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Women of Distinction Magazine WDM I am blessed to be living a life I absolutely love I am completely free to always do what makes my heart sing and I have always known down within my soul that my highest service to humanity will also be what brings me my greatest joy Bonnie said about the many benefits her non-profit has to offer. My life is filled with synchronicity miracles and grace as I deeply commit to serve my own truth and whoever is before me in any now moment. Bonnie Elizabeth Gordon Non-Profit Spiritual Minister Director Center for Awakening Deidre M. Walls Chief Executive Officer CDH Management and Consulting LLC Sr. Technical Assistance Manager JBS International Inc. 5 45 contents... Bonnie Elizabeth Gordon 28 Maxine Billings 65 Dee Cascio Mary Vinagro features 14 Susan D. Miller Writing and Publishing Owner of the Writers Editor New York NY Public Speaking & Presentation Consulting Washington DC & Punta Gorda FL 25 Danelle McCafferty 62 Maria A. Horstmann MBA CPT PNL1 Health and Fitness Owner of Be Fab Be You LLC Empowering Women To Be Fit and Healthy Age Beautifully Be You Atlanta GA 84 Tiziana Ciccone Education and Publishing Founder President and Curriculum Director of Reggio Kids Children s Author and President of Pancake Puddle Books Richmond Hill Ontario Canada Women of Distinction Magazine ISSUE 14 Women of Distinction Staff Marissa Bacchi EDITOR-IN-CHIEF HEAD WRITER EDITOR Holli M. Narvaez Felix Pons WRITER LAYOUT GRAPHIC DESIGN Jill Mongonia EDITORIAL COORDINATOR Rachael Raffna Anne Silar SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE Kimberly Deihl SELECTION COMMITTEE Woman of Distinction Published by National Association of Distinguished Professionals 560 Broadhollow Road Ste. 310 Melville NY 11747 Phone (631) 465-9024 Fax (631) 465-9035 Rebecca Valuch Bonnie Elizabeth Gordon Non-Profit Spiritual Minister Director Center for Awakening Salt Lake City UT 5 Women of Distinction S pirituality is something that has always been very important to Bonnie Elizabeth Gordon. She would pray and meditate for hours as a child and began having spontaneous awakening experiences outdoors feeling one with God. As a teenager Bonnie attended ashrams and yoga retreats and started studying the book A Course in Miracles. Following her heart and intuition she established her own non-profit organization the Center for Awakening in 1996. Presently the Center is working on raising funds for supplies needed in a small village in the Marshall Islands called Lae. The people of Lae need materials to fish and grow food to become more self-sufficient. The next several projects scheduled for the Center include helping a village in Africa with education a leprosy organization in India and orphanages in Brazil. Bonnie s favorite projects are those in which she gets to travel to the country and deliver needs and services directly to the people. In addition to charitable and humanitarian projects the Center serves the public with yoga classes coaching and counseling enrichment courses meditation and spiritual meetings and events. They also hold community events to bring the community together in celebration. For example they organize camping trips outings to local hot springs and concerts. As the director and minister of the Center for Awakening Bonnie with the invaluable help of the Center or Awakening board of directors organizes all humanitarian projects both locally and internationally. Bonnie teaches and organizes spiritual courses spiritual groups and social activities offered. She conducts spiritual counseling healing and coaching and goes on many trainings and teachings. She also manages the website email communications and newsletter. There are no salaried employees at the Center everyone s time teaching counseling and organizing events is their service to humanity. The most powerful inspiration affecting both Bonnie and the Center was when James LeVoy Sorenson synchronistically showed up in Bonnie s life. As a board member Jim s vast experience wisdom knowledge insight and open heart made a huge difference for the organization. Under his advisement and assistance the Center for Awakening became a 501(c)(3) and he would match donations received for almost every humanitarian project. Jim also offered his home in the mountains for meditation courses events and numerous spiritual celebrations. His untimely passing has been one of the hardest challenges Bonnie has had to face thus far. He is honored throughout the organization and held in the highest regard. I am blessed to be living a life I absolutely love I am completely free to always do what makes my heart sing and I have always known down within my soul that my highest service to humanity will also be what brings me my greatest joy Bonnie said about the many benefits her non-profit has to offer. My life is filled with synchronicity miracles and grace as I deeply commit to serve my own truth and whoever is before me in any now moment. After moving to Salt Lake City Utah with her two young children in 1994 Bonnie had no home job or friends and very little money. Committed to providing for her family while also doing what she loved she had to believe in herself by discovering and developing her gifts and figuring out what it was she was going to contribute in her new community. Shortly after her arrival Bonnie became a minister with a local church. In 1996 resulting from what brought her the most joy and seemed to flow with ease she opened the Center for Awakening non-profit organization. She also became a speaker author life coach hospice volunteer yoga instructor Licensed Massage Therapist Shaman Reiki Master Theta healer Rebirther and Oneness Trainer. Initially the operation of the center came very slowly. Bonnie remembers waking up on some Monday mornings and not having a single appointment scheduled for the entire week. Her first few music mediations only had one person in attendance. She remembers creating courses late at night after she put her children to bed while trying to get the laundry done just to be prepared. But she never gave up. She s grateful for those circumstances because they propelled her into powerful action to not only do what she loved but it enabled her to begin providing a good life for herself and her children. Over the years the Center for Awakening has been committed to charitable projects and humanitarian work both locally and worldwide. The not-for-profit has worked on projects helping people in India Costa Rica Peru Mexico Marshall Islands Conga Africa and Brazil and has partnered with many international organizations. 6 Women of Distinction Working through her emotional wounds Bonnie s journey has not always been easy however she views every challenge she has faced as serving her ongoing growth and spiritual awakening. She has learned many lessons and is grateful as a result because they have taught her how to trust life to access the boundless source within to be unattached to outcomes and to be present loving open and free. She is learning to dissolve all sense of separation within herself and disempowering ways of being and continually works on facing her own fears insecurities and limitations as a human being. By continually deconstructing her beliefs letting go of attachments healing old hurts and being her own source for love Bonnie now enjoys a profound state of wakeful presence she is fully committed to living a spontaneous life and is fully committed to serve herself and humanity in the highest possible way in each present moment. She continues to grow in consciousness and expand into greater and greater expressions of who she awaking and love are a never ending journey. Fundamentally Bonnie believes that everyone is an absolute divine being deeply connected to and one with an omnipresent infinite all loving and powerful source that is divine in nature wholly loving completely innocent always orchestrating for the highest love of all and infinite in power and possibility. Everyone is also experiencing a human life having to deal with emotions disappointments passions relationships joys hurts and all the demands of caring for a physical body. Both our infinite self and human self and sacred gifts to be cherished and honored and included in our loving embrace. Believing that everyone is a wise gifted powerful healing transformative cosmic being Bonnie understands and teaches that people have no limits to the love and magnificence they can express create and share with the world. Bonnie is an author and inspirational speaker and presently speaks at Unity of Salt Lake City the New Consciousness Expo Healers Festival Toastmasters and anywhere people invite her to speak. Bonnie is a member of Unity of Salt Lake City Salt Lake Center for Spiritual Living Toastmasters Oneness University Reiki International Yoga Alliance Clarity Coaching and Dance of Universal Peace. Bonnie has taught many courses throughout the years classes on nutrition parenting Abundance Oneness Awakening Course self-love breathwork Reiki Master A Course in Miracles and many more. In addition to being the director of A Center for Awakening Bonnie is currently a coach at Clarity Coaching teaches yoga and meditation and is a trainer and blessing giver in the Salt Lake City Deeksha community. She has written five books including You Are the One Awakening to Who You Truly Are The Stained Glass Window A New Story of Creation and Secrets of NI. Recognized in the Jet Ski Hall of Fame as a world champion jet ski racer Bonnie also ran track in the Junior Olympics Bonnie holds a BS in Psychology. She enjoys hiking dancing playing guitar and spending quality time with her children Asia Joy John and JC and her grandchildren James and Elise. Bonnie deeply cherishes her time together with beloved family and friends. Live life in cooperation with nature others and the spontaneous flow of the universe Bonnie said. Give up attachments limited thinking and be open to all possibilities even those your mind cannot imagine. Always stay aligned with your intuition and let that guide and direct your actions rather than obligation expectations belief systems pleasing others and habit. Sometimes in order for your dreams to come true you need to have the courage to let go of what doesn t work or what isn t your highest truth in order to make space for what you are really passionate about. 7 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What is the most important life lesson you have learned through your work A The most important lesson I have learned is to love myself to be true to myself to forgive myself and to honor my truth regardless of the approval or disapproval of others or fitting into the standards. The single most transformative thing in my life has been to become my own source for love security and happiness to truly and deeply love accept and honor my very own self all aspects of my being (physical spiritual emotional social personality strengths and weaknesses). It seems that when we are truly and deeply centered in self-love and acceptance the world as our mirror reflects back only love we spontaneously step into our highest service to humanity and we have infinitely more to give in our service to humanity. Q What has been responsible for your success A My heart...the infinite love that dwells deep within me. My most powerful guide has been following my heart as much and as often as I can remember. Yes there are times when limited thinking and fears make a good case but I always return my attention quickly to my heart aligning with trusting loving and following my heart s truth. It s not always easy there are times when it doesn t appear to make sense or if we choose to follow our heart and possibly disappoint someone we loved but it is better to do that than to disappoint our very own sacred self. Life just works best when we are in absolute integrity with our deepest truth. Life has shown me so many times that when I honor my heart s truth even when people were originally disappointed in the long run it was evident that by following my truth served not only my highest good but the highest good of everyone involved. I can trust my heart to not only take care of me but all whom I know and love. Q What began this passion to follow your heart A I have always done my best to follow my heart. When I was a child I had a poster in my bedroom that said Follow Your Heart and All Your Dreams Will Come True. Believe me I ve had my share of times when I didn t listen to my heart times I sold out on myself and my truth. Yet they were teaching opportunities to help me follow my heart and live in integrity with my deepest truth more and more often. Q How did you get to where you are now in your life A Where I stand today is due to many divinely orchestrated events that involved a lot of other people places circumstances and events that showed up in the exact way at the exact time and place to always present me with the perfect opportunities to move along in my career. An amazing line of events lined up to bring me to Utah. I wasn t aware that the state of Utah even existed a week before I came here. Life s a cooperative venture and we live in a friendly universe. All of life orchestrates to support and facilitate everyone s highest good at all times unconditionally. It s only when we re aligned and connected to the deepest truth within our hearts that we re able to sense the miraculous genius and sacredness of what we truly are. Q What exactly is synchronicity and how does it work A We create the greatest synchronicity when we stay tuned into the hearts guidance listening to our highest wisest inner voice that often speaks to us through our body sensations that alert us when something doesn t or does feel inspired. When you listen to what your heart wants and move powerfully into divine action you command the entire universe to rearrange and arrange itself to bring your heart s desires into fruition. This orchestration often occurs in ways we couldn t imagine or even understand bringing the people opportunities circumstances and physical things all into alignment at the exact right timing and circumstances to bring our heart s desires into full blown manifestation in this physical world and your physical life. Your part in synchronicity is to know what your heart truly wants and to courageously take the inspired actions you are guided to take and then let go allow space for the universe to surprise you give up attachments needing to control life or figure anything out and move powerfully into a state of surrender and trust. We are all here to learn grow and evolve through experience and relationships yet have fun enjoy life and play in a friendly and safe world. We need to take full responsibility for our lives as co-creators with our divine selves knowing that our divine and human aspects become one and want the same thing. 8 Women of Distinction Q What inspired you to be a spiritual leader A All my life I have been passionate about life and spirituality. At five-years-old I knew completely that I was far more than just my body somehow I knew I was an eternal Spirit. I hadn t read any books at five that would give me this information I just knew it and I have never believed anything different. I identify myself with the spiritual or soul aspect yet at the same time I honor my physicality completely the body is also the Sacred Self. Growing up my family was not religious we only went to church on Christmas and Easter. This provided me with the opportunity to spend most every Sunday in nature. All through my childhood and teen years I went into the woods at three-years-old and I loved it I spent hours and hours alone in nature throughout my childhood the trees were my Sunday school teachers and the wind was my bible. All of nature became my spiritual conditioning. Being in the woods and wandering through nature was one of my favorite things to do and I was passionate about it. I began having profound spiritual experiences as I played and wandered in nature. I allowed an infinite presence to experience through me. I would feel a sacred sublime Presence in everything I was aware of. I was completely one with everyone and everything. I d feel the grace and causeless rapture flood my being-ness. I can t contain the joy. All life sparkles indescribably beautiful and perfect. In these experiences I felt deeply connected to and one with the trees the sky the water the birds everything was brilliantly loving me and I was loving it all we were one. Even into my late teens I had experiences of pure ecstasy joy and a deep contentment. Feeling my heart bursting with sacred life force energy pure ecstatic love was a very common yet always extraordinary experience all throughout my childhood and again now in my adult life. For me these spiritual experiences have always been completely natural safe and always spontaneous. Q Can you tell us about the books you have published A You Are The One my first book was a process for me that began in my childhood and continues to this day. It is filled with inspired ideas and messages that came through me or to me since childhood for the purposes of assisting my mind to evolve from a state of resistance attachment and separation to a state of alignment allowance joy and oneness. Our consciousness is always expanding and You Are The One helped bring me to the place where I could courageously step into living a completely spontaneous life. All of my books are messages that came through me from that source of wisdom within me. The Stained Glass Window is on awakening from the consciousness that you are a separate body living in the world to knowing that you are the world. My newest book Living a Spontaneous Life will be available soon. Q What is most important to you in your life and career A Being in 100% integrity with myself is most important to me. This would also be my highest service to humanity living in perfect alignment with the deepest truth within my heart living my highest possible destiny being wideopen unstoppable love for myself and all beings. Loving myself completely and treating myself gently patiently with complete unconditional love acceptance tenderness and compassion at all times especially when I feel a disconnect from my truth heart. In those times I get afraid insecure angry or upset I respond to myself by showering myself with love comfort attention forgiveness and kindness never judging blaming shaming or criticizing myself. I treat myself like I would treat the most precious sensitive innocent beloved child in all the universe. I know that only from the deepest alignment and loving acceptance with myself can I be in my highest possible service to humanity and I am committed to living in the highest service and completely surrender all attachment to how that may look in any now moment. Q What does it mean to be your own source of love A For much of my career and life I have looked outside myself for love security and happiness. I d think thoughts like When the right man shows up then I ll be happy When I m financially secure then I ll be secure and When everyone loves me then I ll feel loved. Finally in complete exhaustion having searched far and wide in books seminars healing work relationships and success I discovered there was one place I hadn t looked very often a place I hadn t given much attention to. This place is within me. I was right here all along just waiting for me to notice myself right under my own nose. There is one within everyone it has many names (God Holy Spirit Eternal Friend Mother Father the Beloved the Divine Conscious Awareness Infinity the Presence). This sublime inner presence within each of us is the source of an infinite supply of love wisdom information beauty abundance health guidance joy peace and security. Q Do you ever get afraid angry or lonely A I don t know I will never know and to live a spontaneous life is to never know. To never need to figure things out and to always trust that what you need who you need to be with what you need to do whatever means you need and whatever circumstances are needed will present themselves at the perfect time in the optimal way for the highest good of all. This doesn t mean I do nothing it means I only do what I am guided to do. To live a spontaneous life is to be in the moment to plan things you feel guided to plan but to hold loosely to all plans knowing life will always have the final say. 9 Women of Distinction Carolyn M. Rubin Healthcare Vice President of Revenue Cycle Innovations for Anthelio Healthcare Dallas TX C arolyn M. Rubin is the Vice President of Revenue Cycle Innovations for Anthelio Healthcare. Her role is to grow revenue cycle offerings within the company and provide assessments for potential clients with opportunities for improvement and recommendations based on best practice. Once a client signs with Anthelio her role is that of a consultant where she partners with the client to ensure they receive the support for implementing the recommended changes and best practices. It all started for Carolyn in 1991 when she took a job as a pharmacy technician at Keystone Pharmacy and really liked the healthcare opportunities. I went on to become an AAPC-Certified Medical Assistant in 1999 and then moved on to Coding Compliance and Revenue Cycle (where I am today). Ensuring that patients can receive quality medical care and that providers facilities can get paid for providing it is my passion. Growing up in a family of eight Carolyn learned at an early age to be independent and dependable. I attribute much of my success to the lessons I learned during this time as well as being a mom to two wonderful daughters. However the advice my grandfather gave me when he found out I was going to work in healthcare was invaluable Each day you go to work you walk through the doors with the eyes of a patient. If you do that you ll always be successful. I have a passion for teaching and sharing my knowledge with others. There s no greater reward than to watch others excel in their professional career and to know you had a small part in their success. She tries to surround herself with successful people and literature that help her stop and think before she reacts help her understand that her success comes from helping others become successful and that success is due to what s within her and her desire to succeed. 10 Women of Distinction There are a few individuals whom I have a great deal of respect for cherish their advice and admire their success compassion for what they do and willingness to trust in my knowledge and expertise even though I didn t have an MBA. Those people are Asif Ahmad (CEO of Anthelio Healthcare) Chuck Dowling (CEO of Diabetes America) and most importantly my husband of one year Ron Rubin (Executive Director of Information Technology at Texas Oncology) who was my colleague friend and mentor for seven years before we were married. Together we have five wonderful children my two daughters (Bobbi and April) and Ron s three sons (Aaron Jason and Adam). We also have seven grandchildren Maggie Bradley Danielle Malachi Xzavier Lillianna Kayleigh and two new granddaughters Arabella and Azayla. Carolyn has made successful contributions to her field including her own column Ask Carolyn where she provided guidance and support for coding and revenue cycle questions. She s also authored an instructor s manual for reimbursement and written several articles on coding reimbursement and revenue cycle. However Carolyn takes great pride in one particular contribution I had the opportunity to be an instructor not only at the college where I earned my degree in medical assisting but also the opportunity to be the sole instructor for a new medical assisting program and then go on to have my own coding program at the community college. It helped me to understand how sharing my knowledge not only helped others succeed but provided my framework and desire for continued growth within myself and the success I desired. Without a master s degree Carolyn had to (and still has to) work harder and smarter to demonstrate that she has the skills and knowledge to handle any role challenge or project that comes her way. Never give up or let anyone tell you you re not going to be successful. Always partner with your team lead by example and help others be successful. Surround yourself with success and those who wish to mentor to help you succeed. And above all remember your success is a reflection of others teaching and others success is a reflection of you. When she s not working Carolyn loves spending time with her husband and family and supporting the arts attending symphonies operas and plays whenever they can. She also loves to go dancing travel and cruise. Carolyn wants to be remembered as someone with compassion respect and success in both her personal and professional life known for her drive to help others succeed in business and with their professional goals and never afraid to have others pass her up as a result of the mentoring she was able to provide. 11 Women of Distinction 12 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why do you feel your role is relevant in today s world A With the continual changes and challenges with today s reimbursement providers and facilities need assistance in managing their revenue cycle and ensuring they re able to continue to provide care to their patients. Q What can your company offer clients that others cannot A Anthelio Healthcare focuses on providing support to the healthcare industry. We offer a practice facility and providers with support in every area necessary to run a successful business. Whether the need is coding health information management revenue cycle or IT we have it can provide it and it s specific to the healthcare market. Q What do you bring to the table that would make clients choose you over others A I have over 24 years of experience in healthcare and understand the impact that government regulation may have. With my varied background in clinical pharmacy coding billing revenue cycle and education I m able to provide support in a multitude of ways. Q What are some of the challenges facing your industry today A Regulatory changes have been ongoing for the last several years. There s a continual decrease in reimbursement and an increase in regulations that make it hard for providers to keep up with the changes. Q What advice can you give practices providers facilities today A Changes are happening daily and just when you think you have it figured out it ll change again. Pay attention to your processes and ensure you have a strong business office to collect on your receivables and advise of changes before they impact you. Q When a potential client reaches out to request assistance what can they expect to recieve A I would first understand what their need is then I would perform an assessment to include review of their processes personnel and revenue cycle. Once the assessment is complete I would schedule a follow-up to discuss findings and next steps. Q Why should I go with Anthelio Healthcare Solutions A We are the largest single source solution for practices providers and facilities. Whether they need to outsource all or part of coding IT HIM revenue cycle analytics or they just need assistance realigning their processes we can support their request. Q How do you keep up with all the changes A I follow the news from Capitol Hill belong to multiple list serves participate in conferences and round table discussions and always listen. Q What advice would you offer to the practices providers facilities today A Implement best practices monitor your metrics and stay on top of your insurance contracts. You should understand your cost to collect and where your accounts receivable is at in addition to how your contracts are performing against the services being provided. Q What would your recommendation be for those who aren t sure of the next steps A Call me and I ll be happy to perform an assessment make recommendations and provide any assistance you need as we have an entire team at Anthelio available to help you be successful. 13 Women of Distinction Susan D. Miller Public Speaking & Presentation Consulting Washington DC & 14 Punta Gorda FL Women of Distinction C onsider this... You re a newly elected member of Congress whose recent media exposure has landed a plum speaking engagement. You ve been invited to be one of a small handful of primetime speakers at your political party s presidential nominating convention. You ve graciously accepted but WAIT The gravity of this event and the intensity of its spotlight are beginning to sink in. You re not sure if your experience in making some local stump speeches at the small town gatherings from which you became elected will translate to the stellar performance your career needs on this grand stage. What can you do to dispel the high anxiety you re feeling so that you re prepared to deliver the biggest speech of your life Or consider this... You re an internationally recognized media personality with years of experience and many awards for your syndicated radio program s quality and journalistic value yet your voice has recently become erratic and halting making you sound ancient over the air waves. You ve consulted a myriad of doctors and while some clinical progress is being made you need a coach to refine your vocal tone and speech characteristics. No less than your adult professional livelihood is at stake. Or consider this... You ve always had a fear of public speaking and now you ve been promoted to the management team and need to give weekly briefings to your internal team and annual reports to the Board of Directors. You worry for days prior to these briefings and are considering taking a public speaking course. These are several examples of the high profile political media and professional clients that Dr. Susan Miller and her company (Voicetrainer LLC) have helped succeed in what many fear even more than their own demise Public Speaking. In 1998 Dr. Miller founded Voicetrainer in the greater Washington DC metropolitan region. Her reputation as a speech pathologist vocal coach and speaking consultant had blossomed while she directed Georgetown University s Center for the Voice. She was the widely acknowledged go to person inside the Beltway for her services. Voicetrainer profitable in its first year after startup (and each year since) leveraged Dr. Miller s outstanding reputation and steadily expanded its services and impressive stable of clients. Today Voicetrainer offers both communications services vocal therapy (under Laura Purcell Verdun MA CCCSLP) and has recently launched an online video-coaching application. As a result Voicetrainer now enjoys a worldwide footprint over the Internet allowing clients to receive personalized coaching sessions from the comfort of their homes. 15 Women of Distinction A sought-after speaker herself Dr. Miller regularly delivers key note addresses and public speaking workshops to academic and professional organizations nationwide. These engagements have especially focused on helping women overcome the innate shyness and other glass ceiling societal obstacles that have held many back in their professional lives. Much of their source content was spelled out in Dr. Miller s acclaimed book Be Heard the First Time The Woman s Guide to Powerful Speaking (Capital Books Inc. 2006). Susan Miller grew up in Windber PA a small hardworking coal mining town located eight miles south of Johnstown. Like its companion to the north Windber experienced repeated devastating flooding over the years. Founded in 1897 by coal barons Charles and Edward Berwind when they needed a name for the classic company town they had constructed to house their miners they flipped Berwind to become Windber . Coal and steel declined throughout Western Pennsylvania from the early 60s on depressing the area s economy and resulting in population losses as jobs moved elsewhere. Still the place was an ideal environment for families to flourish and kids to play safely and unsupervised. Doors were seldom (if ever) locked. Sledding down icy streets in the winter and high school basketball were principal activities. Susan laughs that her small town consisted of a grid work where each block had either a church or a bar. The daughter of the local hospital s chief cardiologist and a mother who taught high school physical education Susan was the middle child between two tall athletic basketball star brothers. As there were no girls sports in her high school Susan felt she needed to excel in her academics (and in other ways) in order to get some attention in her basketball-crazed family. Driven from an early age she did not receive a single grade other than an A throughout middle and high school. Her small-town work ethic sense of community and interest in the well-being of each human being she encounters (regardless of origin or station in life) are attributes she developed in those formative years in Windber PA. Susan Miller received a Bachelor of Science in Speech and Hearing from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in Speech Pathology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. After attaining her Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech Hearing and Language Association in 1976 she practiced at The Battin Clinic (a private clinic for children with learning disabilities) in Houston TX. Later she became Director of the Speech Pathology Department at the Methodist Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine (also in Houston). In 1986 Susan accepted the speech pathology directorship at the world-renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Susan s exposure to Manhattan and to some of the best practitioners in her field served as great professional and personal motivation and led to her decision to pursue a PhD. Moving from New York to the University of Texas at Dallas in 1989 Susan completed a dissertation that focused on anxiety and stuttering. She was awarded the PhD in Human Development and Communication in 1993 and was subsequently awarded the UT - Dallas Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013. Following the completion of her PhD Susan moved to Washington DC to assume the directorship of the Georgetown University s Center for the Voice and Speech Pathology under leading otolaryngologist Dr. Roy Sessions MD. Today along with operating Voicetrainer Susan is an assistant professor of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery at Georgetown University Hospital and also teaches at George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. She is on the editorial board of the Voice Foundation a member of the American Speech Language and Hearing Association and a Scientific Fellow of the Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. Susan s athletic genes and upbringing saw her become a champion tri-athlete in her younger days. Still an avid runner biker and swimmer she is also now a serious golfer who progressed to the level that she won her golf club s women s championship earlier this year. Susan is married and lives in Punta Gorda FL with her husband a retired Navy captain and golfer as well. In preparation for this article she recently remarked When someone has lost the ability to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively whether due to stage fright a nasal vocal tone tongue cancer stuttering or a vocal fold weakness they are devastated. Providing clients with the tips tools and strategies to learn or regain these essential skills is incredibly rewarding. Every speaker can learn to express their ideas with power and confidence. Few speakers are taught to speak publicly without fear. Fearless speaking is about teaching or expressing two or three thoughts not about looking good or saying the perfect message. I advise my clients to create a meaningful message and deliver it authentically while being themselves and keeping in mind what they want their audience to remember. 16 Women of Distinction Q&A Q How can someone overcome an extreme fear of public speaking A Most individuals are initially afraid of public speaking engagements and (sadly) many do not overcome this fear throughout their adult lives. It is easy to conquer this very common fear by learning to prepare thoroughly organize your message manage anxiety and engage your audience in a natural and relaxed style. Q If an individual speaks well in formal situations when they have practiced and prepared but has difficulty speaking clearly and effectively when subjected to the pressure of being called on in a meeting or a panel discussion what would you suggest A Practicing breathing strategic messaging and positive self-talk techniques can enable you to process questions and respond quickly and masterfully. Similar to formal public speaking my clients improvement in these day-to-day situations gives both them and me immense satisfaction. Q Can someone change the way their voice sounds A Most people believe they are resigned to the voice they re born with. While vocal folds are in fact a certain length and mass the voice s resonance and pitch can be improved greatly with training. My practice specializes in teaching the breathing and related techniques required to produce optimal vocal tone and resonance. Q Can an individual become an effective presenter if they are introverted and shy A As long as the person knows their subject matter they can learn the skills and techniques to present in a poised and confident manner. Q Do you offer coaching online in addition to in-office consultations A Many of my clients prefer coaching virtually since they don t need to leave the office and can be trained after normal business hours or on weekends. Since my coaching presentations are video recorded clients can review the sessions frequently and use them in their practice sessions for years after their engagement with my services have ended. Q How can someone learn to project their voice in a noisy restaurant or be heard in a large meeting room A Learning to breathe from your lower ribcage and relaxing your throat are the keys to speaking with more power and authority. Anyone can master projecting their voice professionally so that they won t feel like they are yelling and listeners will hear them the first time. Q Can you help a client who is told that their voice sounds immature and unconfident A Some women and younger men today tend to end their verbal communications with an upward inflection which is known as up-talk. It sounds unprofessional and in some extreme cases child-like. This habit can be identified by having the client listen to recordings of their self and then practicing techniques to eliminate it. Q Is public speaking coaching affordable A In addition to seeing clients in-office I have developed an online video coaching program for public speakers which is very affordable. Clients schedule a 15-minute online session with me using the Skype voice over IP service (a free download from Microsoft). During an initial session clients make a short presentation of approximately three minutes. I analyze the presentation develop a personalized action plan including worksheets and training videos and then go over the plan with them face-to-face on Skype. You can find out more about online public speaker coaching in a specific area of my website video-coaching. Q Can women learn to be more confident in speaking situations A I believe that many behaviors girls learn while growing up hinder their professional development and advancement as adults. For example some girls grow up speaking more softly than boys and use tentative statements so that they do not appear pushy. Unfortunately in the workplace and in life women who have grown up this way are perceived to be less competent. Q Why would an individual s voice s pitch get higher when they become nervous or feel challenged A The vocal folds tighten and vibrate faster when we are tense resulting in a higher and (at times) almost squeaky voice. As my clients learn to breathe from their lower ribcage and relax their vocal folds and throat their voices remain calm and resonant despite situational stress. 17 Women of Distinction Teresa C. Smith Engineering - Civil Engineering Consulting Principal at A&S Engineering LLC 18 Evans GA Women of Distinction T eresa C. Smith is the Founder and Principal Owner of A&S Engineering LLC. As the owner of a small firm Teresa s responsibilities vary greatly and depend on what is needed. On any given day she is responsible for project and program management design cost estimating financial analysis marketing and business development. My experience was particularly unique as the design of the extension of the Bobby Jones Expressway in Augusta GA (near my hometown of Wrens) was underway and I had an opportunity to participate in this effort. It was an experience that I truly enjoyed. I was hooked. After graduating from Georgia Southern in 1984 I started working for the GDOT in the Claire Drive area office in Atlanta. Her initial interest was the ability to work both in and outdoors and to be able to physically see the creation and final products come to fruition. A&S Engineering LLC is a woman-owned minority business specializing in providing civil engineering services. We offer over 25 years of experience providing project program and construction management services along with general civil design services in both the public and private sectors. We have an experienced staff that has worked for municipalities across the country including Atlanta and Augusta GA and Carlsbad CA along with the US Army Corps of Engineers US Department of Energy and the Georgia Department of Transportation. They have experience working with the Federal Highway Administration Environmental Protection Agency Soil Conservation Agency Fish and Wildlife and other agencies as necessary to obtain necessary permits and clearances for project progression. When additional help is necessary A&S Engineering LLC partners with a team of outstanding architects engineers and subcontractors who share A&S s high standard of quality and service. Teresa s interest in engineering began in the 11th grade when she attended the Minority Introduction to Engineering (MITE) summer program at Georgia Tech. MITE is a rigorous academic enrichment program for promising high school juniors interested in studying and exploring careers in science engineering and entrepreneurship. During six weeks in the summer before their senior year participants tackle advanced academic challenges develop the skills necessary to achieve success in an increasingly globalized economy and forge relationships with individuals from diverse racial ethnic cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The area that was of most interest and suited my personality was Civil Engineering. After completing high school I attended Georgia Southern College and majored in Civil Engineering Technology. While in school I worked as a Summer Intern with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) at the HQ office in Atlanta in the Urban Design Division. The internship provided an opportunity for me to experience an introduction to the transportation sector of Civil Engineering as the functions in the HQ building were all encompassing in supporting GDOT s mission. After spending a year with the GDOT I married my college sweetheart (who was in the Marine Corps) and moved to Southern California. There I worked for several engineering design firms on a variety of land development projects. This was truly exciting work for me. The projects ranged from designing a small 8-lot cul-de-sac development to participating in the design of two very memorable 2000 acre communities in La Jolla and San Marcos California. As Teresa s career progressed and she moved into government positions she felt the satisfaction of serving the public and the fulfillment of giving back to the community. The thing that has allowed me to remain in this career is its versatility and the way that it touches everyone s life. Whether it s transportation over road ways or air water consumption or disposal basic utilities from gas to electricity trash collection and disposal or facility construction and maintenance civil engineering touches our lives in many ways each day and directly impacts our quality of life. As a result it s a career that can be done everywhere and is needed every day. Whether private or government you re taking care of people. However the road to her establishing her business wasn t an easy one for Teresa. 19 The biggest challenges in my career occurred when I was appointed the first African American female Public Works Director in Augusta GA. While always recognized for being technically competent having good management and leadership skills I wasn t truly prepared for the reactions I received when presented as a whole package. An African American female Public Works Director with technical competence and good management and leadership skills was unheard of . During my interview the Mayor asked There are going to be a lot of men that have a problem working for you what do you plan to do about it Little did I know the depth of the question nor the impact that the scenario would have on my career. Women of Distinction After being appointed by a 7-3 vote (5 African American and 2 Caucasian) Teresa was approached by one of the Caucasian Commissioners that voted nay and told Don t take it personally. It was political and not about you. During salary negotiations she was asked to accept a pay that was less than her predecessor who did not meet the newly incorporated requirements of having a Professional Engineers License. The pay was also less than several of her direct reports. After being informed that I could make my case for a higher compensation for the position I received a reasonable salary but not before the local newspaper published a full editorial stating why I did not deserve the salary I would be getting. I was taken aback and called to speak with the editor. I was fortunate enough to speak with the young lady who authored the editorial. During our conversation I asked her what information she had regarding my background qualifications or expertise that supported the article. She stated that she had no idea what my competency was nor was she familiar with the duties that I would perform. However she did inform me that her ex-husband had been an engineer in Alaska and did not make that kind of money so in her opinion the city should not be paying me that much. Either way she offered me the opportunity to write a rebuttal column. I declined and informed her that it was not enough of a priority for me to do so and thanked her for her time. Sadly that was the last article my mother read about me before her passing. Her mother Lula Berry Goodson was Teresa s greatest inspiration. She was the daughter of a sharecropper in South Georgia and one of the kindest caring and most compassionate and selfless people I have ever known. Even after contracting pancreatic cancer she continued to care for others. She started a food bank in our church reached out to other cancer patients in our neighborhood and formed the Disciples for Life team to support the American Cancer Society s Relay for Life program. On the other hand she was stern hardworking and would except nothing less than your best. Though not in my profession she instilled in me my work ethics and the understanding that I was choosing a field where I was underrepresented and a minority. She emphasized that I was making the choice to work extra hard and would be faced with many challenges and that those challenges should be faced as opportunities to excel and improve. As a single parent raising me my brother Wayne and my sister Alesia she never showed favoritism and always supported our endeavors. Four years after Teresa was appointed as Public Works Director elections were held and there was a significant turnover. I was approached at a funeral for a former Public Works Director by two Commissioners and informed that they did not want someone like me in that position and asked me to step aside (not down) by naming another position that I could move to and allow someone else to be the Director. I asked what concerns complaints or shortcomings needed to be addressed. I was assured that it was not about my professional ability. After turning down the offer my remaining tenure was riddled with criticism despite public surveys identifying progress implementation of new programs and enhanced relationships and partnerships that brought new and expanded opportunities and improvements to the city. After receiving an above average review from the Administrator and without his recommendation the elected officials (6 Caucasian and 1 African American) voted to end my term as Public Works Director. The lawsuit that pursued was settled after three years and I was provided a Letter of Recommendation from the City for my accomplishments during my tenure as Public Works Director which includes Under Ms. Smith s leadership the Public Works and Engineering department developed objective metrics used to identify the vision mission and goals for the effective and efficient provisions of providing services to the citizens of the City of Augusta... I know her as a loyal and dedicated employer. To be young gifted and black proved to be my biggest professional challenge. Teresa s greatest motivation has been her children as they are her company s namesake. As mentioned earlier Teresa s mother Lula was heavily involved with the American Cancer Society s Relay for Life program. She was a leader in the small community of Wrens GA who worked to strike down the stigmas associated with cancer during that time and to share information on cancer treatments and services offered by the American Cancer Society. After her passing in 2000 we continued her work with our team of family and friends until my brother-in-law Larry was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. When not working Teresa s 8 year old granddaughter Sheresa (named after her) occupies her time. At the end of the day Teresa wants to be remembered as someone who worked hard and played hard but also made a positive impact on the lives and communities she touched. Life is good. I am blessed. Women of Distinction A&S Engineering is named after them (Andrea & Sean). The company was started at a time when I was recently divorced facing unemployment yet my children needed to be taken care of. Two of my friends Dexter and Hugh encouraged me to start the company. I had known both for several years and their opinion of my work product and professionalism meant a great deal. They were very supportive provided assistance on the formation of the company and were there to nudge me forward when needed. 21 Women of Distinction Andrea L. King Nonprofit Mental Illness Recidivism Prevention Substance Abuse Sexual Abuse Co-Founder and Program Manager for Essence of a Family Foundation Inc. Dallas TX A ndrea L. King is the Co-Founder and Program Manager for Essence of a Family Foundation Inc. We are a nonprofit entity that caters to individuals with mental health issues or mental deficiencies and have a history of adult or child abuse abused chemical substances or alcohol experienced homelessness with no food or clothing and who possess criminal backgrounds with continued recidivism. This includes any other residual conditions stemmed from past abuse or symptoms of mental illness. I network for support and resources for potential clients and act as a liaison between the individual and the court system mental health clinics recovery facilities hospitals specialty programs etc. I also conduct groups coordinate mentorship programs and recruit NA AA sponsorship for the individuals and link them to community resources to reach their goals of success. Andrea has a major desire to help those who are in need. She considers it a spiritual calling because of the sexual abuse she experienced as a child. When you understand the sexual abuse I ve experienced it ll help you understand what drives me to do what I do. In her role Andrea serves as program manager of the business. 22 Women of Distinction It all started at the age of five when she was molested by a 19 year old family member and threatened not to share that with anyone in the family or he would do the same to her sister. This continued until Andrea was nine years old. During those times a child mentally drifts into a world of their own. I would dream of creating a place to keep kids safe so they won t be scared and abused anymore. As I got older I experienced some depression post-traumatic stress suicidal thoughts cutting and hoarding feelings. My parents were unaware of what was going on with me but gave me some awesome outlets singing dancing and sports. They also kept me involved in church where I maintained a good spiritual standing and connection with God. The family experience along with mentors coaches counselors and teachers were what kept me supported and grounded. Having boyfriends or male relationships was hard for Andrea but she learned how to start trying to pursue healthy relationships. With this program we were required to receive some type of counseling with the experience to make sure we didn t counter transfer any issues we may have. When I received my counseling experience my past revealed itself like a volcano erupting. I continued to receive help through counseling and support through teachers and counselors until I gained the empowerment healthy mindset and perseverance I needed to be successful. My dream of starting my own transitional and nonprofit program presented itself again. During this time she met Walter King. They dated for six months before finding out they had a lot in common. I told him about my dream and he started laughing at me. I gave him an awkward look as he walked to his closet and pulled out a stack of papers for a 501(c)(3). Walter already had a nonprofit registered so we immediately started working on the plans for it after I graduated. Through the hustle and bustle of creating the program we also realized we were growing a great business had the same drive and were both experiencing a healthy relationship after coming out of dysfunctional ones. We were married and successfully blended our family. Before we opened the transitional homes the abuser I encountered as a child was released from prison during the holidays. The old feelings from my childhood came back before I saw him. When my family gathered for the big day he tried to ask me questions and test me to see if I remembered. All of a sudden the memories nightmares anger negative experiences and sadness passed before me and I gained the strength to look him in the eye and let him know that I remembered what he did. He saw that I was not afraid and started walking backwards and stayed in a corner of the home for the rest of the day. After I faced him I was able to release my issues. I was finally at peace. Andrea shared this because she wants any victim of this devastating crime to be empowered and know that what happened to them isn t the last chapter. In my junior year of high school I met my first husband. We were married right after high school. I went to college while he was in the service but quit for a while and moved to Alaska where I had my first son. But we moved back due to an illness he had. A year later I had my second son. The marriage ended after that due to unhealthy issues I experienced. I packed my boys and bags and moved out. I worked two jobs to put myself through school reduced drama-filled relationships cut unnecessary baggage with friends and other aquaintences and vowed never to get married again until I reached the goals in my life. Andrea went back to school after that to pursue her Bachelor of Science and then earned a Master in Counseling. Don t allow anyone steal the pen from the author who created you. There s more to your story. You can t erase the past but you can use the pencil of the present to write the rough draft of your future understanding that God edits and completes the final draft in pen. 23 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What percentage of the US jail and prison population is mentally ill A 25% (about 500 000 out of 2 million)... Recidivism is at a high rate and as a result the cycle of reoffending calls for action from the judicial system mental health communities community activists specialty programs etc. Q Why do so many mentally ill people end up in prison A The closing of mental hospitals across the country lack of mental health funding in many low-socioeconomic areas no adequate insurance no adequate resources for stable in vivo care minimal to no medicine available etc. Among many reasons the recidivism rate increases. Q Are there any similar businesses like yours A Yes there are a few in the Dallas area. While all of our programs may have some similarities our concepts are different. We all have our different personalities. I affiliate with other nonprofits with similar goals of ending child sexual abuse and transitioning individuals into a successful lifestyle The Healing Branch with founder and activist Cherlyn Branch Jackie Staples (author of Deflowered Lyric and founder of J.J. Enterprises) and Michelle Anderson-Morrison (HIV activist Miss Plus Size America 2011 and founder of Metamorphic). Q How long have you had this business A We have had this business since 2006 starting out with fundraising and feeding and clothing the homeless. In 2011 we started working on our transitional housing program. We didn t want just a boarding home. We desired to change lives through transitioning individuals into a positively functioning lifestyle. Q How does running this type of business affect your family A Everyone is involved in the business in some way shape or form. Our daughter comes by and helps clean up or get things prepared for the ladies such as folding donated clothes and washing dishes. Our sons also volunteer to feed the homeless help with housing maintenance conduct inventory help with food and clothing pickups etc. And one of our sons also cooks meals. MOST IMPORTANTLY They are gaining experience by watching individuals change their lives by making healthy choices and they see how bad choices can lead to some devasting situations. They get to see the lasting affects of sexual domestic and child abuse drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness. This is quite a learning experience for them. But they also get to see the importance of family as that is a part of the concept in our program. The house has a family-oriented setting that our kids are familiar with and is what our clients are in need of. 24 Women of Distinction Danelle McCafferty Writing and Publishing Owner of the Writers Editor New York NY 25 Women of Distinction W hat do writing nonfiction books managing a doctor s office proofreading line-editing writing PR copy teaching acting cabaret singing consulting and being a senior editor in publishing have in common If you guessed nothing you would be correct. Unless your name is Danelle McCafferty that is. These careers led me to starting my own business as an independent editor also known as a book doctor . For the past 20 years Danelle has been the owner of the Writers Editor a business dedicated to helping novelists become the best writers possible. She specializes primarily in fiction. Her second book How Simple Things are Made (everything from toothpaste to sneakers) also got a lot of publicity. All the while Danelle was also acting off-Broadway and singing in cabarets. Unfortunately I wasn t making enough money to support myself and my daughters. So when she was offered a stable job as a Senior Editor at Bantam Books she gladly accepted it. After eight years at Bantam Danelle decided to start her own business. It s extremely important for an editor to know what she is good at. I love what I affectionately call boy books (thrillers) especially medical thrillers because they re the biggest challenge to edit. Danelle also likes editing women s novels historical fiction literary and contemporary fiction and memoirs. She also speaks and coaches at writers conventions around the country. I m very excited about speaking at ThrillerFestX one of the biggest writers conventions in the country in July. After graduating from Ohio University Danelle moved to New York City where she was one of 12 graduates from across the country offered a paid internship at McGraw-Hill. What I love most is working with authors and their words. While I was lucky at Bantam to be able to save books (manuscripts that had been bought but still needed too much work to be published) I had to deal with the non-creative side (which I didn t enjoy) such as negotiating contracts doing profit and loss sheets and attending many meetings. I really loved the creative side. Finally Danelle decided to take a leap of faith and start her own business. Since she was a single parent it truly was a leap. However she still knew a lot of agents and editors at publishing houses through her previous work so she called them to let them know she was available for editing jobs. We were expected to spend several weeks in different departments book publishing magazine publishing PR etc. I learned so much When a job opened up in any of these departments we could interview for it so my first job was writing brochures. Danelle eventually left McGraw-Hill to attend graduate school at Purdue University where she taught freshmen English. She then moved back to New York and freelanced writing articles and PR pieces. She also did consulting worked for doctors (very helpful for medical thrillers) and got married and had two daughters. I didn t want to take a full-time job when the girls were small so I started taking acting classes at Herbert Berghoff Studios and also wrote two nonfiction books. When Celebration a book about nontraditional weddings came out I was (ironically) separated. But people loved the book and I was the first original paperback author to be interviewed by Barbara Walters on The Today Show my 15 minutes of fame. It took a lot longer than I thought but I knew it was the right thing for me. And despite being offered several well-paying jobs at big publishing houses I turned them down. I had said yes to starting my own business and wasn t backing down. At the time there weren t many people doing what I was doing but there was a small group of editors working independently (as I was) who had formed their own group. I believe in the saying that in unity there is strength . Danelle applied to the group but it was full. Then she thought What s to stop me from starting another group As so often happens two other editors had the same idea and together they formed the Book Editors Alliance an organization with 13 members who all had a minimum of 15 years experience in New York publishing. They filled the group immediately. 26 Women of Distinction We set up a website with photos of all the editors their specialties titles of books they had published and a code of ethics. They decided to meet once a month and have agents as speakers every other month. That way agents got to know us and we got to know what genres of books they handle thus creating a working relationship. To further promote the group they developed a brochure and sent it out to hundreds of agents and in-house editors. Then they and the other group were featured in Publishers Weekly the biggest magazine in publishing. We were off and running Danelle believes in saying yes to every opportunity even though she doesn t necessarily always know what she s getting into. I m a good researcher and have always looked for the best books on writing and publishing as well as people who are willing to give me advice. While proofreading for Avon Books Danelle was offered a position as a consulting editor to revise and rewrite major novels. She was later hired at Bantam Books not to proofread (which most people think of as editing but is really cleaning up grammar spelling punctuation and fact-checking) but to acquire books and when necessary revise and rewrite. Danelle has become friends with a number of her authors as well and has standing invitations to visit Germany France and England among other countries. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Women the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Book Editors Alliance. Her two daughters are grown. One Fuschia is an actor and the other Amy is a photographer. The little apples didn t fall far from the tree. Neither rebelled and became a doctor or lawyer. But then I always encouraged them to do what they loved. Each year she works for the Goddard-Riverside Book Fair a leading human services organization. All the major publishers in New York contribute new books for this event which are sold for half price on the first day and discounted even more on the second day. Goddard-Riverside provides programs for children youth low-income families lunch for seniors housing for the homeless and so much more. It s a joy to work there. You can usually find me at the thriller mystery counter Although currently on hiatus she sings with a pick-up group as well as with small choruses. Again I said yes . People often ask me how I learned to develop novels. The answer is from acting. Because of theater I knew dialogue inner monologue characters movements and motivations pacing and staging. However I can t stress enough how important it is to read read read and then analyze what makes a book work. At Bantam she helped develop three different paperback series. Each book hit the Times best-seller list over 80 books in all. When developing novels Danelle works very closely with the author. She often writes 25-page letters on what the author needs to do to make the book work. Then they work together to solve the problems. She also helps the author with the query letter to agents and the synopsis (the hardest part). I love what I do. Every book is a new adventure. In my book travels I ve been all over the world including Alaska Hawaii Canada England Germany France Thailand and Bhutan. I also have met some very interesting characters. I love music as much as I love words. To quote a song by Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford from I m Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road Music is my one salvation singing is my celebration. And so is being a book doctor . 27 Women of Distinction Dee Cascio Psychotherapy and Life Coaching for Professionals Founder and President of the Professional Counseling and Life Retirement Coaching Center 28 Sterling VA Women of Distinction D ee Cascio is President of the Professional Counseling and Life Retirement Coaching Center where her work is multifaceted. Dee sees therapy clients coaches individuals and gives presentations. She writes newsletters articles for Ezine Articles and for various magazines. Additionally Dee has written two books on retirement. She also does her own marketing and networking. Dee has been diligent about being a part of professional organizations and holding leadership roles that further the organization and industry as a whole. As part of her practice she maintains her therapy licenses and coaching certifications by taking continuing education credits to stay current with her credentials. This gives me the opportunity to learn new information and refresh what I already know. It all started for Dee in 1969 as a fifth grade teacher in Elmira New York at George Washington Elementary School the very school she attended while growing up. She later became interested in retirement coaching when clients began expressing concerns about retirement issues in therapy sessions. As a baby boomer I became aware of those who worked long and hard through their careers and were now anticipating retirement. How would they navigate this complex transition So with that Dee became certified as a Retirement Options Coach and Re-Career Coach. I repurposed my therapy experience love of teaching and interest in retirement lifestyle issues by presenting seminars to small groups private companies and government agencies. Dee now helps people transition from full-time employment to a retirement lifestyle customized to their needs. I help people become the entrepreneur of their retirement careers. In 2007 Dee and her husband bought a second home in Tampa Florida that they visit for 10 days each month September through June. This is their version of semi-retirement as each person couple will handle their retirement differently. I ve always enjoyed children as well as teaching them but soon found out that many of them were coming to school with some serious problems that interfered with their learning. That observation caused her to go back to school and get her Master of Science in Counseling with the initial objective of helping students be better prepared for the learning environment. After graduating Dee worked for 15 years as a high school counselor in Woodbridge and Fairfax County Virginia. We use this time to recharge our batteries while we practice retirement taking advantage of the warm weather and multitude of activities that a bustling city offers. With the free time she has now Dee volunteers in her community through her local Rotary Club sharing her innate gifts with others. It was a wonderful experience as well as great training. After receiving my Virginia state license as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) I started my private practice. She subsequently became interested in working with couples so she worked towards a second license as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in 1987. Becoming certified in hypnosis guided imagery and as an Imago Relationship Therapist enabled me to be more effective with all of my clients especially couples. In 2005 Dee found herself wanting more flexibility in her work schedule than her therapy practice provided so she began to explore other options that would utilize her extensive psychotherapy experience without requiring her to be in the office on a daily basis. Seeing the opportunity to repurpose my existing skills I became certified as a Life Coach from Coach U and added life coaching as an offering in my private practice. I love bringing people together being an involved sister step-mother wife and aunt as well as a generous colleague and civic minded person. 29 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why do you believe that your business is relevant in today s world A In the United States almost a quarter of our population is between 50 and 68 in excellent health well-educated and can expect to live 20 to 30 years beyond traditional employment due to health and medical advancements. Clients come to me asking the profound question What will I do with all of my time and how can I repurpose my education skills talents and work experience into my retirement careers years To ensure that this group will be productive personally and professionally and engaged in their communities it s important for them to learn how to navigate this transition and come up with a plan that works for them. Q What is the difference between coaching and therapy A Coaching is a present and future-focused approach for people who might be thought of as the worried well meaning they are emotionally strong have specific goals they want to reach and need a partner to collaborate with to achieve their goals. Coaching can be conducted by phone or in person. In contrast psychotherapy is past and present-focused uses a medical model with people who because of emotional issues have developed protective behaviors that are not serving them well in their lives and need the support of a solid treatment plan and face-to-face consistent therapy. Q How has your therapy training and background helped you in your coaching career A My education and training as a therapist as well as my 29 years of experience have helped me finely tune my communication skills listening with empathy and intuition at several different levels and often hearing what is not being said. These skills blend well with core competencies coaching skills. I usually can discern quickly whether a client would be served better by a coach or a therapist. Q How can you find a qualified therapist or coach that suits your needs A Each state has specific requirements set forth by their licensing boards for licensing mental health professionals whether you are a psychologist social worker or counselor. Find your state licensing board contact information on the internet when verifying a therapist s credentials after you ve asked them about their credentials. The International Coach Federation and the Center for Credentialing and Education for Board Certified Coaches the two governing organizations for coaches require that coaches go through comprehensive certified coaching programs to become members. Each organization has a website that will help you in selecting a certified coach. Q What is a Retirement Lifestyle Portfolio A This is very much like a financial portfolio. Instead of focusing on financial planning we take a holistic approach by looking at the six life areas you live in each day (1) Work (2) Health (3) Finances (4) Relationships (5) Leisure and (6) Personal Growth. Together we explore activities in each area that use their skills talents interests and work experience discovering how they can repurpose all of these assets into their retirement career. We also look at hobbies interests and dreams about things they ve always wanted to do and never had the time to do. Q How can people avoid a failed retirement experience A Avoiding a failed retirement requires that you plan this stage of your life just as you have planned other important phases of your life. Having worked long and hard all of your adult life you want to make sure that this transition to your retirement career is fulfilling satisfying and meets your needs. If you fail to plan this important life stage you re planning to fail. Q What are the main differences between couples and singles experience as they make the transition to retirement A A couple s main concern in a transition to retirement is maintaining their autonomy and privacy in the relationship while they discover things they can also enjoy together. Retiring at different times helps the couple ease into the transition on their own and at their own pace. A single person s main concern is ensuring that they have a solid support system of family and friends outside of work so they will stay engaged and connected with their community and not feel isolated. Q How do you help the clients and groups you speak with find purpose in their retirement careers A Finding your purpose is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. You have to be willing to spend the time asking powerful questions that help you dig deeper into why you are here what do you feel drawn to do what you read about and notice etc. I have an exercise using the acronym YOUR PURPOSE in which each letter stands for a word to help people explore and discover their purpose. Q What are the biggest challenges that people face in retirement A One of the biggest challenges that comes with leaving traditional work is what you will do without the structure of your work day. Work meets so many of our social emotional intellectual and physical needs and all of these needs will have to be replaced to feel fulfilled in retirement. The other challenge is couples adjusting to being home together and balancing their time together and their time alone. 30 Women of Distinction Delores Louise Gray Re-entry Educate ex-felons back into the work force Chief Executive Officer and President of Cedar Central Job Connection Program 31 Cleveland OH Women of Distinction D elores Louise Gray is the CEO and President of Cedar Central Job Connection a temporary employment program in Cleveland Ohio. When Delores lost her job in 2009 she went to her nephew (Kenya) who works in the field of re-entry for some assistance in getting the program set up so she could help others in a similar position. Kenya has been working to re-educate ex-felons back into the workforce for the past 10 years or so. He cares so much so listening to him has given me great insight on how to help others and give back as much as my spirit will allow me to. As another way of giving back to her community Delores was elected as Precinct Committee Person in Ward-5 (Zone-G) in the 18th Precinct and prospect to Cuyahoga Community College where she assists Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland. As an Ambassador of Promise Neighborhood Sister of Charity Hospital Delores also assists families in her community by working with children on their vision and helping them achieve success in their future goals. Their education is one of the keys points we focus on because without this how can they accomplish what they truly want and need She also serves on the East Tech Alumni Board supporting students of her alma mater to make sure their future goals and dreams can come true. I let them know that they have to work for what they want through their studies. Without education you can t become successful in fulfilling your goals. Delores practices what she preaches as she is also currently a student at Cuyahoga Community College studying Business Management. My goal is to run my own Re-entry Temp Agency and help people get jobs they feel good about that will help them in today s society. Living in Cedar Hi Rise and Family Estate has being a spiritual blessing for Delores because it s bought her great joy to give back to her community. Assisting Ms. Phyllis Cleveland in this community has given me the chance to meet the residents and speak with them about their concerns and help them as much as I can when needed. I can then take their concerns back to our Ward-5 meeting to let our Councilwoman know what s on their mind when they can t make it. Delores is also the Local Advisory Council President of Cedar Hi Rise and Family Estate. I represent the seniors and families in this community listen to their concerns and help them as best I can under the terms and conditions of our contract lease and local advisory bylaws. It s a great pleasure to be able to assist people who don t fully 32 understand what needs to be done. God doesn t put things before you until it s time to give back the timing for me was just right. Q&A Q How many employees work with you at Cedar Central Job Connection A I have three employees on my staff each serving a unique role within the organization. Q What are their positions A (1) Shraine Newman RSc.P. Transformation Coach Change your thinking. Change your life. Pathway to personal transformation. is a spiritual-based philosophy and examination inward journey to self-discovery and personal transformation. It s designed to break down the barriers that prevent individuals from becoming responsible contributors to society to their respective communities families and moreover to their own personal development. This program is presented through the delivery of concepts that challenge participants to think re-think and examine personal belief and ideals that have contributed to their current state of being and consider a different approach that may ultimately lead to the fulfillment of life as previously envisioned. (2) Deb Wilson STNA CDCA Domestic Violence Advocate and New Kingdom Life Ministry Founder Pastor 12 Step Recovery Class - New Life Recovery Domestic Violence Recovery HIV Awareness and Prevention This is how we deal with the 12 steps and focus on how to apply them to a spiritual foundation bring clarity of how addictions start and how to focus on recovery. In this group we also focus on recovery from all the things we lost values morals and self-identity. As they receive tools in recovery they can recover all that was lost stolen or given away. This group creates awareness of the family and how it affects others in the family and the community by understanding what abuse is along with the tools and alternatives to use to keep anger under control and the signs of a healthy and unhealthy relationship. The group is designed to assist in making wiser and safer choices. (3) Fred Seal Resume Writing I was in a three week course for three days a week. We role played and learned how to be successful. I also realized how important a good resume is and focused on that part of the program. I like to write and take pride in this part of the job training process to help individuals gain employment. Q Why is this program important to your clients A It s important because it gives our clients a second chance lets them feel good about themselves and shows them that some of us can step up and give back. Q Why does your staff volunteer their time to this program A They do it because they have a spiritual need to help people. There s a passion that we have to give back and a connection we have through Jesus and when you have this gift of life you can connect to others and feel the need to support a program of this nature. Q Where did the funding come from A Neighborhood Connections is an institution that funds small groups that help their communities. They get a certain amount of money from the government and give it out to various communities that will invest in projects that give a sense of wealth to the community and a greater outlook to its residents. We received 3 500 for the first year. At the end of the year we ll send a status report to let them know how the project is going and request more money. If the project was successful we ll continue to receive funding for our program. Q Do you work with a church to help clients in need of spiritual support A Yes we work with St. Phillips Christian Church (2303 East 30th Central Cleveland Ohio 44116). They have been around for a lifetime. If our clients need spiritual support we ll let them know about this church and they can see if it benefits them. Q What else does your program offer A Our program focuses on growth and self-transformation rather than seeing yourself as a finished product. It ll allow you to keep evolving as we re all works in progress. We ll help you find lessons from everything you experience. You ll be able to make the best out of things and grow from the most difficult of circumstances. Make peace with the fact that sometimes you are on the fast track while other times you might feel more in the remedial class of life. We all learn at different rates but the best part is that in the school of life there s no such thing as staying back even if you experience failure. However we ll help you focus on moving on in a positive direction instead of measuring how far you should have come already. You ll also learn to accept that sometimes lessons are learned the hard way. Additionally we offer employment services when you finish the course as well as bus passes haircuts clothing and other facilities if we don t have what they need. We will also send them out to other re-entry programs that are far more advance then ours if there is a need for further growth. Q Why do you do this for people that you don t know A I have a passion to give back and help others. I had a situation in my past that hurt me so bad that it almost took my life away. But in the midst of all of that negative drama I promised Jesus Christ that I d give back to help someone. I still focus on that energy the challenge to let others know that we all desire some part of our given life and without Jesus we wouldn t have it. Q Where do you see this program in the next five years A I expect a need for more staffing and funding from different organizations and businesses. I also expect the need to help more and more people looking for a second chance to feel 33 worthy of their goals in life and open the door for everyone and help them come out a better person. 34 Women of Distinction Diana L. Quast Politics - Local Government Deputy Town Clerk - Town of Yorktown Yorktown New York 35 Women of Distinction orktown Town Clerk Alice E. Roker announced in March that she was retiring this year and not seeking re-election. This November Yorktown Deputy Town Clerk Diana L. Quast is proudly looking to become her successor. She comes into this election with 29 combined years of managerial experience in retail and public service. After a successful retail career that unfortunately resulted in her last company declaring bankruptcy and laying off its entire workforce Diana was hired as an Office Assistant for the New Castle Town Clerk s Office in 1999 and promoted six months later to Deputy Town Clerk. Y As Deputy Town Clerk I m deputized to act on behalf of the Town Clerk in her absence. The Town Clerk s Office has a myriad of responsibilities such as recording and maintaining all town records issuing licenses and permits and helping people with questions. Each day I go into work is different from the last. I get to meet couples coming in for their marriage license ready to begin their lives together or a dad who needs a fishing license so he can create memories with his kids or a family that s new to the area and wants to know about the happenings in town. The Office also has knowledge of local laws and is instrumental during the Primary General and Presidential Elections. When an opening for a Deputy Town Clerk became available in the Town of Yorktown in January 2001 Diana applied for the position and was appointed by Town Clerk Alice E. Roker. She s remained loyal to this office and the citizens of Yorktown for the past 12 years serving as Alice s right hand. Alice E. Roker is one of the most professional people I ve ever had the pleasure of working with and has shown me the value of honesty sincerity and trust. I consider her my teacher mentor and a true friend who inspires me every day to pursue my goals with hard work and dedication. She s always given her all to each and every person in our community and has taught me to do the same. Diana also serves as the Yorktown Parks and Recreation Commission Chair (a volunteer position) and was instrumental in creating the town s first skate park first dog park first accessible and inclusive children s playground at Downing Park and the first multi-generational play and exercise area at the Jack DeVito Veterans Memorial Park all at no cost to the taxpayers. 36 Women of Distinction Volunteering dates back generations in my family. My grandfather and great uncles began the tradition of serving in the local volunteer fire department after they moved here from Portugal. Following in that tradition my father and husband volunteer for the Millwood Volunteer Fire Department in Millwood NY. I ve even contributed by volunteering in the Millwood Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary for over 20 years and presently hold the position of Vice President. I was also a volunteer EMT with the Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corp for nine years in the 1990s and am currently a member of the Yorktown Community Emergency Response Team. Professionally her affiliations include being a member of the Westchester County Town and City Clerks Association and the New York State Town Clerks Association. She s also currently working toward receiving her Registered Municipal Clerk designation from New York State. Diana was born one of seven children (4 sisters and 2 brothers) to Charles and Florence. When she was in sixth grade the family moved to Yorktown where she s remained a longtime resident. Diana and her husband (Walter) purchased their home 17 years ago in Yorktown and Walter s mother (Madeline) lives with them. They also have two children (Amy and Nicholas). Diana also has a grandson (Jordan) thanks to Amy and her husband (Tim). We are a very big family but we make the effort to stay close and communicate often. Luckily we all live fairly close and can get together often. Holidays are big (and loud) events but I wouldn t trade it for the world. We often have conflicting views and opinions but we somehow always manage to work past our differences and remain friends. In her free time Diana enjoys playing women s fast pitch softball and spending time at The Ossining Boat and Canoe Club which recently celebrated its 100-year anniversary. But it s her 11-year-old son (Nicholas) and her grandson (Jordan) who provide her the most joy. Q&A Q Upon Town Clerk Alice E. Roker s retirement you have the opportunity to run for election. Why do you want to be Yorktown Town Clerk A I m motivated by challenges that utilize my skills and experience. I look forward to moving the Town Clerk s Office ahead by providing more online services accepting credit cards and digitizing town records. Q Why would you make a great Town Clerk in Yorktown A I love interacting with people. Customer service has been a big part of every job I ve ever had. The satisfaction that comes from helping others solve a problem is immensely satisfying. Q Where do you see yourself in 10 years A I would like to pass down the knowledge and wisdom that Alice has imparted upon me. She believed in me which led me to work hard and advance my career. I look forward to the day I can do the same for someone else. Q Why is community involvement important A Community involvement is extremely important because you get to meet people not only from your community but surrounding areas as well. Always remember that each volunteer brings something different to the table and drawing from everyone s thoughts will open a whole new world of ideas. Q Why is it important to continue professional development A Continuing your professional development is important to ensure that not only you but also everyone that you work with is moving their profession forward. It should always be an ongoing process throughout your career. Q Do you have any regrets in your career A I don t have any regrets because my past led me to the place I am today. Every experience has had an impact on my life. Q What is your most memorable experience A My most memorable experience was spending Christmas in Hawaii with my family. We went snorkeling during the day and enjoyed a Luau for Christmas Dinner. Q What do you do to de-stress A I ve played women s fast pitch softball for 30 years and still play every chance I get. Q What is your favorite family tradition A Christmas Eve dinner is a huge family tradition for our family. My sister hosts and we celebrate by having a Feast of the Seven Fishes. Q What is your biggest weakness A I still get nervous with public speaking and would like to give more presentations to gain experience with speaking in front of others. 38 Women of Distinction Joan E. Rosenthal Foodservice Catering Owner Founder of Marigold Catering Cleveland OH 39 Women of Distinction J oan E. Rosenthal has been in the foodservice industry since the age of 12 having worked as a bus person at a neighborhood restaurant. As an adult she worked for Hyatt Hotels ran the foodservice for Cleveland Municipal Stadium and worked in sales and marketing for large conglomerates such as Kraft CPC and Diamond Crystal Foods. In 1997 Joan bought a used truck and a computer and through hard work blood and sweat she founded Marigold Catering one of Northeast Ohio s most sought after catering companies. With over six million dollars in annual revenue Marigold has the capacity to execute events for thousands but also provides catering services to smaller groups. Mantra If you are our client we will deliver Joan s role within the company is ever-changing with one core constant she remains very hands-on with her staff knows all the clients and keeps her pulse on every event. She loves her company and runs it with integrity and passion. We re not in business to only create an event for our clients we re about creating an unforgettable and seamless experience. Marigold is all about relationship building and nurturing our clients for the long-term. I ve had the good fortune of watching my company grow succeed and morph into new areas of the industry to become a leading force in our market. In her free time Joan plays golf volunteers at the Animal Protective League (APL) as a board member and also volunteers at St. Augustine Church preparing meals on all major holidays for over 6 000 of Cleveland s homeless citizens. I serve as the face of the organization engaging with the community networking and keeping Marigold as an active community entity. I constantly work on maintaining our brand identity as a high-end cutting-edge organization. With an eye towards art and presentation I m constantly re-invigorating our set-ups and style by bringing in new and creative ways to present and serve food. I care deeply about my community my staff and my family. 40 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What distinguishes your company from other catering organizations in Cleveland A We serve 5-star restaurant quality food in a catering environment cooked by chefs from top local restaurants. We re also the only catering organization in Cleveland that s Ohio-certified green (1 of 3 in the state). Q How does Marigold Catering contribute to the health and well-being of the environment A Marigold Catering s sustainability initiative includes a comprehensive recycling program composting of pre and post consumer waste use of recyclable or compostable materials wherever possible in the office and kitchen a public transportation subsidy paperless billing and payroll systems an onsite herb garden fed by newly installed rain barrels a focus on regional and sustainable products recycled cotton chef coats the elimination of bottled water for staff Q What is the greatest challenge your company faces A Our greatest challenge is communicating our brand effectively so we can compete aggressively and successfully against restaurant chefs with local fame and from a much more romantic industry. The catering landscape has changed such that many wellknown chefs are attempting to compete in the catering industry. Q What do you do to keep employees in an industry overwrought with high staff turnover A We offer benefits such as 401K full healthcare with dental and vision quarterly massage services and a salary higher than the industry average while creating a warm and welcoming work environment. Q How does your organization compete with all of the national catering companies coming into your market A We stay true to our brand and never deviate from the desired outcome of gorgeous presentations great food and over-thetop service. Q How does the trend toward buying local affect your purchases in a catering environment A We buy local when we can. However on any given day we could be catering for thousands of guests and the local suppliers may not be able to handle our demand and quantities. It doesn t always make sense from a quality control and cost standpoint. We buy local when it makes sense and have a large list of local farmers who we support. Q What are the greatest costs you face in running your business A Staffing is our greatest cost. Catering is very hands-on and although we utilize technology to drive our business the actual work is very labor intensive. Q How have rising costs of insurance affected your company A Our health care and workers compensation costs have quadrupled over the last two years. Q What are the latest trends in catered foods A Such trends include small plates comfort food and farm-totable events. Q How difficult is it to obtain working capital in your industry A It s very difficult as traditional financing institutions don t look favorably at lending in the foodservice industry. Also if you don t own your building there are very few assets that can be collateralized against a loan. 41 Women of Distinction Marlene Meisenheimer Barach Education - Office Technology Retired Professor at Lewis and Clark Community College Secretary - Board of Trustees at Lewis and Clark Community College Alton IL 42 Women of Distinction M arlene Meisenheimer Barach first began teaching high school business education in 1960 after graduating from college. I looked for the highest paying job available in Illinois. Lockport had an opening for a teacher who could teach business education half-time and physical education half-time. Since I had majored in business education and minored in physical education at Illinois State University I interviewed for the job and was hired. The starting salary was 4 500 year. Marlene s first class was a one semester beginning typing course with 35 students 33 of which were boys. I was 22 years old and the students were all 15-18 years old. Typewriters have bells that ring and the boys liked to ring the bell I had a tough time with discipline that semester but it was the last time I lost control of a class. I learned a lot My students learned to type but it was a noisy classroom and not just from typewriters. Thank goodness it was only a semester and not the entire year I left Lockport in June 1962. In August 1962 Marlene began teaching at East Alton-Wood River High School in Wood River Illinois where she remained for six years. I taught shorthand typing and general business. I was also a sponsor for the cheerleaders Future Secretaries Association and the junior class. Marlene s career at Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC) began in August 1973 when she was hired as an adjunct teacher in the Secretarial Department. Employers would choose new employees that knew shorthand over the employee that knew only typing. Since shorthand students work very hard on English skills that include spelling and punctuation employers tended to hire those students even if they were not going to use shorthand on the job. The student would often come back and complain to me that she was not getting to use her shorthand skills It is a skill that requires speed. When you don t use it you tend to lose speed at taking notes. When Marlene retired in May 1997 she had earned the title of Professor and was the department chair. As department chair it was my duty to keep the department running efficiently with full-time faculty and adjunct faculty. This meant scheduling classes preparing the budget and keeping our students on the cutting-edge of technology used in the business world. In April 2008 Marlene was elected to the LCCC Board of Trustees. As a member it s important to be aware of all aspects of the college. The decisions made by the Board of Trustees have kept our college in the forefront of new ideas and technologies. It is a privilege and an honor to serve on the Board. She married Melvin (Mickey) Barach in 1967. They have two children four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Eric is our oldest and has his own contracting business (E & A Drywall). He s earned a very good business reputation in our area for the work he performs. Eric has never been married but has a great little Dachshund named Dottie. Our daughter Michele is married to Michael Kirby. They have four children. Michele earned her Bachelor of Science in Education at Illinois State University and received her Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. She loves working with elementary children especially preschool kindergarten and first grade. Her husband Michael is an investigator for a law firm. Our oldest grandson Jerremy earned his culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu and is now employed as a chef. He has two sons. Olivander (Ollie) is six months old and Gedeon is due in September. Jerilyn graduated in May 2015 from McKendree University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Jarrod graduated from Lewis and Clark Community College in May 2015 and will continue at McKendree University this fall. He plans to be a physical education teacher. Mary Jae is in seventh grade and is a dancer She s an excellent student competes with the Gordon Craig dance studio and is a member of Student Council Math and Scholar Bowl IMSA and Trimpe Middle School dance team. I am very fortunate. All of my children and grandchildren live close to me. I get to be a part of their lives on a daily basis. Family is extremely important to me and I love the fact that we all live near each other. Our focus was on helping students work to the best of their ability and our department instituted an environment that allowed each student to work at her own pace in the skills classes. We were able to teach one-on-one in this situation. In August 1975 she became a full-time instructor advancing to Associate Professor. I love teaching. Students are all different. Business education from the secretarial side was what I taught. That meant mostly girls. I taught general business record keeping typing and shorthand. Shorthand was the most challenging. It is similar to a foreign language. Once a student learned the skill of reading and writing shorthand she had to transcribe the notes so that other people could read the material. Many business men dictated aloud to secretaries at that time. The student had to be good at spelling punctuation typing and shorthand. In that era girls that wanted a career worked as secretaries or nurses. Students with a shorthand background usually earned higher salaries than clerical employees. Q&A Q What is one of the most important things you want to teach your students A It is extremely important that students learn to think and problem solve. We live in an ever-changing society. Students need to be able to adapt to new ways of doing a job. Computers have changed our lives dramatically and will continue to do so. Q What current technologies were not available when you were in the classroom A Once in a lecture class we were discussing cell phones and I remember remarking Why would anyone want to talk on the phone while walking down the street Now if I forget my cell phone when I leave home it seems like a major disaster We also talked about a thin TV that we would be able to hang on the wall and enjoy the picture. That is now a reality. Lewis and Clark had a computer lab available for students to complete homework. Now most students have their own laptop computers. Q How is teaching different today from when you began your career A Students had more respect for adults in general when I first started teaching. Now discipline is harder to maintain. Q Did you find teaching at the college level different from high school teaching A Teaching the subject matter was the same. For the most part college students were more focused on learning. Q What would you consider the best thing about being a teacher A The moment a student really understands a concept you can see it in their eyes. It s like a light bulb turned on and they re shining. That s the best feeling for both of us Q What would you say to someone thinking about a career in teaching A Be sure you really love people and relate to them. You need to be patient caring and understanding. This applies whether you are teaching children or adults. Q If you were choosing a career today would you choose teaching A I loved teaching and the students. Each day was different. I cannot imagine any other career. Teachers have an influence on their students and I took that honor very seriously. Q What is your approach to living your best life A Put yourself in the other person s shoes. Be thankful for what you have because someone always has it worse than you. Q What are some accomplishments that have been made since you have been a board member at Lewis and Clark Community College A LCCC currently has the only nurse practitioner clinic operated by a community college. Through the Mobile Health Unit LCCC delivers free dental screening and preventive work to underserved families at least once a year. In 2011 National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC) was a recipient of the prestigious U.S. Water Prize for efforts in water sustainability. LCCC played a huge role in establishing NGRREC. LCCC is a front runner in green education. At LCCC we completed a Climate Action Plan toward achieving carbon neutrality. Toward that effort one of the things we have done is installed solar panels. Q What woman (dead or alive) do you most admire A That s a tough question but I m going to say my mother. Even though my mother had only a fifth grade education she was the person who taught me love patience and understanding. She did this through actions as well as words. There were six children in our family. We all had the same father but the three oldest boys lost their mother at a young age. My mother did not distinguish between her stepchildren and her birth children. We loved each other unconditionally. I have always admired her for that. She also instilled my love of reading. We read books from the public library or from school and always had magazines around the house so it was easy to be a reader. We played games listened to the radio and read. There was no television. Mom was a quiet person in whom we all tended to confide. She seemed to know everything even though she rarely left home. She was fair in her dealings with others. She was a stay-at-home mom. And she was always there 44 Women of Distinction Maxine Billings Author - Fiction Inspiration Self-Published Author Temple GA 45 Women of Distinction W hile Maxine Billings has been a published author for 11 years she has self-published her books for the past five years. What s kept Maxine in her career for so long is her love of writing. If I was in it for the money I would have given it up a long time ago especially now that I m my own publisher. Another thing that keeps me going is my readers. Receiving a letter or e-mail that expresses the positive ways my stories have touched people s lives brings tears of happiness and a smile to my face. Maxine currently has nine published fiction novels and is currently working on her first nonfiction novel her mother s autobiography. She has also brought her two illustrations of the fictional characters Eevie and Pearl to life. These are elderly women from my books One of a Kind and Desperate Hearts . I also have three blogs that I write for (one for myself one for Eevie and one for Pearl). In her free time Maxine enjoys participating in volunteer spiritual activities such as going in the house-to-house ministry within the community by engaging in the Bible education work which Jehovah s Witnesses are known for. I do everything that has to be done myself. Not only do I write and publish my own stories but I also do my own research proofreading editing book covers publicity book signings etc. However I do have a very dear friend J. Hale Turner who is also an author whom I brainstorm and exchange critique with. She also recently drew a sketch of a character from two of my books. I also recently hired an illustrator to color the sketch as well as to draw and color another character from the same two books. Maxine has loved reading and writing as far back as she can remember but never considered writing as a career until one of her first cousins (Jacquelin Thomas) became a published author in the late 1990s. I was so inspired by her stories that I started writing my first manuscript in 1999 and completed it in early 2000. I received a couple of rejections from publishers who said that although they felt it was a good story it didn t meet their current needs. In the meantime I started writing a completely different story which took me about a year to complete. About this time my cousin s publisher BET Books was coming out with a new imprint New Spirit for fiction inspirational writers. She suggested that I submit my story idea to them. Since this was exactly the genre I wanted to write for I immediately jumped at the opportunity and in November of 2001 I submitted my idea to them. She anxiously waited for a call from BET Books. Because Jehovah s Witnesses are often misunderstood I would like readers to know that I am a person who loves people and life. Yes I am different from most people in a lot of ways but I also share many basic human feelings that other people have. I have a family who I love and care about very much. I have my ups and downs my highs and lows and my joys and pains just like everyone else. Please don t judge me based on anyone s negative perception or opinion of who they may think I am and try to get to know me as a person (an individual) who very much wants to have good relationships with people. Maxine has been married for over 33 years to her husband Tony. Together they have two children Natasha (daughter) and Stefan (son). A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. Proverbs 22 1 This is how Maxine Billings wants to be remembered by her God her family and the world. I waited and waited and waited to hear back from them. By the time a year had gone by I had almost given up hope that they d be interested. So gradually I put the idea of writing out of my mind and my life went on as usual being a wife and mother and working my full-time job as a secretary for the State of Georgia (which at that time I d been doing for over 21 years). Then one day in late 2002 (out of the blue) there was a message for me on our answering machine when I got home from work. It was BET Books They were interested in my story and wanted to publish it. I received a twobook contract and an advance. My first book A Measure of Faith was released in April 2004. And that was the beginning of my career as a published author 46 Q&A Q What do you enjoy most about being an author A I enjoy creating characters in my mind and bringing them to life on paper and digital print. I love putting them onto the theater stage of my reader s mind s eye and having them perform for their audience. Q What do you enjoy least about being an author A Editing It s so tedious and after a while I get very tired and frustrated. Sometimes I start second-guessing myself too much which causes me to start changing things. If I m not careful I get way off track. Q How did you feel the first time you saw your book for sale in the bookstore A WOW That was a really exciting moment one I will never forget I was on my lunch break and had gone to Borders at the mall on the release date to speak with the manager about autographing the copies they had for sale in the store. As I walked through the door there was A Measure of Faith on a display table with some other new releases Not wanting to make a spectacle of myself I contained my composure. However on the inside my heart felt like it was about to jump through my chest. Q What is the force that drives your muse A To sum it up in one word LIFE. So much can happen in our lives on a daily basis not just good things but also trials of various sorts. Since I write fictional stories about real life issues life is where I get the most inspiration for my characters and their stories. Q What is the title of your most recently published novel A Desperate Hearts was released in September 2014. It is the sequel to my short story One of a Kind . It s about how two people can get so caught up in their own personal emotions or situations to the point where things seem to be too much for them to cope with. I try to show that despite how much two people love each other sometimes there can be a lot of pain with it when their hearts are condemning them for feelings they didn t know they had nor can be explained. Q Are you currently working on any new projects A Yes I m currently working with my mother on my first nonfiction novel her autobiography. We are having so much fun with it She s recording tapes for me. I ve gone through all of her old photos and will include several in her book. I grew up on Mama s stories. She is a master storyteller. She I and our entire family are very excited about this project Q What is the main thing you want people to get from your books when they read them A I love writing fiction inspirational stories because I feel that they inspire my readers and give them hope that no matter what we have to endure in life with God s help and our close circle of family and friends we can overcome the challenges. I feel that as long as there is breath in our bodies there is always hope that things will get better. Q What do you do to overcome writer s block A If the ideas aren t flowing what I don t do is try to force myself to come up with things to write. I stop and give myself a break for however long it takes (which usually isn t very long). The next thing I know my writing juices are flowing again. Q How long do you plan to write A For as long as God allows. I have so many stories floating around inside my head. I just wish I could write them all as fast as I get them. Life is so interesting that I don t think I ll ever run out of stories to tell. My goal has always been and still is to write wholesome stories for family entertainment. I m so grateful that God has allowed and continues to allow me to do this. Q Of all of the books that you ve published so far which is your favorite and why A The Breaking Point because I feel it is the book that I first felt comfortable enough writing to just be myself. When I submitted the manuscript for A Measure of Faith to BET Books although my editor liked it she told me that it was quiet. Inwardly I agreed with her because when I wrote it I was so concerned about writing something that someone would consider offensive that I was very rigid with my characters. But when I began writing The Breaking Point that was the start of my learning to develop my characters better and to make them more realistic and believable. One of my dear friends (J. Hale Turner) and I call it my breaking out book. 47 Women of Distinction Shawn L. Stewart Health and Wellness Inventor Owner of Artho Body Suit Founder and Co-Owner of SKG Enterprises 1 LLC 48 Newport News VA Women of Distinction S hawn L. Stewart is the inventor owner of Artho Body Suit and part owner of two health and wellness businesses in two states. She s driven by a passion to help others avoid the pain she went through in the medical system. (More on that in the Q & A below.) I m the driving force of my businesses and since Artho Body Suit is my invention like my child I m very proud of it. I dedicate 150% of my time and effort to making sure that everything is properly completed. You can learn all about Shawn s work and the Artho Body Suit in the Q & A section but her journey through life has been rather unique. For the first seven years of her life Shawn was raised by her grandparents before living with her mother in Alaska. Four years later she went abroad to attend the Kylemore Abbey International School for Girls in Galway Ireland that was founded and operated by Benedictine nuns. After graduating Shawn spent the two next years at DIT s Conservatory of Music in Dublin Ireland. She then gained four years of work experience before moving to Italy to connect with music again. During that time she had the opportunity to sing on a compilation album recorded at a closed event for the Catholic Association of Rome supported by Pope John Paul II at the Santa Cecilia di Auditoria in the Vatican City. Family brought Shawn back to the U.S. for the next three and a half years but she later went back to Italy to complete a music course in Jazz Blues and Rock at the Saint Louis College di Musica in Rome. After that Shawn returned home to join the U.S. Navy s band as a professional military vocalist. However in 2012 she was injured to the point where she had to choose a different career. (More on that in the Q & A below.) Since starting this journey each day has been an uphill battle but the fulfillment I get assures me that I m doing something right. The best advice I ve ever heard is that persistence beats resistance . It may feel like you re being pushed but if you truly have faith and believe in what you re fighting for keep persevering and moving forward and you ll succeed. Always believe in yourself and NEVER give up on your dreams. Love what you do and give love doing it. You are your own success because when you give your best expect the best and you will receive the best. Shawn enjoys spending her free time with friends and family as well as singing concerts reading camping traveling movies the theatre and volunteer work. I ve sung at events for the Alaska Food Drive and currently sing at functions and events for a local dentist who promotes the awareness of periodontal disease. In the next 5-10 years Shawn would like to start a charm school nationwide for children 7-17 years of age to study music the arts and classical traditions. Since my last duty was at Naval Station Norfolk my significant other and I live in Newport News VA where I m currently earning a medical assisting degree to support my businesses in health and wellness to complement my partners (a naturopathic doctor and a RN with a master s degree). Shawn s family has played a very important part in her life. I love my family and have the upmost respect for my grandparents for sacrificing so much to come to the United States and bringing my mother aunts and uncles from the Philippines to have a better and more successful life. I owe my success to my grandparents and mother. My mother is my rock my support system and the wind beneath my wings. I feel I m the luckiest daughter in the world for having my mother. I also have a loving significant other and his family who support 49 me in everything I do. Women of Distinction Q&A Q What is the Artho Body Suit A My invention the Artho Body Suit is a Far Infrared (FIR) sauna in the form of a suit which assists in the healing process of acute and chronic pain. The suit assists in raising the metabolism to burn calories and helps with releasing toxins out of the body by promoting healthy circulation. Q Why do you feel your Artho Body Suit is relevant today A I feel that people today are looking more into alternative natural medicine to heal and are starting to turn away from pharmaceutical medicine unless it is vitally important. Q What are your other businesses A My partners and I have a body contouring and weight-loss company. We are also distributors of cryolypolysis machines (body contouring machines) and other accessories for personal home use. Q What else do your businesses entail A Along with the body contouring machine we have a healthy lifestyle plan which moves toward the naturopathic and homeopathic medicine that works well with the weight loss and healthy lifestyle desired. Q How much weight can you lose with a body contouring machine A One of my business partners (Dr. Mike) and I did two weeks of research on 10 clients and depending on the lifestyle of the client and what area was desired to treat) the measurements ranged from to 3 inches decrease in one treatment. Q What made you choose the health and wellness field A Plan A was to stay in the military as a professional vocalist for U.S. Navy s band as my career. However I got injured and the military hospital and clinics did not give me the care I needed so my injuries got worse and I was medically separated. I chose this field to help others avoid a similar experience. Q Why do you focus on injuries and weight-loss A I was an athlete outside and in the military. Athletes get injured all the time and need a proper way to heal not just thrown medication. I also chose weight-loss because it is important to learn and teach the importance of excess weight and the affects it has on the body especially the joints. I would like to add that after I was injured and not looked after properly the stress and pain of my injuries caused me to gain weight causing more pain. I m slowly but surely working on a regimen with healthy eating and a fitted exercise plan to be healthy and strong again. Q Who would you consider to be someone you look up to A Definitely my mom. She s also a business woman and a pioneer in the medical field of home healthcare in her state. My mom instilled in me to always stay productive and do my very best in everything I do. She always told me the truth and encouraged me to be true to myself. I m eternally grateful to have my mother as my inspiration and it would be an honor to be like her. Q What is your long-term goal A My personal health and wellness and helping others is a goal in itself. Injuries weight-loss and the desire to stay healthy will forever be a universal goal. I m grateful to be a part of it. 50 Women of Distinction Angela Margolit Computer Software Vehicle Rental Point-of-Sale and Back Office President Bluebird Auto Rental Systems Dover NJ 51 Women of Distinction O ne of the best parts of owning a small business is that you are aware of everything that s going on around you when it comes to customers prospects and employees not to mention the projects and products. Working in computer software as the President of Bluebird Auto Rental Systems Angela Margolit can appreciate that there s never a dull moment that time really does fly by when you love what you do and that there s nothing more satisfying that working in a rapidly changing field that enables you to grow and evolve because if you play your cards right you ll be around for the long haul. Working in computer programming for several government contractors then as a sales rep for Datapoint Corporation Angela first heard of Bluebird Systems while attending a national sales conference. After working in several vertical markets in the southwest she was hired by Bluebird to sell Bluebird s auto rental software throughout the northeast. When the opportunity presented itself for her to buy out their auto rental division Angela was in a position to raise seed capital by creating a Limited Partnership. In November 2003 her new management team moved the operations from Carlsbad California to Parsippany New Jersey while supporting more than 200 customers. The rest is history. When I asked the founder of the original Bluebird Systems Hal Tilbury if I could buy out the Auto Rental division he replied If anyone could make it work you could . He then orchestrated the creative financing to make it work for both of us with a very mindful eye on cash flow for the new company Angela said about the takeover. Bluebird Auto Rental Systems has been supporting customers globally for more than 30 years with the help of their car rental software. Overseeing sales marketing and administration aspects of the business Angela also gives direction to product development and customer support as president of the company. She has made continuous strides to make Bluebird one of the most productive and enjoyable companies to work for and it has been a blessing many times over. Still at the forefront of the industry Bluebird was one of the first software applications to be offered as SaaS in a Windows environment and they were recognized by Raymond James of Wall Street for their leadership. Remaining aggressive by seeking new markets and geographical regions in an effort to keepgrowing Angela and her team look forward to a very financially healthy future. 52 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why do you feel that your business is important in today s world A Car Rental is the 3 Travel Industry sector following only air transportation and lodging. Our society is becoming more and more dependent on technology. When I started this company 21 years ago many car rental companies were still running their business with paper and pencil. But no more Our business strives to provide customers with the most efficient usage of technology providing easy to use software and devices at a fair price. Q Do you have a lot of competitors in this niche market How do you differentiate yourself from the competition A If you factor in all of the different markets we serve plus all of the geographical areas than yes we have at least a dozen viable competitors. To differentiate ourselves we tout that we offer choices. We are the only company that advertises that we still sell our system on-premises in addition to SaaS. Instead of partnering with just one credit card processing company we work with several. Q Other than the purchase of Bluebird what was the scariest thing you ve ever done A I bought another company Collen Technologies in 1998 We needed to bring on technicians that were well trained on Microsoft servers and operating systems. It also gave us some diversification. It went so smoothly that I purchased yet another company Orion Systems which was a competitor. That acquisition was instrumental in allowing us to offer even more services and tackle new geographical areas. Q As in many industries there has been significant consolidation due to mergers and acquisitions in the Car Rental Industry. How has this impacted you A There is nothing as constant as change and the way to win is to keep one step ahead. We tackled new markets such as dealerships and equipment rentals. The former has been extremely successful and now dealerships represent a significant portion of our customer base and they keep growing. However not all new market ventures have been successful. But we have learned how to approach them carefully so as not to burn too many resources. Q What else do you do differently A We hold bi-annual Users Conferences email quarterly newsletters and created an online call center so that any customer can enter and track their support tickets. Q What is your company culture like A We are very family-oriented. Every child of any employee has been in our office or has worked for us during the summer. We hold many annual events which have become traditions like summer picnics holiday parties and winter outings. Q How has that been epitomized A Longevity We now have 35 employees the most we have ever had (we started with nine in 1993). Not including me five have been with us over 20 years. Q What advice would you give to small business owners who want to get to the next level A You need to grow the business large enough so that you can work on the business and not just in it. I still give a hand with sales or support when needed but I don t need to be in the office every day. Learn how to delegate and put your trust in your employees. Q How have you been able to balance a home and professional life A By marrying a very supportive and understanding husband Q What has changed in the last year A Social media. We were early adopters of a new technology and this was a home run for us. I hired a recent college grad and he maintains all of our outlets by posting blogging and tweeting on a regular basis. The search engines pick up on this activity and rank us highly. 53 Women of Distinction Deidre M. Walls Grants Management for Criminal Justice and Mental Health Services Chief Executive Officer CDH Management and Consulting LLC Sr. Technical Assistance Manager JBS International Inc. Washington DC 54 Women of Distinction U sing the principles that she learned from her parents to have integrity to treat others the way she would want to be treated and to have respect for herself because others would in turn respect her Deidre M. Walls has dedicated her career in the field of grants management to making a difference. In the late 1990 s Deidre worked for the District of Columbia government in the Office of Research and Analysis as the director for the competitive services division. Working with various government agencies and community-based organizations with their grant process which included the development and preparation of grant request for applications grant application reviews and grantee site monitoring after award the government eventually dissolved the division. Soon after Deidre decided to start her own business where she continued to work with various government agencies as well as review grant applications for various other agencies. As the CEO of CDH Management and Consulting LLC in Washington DC Deidre oversees the recruitment and management of consultants who provide various grants management services (such as grant reviews briefing discussions with government officials). Mentored by several female supervisors and colleagues who have demonstrated how to go about creating your own path and to strive for success in spite of obstacles Deidre continues to do the work she does knowing that it s not about the job but about the success stories of the grantees and their clients as a result of her efforts. Q&A Q What are some of the most important things to remember if you want to work in this field A You must do your research and be willing to work with a company to learn the ins and outs before jumping out there. Make sure you have plenty of resources and contacts and put a plan in place with timelines form implementation. Look for feedback on your ideas and work towards your goal daily. Q Do you feel that you have to work in government in order to be a civil servant to your community A Absolutely not. You can be a civil servant and still achieve greatness at the same time. Q What was one of your greatest obstacles in your career A Losing my job with the government and knowing that what I did was crucial to other government agencies was hard to accept. That is why I ended up founding CDH Management and Consulting LLC. Q Were there any hurdles that you had to face that were directly related to your industry A When the economy went downhill and those same government agencies decided to handle their grant processes in-house I needed a backup plan. This led me to working with other consulting firms that were doing the same work I did but on a larger scale. Q Do you consider the work that you do stressful Why or why not A No because the organizations I work with currently have grants and just need the assistance on maintaining the grant and how to sustain the program after the grant period is over. Q Looking back would you still be working in this field if you knew then what you know today A Yes. If what you are doing is your passion and it is for me than it is important to stick with it. Do not quit. It may take a lot of time but the results are worth it. Q Have you always worked in government A No. After graduating from college I worked for Xerox Corporation as a printing systems sales representative and then I worked with the Department of Corrections as a vocational training instructor staff assistant executive assistant to the associate director for inmate programs and special assistant to the deputy director. From there I worked with another government agency where I began my career in the grants management field before starting my own business. I enjoy working with the criminal justice population because everyone deserves a second or even third chance. The grantees that work with this population provide inspiration to their clients every day Deidre said. Through my work I am also able to make an impact training staff and providing guidance so that they have the necessary tools to pass it on to their clients. Deidre also works as a senior technical assistance manager for JBS International Inc. providing management and oversight to over 120 expert consultants and managing trainings and technical assistance to federally funded criminal justice grantees. This technical assistance ranges from conducting implementation site visits at the start of their grant to trainings in various topics for staff to identify other consultants with specific expertise to work with the grantee in areas of client recruitment and retention. Deidre holds a BS in Computer Science Magna Cum Laude from St. Augustine s College. Married for the past nine years to husband Steven W. Walls Deidre and he share a 3-year old son Steven Jr. They reside in Upper Marlboro Maryland. 55 Karen Martello Cooney Medical Billing and EMR Management Chief Executive Officer of IJMedical Billing Co. LLC 56 Garden City NY Women of Distinction K aren Martello Cooney is the CEO of IJMedical Billing a company that provides billing services and health management to private doctors and to the underserved and undertreated community in sections of the five boroughs of New York City. These individuals receive the quality of care follow up care and meaningful use of medical diagnostic testing that they ordinarily wouldn t have available to them. This is basically my second career. I worked as a National Account Manager of fragrance and cosmetics with global brands in the Tax and Duty and US Domestic retail markets for approximately 15 years (cumulatively). When the retail industry became increasingly more difficult with the downturn of the market in 2008 I knew it was a time for a change. However I still wanted to interact with people daily and provide a high level of service utilizing my computer sales and creative problem solving skills. The timing was perfect for Karen because her brother-in-law s (a physician in pulmonary and sleep medicine) practice was rapidly growing and in need of assistance. Over the years we ve developed a range of products and services that provide physicians with a complete platform encompassing the entire medical practice workflow. Our current client base covers the full spectrum of medical specialties including internal medicine pulmonary allergy and sleep medicine. Karen attended Berkeley College and studied business management in the early 1980s. In the late 1990s she earned Network Administrator certificates from Microsoft and Cisco as well as a Microsoft Systems Engineer (MCSE) certificate. She s also been a member of the AAPC for the past five years and continues to pursue excellence through continuing education in all areas applicable to her profession. I felt this was a good time to change my career path to something that would combine my strengths in computers and marketing. Healthcare billing and management is a demanding and timeconsuming discipline and improving services for the physician and practice is an on-going challenge. The challenge lies with the business of medicine which is growing more complicated each day as insurance reimbursement rates decline operating costs go up and administrative challenges increase. It s becoming increasingly difficult to balance managing the business of your practice with the quality of care your patients receive. At some point many practices wonder if they should hire a billing service. As a member I adhere to high standards that assure public confidence in the integrity and service of medical coding auditing compliance and practice management. Karen has been married for 20 years and has three children. Alexandra (19) is starting her second year of college Matthew (17) is a high school senior at Bergen Catholic in Oradell NJ and Daniel (15) is starting his second year of high school. They re all success-bound happy healthy and productive individuals. (Thank God ) My goal is to be able to pass this business on to one or all of them if that s their interest and or it continues to grow and flourish. 57 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What certifications are necessary in your field A Certification is different from being licensed. Licensing is typically required by state government agencies to demonstrate a minimum level of knowledge or ability as required by law. Quite honestly as long as I ve been in medical billing either as an employee or business owner I ve never been asked if I m credentialed in billing. However certification certainly enhances your credibility and salary potential. Q Why is converting to electronic medical records (EMR) so important in the health field today A It brings meaningful use to the patient s medical history and background. It also eliminates the guess work of a patient s drug use history any drug interactions and dangerous allergies to drugs by having one common database. And physicians are brought up to date on the patient s medical history testing lab work etc. through easy portal access. Q How different is being in fragrance sales marketing vs. owning a medical billing management company A It s not all that different. You re still providing an excellent product that is a reflection on your company and reputation. Just like converting products at point of sale to quick sell through medical billing and administration is a flawless and smoothly transitioning business of maintaining a fast stream of revenue to the medical businesses from the insurance companies. It requires an up-to-date knowledge of the marketplace revenue trends expert technology and information readily available. Q How often do you need to update your credentials and continuing education A Very often. It s an ongoing feat to keep on top of CEUs and industry-wide information. It changes constantly and can affect your revenue and workflow. It s also necessary to attend Medicare webinars and seminars as well as commercial carriers. If you re not informed up to the minute it can have an impact on reimbursements across the board. Q How profitable are private practices especially with Obamacare in full effect A Most medical practices today are barely getting by financially. Declining reimbursements from government and private payors along with increasing operating expenses associated with new mandates such as Meaningful Use and ICD-10 are causing many practices to lose profitability. That s where my company can help the typical private single or multi-physician practice. We eliminate the common pitfalls associated with running a private practice and help to navigate through all the complicated demands put on them. Q How do you stay abreast of this ever-changing industry A As mentioned previously find time to attend webinars and seminars of the latest medical guidelines and keep up with coding changes and modifications and important mandates placed on physicians and their practices facilities. There isn t a week that goes by that I am not attending an online class webinar or reviewing industry updates. Q Where do you see yourself in five years A Continue to grow and build my business by helping small practitioners survive in a very difficult climate. Bring new technology to these practices as it becomes available so they can stay current and competitive. Employ those who need jobs and can work from home especially single mothers and those in need of employment. Teach them new skills and discipline. Q Why do you feel that your service is important in today s medical profession A It provides the important use of shared patient data across all platforms for all health professionals to easily access especially in the case of a health crisis. 58 Women of Distinction Liz Steblay Management Consulting Founder Chief Executive Officer PrKo Consulting LLC San Francisco CA 59 Women of Distinction C onsulting is the perfect fit for Liz Steblay s personality. She loves assessing a situation and diagnosing the root cause of a problem before working with a client team to lay out a strategy and plan to reach objectives. Focusing on her love of the short-term nature of the work along with many other benefits that go along with consulting Liz formed PrKo Consulting LLC in 2009 in San Francisco California. Providing a network of highly seasoned top tier consultants across the country with expertise in strategy implementation human resources and organizational effectiveness program management marketing finance and operations their expertise allow for quick diagnosis and implementation of strategies that solve complex business problems. Working in various industries with both large and small organizations some of their more well-recognized clients include Facebook Nike and The Gap to name a few. To be a consultant with PrKo one must possess a number of qualifications including at least 15 years of experience in their field prior consultancy experience and outstanding references. Liz represents only the best in the business. As Founder and CEO Liz handles the negotiations and contracts for new consulting projects interviews and screens consultants who want to represent PrKo works with existing clients to make the contracting and on-boarding process faster and easier helps PrKo consultants with their personal branding and marketing handles marketing and publicity to get the word out about the company s model and oversees accounting which is handled by an independent CPA. I have a thirst for learning and figuring out new companies environments and cultures Liz admits. My modus operandi has always been to be the wizard behind the curtain willingly giving my client counterparts the spotlight which is perhaps why I am blessed to get so much repeat business. By the time Liz had gone back to school to earn her MBA in the 1990s she had already thought about the possibility of specializing in consulting. Her first job after grad school was as an internal consultant with Intuit software the makers of Quicken QuickBooks and TurboTax . She then became an external consultant with Price Waterhouse (now PwC Consulting) before accepting another internal consultant role with Levi Strauss & Company in 2001. But two years later Liz found herself unemployed when their board of directors pulled the funding for the program she was a part of. champion for professional independent consultants Liz said who came from a family of entrepreneurs. I ve learned that with a clear purpose persistence passion and a lot of long days it s possible to achieve my dreams. The daughter of a father who founded and built up a national photofinishing company a very business savvy mother and the sister of four brothers three of them entrepreneurs themselves Liz earned her BS in Business Administration at the University of Southern California followed by her MBA in 1995 at the same university from their Marshall School of Business. At this point I d like to become the national Within a few weeks I was an external consultant again this time as an independent consultant doing work for one of my former PwC clients. I ve been an independent consultant ever since Liz said. PrKo is a modern innovative talent model that brings together professional independent consultants and corporations without the excessive markup of traditional firms while effectively mitigating co-employment risk. 60 Women of Distinction Q&A Q How did you come up with the idea for a professional talent agency for consultants A My personal experiences as an independent consultant initially gave me the idea but I also looked at other industries including moviemaking and home remodeling. For example if you are making a major motion picture in Hollywood you are likely to call the Creative Artists Agency to help you find the right lead actor. You decide you want to hire Daniel Craig. You work out the contract with CAA but Daniel Craig is not their employee he has his own business. I discovered that the same model would work for top-tier professional independent consultants. With regard to home remodeling I realized that the general contractor has the main contract and he often subs out the specialist work like custom cabinets or tile work. The general contractor carries the liability insurance not the subcontractors. I researched insurance companies and policies until I found ones that would work the same way for our consultants. Q What s the hardest part about running the business A Saying no to very well qualified people who want to be a part PrKo. Sometimes a person lacks the professionalism or gravitas to be perceived as a world-class consultant or sometimes I get a sixth sense about a person that there s something not quite trustworthy about them. Those are difficult conversations. Q You ve trademarked the phrase Friends don t let friends W-2 . What does this mean A Professional independent consultants are much better off financially when they are paid as a vendor on a 1099 basis then when they are paid on a W-2 basis through a staffing firm. They can take standard business expenses as tax deductions and contribute to a Simplified-Employee-Pension IRA (SEP-IRA) which is a much better savings plan than a 401(k) plan. Q What has been the most frustrating thing about launching and growing your own business A I live in the Bay Area where you always hear about some wunderkind who just got 10 million in venture capital or who just sold their business for 100 million. It s easy to feel like if you re not getting rich quick you re not doing it right. I played with the idea of getting external funding or bringing on a partner but then I realized I d have to compromise my vision for the business and possibly some of our operating values. Q What is one your pet peeves in business A I hate it when consultants do more talking than listening. This gives me the impression that they feel a need to be perceived as the expert when in fact the reverse is true. The better a consultant listens the better they are able to tailor their comments or questions to address the client s real need thus making them an expert consultant. Q What traits have helped you to succeed A Perseverance and passion There were definitely times in the last six years as I was juggling client projects raising my daughter as a single parent and growing the business that I wanted to quit but I knew I couldn t. From the earliest days of the business I had other consultants counting on PrKo to help them 61 be successful I had no choice but to keep going Q If you could change one thing in corporate America what would it be A I would love to shatter the misconception of many HR departments that the only way to mitigate co-employment risk (essentially being sued and owing back taxes to the government) is to pay someone on a W-2 basis through a third-party. The reality is that model of staffing and payment minimizes the tax exposure but it does not fully mitigate the risk of coemployment. In actuality a solid contracting process does a better job of mitigating the risk for the corporation. Q Is there any precedent for the PrKo talent model A Yes. Corporations hire independent professionals frequently without requiring a W-2 relationship attorneys. It s quite common for a corporation to hire a sole practitioner as outside counsel and they are always paid on a contract basis. Additionally they are never asked for proof of other clients or their insurance or asked how many employees they have. PrKo s professional independent consultants are like attorneys in that they are hired to solve a specific problem they have deep expertise in their field they use their own methodologies tools and templates they perform work for more than one client and they manage their own work. Most of them have advanced degrees too. Why shouldn t an MBA be able to contract with a corporation the same way a lawyer does There s no legal practical or ethical reason the PrKo model makes it possible. Q What does it take to be a PrKo Consultant A PrKo represents highly seasoned professionals with at least 15 years of experience in their field and at least one year as an independent consultant. They also must have prior consulting experience either internally with a Fortune 500 company or as an external consultant with a major firm like Accenture or PwC Consulting. Ideally they are referred to PrKo by someone who is already affiliated with PrKo. (We grow through referral to ensure the quality of the people we represent.) The rigorous vetting process typically takes a few weeks. Q Is there a difference between a freelancer contractor and or consultant A Yes although it s often misunderstood. Generally speaking the type of work complexity and duration varies across the three. A freelancer is someone who does small projects on a short-term basis and it s usually related to a creative field. A contractor is someone who performs work at a certain price or rate the work may be skilled or unskilled and is generally task oriented or fairly routine. A consultant is someone who is hired to solve a problem provide advice and or make something happen that the company is unable to do themselves. Usually if a company is hiring a consultant it is because they do not have the capability to do it themselves. Maria A. Horstmann MBA CPT PNL1 Health and Fitness Owner of Be Fab Be You LLC Empowering Women To Be Fit and Healthy Age Beautifully Be You 62 Atlanta GA Women of Distinction M aria A. Horstmann s career in health nutrition and fitness started when she sought a way to maintain her functional independence cognitive abilities and always be a content active role model without medications until her last breath. So in 2011 she began to educate herself about multiple facets of wellness and how to heal her body and mind. It quickly turned into a passion and desire to share with others so she established Be Fab Be You LLC in 2014. I strive to provide knowledge accountability support and guidance to allow clients to succeed taking charge of their own well-being feel fabulous prevent disease and restore health holistically as well. Empowering my clients witnessing their growth commitment and results give me hope and strength. Each relationship I develop is unique special and priceless. Prior to starting her own business Maria s biggest challenge was leaving Brazil a great job college family and friends and her boyfriend in 1996 to come to the U.S. for an 18-month internship. I am a coach a listener a mentor and forever a student. I go far and beyond to educate provide accountability guidance support and human connection to help my clients achieve their health goals. I develop and provide individualized health wellness and fitness recommendations targeted to help those struggling with weight belly fat fatigue brain fog burnout blood sugar and hormone imbalances digestion inflammation libido and depression. I evaluate educate support and train Her passion for life helping others and paying it forward is what keeps Maria in business. My mission is to empower women to be fit and healthy age beautifully be you In my own case I reversed pre-diabetes and healed chronic digestive and GI issues holistically. It took commitment and self-learning. It was a hard and lonely journey without a support system. It was my first time on an airplane overseas and away from family. Learning a new job as I managed to learn a new culture language and lifestyle was very challenging. I remember I cried about every day for the first month. I wanted to give up so badly. Instead I decided to stay and focus on pursuing my career goals in international business. Maria wants her legacy to be someone who loved to learn shared her knowledge and motivated others to do the same someone who worked hard played hard followed her heart without regrets and believed life was too short to allow others to interfere with her activities. She is someone with high integrity who practices what she preaches and has touched hundreds of lives. 63 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why do you feel that your business is relevant in today s world A One of my jobs is to coach clients to make better decisions and get in touch with what s most important to them. For the first time in history we re raising a generation that will not outlive their parents. 1 out of every 2 Americans will be diagnosed with a diet-related disease. 1 in every 3 adults is obese and almost 1 in 5 youth between the ages of 6 and 19 is obese. Unhealthy eating and lack of activity kills 13 times more than guns. If current trends continue 1 in 3 Americans will develop diabetes during their life. Western medicine continues to improve but adds a patch to the problem instead of finding the root cause. It can be confusing and overwhelming to navigate the health world. Q What s your philosophy regarding health wellness and fitness A I believe that living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle is key to preventing repairing rebuilding and restoring health and function. I believe in real foods healing power and that we re what we digest and absorb. Moreover the management of stress sleep physical activity and timing when we do things is as important as nutrition. Yet everyone s physiology is different and no one diet or protocol fits all. Personal responsibility goal setting and commitment are essential to long-term health and wellness. Q Why do you emphasize disease prevention A Three reasons (1) Inflammation is culprit to numerous chronic and metabolic diseases. Silently it affects hormones and neurotransmitters. Diseases like cancer and dementia take decades to develop. I doubt anyone will argue the devastating side effects of dementia a fast growing disease in America. (2) More than 75% of our healthcare spending is on people with chronic conditions and many are preventable with lifestyle. (3) Maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout life enhances recovery from injuries surgeries or genetic health conditions. It s never too early or late to get started Q What s the best advice you give your clients A First I love to share one of my mentor s client mottos Don t exchange what you want the most for what you want in the moment. This applies to so many aspects of our lives. Second experience plus beliefs equal thoughts . Thoughts trigger emotions and emotions and thoughts are energy. When the head and heart are aligned new beneficial habits can replace old destructive ones. Change is difficult no doubt. Knowledge is the foundation that enables action strength and vision to transform lives. Knowledge is only power when combined with action. Q What services and products do you offer A I offer a holistic approach to health and wellness by individualizing and customizing solutions targeted to combat a series of symptoms mentioned earlier. Services include weight management transformational lifestyle changes blood sugar balancing and insulin restoration programs wellness strategic sessions and functional personal training. I perform NRT (Nutrition Response Testing) also known as Applied Kinesiology a non-invasive technique that evaluates the body s imbalances and tests for food allergies that let us get to the root cause of health problems. I also work with high quality whole-foods based supplements from Standard Process . These products have proven very effective at supporting the body s nutrition needs. I also offer programs that can help companies lower their insurance costs and improve employee retention and productivity. Wellness programs offer tools. I offer one-on-one education and accountability. Last but not least I trust Nerium International s anti-aging products for outer beauty. I service clients located in Atlanta GA and surrounding suburbs and anywhere worldwide via phone and Skype. I also speak Portuguese and Spanish. I encourage everyone to visit my website for more details sign up for my newsletter and receive a FREE GIFT and do not miss the opportunity to schedule a FREE 45-minute consultation face-to-face via telephone or via Skype. 64 Women of Distinction Mary Vinagro Nature Photography Owner of Seven Lakes Exposure Wakefield NH 65 Women of Distinction W Exposure. hile she is the CFO and Co-Owner of several construction companies Mary Vinagro is happiest as sole owner of Seven Lakes Photography is something that I m passionate about. It allows me the opportunity to be outdoors and enjoy nature. Plus it keeps me sane on the weekends. Mary carries her cameras around wherever she goes. Growing up my father took our family s photos and videos. After he passed away I took over the camera work and liked it. Years later I started taking wildlife pictures after my husband and I built a place in the White Mountains. And in January of 2014 I gathered all of my favorite pictures and created a website to sell my work. Mary really enjoys capturing moments with her camera and would like to share New England and other places where she has traveled with the world. You never know when a photo opportunity might present itself. Her passion for photography started when she was a child. I hope I can inspire others to take a walk outside and appreciate nature. 66 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why did you become a photographer A I started out taking family photos when was I was younger. I ve lost so many family members over the years that I hoped to capture moments with my loved ones. When my husband and I built a house in the White Mountains of New Hampshire seven years ago I really started to appreciate the outdoors of New England. I have been very fortunate to have all types of subjects (from plants to animals) in the area so I decided that I wanted to capture moments in nature and share them with others. Q How can your photographs inspire other women to follow their passions A As busy as my schedule is with my day job I make time to take photos. I hope that someone who reads this article is inspired to make the effort to follow through with an idea they may have been contemplating. I think everyone has a talent. They just need to put the effort in to find out what it is and go with it. I get tired of hearing excuses as to why someone can t do something. I prefer to figure out ways to make things happen. Q You work with wildlife. What is the longest time you ve waited for a shot A I ve spent several hours at a time hanging out in the woods waiting for the right shot. The most extensive project was chasing after a bald eagle. I am fortunate to have one living around my lake and I ve been trying to get a good shot of him for the seven years we ve been living in East Wakefield. He always managed to stay just far enough away. I kept buying bigger lenses in order to get close ups but he still eluded me. But about three months ago (early morning) my husband started yelling for me to look outside the living room window and sure enough the eagle was just sitting on a stump about 10 feet from our dock. I couldn t believe it. It was like the eagle was waiting for me. So I ran out the door (in my pajamas no less) sneaking from tree to tree until I could get close enough to take the shot. They are truly magnificent birds. Q What do you want your viewers to get out of your photography A I hope to inspire others to get outside and appreciate the outdoors. Too much time is spent in front the television and the computer. I would also love to decorate homes and businesses with my work. I would love to bring a smile to someone s face when they look at one of my photos especially if they are having a bad day or their job requires them to sit at a desk all day. Q How far do you want to expand A Nature photography appeals to me the most because I think New England is a unique and fascinating place to live but I am not ruling out the possibility of trying my hand at sports. I think it would be fun to capture moments in both professional and amateur events. Q What type of equipment do you use A I started out with a Minolta 35mm way back when. Now I use Sony a55 and Sony HX300 digital cameras. It s so nice to be able to instantly see the photos instead of having to wait for the film to develop. Q How will your talents as a photographer grow to obtain your goal A At some point I would like to take some classes to expand my knowledge. I still have a lot to learn about lighting. I love taking night shots but they can be a real challenge for me. The cameras also present a challenge because there are so many settings available. Q With the digital age your artwork can appear on cups banners shirts etc. Do you think this cheapens the artistry of the photo A My first thought was yes. I guess it can cheapen the artistry of the photo but from my perspective I just want to share what I see and enjoy. So whether it s hanging on a wall or staring back at you from your coffee mug as long as you get enjoyment out of the picture that s what really matters. Q What are your favorite things to photograph A Moonscapes are one of my favorite things to photograph. The ever-changing skyline when the moon is out and clouds are rolling in can be quite beautiful. I also love taking close-up shots of birds. New England has so many varieties and I ve learned to appreciate all the species we have in the area. Q Would you like to go beyond New England to take photos A I love to travel and hope to do more in the future. I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica last year and was amazed at the wildlife. My website has quite a few photos that I took during my stay and gives me the opportunity to share what I ve seen with others who may never get the chance to explore other places. 67 Women of Distinction A Ishah C. Braxton Media and Motivational Empowerment Founder and Chief Executivce Officer of 68 The Conquering Woman LLC Women of Distinction Ishah C. Braxton is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Conquering Woman LLC. She started The Conquering Woman (TCW) in 2011 because she wanted something that represented the arts but also a company that would empower women to strive and conquer their goals in life. This company is the foundation for a multi-faceted structure that will include books plays TV shows music and events and seminars that will help women conquer her dreams (big or small). A Ishah is a woman of many hats but enlisted the help and partnership of her President Carmen Maldonado to create a two-woman show . Carmen has been a great asset to the brand. We both represent TCW and work on material like collaborating on our first book planning a TV show and maintaining a social media presence. And of course there s getting our name out there so networking is very important for us. We hope within the next two years to solely rely on the income from TCW and put our all and soul into building it into what we want it to be. Her motivation to help other women comes from having been knocked down by life and many unforeseen situations. A I am and will always be a true momma s girl. I also believe that all women can conquer if they believe in themselves and in God. I m on my own mission to conquer my dreams and walk in my destiny. She genuinely wants all people to have joy and believe in the power of God. I always tell myself to keep standing. If you keep standing you can do anything. Even in my darkest hour there was a light of hope and hope is everything especially in times of darkness. In her free time A Ishah tries to reset herself and recharge because working a full-time job and growing a business is extremely hard and time-consuming. I ve wanted to give up to the point where I cried and needed my mom all the time. I m just like everyone else in that I ve been tested but I ve turned these tests into testimonies. A Ishah is driven by the grace of God and the wonderful women in her life such as her mother (Yvette M. Brown). As a very analytical person I need time to pray and write so I can get all the emotions from the week out of my mind and release my inner stress. I m an average woman trying to conquer life but like watching TV shows like Mary Mary Scandal and Empire to unwind at night. I ve also written three children s books and a selftitled Conquering Woman book (inspiration and self-help) for which I m shopping around to find publishers. I want to be a writer who influenced and changed people s lives. A Ishah also wants to leave a legacy of strength and love and for people to know that she too has been knocked down but she got up again. No one was ever going to keep her down. 69 Women of Distinction Carrie Armstrong Health Wellness and Fitness Founder Chief Executive Officer Stargazer Wellness Coaching LLC Group Fitness Instructor Personal Trainer Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Corporate Wellness Consultant 70 Women of Distinction San Antonio TX C arrie Armstrong is the Founder and CEO of Stargazer Wellness Coaching LLC offering a variety of services to clients including private health coaching group and personal fitness training and worksite wellness consulting. She s studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition Holistic MBA Corporate Wellness Academy Aerobics and Fitness Association of America University of Virginia and the University of Idaho. I ve been training for this career since I first picked up a basketball at age 4. I grew up in rural Idaho playing sports riding horses and hiking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. During college I fell in love with group exercise classes and dreamed about being a health and fitness professional but it took me 10 years to finally follow this passion. After a wonderful career at the University of Virginia in a variety of roles including Career Development Admissions and Alumni Relations I launched Stargazer Wellness Coaching LLC in October 2014. I chose the stargazer lily as its namesake because it symbolizes the achievement of a dream (and it s my favorite flower). She attributes her confidence to her fantastic parents George and Lissa Phillips and also thanks her mentors at the University of Virginia including Everette Fortner Brendan Boler Whitney Kester Elizabeth Muse and the late Fred Drake. Carrie s regrets waiting so long after college to join the health and wellness industry. I wish I had the confidence to launch my business when I was younger. I ve known for many years that coaching and teaching are my true passions which isn t surprising since many of my aunts and uncles both of my grandmothers and parents are teachers or athletic coaches . Her best advice for others is to be authentic because you ll have much more success if you use your time and talents to engage in work that interests you. Truly commit to learning and refining your craft share your skills with the world and your passion will shine through. As Maya Angelo said You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well people can t take their eyes off you. Carrie s dreams are coming true as she empowers others to live their happiest healthiest lives. How can she inspire you Schedule a complimentary Transformation Conversation at carrie They each gave me the confidence to create my own venture and pursue my ultimate dream of being a business owner who inspires others to make positive changes in their own lives. Today Carrie specializes in empowering busy women and teenagers. I wake up each morning knowing I m living my purpose of serving others and empowering them to live their happiest healthiest life. I dreamed about launching my own business because I wanted to help others transform their goals into reality. How many people know what to do yet are unsuccessful in achieving and maintaining their goals I provide a supportive 71 positive and fun environment where my clients thrive. Women of Distinction Cheri Rennells Logistics Customized Food Distribution East ROP Manager Customer Service Manager DC 96 for Golden State Foods 72 Whitewater WI Women of Distinction C heri Rennells is a Customer Service Manager for Golden State Foods where she leads a team who handles day-to-day restaurant concerns ensuring managers have just-in-time inventory. Cheri was greatly inspired by her mother who started in customer service and worked her way up to be a department head when she was young. Watching her work nights raise two kids and still have fun was amazing. Following in her mother s footsteps Cheri s entire career has revolved around customer service starting with a job at a Taco John s restaurant and later with a catalog company call center (Figi s Gifts in Good Taste). These both gave me great insight to customer service and the quick service restaurant industry with distribution. Cheri quickly grew with the call center and took on additional tasks such as working with Spanish-speaking customers and special projects. She also picked up more customer service values with an internship at Walt Disney World s Magic Kingdom as an Operations Cast Member. She later started with Golden State Foods as a part-time customer service representative while earning her MBA and went on to progress through the company in various full-time roles in customer service and purchasing including Customer Service Supervisor ROP Manager and to her current role as Customer Service Manager. Situations like these really shake up a person but make you realize how you handle uncertainty so you can improve on yourself. They ve helped me realize that while we know communication is important ensuring communication is done versus understood are very different. Sometimes you have to communicate the same message 12 different ways to ensure a team is moving in the right direction. This single mother dedicates her free time to a wonderfully energetic 4-year old son but also finds time for various causes such as acting as the Chairperson for her local Golden State Foods Foundation charity whose mission is to assist kids and families in need. She also enjoys being a swim coach for the Janesville Area Special Olympics participating in fundraisers to help and raise awareness of autism and donating blood to save lives. Cheri s philosophy on life is simple Unplug for a little bit. Let our children be children. And remember work is what allows you to live life. She also hopes to leave behind a legacy of tolerance common sense helpfulness and understanding. I really enjoy helping people when they re struggling. However you can t make everyone happy. (That s the biggest lesson I ve learned.) You have to make your decisions on what s best for the business and then what s best for your people. Without people you don t have a business but without a business there are no people. Customer service is always different. It s like a maze where the walls keep moving you always have to be on your toes. While decisions about customer service can be a challenge Cheri has also faced many challenges from uncertainty of a facility closing to employees over the course of her career believing that she didn t care about them. 73 Women of Distinction Coral (Lynne) Johnson C Beauty Spa & Travel Entrepreneur and Owner of DHP Travel by Diversity Hair Productions Millersville MD oral (Lynne) Johnson is an entrepreneur and the owner of DHP Travel by Diversity Hair Productions. With the encouragement of her late grandmother (a beautician) to continue her education Lynne enrolled in the Annapolis Beauty Academy in 1988 shortly after her death and became a licensed cosmetologist. Just before 9 11 she also studied Business Management and pursued a second career in the travel industry. Over the past 27 years Lynne has held many positions in the beauty industry which include salon owner acting manager cosmetology instructor freelance stylist and cosmetic manager distributor. My two most rewarding positions were as a barber beautician for the US Naval Academy where I was recognized for outstanding services to the midshipmen women and as a Rater for Prometric Testing where I administered exams for the State Board of Cosmetology and Barbers to candidates taking their state exams to become licensed cosmetologists estheticians manicurists and barbers. With the least seniority I was promoted to the Lead Rater Administrator position where I managed the department for practical exams at the Baltimore Maryland site. While still freelancing and renting space in a salon Lynne currently operates DHP Travel by Diversity Hair Productions (a home-based business) where she works as a travel event coordinator. Over the years I ve enjoyed working in the travel industry meeting people and providing hair care and other relaxing salon and spa services that enhance one s natural beauty. In order for DHP Travel to function at its highest capacity it s important to research services offered in salons spas and resorts around the world and strategically plan getaways and events that my clients will enjoy. One of Lynne s greatest challenges was finding the right multi-cultural upscale salon that would fit her personality and invite an African-American stylist with a predominately African-American clientele. Eventually I became weary which led me to start planning a business that would fit my personality and one that I could leave behind for someone as passionate as I am to run. For anyone starting out in the beauty industry Lynne offers the following advice Always think outside the box and continue your education. There s always room for innovative minds to keep the beauty industry fueling. Lynne is a strong woman who has endured and overcome a lot in life. I can identify with people from all walks of life and hope that I can give someone hope through my acts of kindness or faith in God. She has always lived her life by the following motto Encourage and support our children in their careers and dreams. Teach them to be selfsufficient and able to survive without you. Lynne is a proud grandmother with one biological daughter (Donice Stimeare) a son-in-law and four step-daughters from a previous marriage. She also has siblings many nieces nephews and great-nieces and nephews who she loves like her own and a partner who has helped her get through some tough times. I m very proud of all the children whom I ve sowed into especially my daughter who s shared me most of her life. You can learn more about her by visiting www.donicestimeare. com. 74 Women of Distinction Countess Vlandamir Preventative Maintenance Center Owner Operator Ms. V Auto Care Center Dallas TX W orking as a correctional officer for the State of Texas Department of Criminal Justice Countess Vlandamir was saddened to learn how many of the inmates would get released from prison only to end up back behind bars because they couldn t get a job due to their records and prior convictions. Finding themselves in trouble with the law again because they felt they had no other options Countess was determined to stop this cycle. Countess has learned over time to never say never. She never thought she would ever work in a prison or do many of the things she did in life but now as she reflects back on the life she has led she realizes that she s served a great purpose in life. I founded Ms. V Auto Care Center in Dallas Texas in 2003 Countess said. I ve teamed up with the Dallas Urban League Texas Rehabilitation and Texas Workforce Commission and we ve begun offering classes to certify men and women ex-offenders to be oil and lube technicians. After graduation we ll either assist them with job placement or they can come and work for me at Ms. V s. Although Countess admits that she cannot save them all she tries to help as many rehabilitees as possible. There isn t a day that goes by that she doesn t want to go to work even when she s dead tired. Driving 35 minutes each way to get back and forth to the shop she often puts in over 12 hours a day working from 8am to sometimes 10pm. Overseeing daily operations Countess is the HR manager marketing director bookkeeper manager and even referee at times. There is never a dull moment. Working in the auto care industry there is a lot of competition so Countess has to work hard to earn business and repeat customers. Working in a predominantly male industry Countess must constantly prove herself too to gain respect. But everyday counts and she is determined to keep the business going not only for the sake of her career but also for the sake of the countless employees she has taken under her wing. I am not just a woman who overcame barriers but a business women a mother a wife a friend a teacher one who was called to do God s work and did it well Countess said about her victories. I hope when others think of me they smile. Writing her first book Countess is an Eastern Star the vicepresident of the Lancaster Road Merchant Association and a member of the National Association of Female Executives. A divorced mother with three daughters she also has nine grandchildren all of which live in nearby Rowlett Texas. Her eldest daughter Rena has her own line of hair products and is married to Bryan who is in law enforcement. They share three sons. Her middle daughter Nicole has four children one of which passed away in 2010. Her youngest Keisha is now engaged to be married to Bruce and they have two daughters. 75 Women of Distinction Estelle R. Coffino Proprietary 2 and 4 year college education programs in Healthcare Business Networking Digital Media and Accounting Program Director Chairperson Allied Health Program White Plains NY E stelle R. Coffino is the Program Director Chairperson for the School of Allied Health at the College of Westchester in White Plains New York where she oversees programs in Medical Assisting Health Information Management and their recently approved Bachelors program in Healthcare Administration. Her career started in 1972 after graduating from Manhattan Community College as a Respiratory Therapist. I actually wanted to become a gymnastics instructor or even a gym teacher for a high school (preferably outside of New York). However as fate would have it I was selected to participate in an experimental college program during my senior year of high school based on my exceptional grades in math and science. However once I learned that the program was designed to prepare students to work in the healthcare field I panicked because I couldn t even stand the sight of blood. But with my mother s encouragement I enrolled in the program and eventually overcame my fear after seeing my first surgery and how much I was able to contribute to the patient s recovery post-operatively. Estelle remained in the field working for various tertiary hospitals for the next 30 years. While working as a director of respiratory care in Yonkers New York she returned to school to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Community Health. Having graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mercy College Estelle continued on to Long Island University where she earned her Master of Health Care Administration. She was later recruited to join The College of Westchester to help build its Allied Health programs. And now after almost eight years the School of Allied Health is its second largest school so Estelle s role as a Program Director includes a number of different responsibilities. As an academic administrator I develop and provide oversight to the allied health curriculum for both the associates and bachelor programs. In keeping current with the changes taking place in our complex health care industry I (along with my team) review and revise curriculum hire and evaluate faculty and serve as a member of our academic advisory council. With help from the facility team I ve designed two clinical laboratories with the latest state-ofthe-art equipment for our students to train and become proficient in performing clinical skills. Per our college mission we as one make it happen for our students. Her hard work has earned her the honorable distinction of being featured in the 2014 edition of Who s Who Top 101 Industry Experts in Health Care Delivery and she also qualifies for inclusion in the Who s Who Worldwide registry of executives professionals and entrepreneurs. Estelle wants to be known as someone who made a difference in many ways in many people s lives. She also believes in three simple rules to living life Remember to always be honest be humble and learn humility. I enjoyed my educational experience so much that when one of my professors suggested I pursue a career in teaching I applied and accepted an adjunct position at Rockland Community College in Suffern New York followed by a second teaching position at Bergen Community College in Paramus New Jersey. By day I was working in a hospital and in the evening I was an educator. Teaching healthcare became my new passion. 76 Women of Distinction Jean Underwood Towing Owner of Beaverton Towing LLC Beaverton OR J ean Underwood is the owner of Beaverton Towing LLC in Beaverton Oregon. The towing industry is considered to be a brotherhood of hard working men and women who want to service their community in various ways depending on the company s area and services they provide. This industry is now the leader in the country for roadside injuries and or deaths more so than police fire or even roadside workers. Jean has always tried to do the right thing no matter what. She believes in working to be the best at what is asked of her. Throughout the years she s worked as a nurse s aide for elderly and disabled adults a cashier and customer service associate at Walmart and even worked two jobs at the same time. She did all this while raising three children who are now grown up. My daughter is a hair stylist married to a wonderful man one son is a tower and my other son hosts gaming parties for kids. I m very proud of them and the roads they ve traveled. In August 2010 Jean s son (Robert) submitted her name to Tow Times Women of Towing . She s also a member of the WTRAA (Women of the Towing and Recovery Association of America). Jean was nominated by the NAPW (National Association of Professional Women) as a Woman of the Year for 2011-2012. And in 2012 she became an honored member of the Heritage Registry of Who s Who. Beaverton Towing LLC has also been a member of the OTTA (Oregon Tow Truck Association) since 2012. After a 35-year career Jean feels blessed grateful and privileged to have come so far. And she s met some great colleagues and people who ve become dear friends. She s even in a happy and rewarding marriage. God has certainly blessed me in many ways so I never try to take anything for granted. Towing is a hard profession and is 24 7 365 days a year. Weather conditions don t matter. Towers are always out on the roadways helping those in need with dispatchers taking information to keep the trucks moving. Jean s career began after graduating from high school in Vancouver WA when she met two brothers who were in the towing business. She immediately became fascinated. I met some interesting people and every service call was different. I also realized soon that there were very few women in the industry who actually drove a tow truck It was intriguing learning and watching people s faces when I would get out of the truck mostly men who would sit back and watch bully and poke fun at the situation. However Jean s determination and commitment proved them wrong. I continued to work 150% harder and was in love with the industry along with everything that came with it. I even learned dispatching and accounts payable and receivable. And knowing the Oregon towing laws and statutes that related to all facets of the industry was a plus. Knowledge is power Jean also advises anyone joining this industry that safety should ALWAYS be the number one priority. 77 Women of Distinction Karen Ayres Business Strategist Consulting and Executive Coaching President and Chief Executive Officer of Corporate Inspirations Surrey BC Canada K aren Ayres is the President and CEO of Corporate Inspirations (founded in 2005) where she assists organizations in aligning their business and personnel strategies developing talent and leadership skills to fill the succession pipeline. She also offers individual and team coaching. And if the talent cannot be developed or found within Karen offers external recruiting for key roles. Throughout her career various experiences and interactions were instrumental to Karen s success. But the catalyst was when a former CEO saw a spark in her and a passion for helping others learn and grow. He often invited me back after I graduated to be a guest and participate on Human Resources panels for fourth year HR students. Each time we met he d gently turn to the subject of executive coaching and how with my experience knowledge and interpersonal skills ( emotional intelligence ) I d make a great business coach. After two years and his continuous effort to persuade me to get certified in Executive Coaching I did it She s worked with organizations of all sizes across several industries spanning local and national government as well as public private and nonprofit companies. Karen has also helped first nations groups become independent and more sustainable through people practices. Additionally she s written a number of self-help books for individuals who either want a career transition or find themselves in a place where they have to find a new career. They can all be found on her website www. Upon graduating from the Royal Roads Coaching program Karen was given a bumper sticker that read Out of the Box Thinker . I believe in never accepting the status quo asking questions being na ve and breaking the rules for the sake of finding a better way to get the job done. If you fail take it as a learning experience and don t repeat the same mistake. I always remember the old saying If at first you don t succeed try try again. The same holds true in business and in life. The company wanted to start a Human Resources department beginning with Training and Development. At the time I had no qualifications and wasn t comfortable with public speaking or being in the spotlight. Nonetheless he wasn t going to take no for an answer and provided the resources required to learn grow and deliver what the organization needed. Luckily I had excellent project management skills and my ability to connect with people helped me deliver on what (then) seemed like an unachievable task. I built an HR department from the ground up and coached mid-managers executives and board members assisting them to be better leaders in fulfilling the strategic plan through their people. I was officially a Human Resources Business Strategist . While earning her undergraduate degree in leadership and finance Karen found another great mentor in one of her professors who owned his own company and was a Certified Executive Coach with clients around the world. Karen has owned her own consulting and executive coaching company for the past 10 years. 78 Women of Distinction Maxine Marsolini Coaching Writing Author Life Coach Rebuilding Families Co-Host The River (blog talk radio) Portland OR divorced mother of two young children Maxine Marsolini was blessed to find love again remarrying in 1975 to a wonderful man who had three children of his own. Two years later a baby girl made them a yours mine and ours family. As a very blended family with six children in tow the emotional highs and lows brought about many unexpected and often unhappy challenges. Maxine found herself in desperate need of relationship resources specific to blended families during a time when they weren t the norm. The choice she made was to become a student of relationships so that their family could survive the odds. That was forty years ago. A Working alongside her late husband a CPA in their accounting office for years they took on another family helps adventure as Pacific Northwest Directors for Crown Ministries (later merged with Christian Financial Concepts becoming Crown Financial Ministries). But by mid-career he sold the accounting business to become an ordained minister with The Church of Nazarene. They loved being in the business of helping others. As a pastor s wife Maxine found many blessings. Blended Families was founded in 1999 in Medford Oregon and was birthed anew as Rebuilding Families in 2007 in Portland Oregon to reach a larger family base. As the founder of Rebuilding Families Maxine earned her coaching certificate with Western Seminary in Portland. She writes material and is available to coach individuals with relationship needs. Beyond enjoying family helping others achieve empowerment through Christ-based self-discovery is the most important role she s ever had. She offers a free 30-minute introductory coaching sessions to determine if coaching is the best route to take and if so future appointments are scheduled. Maxine s other books include Rebuilding Families One Dollar at a Time (with Charles Marsolini) Blended Families Workbook and Raising Children in Blended Families. Her fifth book entitled Mother s Fury is scheduled for release in March 2016. Recently remarried to Jerry they have four grown children and eight grandchildren. Maxine has four stepchildren and multiple step-grandchildren. Feeling blessed Maxine thoroughly enjoys creating fun memories with her big yours mine and ours family. Our family had different issues to tackle than most families at that time Maxine explained. The non-biological relationships required a new paradigm of answers for us. I sought out to get them. By 1996 Maxine realized she was in a position to help other families in similar situations. Through her writing she authored her first book Blended Families Creating Harmony as You Build a New Home Life. It would be the first of four published books. As more and more families came looking for step-family helps to cope with what she had already gone through Maxine was eager to offer guidance and support to them. Blending lives together doesn t just happen she noted. We purposely journey into it and it takes years to find that place of harmony. Divorce rates are higher for step-families. I know there are ways to keep families intact. Children need stability at home. They rightfully deserve to feel loved and valued. 79 Women of Distinction Paula L. Pautauros Title Insurance for Residential and Commercial Properties Founding Partner Chief Executive Officer of RELTCO Inc. Tampa FL P aula L. Pautauros is the Founding Partner CEO of RELTCO Inc. However there isn t a position within the company that she hasn t done can t do or wouldn t do for the better of the organization and team. Paula believes that while you need positive leadership to grow an organization it takes more for it to be successful. I genuinely care and share my knowledge with my team on a daily basis. A company can only be as successful as the owners who are willing to accept ideas and new challenges from their management team and staff members on a regular basis. When she s not working Paula enjoys interior design trips to the beach reading and spending time with her family. I take pride in knowing I have the best of the best team handling our operations daily which allows me to focus on being the face of our company to our clients and vendors when traveling around the country. Paula s career began in 1988 in the lending industry. It was then a natural progression to title insurance based on her mortgage banking knowledge. I m always on a quest for knowledge. This industry is everchanging and there s always something new to learn or a new process to implement which (in turn) makes our industry better and also enhances our companies through fluctuations in overall training and business workflow. Working in a heavily dominated male industry for so many years (at upper level management and ownership) Paula has learned to be strong and stand up for what she believes in. I ve worked with some of the worst people in the industry but also some of the best. If you can be well-rounded and keep a level head on your shoulders you ll be successful. She was greatly inspired by the words of Jerry Horner a toplevel executive she worked with many years ago at Met Life. Jerry once said to me It s not who you know but how you know. As I ve grown older and learned so much more in my career I understand his words. Everyone has a specific purpose in life and everyone has a name. Jerry always remembered everyone s name and addressed you accordingly. I implemented this in my life not only personally 80 but professionally and it does matter I m married to a wonderful man who s not only my business partner at work but in life. We have two beautiful daughters. One will be attending MSU this fall and our other is turning 16 this year and very excited to drive Paula hopes that at some point in her life both personally and professionally she has touched someone else s life. Whether it s by providing a job a smile a warm hug or just listening I want to be known as not being too tied up in myself that I forgot about others. It s so easy to do that in our industry with so many changes. I strive each day to be the giver of myself through sharing knowledge or lending that extra helping hand. Women of Distinction Shelly Dawn Perry Education - Special Education Teacher at Paramount School of Excellence 81 Indianapolis IN Women of Distinction S helly Dawn Perry is a language arts teacher at Paramount School of Excellence. During the 20 minutes that students spend with her daily she emphasizes reading fluency comprehension and writing skills. Shelly s road to teaching began in college where she served as Activities Chair and Intramural Coordinator for her sorority Zeta Tau Alpha. Both positions enabled her to plan events for the chapter and organize teams for sporting events. Shelly also draws strong inspiration from her niece on a daily basis. My niece was born 16 years ago when I first started teaching. Setting a positive example for her motivates me. I ve been very blessed to have an active role in her life. Shelly is still an active supporter of the annual campaign for the YMCA which raises money for students to participate in before and after school programs day camp programs swim lessons and sports teams. She also loves cooking reading crafts Colts football IU basketball taking walks yoga and spending time with family and friends in her free time. And this year she completed her first 5K with Making Strides for Breast Cancer for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Plus Shelly and her dad serve as co-chairs for her mother s scholarship fund which donates books to the libraries of local schools in her hometown. Shelly would like for anyone who comes into contact with her to remember her attitude. My sorority also gave me my first exposure to philanthropy. When I graduated from college in 1998 I wasn t sure what to do with my degree. One of my friends suggested that I apply at the YMCA because of my skills with event planning team building and service learning. So Shelly joined the YMCA and had the opportunity to teach and attend trainings. These trainings gave me experience with public speaking. In November 2014 she had the opportunity to introduce the Veterans Day speaker at Fountain Central High School (her alma mater). My experience at the YMCA assisted me with speaking in front of my family former teachers current employees students and members of the community. Today Shelly enjoys helping students set academic goals for themselves and creating curriculum and learning environments where they can thrive and succeed. She followed in her parents footsteps (both teachers). They ve been my greatest professional inspiration. My father Steve Perry taught junior high math and was an FFA advisor and chairperson for the annual Veterans Day program at Fountain Central High School. I had the fortunate opportunity to work him for two years. And my late mother Kathy Perry taught language arts at Covington Elementary School. 82 I lost my mother and grandfather within a week of each other during my first year of teaching. I believe that attitude is three percent of what happens to you and 97 percent is how you respond. The day after my mother s funeral I returned to school to coach my Spell Bowl team at the district competition. I ve persevered through every difficult situation I ve encountered. Women of Distinction Sheila Kay Brann Oncology Hematology Pharmacy Technician at Kinston Medical Kinston NC W hen Sheila Kay Brann got laid off from her previous job she decided to go back to school. They are exceptional in their fields. Sheila s advice for anyone working in pharmacy is to never fill guess work . This is the first rule of pharmacy. You should always call the doctor s office or talk to the pharmacist as they may know a particular doctor s handwriting. When she s not working Sheila enjoys participating in Relay for Life events dancing going to the river and most importantly spending time with her family. In 2003 she graduated from Lenoir Community College as a certified pharmacy technician. Going back to school in my late 40s wasn t easy to balance with three kids but I believe that if I could do it anyone could. I recommend this career path for anyone who wants a really good job and enjoys helping people. However be prepared to study as if you re learning a whole new language. Believe me it can get tough at times but it is well worth the time and effort. Today Sheila works for Kinston Medical where she s responsible for mixing chemotherapy drugs. She also maintains inventory and pricing to ensure that the bills coincide with the statements. It can get pretty hairy with insurance nowadays as oncology drugs are the low man on the totem pole for coverage. I hope things change in the near future for all cancer patients. Sheila finds tremendous joy in helping people when they re sick. That s when I feel I m doing the most good. People with cancer have to go through chemotherapy and radiation which can wear them down physically and emotionally. The best feeling is when you can tell someone that they re in remission or cured. Unfortunately that s not always the case but just to be able to give someone months to years of their life is very gratifying. She was highly inspired by the doctors who treated her for various sicknesses over the years as well as the two doctors she works with on a daily basis Dr. Peter Watson and Dr. Misbah Qadir. While working in the medical field is very rewarding my family always comes first. I have three children and six grandchildren who are my life. My son works in plumbing and heating one of my daughters teaches dance and the other works in medical transportation. I m proud of my children and hope they go far in life. They all live in North Carolina as does my mother who I try to be like each day. She has a great attitude and treats everyone as she d like to be treated. Sheila would most like to be remembered as someone who did her best for everyone. 83 Women of Distinction Tiziana Ciccone Education and Publishing Founder President and Curriculum Director of Reggio Kids Children s Author and President of Pancake Puddle Books 84 Richmond Hill Ontario Canada Women of Distinction T iziana Ciccone was born on September 8 1960 in the small town of Chieti in the Italian province of Abruzzi and immigrated to Canada in 1962. As a child Tiziana loved to read while tucked beneath her blankets flashlight in hand. I Since 1997 her efforts have been directed toward studying the Reggio Emilia Approach fascinated by its unique pedagogy and deep respect for the child as a participant in the learning process. Exploring this approach Tiziana joined an American Study Tour to the preschools of Reggio Emilia Italy in 2003 and then again in 2011. She has traveled throughout North America and abroad for research. In 2013 Tiziana joined the education faculty at Centennial College teaching students about the Reggio Emilia Approach. She has acted as a program consultant for other schools developing curriculum with a strong emphasis on the learning environment and now owns two private preschools in Richmond Hill Ontario Canada. The Reggio teacher is unique because she offers herself to the process of co-construction of knowledge releasing the traditional roles of a teacher and opening doors to new possibilities. She starts with the use of the child s own theories promotes disequilibrium and helps the child to think about their thinking to facilitate new learning. - Seong Bock Hong 1998 Reggio Kids received the 2009 Business Achievement Award. Visit for more information. Additionally her love of reading and writing while growing up contributed to her accomplishments as Tiziana is also a children s book author. She currently has six published books (awarded the Parent Tested Parent Approved Lifetime Seal) with many more on the way and is also the founder of Pancake Puddle Books. Many of the characters in my books are inspired by the wonderful children I have met and by my own three children whose childhood years filled my life with laughter and love. Visit for more information. Tiziana has been married for 34 years and has three grown children Daniel Matthew and Liana. We must invest in our children (our youngest citizens) and raise them to have a care for their fellow man and for the earth. Only then can we make this world a better for place for today and our future generations I lost myself in the adventures of Nancy Drew the Hardy Boys and Sherlock Holmes. My imagination knew no bounds as I wove my own stories on scraps of paper and kept an adventure journal. As a young woman Tiziana never considered writing as a career. Instead she pursued a career in Early Childhood Education which has brought her incredible success. Tiziana graduated from Humber College (1981) with honors in Early Childhood Education specializing in Developmental Delays. Adding to her education she earned a Montessori Teaching Diploma in 1997. Tiziana has over 30 years of experience working with children and their families and has been the Executive Director of several preschools. 85 Women of Distinction Willia Winnie Momberere Non-Profit Founder Smile of Glory Inc. Plano TX 86 Women of Distinction O ne day on Christmas morning in 2013 Willia Winnie Momberere couldn t join in the celebratory traditions of eating with family and friends due to a terrible toothache. Unfortunately she had no choice but to deal with the pain until she could get to a dentist after the holidays were over. That was the day I decided that no one should go through that kind of pain because oral hygiene negligence or lack of education on the importance of oral care Willia said about her frustrations that day. A VIP member of National Association of Professional Women and a member of Ladies of Purpose International Willia earned her Diploma in Beauty Therapy at Cindy s Beauty Therapy School in Zimbabwe in 1998 and her Bachelor s Degree in Communication Science at the University of South Africa in 1992. She has authored four books to date all of which can be found on or www. The Print of His Hand He Leads Me The Little Girl Within and The Well That Never Dries. In addition to writing Christina books Winnie also writes music and poetry. A loving mother sister and friend Winnie has a big heart and she is known for filling her days with love and compassion in every way possible. She hopes to continue shedding some light on the little things in life and just how significant some small gesture could impact the world. Growing up in Zimbabwe Africa Willia doesn t recall ever owning a toothbrush. Instead she and other children would chew on a chewing stick they would grab off a nearby tree. The lack of education surrounding oral hygiene and dental care that often results in severe tooth decay and gum disease was something that Willia wanted to change for the children back home. She wanted them to have a better chance at having a healthy mouth than she did. Promoting a healthier lifestyle by providing oral hygiene supplies like toothbrushes mouthwash tooth floss educational materials and dental visits to those children in need as the Founder of the not-for-profit organization Smile of Glory Inc. Willia is doing her bet to promote a healthier lifestyle for kids of tomorrow. With a mission to reach 50-60 000 children by the end of December 2015 Willia hopes to be able to have fully equipped dental clinics in every rural school in Zimbabwe before expanding this movement to other African countries. Inspired by the great Mother Theresa for her labor of love to the less privileged she relies on volunteers including teachers and students in order to spread the word by teaching oral hygiene to the parents and children all over Africa. Love is giving and giving is love she said. That was the torch that was passed on to me by my father and mother. It is my turn now to keep it burning and hand it over to the next generation brighter. 87 Women of Distinction Professionals speaking to and about professionals Executive Broadcasting Channel is the newest way to have your voice heard. You will be able to reach a vast network of executives and professionals spanning all markets and industries. Ever thought about your own Podcast Website or Professional Video Consider your prayers answered For more inFormation call (855)893-naDP http Maxine Billings Author - Fiction Inspiration Self-Published Author Temple GA maxinebillings Mary Vinagro Nature Photography Owner of Seven Lakes Exposure