Cool Girls with Tag: featured

Kati Beierl

Name: Kati Beierl
Age: 27
Location: Innsbruck – AUSTRIA
Occupation: Sports Police Officer

Austrian bobsledding Olympian Kati Beierl grew up in an athletic family, and she had high hopes from when she was just a child. Both of her parents were world class track and field competitors, and that gave her high hopes, as did visiting her bathroom.

“My mother was at the Olympic Games 1988 in South Korea and hung her certificate on the toilet, so everyone had to see it,” she recalls. “Little Kati really wanted to make it to the games.”

After dabbling in track and field for a while, she found herself looking for a sport she could really connect with. At the suggestion of her training team, she called the head coach of Austrian bobsledding, who invited her to the push track.

“The first summer I spent training with the team I didn’t exactly know what bobsledding was,” she admits. “But when I did it for the very first time on ice I knew that this would be my new sport.”

After two and a half years of ‘sliding,’ (as it’s called) she made her World Cup debut. By 2018 she found herself at the Europacup with her team, which was where qualifying races for the Olympics began.

“The first big moment I will probably never forget was leading into the second run of the Europacup in Norway,” she remembers. “It was a crazy experience to be the last two people in the start house. Luckily we were able to win those races.”

The mental toughness required to compete at this level can’t be overstated. Teams have two runs, and if they do well on the first run, then it’s important that the second is just as stellar. The pressure to be among some of the finest bobsledding teams in the world can be excruciating, but each race brings them closer to comfort.

“All of the races have helped me so much, each one helped me to find my own way of dealing with the pressure. I try to be as relaxed and happy as possible before going down the track.”

Mind you, these sleds reach speeds up to 93 miles per hour!

“Every race is a unique challenge, it never feels the same,” Kati says. “Standing on the starting block is the most exciting feeling I’ve ever experienced. At the moment we do the command, all my thoughts are gone, it’s just pushing at full speed, as hard and fast as you can. Then we jump in. I take two deep breaths and try to be the most chilled version of myself. In the track my only focus is the next curve.”

Ever the competitor, Kati is entering a new discipline: Monobob, which is being introduced at the Olympics in 2022.

“Normally I push on the sidebar and my brakegirl is pushing at the back. In Monobob, the pilot is not only the pilot, but also the brakegirl,” she explains. “I push in the back, then do a big step into the sled, sit down and steer it through the track. After the finish line, I pull the brakes to stop the sled.”

For Kati, her life revolves around training, competing, eating, sleeping, all in a consistent routine that helps her maintain her body and her mind. It was the daily grind that got her and her teammate Jenny through the summer, when – because of Covid – they didn’t know if they’d even be sliding this winter. Once they were sure that the races were on, Kati’s singular focus was even more clear.

“My biggest goal is getting an Olympic medal, everything I do is to get me there. My pusher, Jenny, moved from the Netherlands to my place, so we could train together. She even gave up her Dutch citizenship and got an Austrian passport in December.”

These two ladies are unstoppable. First they head to the World Championships in February, and then the Olympic Games next year.

Although most people would think that this alone would be enough, Kati continues her studies in law school while training and competing. Her next ambition is police school.

“I know that my sporting career will not be forever,” Kati says. “It’s very important for me to have a perspective for my life after, so I can also be good at my job after bobsledding.”

What advice does this awesome athlete have to pass on to young people growing up with big dreams and maybe a pinch of doubt about their ability to get there?

“The most important thing is to think big and stick to your dreams! If you want it badly enough, and you work for it every day, you’ll get the chance to reach your goals. And never, ever quit your project just because anybody tells you that you’re not going to be able to do it. Many people, especially men, told me that I wouldn’t be a world class bobsledder. But now I’m here, I’ve competed at the Olympic Games and reached World Cup podiums. You can do this!”

Amazing work, Kati! We at Sock It To Me are rooting for you!

Follow along with Kati on her social media accounts below, and keep an eye out for the following upcoming events:

Instagram: bobteambeierl, kati.beierl

Facebook: Bobteam Beierl

Upcoming Events:
World Championships 2021: February 6th-14th
Olympic Games 2022, Beijing: February 2022

Suzanne Washington

Name: Suzanne Washington
Age: 62
Location: Portland, Oregon
Occupation: Nonprofit management for Meals on Wheels People – Portland


Suzanne Washington is a CEO with an innovative mind and an enormous heart. This leader of Meals on Wheels People has helped to feed countless senior citizens and to provide services that are food for the soul.

MOWP’s goal is to keep seniors, and other nutritionally at-risk groups, fed with wholesome food and connected with social support. This non-profit was created in 1969 by three women who rose to the challenge of meeting the needs of the elderly in their neighborhood. In February of 1970, they gathered in the basement of the Lincoln Street Methodist Church and served hot lunches to a dozen older people. Once that meal service was complete, they set out to deliver 14 more meals to other hungry senior citizens.

Today this organization makes and delivers 8,000 meals, five days a week, all from Multnomah Village. Volunteers make the proverbial and literal wheels of the group go, and frail and homebound elderly people are provided with much needed nutrition and connection. Anyone over the age of 60 is able to request a meal and donate what they can towards the cost. Weekend and Holiday meals are also provided to those who have no other source of food or assistance.

Growing up in California, Suzanne started out serving food in a different capacity.

“My first job was working for Jolly’s Beef Burgers. They had 25 cent days and people could order all the burgers and fries they wanted for that price. People would order 25 hamburgers. Those days were crazy and fun!” she recalls.

Photography by Portland Oregon Photographer Craig MItchelldyer

Although she’s no longer dishing out burgers, Suzanne is contributing to nourishing a much larger community now, and it was a path that came naturally.

“I was the deputy director at a different organization, and we partnered with Meals on Wheels People for many years. When the former executive director was retiring, a recruiter reached out to me and I jumped at the chance to interview. I got the job and I love it. That was just over six years ago, and it is still a pleasure and an honor to work here,” she says.

“The organization gives me a chance to make a difference for older adults each and every day. It also allows for creativity. We can try new things to enhance services to seniors, and make sure they have what they need to make their own choice about living independently or not,” she adds.

Her ingenuity can be seen on full display in the Diner Vancouver initiative that she spearheaded last year. Instead of simply delivering meals, this enterprise seeks to provide a family-type environment for older people to eat, and to have a variety of choices when it comes to what to eat, when to eat, and who to eat with.

“At the diner seniors get catered to in a warm and welcoming place that is intergenerational in nature, has great food, and is supported by the community. It’s a bit like that old show Cheers. Everyone knows their names,” Suzanne explains.

These strange days, it’s even more important for seniors to feel connected. Many are homebound, and even more isolated than they were prior to the pandemic. MOWP has started virtual book groups, volunteer phone calls to offer a friendly chat, and they have made thousands more wellness check calls. They are doing everything in their power to make sure that their participants are nurtured, nourished, and tended to; their organization’s selflessness knows no bounds.

“We had a volunteer who was over 100 years old delivering to people 20 years younger than she was,” she says. “I find inspiration from the work of our staff and volunteers and the amazing generosity of our donors. Their care and compassion is inspiring.”

The current situation has also forced many people into a place of food insecurity, and the demand for nutritious meals has risen during the pandemic. Roughly 3,000 more meals per week are being delivered to families through MOWP’s Meals 4 Kids program, along with the 10,000 more meals each week that are being delivered to the elderly.

Along with these challenges, Suzanne is striving to come up with ways to broaden the access to technology, so that participants feel less alone.

“I’d also like to start a program to help care for seniors’ pets, expand our earned income opportunities and, hopefully, open a second diner!” she adds.

We at Sock It To Me saw an incredible opportunity to do our part as well. We launched our line of masks in July 2020, and we donate one mask to the Meals On Wheels People volunteers when one mask is purchased in our webstore. We have also donated additional masks to reach 10,000 donated in total in order to help their tireless volunteers navigate Covid restrictions and regulations while meeting the rising enrollments in MOWP’s meals and services.

We are honored to work with Suzanne and MOWP, and we encourage everyone out there to read more about their organization and get involved if you can. May it be to volunteer your time, donate a mask through our webstore, or simply to make a phone call to an older person in your life, your effort is contributing to a greater good.

“Find an older person to visit and share time with,” Suzanne suggests. “You’ll never be disappointed.”

For her work with Meals on Wheels People, we at Sock It To Me want you to know that Suzanne Washington is a very Cool Girl!

Kartier Devaux

Name: Ms. Kartier Jazzelle Devaux
Age: 33
Location: Northeast Portland, Oregon
Occupation: Luck Lion Process Manager

Writer, activist, artist, and Texas native Kartier Devaux has blazed a trail for herself in her new hometown of Portland, Oregon. As a drag performer and an outspoken advocate for issues she holds dear, Kartier has drawn attention, flare, and compassion to everything from the need to tackle systemic racism to self-love. Now working as the process manager for luxury cannabis dispensary Lucky Lion, Kartier is making sure to elevate the spirits and attention of all those she comes in contact with. That’s not to say that it has been easy, as her arrival in Portland coincided with the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Suddenly, I was thirty-three years old, jobless, terrified, and living on the mercy of care packages from my angelic mother and best friends,” she says.

Luckily for Kartier, one of her friends was working for Lucky Lion, and she was able to get a job as a ‘Budtender’ in spite of her lack of cannabis experience at the time. It wasn’t long until Kartier fell in love with the company, and she worked her way up to Process Manager. Her knack for business and her work ethic made this progression unsurprising.

“As a teenager, my first job was selling cell phones in our storefront next to my Dad’s barbershop. Business is in my blood,” she explains.

And working for a company like Lucky Lion allows Kartier to not only be her authentic self, but to provide people with an experience that they may not have expected from a dispensary.

“You can tell simply by walking into any one of our impeccably decorated locations, and reviewing our golden menus, that Lucky Lion is all about providing our guests with a luxury cannabis experience that meets their needs regardless of their budget. I personally love this company, because we are serious about respect for all people and diversity at every level of the cannabis industry.”

When she isn’t helping Lucky Lion operate, Kartier is creating and energizing her community beyond her job, as it’s critical for her to use her life experience to benefit others.

“As a big, tall, Texan, Black Trans Woman, I know exactly what it means to drive to the grocery store on the other side of town because less people gawk at you there than at the one by your home,” she explains. “I have been that homeless Black Queer young adult trapped in a small-minded town with nowhere to turn. I have felt the sting of being denied a job application at a pizza joint after an illustrious career in Finance simply because I showed up in a sensible heel and Black skin. The challenges that I and people like me face completely inform what it is that I would like to do for the rest of my life.”

For Kartier, this would ideally include building a form of cost-free temporary housing outside of the city, where at-risk Queer young people from across the country could live while receiving job training, rehab and therapy. It would offer career placement, housing assistance, and Kartier’s legendary homemade jambalaya.

“In short, I want to be a mother to the motherless,” she says.

Beyond her compassionate mission, Kartier also hopes to resurrect her drag career and host gigs around Portland, “once Miss Corona gets her ugly mug off my stage.” In the meantime, she’s doing some modeling, writing her powerhouse poetry and essays and keeping her Facebook following up to date with social justice issues and commentary on everyday life.

So what advice does this Sativa Diva and macrocosmic mama have for young people growing up today?

“Do the things that scare you, as the character you build from those experiences will be what shapes and defines you. Learn to love yourself so fiercely, in the face of those that hate your very existence, that just your presence at the table frees those around you to do the same. Then, when you reach the point where no one can diminish the light that only you were born to shine, reach back and show someone else the way. THAT is the blueprint of life well lived.”

For her light and veracity, we think Kartier Devaux is one very, very Cool Girl!

Follow along with Kartier at one of the links below!


Kartier Devaux

Deb Poppe

Name: Deborah Poppe
Age: 52
Location: Bethpage, NY
Occupation: Teacher

Deb Poppe is a lifelong teacher and hippie who has translated her free spirit into an adaptability that has served her well during these chaotic times. Growing up on Long Island, Deb knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was a small child, even going so far as to work with kids as a babysitter once she was old enough. After 26 years as an elementary school teacher, this mother of four knows how to prepare minds for a future filled with possibilities.

“My first class was filled with the funniest of characters. I still see them in town, but now they are adults, it’s weird,” she smiles. “I taught 3rd grade for fifteen years, 2nd grade for seven years, and I’ve taught 1st grade for four years.”

Working with children this year has been an adaptation to say the least, requiring the possibility of remote learning as well as protecting children from the possibility of illness while also nurturing their minds.

“Keeping my family and my students as healthy as I can with all that’s going on is definitely my biggest challenge,” Deb says.

Deb and her husband adopted their four children, and they all have different schedules. “My husband and I are their Uber. They work, do sports, take art classes, and of course, hang out with their friends. My second full-time job is as a mother,” she jokes.

Her natural knack for comforting and motivating young people was rooted in a deep maternal instinct, but the path to motherhood wasn’t the easiest for her.

“I had five pregnancies that didn’t work,” Deb explains. “I basically picked up the People magazine, which had a piece that featured NJ Heart Adoption that had foster care adoption stories in it. I looked at  my husband and said, “ Why don’t we look into adoption?”’

Now the parent of two teenage girls and two younger boys, it’s possible that the most relaxing part of her day is at school with “six interesting hours with twenty 6 year olds.”

“My day starts with six interesting hours with twenty 6 year olds,” she says.

Deb’s passions beyond her children and students include her pugs, passionate protesting, pottery, and the annual and famous Coney Island Mermaid Parade.

“When the girls were little, we were at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island with the girls and the parade was going on. My heart skipped a beat when I saw it, I’d never seen it before! I’ve gone every year since.”

Not only has Deb attended the parade as a spectator, she has dressed up as Ursula from the Little Mermaid and joined in.

With retirement a few years away, Deb describes herself as a part-time hippie with full-time hippie dreams.

What advice does this bohemian-minded and resilient mama have for young girls growing up in these curious times?

“You are enough all by yourself, you don’t need a significant other to show your worth!”

For her dedication to younger generations and for being a badass mother who always finds a way to adjust to what life throws at her, we think Deborah Poppe is a very Cool Girl!

Tasha Marie Gillum

Name: Tasha Marie Gillum
Age: 39
Location: Lynchburg, Va
Occupation: Bonner Leader Program Coordinator

Tasha Marie Gillum grew up being active and enjoying the terrain of Northern Virginia, but it took trying on – and selling – some different shoes to get her to the career in community enrichment and experiential education that she enjoys today.

After graduating from Sweet Briar College, Tasha had six months before she had to start paying back her student loans.

“I hiked the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia and then returned to my mother’s house and sold shoes at a large outdoor retailer for a few months,” she recalls.

After years of being involved with outdoor education at her alma-mater, and having had life-altering experiences in nature as a result, Tasha knew that selling shoes wasn’t where she wanted to wind up.

“Being stuck indoors all day talking about getting outside was not beneficial to my soul,” she says. “I knew I wanted to run a college outdoor program and provide transformative experiences for other women, just as I had experienced.”

She went to work for outdoor schools in Central Virginia and Colorado before she went for her graduate degree in experiential education. She ran outdoor programs at University of Las Vegas, worked as faculty at the Teton Science Schools in Wyoming, and finally returned to Lynchburg.

“It was almost a decade after I graduated that I returned to give back to the program that meant so much to me as a young woman,” Tasha says.

As a Bonner Leader Coordinator, Tasha works within the University of Lynchburg to recruit, train, supervise and assist Bonner Leaders within the curriculum and the community.

“The Bonner Foundation’s motto is “Access to Education, Opportunity to Serve,”’ Tasha explains. “The Bonner Leader Program at the University of Lynchburg provides an “opportunity to serve” by leveraging work-study funding to enable students to earn money for college through their community work with local non-profits.”

Nearly 65 colleges and universities across the country are a part of the Bonner Program, which serves to provide financial access to college while simultaneously forwarding civic engagement.

Schools with Bonner Leaders are required to have a minimum of 75% of the participating students qualifying for Federal Work Study. These schools have the option to award students with “College Work-Study” or some other private source for the student stipends.

These leaders dedicate their undergraduate careers to making an impact through service, may it be as a part of social justice community projects, local nonprofits, or other affiliated agencies. Over their four years of education, they become engaged in community service that dovetails with their academic and co-curricular learning. They do this throughout the academic and social rigamarole of the college experience, all while helping to meet the needs of the greater Lynchburg community. Their experiences culminate in a capstone project that they create with and for the community partner they have worked with throughout their education. Tasha works with these students helping them along the way as a mentor and supervisor.

“I enjoy watching a student lean into the opportunity to identify who they are, who they want to be, and what impact they want to create with their lives,” she says. “Bonners are enthusiastic about learning and leading meaningful community work, they’re open to having conversations and becoming agents of change.”

In the current COVID world, Tasha is connecting the new class of Bonner Leaders to the Lynchburg community through virtual community engagement experiences while maintaining the requisite social distancing.

“It’s wonky as all get out!” Tasha admits. “Our community vibe is not lost, but we’re finding creative ways to cultivate and sustain it in a different way this semester.”

What message does this mountain biking, trail running, student mentoring leader coordinator have for young women growing up in this disconnected and reconnected world?

Creating practices to listen to ourselves is the best direction we can receive. We are connected and intuitive beings. When you know, love and trust yourself, you’ve got all the answers you need to find direction.”

For her community engagement and connection to the Lynchburg Bonner Leader program, we think Tasha Marie Gillum is a very Cool Girl!

Learn more about the Bonner program at the links below!

Bonner Foundation

University of Lynchburg Bonner Program