Meet The Instructors
Mary Freivogel – Healthcare Provider
Why did you choose to be part of the Night Out with “The Girls”? I wholeheartedly believe that women can and should play an active role in their medical care. This incredible program provides attendees with education, tools, and inspiration to advocate for themselves and their breast health. By understanding their level of risk and the options available to them, women can detect breast cancer early, if not prevent it altogether.
What is your professional background? I have been a cancer genetic counselor since 2001 and I was one of the first genetic counselors to work in a breast imaging center. I am passionate about personalizing a woman’s breast cancer screening plan based on her level of risk. I was honored to serve as President of the National Society of Genetic Counselors in 2017.
Why do you love educating girls about their “girls”? I value the opportunity to teach women the importance of being proactive with their breast health. Throughout my career, I have seen numerous patients who played an active role in their own breast cancer diagnosis. Whether it was through practicing breast self-awareness, trusting their gut when something seemed off, or advocating for a second opinion when a healthcare provider dismissed their concerns, these women took ownership and changed their future. Their actions led to doctors finding their cancer at an earlier stage and provided them with many extra years of life to spend with family and friends.
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about COMFORT, CONNECTION and CONVERSATION. Which of those three words resonates with you the most, regarding women’s health (and why)? The word “conversation” resonates most with me, primarily because I believe that education about breast health is most effective when done in the context of a dynamic and personalized discussion. It’s a complex topic and it’s not something that most women can understand by simply reading a generic article or listening to a “one size fits all” lecture. I see great value in allowing women to ask questions about the topic so they can personalize the information, as well as hear the inquiries and comments from others in attendance. The group learning aspect of Night Out With “The Girls” is unique and makes this program extremely effective in changing behaviors and improving outcomes.
What is one fun fact about you that may be a surprise to others? I have qualified for and finished the Boston Marathon three times (2013, 2014, 2019).
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about FUN! What do you like to do for fun? I love to run, watch my sons play sports, and drink wine with friends. I can often be found at the park asking random strangers if I can pet their dog.
Shannon Johnson – Healthcare Provider
Why did you choose to be part of the Night Out with “The Girls”? I have passion for medical education, patient advocacy and women empowering women. NOWTG is the perfect combination of all three!
What is your professional background? I received my Masters of Medical Science degree in 2011 from Midwestern University-Glendale College of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Studies Program. I practiced general pediatrics and urgent care medicine in Arizona until 2014 when I relocated to Colorado and joined Geraghty Family Medicine. I have had multiple opportunities to practice medicine in underserved communities throughout the world and have been involved in humanitarian efforts in schools and homeless shelters locally, as well as in medical clinics located in Mexico and Mozambique. I also participate in educating future medical providers wherever I can and offer clinical training to several students annually.
Why do you love educating girls about their “girls”? I love helping to empower women to be self advocates for their health.
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about COMFORT, CONNECTION and CONVERSATION. Which of those three words resonates with you the most, regarding women’s health (and why)? COMFORT– The medical environment can feel so sterile, scary and crazy uncomfortable. Although I play the role of a healthcare provider as a profession, I become very anxious when I play the role of patient. I particularly realized the great need to feel comfortable as a patient when I prepared to carry and birth my son in 2018. For several months I worked hard to find the most comfortable birthing environment with a supportive team. With them, I was able to overcome all of the things that contributed to my anxiety associated with my pregnancy, delivery and postpartum periods, and was granted a beautiful healthcare experience. I hope to help other women find ways to be comfortable in their individual healthcare journeys.
What is one fun fact about you that may be a surprise to others? I have played at least one game of Settlers of Catan per week since Christmas of 2018. My husband and I are kind of Catan junkies, so let me know if you’re down for a game! 🙂
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about FUN! What do you like to do for fun? Outside of practicing medicine, I enjoy an active lifestyle playing various sports, running and skiing. I am actively involved in my local church congregation and its associated women’s group. Additionally, I love music, game nights, and traveling. Whatever I do and wherever I am I am most fulfilled when family and friends, particularly my husband Matt and my son Hank, are by my side.
Aspen Wright – Healthcare Provider
Why did you choose to be part of the Night Out with “The Girls”? I chose to be a part of Night Out with “The Girls” because I feel strongly about aiding women in enhancing their knowledge of breast health. Women of all ages can benefit from learning the basics of breast health and leave the event empowered to take their health into their own hands.
What is your professional background? I earned a BS in Healthcare Management followed by a BS in Nursing. I worked as an RN in an operating room for two years focusing on breast cancer patients and orthopedics. Following this, I became an Oncology Nurse Navigator with a focus on breast health.
Why do you love educating girls about their “girls”? I love educating women about their “girls” as it is always fascinating to see them light up with questions and feel compelled to share their knowledge with others. Breast cancer is an issue so many women face, and if I can provide education that helps potentially save a life, my job has been fulfilled!
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about COMFORT, CONNECTION and CONVERSATION. Which of those three words resonates with you the most, regarding women’s health (and why)? “Conversation” resonates with me most because I feel that so many women (and men) are afraid to talk about their health, even with their health care providers. I enjoy creating a safe, relaxed environment to allow for fluid conversation. If we can get more women to talk about their breast health, we can drive them to complete their screenings and ask those uncomfortable questions along the way.
What is one fun fact about you that may be a surprise to others? One fun fact about me is that I am an adrenaline junkie! I love trying new things, riding crazy rides, and I plan on sky diving one day! I am a thrill seeker at heart!
Brenda Bushey – Healthcare Provider & Breast Cancer Survivor
Why did you choose to be part of the Night Out with “The Girls”? I chose to be a part of NOWTG; to gain a sense of community. I like being part of a group working toward a common goal.
What is your professional background? I am a Physician Assistant in family practice, trauma, ortho trauma and adult orthopedic reconstruction. I am also a breast cancer survivor.
Why do you love educating girls about their “girls”? It is a fun, relaxed environment where important information is shared.
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about COMFORT, CONNECTION and CONVERSATION. Which of those three words resonates with you the most, regarding women’s health (and why)? They all resonate with me. I do favor the word connection the most. Personally, knowing there are other women who may benefit from my personal and professional experience is inspiring.
What is one fun fact about you that may be a surprise to others? I received a t-shirt for dancing on the Ellen Show. It was not televised; it was during the warm up before the show started taping.
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about FUN! What do you like to do for fun? Dancing! I like to watch and do it!
Jana Richardson – Licensed Counselor
Jana Richardson earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, with a Minor in Child and Family Development from Eastern Michigan University. Jana’s MA is in Community Counseling from Eastern Michigan University, and she is a Licensed Professional Counselor certified in EMDR therapy. She previously worked for Hospice at University of Michigan Hospital, LACASA-Domestic Violence Shelter, the public-school system in the EI and EMI programs, as well as the State Mental Health System (Family, Child, and Adolescent Division).
She has maintained her own private practice for more than 28 years locally in Colorado and South Carolina respectively. Since 1994, Jana has been counseling children, individuals, couples, and families. Along with her clinical experience, she has conducted many seminars and lectures on various clinical issues as well as offering counseling services to Collegiate, Olympic, and Professional athletes alike.
Her business acumen also consists of heading her own counseling center, in which she oversaw more than twenty counselors: as well as numerous students finishing their clinical hours under Jana’s direct supervision. Jana has been married for 28 years. Her husband is a retired Peace Officer specializing in Tactical Training and Logistics.
She has two grown children; one at college locally in Colorado, the other is serving her country while attending The United States Naval Academy.
I wanted to be an instructor for the Breast Education Course/ NOWTG because I believe these programs are empowering and life changing!! The importance of early detection and knowledge have truly benefited so many in my life including myself, therefore I want to help share this with others!!
Breast Cancer Survivors
Pamela Powers – Breast Cancer Survivor
Why did you choose to be part of the Night Out with “The Girls”? I was honored to have been asked to be part of such a movement of self-awareness and self-discovery. Women need to encourage and empower one another, even when it comes to checking on the girls’! Being part of something beyond and bigger than myself is such a powerful, amazingly fulfilling experience, to have the opportunity to convey the message of awareness and early detection. That is why I am very excited to be part of the Night Out with “The Girls” team!
What is your professional background? I currently work in the management industry.
Why do you love educating girls about their “girls”? I am very passionate about making an impact on women of all ages through my experience, everything is so fast paced in life nowadays. We are constantly on the go; but, we need to pause and take care of our health, our well-being. Even if I was able to help just one person avoid or detect the breast cancer right in time, that’s where the reward really is.
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about COMFORT, CONNECTION and CONVERSATION. Which of those three words resonates with you the most, regarding women’s health (and why)? CONVERSATION – We need to get this conversation going, the more we talk about it the more women will become comfortable about the topic and will be able to connect through empathy and awareness.
What is one fun fact about you that may be a surprise to others? I’ve always been a ‘cake boss wannabe’ and I love creating and designing cakes, I love seeing people’s reaction when I deliver their special cake! It’s the best feeling and such a creative outlet!
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about FUN! What do you like to do for fun? I love a nice outing with my kids, burgers and a movie at the theater or bowling with the family. I also love to wine and dine with good friends, or the occasional streaming binge… Guilty as charged! Haha… Oh! and I love going to Las Vegas for some reason.
Michele Towers – Breast Cancer Survivor
Why did you choose to be part of the Night Out with “The Girls”? Being a three-time breast cancer survivor, I believe that being a part of “Night Out with “The Girls” is a wonderful way to use my experiences to help others. Breast cancer awareness is not an easy topic to discuss… but it is a conversation that needs to be had. Night Out with “The Girls” brings fun and awareness together in a way that is so powerful, and I enjoy being a part of that!
What is your professional background? I had a career in engineering for 22 years. After leaving engineering, I became trained as a life coach and corporate trainer. For the past five years, I have been able to combine the skills I developed from both of these professions, and I am now a licensed realtor in Colorado.
Why do you love educating girls about their “girls”? The “girls” are our personal friends :). As in any friendship, we need to learn how to take of them. In turn, we are taking care of ourselves.
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about COMFORT, CONNECTION and CONVERSATION. Which of those three words resonates with you the most, regarding women’s health (and why)? The word comfort speaks to me the most. When facing issues of health, it’s so important to feel that you are in a safe, supportive setting. It’s only in that environment that can we be completely honest.
What is one fun fact about you that may be a surprise to others? I’ve written two books, both geared toward helping women to be the best that they can be.
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about FUN! What do you like to do for fun? I love cooking for my amazing family – my husband George, my two sons George III and Jeremy, my daughter-in-law Christie, and my two grandsons, Noah and Levi. They are the loves of my life! And trips to Hawaii is definitely our idea of fun!
Sheila Abrahamsson – Breast Cancer Survivor
Why did you choose to be part of the Night Out with “The Girls”? Night Out with “The Girls” is all about discussing important topics in a non-threatening, safe environment. I love the idea of giving women permission to learn about preventative health and to ask ANY question that comes to mind. It takes some of the fear away if you can have an honest dialogue with someone who has been through a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
What is your professional background? I worked in the non-profit world for 17 years. I worked in the field of child abuse prevention and rape crisis. I have done grant-writing, trainings, program development, events and staffing and recruiting.
Why do you love educating girls about their “girls”? I think it is very easy for women to put everyone around them first and forget about their own needs and health. There is a lot of fear around breast cancer and that can sometimes cause women to procrastinate doing a breast exam or getting a mammogram. I want women to know it is imperative to put their health first and to take care of their “girls”.
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about COMFORT, CONNECTION and CONVERSATION. Which of those three words resonates with you the most, regarding women’s health (and why)? So hard to choose just one word since all of them resonate with me but if I have to pick I would say conversation. It is so important to talk about things that scare us and isolate us so we can move forward. I believe through conversation we also get comfort and connection.
What is one fun fact about you that may be a surprise to others? I bungee jumped out of a hot air balloon.
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about FUN! What do you like to do for fun? My favorite thing to do is to scare my daughters – in a fun, loving way of course! I also love making them laugh, reading, walking and watching movies.
Founder and CEO
Jill Dalton – Emcee
Why did you choose to be part of the Night Out with “The Girls”? Since first hearing about the concept of NOWTG, and attending their VERY first event, I knew I wanted to be a part of this organization. I am all about empowering and serving other women, and NOWTG is a PERFECT place for me to do this very work. Being an educator at heart, NOWTG will allow me to do the work I love. The topic of breast health and self-breast care is such an important topic, but also one, we, as women, tend to put off as we meet the other demands in our lives. NOWTG not only makes breast-health information easily accessible to women, but ALSO allows the information to be delivered in a non-threatening, super FUN, group environment, where women from all walks of life can voice their stories, experiences, questions, and concerns. I am honored and blessed to be a part of this amazing team!!
What is your professional background? I taught high school English Language Arts and ESL for 17 years before leaving the world of public education, in 2014, to pursue other career avenues. Over the last 6 years, I have operated my own jewelry business, a tutoring business, and continue to guest teach on a regular basis in Jeffco.
Why do you love educating girls about their “girls”? Educating people is a passion of mine, as well as serving and empowering women to live their best lives. I want to reach as many women as possible to help them learn how taking action with their “girls” — doing monthly exams, understanding what to look for when conducting one, becoming familiar with their “normal”, and knowing when to contact a health care provider — can lead to early detection and, in turn, greatly increase their abilities to receive treatment and survive breast cancer. Knowledge is power, and, in this case, can LITERALLY save lives!!
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about COMFORT, CONNECTION and CONVERSATION. Which of those three words resonates with you the most, regarding women’s health (and why)? Certainly, all three words are crucial to NOWTG’s mission; however, the word “connection” resonates with me the most. Honestly, I think it’s very difficult to have the other two things (comfort and conversation), if we do not work hard to establish a connection with people. Not only is it vital for us, as NOWTG team members, to connect with the women at our events, in order to foster NATURAL and AUTHENTIC conversations, but to be a catalyst for the women who are ATTENDING the events to connect with EACH OTHER. Connections naturally occur between women when they have a space to share their voices, commonalities, and experiences, and this “space” is what NOWTG provides.
What is one fun fact about you that may be a surprise to others? I like to speak using different accents, just for fun, with my friends and family. Sometimes, it’s British; sometimes southern, sometimes “street” — you just never know. I also pick up other peoples’ accents extremely easily and mimic them in my own speech (not on purpose — it just happens lol).
Night Out with “The Girls” is all about FUN! What do you like to do for fun? At home, I enjoy cooking very much. I love to play volleyball, though I’m getting a bit old to be out on the court :). LITERALLY ANYTHING I get to do with my 13 year old daughter, Keierin, brings me the most joy (she is my absolute favorite person!!). I also LOVE going to our family cabin, during the summer time, and just getting in lots of quality time!!
Jessica Sidener – Founder and CEO
Hi! I’m Jessica
My name is Jessica and I love to share the skinny on why being breast health aware and doing breast self-exams are so stinking amazing!! I hope these words don’t cause shame or a ping of guilt within you… as some of you know you should be more breast health aware, making those mammogram appointments, doing breast self-exams and all of that other “fun” stuff. The reality is, some of you aren’t making it happen. Why? You are too darn busy, it is confusing, you are scared, you have questions… the list goes on and on. The good news! You are not alone… trust me!
True confessions. I NEVER did breast self-exams.
So you may be wondering how (and why) I became so darn passionate about them?!?!?
Why Breast-Self Exams Are So Important
It is simple. I love my sisters. I love my mom. I love my girlfriends. I love my nieces…and I am desperate for them (and all of you) to understand how something as simple as breast self-exams can be life-saving.
I thought breast cancer surely would never happen to me…until it did.
So here is the deal…I was the queen of excuses when it came to the many reasons why I did NOT do breast self-exams.
First, I didn’t even know how to do a breast self-exam and I had no idea what a lump felt like. Speaking of lumps…my breasts were so lumpy and dense that how would I even know what “normal” felt like.
The best excuse… if there was an “issue” my husband would find it, clearly. He was a “boob guy.” Then of course, “what if I did find something?” The thought alone was way too scary, almost paralyzing…I justified all of those excuses by saying to myself, “Next month. I will do it next month.”
Maybe you can relate?
It’s A Big Darn Deal
Sure, I felt guilty, embarrassed and a little ashamed for not taking care of “the girls”. However, the reality was breast cancer did not run in my family and thought I was too young to get breast cancer (I was three years out from getting a mammogram). So breast self-exams did not seem like an essential part of staying healthy, unlike going to the gym, staying away from carbs and not drinking too much. Well, I was wrong.
You see, one day not that long ago, I randomly did a breast self-exam in the shower. I lost my shower card with the detailed “instructions,” but decided to take the leap and do one anyway. I had no idea whatsoever what I was doing or what I was really even feeling for… and within 10 seconds I found something that just did not seem “quite right.”
It was a lump. I was diagnosed with breast cancer one week later.
I am lucky and incredibly grateful. I was told I had the “best” type of breast cancer a woman can get (if that is even possible) and that my prognosis was amazing! Minimal surgery. No chemo. I attribute that prognosis solely to that one day I decided to do a breast self-exam… especially since I was three years away from even “needing” a mammogram.
Did you know that one out of seven women in Colorado gets diagnosed with breast cancer? That statistic is one out of eight nationally. I had no idea breast cancer was that prevalent until I became one of those statistics.
Think about it… that statistic is a BDD (big.darn.deal). It is someone in your book club, your cul-de-sac, your group of girl friends. It is your mom, sister, daughter, friend, colleague.
My desire is to give women the scoop on early breast cancer detection, how the heck to do those pesky breast self-exams… and have fun in the process! Yes, I believe there is a way to have fun AND learn about early breast cancer detection.