Best-selling author, brand ambassador, lecturer, editor-in-chief, TEDx speaker, mentor, radio show and web series host. These are just a few of the impressive titles that Lauren Galley has already racked up for herself by age 19. And, as the Founder and President of Girls Above Society, she does it all in the name of defending girls everywhere, on a mission to protect and bolster their confidence and self-esteem.
Lauren was bullied so badly in middle school that, she told us, “I just wanted to quit school forever.” Known as the beloved, quiet girl who “listened a lot,” she says she was tortured over the My Space app by a fellow cheerleader. “She was jealous and decided that because her boyfriend talked to me once (about homework) I was an awful person… and then the bullying began.”
At first, Lauren didn’t know how to deal with it. She even kept it from her parents for a while. But they knew something wasn’t right and intervened. “They are just the best. They helped me see that it wasn’t me and that I had nothing to be afraid of.”
“It’s super tough being a tween and teen girl today. We live in media/celebrity driven society, and on top of that, girls, all too often, use their power to judge and tear each other down.”
Having lived through her own soul-crushing pain, while watching so many of her friends and peers struggle with a variety of similar self-esteem issues, Lauren was very aware that the pressures on girls can sometimes be more than they really know how to handle.
“It’s super tough being a tween and teen girl today. We live in media/celebrity driven society, and on top of that, girls, all too often, use their power to judge and tear each other down.” To make matters even worse, many girls don’t have the familial support that Lauren had. This was particularly heartbreaking to her.
Wanting to spare other girls from experiencing what she had, Lauren, just 15 at the time, sprang into action. She came up with the idea of creating a positive outlet for girls where the daily pressures they face could be discussed out in the open, peer-to-peer. She wanted other girls to see how life’s difficult moments could be more easily navigated, and was determined to help them gain the confidence they needed to be their best selves.
Her idea became a reality the following year, in 2011, when Lauren founded Girls Above Society, a non-profit dedicated to giving young girls what she describes as “enough Girl Power to rule the world.”
Based on the principles of confidence, self-esteem, and empowerment, Girls Above Society is more than an organization; it is an all encompassing movement fueled by a website, an online magazine, a monthly newsletter, a book, cross country speaking engagements, a “Girl Talk” peer-to-peer program, a radio show, a web series, etc. And Lauren, now a college student working towards her masters in psychology, is the one-woman driving force behind every single aspect of it.
She is the face and the voice of the mission. She is the advice giving best friend and mentoring big sister that every girl should have. She runs the entire operation and all of its moving parts.
Aside from the massive volume of empowering digital content she’s writing and producing, Lauren dedicates several weeks a year to traveling throughout the U.S. to speak with teen and tween girls. She also spends a few weeks each summer in Maine bringing her “Girl Talk” program to life at Camp Susan Curtis. And just this past year, Lauren got to check two HUGE items off of her bucket list: she gave her very first TEDx talk, and took Girls Above Society global. “I worked with a group of girls in Ghana, Africa this past year. We did a new fashion of pen pals via email, photos and video. It was an amazing experience.”
In her spare time, Lauren is currently working with the Texas Education Agency on a curriculum based program that would give girls the tools to be confident leaders and bring mandatory cyber skills classes to schools. She’s also a brand ambassador for Secret’s “Mean Stinks,” a campaign to end girl-to-girl bullying.
Dizzy and exhausted by this young woman’s schedule, we had to ask, “How do you do it all, Lauren?” She replied with a laugh, “Everyone asks me this question and sometimes I wonder myself. However, I’ve learned over the past couple of years to be VERY organized and use my time wisely.” Lauren finds semester breaks and summers are a good time for her and her dedicated team, which includes her mom, to try to cram in the bulk of her Girls Above Society work. She added, “I always have too many ideas and I feel very lucky to have a board of directors that helps me keep focused and grounded.”
But the time and effort Lauren puts in to what she does pale in comparison to the invaluable benefits reaped by everyone involved. “It’s always rewarding when girls tell me that they feel more confident and I’ve made a difference. It means the world!”
Reprinted with permission from the fine people at Women You Should Know.