Meet the Unite for Strength Team
Chrissy Chard, PhD is currently an Assistant Professor with the Colorado School of Public Health, with a focus in Community and Behavioral Health. She is also the co-founder of Smart Fit Girls, Inc. She received her PhD in Human Bioenergetics in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University. Her research focuses on physical activity and psychosocial health in adolescent girls and community based participatory research. She has much experience in health and wellness coaching, both in a clinical setting as well as with the general population. Chrissy resides in Fort Collins, CO with her husband, 2.5 year old daughter Lucille, and 8 month old son Jack. She enjoys leading an active lifestyle through lifting weights (or her children) and family walks to the park.
Kellie Walters, PhD is currently an Assistant Professor in the Kinesiology Department at California State University, Long Beach. She is also the co-founder of Smart Fit Girls, Inc. Kellie obtained her Master’s Degree in Exercise Science from Colorado State University where she continued her professional career as the Director of Adult Fitness and Instructor in the Health and Exercise Science Department. Kellie received her PhD in the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management Department at Clemson University. In addition to studying the impact of Smart Fit Girls, Kellie’s research focuses on the relationship between physical activity and psychosocial health in adolescent girls and their mothers. Kellie lives in Long Beach, CA with her husband and two dogs. In her free time she enjoys teaching group fitness and traveling to visit her family.
Shannon Kim Wagner
Shannon Kim Wagner is the founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Strength Coalition. She created the WSC with a firm belief that there are three fundamental elements necessary to creating real social change. People need to feel safe and strong in their own bodies. People need to feel supported and understood by their communities. People need to be educated on the lived experiences of others in order to instill compassion, and an obligation for action.
As a Strength and Conditioning Specialist and yoga instructor based in Brooklyn, NY, she is passionate about helping others feel strong and supported. The demonstrable link between strength training and mental health spurs her drive to make lifting more accessible to all people.
Leanna Carr is a WNBF Figure Pro, elite-level powerlifter, and Team Bodybuilding.com Athlete. She is a Strength Coach and Co-Founder of Iron Woman Strength. LLC, a fitness and strength consulting company.
Through her business, she has worked with hundreds of women across the world, both directly and remotely, with the primary motive of teaching them a sustainable approach to reaching their goals.
Currently pursuing her post-graduate Masters (and eventual doctoral) studies in Sport-Exercise Psychology and Counseling, she envisions her role in the fitness industry to bring awareness to and eventually bridge the gap between physical and mental health. Leanna is also a volunteer coach and Program Coordinator for Smart Fit Girls. She is extremely passionate about this program and the impact it has on the future generation of young women.
As a health and fitness editor, based in Boston, Tessa Yannone is passionate about spreading the word of strength through her writing and she believes all women deserve to feel healthy, happy, and empowered in their bodies. She is a USAPL powerlifter and in her humble opinion thinks kilos are greater than pounds and that the deadlift reigns supreme. When she’s not lifting heavy things or typing away at her keyboard, she enjoys long hikes and eating her way through every city she visits. You can learn more about Tessa on her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
My name is Nina Whaley. I am currently a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, cycling instructor, and an endorphin enthusiast! I graduated from CSU with a bachelors of science in Sports Medicine. During my time there, I became involved with Smart Fit Girls as a coach, and was so thankful to be apart of spreading self love paired with strength training to young girls. I was able to spread the wildfire of confidence, endorphins, and empowerment that come after a strength training session, to young girls growing up in this confused culture. It is SO important for young girls to discover their strength from a young age. To embed in them that CHARACTER matters, and their value lies in WHO they are, not what they look like. We as females should focus on what our bodies can DO, rather then how our bodies “should” look. My passion is to encourage young girls to see through the media, Photoshop or deadly comparison, and to love themselves EXACTLY where they are at. Teach them that self love and confidence are not a destination (or certain pant size) but is a lifestyle available to them RIGHT NOW. Every young girl deserves to be their best self, and live out their full potential unchained by societies standards. Together we can change society’s stigma on the term “lifting like a girl” to mean crushing the competition, or not being “strong for a girl” but JUST PLAIN STRONG.
Emily Cabaniss lives in Seattle, Washington. She discovered the weight room in graduate school, where a love of numbers and planning merged with a desire to kick down any door she saw. Since then, her knee-high sock game has come way up. She has been training, competing, and drumming up converts to powerlifting for 2.5 years. When she is not training at Aspire Athletics you can find her at the opera house or knocking back aquavit at the Swedish Club.
Erica Caasi began lifting seven years ago and fell in love with how it transformed her both physically and mentally. She began powerlifting and competing locally in Maryland in 2015 and continued to do so after moving to Denver in summer 2017. Dead-lifting is one of her favorite hobbies. Outside of lifting Erica is an educator with a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Southern California. She has primarily worked with elementary aged and gifted populations in both the Bay Area and D.C. region. She will begin her doctoral work in curriculum and instruction this Fall 2018 at the University of Colorado Boulder where she will continue to work with elementary students and future educators.
Natalie Hanson is a powerlifter and a co-founder of Beefpuff Barbell, a female-owned powerlifting coaching company focused on promoting individual empowerment and self-love through strength pursuits.
Sarah Schaefer is currently working in hotel sales and event planning at the Art Hotel in Denver, CO. She graduated with a Hospitality degree from Colorado State University. Sarah now lives in Denver and enjoys an active lifestyle and being an aunt to 2 adorable nieces- Elsie and Lucy, and two handsome nephews- Max and Jack. She is proud to call herself the sister of Chrissy Chard- one of the co-founders of Smart Fit Girls. Being so, she has gotten to see the program grow from inception to the amazing organization it is today!
Alyssa | Advisory Committee
Alyssa is a freshman at Pendleton High School. She has been involved in Smart Fit Girls as a participant and has also experienced being a junior coach. In her free time she enjoys singing and hanging out with friends and family. She has 4 brothers grew up in Pendleton and has the dream of becoming a nurse or a music teacher.