. In 2015 she was voted one of the ‘Top #10ToWatch’ young professionals in the Seacoast. She is heavily involved and invested in the Seacoast community. Katie is the Co-Chair of the young professional networking group ‘Catapult Seacoast’, which cultivates emerging business and community leaders to maximize their personal and professional growth. Katie is also the Director of Programs for the non-profit, ‘The Sea Glass Center', who's mission is to educate the world about all aspects of sea glass while preserving a world-class collection for the public to explore and enjoy. She is also the founder and chief executer of the winter themed event 'Cabin Fever', a pop up party triggered by snow parking bans in the downtown Portsmouth area. She lives in Kittery, Maine with her cat, Captain Pedro and is an avid runner and music enthusiast.
Tanya has lived in big cities and on different coasts but New England will always be her home. She considers herself a multifaceted, day dreaming idealist whose passion is to help shape the world one small step at a time. Tanya owns a small business located in Portsmouth, NH that employs over ten individuals. She's the mother of two young boys, Dexter and Spencer, who she absolutely couldn't live without. Tanya likes practicing yoga, kayaking, reading and photography in her spare time.
Katie Shine Public Relations Group http://www.kshpr.com/
Bosen and Associates www.bosenandassociates.com
Claudia Kaerner Design http://claudiakaerner.com/design/
Sasha Eisele Associates http://www.sashaeiseleassociates.com/
Kittery Community Center http://www.kitterycommunitycenter.org/
Marshwood Field Hockey Team http://marshwoodfieldhockey.org/