I Define Me
Change happens when like-minded individuals come together, focused on the same outcome. A changemaker is a person who steps in and orchestrates the efforts of such a group. In 2002, a licensed therapist living in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri founded a movement that would grow to embrace girls, teens, and ladies throughout the world. As a result of her desire to empower her own daughters inside a community where she saw division and challenges, she gifted many others with tools, enabling them to find their own voice, setting them on a positive path. Twenty years later, her movement is a curriculum that she presents worldwide. Antioch recently hosted a powerful and inspiring Day of Empowering Girls and 110° Magazine got a chance to speak with the woman who was a key note speaker—founder and CEO, Tracie Berry-McGhee, M.Ed., LPC.
“I was raised by a single mother who had me at 15. I grew up in the city of St. Louis and lived through first-hand lessons of diversity bias that I knew I did not want my own children to endure. Throughout my younger life, journaling was my salvation. My heart longed for sisters, other women I could rely on and feel safe with. My mother suffered from depression and constantly struggled. She always told me, ‘You need to break the chain. Don’t go through life like this.’ She wanted more for my children, and it became ingrained in me to pave the way for a brighter future for them.” Tracie has been blessed to enjoy 25 years of marriage to her wonderful husband and cites that as another contributing factor in breaking the cycle.
Together, they’ve raised three grown children ranging in age from 23 to 30. Her son had a strong father to emulate and provide guidance. Once she had daughters, she knew she wanted to bring them up in a supportive environment larger than her own household.
“The SistaKeeper Empowerment Center is an international nonprofit organization for girls serving local schools in various states across the US with an international presence in Africa, Jamaica, New Mexico, Thailand, and Germany.”
In 2002, she founded the I Define Me movement and created a community that would expand to embrace girls worldwide and, most effectively, in their own neighborhoods. Tracie is a self-defined Empowernista who inspires girls and women to become SistaKeeper Ambassadors. Within the organization she created, girls have a group of sisters they can turn to and feel uplifted by. They have allies and are all moving forward on a positive path with similar guideposts. The SistaKeeper Empowerment Center is an international nonprofit organization for girls serving local schools in various states across the US with an international presence in Africa, Jamaica, New Mexico, Thailand, and Germany. They offer 12-week programs for girls that are a safe space during school/after-school hours. Students are given the opportunity to be involved in social-emotional learning that increases emotional intelligence while decreasing relational aggression. Their involvement allows girls to see the value of being a SistaKeeper, and personal progress is cultivated through journaling and defining individual and collective voices.
Tracie is a motivational speaker and author of several poetry books, attending many engagements to spread the word of the I Define Me movement. She furthers each chapter’s reach by teaching mentors who follow the curriculum she has devised. Her goal of leading a society of young women who know who they are, what they believe in, and what they stand for has become a reality. Her mother’s wishes for a better future for her grandchildren have been realized, and a multitude of others around them have learned to make educated choices, be assertive, display teamwork, and be true to themselves.
They’ve learned to fight for issues that plague their communities, breaking generational cycles while becoming dedicated to making a difference. Tracie says, “I tell the girls I speak to, ‘Open up a Crayola box. You will find your color, it’s because we are all in there together just as we are here, as sisters and brothers.’ I want the girls to feel the harmony that comes from being a part of something bigger.”
“Her goal of leading a society of young women who know who they are, what they believe in, and what they stand for has become a reality.”
"Tracie now hosts the daily talk show, Own Your Now which airs on Roku and Fire TV. It’s another avenue for her to empower people with positive affirmations from which to grow.”
Tracie took her movement on the road upon purchasing an old UPS truck and transforming it into the I Define Me Wellness Mobile. “The wheels never went round and round in my neighborhood, but they roll now. Self-love starts by taking care of yourself first. We give out journals, body butter, soaps, lip gloss, and period kits. You care for yourself, you can care for your own family, and then your world.” Girls are made aware of the program and invited to join. By giving girls a way to move forward and act positively, Tracie is nurturing future leaders and advocates for literacy, bullying, suicide awareness, and teen pregnancy programs.
After suffering the loss of her parents during the pandemic, Tracie was grieving to a point where she felt incapable of providing therapy one on one. She found her strength in comforting others through the broader range of social media. Following this pivot, Tracie now hosts the daily talk show, Own Your Now which airs on Roku and Fire TV. It’s another avenue for her to empower people with positive affirmations from which to grow.
A true testament to her effect on the lives she touches, comes from a young lady named Justice. Says Tracie, “I allow girls in my program to pick their own names, one that represents them. This seventh-grade girl came to us with behavioral issues. She did not want to be there, her teacher put her in the program. When asked about her home life she would say, it’s just her and her dad, ‘It’s just us.’ That became her name, Justice. Justice went from being a bully who only used her hands in a negative manner, to being a facilitator for my program who now travels with me. Now 30, she is a spoken word artist and published author! Exposure is everything. She just needed a positive role model and someone to learn from.”