Nicole Hmielewski
Executive Director

Monette Leyva
Program Manager

Board of Directors

Meghan Hogrefe – President

Meghan joined the Board in February 2017.  Meghan had previously volunteered for several years with the San Diego Rescue Mission working to help the women return into the workforce. She has always remained a champion of volunteerism with an emphasis on helping girls and women achieve their goals.  In addition to volunteering, over the last 10 years Meghan has worked primarily in area of Human Resource outsourcing and staffing. She has specialty in helping companies operate stronger by working to find options to streamline resources as it relates to being an employer.

Originally from the North East, at the end of 2008 she was transferred to San Diego in her Branch Manager role within a large staffing firm. Most recently, at the end of 2016, Meghan and her husband started H2 Productions, LLC which focuses on multiple investment projects including Real Estate investments in Sandusky, Ohio as well as launching a clothing line.  Meghan grew up in a small town in Rhode Island and graduated from Harvard University. In her spare time she enjoys running, surfing and most importantly, spending time with her husband.


Nicole Marquel – Vice President

Nicole Celeste Marquel joined the Board of Girls Rising in October 2017. Originally from New York, she moved to San Diego in 2013. She is the Director of Development for Wesley House, a nonprofit providing affordable housing and wraparound services for at-risk college students in San Diego. As a former educator working in high needs urban areas, Nicole is a passionate advocate for student populations and empowering girls in particular. Nicole holds a BA in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, an MA in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Adelphi University, and an MA in Education from Pepperdine University.



Terri Denning – Treasurer

Terri Denning joined the Board of Directors of Girls Rising in June, 2018. Originally from England, Terri moved to Charlottesville, VA in 1997 where she received her MBA in Business and Finance from the Darden School at the University of Virginia. Terri works in the renewable energy field in finance and business development. She is proud to promote energy which is 100% sustainable and has her own consulting company in the same field. Terri is also the Treasurer for San Diego Surf Ladies, and is a keen surfer. She lives in Encinitas.




Sarah Panis – Secretary

Sarah Panis joined the Board of Directors in October 2017. Sarah has also volunteered as a Big Sister for Girls Rising since 2014. She is the Founder & CEO of Gritty Movement Consulting, a consultancy that helps female founders expand their businesses through mindful leadership and operational efficiency. Sarah graduated with a bachelors in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of San Diego in 2012. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she now lives in Hillcrest and enjoys going to the dog park with her English bulldog, Sadie.





Gina Mittal

Gina joined the Board of Directors for Girls Rising in 2018. She earned a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Public Health from Boston University. She works as a Director for a local nonprofit organization, where she manages a variety of counseling and case management programs. Previously, Gina worked in outpatient therapeutic settings as a clinical social worker. She also worked at the United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley, overseeing collective impact strategies focused on education, and she worked with mentors at BUILD, a youth entrepreneurship program that supports high schoolers in starting businesses. Gina moved from Massachusetts to San Diego in 2017, and she grew up outside of Philadelphia. She lives in Hillcrest with her husband.


Brianna Mirabile

Brianna Mirabile joined the Board of Directors of Girls Rising in April 2018. She is the Staff Accountant at the San Diego Museum of Man in historic Balboa Park. Prior to moving to San Diego from Massachusetts in 2017, she worked at YWCA Cambridge as the Development Manager and at African Community Education (ACE) as the Assistant Director of Development and Human Resources. She holds a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA), concentrating in Non-Profit Administration, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Women and Gender Studies, both from Clark University in Worcester, MA.

Brianna is passionate about racial and social justice, female empowerment, and creating community. In her free time she enjoys exploring San Diego, going to the beach, and spending time with her silly pit-bull, Bernie.


Erin Callaghan Huffman

Erin Callaghan Huffman joined the board of directors for Girls Rising in 2018. She has always felt it is important to give back to your community, thus is passionate about volunteering her time to good causes. Erin is an active member of the Junior League of San Diego where she serves as a fundraising event treasurer. She was previously a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for a foster child and also volunteered as part of the Disaster Services’ feeding leadership team with the San Diego/Imperial County Chapter of the American Red Cross for many years.

When not working for free, Erin is a freelance Instructional Designer and has created both online and instructor-led training courses for organizations such as the US Navy and Texas Education Agency. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Media Arts & Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA and her master’s degree in Learning Design and Technology from San Diego State University.

Erin grew up in New Jersey and Virginia, but has called California home for over 15 years. She lives in Mission Hills with her husband, two stepdaughters, brand new baby daughter, and kitty cat.