PAALS
Our Team

Positive, Energetic Leaders & Role Models.

Founder & President

Dawn Berkowitz-Ader

As a child, Dawn never played sports, struggled with her weight and hated gym class. Regardless of successes in other areas of her life as she grew, those feelings of inadequacy (in terms of physical activity and body image) resurfaced time and time again.[showhide type=”post” more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”]

As luck would have it, Dawn married an 6’4″ athlete who weighs 165 lbs and whose career is in Sports Marketing, – a man who believes that those that play sports are more prepared for life given the life skills learned through their participation. Given his strong sentiment, being athletic became a big part of her life. It was these experiences, including placing 49th in her first triathlon in 2009, that changed how she felt about herself and how she saw herself.

As the mother of two daughters, Dawn did not want them carrying the same insecurities as she did. She was determined for them to have a more positive image of themselves starting from their youth.

After watching her girls not respond favorably to any structured athletic activity, she was adamant about figuring out why. What she realized was that girls were being taught the same way as boys even though their approach to sports, competition and life is often so different.

She imagined classes designed specifically for girls that fills the void and meets a demand from parents and girls. Dawn founded GAALS: Girls Athletics And Life Skills, who mission is to use physical activity as a vehicle to help girls develop the physical, social and emotional skills that enable them to build the courage, character and confidence to assertively navigate their relationships and everyday experiences.

Dawn always wanted to impact as many people as she could. Although she did various types of volunteer work while balancing family, work and play, it just never seemed enough, until now.

Prior to GAALS, Dawn worked in various capacities with cable companies throughout the world, from writing, producing and directing, to marketing and branding. A 20-year veteran of the television industry, she has garnered dozens of prestigious industry awards.

As the head of on-air creative for History Channel’s international division, Dawn successfully launched more than a dozen international channels and oversaw their local on-air creative teams. Following her five years at History, Dawn produced the rebranding of Bravo and Oxygen, and worked alongside executives at USA, A&E and Syfy on large-scale projects.

Dawn graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. from Ithaca College. In her free time, Dawn enjoys working out, writing, being outdoors and spending time with her daughters, husband and dog Ziggy.

After living in Manhattan for 17 years, Dawn moved with her family to Port Washington, Long Island. She has finally acclimated to life in the burbs and attributes the great outdoors to her ability to begin practicing mindfulness. [/showhide]

Coach

Victoria Collette

Victoria has a wonderfully diverse background, having worked in Finance, Training & Development, Fundraising, and most recently Entrepreneurship. Throughout her 20 year career, she has learned a lot about herself and discovered a theme that [showhide type=”post” more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”]kept coming up — the importance of empowering women and girls to fully believe in themselves and their ability to follow their dreams.

When Victoria heard about GAALS she instantly wanted to get involved. Victoria grew up being told she could not do certain things because she was a girl. Instead of being discouraged, it fueled her fire to go after what she wanted.

As part of the GAALS & PAALS teams, Victoria hopes to inspire girls as she encourages them to believe in themselves and their own abilities – despite what others might say.

Victoria earned her bachelor’s degree in business from Alfred University.  Outside of GAALS, you can find Victoria enjoying nature; whether that’s hiking, biking, or even kayaking.[/showhide]

Assistant Coach

Aimee Fox

While Aimee’s professional career is in Computer Programming and Consulting (where she runs her own company) what fulfills her is giving back to her community. Over the past 10 years she has volunteered with several children’s organizations [showhide type=”post” more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”]where she has had the opportunity to work directly with children and positively impact their lives.

Aimee is passionate empowering children which is why she chooses to work with GAALS elementary school girls, and PAALS preschool children. As the mother of a teenage son and two teenage step daughters, she values the importance of helping all children enhance critical life skills that they will need in their lives – which is what the GAALS programming is all about.

Aimee earned her Masters from Cornell University and loves visiting the waterfalls in Ithaca with her husband and children. [/showhide]

Coach

Amanda Rynd

Amanda Rynd recently completed her Master’s degree in Communications from Hofstra University, and is consulting small businesses on a multitude of marketing tactics. But given her deep-seated passion for empowering girls and athletics, she [showhide type=”post” more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”]continues to work for GAALS & PAALS (she has been with us since 2016), as well as a local child cooking/baking facility. She enjoys working with girls and athletes of all ages, from preschool to teen.

Amanda spends her free time working out at CrossFit and is a powerlifter. As an integral part of her life, she became certified as a personal trainer through the National Academy of Medicine. She is well versed in both child and adult training and coaching.

Amanda also loves to sing and play guitar, as well as travel to countries she’s never been to before.[/showhide]

Coach

Kaitlyn Carter

Kaitlyn serves as a Phys Ed teacher in Port Washington Schools, working with children of all ages and backgrounds. She began her career as a Preschool Teacher in New York City where she taught in the classroom and in the gymnasium. [showhide type=”post” more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”]

Her experience as an educator has provided her with a first-hand account of the relationship between sound body and sound mind – and how they influence each other. Kaitlyn has always believed that physical activity is an important part of life. She credits her involvement with different activities as a child, in helping with time management, along with giving her a platform to express her creative yet competitive nature.In particular, she says, lacrosse – which has always been a large part of her life – taught her about hard work, friendship, teamwork and so much more.

Kaitlyn hopes to help young people be proud of who they are, and find inspiration within themselves. She lives by the words of the great Dr. Seuss, “be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

In her free time, Kaitlyn enjoys reading, singing along to Taylor Swift songs, and being an aunt to her beautiful nieces and nephew.

Kaitlyn graduated from Adelphi University in 2011 with a degree in Physical Education. While completing her undergraduate studies at Adelphi University, Kaitlyn was a member and captain of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 National Championship Women’s Lacrosse team, garnering many awards and winning several championships. [/showhide]

Coach & Curriculum Development

Jessica Altuch

Jessica recently graduated from The University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Human Sciences with a concentration in Child Development.  Jessica was most recently a full-time student teacher for a 5th [showhide type=”post” more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”]grade class.  She was responsible for maintaining high standards for all students, creating a unique management style for her class and crafting engaging lesson plans every day.

Jessica has worked in a classroom with children as young as PreK through 5th grade.  She has also worked as a group leader for third and fourth grade summer campers.  Jessica seeks out new leadership opportunities and is committed to her students and their development. Jessica’s generous nature is a constant throughout her work. She strives to empower, challenge, and be a role model for all children in their future successes.[/showhide]

Graphic Designer & Assistant Coach

Jenna Hecht

Jenna is a student at the University of Boulder Colorado studying Finance, and minoring in Technology and Media Sciences. As a go-getter, Jenna is interested and growing in all areas, making her a great asset to GAALS.[showhide type=”post” more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”] She is the creative talent behind many marketing materials, and helps with a wide variety of tasks, from the website to social media. Her passion for creativity extends beyond the business aspect and into the field.  You can watch Jenna shine at GAALS events, where she motivates and inspires the children.

Jenna’s deep connection to GAALS stems from her belief that the lessons taught and tools provided would have benefited her when she was a child. She cherishes watching each child’s engagement, and the positive changes as a result of the programs.  

Jenna believes in the importance of life balance and believes the best recipe for success is combining health and happiness. She says, if you follow that regimen, all the rest will fall in place. Jenna is an avid skier, loves to hike, and spend time with friends in Colorado and out. [/showhide]

Researcher & Writer

Morgan Fuller

Morgan Fuller, recently graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Sports Psychology. She’s continuing her journey and pursuing a Master’s at Boston University.

Morgan grew up as a competitive athlete, [showhide type=”post” more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”]whose life primarily revolved around one thing…basketball. Her identity was essentially fixed as “Morgan the Basketball Player.” At the time, she found everything about being an athlete fulfilling.  It fueled her every move.

But it was only after she was forced to give up what she had spent her whole life becoming that she realized that she had not prepared herself for life beyond basketball.  After being stripped of her athlete-status (and going through a very difficult period of lost-identity), Morgan was able to take all that she had gained as an athlete and apply it to other aspects of her life.  By doing so, she was able to step outside of her comfort zone and grow in unexpected ways. Morgan’s journey allowed her to understand how crucial it is to live a balanced life.

Morgan’s life goal, “to help develop happy, healthy and successful young kids by combining the power of sport with the concept of Balance.” [/showhide]