Women's Empowerment Program

Teaching Confidence, Assertiveness and Safety

Teaching Confidence, Assertiveness and Safety

“I will never forget the first day when we set the piece of paper with women stereotypes on fire...It was pretty inspiring.” Nicki S. (age 11)
"I always had an interest in motivating women to find their inner strength. As a young child, I remember watching the news and hearing stories about girls that were kidnapped or abused and being quite upset that I couldn’t help more.

My background includes training for over 15 years in martial arts & self-defense. In my late teens, I was promoted to Certified Black-Belt Instructor of Tae Kwon Do, and shortly after was selected as the first female Instructor at my dojo to lead youth & adult classes. 

After graduating from the University of Rhode Island (BS degree in Food Science & Nutrition), I went to work as a Food Scientist for a major corporation. After a few years, this work left me feeling unfulfilled, so I decided to return to my true passion of teaching and inspiring women.

In 2003, I started leading a successful non-aggressive martial arts called
Albany Karate. During this time, I realized the need for a separate class just for women to talk about dating safety, setting boundaries and healthy relationships. Kurukula Empowerment for Women was born. 

Kurukula quickly gained momentum. In just two years, my program earned leadership awards, won federal & private grants, a partnership with the 
Albany Police, and several after-school programs throughout the Bay Area. The need for this program was beyond anything I could have imagined. 

My intention for Kurukula is to offer an intuitive and inspiring program for women that combines empowerment tools (inner-strength) with practical safety skills (outer-strength). As a trained Self-Defense Instructor, I am aware that most self-defense programs teach the ‘scare tactic.’ That's a random attacker that jumps out of nowhere to attack you. This never made sense to me.  Not only does this training completely frighten most women, but it leaves them feeling helpless, waiting to be attacked in the world. And it is not accurate.

Intuitively and statistically we know an overwhelming number of violent and sexual assault acts (over 90%) occur by a boyfriend or person you know who often gives you lots of warning signs.
1 Kurukula understands that a woman who has confidence and inner-strength, and learns useful safety skills is less likely to be in a life-threatening situation in the first place and can make successful choices to live life to her fullest potential.

I look forward to sharing this dynamic program with you!"


Dara Connolly

Self-Defense Expert, Empowerment Instructor, Author Jerky Johnny®SafetyGame,
Award-Winning Presenter known for incorporating humor & fun in her presentations

1 Source: RAINN, Rape abuse, incest National Network. 2014