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WDM Roni Sokol Esq. Civil litigation with emphasis on personal injury Attorney at Law Owner of The Sokol Law Firm LLC February 2016 Frances Rogers Event Planning Design Owner- The Complete Package features WDM 4 14 29 Roni Sokol Esq. Civil litigation with emphasis on personal injury Attorney at Law Owner of The Sokol Law Firm LLC Beachwood OH Brenda Lee Thomas Cleaning President Atlanta GA Betty Jo Denman Roller 35 44 Music Education (Elementary and Secondary band and orchestra) Music Instructor - Amarillo Independent School System (Retired) Amarillo TX Healthcare Mental Health Counseling Executive Director Owner Summit Community Counseling Taylorsville UT Construction Chief Mechanical Inspector - State of New Mexico Construction Industries Division Albuquerque NM Dr. Karen W. Malm PhD Tamara Kuykendall Roni Sokol Esq. Civil litigation with emphasis on personal injury Attorney at Law Owner of The Sokol Law Firm LLC Beachwood OH ttorney Roni Sokol was well established and highly respected in her career when she decided to quit her job in 2013. At the time she was working in the severe bodily injury unit of an insurance company when she came to the realization that she d be much more satisfied if she started representing those who were injured or wronged instead. She gave her two weeks notice and founded The Sokol Law Firm LLC in Beachwood Ohio. The decision to practice a different type of law came easily but opening a new law firm took careful consideration. Prior to owning her own firm Roni spent two decades working for large firms representing and defending insurance companies and their policyholders as well as litigating general civil disputes in both Ohio and California. In addition she worked in-house for one of the largest insurance companies in the country managing severe bodily injury claims in litigation. A Today Roni finds having her own practice to be far more lucrative than working for larger firms. Within a year of opening her firm Roni won the Cleveland Metropolitan s Bar Association s Club 50K award for being one of the three highest grossing attorneys on the Lawyer Referral Service s panel. One of the biggest lessons I ve learned in my career is don t take a job opportunity just for the money she said. If you have a job you enjoy think twice before dumping it for another position that might pay more. You cannot put a price tag on an enjoyable work environment with people who like and respect you. You might not find the same is true everywhere you go. Although I defended insurance companies for years I would often feel that I was on the wrong side of the legal dispute she said. I found more personal satisfaction helping people who have been wronged or injured. Many people balked at my decision to open my own firm warning me that I might go months without making a dime. I knew from experience that if I listened to every negative comment I ever heard regarding the career path I should take I wouldn t be where I am today. Roni s previous work gave her an intimate understanding of the claims process and how insurance adjusters evaluate cases. Today she uses that knowledge and experience to represent plaintiffs against insurance companies. The change meant giving up a steady paycheck plus benefits. In Roni s field of work it is feast or famine. She only gets paid if she wins or settles a case but she finds that the risk is worth the reward. At first building up a client base took oldfashioned networking starting with her husband who knew a woman who had gotten in a serious car accident and needed representation. Then people refer you to their friends and co-workers and the calls start coming in she said. The Sokol Law Firm handles an average of 30 to 40 personal injury or civil litigation cases at any time. As the owner of the firm Roni does everything from typing her own documents to appearing in court all the while offering her clients highly individualized attention. Roni makes it a priority to return client calls and e-mails as quickly as possible. Putting clients at ease is of the utmost importance. She is both an attorney and a counselor for her clients who are often times suffering from debilitating injuries or unbearable personal lost. Her compassion has earned Roni a reputation as a premiere mortuary negligence attorney helping families whose loved ones have been wronged by funeral homes and mortuaries. My job is difficult she said. I go up against insurance companies on a daily basis and it is not easy. But I am representing people at their most vulnerable. It always feels great to be able to give a client closure and get him or her a well-deserved result. I care about my clients and they know it. Roni has always been a go-getter. Her father a supporter of feminism way before it was in style always taught her that women can do anything men can do and better. 6 Women of Distinction He encouraged me not to ever think that I can t do something just because I m female and I never have Roni said. While attending college at UCLA Roni got her start in the industry working part time as a legal secretary for a female lawyer. It was then she became interested in law but did not want to jump straight into law school until she was sure where her career path was headed. After college she worked for three years as a legal secretary before deciding to go to law school. In 1995 Roni became a lawyer. Like many Roni faced numerous challenges in her career including being a petite female and for a long time not having enough experience to get the positions she desired in her industry. These challenges and many others inspired Roni to work harder to be accepted on the basis of what she has to offer. Roni utilized her networking strategies to obtain the job offers she wanted. One of the greatest lessons I ve learned is don t turn down any opportunities she said. Even if you are offered a job in an area of law you don t think you re interested in. That opportunity might lead to another better opportunity which in turn might lead to another and so on. Another upside to owning her own firm is Roni s ability to dictate her own schedule. The mother of a teen and a preteen and wife to an equally hard working husband free time is hard to come by. Between working on her cases and drumming up new business Roni values the moments she can steal away from the office to attend her children s sporting events or simply have dinner together as a family. An award-winning attorney Roni frequently speaks at professional organizations and encourages young people to follow their dreams. When asked what advice she gives to young women starting their career Roni advises Don t ever let anyone make you feel like you can t do something If you have the drive and the passion you can do anything you put your mind to. Photos By Elizabeth Glorioso 7 Women of Distinction Dr. Sue Cornbluth - Family Counselor Certified Parenting Coach Author and TV Contributor Education - Healthcare President Chief Executive Officer of the Consulting Firm - Parenting Beyond Trauma LLC Spring House PA 8 Women of Distinction D There isn t one person in this world that hasn t experienced something painful. We have a choice to either let these experiences consume our lives or let them be what they are a part of our life. r. Sue Cornbluth set out on a journey to make a difference in the lives of children and parents when she earned a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Arcadia University (Glenside PA) in 1995. And while working on her Doctorate of Clinical Psychology from Chestnut Hill College (Philadelphia PA) she began providing counseling for foster children in 1999. I ve learned that in the worst of times children and families can become successful in life if you provide them with the appropriate educational tools and personal dedication. I helped traumatized children build the highest of self-esteem. My philosophy has always been to show each and every one of my clients that I believe in their potential in spite of what they have been through. In 2002 Dr. Cornbluth moved from counseling foster children to teaching psychology classes at Penn State University and Temple University (for 10 years). I realized that I wanted to teach others how to do the work I was doing and empower young minds to see that they could make a big impact on others lives. In 2011 she wrote a training manual called The Ambiguous Foster Child which is used by professionals across the world. Dr. Cornbluth also began providing commentary on childhood trauma and mental health issues for networks such as MSNBC FOX NBC and CBS in 2011. My commentary on the Jerry Sandusky Penn State scandal and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings catapulted my television career. She fed her true passion for helping foster children the same year by writing the best-selling book Building Self-Esteem in Children and Teens Who are Fostered or Adopted . The book was published in 2014 by Jessica Kingsley Publishing and voted 2014 s Must-Read Adoption Book of the Year by Adoption.net. 9 Women of Distinction 10 Women of Distinction I m extremely proud of that book because it provides professionals and parents with tools to help traumatized kids. In 2012 Dr. Cornbluth founded Parenting Beyond Trauma LLC a parent coaching company to help parents learn how to cope with high conflict parenting situations such as divorce and parent alienation. She also became a Certified Breakthrough Parenting Coach in 2015. Dr. Cornbluth s passion for helping others was influenced by her mother and Nana. They taught her how to be a strong direct and independent woman. This passion is why her work doesn t feel like work to her. My goal in providing parent coaching is to always treat others as I would want to be treated. I always go the extra mile to help my clients. In 2014 she was named Top Professor and Child Advocate by the Good Will Ambassador for World Peace for her work with families and children and honored as a Faculty Mentor of the Year by Temple University. Throughout the years Dr. Cornbluth has also contributed to several national publications and wrote an acclaimed monthly parenting column in Parents Express magazine. She even provided foster care trainings for two foster care facilities in Pennsylvania and was a board member for the Terri Lynn Lokoff Foundation (which promotes early childcare learning). I have this desire within me to see people learn how to parent their children to become successful giving and loving individuals. I believe it can happen within any family given the proper tools and openness to learn. Making a difference in people s lives who are struggling is such an empowering feeling. Knowing I ve had something to do with that is one of the most amazing feelings in the world. Some people are addicted to chocolate whereas I m addicted to affecting other people s lives in a positive way. Yet with everything she has accomplished in her life to date her biggest accomplishment is being a wife and a mother to her children. 11 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why is your high conflict parent coaching work so crucial for families today A We live in a world where divorce rates are very high. People struggle looking for where to turn to for help while trying to keep their family intact. Divorced parents can learn to co-parent after divorce and prevent their children from having emotional consequences. Q What is the main key to helping divorced parents co-parent effectively A The one thing that divorced parents tend to hang onto following a divorce is their anger towards one another. This is a normal response however it blocks them from compromising and doing what is in the best interest of their children. Q What separates your parent coaching business apart from other business A First we only provide counseling and coaching services for high conflict parenting situations. Second we focus on parental alienation and provide clients with a strategic plan to implement. Most of all we treat our clients as we would want to be treated ourselves. Q How do you empower your clients to take control of their high conflict parenting situations A First I try to instill and teach my clients that they have to become empowered mentally as individuals. They have to learn to believe in who they are and what they are capable of accomplishing. Self-belief is the key to moving through most difficult parenting situations. Q How can individuals recover from traumatic experiences in their lives A One step at a time the most important aspect of recovering from traumatic events is to begin to see yourself as a survivor of the trauma not as a victim. Q What would you tell children who are struggling with their self-esteem and self-worth A I tell them that they have the opportunity to define who they are You define you. It s not always about how others see you it s about how you see yourself. No one can take that away from you. Q What is the most rewarding aspect of working with families A The most rewarding aspect of my work is seeing progress in family situations that appeared to be impossible. Nothing is better than watching clients put a great deal of energy and work into changing and then seeing the results. Q Do you think that parents seek professional help as often as they should when it comes to family issues A I think things are improving in this area but we are not quite there yet. There is no shame in reaching out for help as a parent. I m a parenting expert and still need help sometimes. No one is a perfect parent. Q What is your best advice for parents raising kids today A I advise parents all the time to be their kids best role models. This doesn t mean that you don t make mistakes along the way. However when you do make a mistake take responsibility for it. Your kids will respect you more for doing so. Q Where do you see yourself in five years A In five years I see myself continuing as the President of Parenting Beyond Trauma LLC. Currently we re expanding to offer online classes. I will continue to help parents and families manage high conflict parenting situations. I would also love to have my own talk show that focuses on parenting topics. (A girl can dream can t she ) 12 Women of Distinction Betty Gibson Miller Clergy Public Health Co-Pastor and Administrator Gates Of Joy Christian Fellowship Inc. Retired Public Health Administrative Secretary Blackshear GA I As a young woman God began to really birth a desire in me to minister to others especially teenage girls. n 1987 as a youth Sunday school teacher Betty Gibson Miller began a forum at her local church which was entitled Teen Talk. This forum was specifically meant for helping teenage girls deal with the various transitions that are generally associated with adolescence and young adults. However two years later Betty began a career within the Georgia Department of Public Health and began working at the Pierce County Health Department as a Healthcare Receptionist. Twenty years later in 2009 Betty retired from her career in Public Health. I have been exposed to some very uncomfortable conditions that God ultimately used to produce in me a type of strength and courage to remain committed to my cause and overcome the obstacles that would prevent me from fulfilling my destiny and thus helping others realize theirs. As a genuinely passionate person Betty truly cares about the well being of others. However she finds it difficult to find sincere people and that most people are reluctant to really opening up and receiving the counseling and help that they need which Betty knows will allow them to effectively combat personal difficulties and ultimately rise above their struggles. I ve never really considered the ministry as a career I consider it my life s calling. It is my personal conviction that the call to ministry along with a heartfelt desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others have contributed to my longevity in this present and hopefully ongoing venture. Betty now serves as co-pastor and church administrator of Gates of Joy Christian Fellowship. Her main roles within the church are to teach to train and to encourage the members of her local church in their Christian walk and becoming productive citizens of the community. Both Betty and her husband also oversee the business aspects of the church such as bookkeeping program preparation and other pertinent tasks that ensure the ministry functions as efficiently as possible on a daily basis. My meager upbringing being taken from my family and being placed in foster care produced a mindset that destroyed my healthy sense of self-worth. I ve had to overcome this debilitating mindset with its accompanying fear and shattered self-esteem. I really care about people and I want to see others succeed and be the very best that they can be. It s the personal painful things I ve been through that have served to produce this type of demeanor and has formed a genuine passion to help others using my own past struggles as a catalyst to help launch others to on their journey to personal greatness and fulfillment. When she isn t busy with the church Betty enjoys reading listening to music having good positive conversations with the important people in her life. Betty also enjoys spending time with and encouraging her two children and four grandchildren. It has been said that the ultimate secret of life is the sure knowledge of death for this cause one strives to leave their mark upon the earth. I want to leave definite evidence that I did during my sojourn here. 13 Women of Distinction Brenda Lee Thomas Cleaning President Atlanta GA fter moving to Atlanta in 1998 Brenda Lee Thomas started Brenda s Cleaning Service. However after getting laid off from the DeKalb County Board of Education in 2012 Brenda realized her passion and became a fulltime entrepreneur. The motivation was always there because of my deceased mother Mrs. Hazel Lee Coley. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Watching her as a little girl cleaning washing and polishing silver of the wealthy. Also I was memorized how she would wash ironed and neatly fold their clothing with creases to make certain that all of the whites and colors matched. I guess you would say she was my inspiration and instilled in me those wonderful skills and traits which have made me the person and businesswomen that I am today. Additionally Brenda s two daughters inspired assisted and inevitably helped her to create Healthy Cleaning Systems. As the President of Healthy Cleaning Systems Brenda s roles include marketing bookkeeping sales auditing designing and the actual cleaning. I perform and work through all the departments of my company while attempting to evolve and become the best person and vendor in this profession. I also keep abreast on other janitorial services and what they offer. As a multifaceted cleaning service Healthy Cleaning Systems offers commercial residential construction and crime scene cleanups. Brenda recalls when she first started in the business and spent her days cleaning horrifically disgusting rooms for 50 a day. You must be willing to put in long hard hours be patient and just stay focused on your goals. A 14 Women of Distinction Having been around the business since she was a child Brenda knows that working in a profession where other professional women do not want to share their knowledge can be extremely difficult and frustrating. They know the ins and outs of the business very well but most are unwilling to help. Therefore if you want to be in this business you must make certain that this is your destiny and calling. Brenda is a member of the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) and was a feature in the People You Need to Know (PYNTK) magazine in 2013. I love spending time with my two daughters Emori Nicole Harris and Nichelle Renee Thomas and my three grandsons Little Dre Andrew and Andre Paul. I m so proud of all of them. Although Brenda doesn t get very much free time she spends whatever downtime she does have is spent exercising. She enjoys working out by lifting weights walking Stone Mountain roller-skating and riding her bike. Brenda also enjoys going see a good movies and reading to become more knowledgeable about her business and craft. Healthy Cleaning System is one of the best janitorial cleaning companies out here and that no matter what your previous cleaning experience have been I m certain we would surpass it. And would love the opportunity to show you just what we can do. And when you are feeling down and out and it seems like there s no hope remember triumph and trials brings victory In the following interview Brenda discusses her career the field and what keeps Healthy Cleaning Services at the top of the industry Q&A Q Why do you feel that your business is relevant in today s world A Obviously because a clean environment is a healthy environment. Q Do you believe that your business will stay relevant A Of course People will always need something cleaned. Cleanliness is something that never goes out of style. Q Why do we need more women in this profession A To balance out the opportunities for all ethnic groups. This would allow more women to tap into the cleaning industry which has been dominated by male figures for years. Q Why choose HCS to clean for your company A HCS has been severing the Metro Atlanta community for ten years with the mission to provide affordable and accountable service so that people are not overwhelmed by financial constraints as they relate to day-to-day cleaning responsibilities. Q What does HCS do differently A We use eco-green clean environmentally friendly products. In addition we will always treat each job like it s our only job and we won t stop until the job is done. Q What does HCS offer that others don t A Integrity licensed bonded and insured. We have employees that are well trained and dressed to complete the task. Also we offer employment to those with prior records and giving them a second chance in life. Q Does HCS offer any community services A Yes we offer cleaning to the elderly once a year free of charge cleaning and we raffle off gift certificates to promote our business while helping those who may not be able to afford it regularly. We also participate in fundraising within the communities. We work with Redan High School in Stone Mountain DeKalb County Sheriff s Office and (APD) Atlanta Public Department School Systems Q Why choose HCS A First of all we re family orientated owned and operated. We are unique cleaning company that has been cleaning for three generations and thrives on pleasing our customers which will hopefully call again. Cindy Joy Marvin Parent Coaching Family Coaching and Education Founder of Repairenting Certified Parenting Coach and Trusted Advisor 16 Morristown NJ Women of Distinction fter graduating from Rider University in New Jersey with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Marketing Management) working for various retail chains as a department manager and fashion consultant and 15 years in finance industry Cindy Joy Marvin needed a change. While she enjoyed the work she no longer felt fulfilled. Something was missing. Around the same time Cindy was going through a divorce and felt lonely. A They were so grateful and happy. I feel that due to all the pain and suffering I went through and how I ve transformed I must pay it forward. If I can help a mom get through a stressful situation or pass effective communication tools to a dad to stop him from hitting his son that is a win-win for all. Repairenting is looking for more wins to put in the toolbox Households that were once broken are being repaired and rebuilt with a much stronger foundation of communication empathy and compassion. Parents are now aware of Repairenting s peaceful paradigm and there is less arguing and fighting with more cooperation and communication. So many parents are searching for answers or want to change the way they parent but don t know how. I don t have all the answers but I do have some. Parents don t have to be frustrated mad or unsure anymore. The Repairenting Tools are just that tools for parents to repair and rebuild their family into one that experiences more joy happiness cooperation and harmony. Time is one commodity you can t get back and it s constantly ticking away. Let s start working together to get those answers and bring harmony home She has now been servicing clients for over 20 years working with them on a daily basis to understand the context of where they were in their life and what was going on with them the day and hour they were calling her for help or advice. I ve developed a unique and close relationship with many of my clients and they ve trusted me with their personal and financial issues. When you stop to listen to a client s concern without interruption and with respect they feel heard and are very appreciative. I ve been told over the years by my clients that I really get it . I listen without judgment and treat clients like real human beings. When the phone rings they get me instead of an automated message. That s rare nowadays. Her greatest inspiration has been Tony Robbins because of his approach to helping people realize their true potential his teachings of six human needs and his whole philosophy about living life to the fullest. Most of us run around all day long and never stop to appreciate the thing we ve been running around all day for. When this begins to affect our family and children it will alter the course of the next generation that we (as parents) are raising a generation that will have their own families and will be running our schools governments and world economy. The Repairenting philosophy is to start appreciating what we have and begin to make better decisions for our family s success. I also learned from Tony to not be afraid to fail. Everyone has failed at one time or another. Failure is just a way we found out if something didn t work. Once you now know that whatever you were working on didn t work you can strike it off the list and try something different that might actually work. Failure is just an opportunity to try it a different way This has been a huge tool for me personally something I ve passed on to my son. My family lived too far away to provide much needed support and my friends were either married or single without children and couldn t relate to my issues. It seemed as though I was on my own and had to do it all. I had to be a super mom and an efficient employee a creative cook bottle washer accountant landscaper and maid all rolled into one. I was feeling so overwhelmed. However raising a seven-year-old son alone wasn t easy for her. One night in 2011 I sat in my living room in tears after yelling at my son to take a shower. This was just one of the battles we had that day. I had worked all day just finished cleaning up the kitchen after dinner and I was beat. I didn t want any more arguing just compliance and my bed. My head hurt and I wasn t in the mood. He could feel something was up was very clingy and didn t want to do anything I asked of him. Instead of giving myself a break and connecting with my son by giving him the hug he needed I gave him a swat on the behind. He ran into the bathroom and took his shower screaming and crying. What an ugly scene. I felt horrible and ultimately apologized to my little one but I doubted myself at every turn. How would I raise a self-assured respectable and resilient young man if I couldn t even get him to take a shower I needed help and fast. She began doing research by reading books scouring the internet and asking for help. Over the next three years Cindy enrolled and graduated with a coaching certification from the Robbins-Madanes Strategic Intervention Program which led to certifications from the Jai Institute Parenting Education and Boys Alive Parenting programs. I just couldn t get enough. Where was all this juicy information years ago I could ve saved so much time and aggravation Cindy s family friends teachers and ladies in her son s aftercare program all agreed that the world needed more people with her skills. Since then she has reached out to her community and helped families with the tools and techniques she learned. 17 Women of Distinction This has allowed Cindy to focus on helping suffering parents create a new and empowering mindset about their approach to parenting so they can enjoy parenting again. I bring a new compassionate awareness to parents struggling to relate to their children while providing a safe space to educate parents without judgment on how to heal their childhood traumas so they can repair the relationship with their children and become more loving mindful and effective parents. The tools of empathy and compassion I use have been proven to positively change the lives of families worldwide. She wants others to know that it s ok to get rid of the notion of perfection for themselves and their kids. We are all human and therefore we ll never be perfect. If you re not perfect don t expect your kids to be. However there are a million ways to be a great parent As life goes on we only have about 16 years to connect with our children before their friends become more important . I continually educate myself about the skills of parenting so I can bring fresh yet proven techniques to my clients to make those first 16 years count. If the relationship between parent and child is one of mutual respect compassion and love then when their children go off into the world they ll always think of their parents as home. And aside from her work Cindy would like to be remembered as a great mom who loved her son dearly. I want him to become a man of honor someone with compassion and empathy towards others someone who s trustworthy and self-confident someone resilient enough to take the road less traveled and stand up for himself and above all someone who can find happiness and contentment within his world. 18 Women of Distinction Denise Wozniak Inspirational Motivational Inspirational Motivational Speaker Mission British Columbia Canada 19 Women of Distinction D enise Wozniak s grandparents moved from England to Canada in March 1927 to start a dairy farm and seek a better life. Despite the cold weather and snow they didn t let anything dampen their spirits. They established a successful business through hard work and a strong attitude. This proved to Denise that you can t wish your life was better you have to make it better. After being diagnosed with HIV in 1996 Denise came to the realization that the only way to fight the stigma associated with HIV AIDS and support families living with the illness was to speak about it. After many speeches and talking to others about their life problems I was getting fabulous feedback and it encouraged me that I was definitely on track. She offers the following advice for other speakers I was very afraid of what the personal consequences might be in terms of personal attacks against me so I began with a friendly audience by speaking to doctors and nurses those in the medical field. They told me that this helped them understand what someone with HIV goes through. It wasn t long until Denise was asked to speak on national radio and TV and featured in national newspapers. (1) Understand how you can help your audience. (What are you an authority on and will it help others (2) Get a good coach who will shorten your learning curve. I ve attended Lady and the Champs coaching and found it invaluable. (3) Get as much stage time as possible and be prepared to practice every day. (4) Always find new material to keep your audience engaged. Don t use old stories. Denise even co-authored a UNAIDS booklet about children affected by and living with AIDS and is currently writing a book (called Katie ) on how she found out that her daughter had AIDS and she had HIV and the resulting secrecy surrounding women and HIV. She is also a member of Toastmasters International and a former Board Member of the International Coalition of Women Living with HIV North America. In her free time she explores her love of photography something that helps her appreciate the beauty in everyday life. She also has two dogs (poodle and Doberman Pinscher) that keep her very busy. Additionally she is often asked to speak at her local HIV AIDS organization and at workshops during an annual gathering of people with HIV. Despite everything Denise wouldn t change anything about her life. This was a time when people were very fearful of HIV. I felt they had to see someone with it to understand that anyone can get HIV there isn t a certain look or persona. As a speaker in general Denise does a lot of preparation for her speeches. Besides the hours of practice she puts in she gets as much stage time as possible at Toastmasters to help her with vocal variation where to stand how to look around and audience involvement. After all the preparation I still need to be authentic and be honest with my audience. I have to think about what people want to hear and how it will apply to them. The audience is the most important part. I want them to feel that they gained a new perspective to help them move forward and grow from listening to me. People asked Denise to speak to them about her story because they found it inspirational. It may seem ludicrous when you consider that my child died and I got HIV. However all those things led me to where I am today. They gave me life lessons. Who can say where my life may have otherwise led. I ve been through the gamut of life including divorced parents extreme loss grief poverty depression verbal and physical abuse and PTSD. In the end I m thankful for the support I ve received and the wonderful experiences I ve had in life. I m especially thankful for being married to a wonderful man who is not HIV positive and loves me for who I am. 20 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What do you envision for the speaking business in the future A I envision more women speakers at business conferences because I believe that companies are recognizing that women are under-represented in this area. There are many incredibly talented and inspirational women speakers. Q What has changed in your business over the years A Technology has had an enormous effect on marketing and on speaking. Marketing is through websites and you have to be very savvy on how to use social media to get your message across. Not all social media is a good platform for business but podcasts webinars and YouTube have made you more accessible and promote you as a speaker. Q What is your advice for people who want to become a speaker A Go to Toastmasters to learn your timing get evaluated and learn various facets of speaking (i.e. body language visual aids and engaging an audience). After that attend speaker training by professional coaches be prepared to invest in yourself and treat speaking as a skill that needs to be honed. Get familiar with technology. Decide how much you want to travel. Q What do you notice about poor speakers A (1) Terrible PowerPoint presentations too many slides filling slides with words that are already being spoken and overcrowded with information no one has time to read. (2) Crutch and filler words like um ah and ya know . (3) Going over speaking times. (4) No stories people connect with stories. Q Do you prefer to be independent or with a speaker agency A I believe both are important. Speaker agencies can have many speakers for event planners to choose from. However being independent can help event planners negotiate fees one-on-one to include handouts workbooks day-long workshops etc. Q Do seasoned speakers get stage fright A Yes but I have various practices to avoid it. One which I learned in elementary school is to repeat the alphabet backwards. I find it keeps me in the moment and loosens up my voice. I also always sing my favorite song and listen to upbeat music on my way to the venue. Q What is the most important part of your business A You must keep event planners happy. Obviously if the audience gives good reviews it makes them happy they hired you but there s more to it than that. You need to touch base when you arrive and find out how you can be of assistance. Know the stage set-up the visuals and vocal arrangements. Keep to your allotted time don t take up time from the following speaker or make your audience late for breaks. I always thank event planners for their confidence in me after an event. Your job doesn t end once you leave the venue. Q What don t people understand about the speaking business A How much planning and preparation go into a speech. People can be surprised at the amount speakers earn for an hour speech or a workshop but they have to consider the amount of time it takes to prepare and market a speaking business and the capital and time investment. It just doesn t make sense when a conference spends more on coffee and cookies than it does on its speakers. Q What s the difference between a large audience and a smaller audience A With large audiences (over 1 000) you usually have a teleprompter. This can be helpful but also a hindrance. If you focus or rely on it you can look as though you are reading and heaven forbid it should stop working With larger audiences you tend to only see front rows as people can be extremely far away. I ve found that the energy in a large audience can be fabulous. Small audiences are obviously more intimate and easier for taking questions. Q What is the most gratifying aspect of your business A Individuals telling me I made a difference in their lives. One man told me he had lost his whole family to the massacre in Rwanda and was glad that I gave my speech. It touched me deeply that my small pain and how I dealt with it could help him with his enormous suffering. It was very humbling. 21 Women of Distinction Christina Bomengo Advertising and Social Media - Content Marketing and Social Media Analytics Campaign Coordinator - Staten Island Media Group Staten Island NY C When you have a bad day a really really bad day try and treat the world better than it treated you. Patrick Stump hristina Bomengo would like to be remembered as someone who lived by those words. I greatly enjoyed this position and loved educating the public about fire safety via social media. She believes that social media is a powerful medium to make use of. Under my control the many social accounts under the Foundation s umbrella flourished. In September 2015 after a year of trying to put my freelance days behind me and obtain a steady 9-5 I was hired as the Campaign Coordinator for the Staten Island Media Group. I had previously interned as a college student with its affiliate the Staten Island Advance (in the editorial section). I m really enjoying this new learning experience and love facing each day s new challenge. As a Campaign Coordinator Christina ensures that all campaigns are pacing towards their goals evenly without falling flat and addresses any changes that need to be made along the way. She also supplies advertisers with metrics so they can see the concrete impact of their campaigns whether it be more traffic to their website or an increase in sales due to print ad campaigns. Sales representatives receive similar metrics so they can advise their advertisers on any optimization changes that need to be made. While she is very young in comparison to most of her industry peers she shouldn t be underestimated. Christina is a force to be reckoned with and will succeed at anything she puts her mind to. However it s more important for her family and friends to remember the love and joy they received from her as well as her positive outlook on life. However bad days seem far and few between for her. After graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University - College at Florham in May 2014 Christina s internship experience helped her get hired at New York University (NYU). I can t stress enough how important internships can be they can make all the difference when you re just entering the workforce. Internships make you stand out against other prospective employees. There s nothing like having real life experiences to draw from when trying to impress employers. Her first internship was at the Child & Family Policy Center at NYU where as a high school student she worked as a research assistant. After college this internship helped land her a position at the same institution creating a website and social media campaign for playLab NYU that was being developed by her former mentor. From there Christina had the opportunity to recreate a website for Insights Intervention another lab within NYU. Later in November 2014 Christina was hired as a freelance Social Media Coordinator for the New York Fire Department Foundation. 22 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why is digital marketing so important A Digital marketing is important for the growth relevance and revenue of any business. Your constant goal as a business owner or organization leader is to get your name out there and get people to pay attention to you. If everyone s noses are constantly stuck in their phones why aren t you hitting them smack in the face with your ads It s incredibly easy and affordable to develop and maintain your web presence and get noticed with digital ads. There are hundreds of ways to interact with the specific audience you want to reach with audience targeting tools that will drive business and web traffic to you resulting in an increase in sales or awareness. Q What are the challenges of being so young in comparison to others in your field A Fortunately coworkers have always treated me equally and with respect always valuing my opinion and never secondguessing my intelligence. The personal challenge I face is that I always feel I need to prove myself to others in the field. I never want people to look at me and think You wouldn t know this because you re so young and inexperienced. While I am young I m always learning and absorbing. I m definitely not inexperienced. Someone will always be better than me and I may not have all the answers but I m capable of learning quickly and working out issues on my own. Q What would you say to the older crowd who does not see the importance of digital marketing and social media A Part of my job is educating clients on the importance of connecting with millennials and keeping up with the times and ways to do this. I present them with the cold hard facts. Facebook has 968 million daily active users 500 million tweets are sent per day and 43% of all searches are done on mobile phones via various search engines. It s not hard to see why if a business or organization isn t on social media has a mobilefriendly website comes up in the top results on Google or Bing or isn t advertising online that no one will know about their products or services. Digitally savvy businesses have a competitive advantage. Q Where do you see your industry in five years A It s hard to say because we are constantly searching for the next big thing and better more advanced ways to stay connected. I would imagine that one day most likely in my lifetime there will be glasses with phones in them and ways to communicate and send ads holographically. We never know when the next product or service will come out that will change the scope of our digital world or how we live our daily lives but we always adjust as a population. The businesses that do not adjust or take advantage of these new technological advances will fall short and become irrelevant. Q How important is it for a business or organization to be digitally and socially engaged A It s extremely important because people are always searching online for new products and services and if your business isn t being advertised digitally or you re seriously lacking in the social media department consumers and potential customers will be less likely to trust you. Nowadays people are less likely to trust businesses who lack a Facebook page (or have an inactive one) or ones that have a website they can t view correctly on their mobile phone. In order to stay relevant in a digital world you have to have some digital best practices. If you can t figure it out or keep up with it yourself outsource it. There are plenty of companies that can be hired to serve your ads to your targeted audience and keep up with your social media accounts. 23 Women of Distinction Ms. Joella Grace Simmons Travel Agent Youth Behavioral Specialist Travel & Tour Specialist with a niche in family travel 24 Youth Behavioral Specialist Women of Distinction T 2 Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result so that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing. James 1 2-4 hroughout her life Joella Grace Simmons has endured her share of trials but they ultimately led her to better place. Her life has been consumed with grace and mercy from the time she was born. It all started at the age of five when she was hit by a car and her scull was crushed on the right side. Joella fell into a coma and the doctors told her mother that she would probably be a vegetable if she survived. However her mother refused to give up on her. She strongly believed that if I did come out of the coma I would be as good as new. Three months later I came out of the coma but I didn t talk even though I recognized my mother and father. However the lady who was driving the car that hit me use to come to the hospital everyday and read books to me as well as bring me stuffed animals. I had one favorite book that she would read me about a red tricycle. She told me that if I talked she d buy the tricycle for me. Months later when she came in to see me I started talking so she came back with the tricycle the next day. Several months after that the doctors allowed Joella to go home but she had to be careful because she had a soft spot in her head and if she bumped she would die. Additionally she had small pieces of her scull embedded in her brain so her brain needed time to heal before the doctors would put a plate in her head. Nevertheless she eventually made a 100% recovery from the accident with no symptoms. At a young age I learned how to persevere through trials. This helped strengthen me for the journey ahead. Joella went on to graduate from Alvernia College (now Alvernia University) in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration. She wanted to work with juveniles and started applying for jobs in that field. Unfortunately she couldn t find the job she wanted and was offered a position as a parking enforcement officer. After two years of doing that she would spend the next several years in jobs that allowed her to gain skills and learn lessons that have helped shaped her into the person she is today. Years later Joella took a job as a substitute school teacher for grades K-12. This was the beginning of her work with children. I was afraid at first because I didn t know what to expect. But when I started I found that it was rewarding and challenging. I loved the challenge because it helped me work harder and brought out the best in me. After four years I began working as a youth behavioral specialist at a children s home where I taught life and social skills to young boys who were once trauma victims. Additionally she found a niche in affordable family and faith based travel finding destinations that are affordable for families. I believe that everyone should be able to go on vacation and experience new things. Often times people with children can t afford to go on vacation. I went on vacation to Disney World one year with another travel agency when my son was younger and some of the families on the trip misread the ad for the trip. The price was for the transportation and hotel stay was included but not the price of admission to the park. As a result people were upset and some families could not take their children into the park. They had to enjoy the week at the hotel and find other things to do around Orlando. In order to expand her knowledge on travel destinations Joella has been taking classes from the Travel Academy and has the following certifications Hawaii Islands Specialist The Greater Fort Lauderdale Specialist TravelSafe Specialist AMResorts Master Agent Oceania Cruises Expert Omni Hotels and Resorts Specialist River Cruises Specialist Iberostar Meetings Specialist St. Kitts Agent Destination Specialist MGM Resorts International Master Specialist Caribbean vacation information She also has been receiving information from state (New York New Orleans Ohio Maryland Georgia and Washington D.C.) welcome centers about what they have to offer visitors (attractions and activities) for free or at a low cost for family travel. You can search for and book an affordable trip for your family by going to http www.jsparadisetravel.com and http jsparadisetravel.agentstudio.com. 25 Women of Distinction Nicole Marie Drone Business Finance - Government Program Administration Credit Officer - EDC Loan Corporation (an affiliate of Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City or EDCKC) Kansas City MO I t only took one job fair in 1998 for Nicole Marie Drone to find something that satisfied her natural curiosity of the economy and desire to help people. This came with a strong personal determination to be in an industry that was not welcoming to someone with her lack of connections and credentials. She has since worked in many different areas of banking working her way up the corporate ladder and was the only African-American female commercial lender along the way. As a result Nicole is considering authoring a book about her experiences as a lone wolf in the corporate banking world. Today as a Credit Officer for EDC Loan Corporation (an affiliate of Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City or EDCKC) in Kansas City Missouri Nicole assesses the credit worthiness of applicants by analyzing credit reports and tax returns (business and personal) and visits work sites. She then compiles her assessments for presentation to the board of directors loan committee to make the final decision. Nicole is also an alumnus of the Women s Employment Network and works as an Ambassador to businesses and new and potential graduates giving her testimonial of how they helped her develop. She has even been included in promotional ads and media and her daughter is currently in the program. Additionally Nicole serves as a professional in Prep-KC an initiative of the City of Kansas City that helps high school students with career exploration where she participates in various chamber events conferences and is often called on as a panelist to discuss financing options to small businesses by various unions and organizations around the city. Like the legendary artist Prince Nicole is someone who doesn t assimilate or conform to what society does and is very often misunderstood. Prince is unapologetically himself. I totally relate to him and his music. That s why I m a huge fan At a concert in 2004 he personally picked me out of the audience and let me come up on stage to dance with him He even handed me the mic and let me sing a line of his song Kiss and looked me in the eye and nodded his head in validation after. I had lived. Nicole was recently married in April 2015. She and her husband have five children two grandchildren (with a third on the way) and an American bulldog (named Bruiser) between them. Nicole also has a lot of nieces and nephews that she spends time with. In addition she enjoys writing poetry and decorating the house. She hopes to be remembered as a person who defied odds and stereotypes an example of an overcomer . My parents were teenagers and never married when I was born. And my father was incarcerated when I was three-years-old until I was 37. I grew up in the late 70s and 80s as a latchkey kid in the inner city with no real life or a positive role model but I became the change I wanted to see. 26 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What is the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Kansas City A It s a statutory agency of the City of Kansas City Missouri designed to stimulate the economy by attracting and retaining businesses with an emphasis on job creation. Q How does the EDC Loan Corporation fit in with the EDC A We offer low cost low down payment gap financing mitigating risk from a bank to eligible businesses. Our clients are typically underbanked and may not qualify for conventional commercial loans. We partner with financial institutions with a goal of making our clients bankable while they grow their business. Q Have you ever denied credit A Yes many times it is because of poor personal credit and lack of business management skills. You must demonstrate the ability to repay the debt. Q What makes your role important for your organization A As a minority woman with a traditional banking background I see myself as an ombudsman between economically distressed communities and the resources to help them thrive. I m uniquely qualified to identify with our target markets and develop meaningful mutually beneficial relationships. Q Why did you get into small business lending A I love the structure and exposure to all types of businesses. I m inspired by the entrepreneur and being part of them realizing their dreams. It s very gratifying. Q What do you find most rewarding about your job A Being part of the economic system and knowing that I contribute to job creation and retention in the city I grew up in is extremely rewarding and helping my fellow citizens realize their dreams is very empowering. Q How is your approach different from your colleagues contemporaries A My experience as a teller and personal banker developed my customer service skills. A lot of lenders have never done anything in finance other than lending to meet goals. I don t just look at the numbers. My people skills are sharper. Q Will you retire from the banking industry A I look forward to working with my husband an entrepreneur. I don t believe I could ever retire from all the knowledge and experience I ve gained so who knows Q Do you plan on continuing your formal education A I do in some form or another. I ve thought about getting a degree in business law and perhaps working for a financial institution. However I d like to concentrate on my creative side and have toured the Art Institute of Kansas City. They have great fashion and interior design programs. Q Are you satisfied with your career A I am so grateful for the opportunities that God s grace has afforded me. I ve experienced way more than I thought possible. The good news is I m not finished and am always striving to do and be better. 27 Women of Distinction Wanda Atkinson-Wiley OM DipPsych CL MOS Clinical Research and Quality Regulatory Affairs President of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals RTP Chapter Senior Regulatory Affairs Specialist at Novella Clinical a Quintiles Company Founder Chief Executive Officer of IiLead and SAM Worship Minister at Grace Church of Durham Research Triangle Park (Durham) NC ack in 2000 Wanda Atkinson-Wiley found herself young engaged and in need of a career. Fortunately a temporary staffing agency had something for her just in time for the holidays and sent her on an interview at the Central Independent Review Board (IRB) in Research Triangle Park (RTP). Soon after Wanda was hired and started her career in January 2001 where she spent over six years of her career journey in multiple roles such as a (voting) NonScientific Board Member Senior Quality Regulatory Specialist and Single-Site Study Startup Specialist. Today she has over 15 years in quality regulatory experience working on device and pharmaceuticals projects and over seven years have been with a specialty Contract Research Organization (CRO) Novella Clinical (a Quintiles Company). Wanda thrives in the Regulatory Affairs department completing multiple types of submissions to Regulatory Agencies in the United States Canada Greece and the United Kingdom. B I have a huge passion for what I do. This was a must in order to continue as I was looking for a career not just a job I love helping people by giving them nuggets on how to live and ways to better themselves in general. The ACRP RTP Chapter has provided me with the tools needed to continue staying abreast of industry happenings and regulatory requirements. As President of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) RTP Chapter Wanda holds the responsibility of overseeing the Chapter s activity and ensuring its compliance with the terms set forth in the Chapter s affiliation agreement. She provides guidance to other Chairs facilitates Chapter Chair calls and collaborates with ACRP staff chapter relations to foster continued chapter growth. Additionally she serves as the primary liaison between Chapter Affiliates and ACRP Global responsible for monitoring chapter activity providing marketing assistance for educational programs and membership reports (when requested) and communicating recommendations to support education and growth for chapter members. Wanda was greatly inspired by her pastors Dr. K.T. and Dr. Siti Lowery. Q&A Q How did you become involved with the ACRP RTP Chapter A I have worked in clinical research quality and regulatory field for over 15 years and been an active ACRP RTP Chapter member since 2011. I was looking for a way to stay connected with industry events. Being a member of the Chapter has provided enormous and valuable opportunities for me to broaden my knowledge and enhance my professional network. I am truly passionate about my role in the ACRP RTP Chapter. Q Can you tell us about the work that the ACRP RTP Chapter does and the programs you run A ACRP RTP s vision is that clinical research is performed ethically responsibly and professionally. The RTP Chapter has served the RTP area since 2003 and has over 215 members. The Chapter is dedicated to fostering the exchange of ideas and creating avenues for networking and industry education among clinical research professionals locally and nationally. Q What results has ACRP RTP Chapter achieved in 2015 so far How has your program improved over time A The Chapter has embraced more members enhanced communication with members through various social media channels provided educational scholarships for the Fall Conference increased community involvement and introduced its first ever virtual intern. Q What else has your attention A My nonprofit organizations IiLead and SAM Worship. IiLead brings our youth to the clinical research industry and introduces clinical research careers to Triangle area students. For more information please e-mail leadingonpurpose gmail. com. SAM Worship brings the focus back to God. Often times as women we find it difficult to take care of ourselves because we are so busy taking care of everyone else. For more information please e-mail newme5432 gmail.com. Q Have you published any motivational writings A No but never say never Q Has your success changed you or your lifestyle A No I m focused and my family and faith keeps me rooted and grounded. Q Do ever become tired of holding multiple roles A Well I m only human so I wouldn t be truthful if I didn t say that I get a little tired sometimes. However I feel that if God can give me another day then I should make it a productive one. Q What are your plans for the future A To continue to be successful and happy They ve been instrumental in my life s journey with their teachings and instilled leadership skills that have propelled me forward in my career and ministry. Wanda is the mother of two wonderful boys Ivoree and Damarion and has been married to her loving husband Travis for the past 14 years. They will be celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary on January 13 2016. When she s not spending time with her family Wanda is very much into fashion as she dreamed of being a model or designer while growing up (as many girls did). Ultimately Wanda is a woman with a dream and a hope in her Lord and savior Jesus Christ and prays for peace and happiness for generations to come. I need everyone to know that I m not trusting in my own strength as it fails me every time. I trust that God has a plan and no one can stop the plan for my life. Jeremiah 29 11 says For I know the thoughts that I think toward you saith the Lord thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you an expected end. Since He knows how the story ends I will continue to trust Him 29 Women of Distinction Betty Jo Denman Roller T Music Education (Elementary and Secondary band and orchestra) Music Instructor - Amarillo Independent School System (Retired) Amarillo TX hough she is now retired Betty Jo Roller helped spread her love for music as a Music Instructor in the Amarillo Independent School System for 33 years touching the lives of many children in that time. Betty Jo had developed a strong interest in music after receiving a violin as a gift during her childhood before moving to Amarillo Texas in 1942. Thanks to the impressive music program in the Amarillo school system she proceeded to strengthen her skills as a violinist which eventually inspired her to begin teaching. Betty Jo s achievements in music education have seen her earn many honors over the years including a Texas Orchestra Director of the Year award from the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Arts Committee in 1990 recognition from the Mu Omicron Alpha Chapter of Texas for her Contribution to the Advancement of Orchestra Music in the State of Texas in 2001 recognition as an Amarillo College Distinguished Alumna in 2010 and a place in the Amarillo High School Hall of Fame in 2015. Find significant educators in the field and spend time with them or one of their advocates. Commit yourself personally to study relative areas in the field of music education. Learn proficiency on your chosen instrument and participate in quality performances. Don t allow yourself to be discouraged but keep developing your proficiency. In 1953 Betty Jo received her Associate Degree in Music Education from Amarillo College and in 1955 she earned a Bachelor Degree in Music Education from West Texas University. She also eventually earned her Master of Arts Degree in Music Education from West Texas University in 1984. Aside from teaching children she also served in the University Interscholastic League and taught student teachers who were pursuing a position in music education. She also had a stint as Director of All City Orchestra. Earlier in Betty s career she performed with the Amarillo Symphony and Amarillo Opera. Though she has retired from performing she continues to support both the Symphony and Opera by regularly attending their activities and making significant donations to each organization. Ten of Betty s former string students are currently playing in the Amarillo Symphony and four are teaching music in the Amarillo Public Schools. Her musical influence continues through her students. Know your own limitations examine ways to overcome any personal deficiencies understand the requirements for success in your goals and work hard to overcome your limitations. Enjoy success and reorganize your abilities to ensure future success. In her leisure Betty Jo enjoys attending church activities and spending time with her family. With 10 of her former string students currently playing in the Amarillo Symphony and four teaching music in the Amarillo Public Schools System Betty s musical influence continues to show in her community. Personal dedication to areas that provide enjoyment to as many as possible so their lives can be fulfilled with peace love and happiness such as I have had the privilege to enjoy would bring me happiness and peace of mind. In a world that seems to experience more and greater frustration this legacy would bring happiness not only to me but to those who have learned to find peace and joy. 30 Women of Distinction T hrough her work as a Sale Executive for AT&T Carmen Dunn has remained focused on advancing in her industry while continuing to help provide for her family. Carmen who has been employed by AT&T since 2001 has held a number of positions at the company including Business Account Manager Retail Sales Consultant Sales Support Rep National Business Ordering and Customer Service Rep. At the moment her main responsibilities are to provide multiple services to businesses that have an AT&T discount and help them communicate their discount throughout their company through fliers posters and onsite events. Know exactly what you want and where you want to retire from. When taking care of a family or even yourself you need to have stability and make sure that you execute your job well. Look for a company that believes in promoting within the organization so you can climb up the corporate ladder. With her knowledge of small business she also gives aid to partner channels and teaches them how to make small businesses run efficiently through the use of mobile applications by training sales reps. Due to her major success as an employee of AT&T Carmen plans to remain at the company until she s ready to retire. Carmen Dunn Telecommunications Sale Executive II IRU - AT&T Oklahoma City OK I have made it a priority to have expert product knowledge by attending training sessions and getting resources to help me further my education in mobility applications. Regarding her education Carmen has received an AAS degree in Broadcasting from Hastings Central Community College in Hastings Nebraska and a BA in Corporate Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond Oklahoma. Carmen s work has seen her earn a Service of Excellence Award for the second quarter of 2015 EBS Run through the Warehouse 2015 and she was also second runner up for City Council in Victoria Kansas in 2011. She is also currently a director on her local HOA board. Being in sales is very challenging hard and stressful. Don t ever think you can t finish what you start -- you can Always keep your head up and stay strong In her leisure Carmen loves spending quality time with her husband and two children and going to the zoo museums and parks. As a victim of intense bullying throughout high school she also offers her services as a guest speaker at local schools to share her story and give hope to children and teens who may be experiencing similar struggles. The biggest lesson I ve learned is that if I can live through some of the struggles I ve personally endured for years then I am the strongest person in the world and I can conquer anything. I would never let anyone break my spirit. 31 Women of Distinction Emelia Adjei Personal Development & Motivation Author Personal Development Coach Motivational Speaker Virginia S ince beginning her work as an Author Personal Development Coach and Motivational Speaker in 2014 Emelia Adjei has used her life experiences to help empower women and change lives for the better. Emelia emigrated from her motherland country of Ghana West Africa to the USA with nothing but dreams of a better life and education. She overcame many challenges including near homelessness but stayed determined focused and worked hard to pursue her dreams. As an author Emelia has written a book titled Accelerate To Glory created a book titled Life in the Diaspora - Ups and Downs and co-authored a book titled Organized Obstacles. Keep pushing forward towards your dreams stay focused. Develop a thick skin be unstoppable since the naysayers and haters will make it their job to crush you down. Surround yourself with quality and positive people who are pursuing a bigger vision for their own lives. She has a Master s Degree in Business Administration which she received in 2007 and an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanities which she earned in 2015. She s received various awards and has been featured on TV in magazines and in a documentary movie. Emelia has a big heart and has continuously demonstrated her compassionate nature by generously giving and helping those in need. She is the Founder of the Emelia Adjei Foundation (EAF) which has partnered with two organizations in Africa to make a difference and have an impact in many communities. The EAF provides monthly food drives clothing and toiletries to the needy while also serving the youth through mentoring training and seminars which leads them to becoming responsible citizens and productive adults. The organization uses training seminars and free resources to motivate and empower the youth while driving them to enhance their skills and reach their fullest potentials. Most of our fears and doubts are imaginary they only prevent and discourage us from taking risk and pursuing our dreams or goals. Most of the fears I create in my mind even before traveling out of state for an event are things that never happen. Everything goes perfect and I make it home safely. As Nike says -- just do it. Emelia is a driven authentic and down-to-earth person who s constantly reinventing herself and setting new goals. In her free time she loves reading organizing and enjoying the outdoors and also volunteers at shelters and donates to those in need. She s thankful and humbled by the opportunities and blessings God has given her and has given herself the mission to inspire inform and transform as many lives as possible in order to make a difference in her community and the world. I hope to leave a legacy of hope and love through my foundation which helps and supports the needy while also empowering the youth. 32 Women of Distinction Frances Rogers Event Planning Design Owner- The Complete Package I Hold fast to your dreams do not let anyone put a limit on how far you can go. n 1995 Frances Rogers started her own business designing gift baskets and floral arrangements and kept the business going until the later part of 2008. However Frances then entered a stage of soul searching and praying on how to change her life for the better For Frances one of the biggest challenges has been to hold her job in corporate America while still operating her business on the side. I have learned that success takes time. I have continued to make time to learn about new products and services to ensure that I provide healthier options for my customers. Frances loves working with her local church Victorious Believers COGIC in Columbia SC as the Singles Ministry leader and the Assistant Food Service and Event Coordinator. She is also an avid couponer and enjoys teaching others how to coupon save money and build wealth for their families. In any free time that Frances gets she creates and tests recipes spending the time to work on her craft. I placed my concerns on the alter prayed and searched me for what would I do at any time of the day weather it paid or not and the answer was to cook. I went back to the drawing board and studied on how to make my food better and in 2010 I reopened the business but under the name The Complete Package. Since revamping her business in 2010 Frances feels that her love for cooking and design has increased. I truly love to see my food eaten by someone that has never tasted it before just to see the reactions and the look on their faces. As the owner of The Complete Package Frances main role is to meet new clients that are looking for a caterer or event planner for any sort of gathering. She ensures that her staff is aware of the event and the type of set up needed meets with clients to design menus for the events and ensures that the event space represents the vision for each function. And when Frances is designing a gift basket or floral arrangement she makes sure to keep the client and the recipient in mind. My Aunt Frances was a great inspiration to me and I am her namesake. She was my biggest supporter and even though she passed away in 2013 her words that she imparted in my life still lives with me. With my love of writing recipes I hope to one day write a best selling cookbook dedicated to my grandmother. I think of all the life lessons she gave while in the kitchen cooking and preparing meals. She gave me a legacy of love sharing and caring for others that I now share with others whether it is in my food that I prepare sharing the love that she taught me or teaching someone how to better their lives by doing the same. 33 Women of Distinction Fredrika Uniece Atkins Healthcare Medicare Insurance Sales Medicare Marketing Outreach Manager WellCare Health Plans Chicago IL fter completing her BA in English at Tuskegee University Fredrika Uniece Atkins wanted to find a career that would allow her the leverage to make a difference. Starting out in marketing while pursuing her Master s in Integrated Marketing Communcations at Roosevelt University in 2006 gave her the opportunity to do just that. By 2009 Fredrika had acquired a position with WellCare Health Plans in Chicago Illinois as a Senior Marketing Outreach Specialist primarily collaborating with and supporting internal partners regarding media and advertising to effectively represent the company s products and services to customers. By 2015 the company promoted her to Marketing Outreach Manager. A Fredrika worked for non-profit and for-profit organizations before moving into Medicare Sales seven years ago. While working full-time at WellCare she also studied at Capella University in their Doctor of Business Administration Strategy and Innovation program graduating in 2015. The tools and techniques she acquired from their doctorate program challenged her to look at her own marketing strategies as well as create and enhance marketing tactics to benefit both the recipients and the business. Since 2008 Fredrika has also been serving as a Virtual Marketing Consultant for Atkins & Goolsby Janitorial Services Inc. developing and implementing all communication strategies for the successful rebranding of their global minority female owned cleaning and janitorial service company. A current Board Member for Black Public Relations Society Fredrika is also a member of Lambda Iota Tau Literature Honor Society. Authoring her first book A Comparative Analysis of Factors Related to the Performance of Ethnic Majorities and Minority-Owned Small Businesses in Alabama it was published in 2015 by ProQuest-CSA LLC. Relocating from Birmingham Alabama to Chicago to take a chance on success Fredrika didn t know anyone or anything about the area. Pushing her fears to the side she s glad she took a chance. I might not be the smartest person in the room but I am a tenacious individual who will outwork anyone Fredrika added. I ve never let setbacks obstacles or disappointments ever define me and thanks to God s grace and my work ethic I ve found success. I wanted to serve in an organization where I could be the voice for the voiceless Fredrika said. My passion to serve and empower Medicare recipients to make informative and educated decisions regarding their healthcare needs gives me great satisfaction. Helping clients and engaging them with activities to increase socialization is both rewarding and fulfilling. As a Medicare Marketing Outreach Manager Fredrika develops strategic marketing plans and related budgets focused on WellCare Health Plans marketing and community relations needs. Focusing on community events and maintaining an ongoing awareness of customer research market conditions and competitor data she also leads community relations efforts like the planning execution and management of corporate and community events and community outreach needs. Fredrika s efforts have formed relationships with community partners that host and participate in large community events have secured compliant events to create brand awareness through Cook county and have increased sales by four percent in May and June of 2015 alone. 34 Women of Distinction Dr. Karen W. Malm PhD Healthcare Mental Health Counseling Executive Director Owner Summit Community Counseling Taylorsville UT K Working in psychology is like solving a puzzle. aren W. Malm Ph.D. started her career in 1991 when she became a licensed psychologist and opened a private practice. In May 2012 she opened her own agency Summit Community Counseling. I ve always wanted to work with children and when I started college I thought about being a teacher. The college I wanted to go to did not have an education department but had a psychology department. They advised me that if I wanted to attend I could major in psychology and then do a teaching certificate program after graduation. I got hooked on psychology and never looked back. Karen knows that on a day-to-day basis her job duties are going to change drastically. However she embraces all of the new challenges and cases as she loves helping people and seeing positive changes in their lives. My motto is I want this to be the best job you have ever had and I work to make sure the job for my employees is rewarding challenging and fulfilling. Karen has long been an advocate for people with developmental disabilities and has tested a large number of individuals across the entire state of Utah for services through the state Division of Services to People with Disabilities. She has developed a reputation for doing what it takes to help people and she goes the extra mile to make sure people get the services they need. She presents at national conferences topics ranging from interventions for children who have had severe trauma and attachment issues to dealing with victims of domestic violence diagnosing psychiatric disorders and helping children with autism. Karen is also a member of the LGBTQ Therapist Guild and serves as a resource for the LGBTQ community. As a resident of Park City UT Karen spends a lot of her spare time outdoors. She enjoys hiking and biking in the summer skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Karen also has a love for cooking and donates catered dinners for various charity events for the silent auctions. I may get a child in who can t learn and I have to figure out why. Or there might be an adult who just isn t happy with his life and together we come up with what is causing the unhappiness and find solutions. My clients inspire me every day and I continue to learn and grow with them. As the owner of Summit Community Counseling Karen is involved in every aspect of daily operations. She has grown the company to 35 employees with over 1000 clients and five locations including an equine therapy program. She s had to learn to delegate responsibilities and trust her employees. However she often finds herself checking that things get done the way she asked. I am a big fan of Law of Attraction and feel that what you put out you get back. I want to leave the world with people having more compassion for others having better understanding of themselves and others and with a hope for a better future. 35 Women of Distinction Kimberly M. Limes Mortgage Brokering AVP of Mortgage Lending Toledo OH I have always had a passion for helping people and helping people buy the American Dream it is so rewarding to know that I helped them reach that goal . t 20 years old after graduating with an Associate s degree in Financial Management Kimberly M. Limes was working for a bank. She worked in the mortgage department and gained experience from being involved with the mortgage sales team. A As the AVP of Mortgage Lending Kimberly oversees the mortgage department on a daily basis. She manages a staff of sales people provides all the tools and products needed to help each sales person succeed and continually finds products that local competition may not have in order to stay ahead. She also originates and produces mortgage loans. I am continually working on improving myself. I help others through speaking at workshops to encourage success through personal growth and helping to empower others to believe in themselves their dreams and their goals. Kimberly also spends her free time buying fixing up and selling homes to new buyers. She believes it is her way of giving back to the community and blessing people with a brand new remodeled home. I have been through a lot of tough times and life hasn t been easy or a walk in the park. I have had to learn to be strong stay positive and never give up even when I wanted to. Full of life positive energy strong vibration a bright light loving and full of compassion are all qualities that Kimberly wants to be known for. These attributes Kimberly knows cannot be bought or sold but can only come through a genuine natural process. One day I asked the department manager if I would be able to originate and be a part of the sales team. He kind of blew me off so I looked in our local paper in the job section and there was a loan originator position open at a local mortgage company. That day Kimberly went home prepared her resume and showed up the next day to drop it off. She walked into the office handed her resume to a gentleman inquired about the position and walked out. Within twenty minutes they called me back for an interview and I was given the job. I started within weeks but what I didn t realize when I dropped off my resume that I had given it to the owner and he laughed about it for over a year. He taught me everything I knew at the time. After 10 years of being in the mortgage industry Kimberly opened her own mortgage company and it was very successful for 10 more years. She spent everyday running the mortgage company and took great pride in it. When the financial crisis hit she opted to close and then went to work for a local Credit Union where she now runs and operates the mortgage department. True success is not how much money or material things you have but the inner beauty and abundance of peace joy and fulfillment within. 36 Women of Distinction Patricia Parker-Flores Vocational Education Cooperative Education Coordinator Lower Pioneer Valley Career and Technical Education Center West Springfield MA Being able to pay it forward has fueled my passion of education for all these years. The ability to help guide a young person s career path and life choices as my high school art teacher did for me. It is such a rewarding fulfilling feeling. uring Patricia Parker-Flores senior year of high school her former art teacher Dr. Elliot Dyer offered guidance because he was concerned about Patricia s future. He knew that Patricia was a talented artist and that she was expecting a child. He suggested I become a graphic artist by attending community college and maybe work freelance while I raised my child. So that s exactly what she did. In 1984 Patricia became a freelance graphic artist then in 1992 she became a vocational instructor. It was at that time Patricia divorced her abusive husband of ten years and became a single mother of two children. I needed a way to provide a stable income for my children and have a schedule that allowed me to care for them. I took my graphic design background returned to school and obtained my Design and Visual Communications Vocational Teaching License. Now Patricia is the Cooperative Education Coordinator at Lower Pioneer Valley Career and Technical Education. Her main roles are job placement and overseeing students within their vocational areas. One of her major tasks is networking within her community to develop relationships with local businesses and industry leaders. By creating these strong community networks Patricia has helped to open doors and pathways for students and her school. Her connections have provided internships cooperative education placements postgraduation employment and promising careers for students while also providing the school with mentors career speakers advisory board members equipment donations funding and scholarships. D Life s events did not define me. I was determined and I succeeded. I took the hardships learned from them and turned them into a positive force. Through my life experience I can make an impact by connecting and touching the lives of others. Patricia wants to know that she has made a difference in young people s lives. In her role as an educator she believes that she was able to touch lives and improve them. Patricia knows that even the smallest gesture can have a lifelong impact on a student and that s what a student will remember not just the answers on a test. No matter where you come from or what you ve been through you can succeed in life. It just takes caring passion and a lot of determination. You can t change the past only create your future. 37 Women of Distinction Rachel Kier Packaged Food Founder Creative Director at Crunch Culture San Francisco CA R The culinary industry is ever changing and offers endless possibilities for learning and growth. achel Kier has been cooking in the many different facets of the culinary industry for 14 years but she always knew that she wanted her own business. Three years ago Rachel conceived the idea of Crunch Culture a non-dairy yogurt manufacturer. Never did I think that I d be making non-dairy yogurt but having stomach problems for many years of my life led me to be conscious of healthy foods the ingredients I use where they come from and the energy and love that are put into them. The probiotics in yogurts are wonderful for stomach health and there is a great need for a healthy delicious and innovative non-dairy yogurt in the market. As a firm believer that challenges are learning tools Rachel enjoys being challenged in a plethora of ways on a daily basis especially when it comes to working with food. It has been an unexpected ride to have to wear so many hats and little did I know how much new territory I would be venturing into when all I wanted to do was make a great non-dairy yogurt Although Rachel never felt fully ready to start her own business she jumped at the opportunity. She feels that women often don t feel they have the knowledge courage or support to start their own venture. Rachel wants to help shift the paradigm of what it means to be a woman in business or the stereotypical businesswoman and she wants to help leave a healthy footprint on this earth with her product and business practices. I have no college degree. I started culinary school after high school but life circumstances took me out of college. I immersed myself in hands on experience of the field of my passion and learned first hand many invaluable lessons and skills. I know within many of our societies going to school is the only way to success and I want to say that while this may be the path for many there are many beautiful and valuable ways to learn and it doesn t always have to look the same. In her spare time Rachel loves to be in nature as much as physically possible. A resident of Northern California Rachel is able to take hikes in the redwoods long days reading at the beach drinking wine in wine country going to see live music and just spending time relaxing outdoors. Rachel also has a unique strong spiritual practice which she wouldn t be able to do without being surrounded by nature. It s such a gift to have some of the most amazing food and ingredients of all kinds basically in my back yard and I m continuously inspired to keep growing and learning in this industry. Currently Rachel s role within the company is a little of everything. Primarily however her main task is to focus on the production of the yogurt and granola. Rachel personally makes all the yogurt and granola from scratch manages food costs works with vendors on sourcing ingredients packages the final product does some of the deliveries and creates and samples new flavors. 38 Women of Distinction Rachael Rae Russell Financial Services Financial Coach at Financial Coach 4 U Spring Valley CA W My fascination about how money worked sent me on a quest of knowledge. hile stationed in the United States Navy in 1996 Rachael Rae Russell always wondered why the majority of her fellow shipmates were broke right after their paydays. I pour into my Financial Coaches everything I know like my mentor did for me and I show them how to teach financial classes throughout our community. As a single mother raising two children Andrew and Andreah Rae knows the importance of education. In her free time she volunteers at San Diego Financial Literacy Center and numerous local organizations. She teaches the importance of financial literacy to young and old. The thirst for knowledge inevitably led to a desire. A desire to truly help families with their financial game plans. Quickly Rae realized that wealthy families are able to pay their financial analysts and tax advisors to help them with their finances. On the other hand the blue-collar workers often have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet and can t afford the professionals. Rae decided that she could do something about that. I am dedicated and committed to providing the best services to my clients and all those I work with. I treat everyone with respect no matter what their financial situation may be. Rae is a firm believer in always standing up for what s right. She knows that being honest and transparent is extremely important when working with people especially families with children. I want to help change the way families address their finances. Education about finances should be taught first in homes so that the parents will be able to give their knowledge to their children and grandchildren. This would lead to changing the world one person and one family at a time. I made it my mission to help educate families about their finances through an educational process and monthly budget. Now as the Founder and CEO of Financial Coach 4 U Rae is able to make her personal mission into her businesses mission. In her role as Founder and CEO Rae personally trains and mentors each Financial Coach within the company. 39 Women of Distinction Sandra Dee Garza-Wrigley PhD Education AVID Campus Coordinator Northside Independent School District Student Success Advisor John Paul Stevens High School San Antonio TX B ecoming a teacher was the last thing Sandra Dee Garza-Wrigley ever thought she would end up doing for a living. Born in the United States as a Mexican-American her parents fought hard for everything they achieved but Sandra still struggled so much so that a teacher even once called her stupid in a classroom full of students. Hence dropping out of school in her junior year she had no idea where she was headed. Miraculously Sandra entered into college upon earning her high school equivalency diploma received a certificate in Electronics an Associate Degree followed by her Bachelor s Degree with Honors became a project manager for a lobby firm representing small minority business in Washington DC before earning her Master s in Instruction and Curriculum. Learning about legislation and my own injustices instilled in me a desire to pursue a law degree. Missing my family I applied to law school in San Antonio where they live. But after being put on a waitlist for law school I began studying to become a paralegal interning for the County Child and Protective Services Sandra explained. Reviewing files I found that teachers were the majority of respondents to report harm done to children. I realized that if I wanted to truly make a difference I needed to become a teacher to help break the cycle of negative traditions and acceptance. The rest is history. As a High School Teacher in a place she once hated the most Sandra facilitates avenues of opportunity for nontraditional first generation college bound students. Explaining that a big part of success is not only in exposing opportunities but also in teaching the hidden curriculum for college achievement Sandra says that the desire for students to want to go to college get accepted into their chosen school and then graduate are lessons that aren t always directly taught in high school. A leading expert in state wide educational staff development and curriculum writing Sandra has contributed to her field in various capacities. Sandra s positive attitude about work and life have helped her overcome adversity which she knows is just a part being that nearly everyone experiences. This time last year Sandra suffered a stroke which left her partially paralyzed and mentally struggling. She credits her God family students and friends support and through determination she has almost fully recovered has returned to work and has graduated with her Doctorate in Leadership Studies this past December 2015. The epitome of an education is often thought as the earning of a PhD but I have come to realize that learning is a lifelong process never to cease with a degree. Education is beyond the scope of textbooks it s a real and tangible entity Sandra added. As Sandra continues to progress holistically she continues to inspire those around her. Married for three years to Mark Wrigley they are enjoying their new life together on their 10 acres of land in San Antonio with their two dogs Hercules and Athena. 40 Women of Distinction Shannon E. Lancaster Arts Entertainment Owner Artistic Director Ballet Teacher Choreographer - Dance Street West Performing Arts Center Glendora CA s Owner of Dance Street West Performing Arts Center Shannon Lancaster has been able to share her life-long passion for dance with hundreds of students for almost 30 years now. She is also the artistic director choreographer and lead ballet teacher at her studio. Shannon who has learned many styles of dance since discovering her passion at the age of five was inspired by her mother to open Dance Street West in 1987 as a great way to combine her love for children teaching and dance. A There will always be competition know your audience and cater to them. Don t try to please everyone it s impossible. However you can make a difference and please a lot -- focus on that Shannon is a Board Member of the Glendora Chamber of Commerce and is also a Soroptimist. She has also written a book titled Becky The Budding Ballerina which gives readers the experience of what a dancer may feel in their beginning stages. Hard work pays off but you should love what you do. I eat breathe and sleep dance and all that it encompasses. Everyday I get to use my imagination and teach young minds to do the same. Striving for excellence and using the imagination God gave us these are my inspiration. Throughout her many years as an experienced dancer Shannon has trained with the California Ballet and has starred in numerous ballets and musicals even providing some choreography for the musicals she s danced in and many more. Some of Shannon s responsibilities as owner of her company include maintaining teachers that bring passion technical training and motivation to the students. She is proud to say that her teachers have been with her for many years providing top-notch training for students. She also spends time building a presence in the community and feels that volunteering and giving back creates a lasting bond between both entities. My advice to someone starting out in this industry is to be open to new ideas and change as both will happen on a daily basis. Know yourself and be humble but with the confidence that your creativity passion and hard work will help you to achieve your dreams. The biggest lesson I ve learned is to be true to myself. I do this because helping young lives achieve greatness gives me joy not for my ego. Sometimes my contributions are appreciated and sometimes they aren t but I ve learned to do it without expectations. I won t stop giving no matter what. In her leisure Shannon enjoys spending time with her loving husband children and grandchildren. She also loves to travel attend ballets and musicals and relax on her patio. With almost 30 years in the same location I feel like I ve achieved my goal of becoming an integral part of this community and its history. My legacy is my love of life and the many lives that I ve hopefully touched in a positive way helping them reach their highest potential. Dance is my passion but without the beautiful dancers to embody it it s only an image in my head. Also my children are my world. They have inspired me taught me and become some of the most amazing people I know 41 Women of Distinction Dr. Sharon Smith-Koen Counseling Psychology Counselor - Manatee Academy K-8 Adjunct Professor - Indian River State College Palm Beach Atlantic University Counselor - Wholeness Counseling Service Port St. Lucie FL T hrough her work as a counselor Dr. Sharon SmithKoen finds joy in healing people and helping them get through any hard times they may be experiencing in their lives. She currently holds a position as a school counselor at Manatee Academy K-8 and has her own private Christian counseling practice Wholeness Counseling Service which she started in 2012. Sharon also works as an Adjunct Professor at both Indian River State College and Palm Beach Atlantic University part time. As a contribution to her field Sharon has published two books titled Christian Divorce Wars and Weapons For Victory. She has also created a ministry called Inspired Wholeness which acts as the umbrella for Wholeness Counseling Service. Although I am placed in the position of hearing some horrific stories at times I gain complete gratification when my clients walk away whole and healed and able to move forward with their lives. While she originally worked in the fashion industry as a personal seamstress for 16 years Sharon was inspired to go back to school and complete her education as a result of several major life changes which also helped make her a stronger person. She earned a B.S. in Organizational Management in 2003 and in 2006 an M.S. in Counseling from Mercy College. Sharon then earned a Doctorate in Biblical Counseling Biblical Studies from Master s International School of Divinity in 2013. At the moment she s pursuing a second Doctorate in Education specializing in higher education at Concordia University where she s scheduled to graduate in 2018. The advice I would offer someone starting in this field is although the road gets rough at times never give up. Recognize that in this field practice doesn t make perfect but better. This field has the potential to bring lasting change in the lives of people. Therefore it is a work that should be sought after with genuineness warmth and empathy. It is a selfless work that has no place for selfish people. The biggest lesson I have learned is that even when I am afraid I must not quit. Settle for nothing less than the best that God has to offer. I m a born again Christian who believes wholeheartedly in God. I could not have accomplished any of what I have accomplished without the knowledge that God was with me all the way. I m a strong advocate for those going through horrible circumstances believing that with God s help I can bring lasting change. In her free time Sharon enjoys traveling spending time with family and exercising. She has also developed a strong passion for writing. The legacy I would like to leave the world is a wealth of knowledge as it pertains to the field of counseling. I want to leave this planet knowing that my life has not been in vain but has left a lasting impression on those coming behind knowing that they too can accomplish great feats regardless of the pitfalls along the way. 42 Women of Distinction Tammy Wynette Mark Healthcare Physical Therapist (PT) at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital Baltimore MD Seeing people reach their goals and attain their dreams along with being apart of their transition has given me a great sense of gratitude which is rewarding. ammy Wynette Mark attributes her initial interest in physical therapy to her four immediate family members who all work in the medical field. Having volunteered at North Central Bronx Hospital and an outpatient clinic in the Bronx has allowed Tammy to gain knowledge that helped her break into the physical therapy profession. Now licensed in Maryland Tammy has been practicing physical therapy for 12 years. In her daily tasks Tammy educates orients staff students patients and their loved ones on Dementia. She has served as a vital role in assisting in the improvement of patient care and developing programs for those patients diagnosed with dementia behavioral diagnoses or both. For Tammy her family has served as her greatest professional inspiration. Her brother is a urological surgeon her sister is a nurse and so was her grandfather. When her mother was diagnosed with dementia ten years ago Tammy knew she was in the right career. T Helping others regain strength mobility and daily skills have peaked my interest highly and made me passionate about this career. I take great pride in utilizing the skills attained through continued education certifications and graduate education and applying them to real life situations. I enjoy making people smile and assisting them through difficult times in their life that will allow them to be as independent as they are able to be. As a staff Physical Therapist Tammy specializes in the care of those diagnosed with dementia and presently works on the Behavioral Health Unit that services individuals who suffer from a variety of mental health conditions. Currently Tammy is being transitioned into the Recover Program which services individuals who are in a coma. She is a firm believer in the importance of acting as a team player. I love what I do and have great pride in my work. I am dedicated to my career and will continue to do the best that I can in providing quality care. Tammy knows that her work as a physical therapist isn t just a job that pays bills but a career that she is truly passionate proud and privileged to be a part of. That s what keeps Tammy motivated to continue learn and perform better everyday. Hard work and dedication are keys to success. Continued education is important and will help you to achieve career goals and be a better practitioner. Tamara Kuykendall Construction Chief Mechanical Inspector - State of New Mexico Construction Industries Division Albuquerque NM I have always worked for a construction type company whether it was clerical work working at the sales counter stocking the warehouse or working in the field it has been something that I have always enjoyed. fter spending the majority of her career in the construction field Tamara Kuykendall found herself working for a plumbing company. She had just previously succeeded at obtaining her journeyman plumbers certificate and she knew the code very well. While working her inspectors would call wrong codes and Tamara would prove them wrong every time. A In her role as a Chief Mechanical Inspector for the State of New Mexico Construction Industries Division Tamara has inspected schools hospitals homes the office of the medical investigator and other buildings from the ground up. She is constantly inspecting buildings that are being renovated and remodeled at the University of New Mexico campus and University of NM Hospitals as well as Central NM Community Colleges. Tamara also serves as a supervisor for five other inspectors across New Mexico. After about two or three months of me calling the Bureau Chief he finally asked me if I would go take the state exams to become a state inspector. I took the exams never thinking I would pass. But I did and the Bureau Chief offered me a job and almost ten years later here I am. Tamara believes that she has stayed in her career because of the relationships she s made with the contractors and other construction professionals she works with on a daily basis. Tamara also believes that she was essentially raised to work in capacity she s currently a part of. My mother worked for a plumbing wholesaler for over forty years. I would go to work with her to help her file and such so the customers would come in to see her and I met a lot of them. Today I deal with many of the contractors I met when I was a child. My father was a county official that served as a project manager for the construction on many buildings. So I also know a lot of people in government because of the work my father did. The days never go as planned they re always different and I know that is why I love my job. My main goal is to make sure the buildings people occupy have safe and sanitary plumbing and mechanical systems installed. Tamara knows that the construction field has always been a male dominated industry. However she has noticed a progression of more females in the field over the past ten years. She also knows that like anything else women can excel in the construction field as well. The work I do is not for me but for the people of the state of New Mexico. It s my duty to make sure they will be safe when they go to work school home or in any building I have inspected. 44 Women of Distinction Theresa DePietto -Roesler Non-Profit Co-Founder Executive Director Hope Floats Long Island Inc. Babylon NY s the Co-Founder of Hope Floats Long Island Inc. Theresa DePietto-Roesler has proven to the community that change truly can begin with just one person. Founded in 2014 the 501c3 non-profit organization has made a huge impact in the South Shore Long Island area. Their goal is to help families affected by unfortunate circumstances by providing financial and logistical assistance for those families and children in need. Programs include House of Hope for those suffering from medical issues poverty special needs and personal loss Food Allergy Awareness which offers education on the dangers of food allergies and Operation Hunger a monthly winter program that brings food warm clothing and resources to families and individuals due to poverty homelessness and hunger. A After a terrifying experience when my daughter suffered from a severe nut allergy I became educated about the importance of the issue. That combined with Catherine s diagnosis and her family s lack of resources and another great catastrophe during SuperStorm Sandy I got a better grasp of what resources were needed most in our area. Prior to founding Hope Floats Long Island Inc. Theresa cofounded a non-profit that assisted families in getting back on their feet after SuperStorm Sandy which decimated her area and left many residents homeless and in need of supplies crucial information and logistical assistance. Short lived as the community began getting back on her feet Theresa wasn t ready to end her volunteer efforts. That was when she made the decision to start Hope Floats. Owing much gratitude to The United Way The St. Baldrick s Foundation The American Red Cross The Health and Welfare Council of Long Island and The Long Island Volunteer Center which was spearheaded by Diana O Neill Diana was the first person Theresa met in disaster recovery who aided Theresa as she began her journey in non-profit. Theresa holds a BA in Early Childhood Education from Farmingdale University is Certified through The American Red Cross for Sheltering is a trained Disaster Case Manager through Catholic Charities via the Diocese of Rockville Centre and is a member of Long Island Long-Term Recovery Group and The Health and Welfare Council of Long Island. Married to John Roesler her biggest supporter they share three beautiful daughters together ages 10 6 and 4. I have the most outstanding group of individuals who give fully from the heart with no desire for recognition Theresa said modestly about her volunteers. I couldn t do any of this without their tireless effort and sacrifices or our Board of Directors. Founded with her Co-Founder Jen Mackie-Aulino together they ve raised more than 60 000 in the past two years alone and over 40 000 during a special event to raise funds for Jen s daughter Catherine who was born with a rare birth defect craniosynotosis and required surgery. Jen has inspired Theresa daily with the fortitude and tenacity to organize fundraisers and host events to help those that need it most. I really had no experience when I first got into the non-profit sector but after a series of events I was drawn to attempt making a difference Theresa noted. 45 Women of Distinction WDM Women of Distinction Team Marissa Bacchi EDITOR-IN-CHIEF DIRECTOR OF CLIENT RELATIONS LAYOUT GRAPHIC DESIGN EDITORIAL COORDINATOR SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE Anne Silar Helene K. Jennifer Hardy Jill Mongonia Donna Davis Simone Goodall EDITOR Kimberly Diehl Roni Gates Holli M. Narvaez HEAD WRITER Rebecca Valuch Steven Prescott Felix Pons WRITER Cyndi Murray Women of Distinction 560 Broadhollow Road Ste. 310 Melville NY 11747 Phone (631) 465-9024 Fax (631) 465-9035 www.womenofdistinction.net Brenda Lee Thomas Cleaning President Atlanta GA 47 Women of Distinction