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Women are Guiding Young Women From Pain to Purpose

Stephanie Gottesman and Denita Washington

Denita Washington, Adams Township Trustee and Executive Director of Fort Wayne Girlz Rock, joins host Stephanie Gottesman for a conversation about her work empowering young women to find their purpose.

For young women, and especially those from hard backgrounds, it can be hard to find a sense of purpose and empowerment. Too many girls slip through the cracks and struggle to find their way. Studies show, though, that one caring adult can make all the difference. Denita Washington is one woman who has shown up as a caring adult in the lives of more than 2000 young women here in Fort Wayne.

Denita Washington hosted several of the girls in her program for an interview session with Stephanie Gottesman. From left to right: Deja Eley (17), Trinity Pilot (15), and Jaya Swopshire (15).

In this episode of Women Are: Fort Wayne, Washington talks deeply about the history of her organization, the personal experiences that led her to creating safe spaces for young women, and the inspiring programs she’s developed over the years. Her stories are thoughtful, moving, and relatable. She shares her own history of suffering through bullying, and some of the powerful stories of girls who have overcome extreme adversity to find their place in the world. She offers advice to mothers (and mentors) about how to find the healing they need themselves to offer safe spaces for their children, and sends messages of hope and empathy to young people and their families.

Several of the girls also joined host Stephanie Gottesman for an interview session, giving them an opportunity to share their own perspective on the program and gain experience interviewing.

Toward the end of the episode, Washington shares information on a fundraiser the group is having on March 5, 2020. For more information on Fort Wayne Girlz Rock, visit They are also on Facebook (Fort Wayne Girls Rock) and Instagram (@fwgirlzrock).


Today’s song, I’m Free by Pamela featuring Cherelle, is a powerful collaboration between two Fort Wayne women. Pamela got inspired to write this song at a point in her life when she was surrounded by people who gave off negative vibes and it was destroying her inner peace. She says, “It was time to set myself free from the burdens and negativity surrounding me and focus on the importance of self preservation.” Cherelle says that her heart drove her to write her verse. “I was wanting to help and heal everyone in need but at the end of day there was no one I could reach out to and I was only left drained. It was a lot of weight on my shoulders trying to carry everyone's burden while I came out with nothing and so I made the decision to look out for myself first and free myself.” You can find them on Tidal, Spotify, and Itunes. You can also find Pamela on Facebook, and Charelle Nightbreed on Facebook and Instagram


Women Are: Fort Wayne is a production of Monstrous Regiment Media and distributed by WBOI in Fort Wayne. Our show is sponsored by the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne and Silverbirch Entertainment. This episode was written and produced by Stephanie Gottesman and Traci Henning-Kolberg. Our episodes are recorded at Silverbirch Studio, with an extra thank you to sound engineer Steve Tyler and assistant engineer, Harrison Tyler. 


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