francine-russellFrancine Russell

Founder and Executive Director

FRANCINE RUSSELL began her self-defense training with IMPACT Personal Safety in 1989. As a senior instructor with IMPACT, she taught personal safety to women, teens and children for 18 years including advanced courses such as Defense Against An Armed Assailant.

Her expertise in personal safety has won her appearances on numerous national television shows, including “20/20” with Elizabeth Vargas.  She has also been interviewed by Soledad O’Brien on CNN and was spotlighted in a segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live: “Aunt Chippy and Uncle Frank Take a Self Defense Class.”

In her book, The Safe Zone: A Kid’s Guide to Personal Safety, Francine gives children ages 7-12 the skills and confidence to safely handle threatening situations even if no adult guardian is present. The Safe Zone was named “Pick of the Lists” by American Bookseller and was recommended by the School Library Journal.

During her years with IMPACT, Francine trained in defense against multiple assailants and worked with the non-profit organization “Project: Blind Ambition” teaching self-defense to the disabled.

For 14 years, she taught the IMPACT course at Marlborough School, a private school for girls in Los Angeles and the first in the nation to offer a self-defense course for credit.

In 2008, she worked with educators in the Los Angeles Unified School District to help them develop personal safety training for their students.

Drawn to the physical beauty of Wyoming, Francine relocated in 2009 and founded Empower Wyoming in July of 2010.

derek-andrewsDerek Andrews

Board President

Derek Andrews, his wife and two girls have lived in the Bighorns since 2008. He has spent his entire 15 year career working with students in higher education. First, recruiting students from around the western states for South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Then with Chadron State College before accepting a job with Sheridan College in Johnson County in 2012.

kate-harnessKate Harness

Board Vice President

Kate Harness was born and raised in the United Kingdom, and emigrated to Wyoming in 2002. Her 29-year professional career has encompassed mass media health campaigning at a national level, advising government on strategic and policy direction in tobacco control and HIV/AIDS and sexual health, consultancy with World Health Organization and advising businesses on ethical practices.

Now an American citizen, Kate is passionate about enabling women to be of equal value as men in their family units and communities. She loves the wilds of Wyoming and the warmth and tenacity of its people. She is happily married to a Western man and they have two children together.

lisa-muellerLisa Mueller

Board Secretary/Treasurer

Lisa Mueller was born and raised in Southern California. She has decades of experience in sales and marketing, event and project management in the hospitality and professional sports industries. After several years in South Dakota, her family relocated to Wyoming finding a sense of home in the Northeast corner of the state.

In 2009, she moved her corporation and later founded Community Investment Group in 2011 as a grassroots implementation partner to community and economic development projects committed to assisting those in need of resource development, grant management and a diversified income.