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. On annual Father/Daughter hikes, she would share ideas for camp and her dad always encouraged her to "dream bigger!" Over the years, the vision began to take shape.
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 is committed to creating a community of strong young women who are actively "dreaming bigger."
Sarah has 15+ years of experience as a Camp Counselor. Sarah received her Bachelor’s of Arts in International Business from Ohio Northern University and has been working at HSBC since 2011 where she is currently the Team Lead of Receivables Finance Implementation and Program Management. Her career accomplishments include founding the HSBC US Young Professionals Association, completing the HSBC Group Graduate Leadership Program in the UK, and participating in the Leadership Buffalo Rising Leaders program in 2014. In 2017 she was a recipient of Buffalo Business First’s 30 under 30 award, in 2018 she was recognized by New York State Women Inc. as “Woman of the Month” in WNY and most recently, in 2019, she was recognized by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership as a Spotlight Professional.
Cecilia Lima is passionate about our cause and believes wholeheartedly in women reaching their full potential! Cecilia is fluent in Spanish and works at HSBC Bank.
“With the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the time is right to provide an environment that encourages young women to reach their full potential. The time is now for Empower Camp!”
Katie is extremely passionate about helping women succeed and thrive. She recently completed her first year as a camp counselor, and saw the power of listening and trusting your inner voice. From that experience, 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 and American Eagle, 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.
Kim Taberski is a Marketing and Project Manager professional. She is passionate about women empowerment and showing other women that they have a voice. She believes in the importance of having the confidence to stand up for what you believe in. She has 15+ years of training and working as an instructor in women self defense. During her training years, she also was involved with multiple empowerment programs. In her spare time she enjoys her side business as a wedding planner, volleyball and enjoying the company of others. Or you can find her relaxing with her fiancé and dog, Taylor! Kim joined Empower Camp in the Fall of 2019 where she immediately was motivated with the energy of the camp counselors and campers.
Melissa is a senior leader in Change and Program Management at M&T Bank. She discovered Empower Camp in May of 2019 and was immediately attracted to the impressive team and its focus on the empowerment of women. In her professional career, Melissa has observed and experienced the correlation between confidence and success, particularly for women. She is passionate about providing opportunities for young women to build their confidence, be themselves, and live their truth.
Melissa is also a mom of two amazing teenagers and volunteers with her children’s schools, currently holding a committee position on the Orchard Park Middle School PTO. In her free time, she enjoys spinning, yoga, supporting her children’s love of sports, and spending time with family and friends.
Jim Bachwitz saw the Empower Camp idea emerge from countless Daughter-Father walks and talks. A lifelong advocate for women empowerment, Jim is the proud father of two strong, independent and fierce young women.
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 is a board member and past-president of Just Buffalo Literary Center.
“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.”
Deena Mueller-Funke is a senior associate in the litigation practice group at Phillips Lytle LLP, where she practices primarily business and commercial litigation.
Among other things, Deena spends her days spotting potential legal issues and assisting companies with general litigation issues from lawsuits to non-party subpoenas. She hopes to use her legal expertise to help Empower Camp grow and maximize its opportunities to impact the lives of young women.
A Buffalo resident since 2013, Deena’s other community engagement has included serving on the board for the Center for Elder Law & Justice, volunteering in the kitchen at the Buffalo City Mission, and serving as the Young Members Coordinator for the local chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club.
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.
Emma Hartman has a fierce passion for camp life...eleven years as a camper and now three years as a counselor, she knows the ins and outs of camp! Emma is a registered nurse at Gates Vascular Institute.
”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.”
Claire Petrie is a Human Resources practitioner who dedicates her time outside of work helping others learn and attract opportunities to themselves. She is a professional development events facilitator at both of her alma maters (University at Buffalo and Niagara University) and presents on topics such as effective networking, confident communication, and work-life balance. Claire holds 2 professional HR certifications through SHRM and HRCI and is the Professional Development Director for the local Human Resources professional affiliation (BNHRA). She was an Empower Camp counselor in 2019 before joining the board in 2020.
Every action we take is based on fulfilling our vision of a world where young women radiate strength, have the courage to speak up, and are empowered to create the life they want to lead.
We value everyone’s roles and opinions and strive to make Empower Camp a welcoming community.
We will ensure that women, regardless of background or socioeconomic status, will have the opportunity to participate in Empower Camp programs.
We take responsibility for our actions, words and commitments.
We will radiate positive energy in how we conduct ourselves at all Empower Camp activities.
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.