About Us


AuthenticME was born in 2012, out of Sandra McDonnell and Mary Ellen Young’s passion for empowering girls to be their best selves. For Mary Ellen, the passion was ignited in 2004 when serving on her local school board, she came across an article about the negative, life-long impacts of relational aggression (girl bullying) on girls in school. This sparked discussions with her peers which ultimately led to the formation of Helping Girls Navigate Adolescence, Inc.(www.hgna.org), a non-profit organization where she served as president for several years.

In 2009, after serving on the HGNA board, Sandra took over the leadership helm of HGNA, which has served thousands of girls and parents in the western suburbs of Chicago with programs designed to educate, empower and strengthen the individual. AuthenticME is cut directly from that cloth and was created to provide girls with tools to help them on their discovery of their authentic self.


Sandra McDonnell has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Indiana University and a master’s degree in Journalism/Public Relations, with an emphasis in Women’s Studies from The Ohio State University. She has worked in communications and public relations for two Girl Scout Councils and two universities, and served as a Girl Scout troop leader for six years.  Sandra brings 25 years of communications experience and a passion for youth to this company. She is married with two college-aged children. Her life goal is to train her mischievous rescue dog.


Mary Ellen Young has a bachelor’s degree in business from a better Big Ten University – Michigan State.  In addition to serving her community as a member of the board of education and then as founder and president of HGNA, she was the Family Advocate for a statewide grant program to implement social emotional learning (SEL) standards in Illinois schools. She also helped author a Best Practices in Bullying Prevention Manual for the DuPage County Regional Office of Education. She has done a number of trainings on bullying, relational aggression and SEL. Mary Ellen is married with two adult daughters and brings over 30 years of business experience to this company. Her life goal is a weed-free garden.

AuthenticME Intention Statement

The intention of Authentic ME is to create, sell or make available products for girls and women that will encourage them to explore, embrace and empower all aspects of their authentic selves.

Company Goals

  • Be a trustworthy source of relevant information for girls and women about topics that matter to them
  • Establish an ongoing dialogue with girls via convenient and efficient two-way communication including but not limited to: email, social media, blog, focus groups, website
  • Provide products that are affordable and available to all girls across cultural and socio-economic boundaries
  • Create a company that is sustainable and profitable with specific emphasis on
    • environmentally responsible products that are (mostly) made in the U.S.
    • providing jobs to those with limited resources

Leave a Reply