Unleashed is the unique creation of Dr. Stacey Radin, a clinical psychologist and leadership consultant whose career has been committed to developing girls and women on a broad spectrum. Her areas of expertise range from clinical work with adolescent girls and women, to leadership consulting and development for women executives in both public and private sectors.
Armed with years of clinical research, professional experience, and a passion for helping girls and women develop their power, Dr. Radin spent the first half of 2010 working with a think tank of 20 women to build the foundation for Unleashed. She designed the curriculum based on her model of power and expertise in leadership development, and incorporated the philosophies of social-emotional intelligence, feminism, social justice, child development, and animal rights.
Unleashed launched in the fall of 2010 as a pilot program in two New York City schools—Poly Prep (a Brooklyn private school) and New Heights Academy (a charter school in Washington Heights)—and has since expanded to 12 different sites and 24 different middle schools and community centers throughout NYC. More than 300 girls have participated in the Unleashed program and our expansion into new communities and regions will continue in coming years.
The seeds of Unleashed were planted in 2007 when Dr. Radin designed a research study examining the relationship between women and power. Significant findings of this study revealed:
(1) Early influences had a profound impact on women’s perceptions of and experience with their own personal power, regardless of the woman’s age, occupation, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background.
(2) Women were more likely to use their power effectively, take risks, challenge the status quo, and innovate when they were both passionate about a cause and provided with an opportunity to make a sustainable difference.
(3) Women navigate labyrinths; their career advancement and trajectory differs from a man’s because it is non linear; they are attuned to possibility and opportunity and are more likely to veer off a traditional path.
Having completed her doctoral dissertation with a focus on female adolescent identity development, Dr. Radin selected middle-school girls as the program’s target population. She knew that middle school would be an excellent time to begin cultivating the ideals of power, leadership, and civic engagement, since adolescence is a pivotal stage when girls are confronted with tremendous biological, cognitive, and socio-emotional changes.
After conducting a series of focus groups with middle school girls it was clear that:
(1) They had an overwhelming interest in animal rights and welfare
(2) They had an overarching desire to contribute meaningfully to their communities
Based on these insights, Dr. Radin decided that animal welfare and rights would be the program’s cause, the vehicle to engage girls and strengthen their power at this vulnerable age. Social activism would be the “assertive” power component of Unleashed, the fuel to propel girls to take personal risks, develop strong leadership skills, and collaborate with others with a common purpose. It is the combination of these two findings that created the basis of Unleashed.