about us

Fight Back on Spring Break is a Spring Break/travel safety program brought to you by the team of badass ladies at Girls Fight Back.

GFB TeamGirls Fight Back was born in direct response to the June 2001 murder of a dynamic, athletic, and loved college student named Shannon McNamara. After Shannon’s death, her friend and sorority sister, Erin Weed, realized the need for practical and empowering options for young women to learn violence prevention and self-defense. Inspired by the way Shannon fought her attacker, Erin immersed herself in training with the best violence prevention experts and self-defense trainers in the world and, from this, developed the GFB seminar. By combining core values, a fun and empowering attitude, and the best safety and self-defense methods available, Girls Fight Back was born. This sisterhood of the traveling bad asses continues to grow and strive to make preventing violence and fighting back an approachable topic for everyone with the addition of two other great programs, Students Fight Back (gender neutral and Title IX compliant) and Fight Back on Spring Break (gender neutral and specialized with Spring Break safety tips). We know that when you leave town or are in different surroundings, we need to up our personal safety to adapt to the new environment. Fight Back on Spring Break will teach you how in our 75 mins + Q&A show by addressing:

  • Using your intuition
  • Awareness, eye contact, verbal boundaries
  • How to be an active bystander and a good ally
  • The definition of consent
  • How to set boundaries that work for you
  • Verbal De-Escalation Skills
  • The basics of self-defense in our Badass Ballet
  • Plus the added bonus of safety tips tailored to the traveler!

The Awkward Hug: How to Set Clear Boundaries, Communicate Them to Others, and Live a More Empowered Life
Have you ever participated in unwanted conversations, hugging, kissing, or even . . . relationships? Want to know how to handle the awkward without hurting someone’s feelings? We can all experience social anxiety around setting personal boundaries that work for us, but doing so is essential to living a healthy, happy and empowered life. The tools we will learn can be used every day and the practice of them can ultimately lead to making healthier choices in our work relationships, romantic and friendly interactions, and our day to day social exchanges. It can even help you avoid buying those shoes you really couldn’t afford but felt pressured to charge by a pushy salesperson. Join us for an interactive presentation designed to fine tune your intuition and take full control of your choices. This program is an interactive workshop ideal for groups from 10 to 80 people and a perfect add-on to Girls Fight Back, Students Fight Back, or Fight Back on Spring Break.

Pay it Forward and Spread the Good Word of Personal Safety and Self-Defense

Kirkland Productions in partnership with the Girls Fight Back Team is offering a Pay It Forward special to allow colleges and universities already bringing one of our programs to their campus (Girls Fight Back, Students Fight Back, Fight Back on Spring Break, or The Awkward Hug) to host a second program at a local junior high or high school of their choice for a deeply discounted fee.

We know that reaching students at younger ages can be incredibly impactful in helping them live healthier and safer lives, but sadly, those in the greatest need of our message often have the least funding to bring us in. You can be a big part of helping future college students get this training at a younger age. In addition to being useful as a service project for your students, you will have the added benefit of connecting with a student body full of potential future students for your college or university.

For high schools reading this now . . . if you are in need of our programming and are having a hard time with funds, ask us how we can assist you in connecting with campuses in your area to propose a dual venture!

  • For an additional $950 to a standard contracted show, we will provide a second show on a high school/junior high campus within 40 miles of the initial show location on the same day.
  • For an additional $1100 to a standard contracted show, we will provide a second show on a high school/junior high campus within 40 miles of the initial show location the day before or the day after your show date.

For more details and to check available dates, please contact us at booking@kirklandproductions.com and mention the code PAYITFORWARD

We look forward to partnering with you in creating safer campus communities for everyone.

Title IX Programming Notes

For schools that want to include Students Fight Back for Title IX programming, here are a few of the points that we cover in our standard program to that effect:

  • Title IX and what constitutes sexual violence, including same-sex sexual violence, under the school’s policies – We provide a handout that you can print and distribute that contains definitions of sexual violence in the forms of Stalking, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Rape, Sexual Assault, Intimate Partner Violence, and Consent as well as Statistics covering Sexual Assault, Stalking, and facts in relation to sexual assault with familiars and in the LGBT community.
  • The school’s definition of consent applicable to sexual conduct, including examples – We provide our standard definition of consent with examples and if you have a campus definition that you would like used instead or in addition to ours, we are happy to customize that part of the program. Our definition is: “Giving permission for something to happen and that permission must be given freely and is never coerced. Consent must be given verbally. Silence NEVER equals consent. Consent can never be implied or assumed regardless of any previous history of sexual contact. No matter what a person verbalizes, consent can never be given when a person is severely intoxicated or impaired or at any point in the encounter after the person has said NO.”
  • Effects of trauma, including neurobiological changes – We do not go into great detail in this area, but we do cover the issues of supporting a survivor and offer advice on best practices. We also include contact information for national survivor support and ask each campus to provide campus and local resources to incorporate into our program. Resource listings are offered in the handout and in the powerpoint.
  • The role alcohol and drugs often play in sexual violence incidents, including the deliberate use of alcohol and/or other drugs to perpetrate sexual violence – We do cover the fact that According to the National Institute of Health, approximately half of the cases of rape and sexual assault involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both.
  • Strategies and skills for bystanders to intervene to prevent possible sexual violence – We educate about the importance of bystander intervention and give examples of how we can all be better allies to one another in all ways including in violence prevention. We offer specific tips that can be tailored to the given situation.
  • A school’s sexual violence education and prevention program should clearly identify the offices or individuals with whom students can speak confidentially and the offices or individuals who can provide resources such as victim advocacy, housing assistance, academic support, counseling, disability services, health and mental health services, and legal assistance. – All of our speakers are victim advocates and we ask that each campus have at least one Victim Advocate in the room to be identified. We also can include Services in the resources handout and in our powerpoint.

Meet our Team

NICOLE SNELL :: CEO + senior international speaker

Nicole purchased Girls Fight Back in 2020 because of her passion for empowering women and helping others. She is dedicated to bringing the message of living a fearless life and combating violence to millions of young women across the country. Nicole received a full scholarship to Cal State Long Beach as a President’s Scholar, and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Speech Communication.  Her self-defense training includes IMPACT LA (where she is also a lead instructor), Defense Against the Armed Assailant training, FAST defense & the GFB Speaker Academy.  Nicole is an NACP Credentialed Advocate and currently sits on the board of IMPACT Personal Safety.  Nicole was featured in a self-defense instructional video by Tastemade Travel that won a People’s Voice Webby Award in May 2020 and she is the creator of Outdoor Defense, an IGTV series that aims to help people stay safe while enjoying the outdoors.  She is a collaborative partner with Difference Makers (10 Strong) and has traveled the world speaking and facilitating workshops at military installations, colleges, high schools, corporations, and private groups.  In 2017 she volunteered in Fiji to teach self-defense to the women and girls in local villages.  On her spare time, Nicole loves to hike, camp, horseback ride, play sports and travel the world; often on her own and is an active volunteer in her community.

team-bree-2015BREE SWARTZ :: senior national speaker
Bree is a graduate of Purdue University, where she studied Mass Communication and Theatre. Her self-defense training includes being a graduate of IMPACT Chicago, a certified FAST Defense instructor, has trained extensively in adrenal stress confrontations and is a graduate of the GFB Speaker Academy. Bree is an actress in NYC when not on the road with GFB.

team-morgan-2015MORGAN CROUCH :: junior speaker
Morgan Crouch graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned a B.A. in Art History with an emphasis in gender & critical race. Morgan studied improv and comedic writing at The Second City Training Center and iO Chicago. She is a graduate of the GFB Speaker Academy 2013, with training in FAST Defense

team-gina-2015GINA KIRKLAND :: sister – friend of GFB
Gina Kirkland graduated from Amarillo College and West Texas A&M University with an A.A. and a B.A.. She worked as an educator and an event planner before opening Kirkland Productions, Inc., a college entertainment/speakers agency, in 2000. She served as a Facilitator for the AAG (Associate Advisory Group) for NACA (The National Association for Campus Activities) and was awarded Agent of the Year in 2014 by NACA South and in the past by both the NACA West and Central regions. In 2007, she opened her second company, KP Comedy, and, in 2013, she channeled her lifelong passion for Women’s Issues into the purchase of her third company, Girls Fight Back, before selling it to Nicole Snell in 2020. She is a NOVA certified Victim Advocate, works in partnership with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office of the Department of the Navy (DON SAPRO) on issues of sexual assault prevention and bystander behavior, is a graduate of the Gavin de Becker Advanced Threat Assessment and Management Academy, IMPACT Los Angeles and FAST Defense.

team-erinERIN WEED :: founder
Erin founded GFB in 2001 at the age of 23 in response to the murder of Shannon, who was her close friend and sorority sister. Erin has won many awards for her work in women’s empowerment and social entrepreneurship. She was a columnist for CosmoGirl and is the author of Girls Fight Back! The College Girl’s Guide to Protecting Herself (now available in its 3rd edition). She is the creator of the GFB seminar seen by over a million women, and also the GFB Speaker Academy.

team-shannonSHANNON MCNAMARA :: inspiration
Shannon was murdered on June 12, 2001 just a few days shy of her 22nd birthday. While the world lost an incredible human being that day, heaven gained one hell of an angel. Shannon’s story has inspired over one million women to become their own best defenders, and to live the badass life each of us were intended. And for that, we are so grateful.

team-beth-2015BETH TOWNSEND-SMITH :: sister – friend of GFB
Beth studied Psychology with Certification in Child and Family Studies at Roosevelt University and is also a graduate of The Adler School of Professional Psychology’s Art Therapy program. She has worked with special needs children, at-risk teens, and parent education groups across the Chicago area. When not out promoting GFB, she also teaches art and science. Beth is a Graduate of the GFB Speaker Academy 2013, with training in FAST Defense.

team-leahLEAH BONNEMA :: sister – friend of GFB
Leah majored in Cultural Studies at McGill University and wrote her Honor’s Thesis in Film and Women’s Studies. Huffington Post named her one of their Favorite Female Comedians and College Candy listed in her as one of the Top Ten Female Comics. She is regular on VH1′s 100 Greatest Series and has toured for the troops in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Leah is a graduate of the GFB Academy 2013, with training in FAST Defense.

team-2015-2What’s Girls Fight Back all about?
These are our Core Values:

STRONG – We believe that every individual is his or her best protector. Our strength is not necessarily made up of mere physical muscle, but is built upon making a conscious choice to reclaim our sense of security in the world. We strive to empower individuals to be in control of their lives, to set boundaries that allow them to feel safe, to be wary of anyone who discounts their NO, and to learn how to live a safer life through their actions and help other people around them to do the same.

RESILIENT – Though the statistics are shocking, we are here to say that we will not conform to the violence. Our world and most of our individual lives have been wrongfully altered by violence. We believe in recovery on individual, societal, and world levels. Our message is presented without judgment to how anyone handled or felt about a past violent situation. These are very personal issues and there is no one right way to react or feel, but we can share the tools that empower people to fight back.

SPIRITED – Belief in oneself is essential. We believe that scare tactics do exactly as their name suggests—scare people. Instead, we strive to eliminate the taboo status of topics like violence prevention, self-defense, and personal security. Only by making these topics approachable and encouraging everyone to tell their stories we will begin to change the pattern of violence.

UNIFIED – Though each individual is her or her own best protector; we also believe that we are here on earth to look out for one another. Protecting yourself is a great first step, the next step is to educate and empower others. By working together we can spread the word about personal safety and self defense, while simultaneously working to tear down the violence. We want to re-enforce the truth that while most sexual assaults are committed by men, most men are not rapists. Though Girls Fight Back is not the answer to solving the problems of violence . . . we ARE one key part of the solution and we stand together with everyone who strives to combat violence in our world.

The Facts about Violence:

  • About 1/3 of female murder victims ages 12 or older are killed by an intimate partner.
  • Every 2 minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
  • It is estimated that 43% of lesbian and bisexual women and 30% of gay and bisexual men have experienced at least one form of sexual assault during their lifetimes.
  • 1 in 5 young women will experience sexual assault in college.
  • Approximately 57% of survivors know their assailants.

Statistics were sourced from:
Department of Justice 2007
U.S. Department of Justice, National Crime Victimization Survey 1993-2013
Rothman Boston University’s School of Public Health 2011
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2011
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2010