Being a girl is tough.
From stress and difficult relationships, or anxiety and depression to self-esteem.
Yes. We GET it.
Why do we understand all the struggles so well?
Because we’ve lived those life experiences, we’ve seen our own kids struggle, and we work with girls all over the country who are just like you.
When my dad died during my teen years, I didn’t have anybody that was particularly helpful or supportive. Rather, I found myself being the one to support others while I was grieving.
It wasn’t until I went off to college that I really dealt with what that experience was all about. What that meant to me. What it was like to have been a teen and not having had anybody as a mentor or a person that I could really talk to.
What grieving taught me
I didn’t have an adult role model or figure who had experience with grieving teens,
let alone normal adolescent issues and how that was impacted by my experience of losing my father. It was because of my experience and lack of a mentor to guide me through the tough stuff that I decided to be that person to other people.
So, I went to grad school at Boston College, getting my masters in social work to do psycho-oncology in order to help other families navigate and process their grief.
Creating programs to help families
I put my masters to work at Massachusetts General Hospital as an oncology social worker where I developed several unique programs that addressed the psychosocial needs of this patient population. Most of these programs remain intact to this day.
While at MGH, I was recruited to be the start-up Director for The Wellness Community, a comprehensive international nonprofit organization for Boston area cancer patients and their families. I developed and managed various innovative programs and services, one of which was designed to meet the unique needs of teens and children who had a parent with cancer.
Twenty years ago, that group of teens were in high school. Now, located all over the world, they’re almost 40. Some are parents themselves, and we’re still connected to this day. The support that began during that challenging time in their lives has become a source of continued strength and support throughout all of these years.
In my social work career, I learned much about the healing, restorative power, and importance of our connections. As the mother of two emerging adult children, I recognized the importance of not just teaching, but also living this principle.
It has been my mission to help teenage girls and their parents to develop authentic and meaningful connections with themselves and others in their world, which led me to create Willsey Connections.
Hi, I’m Vanessa Calagna and through my coaching practice VRCCoaching LLC I have been coaching and mentoring young women and their families at Willsey Connections since 2014. Working with Pam and coaching young women and girls is a natural extension of both my passion and my background. I hold a bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies and a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Psychology. I am also a certified Wisdom Kids Coach and a parent myself of two children.
Several years back, while co-facilitating the Grrrls Connection High School group with Pam, I became increasingly aware of my own younger children’s development. I noticed, that around the 3rd grade, most children begin to flex their social muscles (independent of their parents) and the early seeds of their first and, sometimes, life long friendships are sown. This can be a very hard time for both kids and parents, as most kids experience hurt feelings, social exclusion and a decrease in their self-esteem, often for the very first time. . .So hard, right?
This is when I decided to launch our elementary age group, called TheKidzConnection, for girls in the 4th and 5th grades. Over the years, I have expanded my groups to meet the growing desire within our community for deeper connection and now lead a GrrrlsConnection Middle School group as well as a group for mothers-The Moms Connection.
Together, we’re a cosmic force of energy.
Pam and Vanessa met, and they had an instant connection. Working together was just this cosmic force of energy. We loved it, and we still love it.
We became the mentors that girls needed in their lives. We helped parents understand their girls better.
When girls learn what matters most to them, and when they have a safe place to feel seen and heard, that’s when magic happens.
In a time of disconnection, we create connections that matter.
We want girls to experience a deep connection with themselves and their friends, family, and partners.
We want them to know that there’s a place for them in this world and that they have all the tools they need to succeed.
And that there’s a place for them to feel safe and supported so that they can become resilient, self-assured women.
The tools we use in our coaching programs are diversified and evidence-based; from mindfulness and conflict resolution, to learning how to understand and manage their feelings and thoughts using our unique life-changing Paradigm Shift Tool.
We are here for you and your girls.
And when you’re ready to connect with us, we’re just an email away.
I’m Nicole Franco and I’m thrilled to be joining Pam and Vanessa as a Coach at Willsey Connections. I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Vermont. With a strong desire to expand my knowledge and hone my skill set, I went on to earn my master’s degree in Mediation and Applied Conflict Studies.
I’ve spent most of my career finding ways to pursue my passion for enhancing interpersonal relationships and encouraging healthy family dynamics. My interest in working with kids to help them shape a positive mindset has led me to coaching, and to become a certified Wisdom Kids Coach.
As a former participant in the Grrrls Connection groups during my teen years, I became acutely aware of the powers associated with understanding and managing one’s thoughts and feelings. My takeaways from the Grrrls Connection groups were a game-changer, to say the least; I developed the skills that have allowed me to cultivate and nourish different levels of interpersonal relationships in my late teen years and adult life.
I’m excited to be facilitating the Kidz Connection group for 4th and 5th grade girls, and am also looking forward to working individually with elementary and middle school aged girls.
I’m incredibly grateful to be part of the Willsey Connections community. I was born and raised in Lima, Peru. In my early 20s, I moved to San Francisco to pursue my higher education.
I have a BS in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Marketing. I started my career as a Marketing professional in the fast-paced technology industry. While working in Tech, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop at Stanford called “Choosing Happiness.” The course was based on the field of Positive Psychology (the science of well-being).
This was a life-changing experience. I realized I spent many years of my life in survival mode, so the class gave me the north star to a world where people can aspire to thrive. Over the years, I’ve taken courses related to Neuroscience, Mindfulness, Social-Emotional Learning and Behavior Change. I completed the Wholebeing Institute’s Positive Psychology Coaching Program in May 2021 with a Positive Psychology Coaching Certification.
In my free time, I love spending time in nature, playing beach volleyball, and dancing to Latin music 🙂
I live in Oakland, California with my husband and daughter. My biggest dream is to model to Annalie (my daughter) how to live from the inside out.
I’m so excited to join the coaching team, working with girls from elementary through college, in groups and individual coaching. I hope to share the science of human flourishing with young girls from different backgrounds. I want to give them the tools and skills to build a joyful and authentic life.