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American Program Bureau Speaking to the world for over 50 years

Rachel Simmons

Bullying and Leadership Expert


Rachel Simmons is the author of the New York Times bestseller Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls.

Although she originally wrote it to heal herself after being targeted as a child, she eventually came to terms with her own bullying behavior as a teen, something she speaks about widely. After nearly a decade teaching leadership skills to girls and interviewing them about the pressure to be perfect, she wrote The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence, also a bestseller.

Rachel is a proud women’s studies major and Vassar graduate. After winning a Rhodes scholarship from New York, Rachel spent a year studying political theory at Oxford University, where she was unfortunately miserable. She left after a year and felt too ashamed to speak about it publicly, until she realized how much high achieving young women could benefit from a story about losing your way, then finding it again.

Rachel co-founded Girls Leadership Institute, a national nonprofit, because she wanted to teach girls how to give firm handshakes (she has since expanded her understanding of leadership). Along the way, Rachel became a seasoned classroom teacher and curriculum writer. Rachel’s classes and workshops develop students’ emotional intelligence, communication skills, healthy risk taking ability, and confidence.

After ten years of international public speaking and countless live television appearances, Rachel gave a TEDxWomen talk that made her so nervous she didn’t think she’d survive it. Afterwards, Jane Fonda hugged her. In 2010, Rachel began developing workshops for undergraduate women at the Center for Work and Life at Smith College, and has since begun working with college-age women around the country.

Rachel was the host of the PBS television special, A Girl’s Life” and is also a contributing writer and advice columnist for Teen Vogue. She has been profiled by the New York Times, and her writing has been published in the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and the Huffington Post.

Rachel has appeared on Oprah twice. She got on the show for the second time because she begged Oprah during a commercial break to let her interview girls on camera, and then worried that Oprah thought she was crazy. The show called 5 days later, and Oprah called 10 years later to invite Rachel to work at her South Africa leadership academy for girls.

Odd Girl Out was adapted into a highly acclaimed Lifetime television movie; if you want to watch it, please ask Rachel’s father, who calls Rachel to let her know every single time it is on. Rachel is passionate about exercise, music, high-end television, and cheese. She lives in western Massachusetts with her toddler daughter.


• Author of: Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls and Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence
• A TEDWomen speaker
• Contributor to the Today Show, Anderson Cooper 360 and National Public Radio
• Authored chapters in the books Mistakes I Made at Work and Lean in for Graduates
• Contributor to Slate, Washington Post, the Atlantic and Teen Vogue
• Consultant for the Wurtele Center for Work and Life at Smith College
• Board member of the College Women’s Leadership Educators AAUW affiliate
• Member of the Wellesley Centers for Women Council of Advisors


Lead with Integrity: Develop Your Inner Resume

The “inner resume” is a set of skills associated with self-awareness, self-advocacy, and the ability to deal with conflict and failure. These psychological skills are required for real-world success, yet many young women lack these skills because they have grown up with pressure to be “good girls” and to please other people. Young women have gotten mixed messages about how powerful they are allowed to be. The result is sparkling on-paper resumes with high GPAs and extracurricular activities, but a lacking “inner resume”—being able to ask for what you need, delegate authority, take a risk, and try something you might not be good at. Rachel Simmons helps young women see their true value and build up this “inner resume.”

Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls

When a girl's relationships are in trouble - due to exclusion, abusive friendships, cyber-bullying, etc. - her core sense of self is threatened. Parents feel anguished and helpless. As an intimate observer of girls' social world, speaker Rachel Simmons offers parents a window into the hidden culture of girls' aggression. Every year, she empowers thousands of parents to help their daughters negotiate some of the most painful moments of their lives.

Simmons' unparalleled experience with girls, shared in her humorous presentations, makes her a favorite of parent associations around the world. Weaving down-to-earth advice with analysis of girls' development, Simmons provides parents with concrete strategies and scripts to help kids cope with best friends, worst enemies, and everything in between. Simmons also coaches parents on monitoring their girls' use of social media. Presentations last one hour and are followed by 30 minutes of Q & A.

Be You: An Interactive Parent-Daughter Workshop

In this interactive workshop for girls and parents, speaker Rachel Simmons teaches practical strategies to be confident, courageous, and authentic in relationships. With guided questions that open up new conversations between parents and their girls, participants come away with a new language to talk about toxic friends and being true to oneself. Girls will practice communicating assertively and learn problem-solving tools with their parents that they can take with them to school the next day. With her personable, down-to-earth speaking style, Simmons keeps participants laughing, interacting, and learning.

The Curse of the Good Girl

Learn how the pressure girls face to please others at all costs installs a glass ceiling on their social, academic, and extracurricular potential. In this lecture, speaker Rachel Simmons teaches participants strategies to help girls communicate assertively, understand their own feelings, and battle perfectionism.

BFF 2.0: Girls' Love-Hate Relationship with Social Media & How to Parent through It

Why do girls say they don't exist if they're not on Facebook, yet at the same time feel they have no choice? In this hour-long talk, speaker Rachel Simmons decodes the ups and downs of girls' online lives. She explores the challenge of setting limits at a time when other parents seem more permissive than ever. Using the latest research on social media and youth, Simmons will share practical strategies to set limits on use, respond to cyber-bullying, and parent with authority and compassion.

Is She Mad At Me? Teaching Girls Relationship Management Skills

In this two-hour workshop, educators, clinicians, and other youth professionals will uncover the unwritten rules that guide girls' day-to-day social struggles and undermine their ability to maintain healthy relationships. Speaker Rachel Simmons will teach strategies to address destructive assumption-making among peers, how to respond to the phrases "no offense" and "just kidding," and dysfunctional responses to confrontation. She will also address conflict coping strategies.

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