Hardy Girls was founded by three incredible women. Two friends who’d made careers in nonprofits saw the third woman speak on girls’ development, and our conferences were created. A couple of years later, at a kitchen table, an organization was born. There were other founding mothers, but everything began with these three women.

Karen Heck


Karen Heck is a senior program officer for the Bingham Program, a philanthropy investing in the health of Maine people. Her work at Bingham is currently focused on the philanthropy’s initiative to change the cultural acceptance of violence against women and children.

Karen has 30 years of experience in non-profit administration and a long standing interest in the healthy development of women and girls. During that time she has been instrumental in starting the local rape crisis assistance and prevention program, the statewide abortion loan fund, and the statewide women’s policy center as well as Hardy Girls Healthy Women. Her connections to the community range from her leadership in such main-stream organizations as the Waterville Rotary Club, the Waterville Main Street Program and the local Boys and Girls Club to statewide organizations focusing on women’s reproductive health and social change including the Maine Women’s Lobby, the Maine Women’s Fund, the Maine Choice Coalition and the Maine Women’s Policy Center.

Lynn Cole


Lynn Cole is the Director of Development at Lincoln County Healthcare. She is a co-creator of Hardy Girls Healthy Women and a past president of the Hardy Girls Healthy Women Board of Directors. Lynn has a BS in Community Health Education from the University of Maine and an MS in Communications Management from Simmons College.

With more than 25 years of nonprofit direct service and administrative experience, she has consistently worked to support clients and staff alike in promoting the health and well-being of girls and women. She is the recipient of an American Association of University Women Career Development.

Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D


Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. is a community activist and Professor of Education and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Colby College. She is co-creator of Hardy Girls Healthy Women, creator of the online teen blog, PBG, and co-founder, with Dr. Deborah Tolman, of the girl-fueled activist campaign, SPARK Movement.

When she’s not teaching or conducting research, she’s developing strength-based programs and materials to scaffold girls’ social change work for Hardy Girls. Lyn’s scholarship focuses on understanding the conditions that enable girls’ healthy resistance and dissent in the face of oppression. She’s the author of 6 curriculums and 5 books, including Meeting at the Crossroads: Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development (with Carol Gilligan; a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection Among Girls, and Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketer’s Schemes (with Sharon Lamb; winner of a Books For A Better Life Award). You can read more about Lyn’s work.