Maria Giordano, Ph.D.
Founder & Director of Curriculum and Development
Maria Giordano, Ph.D., Founder and Director of Curriculum and Development. Before founding Leadership 4Girls Maria was a former Assistant Professor of Counselor Education has coached and mentored girls for over twenty years. Her work with girls and young women in the elementary and secondary schools and university setting inspired her to found a nonprofit organization dedicated to preparing girls for a lifetime of success. Maria is committed to empowering girls and young women with knowledge and skills to live happy, successful, balanced lives. As the mother of two daughters, she wants every girl to be prepared to build quality relationships, work effectively in groups, think critically and realize her own unique potential.
Tara joined Leadership 4Girls while developing a friendship and shared vision with founder Maria Giordano. Tara and Maria discussed their common passion – empowering girls with skills to live courageous, successful and happy lives. Tara graduated from the University of Kansas with a double major in Advertising and Psychology. She spent her early career at an advertising agency in Chicago promoting brands like Gatorade and Quaker cereals. She switched to media sales, working with WIRED Magazine, The Washington Post and, most recently, Orlando Magazine.
Cindy Valdes, M.Ed.
Cindy earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from University of South Florida and her Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of Central Florida. Cindy started her career teaching students with autism and later worked for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at University of South Florida and University of Central Florida. Cindy has been a Grant Coordinator for several local and state non-profit programs supporting students throughout Florida. She is currently a School Counselor and has been working with youth in the community and in schools for over 25 years. As a mother of one daughter and two sons she is passionate about empowering youth with confidence and skills needed to make a positive difference in our world.
Facilitator and Trainer
Stefanie graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Business Administration and Advertising. She is the former Marketing Director for the non-profit Central Florida Fair and is currently a Kindergarten Teacher in Orange County. Stefanie joined Leadership 4Girls as a Facilitator and shares a passion for teaching girls important character traits such as kindness, positive attitude, dedication, and honesty that will help develop strong leaders among their peers. She finds joy in spending time with her husband and two young daughters.
Angela earned her Bachelor’s Degree in elementary education from the University of Central Florida. She just celebrated her eleventh year of teaching Kindergarten for Orange County Public Schools. Angela has been mentoring incoming teachers for the five years, and continues to provide support to teachers as needed. She is a valuable asset to her team, having served as the team leader and the liaison between teachers and administration. Angela is a single mother of a seven year old daughter and is passionate about investing her time and talents into programs that empower girls. Helping girls find their voice and celebrate their strengths along with honing the skills to become the leaders of tomorrow are what continues to inspire and motivate her.
Breanna received her Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Development and Education from University of Central Florida, and her Master's Degree in Special Education from Florida Gulf Coast University. She is a teacher in Orange County and has taught 1st grade, as well as kindergarten through 5th grade special education. Breanna joined the Leadership 4Girls team in 2022. She loves being a part of the girls' growth in compassion, mindfulness, and confidence. Breanna encourages campers to demonstrate kindness to themselves and others, and enjoys seeing the girls spread positivity and celebrate each other.
Elizabeth earned her Bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She just completed her thirteenth year in the classroom and her fifth year teaching first grade for Orange County Public Schools. Elizabeth embodies a leadership role as grade level chair for her first grade team and also as a new teacher mentor. Elizabeth is a wife and fur-baby mom to her beloved pup Lola. She believes in the power that creating strong connections with children can have in their academic and everyday life. Seeing the beauty that can flourish when giving girls the tools to empower themselves and those around them is a gift that keeps giving.
Stephanie received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a focus on Human Resource Management and her Master’s Degree in Education-School Counseling from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. She has enjoyed 26 years as an Elementary School Counselor supporting youth by helping them to realize their strengths and feel important, safe, loved, a sense of belonging, supported, smart, and capable of anything. Building resilience in our youth is her mission and her motto is: “You Got This!!”
Ana Pesko, M.Ed.
West Area Facilitator Lead
Community Service Coordinator
Ana earned her Bachelors Degree in Education as well as her Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Florida. Ana has experience teaching elementary and holds certifications in both elementary and middle school math. As a mother of two girls, she is an active PTO Board Chair and has volunteered countless hours in classrooms working with children. Both of her daughters have participated in the Leadership4Girls summer program as campers and mentors. With a daughter in high school and one entering middle school, Ana has first hand experience in understanding the value of empowering young girls to build positive friendships and confidence. Her goal is to help all girls reach their full potential while maintaining a happy mind, body and soul.