We empower young women through transformative overnight summer camp experiences.
Our vision is a world where young women radiate strength, have the courage to speak up and are empowered to create the life of their dreams.
Sarah's journey to empowerment is REAL LIFE! Inspired by her personal transformation from a shy to confident teen at summer camp, she has dreamt of creating Empower Camp for most of her life. In 2016, Sarah hiked 100km across the Gobi Desert and learned that her most powerful asset is HERSELF! On this adventure, she dug deep into who she is with determination and emerged a more confident woman. The trek across the desert was the triggering experience to make Empower Camp a reality.
Sarah has 15+ years of experience as a Camp Counselor. Sarah received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Ohio Northern University with a major in International Business and Economics. Sarah is a Senior Product Manager with HSBC Bank with an expertise in structured trade solutions. Her career accomplishments include founding the HSBC US Young Professionals Association, completing the HSBC Group Graduate Leadership Program, and participating in the Leadership Buffalo Rising Leaders program in 2014.
Sarah has been recognized for her leadership with awards such as the Buffalo Niagara Spotlight Professional (2019), New York State Women Inc. Women in Leadership Award (2018) and Buffalo Business First's 30 Under 30 Honoree (2017).
Katie is extremely passionate about helping women succeed and thrive. She has been a camp counselor at every Empower Camp, and knows that the power of listening and trusting your inner voice is the key to success. From those experiences, Katie strives to impart that knowledge of believing in one’s self to have the courage to stand up and share their thoughts and passion.
Katie has several years of leadership experience at HSBC, where she takes the initiative on projects and continuously trains and develops her colleagues to have the knowledge and confidence needed to excel in their roles.
Katie is also a mom to the happiest little boy. She loves playing board games and everything Disney!
Deena Mueller-Funke is an attorney with the Erie County Department of Social Services. Deena hopes to use her legal skills to help Empower Camp grow and maximize its opportunities to impact the lives of young women.
Deena was drawn to Empower Camp because she has personally experienced how exposure to the outdoors can help create confidence, courage, and strength in women. She also believes camp is an invaluable way for young women to learn new skills, build meaningful relationships, and develop a sense of self.
In her free time, Deena enjoys hiking, mountain biking, mountaineering, running, paddling, skiing, and pretty much any other kind of outdoor activity. She also enjoys cooking and reading the Economist.
Debra (Debbie) Brown reconnected with the founder of Empower Camp, Sarah, after many years of attending camp together as teens. Summer camp to Debbie was a place that she could feel like her authentic self and it taught her life long skills about team building and independence. She feels as though empowering young women is so important for them to thrive in today’s demanding world.
After obtaining her MBA in Finance from Niagara University, Debbie started her career at WNY Asset Management where she is currently a Senior Wealth Manager. She hopes to utilize her skills in finance as the Fundraising Lead for Empower Camp.
Debbie enjoys spending time with her family and her golden retriever, Marvin. She also loves to bake and practice yoga. She is passionate about women breaking glass ceilings and unleashing their true potential.
Emma Hartman has a fierce passion for camp life! She has a decades’ worth of camp experience as a camper, counselor, director and camp nurse and believes this helps her to bring the perfect mix of fun and professionalism to being a counselor!
Emma is a Registered Nurse with experience in Cardiac Care and Women’s Health. She has been a counselor and helped developed the Empower Camp program since 2018.
If you catch Emma in her free time, she may be calculating horoscopes, reading a thick book, or singing loudly to oxidize the trees!
"I want to let young women know that beauty means so many different things and strong women is the new norm. When I was a young woman, I spent so much time thinking I was "less than" instead of celebrating my unique qualities! My hope is to help other young women skip the "less than" phase and get right to being proud of their differences."
Jacyndra Jahnke (JJ) is passionate about female empowerment. JJ wants to ensure that no young girl questions her own worth. She has volunteered with Empower Camp since 2020.
JJ has a career in banking where she currently manages. She also has several project management certifications. She is always seeking growth and yearns to learn everyday.
In her personal life, JJ loves to travel with her husband, read suspense thrillers, and play video games.
Jim Bachwitz saw the Empower Camp idea emerge from countless Daughter-Father walks and talks and has been an ardent supporter of the organization since day one. Conducting feasibility research for Empower Camp, Jim identified there was significant interest in the Empower camp concept and he provided strategic launch guidance.
Jim is the Founder and President of JRB Insights, a company that provides marketing research solutions. Currently serving on the board of Empower Camp, Jim also serves on the boards of Just Buffalo Literary Center and Ujima Theatre Company.
A lifelong advocate for women empowerment, Jim is the proud father of two strong, independent and driven daughters, and also a determined, exceptional son.
“Our only limitation in life is the doubt we create in our own mind. We all are capable of scaling the highest mountains and walking the most challenging paths as long as we continually push doubt out of our minds.”
Our words, actions and decisions are grounded in fulfilling our vision of a world where young women radiate strength, have the courage to speak up, and are empowered to create the life of their dreams.
We believe that if a young woman wants to attend camp, she should have the opportunity to do so and we do this by providing need-based scholarships, transportation and access to packing list items.
We are committed to cultivate a safe environment where all campers can embody their authentic selves and feel heard, valued and accepted.
We take responsibility for our actions, words and commitments.
We treat others with kindness and respect - every day and always - by recognizing the worth and dignity of every individual in our camp community.
Diversity across our community - in the way we look, who we love, and what we think - is essential in providing a rich and powerful camp experience for all.
We intentionally surround ourselves with positive ideas, people and things to ignite our inner power!
Feedback is a gift. We value the thoughts and opinions of all stakeholders to best meet the needs of our organization.
We embrace change and growth in every aspect of our organization.