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Rachel Simmons

Bullying and Leadership Expert


Rachel Simmons is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. As an educator, Rachel works internationally to empower young women to be more authentic, assertive and self-aware.

Rachel is a Vassar graduate and Rhodes Scholar from New York. The co-founder of Girls Leadership, she is an experienced curriculum writer and educator. She currently develops leadership programs for undergraduates at the Wurtele Center for Work and Life at Smith College, and is the Tylis Family Girls Research Scholar in Residence at the Hewitt School in New York. She has previously worked as a classroom teacher in Massachusetts and South Africa.

Rachel was the host of the PBS television special, A Girl’s Life, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic and Slate. Rachel serves on the board of the College Women’s Leadership Educators affiliate of the AAUW, and is on the Council of Advisors for the Wellesley Centers for Women.

Rachel has appeared on Oprah and is a regular contributor to Good Morning America and Time. Odd Girl Out was adapted into a highly acclaimed Lifetime television movie. Rachel lives in western Massachusetts with her daughter.


Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls

Exclusion. Toxic friendships. Cyberbullying. When a girl’s relationships are in trouble, her core sense of self is threatened. Parents feel anguished and helpless. For 15 years, Simmons has studied the politics of girls’ relationships. Each year, she empowers thousands of parents to help their daughters negotiate some of the most painful moments of their lives.
Simmons’ rigorous research and unparalleled experience with girls makes her a favorite of parent associations around the world. She weaves down-to-earth advice with analysis of girls’ development to provide parents with concrete strategies and scripts to help kids cope with best friends, worst enemies and everything in between. An intimate observer of the social worlds of girls, Simmons offers parents a window into the hidden culture of girls’ aggression.

How Nice is Too Nice? Leadership in a Gendered World

Young women are more successful today than ever. Yet many are still developing their “inner resume,” or the skills and confidence to speak up, take healthy risks and advocate for themselves. In order to thrive in college—and beyond, students increasingly need this skill set. Weaving the stories of young women with research on women’s leadership, Simmons examines the intersection of gender, culture and young women’s development—and offers concrete, specific strategies every audience member can use to become more assertive, authentic and self-aware.

Overachieving is Overrated: How to Reclaim Your Love of Learning & (Re)Find Yourself

Simmons was once a Rhodes Scholar; but at age 24, she was depressed, lost and burned out on the culture of overachievement surrounding her. She learned that being successful doesn’t make one happy—just successful. In the end, Simmons dropped out of the highly prestigious program to reconnect with life. By sharing her story, she encourages other overwhelmed, ambitious young women to discover their true selves.

Be You: An Interactive Parent-Daughter Workshop

In this interactive workshop for girls and parents, Simmons teaches practical strategies to be confident, courageous and authentic in relationships. Participants will develop a language they can use to discuss toxic friends—and how to be true to oneself. Girls will practice assertive communication and problem-solving skills that they can take to school the very next day. In her personable, down-to-earth speaking style, Simmons fosters eye-opening conversations between parents and their girls—while they laugh, interact and learn.

The Curse of the Good Girl

Why do girls struggle with the pressure to continuously please others, be flawless at everything they do and avoid failure at all costs—¬¬¬and what can we do about it? In this lecture, Simmons teaches girls and adults to break the curse of perfectionism with specific strategies. Attendees will also develop social-emotional intelligence, assertive communication skills and how to take healthy risks.

The Guide to Social Media Mastery

Many young girls say that they “don't exist” if they don’t have a robust online presence, yet at the same time feel they have no choice in the matter—as they constantly update social media channels. Why do so many girls seem “addicted” to social media, and how much oversight should parents provide? What do you fight for, and what do you let slide? Simmons will guide you through the ups and downs of girls’ online lives, as she shares the latest data on youth and social media. You’ll also come away with practical suggestions for setting limits, talking about social media use and how to form articulate parenting values around digital citizenship.

Failing Well: Raising Resilient Kids

Success isn’t just about winning: it’s about who we are when we fall short. Today, kids and teens have never had more opportunity—or have ever seemed more fragile. When kids lack the skills to face down a challenge, recover from failure or adapt to change, they fall short of reaching their potential. In this talk, you’ll learn strategies you can use immediately to help your child become braver and interpret setbacks with more optimism. You’ll also learn how to explore your own relationship to failure, so that you can model resilience for your child.

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