Spring break with CNN and GFB

Abigail Kesner is a Senior Associate at SE2, a Denver communications firm specializing in public policy. She is a former CNN producer and communications director for Colorado Senate Democrats.

When my boss told me I was heading to Daytona Beach for spring break, this is not quite what I had in mind.  As one of the younger producers at CNN’s Paula Zahn show, I was assigned to help produced a segment on “spring break safety.”

It’s funny that I got my first taste of spring break, Daytona Beach-style as a twenty-something CNN producer and not a rowdy college co-ed, but sometimes that’s how things go.  It was during this assignment that I first met Erin Weed, Girls Fight Back, and their unique ability to empower and educate women.

The assignment was to convince a group of girls to let me join them for a spring break night out in the quintessential spring break spot: Daytona Beach.  I had a small video camera and I tagged along as they visited bars and beach-side dance clubs to record their spring break experience.

The following day, we would meet with Erin Weed of Girls Fight Back. We would review the video to see how the girls played it safe and how they could have made smarter, safer choices.

Amazingly, I recruited two groups of girls to be a part of this story and I joined them on spring break. Things did not happen the way we thought it would. The group of girls we expected to be wild and crazy, stuck together, kept it under control, and played it safe. The group of girls we thought would be tame, got a little crazy, and then one girl separated from the group (twice) to meet with a boy alone and away from the cameras.

Both groups were safe, and nothing bad happened to them that night, but I think they learned an important lesson from Erin and Girls Fight Back – and it’s an important lesson I learned as well.

You can go a little crazy at spring break in Daytona, but always stick together. The support we can provide each other is essential to our survival (literally and figuratively).

Erin, thanks for teaching me that lesson and for joining me on one of the most memorable spring breaks I ever had. Happy Birthday GFB!  Keep up the good work!

Note from Erin: How Abbie and I both ended up here in Colorado after starting our careers in NYC television production amazes me! I am grateful for responsible media folks like her, when she worked at CNN and still today as she continues her gift for cause-driven communications at SE2. Thanks for all you do!

Don’t ever stop!

Bill Kipp is founder of FAST Defense Inc., one of the world’s leading self-defense systems and was named “Best Women’s Program” by Black Belt Magazine.


Note from Erin: When Bill and I hang out, it’s usually at his creepy barn in Colorado and he’s attacking me. In response I’m full-contact kicking him in the groin and punching him in the face. And he’s one of my best buddies…cuz isn’t that what friends do? Seriously, Bill is my fightin’ guru. Much love and appreciation to him and his gorgeous partner-in-crime Debra for all they have done for the GFB team.

I am the George Clooney of GFB

Megan Ellis is one of our amazing USA speakers, and for the past 2 years has spoken at schools and colleges across the country. She also works for one of the world’s leading security firms.

Note from Erin: Megan is a true expert in the field of violence prevention and making this a safer place for women. Her humor and approachable personality makes people feel at ease, even talking about this tough topic. Thanks for being you, Megan!

10th Anniversary e-Party

Ten years ago, this month, I lost one of my dearest friends to homicide, but amidst the sadness, a light flickered in the distance. Gradually, yet deliberately, a silver lining began to sparkle around a very dark cloud, and from it emerged Girls Fight Back. The storm of June 12, 2001 was over, but not forgotten. The rainbow afterwards has been glorious–and thanks to the many people who have believed in our mission along the way, it has shone brightly for an entire decade.

How do we properly celebrate 10 years of changing lives…even saving lives? How do we begin to pay tribute to the gentle soul of Shannon McNamara, who inspired this entire campaign? Especially a movement that is global in scope, reaching women of all ages? Thanks to a little thing called the Internet, I think we can pull off this celebration quite swimmingly and include our friends across the world. How? We’re gonna throw an e-party!

What is an e-party, you ask? Well for us, it has four different dimensions…

1. BLOG: Throughout the month of June, we will be featuring our greatest influencers on the GFB blog. They will be sharing their thoughts, memories and insights from our adventures since 2001, as well as their ideas and hopes for the decade ahead. These people have deep insight into why this movement has worked and maybe even some embarrassing/fun/random tales for your enjoyment. (Note: all hilariously humiliating posts will likely feature me…) The folks blogging this month will be friends, fans, business comrades and super-fans. All of whom have contributed so much to GFB. Without their influence, GFB would not be what it is today. To all of them, I say THANK YOU.

2. TWITTER:  If you’re a tweetin’ kind, be sure to search and save the hashtag #GFB10. It you tweet a happy birthday message to GFB this month, be sure to use that hashtag so we can re-tweet you!

3. FACEBOOK: We’ll also be posting the blog posts on the GFB Facebook page, as well as having fun giveaways and contests throughout the month. If you’re not already a fan, please come hang with us at our digital domicile.

4. ONLINE STORE: We’re offering 10% off for all orders placed at the GFB online store during the month of June. I especially recommend the GFB book and/or DVD as a graduation present for young women. At checkout, use discount code: GFB10

Hope you join us for this world wide web fiesta, and big thanks for your continued support. Cheers to the next ten years…

Strong. Resilient. Spirited. Unified.
Erin Weed