Jill Carey BA2008 chose to attend UW–Madison so that she could become editor-in-chief of the Daily Cardinal, and by her senior year, she had achieved that goal.
But Carey knows that not every young girl shares her confidence. That became clear after graduation, when she joined Teach for America and taught second grade on Chicago’s south side. Carey and her coworker, Annie Warshaw, noticed that their female students often sat on the sidelines and engaged in negative self-talk, so they decided to do something about it.
In 2013, Carey and Warshaw co-founded Mission Propelle (formerly Smarty Pants Yoga), an eight-week program for elementary school girls that teaches emotional, social, and physical health. The “mobile girl-power business,” as Carey describes it, offers after-school programs, in-school emotional-support programs, and professional development workshops for teachers.
It’s more than just an exercise program. The yoga sequences are accompanied by stories and crafts. Carey, who also has a master’s degree in elementary education, collaborated with Warshaw to write and illustrate the 80 books that make up the organization’s original curriculum. All of the stories feature female protagonists who are wrestling with issues that Carey’s young girls can relate to: conflicts with friends, sibling rivalries, body image, and more.
In just three years, Mission Propelle grew to reach more than two thousand girls in the Chicago area, inspiring Carey and Warshaw to take it nationwide. The organization has also expanded its mission, partnering with 75 schools and becoming a registered children’s yoga school. In 2015, Mission Propelle launched Blooming Bosses Bootcamp, a half-day summer camp that trains girls to build a business and showcase their inventions and services to family and friends.
Carey was a 2015 winner of the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Forward under 40 award, which honors young alumni for significant achievement. She says that her experiences on campus turned her into the leader she is today. “The Daily Cardinal made me a hardworking, agile-minded leader. And when it comes down to it, no matter what you do, you need to be a leader,” she says.