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Women of Distinction Magazine WDM Dr. Cathy Chargualaf Ph.D. DCH CLC Life Coach Chief Executive Officer of Life Esteem LLC Founder of the Life Esteem Wellness Center 1 Certified Holistic Life Coach Women of Distinction Victoria Leigh Gabriella Writing Self-Published Author Xlibris Publishing Company Williamsburg VA http victoriagabriella vickeygarner 10 48 contents... Gena Rotas 39 Andrea Just 67 Jill Karatinos Dr. Linda Amerson features 5 Life Coach Chief Executive Officer of Life Esteem LLC Founder of the Life Esteem Wellness Center Certified Holistic Life Coach Covina CA Dr. Cathy Chargualaf Ph.D. DCH CLC 24 Jennifer F. Dobbs 53 CJ Stafford Charity Work Volunteer Pet Rescue and Re-Homing President Treasurer Adoption Coordinator PetMatchmaker Rescue South Memphis TN Customer Care Consulting Marketing President Owner Stafford Communications Group Inc. New Providence NJ 66 Kristen Kang Insurance Retail Commercial Insurance Co-Founder Executive Vice-President Commercial Global Insurance Services of California LLC Irvine CA 3 Women of Distinction Women of Distinction Magazine ISSUE 16 Women of Distinction Staff Marissa Bacchi EDITOR-IN-CHIEF HEAD WRITER EDITOR Holli M. Narvaez Felix Pons WRITER BUSINESSES THRIVE WHEN THEY HAVE PROFESSIONAL VIDEOS TO HELP EXPLAIN WHO THEY ARE & WHAT THEY DO. LAYOUT GRAPHIC DESIGN Jill Mongonia EDITORIAL COORDINATOR Rachael Raffna Anne Chilar SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE Kimberly Diehl SELECTION COMMITTEE Rebecca Valuch 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 4 Women of Distinction Dr. Cathy Chargualaf Ph.D. DCH CLC Life Coach Chief Executive Officer of Life Esteem LLC Founder of the Life Esteem Wellness Center Certified Holistic Life Coach 5 Covina CA Women of Distinction I t is not what happens to you... It is how you deal with it After reading the following events some of you may think that the theme of Cathy Chargualaf s life was filled with negative situations. However she will tell you The theme of my life is about making a decision and taking action (any action) during times of struggle for a better life. She experienced what no child should ever experience. Cathy conflicted with her mother s desires. At two years old her frustrated mother as a means to control her joyful vibrant and energetic child placed a pillow over her face. This left Cathy feeling at an early age that she wasn t wanted or that she even belonged in this world. Her parents divorce at the age of six compounded her feelings of not being wanted thus impacting her learning ability throughout her early school years. In the third grade homework assignments were made more difficult with her mother snapping. Are you stupid Don t you understand Cathy knows that she isn t stupid just a little dyslexic. After graduating six months early from high school I left home. I entered a relationship with a man whom I fell in love with and would become the father of my daughter. I discovered later that he had a problem with alcohol. He had drinking binges that made him verbally and physically abusive. At one point during a disagreement he dragged me while pregnant across the kitchen floor by my hair. Cathy stayed in the abusive relationship until her daughter was born because she had nowhere to go. Six months after her precious daughter s birth she made another decision about the direction of her life. She left her abusive relationship. It was the day before Thanksgiving and I was let go from my job. It wasn t for lack of performance but for taking time off to pick up my sick daughter from child care. I went home that afternoon and cried for about 3 hours but then I wiped my tears picked myself up and went looking for another job. Shortly after Cathy landed a job and moved to Southern California but just when she thought things were going well the nightmares started. I was waking up every night at 3 45 a.m. to a terrifying dream of being molested as a child. These nightmares continued every night (at the same time) for three months. I fell into a depression which left me homebound and unable to go to work. Again I was faced with making a decision about my life and existence. I reached out for help and during the process of recovery I developed the Life EsteemTM program to help myself. Despite all that Cathy went through her desire to help others would pull her through her depression and she would end up helping others find purpose and meaning in their lives with her Life EsteemTM program. In 1999 the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles honored Cathy for her contribution to the community for her Life EsteemTM program. I believe everyone can change their situation. It is not what happens to you... It is how you deal with it THE JOURNEY TO LIFE ESTEEMTM What keeps Cathy motivated is her optimistic view that there must be a good reason for her journey. That reason manifested as Life Esteem LLC in her desire to share with others how she overcame her life s struggles. In 1996 Cathy produced and hosted a TV talk show for high school students. The show focused on helping teens find meaning in their lives and value of diversity. She included her groundbreaking course Life EsteemTM to help teens find their purpose. I struggled to make ends meet and seeking help from my parents wasn t an option. My mother didn t want me back home with a baby and my father disowned me for having a child out of wedlock. I chose to stay with other family until I could hopefully get on my feet. However things got worse before they got better. I moved in with an aunt and uncle thinking my situation would improve. Unfortunately my uncle wanted to have sex with me in exchange for a car and other material things. I was stunned and angry at his physical advances and immediately left his residence not knowing where to go. I had nowhere to go no family support no job and no money. She stayed with friends until she found a job and a place to live but her troubles weren t over just yet. 6 I created another program called Creating Your Future for my job to assist employees coping with a reduction in force (RIF). I was asked to provide my Life EsteemTM course as part of the Creating Your Future program to help individuals prepare for the RIF by aligning themselves with their life s desires. Women of Distinction This program was a success with the employees and was featured on the CBS Sunday News. Holistic Life Coaching with Cathy Chargualaf is a journey that brings new levels of wellness balance and inner peace. Cathy helps you learn to sort through conflicts in a meaningful and organized way. to set meaningful and achievable goals and someone to cheer you on. to see life from a new perspective helping you get past personal and professional blocks. to see yourself in a better and healthier perspective improving your confidence. new behaviors and ways of dealing with old stuff. new skills that will help you in your life and career. to become more positive and empowered to accomplish your objectives. I will never forget the words of an employee after going through the Life EsteemTM course. He commented that because of the RIF he was going take his life but decided not to after completing the course. AS A HOLISTIC LIFE COACH Cathy received her Ph.D. in Metaphysical Humanistic Science with a specialization in Metaphysical Spiritual Counseling and certification as a Holistic Life Coach. She also obtained certifications for the following coaching assessments California Psychological InventoryTM (CPI-260TM) ThomasKilmann Conflict Mode InstrumentTM (TKITM) Strong Interest Inventory (StrongTM) Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI ) the Assertiveness Profile and Behavioral Profile . With 20 years of experience she has worked with companies local schools and universities developing organizational change programs and coaching individuals and teams for peak performance. In 1997 Cathy was honored by the Los Angeles Commerce for Women for bringing innovative ideas in an organization dealing with constant change. What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson The first step in understanding yourself and how you interact with the world around you is through self-awareness. Having a better understanding of who you are and what you want will help to identify a positive solution that is meaningful to YOU The biggest lesson that I have learned is to follow your heart. Your heart is the path to your feelings. Our greatest indicator of where we are heading in life is our emotions feelings. So do what makes you happy not what will make someone else happy. RESOURCES Cathy believes in providing her clients with resources that teach them how to help themselves. She has published the following books My Bioenergy Journal Tracking Your Progress I use powerful and effective tools to help my clients walk consciously and confidently through life s challenges from a centered and balanced place of possibility opportunity inner peace abundance and joy. One of her students also said She was truly sincere and concerned about our lives. She helped us get in touch with our purpose in life. I now have a little glimmer of hope in my life my career and future. Cathy has also volunteered for many nonprofit organizations over the years. She was a presenter for Alternative to Living in a Violent Environment (ALIVE - where she taught young children how to recognize abuse and build self-esteem) a California State Certified Counselor for the Orange County Sexual Assault Network and a counselor for the Hugh O Brian Youth Foundation. In 2015 Cathy was one of the women honored as 2013 2014 Professional Women of the Year for contributions in her fields of work by The National Association of Professional Women. It s not what happens to you that makes you who you are it s what you do in the aftermath. I focus on helping individuals and teams learn how to achieve their goals in life and objectives in business. 7 Women of Distinction The Bioenergy Journal helps you begin the unveiling of your authentic self. The first step on this path is acceptance. Selfacceptance is being loving and happy with who you are now. This journal walks you through eight weeks to appreciate validate accept and support who you are at this moment leading you to see opportunities you may have overlooked before. When things in your life are causing you discomfort or pain it s because your current state does not match your beliefs about how your life is supposed to be. You can t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. You have to do something different. Over the weeks as you notice the patterns appearing you will unfold the hidden secrets of your life. Use this Journal to record your journey and track your progress on your path to positive change. This book is available at Animal Storybook No. 1 Building Self-Esteem Through Animal Stories and Animal Storybook No. 2 Building SelfEsteem Through Animal Stories The Animal Storybooks help to build self-esteem and bring measurable change in a child s overall self-worth. These lovable illustrated storybook animals will guide you through the process of teaching your young children how to appreciate themselves to know who they are and to help them build good character. Each animal tells a story that ends with a positive lesson. Parents will see the joy and happiness in your children s eyes as you read each story and relate the experience of the animal to their own. Both books provide a resource for parents families teachers counselors and non-profits programs supporting parents. Those searching for a new way to build self-esteem in children that is fun and interactive can also use these as a reference. These books are released by Balboa Press a division of Hay House Publishing and are available at www.BalboaPress. com. They re also available through your local bookseller or preferred on-line retailer like Barnes and Noble and other international book sellers. Coming Soon Finding My Way Home-To Who I Really Am. Cathy is currently working on her new book Finding My Way Home-To Who I Really Am. Have you ever asked yourself Why am I still dealing with the same issue Have you ever said to yourself I thought I resolved that issue I did so much work and it still haunts me. What else must I do to release this and move on with living my life If you answered Yes to any of the questions above this book is for you and will help you shed unwanted thoughts and behaviors increase a positive focus on life and show you how to design the future that allows you to be you (without the heavy burden of what others want you to be). 8 Q&A Q What is your philosophy on life coaching in general A Each client has unique needs and desires. Holistic life coaching helps you look deep inside to get to know yourself and your strengths. You will discover Who are you (your desires your intentions your motivations) What you really want (your direction your decision to act certainty) What stops you (what you fear what holds you back where you lose control) How are you going to get there (re-invention self-mastery) Q What makes holistic life coaching different than traditional life coaching A Holistic life coaching takes a holistic approach with goals that go at a far deeper level opening into the values needs and desires of the whole person in mind body and spirit. Often the journey is one of new levels of wellness balance and inner peace. Q What is the number one reason individuals do not reach out for help A Fear. When choosing the right direction for yourself it may be in opposition with others close to you. Sometimes the right thing to do for yourself is change a job a relationship or having a new perceptive that changes your direction in life. Fear is a strong emotion that can hold you hostage creating resentment and guilt that generates unnecessary stress. Overcome your fear by taking responsibility for yourself and do what s best for you. Q What if someone is afraid to move forward what can they do on their own A Any action in the direction of an improvement is a great place to start. When you take action you begin to change your circumstances. When you re ready you do not have to do it alone ask for help. Q How do you go about finding a holistic life coach who is just right for you A Certification is very important because life coaching is a profession that requires very specific skills standards of conduct and a foundation of training which is only taught in qualified schools. Personal chemistry is also important. To find a good match it s best to speak directly with your potential coach and ask for a consultation. You want to be sure you feel comfortable enough with your coach to develop the deep trust so necessary for breakthrough coaching. Q What are the biggest mistakes people make during a holistic life coaching session A Not participating in the sessions. You get what you put in. This is a journey of courage self-awareness and personal growth that will affect you on all levels emotionally spiritually physically mentally and any other level you might have in your focus. Jump in and allow the life you want. Q What would you like readers to know about you and why A My vision is to empower the human spirit in accordance with established metaphysical principles of belief by providing educational programs to promote self-discovery holistic life coaching to help clients achieve personal and professional goals spiritual counseling to overcome personal challenges find your life s purpose and overall wellness. Q What kind of legacy would you like to leave the world A My mission is to raise the consciousness and awareness of who we are through teaching counseling coaching and offering resources on practical life skills to awaken a more meaningful life and existence. 9 Women of Distinction Gena Rotas Private Practice Psychotherapy Mindful Life Owner Rotas & Associates Life Coach Author 10 East Longmeadow MA Women of Distinction B y 1970 Gena Rotas had already completed her first degree and begun a career in education. First teaching in Darien Connecticut then at the New Canaan Day Care Center and finally Springfield Day Nursery those 11 years set the stage for what she really wanted to do. Becoming an adjunct instructor of graduate level programs at Fairfield University Gena remained in higher education for nearly 15 years. Simultaneously she became a professional counselor parent coach and educational consultant which she still does today. In 1996 she also became a school adjustment counselor social worker having since retired in 2004. I created an enriching career in education and worked with all age groups from pre-school to college level. I traveled the country training teachers in the how-to skills of classroom management and positive relationships with students. I spent time in a prison with victims of trauma abuse and recovery from addictions after earning my graduate degree in social work in my 40 s. I also worked for six years as an adjustment counselor in an inner city middle school coaching teachers parents community leaders and children toward harmony with each other Gena said about her very diverse work history. Forming her own private practice in Western Massachusetts in the early 1990 s Gena began working with women children and families to support their efforts to come to know themselves better and practice self-care and selflove. As owner and life coach of Rotas & Associates in East Longmeadow she has been able to combine her experience in education and social work to teach the skills that can profoundly make a difference in people s ability to change flourish and thrive. Orchestrating many training presentations keynote speeches and motivational programs throughout her career as well as staff development and children s programs Gena is an active member of an advisory council for a local university and is also a member of Toastmasters and Women s Business Owners Alliance. She holds a BA from Western Connecticut University an MA from Fairfield University an MSW from the University of Connecticut is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker is a Practitioner in Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or Tapping HeartMath and Mindfullness and is currently completing a year-long certification program for Mindful Schools. Gena very much believes in the power of meditation. She is able to enrich her practice with the simple miracle of the breath something she has been doing now for nearly 40 years. Helping people to stop and breathe has been her bi-line for many years. In fact even her car s license plate reads BRETHE . I am eager to help people find love for themselves and acquire skills and strategies to flourish in life Gena said about what makes her career as a coach so special. I want to help people to breathe easier and to love life by being brave and cultivating enthusiasm and kindness for themselves and others. I urge everyone to practice self-care whether it s meditation mindfulness yoga or some other form of breathing especially those in the helping profession. My focus has been on using mindfulness in my work and teaching the skills and strategies through what I call mindful coaching she noted. With my work around addictions the Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention Program has been instrumental throughout my work with addicts. Working in the helping profession it is easy to forget the importance of balance. But in order to be able to teach clients about self-care one must be able to practice it themselves. Happiness is a choice and all we have to do is have the awareness desire courage and passion to create it Gena has authored one book and is currently working on two more. Love Your Slim Self is an outline not a diet plan to love yourself first in order to reach your desired health and well-being. Currently working on a second called Love Your Sober Self she will give readers a road map toward sobriety from their addiction whether it be drugs alcohol shopping work relationships eating or some other habit. Finally New Family Habits the third book Gena will be releasing will focus on helping children and their families practice simple research-based habits to reduce stress anxiety and worry so that everyone can thrive and flourish. Losing her husband to cancer in the fall of 2014 Gena remains positive about life and all that she still has to give. Her blended family of four children and four grandchildren always find a way to put a smile on her face and she is delighted to spend as much quality time with them as possible. 11 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why is the breath so important A The breath is the life force available to everyone all the time. By consciously breathing you have the ability to regulate your feelings thoughts actions and health. When you change the way you breathe you change the way you feel. Q What are habits and why are they so hard to change A Habits are routines we use to save thinking time and brainwork. Habits happen automatically and often without effort. If you want to change a habit find a new behavior that s positive and hook it to an existing habit. For instance if you want to learn to breathe more deeply and fully take a deep breathe before you start your car fasten your seat belt start eating turn on the TV or check your phone. Q Why can t I lose weight and keep it off A There is a part of ourselves that fights the basic core truth of being just enough exactly the way we are. The self-love that supports our healthy choices and beliefs about ourselves gets tarnished in the demands of everyday living. Often that self-love is burdened with the traumas and wounds of our past experiences especially from childhood. When we lose weight through dieting and exercise we may gain it back to protect old beliefs about ourselves forgetting about how important the truth of self-love offers. Q I keep doing the same thing over and over how can I stop A First it is imperative that you are compassionate and forgiving no matter what is happening. We often repeat destructive behaviors many times out of habit. Changing a habit takes awareness forgiveness and a new curiosity of committed effort towards new action. Awareness of loving ourselves enough to want to try something new is vital towards change. Q I don t even like myself how can I ever learn to love myself A It seems to be the human journey of coming to a place of learning to love ourselves. You can start by thinking of yourself as a dear friend. We are quick to be hard on ourselves and compassionate and patient with others. If you can become your own best friend first self-love will find its way back into your heart and your life. Q What can I do about the different voices in my head A There are parts of us that have a louder voice than others. The negative voice is often in the forefront. Ask yourself Who is really in charge The answer is that YOU are in charge of the dialog your thinking and what is happening in your life. If you don t like what is going on fire the negative voices thank them for sharing and move on to choosing a more positive thought action and belief about yourself. Healthy choices equals fewer problems. Q Why do I always see the negative side of things A Research on the brain has identified that negative thinking is an evolutionary function that has supported the survival of mankind. The brain is the same brain today as it was millions of years ago we just have more added parts. If you become aware of being negative you can change your focus to find the silver lining in every cloud. Adapt the attitude and then a healthy sense of curiosity that everything happening to you is all for your growth and greater good. Q How can I stop worrying A Worry is often a learned behavior. The influence of early family habits often last a lifetime. Worry often leads to wasted time regardless of what happens. There s no evidence that you are benefiting from the energy it takes to worry. Be curious about the situation or the person you are thinking about to calm your anxiety. You can write down the things you are worried about and only think of them for an hour during the day or ask a friend to worry for you and check in every so often. Think of worry as a negative prayer why would you want to pray for something negative to happen Q How can I create my reality A It s not a matter of How because you already do create your reality it s How do I influence my reality so I can get what I want Falling in love with yourself and wanting who you are is the first step to getting what you want. Teach yourself to actually feel the positive outcome you are hoping for and imagine it is taking place right now. Your emotions act as tour guides to your desired destination. Choose your thoughts you are the author of your life. Q What is something I can do to feel better A As humans we are programmed to be in connection with each other. It s in our DNA to be in community. Anytime we want to feel better it s amazing how helping someone less fortunate than ourselves can influence our attitude. Volunteer at a school cook a meal for someone serve dinner at a soup kitchen pick up the newspaper for a neighbor call a friend and listen. 12 Women of Distinction (413) 626-6528 genarotas Kirstie McPherson Public Relations Business Development Chief Executive Officer Edeveco Butte MT 14 Women of Distinction K irstie McPherson has had the mindset of an entrepreneur pretty much her entire life. By the time she was in high school she had already started her first company Sage County Jewelry. She created original pieces contacted local boutiques to get her jewelry sold in stores and managed the essential business functions all by herself. Moving to Montana from Colorado soon after Kirstie pursued a degree in engineering only to discover one semester in that it wasn t for her. Transitioning into the school s business department she felt much more comfortable in her skin. Spending time working for an economic development agency while in college she learned a lot about communication concepts web development administrative work and some of the important aspects of economic and business development. She then worked as a public relations specialist for a startup business while in her senior year. That was when everything began to fall into place. Kirstie has since earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Science and Information Technology Options in Management and Marketing. In 2015 she graduated from Montana Tech of The University of Montana. Just this spring Kirstie started Edeveco in Butte Montana a firm that specializes in public relations business development community development and publicity. Combining efforts in public relations to launch businesses into more productive impactful noticeable organizations Kirstie hopes to make other businesses just as successful as she plans Edeveco will become. I want to help others succeed in their passions ambitions and goals using my unique approach to business Kirstie added about the relationships she is forming with businesses and startups. Working with clients Edeveco begins each new project with a three-step approach in order to uncover exactly what each company needs to successfully meet their desired business goals and objectives 1) evaluate and assess 2) implement and 3) grow. It s that simple. Kirstie s team is focused on driving results. They are honest experienced focus on what is best for each individual company and serve as a better alternative to hiring internal employees simply because they are experts in what they do. Focusing on developing start-up and established companies Edeveco is unique in that they work with each client and their company as part of their team. Edeveco s team focuses on developing the company business and individual brands with a strategic and tactical approach to public relations. They work to get the company noticed taking their efforts in public relations branding and marketing to new and exciting levels to affectively grow each company. Public relations is a big factor in growing the company. To get noticed by networks clients and the media Edeveco begins by doing a communications audit to permeate themselves into each client s business and become a part of that team. Then they rework their approaches and techniques to attain the best results possible. Edevco offers two main services depending on the client s development stage 1) Startups Fractional PR program that helps startup programs get noticed by investors key market players and consumer markets. This service is a low monthly fee so that the entrepreneurs can work on building their company while Edeveco works on telling their story. 2) Developmental Public Relations Edeveco takes established and recognized companies and takes them to the next level by creating a larger company image and transforming them into something bigger such as a franchise or a nationally recognized brand. When it comes to startups and holdings Edeveco plans to buy start-up companies and house them under their own company within the next few years. A development team will be building and growing the start-up company alongside each original entrepreneur. Once the term of each agreement is met the original entrepreneur will choose to either re-buy the company or walk away and start a new venture. If they choose to leave the company will be moved to the holdings company side of Edeveco. Building Edeveco to be a creative new approach to grow and house start-up companies making them more ready and prepared to enter into the industry on their own is something Kirstie believes to be both ambitious and innovative. These companies will become nurtured developed and established companies all under the umbrella of Edeveco. The skies the limit. I love people. I like the passion that people show in what they are doing and I like helping those people reach their goals for the benefit of the company they are building Kirstie said about what inspires her to work in her field. I also enjoy the creativity my job and company brings. Solving problems finding the gaps and building bigger stronger more successful companies and entrepreneurs is a huge factor in what I do I love every minute of it. Building stronger lasting relationships and networks that work together to build stronger companies and individuals is a fantastic feeling. As her firm s CEO Kirstie must constantly sell her business and future concepts of what Edeveco will be doing in years to come. Constantly making efforts to build reputable networks that will work to ensure Edeveco s success she also juggles being a boss to those beneath her a relationship that is based on give and take and a whole lot of trust. But the reason why Edeveco stands tall is for the simple reason that Kirstie wants to be able to foster and house a unique and innovative way to create and build companies and she can only do that by fostering great relationships with clients. 15 Women of Distinction Edeveco also plans to take on a community development pilot program in 2016. They plan to work with the entire community and the major leaders to house and develop new programs for marketing revitalization and industry. With partnerships between cities counties local government agencies and businesses Edeveco will house 7-10 student interns within the local high school and colleges nearby where they will have the opportunity to create their own development firm and create new plans to help their community grow and expand. Edeveco will be providing new resources and options so that local students can become engrossed in the industry and help create some amazing experiences for their future. The program will work with communities under the population of 20 000 and remain in each community for approximately one to two years. Kirstie has set her sights high for the future of Edeveco and she is just getting started. Overcoming many hurdles already she still has a long road ahead of her. As a business owner she has grown some thick skin too. Working in PR means facing some tough ridicule. She has also faced rejection but that is sales and owning a business is all about selling yourself and your product. She s even faced discrimination as a young professional woman but that hasn t stopped her either. Sometimes people look at me like I don t belong in the room especially since most meetings I attend are occupied by men who have been working for decades Kirstie said very matter of fact. You can t simply walk into a room and expect everyone to fall all over themselves about how great your ideas are. Sometimes you have to fight and sometimes you have to just work incredible hard. Eventually with time people will listen to what you have to say and I m okay with that for now. 16 Women of Distinction Q&A Q How do you lead your company as the CEO A Being a leader is different than any other job you ll ever have. You can t read 100 books that tell you how to do it it helps but defining your own leadership style is where it s at. You must be able to step back and give power to the people in your organization. My personal approach and what many leaders do is to challenge my people to do the best they can I don t run ahead of them and yell follow me but run alongside them to work as a team. Q How did you start your own company How did you get the courage A Simple I dove in. It s terrifying and very overwhelming. Find the people to advice you help you and support you. Q How can you start in public relations A Know the trends how to work the media and how to get into networks. Public relations has changed over the last several decades it s a completely different animal now strategize on where you want to go how you want to get noticed and get to work. Q What if I m too young to start a business because I don t have enough experience A I held four jobs at once in college. Get experience anyway you can. If you are given an opportunity you re not sure you re ready for take it and figure out how to do it. Q What are the biggest points on Public Relations that I focus on A I get people noticed I find the best events that they should be at who they should talk to and how they should present themselves. I focus on developing personal and company brands developing new programs for companies to launch for a bigger presence and I look at social media and how to modernize their presence online and in the public eye. Q What is the number one thing you help clients with A Branding. Companies and individuals (especially startups) don t effectively brand themselves for their market and that s where my company comes in. Q Why are you the way you are What has made you this way A At the age of five my mother was taking me to board meetings I think that was the reason why I have always wanted to be in the board room and running the meetings. Not to mention they always had cinnamon rolls and orange juice. Q How do you price for your services A Pricing has always been the most difficult thing to determine. I price my clients based on the services they need. I essentially interview them several times before adjusting the prices to fit the needs of the company. Every company and client is different and because of that every services contract is also different. Q How do you handle client services that you don t specialize in A This day and age it s all about working with other companies. If I can t do something I guarantee you I know the person who can. Networking it s how you get everything done. Q How do you expand into new markets to grow your company A Research. Look at where you are currently sitting and find places like that then you have to build up your client base and networks. 17 Women of Distinction Christie Jordan MBA CCE Banking Financial Institution Credit Union Chief Financial Officer - Clark County Credit Union 18 Las Vegas NV Women of Distinction s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Clark County Credit Union in Las Vegas Nevada Christie Jordan is responsible for high-risk functions and departments such as Accounting Security Information Technology (IT) Collections Audit and Compliance. A We provide assistance education and charitable giving to young adults in need of leadership mentoring and guidance. We also assist in helping credit unions around the world become self-sustaining entities. She was recently published in Credit Union Management Magazine (CUES) where she wrote about why she s become a leader and reaffirmed that she s doing something that s a core part of who she is. These departments provide support for the sales units but more so provide balance and stability to the organization. My work groups constantly monitor the practices and results of the business to keep everyone safe from multiple risk categories. Christie was originally in school to become a certified medical assistant until she found out she was pregnant with her second child in 1994 and realized she needed a better job immediately while continuing her education. An acquaintance offered me a position in his accounting department and I excelled at it I truly love what I do. Numbers are black and white but the interpretation of numbers deals with gray areas sometimes. Diving into the details forecasting and budgeting as well as finding the patterns and analytics in business finance are rewarding to me. However being a woman and single mom presented challenges to Christie s career advancement. Continuing my education has not only contributed to my success but it s also benefited those around me. I was the first in my immediate family to receive a bachelor s and master s degree. Education is important and reaching for the sky is not only okay it s commendable We literally can be whatever we want to be if we put enough effort into it. We should do what makes us happy not what others think we should do. It s okay to be different from those around you. You can read the full article here http article view id Why-We-Lead For those starting out in accounting (or any industry) Christie advises that you should learn everything you can from everyone you can. Knowledge isn t power the ability to learn something new is power. And the ability to continually learn new things is the core of vitality in any industry. Christie is a positive thinker who s always looking to improve herself and set a positive example for her children loved ones peers and staff. And that begins by creating more positive experiences. Did you know that for every two negative words there s only one positive word That 2 1 ratio can be attributed to life and professional experiences. My biggest inspiration is the possibility of changing that ratio. I want to create two positive experiences for every one negative experience. She believes that she is no different than anyone else. Whether we speak out about it or not there are still gender roles in play. They can be difficult to overcome especially when they are unspoken. I m in an industry that s typically male-dominated in leadership roles. So being who I am (literally) has created difficulty in succeeding. The difference in my case is that I don t give up very easily. That determination paid off as Christie is now a leader in her industry as CFO of the Clark County Credit Union and Treasurer for the Southern Nevada Chapter of the California Nevada Credit Union League. Our mission is to provide education and advocacy for credit union staff management and members. Christie is also a member of the Global Women s Leadership Network specifically part of the Sister Society of Southern Nevada. I don t find myself or my accomplishments extraordinary. I just had an idea of what I wanted my life and children s life to be like and I made it happen. 19 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What is the difference between a bank and a credit union A At Clark County Credit Union we refer to ourselves as The Bank You Own . Credit unions are nonprofit financial cooperatives whose earnings are paid back to members in the form of higher savings rates lower loan rates and in our case cash directly back into their accounts. Banks are for-profit corporations with declared earnings paid to stockholders only. Q What do you believe makes your credit union great A We are fortunate to have great staff which is the core of any member service business. Since our members are literally our owners we take the utmost pleasure and care in helping them with their financial needs. A lot of times we help them with needs they didn t know they had There is nothing better than people becoming financially responsible. Q What is the most rewarding part of being a Chief Financial Officer A Without a doubt it s being able to help shape the lives of others. I ve been able to help people understand financial statements and create budgets. I ve also been able to take complex forms and documents and make them user-friendly so that people aren t intimidated by information but become curious and want to know more. I get to make numbers fun and have people get excited about what they can do to better their own financial health. 20 Women of Distinction Janice Friesen Education Social Work Licensed Clinical Social Worker Bay Valley Medical Group Stanford Healthcare 21 Castro Valley CA Women of Distinction E ntering into college as a drama major Janice Friesen ultimately made the decision to go in a different direction after just one year of study in the field. Transferring in her junior year to the University of California at Berkeley Janice pursued and completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology in 1958. After five years of working in the real world she made the decision to pursue her Master s in Social Work obtaining her MSW in 1965. Still working in social work nearly 50 years later it is a field that Janice absolutely loves and something that she believes is a very important service to be able to offer others who so desperately need it. Janice began her part- time private practice when her daughter was about nine-months-old allowing her to remain a full-time mother and still work. Part-time hours sharing parenting hours with her husband and with an older retired woman who came into the home allowed her to be able to raise her young daughter and then her son who followed two-and-a-half years later. Part-time work also allowed her to do the many things she valued with both her children and the schools. Janice earned her lifetime California Pupil Personnel Services Credential in 1965 became a licensed clinical social worker in 1973 a diplomat in clinical social work with the NASW Academy of Certified Social Workers in 1987 certified with National Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work in 1987 and certified through American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work in 1988. She served as an elected school board trustee from 1989-2014 with Castro Valley Unified School District supervised master s degree level social work interns from the University of California Berkeley from 1990-2005 and supervised master s degree level interns from California State University Hayward from 2003-2007. She has also remained an active member of the National Association of Social Workers and the California Association of Clinical Social Workers. During the course of Janice s time spent serving on the school board she was also elected to the delegate assembly for the California School Boards Association serving for for 10 years. She also served as Director of Region 7 (Alameda and Contra Costa Counties) for four years. All of her involvement within the schools including her orientation and experience as a clinical social worker and school social worker certainly defined her contributions and abilities. While my husband was in the Army I worked for six months for a public agency that was not following federal and state laws Janice explained about her earlier years working in public welfare. I felt compelled to join with a few others as a whistle blower. This was before I even had heard the term whistle blower . We were successful but I had to leave my job. I then worked for one year as a teacher with a provisional credential but I wasn t very good at teaching. Those two experiences led to my commitment for lifelong honesty a return to public welfare and eventually to graduate school in social work. During this time while Janice was working in public welfare Janice was afforded the opportunity to collaborate with a wonderful school social worker concerning a specific family. It was this very experience that also led Janice to make the decision to return to graduate school and complete her work for a credential in school social work along with her Master of Social Work degree. During her second year as an intern during her graduate studies Janice chose to do her internship and be supervised by that same school social worker. Working in private practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 1970 Janice provides individual family and couples therapy counseling. After working directly with children and adolescents for 30 years she now limits her practice to adults only. Referrals come from various insurance managed care entities as well as from within Bay Valley Medical Group. When patients are referred from within the medical group they find it less difficult to begin. Sometimes therapy is scary for people but the coordination of care but the coordination of care is always easier because I am part of the same group practice as the physicians Janice noted. Education turned out to be a much larger part of my life than I could have ever imagined Janice added regarding her lifetime commitment to education. Three of my four grandparents were immigrants to this country. They left from different parts of Eastern Europe for a better life in the United States. They ended up in Southern California and I had the good fortune to grow up in a state where education mattered enough that tax payers would willingly pay for it. I will be forever grateful for what education has provided to me for it was my education that has allowed me whatever contributions I have been able to make to the thousands of children in CV schools during the years I have served and to the opportunity to know and work with everyone I have. 22 Women of Distinction Married to her wonderful husband John B Friesen for 57 years Janice and he live in Castro Valley CA. John now retired taught community college English for 15 years and served as a Dean of Humanities for 22 years. Their daughter Jennifer now resides in Los Angeles attended Castro Valley Unified Schools and California State University in Northridge is an independent supervising TV producer Emmy winner for the production of the Diabetes Prevention Project and sings with Jazz Fondue. Their son Kevin who also attended Castro Valley Unified Schools attended the University of Utah for one year and after transferring to San Jose State University graduated with a Bachelor of Art Degree in Social Work. He now lives in Union City California and is a paraeducator for the Fremont Unified School District working with special education students. Janice is still in private practice today. Seeing anywhere from 10 to 20 clients per week Janice balances her work schedule along with balance in her life. She takes at least five gym classes a week to stay healthy loves to do yardwork care for her dog and four pygmy goats attend live theater with her husband and plan future trips all without having to work around anyone s schedule but her own. Q&A Q Why did you get into social instead of psychology or marriage and family therapy A Social work is the field that takes into consideration all aspects of a person s life. It also has as part of its core mission to serve the underserved. Q What ages have you worked with and what were your favorite A I worked with all ages for many years. The medical group I work with includes pediatricians OB GYN and internal medicine. But about 10 years ago I decided to limit my practice to persons over 18. My favorite group of all is to work with parents of preschoolers. Young children have no real say in their lives. It is up to parents to understand them and adapt to the child s temperament and developmental needs. It is a primary prevention of later problems from my perspective. Q Why were you on the school board for so many years A I started out in graduate school wanting to do school social work but the passage of prop 13 in California really cut school budgets. Prop 13 rolled back property taxes significantly and requires that almost all local funding pass with a 2 3 vote of the electorate. Instead of local communities being able to fund their schools as they choose the state took over most school funding except for a few particularly high wealth districts. This eliminated most school social work positions. I discovered after I was elected to the school board that being on a policy setting board is a profoundly effective way to accomplish the goals of school social work helping hundreds of students at a time not just one at a time. Q Are you overwhelmed with people s sadness and problems A I am so in awe of individual capacity and the desire for growth and change. To be able to watch that process be a part of it and celebrate it is where I like to focus. Q What would you tell someone today who is considering a career in social work A Go to a good liberal arts university and major in child development or psychology. Volunteer for a non-profit and do some internships. After your 4-year degree get a job for one of those non-profits or in social services or some agency that serves poor people. You will know after a while if that is the career you want and then you can return for a more focused master s degree. I have had a wonderful life much better than I ever thought possible Janice admits. Growing up in California at a time when education was valued and accessible has made a huge difference for me and motivates me still to do all I can on behalf of public education. I chose to spend much of my time contributing to the quality of my community not to earning money. It is my belief that children are all that really matter they are our future and we need to take better care of them in every way possible with high quality pre-school through university many routes to get there and as much support as is needed so that every child has the tools to be successful. 23 Women of Distinction Jennifer F. Dobbs Charity Work Volunteer Pet Rescue and Re-Homing President Treasurer Adoption Coordinator PetMatchmaker Rescue South 24 Memphis TN Women of Distinction t the age of 81 Jennifer F. Dobbs is now in her fourth and probably final career. But this time it s different. What she does today is not defined in dollars but instead is measured in matters of the heart. As the President Treasurer and Adoption Coordinator for PetMatchmaker Rescue South a full-time volunteer position that she upholds in Memphis Tennessee she is fighting one by one to find homes for the hundreds of loving dogs that go homeless each year. Why dog rescue Jennifer asks simply because there s a tremendous need. All one has to do is hear the horrific statistics that 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are euthanized each year in the USA. Many shelters do little to find new homes for the animals that come to them. Most are only required by law to keep a dog that has been picked up as a stray for three days before euthanizing him or her and dogs that are owner surrendered don t even have that long. Beginning this voluntary position after visiting a local shelter and being shocked by the deplorable situation the dogs were living in when volunteering with another existing group at the time Jennifer took over as their leader when the current leader stepped down. Shortly after Jennifer met a woman by the name of Jill Tice while volunteering at the shelter and with a third woman Morgan Sokolow Gall they formed a rescue program together. They accomplished incredible odds together like driving through the night to transport large groups of dogs and puppies from Memphis Tennessee across the country to New England. Half Jennifer s age Jill and Morgan had twice the courage and ability as she but it never stopped Jennifer it only empowered her to want to do more. A Dedicated not only to the relatively adoptable dogs but older dogs and dogs who have become ill from disease like diabetes and mange and suffer hip and other conditions Jennifer does FundMe campaigns and other charitable events to help save every last one of them. Over the last year Jennifer and her team were able to place 76 dogs in loving homes. Every two months they donate medical services to someone that cannot afford to take their pet to a veterinarian for care they have helped dogs belonging to homeless and low income individuals with various necessities and the list goes on and on. Through donations and modest adoption fees of just 250 for puppies and 150 for adult dogs Jennifer s organization is able to get by financially in order to cover general expenses. Grateful for every donation especially from the Bad Boys Band of Canada without which PetMatchmaker Rescue would cease to exist. Jennifer hopes to encourage more people to join the ranks of dog rescuers. If more of those that train dogs for search and rescue the handicapped drug and bomb sniffing or medical detection would come forward and seek out the many available rescue dogs before breeding dogs specifically to be trained it would be a step in the right direction. If more prisons would use rescues for their inmate programs that would be another great leap forward. If more of the general public would simply adopt a shelter dog as opposed to getting a puppy from a breeder it would lessen the amount of shelter dogs by an astounding 60%. The money spent to euthanize dogs could easily be redirected to finding homes for these loving caring animals that too want to find their forever homes. It appears that we are in the cusp of a gentle revolution Jennifer said with love and hope in her heart. A revolution in which animals of all types will be recognized and appreciated for their extraordinary skills and abilities and for their humanlike emotions such as loyalty appreciation and guilt. No longer dumb creatures to be treated and disposed of as common property but creatures to be appreciated respected and loved. Jennifer spend much of her working years as a Montessori Teacher and School Administrator. She designed and delivered a Montessori Teacher Training Program that was accredited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. She also wrote the proposal and manual that accompanied the course. She holds a BA in English from Washington College an International Center for Montessori Studies Secondary Diploma an International Center for Montessori Studies Primary Diploma a BS in Psychology from the University of Northern Alabama and an MA in Educational Psychology from the University of Mississippi. PetMatchmaker Rescue South is a 501c3 designated charity and all donations are tax deductible. For more information about making a donation or adopting a dog today please email petmatchsouth My roll encompasses it all Jennifer said about her everyday tasks with PetMatchmaker Rescue South from approaching scared dogs on the street and knowing when to call a male friend to help to enticing dogs into my car with bits of hot dog or sometimes having to resort to a large trap. I assess their needs make medical appointments and accompany them find foster homes for them or foster them myself or as a last resort finding a boarding location for these dogs. Jennifer plans and executes fundraisers which includes an annual Photos with Santa in four local pet shops to raise money. Clearing as little as just 1 000 between three volunteers at year s end she works tirelessly to negotiate the best prices mainly for medical veterinary services. Occasionally doing work with other rescue groups to help out when she can Jennifer also feeds feral cats daily. Trapping many of these feral cats and kittens she has found homes for much of them. But it is with PetMatchmaker Rescue where Jennifer usually hangs her hat. 25 Women of Distinction Pet Matchmaker We are a 501(c)3 non-profit rescue group headquartered in Newport Rhode Island and Memphis Tennessee. Our rescue began with three friends that shared the same desire to save as many dogs as possible from unfortunate situations in the southern United States high-risk (often three day kill) shelters abandonment starvation lack of care We have banded together to bring these dogs from the south to New England where we can achieve a greater rate of adoption. We operate as a network of foster homes both in the South and in New England. Our dogs are located in foster care in various states and all are awaiting forever homes. We would welcome the opportunity to work with you to help you find a match and a friend for life. (901) 831-3935 petmatchsouth Pui Man Devi Yu Yee Music Dance Owner Miracle Performing Arts Center Flemington NJ 27 Women of Distinction T eaching takes a lot of heart soul determination and preference especially in performing arts. Pui Man Devi Yu Yee Owner of Miracle Performing Arts Center (MPAC) in Flemington New Jersey knows this to be true but the reward of seeing her students become successful members of society is priceless. While searching for some commercial space to hold music theory classes and recitals in Devi found a spot in Flemington that wasn t too far from her private teaching studio. What resulted was the formation of MPAC in 2006. Still teaching private piano lessons she also oversees the studio that provides a variety of styles of dance lessons including Zumba ballroom dance wedding dance Bollywood and belly dance at MPAC. But by returning to the piano praying to the Lord for guidance and strength and trusting that she will again find her way through music she is patient and grateful and she never gives up. Earning her performing diplomas in 1981 from the ABRSM in England solo ballet diplomas from Royal School of Dance in England in 1982 followed by her teaching degree in 1984 from the ABRSM in England and her undergraduate degree at The University of Hong Kong Department of Music in 1989 Devi went on to pursue her Master s Degree from Julliard School of Music in the United States in 1994. She then began her career as a piano accompanist at American Ballet Theater Joffrey Ballet and American Repertoire Ballet in 1994 while also teaching private piano lessons in her down time. She has worked at several different dance studios throughout her career and has taught piano for more than two decades. Devi plays at the Evangel Chapel Music Ministry every Sunday. She is on the MAMTG governing board and supports and volunteers for competition events. She judges for the TYMA auditions at local music schools plays at her local rehabilitation care center has hosted several music and dance benefit and fundraising recitals and has worked on a music and memory project for those suffering from dementia. God gave us music to pray without words and He gave us dance steps to express His love without language. We should never lose sight of the fact that we are all deserving of a life that overflows with immense possibility improbable beauty and relentless truth Devi said in relation to her work ethic. For nearly 10 years now Devi has held down her full-time career as a studio owner and all the responsibilities that come along with it while also being a full-time mother. The dual responsibility which she admits to sometimes be a formula for exhaustion and frustration can also be overwhelming at times. 28 With every breath every step on the dance floor and stroke on the piano I m here to serve humanity Devi said. I will stop at nothing to make a positive difference to other people s lives. Women of Distinction Q&A Q What makes your business important in today society A In a 21st century world we need to strengthen and expand the music and dance program the arts are often the most vulnerable because they are not considered as important as other subjects. But the reality is that the arts have a powerful impact on learning and are important in their own right. Q Is learning to dance difficult A Learning to dance can be quite easy and fun at the same time. As with all new things you will need to learn and practice. Dance teachers are experienced at making the learning and practice journey fun and fulfilling for all students. Q Is there any age limitation for learning dance A No. There is no age limitation for learning dance. As long as you can move your body and are eager to learn dance you qualify to join the MPAC dance student family. Q Why and when should we learn our first dance as husband and wife A Your first dance as husband and wife should be memorable and emotionally touching. Historically the first dance is symbolic of the consummation of the wedding vows. When the bride accepts her dance with the groom she accepts it for the rest of her life. Q If you don t have a special song for your first dance how do you go about picking one A When the song or lyrics of a song that really occur or define the moment when the couple KNOWS they have fallen deeply in love. When you hear this song you can think of nothing else but spending the rest of your life s dreams hopes and wishes with that special person. Q When should my child begin his her piano lessons A The average age from my experience is about five-yearsold. But the age can be younger depending on the interest of the child. Q How long should my child practice on piano A There is no set time for practicing however it is important that a child spends quality time with his her piano rather than quantity. It is also very important to have concentrated and focused practice sessions on a daily basis. Q My child has stage fright and refuses to play in front of people other than him her family why A It s very natural to be nervous in front of the public. Children s feelings become very sensitive and excited when they have to go up on the stage and perform. They feel as if the whole world is watching them. This is the reason why the teacher must prepare the child with confidence and build a self-respect for him her musical ability. Throughout the year the teacher builds self-confidence in the child and allows him her to express their feelings verbally as well as musically. Q How do I know if my child has talent A Talent is something that a child is born with. Most importantly the child enjoys making music. 29 Women of Distinction Miracle Performing Arts Center is a professional music and dance training facility. Our highly qualified and successful professional dancers and musicians offer expert instruction in the following Ballroom and Latin Dance Lessons Piano Lessons Music Theory Lessons Belly Dance Lessons Flute Lessons Lindy Hop Vocal Lessons Wedding Dance Lessons Studio We have a beautiful ballroom for our dance classes. We also have areas for our music classes. Need a place for a party seminar meeting concert or reception Our ballroom is available for rent We offer the following amenities Ballroom - 35 x 30 Refrigerator Chairs Tables Clean-up Call (908) 788-4888 today for prices and to make a reservation for your event (908) 788-4888 devi Zoey Meadows Psychic Life Coach Master Psychic - Life Path Guidance by Zoey 31 Brookwood AL Women of Distinction s a young child Mary Meadows (Zoey) came to realize that she wasn t exactly like others. She felt more than heard events and stories around her. As time went on she also learned how to see and hear as well as feel the energies of living things around her. With her rare and genuine ability hers is a story of growth and learning that has allowed Zoey to rise to heights in an industry filled with controversy. Zoey has been enlightening people with her gift for over 30 years and currently operates a home-based business Life Path Guidance by Zoey. Her mission is to help as many people as possible make good decisions that will lead them to the positive fulfillment of their lives. A When I connect with your energy my primary goal is to empower you my client to make decisions that improve your life. For our time together you are my number one priority. It is with extreme honor that I impress upon you that it is choice not chance that determines our destinies. So with truth and honesty when you and I combine our energies there is nothing we can t accomplish. Zoey s goal is for everyone she speaks to feel the strength behind her gift the honor she feels when touching their energy and to come away from their time together with a feeling of empowerment peace and positive progression. My gift is a part of who I am. I constantly refine them to for more accurate and more detailed readings. I feel honored and privileged to have continual affirmation that I help people improve their lives and provide positive outcomes for them. 32 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What label or description do you give yourself when a stranger asks what you do for work A I am a Master Clairvoyant Clairsentient (Master Psychic). Q What do you consider to be your strengths Weaknesses A My strengths are in my ability to gather very accurate energies and then project myself toward them with the person I m speaking with thereby allowing me to give very clear and concise readings for my clients. There are certain things on a psychic level that seem to elude me and it s not those deep life path questions one would think. It s the simple things such as lost objects or winning numbers. People are always asking me for lottery numbers. I have to be honest and say that I just can t do that. Q What is a challenge or conflict you have faced at work and how did you deal with it A From time to time (as a psychic) you re going to come across a client who from the first word is determined not to allow a sentence to be finished or a reading to be completed. This is someone who is inherently unhappy with their own life and just needs to vent. For whatever reason some people seem to think that calling or talking to a psychic is a good way to express their negative feelings. I deal with situations like these by first recognizing that they have a need. I then change the energy by placing positive energy towards the negative rhetoricals. However some people can t be shown a positive outlook. I try to leave them with a positive thought hoping that they will later remember a few kind words at a time when they (themselves) were not very kind. Q What are your intentions or motivation for doing this work A I want to help people empower themselves. I also want to teach the one fundamental truth that can change lives choice not chance that determines our destiny. When I can I will help them make those good choices so that they can live the lives they deserve and desire. Q How long do your readings last and why did you choose this length of time A An average reading is between 30 and 40 minutes. I chose this amount of time because (generally speaking) discussing specific questions and adding my own personal insights takes this length of time for thorough and concise life path empowerment. Q What can one expect during a normal reading with you A One can expect that a reading begins once I hear a name. Whether it s specific questions or a general reading (or both) I begin immediately gathering energy and providing clear descriptions and answers and receiving affirmations about what I see hear and feel. Clients can expect to always hear the truth of what I see even if those truths are not always what they want to hear. They can also expect a steady flow of positive energy throughout the reading. Q What instructions do you give a new client before a reading A I can t say they are really instructions. I ask for the client s name and sometimes their date of birth but most of the time their names are enough to gather proper energy. I ask if they have specific questions or if they would like to hear what I see from their energy first. And I always thank them for the honor of reading for them. This is because I realize that touching someone s energy can be a VERY personal event. I always want my client to know that they are appreciated and respected. Q Is there anything about your gift that is unique and sets you apart from other psychics A Mine is a profession filled with doubt and skepticism sometimes with good reason. Right out of the gate I strive and succeed at making it apparent that mine is a real gift born harnessed practiced and refined. I m not just an advisor who can talk and keep people interested. In fact that s not what I am at all. I m a clairvoyant and clairsentient. With absolute honesty and clarity I m going to provide the truth in what I see and hear. I m not guessing or giving my opinion. I very kindly relay the messages provided by my guides. Q Is there anything about you or your gift that hasn t been discussed yet A Oh so many things. I think first I would like for people to know that although we are born with this gift we don t just wake up one day and have answers to complex questions involving someone s life. This is an ability that must constantly grow and learn. It takes countless hours of practice gathering knowledge harnessing and refining. Honestly it takes a lot of work and self-discipline to do what I do. Mine is an everlearning and ever-growing ability. I think it s really important for people to understand that I am a normal human being with a little example special ability not unlike many other people in countless other fields. I m extremely accurate above most in my field but inevitably that human imperfection within me is going to get something wrong. Never will it ever be because I was provided the wrong information. It will be because I interpreted something wrong. Although this doesn t happen often you can bet I m going to be honest about it when it does and try to repair my own misinterpretations. Q What is your greatest professional achievement A While I ve provided a lot of accurate information that has helped change and positively empower a lot of lives I have yet to reach my pinnacle moment. 33 Women of Distinction Erika Landau MD Medicine Private Practice Pediatrics of New York Assistant Professor of Pediatrics - Mount Sinai School of Medicine New York NY M ost girls want to play with dolls when they re young. Well that wasn t the case with Erika Landau. She was always interested in science and wanted to play with a microscope. With her mother ill for as long as she can remember Erika grew up around doctors and knew early on that she wanted to become one herself so she attended medical school when she was old enough. However life in Romania under Communism became unbearable with no personal or religious freedom or hope. While Romania is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture Erika could no longer live under the shackles of Communism where she wouldn t have been able to accomplish her career goals unless she joined the Communist Party. So after graduating she (like so many other young people) had no other choice but to leave her family and everything else she knew. Erika hoped this would open a door for her and she could reunite with her family as soon as possible. After six long years she was finally able to bring over her whole family. I have administrative roles supervising the staff and being involved in the business aspect of the practice. I emphasize at all times the need for team work and communication as well as the importance of continuing medical education for all of us. I m grateful and humbled that I m invited to speak at many national and international conferences. Erika has also been on faculty at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1996 as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics. She s a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and member of the American Association of Women Physicians The New York Pediatric Society American Academy against Violence and the National Academy of Art. Together with Dr. Abigail Brenner Erika published The Essential Guide to Your Baby s First Year . She s also written numerous articles and lectures at national and international conferences on art and medicine physicians wellness and preventing violence against women and children. In addition to her medical career Erika has a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts and is an award-winning artist. I ve painted murals in my practice that my little patients seem to enjoy. Erika is married to David a dentist and playwright. They have a wonderful daughter and son-in-law Danielle and Benjamin. Danielle is a graduate student and Benjamin is a computer science engineer. Her greatest pleasure is to spend time with them but she also likes to cook paint ski dance and go to the theatre. Erika also volunteers for the 3G Group for grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. Looking back Erika s only regret is that she wasn t born in the U.S. There was no choice. I left to a foreign land with a foreign language but with freedom and hope. Erika settled in New York City and completed her medical education at The Albert Einstein College of Medicine and became a research fellow at The Rockefeller University. I was happiest in the lab conducting important research. She later became the Director of the Medical Foster Boarding Home at The Children s Aid Society until 1999 and has had her own practice in Manhattan since then with four associates. I perform clinical work seeing newborns and admitted patients at Mount Sinai Hospital and taking care of them in the practice. It s so rewarding seeing my little patients grow up and feeling that I m a part of their families. I also love teaching medical students and residents. Otherwise I m grateful for everything I have and hope that each day I m able to help and hopefully inspire someone. 35 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Was it hard to adjust as an immigrant alone without your family A It was indeed hard. However there was no other choice. I tried with an open mind and heart to adjust as soon and as much as possible. I adopted New York as my city and the U.S. as my country very early on. Q Did you ever regret going into the medical field A There may have been short moments during my internship (at the time I was on call every third night working 36 hour shifts) but it didn t last long. I understood that it was a necessary rite of passage. That horrid schedule has changed since then. Q How can one balance the practice of medicine with family and friends A It may be the most difficult task. However we have to take care of ourselves by taking some time off be it even a few hours a week. Many relationships unravel during medical school and residency but as long as the partners understand and are supportive this balance can be achieved. Q What does a day of work look like for you A I start with rounding in the hospital Mount Sinai Medical Center. There I see my newborns and the patients who were admitted to the hospital for being ill. After the hospital I have office hours. And during the academic year I teach several courses throughout the week. Q Why do you feel that your business is relevant A Taking care of children and their family is and always will be relevant. I m here to guide the parents when their children are well and take care of them when they re ill. Q How does your practice function A This is an all-female practice and we re all friends. Although I started as a full-time solo practitioner (not something I would advise) we all now work part-time. By doing so we re able to cover for each other for vacations or sick days and can spend more time with our loved ones. Q What kind of services does the practice offer A We see children from the day they re born until age 21 for sick and well visits. We offer prenatal visits as well as nutrition and preoperative consults. We offer a cooking demonstration for our patients and will soon have art classes for our patients. We also have a lactation specialist and a psychologist affiliated with our practice. Q If you could go back in time would you change anything in your profession A Perhaps the opportunity to have done more research but nothing else. There s nothing else I would do because I m passionate about my work. Q What does the future hold for you A After such a long time I recently became involved in clinical research and am very happy. I d like to continue attending national and international conferences. I want to write another book. I hope for health and energy to accomplish all my dreams. And of course I can t wait to become Grandma 36 Women of Distinction Eugenia Skupien Energy - Oil & Gas President - Enerpan Technology Inc. Edmonton Alberta Canada T he world was a lot bigger than she imagined when Eugenia Skupien emigrated from Eastern Communist Europe in 1981. Although obtaining her Master of Arts in Economics prepared her for the journey that lay ahead she knew that hard work and perspective was what she needed to move forward. Coming from Poland Eugenia had to learn a new language in order to succeed in Alberta s struggling economy in the early 80s. She began working in the accounting field and educated herself further completing more credentials. The great teachers she worked with inspired her to start her own business. Enerpan Technology Inc. was established in the basement of her home in 1990. Alberta is the second largest supplier of oil and gas in the world (following Saudi Arabia) and its economy is greatly porous to globalization and extreme world demands. These constant challenges of the cyclical global market (the ups and downs) are for the strong but Eugenia s resilience is what pushed the business to succeed through those challenging times. It s a wild industry and the only the fittest survive. Eugenia s strong will dedication apt for no regrets and positive thinking is what built the trust that others have for her. It s the foundation of her success. While the perception of the energy sector is that of being a man s world Eugenia takes on the challenges with the same stroke that of integrity. Within two years we moved into an office with a large staff in Acheson Alberta an industrial area west of Edmonton. Through a few partnership adjustments and economic cycles Eugenia became sole principal of the company. Wearing many different hats she focuses on directing the overall operations and business decisions oversees projects and manages compliance with legal and financial functions. Enerpan has undergone extensive research and development leading them to provide a superior product and become the industry leader as a dependable supplier of structural insulated and tank panels for the energy sector. Believe in yourself. Challenges are what you make of them and the lessons they teach you. Women s involvement in managerial platforms has definitely evolved since Eugenia started Enerpan in the early 90s. Although still miles from equal participation the limits are only posed by those organizations and people that don t foresee growth and the changes in the global market. I m an equal opportunity employer and believe that anyone can do anything if they choose to do so. When Eugenia needs balance from work she enjoys being in nature travelling high-impact aerobics and shopping for her favorite designer clothing. A proud mother of two who are now adults she also loves to hear about their day and spend time with them and their spouses. She also owns and trains German Shepherds. Our passion resides in engineering a structurally superior product long after it s delivered to the client. Q&A Q As a business owner was entrepreneurship part of your chosen journey A I knew that I wanted to lead projects and had the ability to manage all the details to ensure success. Entrepreneurship came naturally when all the pieces of the opportunity presented itself. Q What made you go into a predominantly male industry A It was never a part of the equation. When you have to do something you do it and the right people will work with you for success. Q What has been your greatest accomplishment A During an economic downturn in 2008 I focused the business in exploring more research and development of a new system. It helped us reach a new and cutting edge level of our manufactured product followed by financial successes. Q How does the slowing of the economy due to oil prices impact your management style A Economic cycles happen throughout history in any industry which allows a shift of perspective and getting leaner. You pay attention to the details much more closely. Also this allows some time for an increased marketing presence. Q What makes your manufactured product so unique (What is your competitive advantage ) A We ve developed the most advanced insulated panel technology in the world. Manufactured with our 40-ton customengineered press our unique WYTRAC panels can weather decades of field use under the most rigorous conditions. Safe to say WYTRAC technology has redefined industry standards in durability and dependability. Q If you were not an owner of a manufacturing plant focused in structural insulated panels and tank panels could you see yourself doing something different A I can t visualize my life in any other context but if I were to do something different in a different industry it might be project management in the construction industry. I really enjoy seeing large scale projects come to fruition and would like to be a part of it. Q How do you stay current in your industry A Most importantly we stay connected to our clients. Understanding the different accomplishments and challenges our clients face is what gives us the grounds perspective. Staying current in media publications conferences etc. is also a daily routine. Q Do you have a future vision in the application of your panel product A Absolutely. I value growth and new development of our product and how we can reach a broader audience and increase scale. Q What do you appreciate most in your day at work A Above anything else I appreciate the people I work with. It s their dedication and excitement that brings our team together. Q What are the core values of your company A At Enerpan we build more than just insulated panels. Beyond selling a product we build relationships with our clients by performing each job with an unyielding resolve to meet their needs. We build our legacy by constantly pursuing new technologies. And we build a positive culture by empowering our team with the tools they need to succeed. 38 Women of Distinction Jill Karatinos Mental Health Psychiatrist and Neuropsychiatrist - Jill Karatinos M.D. (Solo Practice) Lutz FL 39 Women of Distinction J ill Karatinos is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and in the subspecialty of Neuropsychiatry and currently operates an outpatient clinic in Lutz Florida. However the road for this wife and mother of one began while working as a physiologist for the Office of Naval Research for two years after earning her Master of Science in Physiology at University of Florida in 1967. She then attended medical school from 1971 to 1975 at the University of Maryland s College of Medicine and did an internal medicine internship at South Baltimore General (now Harbor General) from 1975 to 1976. After passing her licensing exam Jill went into general practice for 16 years in Bowie Maryland and co-founded a county women s medical association in Prince George s County Maryland which ran from 1985 to about 1990 called the PGWMA (Prince George s Women s Medical Association). In 1992 at the age of 49 Jill entered a residency in psychiatry at Sheppard Pratt Health Systems in Baltimore Maryland that lasted until 1995 when she and her husband (Nick) moved to Florida. There she worked for 15 months at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital before finally opening her private practice in 1996. Jill has since worked solo and has special interests in manic depression couples therapy women s issues psychopharmacology head injury and syndromes where medical and psychiatric problems overlap. Her special area of focus is in managing medications for both general medical and psychiatric problems and she belongs to the American Psychiatric Association the American Neuropsychiatric Association and the Neuroscience Education Institute of Dr. Stephen Stahl. She was also a consultant to a company called Charter (doing hospital and nursing home consultations from 1997 to 1998) a multispecialty medical group processing accident cases from 1997 to 2003 and a residential brain injury facility in Bradenton FL from 2003 to 2007. She s also served as an expert witness in some court cases on brain injury. Jill has even co-authored four papers with other doctors listed on her website s curriculum vitae. Most recently she s written and self-published a book called The Role of the Autonomic Nervous System in Psychiatry where she describes her core concepts of patient care in 18 case reports of patients with multiple medical and psychiatric diagnoses. It also presents some clinical research that I ve done on the autonomic nervous system. Learn more about the book here http www.jillkaratinosmd. com books For the past five years Jill has been on the 50th reunion committee of her college The College of Wooster in Wooster Ohio where she and her husband have endowed a scholarship in neuroscience with a preference for women. Q&A Q What is the status of women in medicine today A Although the number of women in medicine has increased to 50% in some fields there are very few women who hold positions of power in medical hierarchies. Those who do are often reluctant to take a different position from their male peers. Q What do women need to succeed today in medicine A They need female and ethical male mentors and a support group of their female peers. Q Why is it difficult to self-publish a book and get others to read it A Unless you re associated with a university or research group your work experience and education seem to be ignored. It hasn t been recognized that there is a great need for people working in the field with everyday patients to share their views of diagnosis and treatment. Q How does a book on clinical treatment of real patients differ from a textbook or research paper A A research paper is often funded by a company determined to make money off of positive results which sometimes gives rise to the suppression of negative results. Furthermore the patients involved are allowed to have only one problem unlike what is encountered in real life. Textbooks are written at a level that can only be understood by people in that field. Q Why have you written a book on the autonomic nervous system A Because only some neurologists and cardiologists are aware of the important role it plays in a number of symptoms and pathologic conditions. Q What is the role of most psychiatrists today A Unfortunately most psychiatrists today spend 10 minutes a patient evaluating and prescribing medications. This way they see large numbers of patients but do not know the patients very well. Psychologists social workers and mental health counselors do all or most of the psychotherapy which was an important part of my education at Sheppard Pratt. Q What else do you see as something to be improved in psychiatric care A Being aware of the overlap of psychiatric conditions with many medical problems and neurologic problems. Q How and why is your practice different A I have a strong background in general medicine (16 years of general practice) and interest in research from getting a Master of Science in Physiology (medical physiology). Therefore I approach most patients with a holistic psychiatry in which I take into account many diagnoses from medicine. I also read research in complementary alternative medicine. Q What are the drawbacks of such a practice as yours A I keep my practice small so that I can spend much more time with patients doing psychotherapy and investigating problems which have not been adequately treated elsewhere. Consequently my income is also limited. Q Do you think the average person can understand the autonomic nervous system A The patients in the book understand it because they have symptoms that were overlooked until the autonomic nervous system was explained and addressed. I have a teaching video on my website that will give some insight. Dr. Jill Karatinos with sisters Susan and Sally and first edition of book. 41 Women of Distinction Jennifer L. Fanning Nonprofit Healthcare Executive Director - Grand County Rural Health Network 42 Hot Sulphur Springs CO Women of Distinction J ennifer L. Fanning comes from a family of caregivers. Her entire immediate and extended family are caregivers of some kind including people and animal nurses teachers special needs caregivers and so much more. The Grand County Rural Health Network is a small organization with less than 10 total employees and contractors. My parents ingrained in me from an early age the importance of service above self and have been my greatest inspiration. They also instilled in me a conscientious work ethic integrity independence and critical thinking all paramount over any circumstance. My dad also cemented in me his motto Anything you can conceive and believe you can achieve. I often find myself returning to this motto (and several of his other sayings) when experiencing a challenge. My dad has strived for work life balance while obtaining a Master and Doctorate degree working full-time and raising a family. And my mom s work ethic as a registered nurse and unwavering dedication to her family has shown me that professional women can do it all. Jennifer is currently the Executive Director at the Grand County Rural Health Network where she is responsible for running this nonprofit overseeing programmatic and strategic implementation envisioning community-wide and organizational healthcare systems strategy and managing the fiscal health of the organization including grant writing and management. As a result I wear many hats on a daily basis like reviewing monthly financial statements forecasting future months budgeting and reviewing our audit and 990 tax form grant writing and management human resources management coordinating facilitating or attending meetings with external partners marketing events and programs managing programs and initiatives providing technical assistance to healthcare providers managing fundraising events donor relations and volunteers managing the board of directors and maintaining our office building. Jennifer began her career right out of college in 1999 when she joined the Peace Corps as a Community Health and AIDS Prevention Agent in Togo West Africa. Prior to that experience I knew nothing about public health the need or purpose for public health or that people regularly experienced healthcare access issues. I grew up as an Air Force brat and always felt that I had excellent access to healthcare through the military healthcare system. She quickly learned the importance of healthcare access and public health education in health outcomes economic prosperity education performance and so much more. I worked with several non-governmental organizations in West Africa (more commonly known as nonprofit organizations in the U.S.) and enjoyed the mission driven work over the constraints of working within the government or for-profit businesses. I ve only worked or volunteered for nonprofit organizations since returning to the U.S. However Jennifer struggled for years working seasonal jobs and waitressing before joining the Grand County Rural Health Network team. She worked as hard as she could to piece together some wages. She was also uninsured at the time and dealt with numerous illnesses and a broken bone all while trying to pay her medical bills on the limited income she had. based health information technology firm Patient Tools Inc. The app allows healthcare providers and childcare providers to do the screening for children ages 0-5 at their offices or have the parents do the screenings on their devices at home prior to the appointment. The app then automatically tallies the results removing human error and provides the single screening information and trending information to the providers. If a child flags potentially indicating a developmental delay the app communicates directly with service providers using our community-based referral road map. These service providers can then communicate back to the providers any results of the evaluation. The app is HIPAA and FURPA compliant and focuses on parental control. Most excitingly the app includes a parent education component where the parent can find age-appropriate activities and track their child s progress. We currently have many communities in Colorado and other states waiting for us to finish the full implementation of the app so they can replicate the process in their communities. Everything that Jennifer has experienced the opportunities provided to her the chances she s taken and all her struggles have contributed to her success. I ve lived a blessed life but I ve also worked very hard for it Jennifer s single goal is to leave the world a better place. I knew then that I wanted to work in the nonprofit healthcare field. Several of my coworkers at my marketing job discovered my passion and began pushing me to meet with the Grand County Rural Health Network my current employer. About six months later an employment opportunity arose. I applied for it and had an interview but I didn t get the job. Fortunately the person who filled that role did not work out and four months later I received a phone call from the director asking if I was still interested in a job. The rest (as they say) is history. Jennifer is happy to be able to serve others in a deep meaningful way and is extremely passionate about ensuring that everyone has equitable access to healthcare and by extension early childhood and K-12 education. If I can make a positive difference in the life of just one person I ve done my job and lived my life well. Of course I m certain I ve made a positive difference in more than one life but this is my mantra on a daily basis especially during difficult times. I believe that no matter what if you follow your passion you ll be successful and fulfill what you were put here to do. As our nation s knowledge of health factors that influence health outcomes (such as income education toxic stress as a child insurance status etc.) increases I become even more passionate about the field. I truly enjoy the independent nonprofit track rather than the for-profit or hospital track because we re able to act on behalf of our community and what benefits it most rather than the bottom line. She s also been integral in the creation of an application for computers and mobile devices that focuses on standardizing developmental screenings referrals and follow-ups. Our partnership called the Meeting Milestones Initiative focuses on improving healthcare access and efficiency for young children. Partners include my organization the Grand County Rural Health Network our local early childhood council Grand Beginnings a statewide nonprofit focusing on standardized developmental screenings Assuring Better Child Health and Development Colorado and a national Colorado- Women of Distinction Victoria Leigh Gabriella Writing Self-Published Author Xlibris Publishing Company Williamsburg VA W hat began as just a dream one summer night in 2014 turned into a romance novel written by new author Victoria Leigh Gabriella. SelfPublished through Xlibris A Real Love at Last A Romance in Williamsburg and Places Beyond is the story of two main characters Michael Stevens and Becca Connelly who meet and fall in love in Williamsburg Virginia. Victoria especially loved reading to her students and telling true stories to illustrate or enlighten a lesson. Continuing her teaching career after her divorce in 1996 she retired in 2011. Victoria is a member of Chesapeake Bay Writers National Association of Professional Women and Philanthropic Educational Organization which raises money to help further women s higher education in the US and worldwide. She is now working on a sequel A Forever Love Finally Happily Ever After. Enjoying her retirement years with family and friends Victoria loves movies music travelling visiting wineries and history. She has an older sister Bea who is married with two sons who have children of their own and an older brother Bob who is also married and has one daughter. A brief synopsis of A Real Love at Last... Michael Stevens a retired Marine sees Rebecca Connelly at a restaurant with another man who turns out to be her ex-husband Tripp Richards. After getting Tripp to leave Michael meets her and asks her out. He tries to rush things before she is ready and she runs but he convinces her to give him another chance. They date and meet each other s families and friends before proposing and marrying. Eventually Tripp comes back and messes things up for a while. After a few ups and downs Michael and Becca are happily settling into their married life together. It is the story of a mature loving relationship between a man and a woman in their mid-40 s who have both been unlucky in love in the past and have almost given up hope of ever finding a real love Victoria explains about characters Michael and Becca. Michael is a retired US Marine and Becca a beautiful elementary school teacher. I wanted to write a romantic story about characters to whom I could relate and dream of having their love for myself. Graduating from The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg in 1979 with a BA in Elementary Education Victoria returned to Portsmouth Virginia and began teaching. After marrying an officer in the Coast Guard she lived in Valdez Alaska and Charleston South Carolina before settling in historic Williamsburg. She spent nearly her entire career teaching upper elementary school students as a classroom teacher. 45 Women of Distinction Q&A Q How did you get the idea for writing the book in the first place A My wedding anniversary was in July and I couldn t help remembering my ex-husband and how happy I was to be married that day. But our marriage ended in divorce. I went to sleep that night dreaming about meeting him to give him back a bracelet that once belonged to his grandmother. I woke up and couldn t stop thinking about it so I started to write. Q Who are your two main characters and how did you develop them and their love story A I tell the story from the point of view of Michael Stevens a former Marine who settled in Williamsburg. I made up Michael completely from my imagination. Becca Connelly is a bit like me but she gets to have the love story I only dreamed of having someday. Q Why do you think your romance novel will stand out from all the others A I read many genres but I felt as though many of the current popular romances were about couples in their teens or 20 s. Now that I m older I wanted to read something more suited to me. I also tell it from the man s point of view making it different from other romances. Q Who is your target audience of potential readers and purchasers of your book A I believe most readers of romance novels are women although I hope men would also find it interesting. I tend to think women in their 30 s and above might relate best. Q Your cover features a large peace rose. Why did you select that as your cover illustration A A peace rose has large yellow and pink edged blossoms and it is my favorite rose. To Michael Becca is a peace rose gradually blooming and allowing him into her life. She brings peace beauty love and fun to him. Q What real places are mentioned in your book A Real Love at Last A The places I describe in the novel are based on real places in Williamsburg and Virginia. They get married on the campus of William and Mary have their wedding reception at the Williamsburg Inn and visit places like Switzerland Charleston Savannah and Ireland. These are some of my favorite places and I have been to them all myself. Q Can readers buy your book now or must they wait until it is on bookshelves A Hardback paperbacks and eBooks are available at or as well as on I know it is also in print on demand and can be ordered in bookstores. I hope it will be in selected bookstores sometime this year. Q Do you believe there is a Prince Charming out there for every woman A It is fun to imagine that there is a Prince Charming out there for everyone. I know many mature women have given up on dating and have resigned to a life alone. It makes me sad that so many cannot find love especially once women are of a certain age. I did not find a real love so I imagined characters and let them have what I never found. Q Will there be a sequel to the first book or will there be other books in the future A That is a hard to answer because I have written the sequel called A Forever Love Finally. It continues with Michael and Becca and goes about 10 years into their marriage. This time it s written from Becca s point of view. I m currently still editing and revising it. However whether it is published depends on the success of A Real Love at Last. Q Why do you think readers would enjoy A Real Love at Last A I think it is a romantic interesting erotic and sweet story of two people who find the person they have been waiting for their whole lives. Hopefully it will be a fun read for people who enjoy reading romance novels. 46 Women of Distinction Andrea Just Dog Obedience Training Dog Walking and Pet Sitting Owner and Certified Dog Trainer Waggly Tails Dog Training LLC 47 Robbinsville NJ Women of Distinction T here comes a time when you realize that your career is no longer gratifying and you want something more fulfilling. For Andrea Just that time was in 2014. She was over the trade show industry and wanted a career where she could make a difference. So as an animal lover Andrea researched and found Animal Behavior College (ABC) and enrolled in September 2014. I teach the dogs and socialize them as well as reinforce the obedience cues that the SAVE staff teaches. Working with shelter dogs is truly inspirational. Sometimes I think I learn more from the dogs than they do from me Her mother has always been Andrea s inspiration. She taught me to persevere through tough times and that I could do anything I set out to accomplish. My mother also left a legacy of kindness that I m proud to continue. When I no longer walk this earth I want people to remember me as a kind caring person. I m not just kind to animals I make every effort to be kind to people as well. I try to be as helpful as I can to those in need and believe in paying it forward as kindness begets kindness. Andrea is an inspiration to others as well. She had the guts to drive cross-country alone returning home to New Jersey from California after ending a brief terrible marriage. I lived with friends until I could get back on my feet while working a temporary job and going back to school to become a certified dog trainer in the autumn of my life. The lesson here be determined and tenacious. Don t give up. Never let anyone steal your joy or belittle you. You re never too old to change direction and pursue your dreams. If my actions have inspired even one person then that s the icing on my cake of life In addition to their dog obedience curriculum I took three continuing education courses Training Shelter Dogs Pet Massage and the Art of Giving and Selling Private Lessons. I also had to pass ABC s pet CPR and first aid course. I graduated with honors on May 13 2015 (four months ahead of schedule) and decided to establish my own business immediately upon receiving my certification. Today Andrea is a Certified Dog Trainer and Owner of Waggly Tails Dog Training LLC in Robbinsville NJ. She handles her own marketing advertising and billing along with every other aspect of running the business. Although I haven t been in business very long being a trainer is what I plan to do for the rest of my life. My goal as a professional certified dog trainer is to prevent dogs from being surrendered to shelters by teaching them and their owners that a well-trained dog will be a loving member of their family for life. This member of the APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers) volunteers for SAVE (a friend to homeless animals) at community adoption events and at their facility in Montgomery Township NJ. 48 Women of Distinction 49 Women of Distinction Barbara Mikula aka Skye Michaels Publishing Erotic Romance Exclusive Author Siren Publishing Davie FL 50 Women of Distinction L ike many Americans Barbara Mikula found herself without a job after her 18-year career as a commercial real estate paralegal fell apart with the economic downturn. Working for a Fort Lauderdale Florida law firm until 2010 she found herself closing that chapter in her life in order to move forward. To cope Barbara began to write. Becoming more than just a hobby Barbara s erotic romance style writing became her new found career. In less than five years she wrote 28 books all of which have been published and are available on various e-retailers including Amazon and Google. Better known by her readers by her pen name Skye Michaels Barbara learned her skills by reading some of her favorite better known writers like Nora Roberts and Janet Evanovich. She s also read quite a bit about her specific genre of Bondage and Discipline and Sadism and Masochism (BDSM) contemporary romantic suspense and she very much admires the several erotic romance writers of the 21st century. Explaining that there s no course to learn this particular writing skill (what words to use or how far to go) a lot of it requires inspiration and imagination. Barbara is what other professional writers call a panster . She doesn t write an outline for her stories like most writers she jumps right in instead. She doesn t know where the story is going until she begins writing it. Although Barbara admits that neither way is better it is merely a matter of preference. However she does start each book by creating a page of notes to save character sketches ideas for locations snippets of dialog that are running through her head lists of main characters friends a bad guy or antagonist if there is one and so on. Then she begins writing. The best advice I could give to aspiring writers is simply to write not talk about it or dream about it but just do it. You have to start somewhere Barbara said whose first two books were accepted by her publisher in just three weeks. The trick is to send your work to a publisher that publishes the works you like to read. With recent changes in the publishing world brought on by e-books and the expense of publishing traditional hardcover books the bigger publishing houses cannot take on many new writers. If you want your work to actually get published find a smaller publishing house. You can always move up if you hit big. Now working on book number 30 Barbara s books are broken down into series The Le Club series The Golden Dolphin series The Black Iris Club series The Black Dahlia Hotel series and The Wilton Park Grand Hotel series. I d love readers who have never thought about reading an erotic novel to try one of mine. They are sexy and explicit but not ugly or nasty. If you have an adventurous spirit an inquiring mind and a good imagination you ll like them. Basically they are love stories that don t end at the bedroom door as in your grandmother s romance novels. 51 Women of Distinction Barbara Tanner Healthcare Retired Advanced Practice Nurse Maui Family Support Services Inc. Wailuku HI E ncouraging the younger generation to consider working in the healthcare field specifically nursing as a great option for their future Barbara Tanner says that the opportunities in the field are endless if you have the right knowledge base decision making skills and the clinical competence for which they are credentialed. With more than 40 relative years in nursing Barbara can tell you firsthand what an amazing career it can be. Beginning her career in 1966 as a surgical nurse at Maui Memorial Hospital in Hawaii Barbara then worked with Hale Makua Home Care from 1969-72 where she helped start the Medicare program that was passed by congress during President Lyndon Johnson s tenure. For 24 years following she worked as a Public Health Nurse IV for the State of Hawaii providing well and sick care services to patients from infant to adult people with tuberculosis Hansen s Disease and children with special health needs. In 1974 Barbara became one of two registered nurses on Maui that passed the Community Health Nursing exam and received certification in that field. She then became a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) shortly after completing the required certification. Working full-time and going to school while tending to her household with a husband and three children was a juggling act but she did it. As a master s student I learned that women didn t receive prenatal care and consequently gave birth to babies preterm before 37 weeks gestation Barbara recalled. That meant that babies and their mothers were separated at birth while the infants received care at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on Oahu. I wrote a grant that created a prenatal clinic for impoverished and underserved women to teach them about nutrition and signs of early labor and treatment for vaginal infections and periodontal disease to prevent preterm births and the consequences of early birth. As a PNP I provided health promotion and maintenance through diagnosis and treatment of acute illnesses and chronic conditions. I also referred to specialists with any concerns that were discovered and needed more in-depth evaluation Barbara explained. Maui is unique in that it s comprised of three separate islands necessitating air travel to provide PNP services each month. Where else could you travel and put in a day s work in beautiful Hawaii Not taking her career or her Hawaiian lifestyle for granted Barbara made many sacrifices to get ahead. Completing her BSN at the University of Colorado in 1960 she later went back to college to earn her MSN 30 years later at the University of Hawaii at age 51. During Barbara s 13 year career with Maui Family Support Services she did home visits monitored immunizations and health concerns developed tracking systems to keep the organization running smoothly taught personnel the signs and symptoms of communicable diseases provided instruction in blood borne diseases and chaired the cessation tobacco program. Now fully retired she currently sits on the organization s board. Celebrating 55 years of marriage in 2015 to her high school sweetheart Barbara and her husband share three children and two grandchildren. 52 Women of Distinction CJ Stafford Customer Care Consulting Marketing President Owner Stafford Communications Group Inc. 53 New Providence NJ Women of Distinction C J Stafford has a unique resume. She enjoyed a 20-year career with Johnson & Johnson first as a toxicologist ensuring the safety and efficacy of wound closures. When she moved to the communications side of the business she became part of an International Public Relations Team and managed consumer affairs and healthcare professionals for Splenda brand sweetener which included building the brand s first customer care program. That s when she saw a market opportunity and got the impetus for forming Stafford Communications Group in 1995. In addition to being a full-service outsourcer Stafford has built a reputation over the last 20 years for its customer service consulting services. We help companies improve their customer service programs. We build and improve their processes restructure consolidate train and provide quality assurance services to help them be their best There was a need to help companies of all sizes provide high-end service to their customers CJ recalled. Most customer service outsourcers cater to large companies and well-known brands so there was a huge gap. CJ oversees operations and provides strategic direction for the company as well it is her passion. She s also responsible for sales and is personally involved in all project planning and implementation. Believing in four principles (independent thinking risk taking perseverance and high standards) CJ has been able to build a self-managed virtual workplace where producing results and having fun is the norm. Proud to be able to offer internships to college students participate in worthwhile fundraisers provide pro bono services to nonprofit organizations and raise money for worthy causes like breast cancer research CJ is also an active member of the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals where she previously held a leadership position. Having grown her business from 35 employees to 100 since 2012 CJ plans to continue building on the company s past success and growth trajectory. A mother to one daughter Cassandra a graphic designer and program manager at Stafford CJ believes in hard work and having a sense of humor because she says laughter and fun are essential to a happy work life balance. The result was a boutique company with three distinct yet complementary lines of business customer care consulting and marketing services. The company works with healthcare pharmaceutical food consumer packaged goods and beauty care companies ensuring their customer service initiatives are aligned to their marketing programs so they intrinsically support each other. The foundation for Stafford Communications was leveraging CJ s knowledge of science and compliance and recognizing the unmet need for high-end customer service in regulated industries like food healthcare pharmaceuticals and beauty care. One of Stafford s guiding principles is providing out-of-the-box thinking to clients. CJ explained The cornerstone of our company is listening to clients needs and continually developing solutions to meet those needs. We are not bound by what is or what was. We are creative and nimble. Our clients know we have them covered. 54 Women of Distinction Denise Jackson R Early Childhood Education Lead Teacher Preschool Nurtury Learning Lab Jamaica Plain MA emaining in education for such a long time due to personal life experiences unique teaching abilities and tremendous personal growth in the field Denise Jackson actually began her career in education while she was still in high school. Participating in the Madison Park Vocational High School in Roxbury Massachusetts in 1989 she chose childcare as her vocational study attending classes twice a week for academics and vocational training. By the time Denise was a sophomore in high school she had already had the opportunity to visit local daycare centers and gain hands-on experience in early childhood classrooms. There was no question in her mind that this was the field she wanted pursue for the rest of her life. Making herself present by coming to work every day on time she is also sure to be mentally present at all times in order to provide the support staff and administration the assistance they need of her. Denise believes that personal growth and development are major factors in becoming a successful teacher. Creating a foundation that will support the next platform of one s career is vital. Although it has been difficult at times it has certainly been worth it for her. And although this field is not known to be a money making opportunity it is a lifelong commitment that creates a stable path for generations to follow. For that reason alone it has been worth the many sacrifices Denise has endured that come with being a teacher. Denise would love to someday open her own daycare facilities in the communities where she grew up because they ve helped mold her into the person she is today strong and passionate. Giving back in these environments she says can only strengthen these children s futures. Now with two sons in tow ages 14 and 8 Denise s days are jammed packed. Between work and tending to her sons especially her youngest who has pervasive development disorder a form of autism they keep her both humbled and grounded. Thankfully she gets to share her life with a very supportive and loving spouse who also happens to work in the community with children and families. Seeing how generations have drastically changed and opened new doors for challenges improvements and supports I ve continued to strive to be the voice of children who need an advocate who will fight for them Denise said who is now the Lead Teacher at Nurtury Learning Lab s preschool in Jamaica Plain Massachusetts since 2014. But working with children and families became transparent to me when I noticed how complicated and unsupported my life became long ago. Raising my first-born son as a single parent the major parts of parenting that I felt were crucial to a young child like social emotional and physical support from both parents were non-existent. Providing quality care to the children and the community she serves as Lead Teacher Denise strives to be a positive role model and leader to her staff at Nurtury Learning Lab. 55 Women of Distinction Divya L. Selvakumar University Education International Global Health Allied Health (Nutrition and Dietetics) Director Founder American Hindu World Service Nutrition Specialist Consultant Professor 56 Laurel MD Women of Distinction H opeful to serve the world as an educator consultant clinician and counselor in the field of nutrition Divya L. Selvakumar of Laurel Maryland initially discovered an interest in nutrition as an undergraduate at the University of California San Diego. Divya truly enjoyed nutrition and being able to apply it to a number of different fields. Making the decision to pursue higher education and study dietetics she s been practicing in her field now for more than 13 years. This is what inspired her to create her organization in the first place and she eventually was able to partner with charity organizations in Pakistan Nigeria and Nepal making great strides. AHWS has been gaining tremendous recognition and has been invited to the United Nations US State Department the White House and USAID for a number of events. Delighted to be making headway in an organization that she s invested so much of her heart and soul into Divya has also been teaching as a Nutrition Health Professor at Montgomery College in Rockville Maryland since 2009. The author of Food for Thought Life Lessons on Nutrition and Empowerment in 2014 Divya plans to publish her PhD dissertation called Relationships Between a Prenatal Nutrition Education Intervention and Maternal Nutrition in Ethiopia soon. Divya is also a member of The Development Executive Group Society for International Development Golden Key International Honor Society the Walden University Pi Alpha National Honor Society and National Association of Distinguished Professionals. She holds a MPH in Public Health Nutrition from Tulane University s School of Public Health and Medicine and a PhD in Public Policy and Administration concentrating on international NGOs from Walden University. Married to Sunil a computer consultant and expert Divya and he enjoy quality time together and traveling to experience new cultures. She also relishes playing piano Karnatic vocal music and Bharatnatyam dance. I m particularly interested in vegetarianism holistic nutrition and two ancient Indian traditional medicine branches Ayurveda and Siddha Divya said. However my commitment to service and interest in international development is what led me to create my organization American Hindu World Service (AHWS). As Director and Founder of AHWS Divya remotely manages all operations in Pakistan Nigeria and Nepal through administration financial tasks program support and development. In Pakistan they ve partnered with an organization that promotes minority rights and supports interfaith awareness poor school children s education and women s empowerment. In Nigeria they ve been undertaking the promotion of malaria nutrition and HIV AIDS awareness through medical camps and interfaith programs. In Nepal they ve recently contributed toward sending donations to victims of the recent earthquake and plan on undertaking a sustainable agriculture project in the future. After working on a consulting project for World Vision in 2008 Divya discovered that there were no international nongovernmental organizations based in the US that represented the Hindu community. 57 Women of Distinction Eleanor Gilpatrick Arts Fine Arts Painting Drawing Owner Sole Proprietor Eleanor Gilpatrick Inc. New York NY E leanor Gilpatrick remembers making clothing for her cut-out dolls as a child. By the time she was in high school she had won prizes for draftsmanship from both her school and the Educational Alliance in New York City. But once she went to college Eleanor studied the social sciences rather than pursing a degree in art. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Brooklyn College she then earned a Master s in Economics from The New School and a PhD from Cornell University. As a professor at Hunter College City University of New York Eleanor taught in the School of Health Sciences directed a master s program in health services administration pioneered courses in critical thinking and writing and authored four books. Her art remained a secondary activity but grading papers seemed less and less attractive. It was time to retire. Eleanor also participates in an annual show at Jadite Galleries in New York City. She was on display in Havre de Gras Maryland for many years. Equally important is her online site at Etsy. Eleanor never sells reproductions of her work because she believes that the energy of the creation lies in the original piece. She says that she does not judge artists who do sell reproductions they are a needed source of income for many people. Her success in the art world is not measured by the income she makes from selling her pieces instead she measures it in terms of personal satisfaction. I never thought about art as my career Eleanor said. My career was at Hunter College. My life as an artist came into being when on walking trips in Europe I noticed that one of the guides had a sketch book with her so I started doing the same. Around 1998 I took some plein-air workshops in Italy returning to serious study at Hunter College while I was still teaching. I retired as a professor and moved from painting at Hunter to painting at home. I incorporated as Eleanor Gilpatrick Inc. Don t be afraid to paint what you care about Eleanor said lastly advising other artists. She says My paintings about 9 11 Iraq and Afghanistan contrast the lives we live here every day with places we were or are at war. I also paint about climate change. It s important to me that my paintings be beautiful but I also want to bring attention to the issues we face as Americans. Eleanor has no children but close friends are like daughters to her and they have eight children all of whom have enriched her life. She is still involved with politics enjoys visiting with friends and just enjoying life. Using her photographs as the basis of her paintings many of them reflect places to which Eleanor has traveled and people she has met along the way. Landscapes are her favorite subjects but she also paints abstracts still life and portraits. She created four permanent Calendar Books illustrated by her art and two books of artworks she has sold 103 of her pieces are in private collections. 58 Women of Distinction Elizabeth O. Olagunju Life Business Coaching Transformational and Leadership Coaching President SEGMEM Inc. Senior Coach Achieve Success Life Business Coaching 59 Hallandale Beach FL Women of Distinction T he secret to Elizabeth O. Olagunju s ability to learn how to focus and concentrate stems from her former years in college. Trained as a scientist she studied botany and zoology something that has benefited her throughout her life and in career. Now as President of SEGMEM Inc. in Hallandale Beach Florida Elizabeth is able to use her talents to pass on her knowledge to others as a life and business coach specifically as a success transformational and leadership coach. Elizabeth is the author of three books Raising High Achieving Kids Seven Ways to Enhance Your Child s Future (selected by Amazon as one of the Top Best Books of 2014) 2014 Love Is It 2013 and Tasha (a novel) 2004. She also coauthored Real Hope for the Unemployed 2014 and Journey to Your Vision 2014. Born in Nigeria Elizabeth first worked with the Federal Government of Nigeria as a Lecturer and as Head of the Biological Sciences Department then with Bank of America as a Senior Credit Analyst for Red Lion Christian Academy as Faculty and Curriculum Committee Chair and with JP Morgan Chase as a Lending Risk Analyst. She s a current Consultant with Midland Info Tech Academy and a Senior Coach with Achieve Success Life Business Coaching. Affiliated with Women Speaker Association Connect GroupFirst Impression Church Program and Women s Program (a church program) Elizabeth holds a BSc in Botany an MSc in Zoology an MEd an MBA and is a Certified Project Manager. I encourage all young people to develop their minds and study science she said. This discipline made it possible for me to go into many different careers and vocations. It gave me the confidence discipline and tenacity to want to succeed. In 1973 Elizabeth began working as a faculty member in a local high school before becoming a college lecturer. After 20 years of teaching at various levels and another 20 years working with major fortune 500 companies as a leader coach mentor and lending risk analyst she s now able to impart her knowledge to others. Offering individual coaching to clients which can take place online or over the telephone Elizabeth offers threemonth six-month and one-year packages. She also offers as-needed sessions to fit into clients busy schedules. Additionally Elizabeth does group coaching sessions which take place by telephone conference call on a weekly basis and last for 50 minutes each. Consisting of all age groups group sessions are designed for those with similar career goals and serve as a dynamic support system. As president of SEGMEM Inc. Elizabeth works hard to seek out clients and develop strong lasting relationships while inspiring her current clients to achieve their personal and business goals by determining the correct tools and methodologies to build their careers. I am a woman who believes that everyone has a unique and special gift that he or she can give to the world Elizabeth noted. Everyone should strive to reach their potential. Married to a wonderful and supportive husband she has four children a graphic artist medical doctor business leadership administrator and attorney. She is blessed with three grandchildren. 60 Women of Distinction Ilona Oltuski Music Journalism and Classical Music Productions Founder of GetClassical Journalist at New York NY 61 Women of Distinction S ince 2012 Ilona Oltuski has been producing salonstyle concerts with the intention of creating a space for classical music in New York City s nightlife and designed GetClassical to provide a platform for conversation among readers performers and music lovers. She hopes that the organization and its events will promote artistic variation in the New York cultural scene and bring new audiences to classical music. Ilona is always looking for amazing new artists to share with her growing audience through her writing and the events she produces with some of them. I needed to know as much as possible about them to write the best story. I wanted firsthand knowledge most importantly how their personality and preferences would translate into their music. She is honored to be a member of MCANA (Music Critics Association of North America) along with some of the most brilliant writers of American music journalism. Ilona is also a member of CMA (Chamber Music America) an organization for chamber music with many events and novel ideas about how to present classical music. The events I produce bear a communal goal in mind bringing classical music to new audiences by expanding the venues people can listen to great young artists performances. While I m certainly not in opposition to large concert halls I prefer small intimate venues where artists can be heard up close and concerts are a friendly get-together with the audience and the performer profiting from each other s immediacy. Unlike the great impresarios the world has seen Ilona doesn t see herself as a manager but rather as a collaborator with the artist. I ve reinvented my creative side by writing about my diverse encounters in the world of music with artists that inspire through their talent and artistic expression. I like to look to the very human side of these endeavors through collaborations that reach right under the skin. From her early years in Berlin and Frankfurt Germany Ilona was passionate about the piano. She took classes at the Hoch sche Conservatory in Frankfurt (founded by Clara Schumann) and continued her pianistic education in New York where she was fascinated by the amazing talent she met along the way. While attending mind-opening seminars of the Golandsky Institute at Princeton University Ilona met some of the artists who inspired her and started to interview them. Many felt that I got them and that I should write about their performances. One particular inspiring performance led me to publish my first article in the U.S. on Blog Critics. When my blog became more popular I approached other artists I admired and was even able to engage with some very wellknown performers. Ilona was really curious about the personal side of the artists she discovered. What made them click with their instrument How was it they all played so differently What led them into their careers My greatest pleasure is to be a little part of their performances. In today s competitive music market it makes me happy when I can help bring him some new fans. 62 Women of Distinction Jenny Lin Public Policy Founder Chief Executive Officer Asia Taktik LLC Sugar Land TX W ith so much to learn and accomplish in the world of public and foreign affairs it is no wonder Jenny Lin of Sugar Land Texas has been able to maintain an enormous curiosity for other cultures political systems and economies and a drive to want to stay working in the field. Beginning her career in public policy with the acceptance into American University s Master of Public Policy master s degree program in 2008 Jenny was privileged and lucky to attend the well-known private university in Washington DC. Eager to learn how to merge the intellectual tools she gained from the courses taught at their School of Public Affairs and the School of International Service she was excited to pursue a career in public policy. In the public sector Asia Taktik serves as support to agencyspecific missions by providing ideas expertise research and analysis for policy success in Asian Pacific countries with services helping government officials effectively address the challenges of foreign relations and policy implementation. Jenny previously worked at Baker Botts Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce the Greater Dallas Asian-American Chamber of Commerce EVA Airlines and as an intern to former congressman Tom DeLay. She also holds a BA in Government and Asian Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Previously married Jenny was born in the Republic of China Taiwan immigrating with her family to Watsonville California at the age of nine. Five years later the family relocated to Sugar Land Texas where Jenny plans to continue working and living for many more years. Jenny has contributed to the foreign policy community by working as an independent contractor and writing a number of publications. A member of the US Women Chamber of Commerce and Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce she s also a committee member with the Asian Pacific Heritage Association. I ve always stayed focused on my passion Jenny said about her entrepreneurship mindset. It s important for people to keep doing what they love because they ll always be able to accomplish whatever it is they set their minds to. Taking a bold leap forward just a few years later Jenny formed a start-up company called Asia Taktik LLC in 2013 a technical consulting firm that specializes in protecting companies assets and reputations by managing and mitigating risks so her clients can focus on business at hand. Based on her diverse experiences Jenny recognizes a real need for private and public sectors to be able to engage and do business with other countries yet in foreign markets and with third-party vendors it can be risky so that s where Asia Taktik comes in. In the private sector Asia Taktic protects clients assets by identifying and managing counter party risk political risk and security (operational and cyber) risk. In addition Asia Taktik assists clients in developing a culture around cyber and reputation risk awareness and proactive management. It s my hope that we can create a more prosperous US and Asia through cultivating and maintaining good relations between Americans and Asians because ultimately we want the fruits of better foreign relations to benefit both families 63 Women of Distinction Judy Praska Non-Profit Sports Executive Director North Country Region Volleyball Edina MN fter a car accident in August 1996 left Judy Praska asking herself what she really wanted to do with her life she made the decision to retire from teaching math and computers at Clarksville High School in Clarksville Iowa to reenter college and work toward her master s degree. Completing the two year program in just one year Judy graduated with a Master s in Sports and Health and Leisure Service with an emphasis in Athletic Administration at the University of Iowa. Interning at USOC-USA Volleyball in the summer of 1998 and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics from August 1998-April 1999 Judy landed a position with North Country Region Volleyball the following May. Still with the organization today Judy continues to serve as their Executive Director. A She since become a member of the Minnesota National Girls and Women in Sports Day Award Committee member as well as former co-chair and award chair board member of Sports Alliance of Minnesota Regional Volleyball Association Associate Chair and is the is the former Regional Volleyball Association Compliance Chair. Being a part of these organizations Judy explained has helped her to brainstorm with colleagues and better understand how they handle different situations. Judy has assisted with World League for USA Volleyball was a volleyball rep for the Minnesota Senior Games in 2014 and is currently serving as the Volleyball Coordinator for the 2015 National Senior Games. Married to her husband Dan for 15 years with two sons she also volunteers as the Pancake Breakfast Chair for Cub Scouts has been a Den Leader with Dan for the past four years served as the boys basketball coach and bench coach is a playground duty volunteer volunteer lunch server and former uniform chair at their sons school and is a Eucharistic minister and usher at their church. I am a jack of all trades Judy confessed about her position. I handle accounting public relations event management background screenings partnerships with potential sponsors technology assistants and as North Country Region s rep at the national meetings. I love what I do the diversity of the position and the people I work with. The world of volleyball and sports in general continuously change so it keeps me on my toes. Prior to leaving her teaching career Judy was a head volleyball coach and assistant basketball coach at Clarksville Iowa from 1995-97 and the high school volleyball coach assistant basketball coach and head track coach at St. Edmond s High School from 1992-95. Growing up in a small town in Iowa on a farm Judy s parents taught her the importance of great work ethic. It was also during this time that she fell in love with sports. Joining North Country at the age of 29 it has been a very interesting yet challenging role. Judy s colleagues have been very supportive and their staff of four grew to eight with some part-time help since Judy was first taken on board. 64 Women of Distinction Kathy Ehret Mental Health Education Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program Manager 2Succeed in Education LINK2Succeed Mental Health Center of Denver Denver CO K athy Ehret began caregiving early in her life after her mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Her desire to help others spilled into her adolescence and then adult life becoming a Resident Assistant at Western Illinois University while in college. Upon graduation from college (1981) Kathy began working with residential services serving individuals with various types of disabilities. In 1986 she became the program manager at Platte River Industries a vocational training workshop working with adults with developmental disabilities. Eight years later Kathy began working for Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD) in 1994. She leads meetings coordinates committees as she supervises interns from colleges universities in the Denver Metro area interested in mental health rehabilitation nutrition arts culinary and wellness. She also serves as the liaison in community partnerships in Denver co-facilitates the Disability Awareness Festival on the Auraria campus (tri-institutional event each year) and as a Certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor she offers courses at MHCD on the Auraria Campus and in the community. It was Kathy s mom that led her to her calling of helping deserving people. All people want to be well happy and appreciated in life. Working side-by-side helping people find what works best helping a person find solutions build skills believe in oneself learn work in their community and work through symptoms of serious illnesses creating stability and wellness is very rewarding for her. Kathy networks with colleagues in higher education and mental health as a member of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association International Professional Women s Association and Community College of Denver Human Services Advisory Board. She earned a nomination for the 2008 NAMI Award and was also the recipient of a 2009 Jenny Hinkle Award. Born in southern Illinois Kathy moved to Colorado as a young adult and loves living in the West. She is the daughter of a successful businessman who has been a huge support all her life especially after her mom passed away in 2001. Now remarried to a wonderful southern woman with a big heart she is a great addition to their now blended family. My mother was an RN before MS challenged her Kathy said about her life early on. She was a mother of four children and instilled in us that success comes through willpower knowledge passion creativity compassion integrity and love. She taught me that success can be achieved with dedication and hard work in spite of disability and stigma. As a Program Manager at Mental Health Center Denver 2Succeed Kathy runs a specific supported education program named LINK2Succeed assisting people to begin return college trade school or any adult higher education program within the community. Students are completing their degrees certificate programs areas of specialties and updating skills to re-enter the workforce. Kathy instructs classes at 2Succeed Life Skills Leadership in Well-Being Baby Boomers (seniors) Psychiatric Rehabilitation study sessions and college prep. 65 Women of Distinction Kristen Kang Insurance Retail Commercial Insurance Co-Founder Executive Vice-President Commercial Global Insurance Services of California LLC Irvine CA W orking toward her bachelor s degree Kristen Kang spent her summer months as a receptionist and administrative assistant to gain valuable work experience. Graduating from the University of California-San Diego with a BA in Psychology Kristen was unsure at first of the direction she wanted to take in her career but she knew that she enjoyed working in a dynamic office environment. After working for 10 years as a commercial insurance claims specialist and account manager she received an exciting opportunity to establish a new retail insurance brokerage in Orange County. For the last seven years she has served as co-founder and executive vicepresident at Commercial Global Insurance Services (CGIS) in Irvine California and she s loved every minute of it. As a member of various organizations such as the California Independent Petroleum Association and Association of Energy Service Contractors Kristen and her company stay informed of issues affecting her industry resulting in a higher level of service and expertise for clients. Kristen makes a concerted effort to contact clients and underwriters directly either by phone or face-to-face. She says that the world has become a rather unfriendly place with email and texting becoming more commonplace. Asking someone about their day and demonstrating that you truly care will go a long way in solidifying long-term relationships. Work ethic is equally important to Kristen as she learned from her parents and grandparents. When we first established CGIS I didn t foresee myself sitting on the front lines with a client or negotiating an insurance program Kristen said admitting that it was completely outside of her comfort zone. I always took direction from someone else. I am fortunate to have a supportive business partner and mentor who saw my potential and gradually expanded my role and responsibilities to what they are today. They were some of the hardest working most humble people you ll ever meet and I feel incredibly fortunate to have such a supportive family rooting for me Kristen is best known as a mother of two beautiful 8-yearold twin girls. As a single parent she sometimes feels overwhelmed juggling parenthood and career but always reminds herself about the example she is setting for her children and the bright future that lies ahead. In recent years Kristen transitioned into an account executive overseeing insurance program design and negotiating coverage terms for clients. CGIS has grown significantly since 2008. The company specializes in the upstream oil and gas sector insuring operations across the country and internationally. 66 Women of Distinction Dr. Linda Amerson Intergrative Medicine - Doctor of Trichology Chief Executive Officer President of LA s Hair & Scalp Clinic 67 Arlington TX Women of Distinction D What God has for me is for ME I also used my love for music and musical gifts to write sing and rap a theme song in 2012 then collaborated with world-renowned music producer Victor Phazz Clark to record it. The song was released in June 2013. And to provide a visual component for my theme song Phazz and I collaborated again to produce a music video in September 2014. September is National Alopecia Areata Awareness Month. I ve done something in September for several years for alopecia awareness. As a pioneer in her field Dr. Amerson intends to publish several books in the future and currently has an educational CD and DVD series on the market. She also opened the first Trichology Training Center in the USA in 1999 hosted the first Cruise with a Purpose for alopecia awareness in 2012 and became the first doctor of Trichology to host her own weekly radio show in February 2013 to educate about alopecia and scalp disorder maladies. In her free time Dr. Amerson enjoys time at the spa massages movies the arts and sleeping. She s also participated at health fairs donated hygiene products to local shelters hosted free Trichology clinics organized collaborated with other beauty professionals to provide free back-to-school haircuts and hairstyling and given free educational seminars to women s organizations. Dr. Amerson wants to be known as someone who s always taken her business very seriously made adjustments when needed and learned to reinvent herself to stay ahead of the competition in her industry. She was innovative in creating a song and music video for alopecia awareness. And to coincide with this message she paid it forward to several youth affected with alopecia by providing scholarships. r. Linda Amerson is the first and only board certified Trichologist in the Western United States. Put simply she is an expert in alopecia and scalp disorders. My passion in the beauty industry began in 1980 as a cosmetologist then as an educator with the goal of receiving my doctorate in Trichology. She attended the International Institute of Trichology in Madison Alabama. During that time she was greatly influenced by her professors the late Dr. Hattie Thompson Dr. Tariq Madyum and Dr. Sandra Gilman. Since completing her doctorate in 2000 Dr. Amerson has enjoyed traveling and educating consumers and beauty professionals globally. As the CEO and President for LA s Hair & Scalp Clinic Dr. Amerson is responsible for microscopic consultations clinic treatments and all other aspects of her clinic. Respected as an expert in her field she is a contributing author to over 50 national digital and print publications. Her consistent marketing and advertising helps keep her brand present to consumers. Dr. Amerson s passion for her work has expanded to philanthropy. I pay it forward by presenting educational scholarships to children affected with alopecia. She has also reinvented herself as a radio host singer and songwriter. I began hosting my own radio show in 2013 on utilizing experience from past guest radio show appearances. 68 Women of Distinction Mitzie Ann Yodites Adult Day Care Specializing in Developmentally Disabled Adults with Behavior Issues Executive Director Administrator and Owner of the Basic Occupational Training Center Perris CA Mitzie had real-life experience from being raised with someone who was developmentally disabled her brother. Her husband also worked with the Orange County School District s Regional Occupational Program for Developmentally Disabled Adults in California. A fter 23 years with Trans World Airlines Mitzie Ann Yodites was offered the opportunity to work with developmentally disabled adults. The industry has developed a credential known as BCBA implying that having credentials is what it takes to succeed in this industry a concept that s always up for debate. The State of California has made things challenging for Mitzie over the years. This great state believes that minimum wage should be increased. However the established rate of pay for our industry is often lowered or remains stagnant. As a business we increase our employees wages. However we re faced with the fact that workers compensation and insurance rates go up while the amount of money we get paid doesn t and has actually dropped five times in 18 years. Another issue the program has faced is the social issue with the individuals it serves. There is a belief that this population must be integrated with the general population. This industry dresses the consumers up fixes their teeth and hair makes them appear more socially acceptable and insists that they mix in with society. What s misunderstood is that consumers prefer to be with their own The day program is where they feel normal comfortable and enjoy each other s company. This is also where the consumer s self-esteem self-confidence and most of their entire social arena is tied up. Mitzie feels that this was a mission given to her by God. I m honored that He chose me to assist in serving this great population. The combination of skills I developed in the airlines dealing with people emergency situations disgruntled people etc. helped tremendously in this field. I was employed by a day program for developmentally disabled adults. After eight years of managing and increasing the program s enrollment from 72 to 400 consumers. I was asked by the Inland Regional Center (IRC) to branch off and develop my own program. So in 1997 Mitzie opened the Basic Occupational Training Center (B.O.T.) with her husband s guidance. After 18 years she continues to love her work. The ability to comfort and nurture people experience their satisfaction and make changes in their individual development is extremely rewarding. I m a patient person think positively never give up and am totally dedicated to my mission. I get to know all the consumers we serve and make sure we have a good match between consumer staff and the unique programs I design. Our success is attributed to the fantastic staff we have an outstanding trainer and our business manager of operations. Plus my husband and I have a commitment to serve this population with dignity respect and seeing the potential opportunities for them to develop and grow. Mitzie believes that life experience in understanding the population she serves is far more valuable than a degree in this industry. 69 Women of Distinction Sydoni A. Yee Insurance (Workers Compensation Group Health Disability IME) Vice-President PMO and Product Development Managing Care Managing Cost LLC Lake Worth FL F ollowing a career path that involved the study of health administration Sydoni A. Yee entered into insurance by default. Even though she admits that it wasn t her first love she grew to love it. She developed a passion for quality of care through establishing effective processes that resulted in an all-around positive patient experience from the admitting room to the business office and ultimately the patient s discharge. Nearly 30 years later Sydoni is blessed to have enjoyed such a wonderful career and she attributes it mostly to her very first position in the admitting office of Baptist Hospital of Miami. Working her way up into the administration s business office her career began to really take flight learning fundamental knowledge that she took with her well into the future. I learned all the aspects of the business which later enabled me to venture from business processes to the technical world. The analytical juices within me emerged and the development of that skill continued my journey to other insurance entities Sydoni said who is now the Vice-President of PMO and Product Development for Managing Care Managing Cost (MCMC) LLC based in Quincy Massachusetts. Serving as the VP of the PMO is a fairly new role for Sydoni. She has seamlessly transitioned into this role after previously being the VP of Application Development for the first three-and-a-half years with MCMC. She is now leading and facilitating the Project Portfolio Management process setting standards for how projects are run ensuring project management standards are followed serving as the conduit for where project and production data meets for determining the value that projects bring to the organization serving as a source of guidance and advice to project managers and developing strategic solutions for business process improvement and the translation of them into technical solutions for the organization. It s important to know the value you can bring from first seeking to learn Sydoni noted. The knowledge to be amassed in the industry is unending but one must be willing to be in a state of learning. To learn however means that a leader must have the adaptability to also follow when necessary because it is in following and learning that you can take your career to satisfying heights. Sydoni earned an AA and BS in Health Administration as well as a Master s of Health Administration Informatics at the University of Phoenix in 2009 2011 and 2013 respectively. Outside of MCMC she is working on a project that she hopes to improve the way people see product development. Not ready to divulge her ideas to the public just yet she is eager about its many possibilities. Sydoni s demanding work schedule allows for little free time. Embellishing in a good book going to the beach and time well spent with her husband of 15 years and her children is a priority for her. Her passion for children has also led her to volunteer with KidSafe an organization that covers child development services and prevention services such as child abuse. 70 Women of Distinction Tres Townsend R Healthcare Non-Profit for Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders Executive Director for the Epilepsy Foundation of Mississippi Flowood MS aised in a Christian home Tres Townsend s parents taught her to treat people the way she would want to be treated. As the Executive Director for the Epilepsy Foundation of Mississippi Tres works with people who have disabilities and their families on a daily basis. Tres is someone who always strives to do better and never settles. She feels that you should be passionate about your work and understand that true riches don t come from money but in the rewards you receive from helping others. However in the nonprofit world money is crucial. Most nonprofits depend on donations grants and fundraisers. If the economy is bad then nonprofits suffer. When nonprofits suffer then their clients suffer it s the domino effect. Learning how to run a nonprofit with very little money and turning it around to thrive and stay true to its mission has been challenging. In her free time Tres enjoys volunteering for the Junior League of Jackson cooking playing bunko watching the Mississippi State Bulldogs and traveling with her family. She s happily married to Brent Townsend an Outside Plant Engineer for AT&T and her son Bradley Robertson is a junior at Mississippi State University. They all live in Northwest Rankin County (also known as the Reservoir) in Mississippi with their two dogs Teri and Rocky. I love my family and the place I m at in my life Tres truly cares about people and wants the best for everyone. They need to be treated with love respect and kindness. That s the way I want to be treated and just because they have a disability it doesn t mean they don t deserve to be treated with love respect and kindness. In 1998 her 3-year-old son was diagnosed with a chronic illness. That was my first encounter with a nonprofit. It was also then that I realized I wanted to give back to people the experience I received while trying to deal and understand his illness. Then in 2008 my father started having seizures and I knew this was the place I was meant to be. Her focus now as the Executive Director for the Epilepsy Foundation of Mississippi is to ensure that every decision made is based on the best interest of those living with epilepsy through the foundation s mission. It s easy to run this as a business and make business decisions but to run an organization as a nonprofit you must always put the people you serve at the forefront of all your business decisions. I want people to remember me for being an honest and genuine person who truly followed her dreams and passion all while doing good for others. 71 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 Tres Townsend Healthcare Non-Profit for Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders Executive Director for the Epilepsy Foundation of Mississippi Kirstie McPherson Public Relations Business Development 74 Chief Executive Officer Edeveco Women of Distinction