CHARLOTTE HALL, Md. – A Southern Maryland woman who struggled with mental health and bullying is now helping women and teens build self-confidence and become successful.
Maryanna Lanham is the Executive Director of the Life Atlas Foundation, a local non-profit focused on teen mentorship and heart-centered leadership. Maryanna participated in the program when it was the Dream Queen Foundation, founded by Erin Lewis. She says it changed her life.
“I learned to be more kind to myself.and hope to spread the tools that I have used to help more people. We have to learn to be kind to ourselves.”
When Maryanna took over the non-profit two years ago, she gave the program a new vision and purpose.
Their mission is to offer career and leadership development training in a safe space where women and teens come together to align careers with passion and purpose, embrace authenticity and transparency in positions of power and influence, and replace greed and corruption with heart-centered leadership.
It’s currently hosting clubs in six schools and growing in Southern Maryland. The programs include Gals Lead and the Compass Club (a gender-neutral version).
The 20-week leadership program focuses on helping teens learn confidence and how to lead themselves positively.
“We base the modules on four pillars of success: know yourself, dream big, overcome obstacles, and take action.”
The foundation does several exercises, one in particular is called Boss versus Heart-Centered Leader. In it, they discuss the different scales of feelings from being mean or selfish to being motivational, helpful, and encouraging. The facilitators talk to the students about where they find themselves on the scale and give them the tools to become more heart-centered.
“Your thoughts become your feelings which influence your actions and results. If you are thinking negatively, you will feel negative, act in a negative manner and your results will reflect that.”
As a part of the program, they also talk to students about the world, their community, their schools, their families, and themselves.
“This is an eye-opening few weeks for everyone and helps us, as facilitators, learn how to become better leaders ourselves. It is so important to make sure these tools and strategies hit home with the students so we can help them build the future they desire.”
Alongside the clubs, The Foundation also offers its Life Atlas Certified Leader Academy which equips those who are interested in taking their leadership to the next level and becoming mentors.
The club programs provided are $300 per student, but the Foundation covers the cost thanks to generous sponsors.
Right now, the non-profit is looking for more sponsorships to continue its mission as well as facilitator mentors, and volunteers.
In 2024, Maryanne hopes those who have completed the program can share their success to get more schools and students interested.
“We hope one day our way of thinking and leading will be the norm. We believe in working together to stay mentally well and that we can give our students the tools they need to battle bullies and move forward into their future where anything is possible.”
For more information about the Life Atlas Foundation, check out their website.
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