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WDM Dr. Nathaly Gagnon Ph.D. Fin.Pl. Finance Financial Planner and Financial Security Advisor at Investors Group Securities Inc. January 2016 Dr. Rita Bhat Dentistry Owner Chief Executive Officer and Dentist 2 Private Practice Women of Distinction features WDM 4 14 Cheryl Ginnings Real Estate and Consulting in Business Finance Financial Planner and Financial Security Advisor at Investors Group Securities Inc. Westmount Quebec Canada Dr. Nathaly Gagnon Ph.D. Fin.Pl. 26 Restaurant Franchising Jennie Murphy with families who have special needs children Chief Executive Officer & Founder of Cheryl Ginnings Consultant International Speaker and International Best Selling Author Lawton OK 37 WorkforceK. Householder Angela Solutions 52 Art and Design Photography Tiffany Chapman Senior Manager Franchising at Cara Operations Vaughan ON Canada Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) Senior Sourcing Specialist - ManpowerGroup Solutions Milwaukee WI Photographer Tiffany Chapman Photography Round Rock TX Dr. Nathaly Gagnon Ph.D. Fin.Pl. Finance Financial Planner and Financial Security Advisor at Investors Group Securities Inc. Westmount Quebec Canada D We can always reinvent our past as much as we can envision our future. In retrospect I see more clearly how and why one path was chosen over another. r. Nathaly Gagnon s career as a Financial Planner and Financial Security Advisor started at the end of 1997 the same year she became a mother. Nathaly had been a university professor for many years but knew that to be respected and successful in her field she had to devote all her time to teaching writing and doing scientific research. However the required schedule isn t very compatible with raising children at least not for the kind of mother she wanted to be. Nathaly and her husband Babis elected to adopt two children from Asia their son in 1997 and their daughter in early 1998. At the time Babis was the Regional Director of Investors Group in Westmount Quebec Canada. We had long conversations about our goals expectations and aspirations for our children and agreed that I would be the one to halt my career for a while. My colleagues thought that I was completely nuts to leave such a promising career but my children were my first priority. Something that many people don t realize about adopting children is that you often get very little or sometimes inaccurate health data about the child. It turned out that when both children arrived in Canada neither had been vaccinated (despite what their medical dossiers stated) and had to be in regular contact with other children their age where the risk of acquiring childhood diseases was higher for them while their immune systems developed. This meant that her need to be a stay-athome mom for the first few years of their life was no longer a viable plan. Nathaly was then at a crossroad. Would she go back to teach at the university or accept Babis invitation to join his team of financial planners She chose the latter. Over the years Nathaly has recognized that people are nearly paralyzed with the overwhelming amount of financial information available on a daily basis. Therefore her role has evolved into providing knowledge and wisdom to alleviate all the confusing and contradicting information. Based on their past present and future goals she customizes financial plans for what is most important to each client and provides them with the knowledge they need in order to achieve their goals. I become their quarterback sort of a coordinator between the different experts my clients need since I have access to a whole network of experts in other fields including taxation estate planning income protection fiscal lawyers notaries etc. Above all trusted financial advisors offer wisdom to help clients decipher contradicting information and provide their expertise and experience. This is what I call my contribution funnel. Informa)on of all sources Internet TV Newspapers... Knowledge Scien)fic scru)ny Exper)se Experience WISDOM Nathaly defines financial wisdom as doing what actually contributes to having a great life. Life is too short to waste. Dreams are fulfilled only through action not through endless planning to take action As a lifelong learner in this profession Nathaly believes that the world of finances requires continual adaptation the capacity to use a foundation of years of experience and knowledge and transform it into practical wisdom. You cannot find the myriad of solutions we provide in school or in books period. I help my clients cut through the complexities and confusion of their situations and assist them in identifying what actions will produce immediate change and progress. There is no prepared script and new strategies emerge as I create new value for my clients in different situations. This avoids being derailed by circumstances that no one can control like a temporary market downturn or an increase in interest rates. She also believes that no one s success is achieved in solitude. I decided early in my career that I would benefit from hiring a coach. In fact I ve been coached by several people. I attribute part of my success to the different lessons they have taught me and would like to recognize the ones who have had the most significant impact in my ability to create greater value for my clients. In doing so I believe that other professionals may be inspired to reach out to some of the great coaches available today. It was a decision I never regretted even if it entailed rethinking my entire perspective on accepting a lifetime of constant changes and remain a lifelong learner in my new field. Her first years were spent on acquiring the competence and required skills on how to offer financial guidance in a world in constant evolution and where the level of uncertainty seems to increase. At the end of the 1990s one could see that the corporate and bureaucratic structures that had provided financial security for millions of people were slowly abandoning this kind of support and individuals were forced to take charge of their own future. Their future became their responsibility. But who has learned how to do that The answer is simple nobody. All of a sudden I realized that it would be my role to provide my clients with the form of guidance needed to achieve financial security. I now embrace the challenge of providing each one of my clients with a lifetime financial plan and the strategies they need to ensure their self-reliance and prosperity. 6 Women of Distinction The first of these coaches is Bill Bachrach who created the Values-Based Financial Planning approach a program that Nathaly has implemented and used to determine how she chooses the clients she accepts to help. Not all professional relationships are mutually beneficial. In fact some clients can literally destroy your confidence if you don t pay attention to the warning signs. Bill has taught me to choose every professional relationship very carefully. This means that I seek to understand at the very onset what kind of intrinsic values we share. A potential client must be willing to share with me what is most important about money to them and by design what is more important than money to them. This is the only way I will accept a new client. Simply put I know what I m doing and my competence allows my clients to devote their time and energy to the things that are most important to them. In time they know that my approach works because I ask them What would your life be like if you had a financial strategy based on what was truly important to you where your investments and insurance programs were working in harmony to achieve your goals I know for a fact that this would be in stark contrast to what most people have which is a hodgepodge of financial products purchased one by one over the years from various salespeople and companies based on tips from friends or brochures. Dan Sullivan is the other coach who helped Nathaly discover that what she is doing as a financial advisor is one of the most significant roles that anyone can play in the 21st century marketplace with his program for entrepreneurs The Strategic Coach. Relationship consists of providing a new sense of confidence when a client feels isolated and incapable of dealing with constant changes. Most people believe that their feelings of isolation are unique to them. Not so. For instance newly retired clients are often disoriented by their new freedom and loss of their professional status. They need to establish a trustful relationship with others including their financial advisor. Newly divorcees feel completely isolated and benefit from a truthful conversation with their advisor to find ways to deal with this major change in their life. Creativity comes in the form of new capabilities when clients are feeling powerless as a result of change. People need to feel good about their future. I help them with the tools and strategies at my disposal so that they re the artisan of their own future. Yes there is a future even when tragedy has struck At Investors Group financial advisors are considered entrepreneurs. Each one builds his her own clientele and works within a defined code of conduct and strict compliance rules. I know intuitively that we re at the heart of human progress when we help people become economic adults being full citizens who take responsibility for their future and use all the financial tools we put at their disposal for their financial success. For instance Dan encourages us to use the concept of Value Creation that consists of providing leadership relationship and creativity. What does that mean in concrete terms when you are having a conversation with a client about his or her financial situation Leadership is providing direction to clients who are confused. A very practical example would be to help a client avoid doing the wrong thing at the wrong time (i.e. selling their investments in a moment of panic because the markets have declined sharply). In my own practice leadership would mean that there are only two courses of action in such a situation status quo or better yet acquiring excellent investments that are temporarily on sale . I feel a great deal of responsibility in protecting my integrity and working in the best interest of my clients. My actions reflect on the company s reputation. Given the importance of money in our lives integrity is at the core of what Investors Group instills in each one of us. Nathaly s greatest professional inspiration comes from something she heard early on in her career. I was invited to a financial conference in 1998 and one of the keynote speakers (I forgot his name) said something so profound that it has influenced my practice since. I am paraphrasing In the end life s success is being surrounded by people you love. On our deathbed it really won t matter how much money we had what kind of car we drove or how big our house was. What will truly matter is the difference we made in a child s life. In my office I mentor and offer guidance to some of the new recruits joining the industry. 7 Women of Distinction She encourages them to reflect on four distinct aspects 1. I urge them to stay away from pessimistic people because they will always have a rationale to predict or explain your future failure. Complainers do not contribute to your success and will always try to bring you down with them. 2. I assure them that their success does not take anything away from me or anyone else so go for it There are millions of people who need you and you can only serve a finite amount of clients. Choose them well define how you see your ideal clients and find them. 3. We practice a very noble profession are more needed than ever and are the only advisors in this era of economic adulthood that can provide clarity confidence and wisdom to help our clients with their individual progress. Particularly an aspect of our mission is to simplify as described below One of these challenges is to know that what I don t know will always be infinitely greater than what I do know Another challenge has to do with the perception of others regarding her company and what it actually does. When I was a professor it seemed simple. I was respected de facto and my responsibilities were to share knowledge and ideas and I was paid regardless if my students agreed with my ideas or not. Sadly I rarely found out what kind of impact I had on my students lives if any. Today as a financial planner I still share knowledge and ideas but I m paid with the financial products that my clients eventually buy. One major difference is that I can measure the immediate impact I have on my clients lives. I want to emphasize this point because it shows the great responsibility we have towards our clients. It is also challenging for Nathaly to continually enhance her practice take the time to explain her role and clarify how she can contribute to improve her clients lives. In the end I can only convince my clients that their financial success is derived from the DOING not the KNOWING . To make that point I often explain the purpose of financial planning by stating the WHY and the HOW . The WHY is to learn to use money intentionally with meaning purpose and direction to create the fulfilling life that one deserves. The HOW is creating the habits and strategies to achieve financial independence. Since the beginning of her professional life Nathaly has specialized in working with women. She has given lectures and financial seminars to hundreds of women over the years particularly describing the relationship between money and the various life transitions they go through. Nathaly has found that there is a great difference between intellectual and insightful understanding. Insightful understanding in any situation brings clarity it is a natural function of the mind and has the power to make the changes that matter in people s lives. 4. I emphasize that there are different levels of trust needed in every profession and in particular when it comes to financial advisors. One level is based on our technical competence and know-how. The second level is linked to our ethical conduct and character. And the third level relates to our empathic skills and maturity. Some qualities can be learned or acquired with experience while others are innate. You cannot create empathy out of thin air. Despite her years of experience Nathaly still faces her share 8 of professional challenges. Women of Distinction For your readers I would like to share the following synthesis I created while guiding women. On the left are the consequences of not having a plan or strategy while going through any of these transitions on the right it s the opposite. Even then I was convinced that financial independence was a key component to a woman s freedom and peace of mind. I just did not know that I would later make it my life mission While she was a university professor Nathaly kept a keen interest in women s studies and often taught courses at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University and gave numerous conferences around the world on various topics of research that she was involved with. I must admit that the subjects were considered rather controversial from the inequalities in the treatment of sex workers (income social benefits protection etc.) to the relation between sports culture and violence against women. My first book is entitled Un Vol Organis (Organized Robbery) and describes the discrimination women face at work and the various consequences of being paid less with subsequent lower pension and benefits available once they ve retired. Another book I co-authored is entitled Histoires D Amour (Love Stories). At the women s center where I volunteered at the time we asked women to write a love story describing how they were able to turn their life around after a tragic event. And my third book is used mostly by university students to explore the difference between men and women s leisure time. It shows how men have the capacity to enjoy blocks of leisure time while women will often consider that watching TV while ironing is leisure. The one place a woman can be left in peace I was told is when she is taking a bath. Her husband or kids will leave her alone momentarily. She also published several scientific articles before joining Investors Group but is now concentrating on a book entitled Women s Wealth and Wisdom The Joys and Sorrows of Money. I intend to launch it on March 8 2016 Women s Day. I believe the title is self-explanatory. Aside from reading and writing Nathaly enjoys playing golf and skiing. And for the past few years she has spent more time than ever at her gym doing antigravity yoga TRX training and aerial fitness. It s very challenging but rewarding at the same time. My husband and I have a routine on the weekend. We go to the gym on Saturday and Sunday and after doing our exercises we have breakfast at our special restaurant. It s free time that we cherish and it allows us to share ideas talk about our kids make plans for vacations and discuss our business. Nathaly s ultimate legacy would be for her business to be recognized for its integrity to have had a life of congruence at all levels (personal and professional) and for people to remember her as a person who always cared. She strongly believes that few things energize the human spirit more than the desire to make a difference in the lives of others. Her experience has taught her that making smart financial choices impacts the quality of life at all levels. I am absolutely convinced that financial health has a direct effect on a person s mental physical and spiritual health as well as relationships with family friends colleagues etc. Perhaps the most obvious connection is the way sound financial health reduces stress and brightens a person s mental outlook. What about the relationship between financial and physical health Because stress is related to illness lowering financial stress can impact physical health. The relationship between financial and relationship health is obvious. Money problems can shatter a marriage even among the wealthy. Financial health can have a positive impact on relationship with family friends and business associates. As for spiritual health although it doesn t have to be this way many people pursue the fulfillment of more spiritual values once they ve attained financial success. One of the best pieces of advice that Nathaly can give is to live in the moment and not worry about dying rich. Unfortunately I ve seen too many clients dying rich without having enjoyed their prosperity. They were worried for years that they might not have enough money despite my efforts to provide accurate indication to the contrary. As someone once told me the fear of losing money is much greater than greed. Hence my part in people s lives is to underline that money is significant only to the extent that it allows you to enjoy what s important to you. You ll certainly agree that there is more than logic and discipline when it comes to our finances. I know from my daily practice that there are many emotional undercurrents and very few financial planners choose to look at the interior finance . You know the part about the hopes dreams fears and taboos that are silent partners in our financial lives. In brief I invite my clients particularly the women to do some mental push-ups Long before becoming a financial planner Nathaly worked as a community organizer in the health and social services network in three different community centers helping women who had been victims of violence. By organizing women s groups we would create women s centers women s shelters daycare services and selfdefense courses. Curiously the one thing I could never do back then was create workshops where women could learn to budget with a few pennies. I told my superiors that it was pure hypocrisy to pretend that a person could survive with so limited resources when they couldn t even stick to a proper budget 9 Women of Distinction Dodi Handy Corporate Communications Financial Copywriting and Collateral Development President Chief Executive Officer and Managing Principal of WallStreetWriter LLC Sanford FL D I take tremendous pride in my reputation over the past 30 years as someone people can always depend upon and will always do my best to achieve excellence. uring her three-year tour of duty with the U.S. Army Dodi Handy was recognized as the Soldier of the Mount by Fort Dix NJ Soldier of the Post by Fort Jackson SC and Soldier of the Year by both V Corps and U.S. Army Europe. She was also the proud recipient of numerous military awards including three Army Achievement Medals and the Army Commendation Medal. Her successful military career prepared her for the corporate world. Immediately following her tenure in the Army Dodi served as an Executive Assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Board of three New York Stock Exchange-listed companies. In 1993 she began a career in corporate communications as Vice President of Operations for Madison & Wall Worldwide a Florida-based investor relations (IR) firm representing small and micro-cap publicly traded companies spanning virtually every industry. Over the next eight years Dodi rose through the ranks of the company to ultimately become President and CEO before leaving in 2001 to launch her own IR firm Elite Financial Communications Group. Today their days are spent writing business plans press releases and offering documents creating presentations marketing materials and websites helping to guide young entrepreneurs with fine-tuning their go-to-market strategies and of course spending every spare minute possible with their beloved grandson. Dodi has had the privilege of spending the past 20 years working closely with hundreds of entrepreneurial leadership teams whose collective passion vision and hard work have never failed to inspire and (in many cases) awe her. The list of amazing people I ve had the pleasure of knowing over my career is long and varied but I credit several for helping to define the professional woman I ve grown to become. First and foremost are my loving parents who taught me by example the immeasurable value of having a strong work ethic as well as all the reasons why it is imperative to always strive for excellence irrespective of the task at hand. Her mentor and dear friend Ivan Berkowitz is a brilliant and extraordinarily successful financial guru and business executive who Dodi met early in her career. I was blessed to have an amazing talented team led by my husband and business partner Steve. Our team which ranged in size from six to 20 employees over a 13 year period worked in close concert to support our many valued clients crafting comprehensive communications platforms and implementing strategies to increase awareness and appreciation for their businesses on Wall Street. In mid-2014 Dodi and Steve became first-time grandparents and decided the time had come to shift many of their life priorities. I ve long relied on him for trusted advice and career guidance and he is just one of those special rare people in life who effortlessly inspire others to want to be bigger better badder . Steve inspires Dodi each day to tackle whatever daunting challenge presents itself. He views every challenge whether personal or professional as an opportunity for another fun and exciting adventure. And who doesn t like new adventures And finally Tony and Paige her adult children are and will always be Dodi s most defining inspirations and greatest achievements. The nonstop global travel and 24 7 work week left us little time for indulging our need to spoil our new grandson. As such we chose to gift our IR business to a professional colleague with whom we had formed a successful joint venture in 2012 and launched WallStreetWriter in November to focus strictly on the aspects of our work that we enjoyed the most the creative work. Before Steve and I met I was a single mom who wanted nothing less than to give my children the world so I endeavored to do more and be more in order to give them every opportunity to succeed in life. The dedication I committed to my profession to being the best in my field was fueled at its core by my love and future hopes for them. 11 Women of Distinction Each and every day has offered Dodi unique fascinating and new learning opportunities an aspect of her work she thrives on. Her business life has allowed her to work alongside professionals responsible for truly disruptive innovations and notable advancements in high technology biotechnology healthcare business and consumer services energy financial services industrial products and services and virtually dozens of other industry sectors. Q&A Q Why do you feel that your business is relevant in today s world A Given all the different venues where information is now shared with the public never before has it been more crucial for companies to ensure that the information they share is meaningful accurate timely and consistent. Information about their business business developments financial performance strategic goals tactical growth objectives future vision and more should all be perfectly aligned and professionally conveyed whether through a website press release social media marketing brochure financial filing or even an employee newsletter. When information fails to be consistent across the full communications platform a company s credibility can and will be compromised. This is especially true for publicly traded companies which are charged with providing optimal corporate transparency and rely on the capital markets to support their current and future growth objectives. Q What professional skills are required to be successful in the field of corporate communications A Obviously being a fantastic communicator both verbally and in writing is a must-have skill set. However being a grammatically-correct communicator is even more vital. I m always surprised (and typically dismayed) when I receive an e-mail from a peer professional containing typos poorly constructed sentences and or confusing information. This makes me question the credibility of the company they represent and the validity of the information contained in the e-mail. Moreover when information provided via more formal corporate communications channels such as a website newsletter press release etc. is sloppy and or error-filled then the negative impression is further amplified. Other key skills include being a strong copywriter able to conduct independent research and successfully convey information in a high-impact manner with the proper professional look and voice being a gregarious outgoing people-person capable of building mutually respectful enduring relationships and being open to learning something new every day. Q What are some of the perks of your profession A Meeting and working with fascinating smart and visionary people is by far the best perk of my job. Learning about new industries and all the forces fueling their growth is right up there too. My work with companies worldwide has also allowed me to travel extensively discovering new cultures and enjoying amazing foods It has been very fulfilling to be a key contributor to these clients many successes. Likewise her work has required Dodi to build meaningful and enduring relationships with investment bankers institutional fund managers individual investors research analysts and media professionals many of whom have become lifelong friends. The relationships I ve formed over the years with my clients and with those on Wall Street have served to anchor my love for the work. Dodi would like to be remembered as someone who made an enduring positive impact on the lives of her clients business colleagues children and grandchildren. They ve all learned or have come to appreciate by knowing me that anything is possible if you work hard never shy away from challenges and rise above real or imagined limitations. 12 Women of Distinction Q Since you started in the corporate communications industry what changes have you witnessed A That s an easy answer everything When I started there was no such thing as the Internet much less e-mail. In fact at that time overnight delivery services were just taking flight people still read print newspapers social media was confined to printed newsletters that you hoped would be passed along by its readers and industry research meant hours at the local community library and subscribing to trade publications. The web has changed virtually every aspect of corporate communications and how we reach and communicate with our intended audiences. While the web has empowered us with near limitless information about pretty much every imaginable thing it has also introduced an entirely new paradigm in how we communicate with one another share ideas promote opportunities and build global brands. Q When and why should a prospective client consider hiring WallStreetWriter A Companies looking to the capital markets to raise needed funding to execute their business-building strategies and accelerate their growth must be prepared to stand out from the thousands of other companies intent on accessing the same investment capital. Therefore it s mission-critical that business executives and entrepreneurs provide investors with an in-depth understanding of the proposed investment opportunity in a professional well-conceived and straightforward manner. Additionally it s vital that business plans fact sheets presentation decks and offering documents speak to investors in a language they understand while also maintaining strict compliance with prevailing SEC disclosure rules and regulations. Responsible corporate leadership teams also recognize that it is essential to keep stakeholders well-informed on all material developments at their companies through the use of press releases financial filings shareholder letters blogs and newsletters. If they re not forthcoming with routine updates and proper perspective on their decision-making processes there s a risk that stakeholders will lose confidence in management and trust may be compromised. Based on over two decades of financial writing and investor relations experience I intimately understand how to elegantly blend key corporate information with necessary marketing finesse and high-impact visual appeal. The result is the delivery of sophisticated materials that speak to and effectively inform prospective investors shareholders and investment professionals in a manner that serves to build and maintain investor fidelity and compel desired action. Whether working directly with client companies or teaming with SEC law firms as an extension of their document drafting teams I can be depended on for crafting the words and marketing materials that get results. Q What types of documents materials do you create for your clients A The list is long and by no means limited if it requires the written word then I can likely produce it. However I m commonly engaged to work with companies and entrepreneurs to create business plans and in-depth due diligence documents capital offering documents press releases fact sheets quarterly and annual SEC filings annual report wraps letters to shareholders executive biographies website content presentation decks marketing plans and brochures teleconference and webcast scripts blogs media pitches and industry white papers. Q How do you charge for your services A This depends on the project I m engaged to complete. For example a business plan may run between 5 000 and 25 000 depending on the depth and scope of the plan however it may only be necessary to produce an executive summary highlighting key information. In which case the fee can be as low as a few hundred dollars. Creation of a new corporate website and all its content may range from 2 500 to 15 000 again depending on the clients specifications and communications objectives. I m also happy to provide comprehensive all-in copywriting and collateral development services for companies who would prefer working with me on a negotiated monthly retainer basis. I m highly flexible and work with each individual client to ensure that optimal value is delivered and budget constraints are always respected. Q Generally speaking what aspects of being a womanowned business appeal to you or has served to define the business woman you are A I ve learned through experience that women (by nature) are incredibly strong communicators amazing entrepreneurs and excellent business operators. What s more we re largely communal and place great value on the business and personal relationships we form. I always welcome the opportunity to work with other women professionals and doing whatever I can to support and contribute to their success particularly those women who are tackling business opportunities in what are perceived to be traditional maledominated industries. This is not only challenging but a great deal of fun 13 Women of Distinction Cheryl Ginnings Consulting in Business Real Estate and with families who have special needs children Chief Executive Officer & Founder of Cheryl Ginnings Consultant International Speaker and International Best Selling Author Women of Distinction Lawton OK 14 C heryl Ginnings combined her new career in real estate with her passion for helping others in 2000. While volunteering at Fort Sill OK she was able to help military families. Cheryl later obtained all of the specializations to advance her knowledge and help families with their biggest investments. She also loves helping families with special needs children and has tried to help these families connect with each other to offer support and encouragement. She has loved the interaction of helping others to do their very best in relationships with those they work for and serve as well as helping families learn to encourage their children and not accept that doctors may have given up on them. It is never okay to give up not even when specialists do In 2014 Cheryl was asked to be part of the book LOVE A New Generation of Hope that was compiled by Anita Sechesky and co-authored by about 26 others. It became an international bestselling book in two days. She was also asked in 2015 to be part of a book co-authored by Jim Britt and Jim Lutes called The Change 5 part of a series of books that help stop sex trafficking when purchased on the Amazon Kindle. In addition Cheryl has written many articles for Christian Woman magazine over the past 25 years was part of a book on prayer (with her mother as a co-author) has been a speaker on many occasions for years and was recently given the honor of Best of Lawton in Speaking Author and Consulting for 2015 . It is very satisfying for Cheryl to know that she can help others in any way she can. It helps greatly to understand how another family overcame some of the issues that others now face. Cheryl researches ways to continue to improve relationships within industries and families. There are so many things that one can learn in an industry that transfers to helping families. I speak at events and teach workshops to help others learn how to excel in their own lives and jobs. I believe that each of us is given special opportunities that no one else will have. We have to encourage each other to be better and improve the way we treat each other. Life can be tough but we don t want to make it harder than it has to be. I enjoy helping others see their good qualities 15 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Explain your purpose for helping special needs families. A There are many problems facing special needs families that others don t understand. I help these families deal with their problems more effectively. In doing so they can be more effective in helping not only their families but others as well. Q What is the most discouraging part of having a special needs child A Communication breaks down with those who try to help because they don t truly understand the situation and needs of the family. Mistreating the special person because they are seen as not having the same feelings as normal people can be discouraging as well. Q What group of people would you most like to talk to about helping families of special needs children A I would love to talk to the medical field those who are the first to diagnose or let families know the problems they face. If I could explain how the families feel and what can help in dealing with these overwhelming problems it would be wonderful. I believe this group of professionals and paraprofessionals are in the role of making it harder or easier for the families to deal with what they re facing. Q Why are you so passionate about speaking to these needs A Having a special child with cerebral palsy has opened my eyes to the difficulties they face. From the doctors who don t explain the diagnosis well to the handling of the special person without feeling or thinking that they have feelings when they re mistreated or even in twisting their limbs doctors and therapists need to put themselves in the place of this person and their families. Q How can we get the word out to better help these families A We need to educate others about the greater needs these families face. Too many feel they are victims in society when really they have the ability to change their lives. These special people will always need to be helped and desperately need more funds and care to make it day-to-day. They need to have these needs met because families are often faced with more financial burdens than they can manage. It will take the whole group of those around each one to recognize that a nation is only as good as the way it takes care of its weak and helpless. I have a monthly podcast to inspire others and help network families to support one another. Q What would you like for the medical support to know about these families A Medical personnel are often the only group of people with the opportunity to encourage better health and care of the families with bigger burdens. When they speak words of discouragement it often stops people from even trying to improve their lives. They need to understand that they can offer support and encouragement to families to try new things procedures or therapies even if they personally aren t involved. Just trying to see if something might work could make a difference for families. Families are at the mercy of whoever works with them. Good or bad they make a difference. Q What do you wish that educators knew A I wish that those involved in the education of these students would continue to learn new techniques or resources that others have used and had success with. It would be wonderful to invite the more progressive therapists to teach teachers and aides the way to help improve their students lives. There are some states and other countries that are more progressive with disabilities and what people can do with correct equipment sounding boards etc. They need to understand that the more we can teach those with disabilities to be independent the cheaper the cost will be in the long run. The more helpless we keep people because of our own ignorance the greater the cost will ultimately be. Q What do you wish that families knew A There are many sources of help that may not be known. Don t give up on learning all you can about how to help your child or on each other as parents of special children. The divorce rate is eight times the national average because families have so much more strain on them. They don t get enough rest understand what happened have good coping skills and end up blaming each other sometimes. They need to know that there are people they can connect with who have gone through these trials before and have worked out some of the problems they re now facing. Don t be too hard on yourself and learn to deal with the challenges one day at a time. It takes courage to overcome the huge obstacles that they face. Don t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Never give up on your child. Someone out there can help you. Then push for all the services you need. You may have to open the doors for others while helping your own child. Q What do you wish that legislators knew A Only legislators can set aside money for the services needed for disabled children. These children are truly in need of being cared for and need to be viewed as the weakest of our society. They need to understand that families will always need more than most can ever afford. The services needed are often out of reach of those who truly need help. Most services are too hard for families in true need to get. There are many people in society who want to be helpless and those who are abusive of society s rules like those who commit crimes and end up in jail where society gives them more food clothing and shelter than those who are needy (and didn t commit a crime). Q What do you wish that the media understood A I wish there were more stories of heroes who truly care about those who need help in life. The caretakers who give their lives for others are much bigger heroes than sports stars who get fame too much fortune and end up disappointing their followers. True heroes are those who have overcome the challenges in life that they couldn t change. Those who overcome odds should have more notice than someone who plays a sport like the men and women who have lost limbs fighting for our country. There are even some groups who have worked together in a community to improve the housing needs for families who were struggling in their homes before doorways were widened bathrooms were modified walls were removed wheelchair ramps installed and other modifications were made for a better life. Such stories would help others to see the good in one another. We need uplifting stories of hope success and courage to encourage those who are often without hope. 16 Women of Distinction Dr. Rita Bhat Dentistry Owner Chief Executive Officer and Dentist Private Practice North Carolina 17 Women of Distinction D r. Rita Bhat s interest in dentistry began with a middle school project where she researched a career of her choice. Having just met with her orthodontist (a friend of the family) she chose to explore orthodontics. This eventually became her career path. Orthodontics appealed to me mostly because of the flexible schedule the one-on-one relationship with people and the ability to be my own boss. She moved to North Carolina due to its favorable climate and young cities bursting with growth and opportunity. However since she did not have a license to practice in the state Dr. Bhat worked as a contract dentist for the U.S. Army DENTAC at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville. Within her own practice Dr. Bhat is primarily a dentist but as the owner CEO she is responsible for hiring a team of professionals to manage the business aspects of the office as well providing clinical services. She also has to market the practice establish a budget assure compliance with government regulations negotiate with insurance providers review quality assurance and promote team building (which leads to better customer service). Due to my experience and willingness to expand on it I was given many opportunities not available to my colleagues to deliver care to active duty retired and families of active duty soldiers. I acquired a great appreciation for the services that our soldiers provided during the Persian Gulf War. That experience is why I continue to participate in some military events today where civilian dental teams meet on the weekend to provide dental care that enables readiness for deployment. While she loved serving the military it did not allow Dr. Bhat to explore her passion for cosmetic dentistry so she decided to open a solo practice in the suburbs of Charlotte and later in Mooresville (where she practices today). Dr. Bhat recalls how dentistry has made so many advances since the 1960s when her dentist worked alone with a beltdriven hand piece no assistants or hygienists and a large white ceramic bowl with running water to spit in. When I began my practice in 1993 being a female dentist was no longer a unique asset so I wanted to set myself apart by getting a laser that could cut teeth in lieu of using a drill for certain procedures. Therefore laser dentistry became my main focus and I was finally able to purchase my first laser in 2004 and was among the very few dentists in North Carolina that had one. While the laser hasn t replaced the drill for all procedures it has become a valuable adjunct to my practice. I continue to marvel at the advances that dentistry has made to increase the comfort that my patients receive. There have also been many other advances with the computerization of dentistry especially with x-rays photos and impressions becoming digital. Dentistry is a venue where I can make a great impact on the people whom I provide care for. While the bulk of my practice is providing routine maintenance for people s health I enjoy the cases where I m able to influence dramatic changes in a person s appearance and selfconfidence by repairing and or replacing their dentition. In a world where instant gratification has become a necessity I feel blessed that I ve been given many opportunities to make that happen for my patients. 18 Women of Distinction Q&A Q How has being out of your comfort zone affected you A Comfort zone can be taken in many contexts for me. In terms of climate I grew up in a suburb that had several cultural activities nearby. When I took a job as an associate in Bath NY I realized I was starkly out of my element in a rural town and isolated from the activities I was used to. Hence I realized I couldn t adjust and was fortunately hired as a contract dentist in Fayetteville NC which allowed me to feel as if I were part of a team of dental healthcare providers. Q How has being a first generation American impacted you A I was born in the 1960s during a time when there wasn t a lot of diversity. Due to my father s work with the U.S. government it was important for our family to assimilate itself with the general population. My sisters and I did not learn our parents native language Konkani. Today there is a large influx of Indian people who choose me as their dentist hoping that I can relate better to them because of my Indian last name. In terms of food and some culture I can but not language. Q How has the economy affected you A The downturn of the economy resulted in the end of fee for service for me and brought me into the world of managed dental care. (i.e. I became a participating provider with several major insurance companies.) Often the services rendered seem to be dictated by what the policy is willing to cover as patients often don t want to increase their out of pocket pay for ideal dentistry. Q Do you have any accolades to share A I have been awarded America s Top Dentist by Consumer Research Council of America many times since 2006. Q How has technology changed scheduling and billing A When I started my practice computerized scheduling and bookkeeping had just started. Now technology is so advanced. We confirm appointments by using a company that calls texts and e-mails patients and we ll soon implement online billing and payments. Q How has social media affected dentistry A Social media is now at the forefront for marketing our business presence. Today s consumers are encouraged to review businesses and those reviews become valuable marketing tools on Facebook and other forms of social media. Q What lies in the future for dentistry A 3-D printing is now available at a premium so restorations (like crowns that traditionally require two visits to the dentist) can now be done in two hours. There is much research in genetic engineering where we ll be able to grow teeth to replace missing ones. There s also a lot of research being conducted to make teeth more resistant to decay via genetic engineering and immunotherapy. Also DNA analysis of saliva allows dentists to work with physicians in predicting and or testing for a variety of illnesses like diabetes and certain types of cancers. Q How has insurance affected you A Becoming a participating provider has had a twofold impact. On one hand I was able to attract and keep many patients because I participated with their insurance. But on the other hand educating patients about completing recommended dental care regardless of insurance is a great challenge. Insurance was never meant to cover 100% of fees nor are they liable for the recommendations. 19 Women of Distinction Cathy Warschaw CPC ELI-MP B Life Coaching Founder Make It Happen Coach Up All Night Coaching Upland CA ored with the direction her company was going after nearly 15 years and that she wasn t able to reach out to as many people as she had hoped Cathy Warschaw made the decision to sell the online dental management training business she developed in 2000 to venture in a new direction. Going back to school at age 63 to become a Certified Life Coach specializing in Energy Leadership Cathy finally has the opportunity to mentor to the masses. Cathy authored her first book 7 Easy Strategies You Can Use Today to Create the Life You ve Always Wanted which is available on Kindle and in paperback. She is also currently producing a podcast show called The Coaching Hour which she is very excited about. Prior to forming Up All Night Coaching Cathy founded and directed Warschaw Learning Institute co-founded three non-profit organizations Hands Across West Hollywood Art for the Blind and Soroka Medical Center and was the owner of El Morocco Restaurant in West Hollywood California. If you take into consideration my mentoring and teaching exposure over the last 15 years I ve been able to help people become the best version of themselves Cathy said who founded Up All Night Coaching in Upland California. Now as a Coach I get to know an individual find out what lights their fire then provide them with the ability to dream big to design the life they ve always wanted. Cathy is more than just the Founder she s the developer who often thinks outside the box. She does what she is exceptionally good at and that s coaching others to flourish in their own right. When she is able to help someone who is hungry to learn and make a better life for themselves it s the greatest gift. Up All Night Coaching brings coaching on demand to individuals worldwide and provides a platform for life coaches with a variety of specialties to coach at any time of day or night. Every coach is dedicated to sharing positive energy and making positive change through self-discovery and awareness. Up All Night Coaching also offers webinars and products to help clients achieve results like e-books and audios. I am truly living my life s purpose today Cathy added. I am proof that after 44 years of age I could change my life for the better. Today I share that part of my life to help others be strong and hopefully seek help. No matter your age dream big. Don t let others prevent you from reaching your goals. If you don t have the proper support system do your best to look elsewhere. A Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching since June 2015 Cathy enjoys time well spent with family and friends. Married a second time after being widowed for sixteen years he is her best friend and she is thoroughly enjoying sharing the many joys of children and grandchildren with him. 20 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why do you feel that Life Coaching is important today A The stress of what s going on with our families relationships work career pressures and life in general can be overwhelming. The need to talk with an unbiased individual who has no judgment is essential in today s world. Q Why do people feel they have no control over their lives A Circumstances dictate types of jobs and where an individual lives. A Life Coach will help them discover what is important and together they will design their life. Q Anyone can change their life on their own why would I need a Life Coach A Many times we feel unhappy and unfulfilled but don t understand why. A Life Coach knows the proper questions to ask you to bring out the knowledge and solutions you have buried deep inside. They will take you as a functional person to magnificent levels that you can live the life you ve only dreamed of. Q Won t I be considered weak if I ask for help A Asking for help shows great courage and shows a sign of strength. Hiring a Life Coach enables you to quickly and efficiently recognize those things that you didn t know were standing in your way. Q So how does coaching differ from let s say therapy A Coaching is a distinct process that helps functional individuals and supports them in creating an ideal life. Therapy on the other hand helps individuals become emotionally healthy. They often deal with past issues and how to overcome them. Q Isn t Life Coaching for the rich or the super achievers A This has long been a common misconception mainly because we only hear about them in the media. What about the mom who needs a different perspective about her job as a mother or the man stuck in his dead end job but really wants his own business or the parent who just found out their child has been diagnosed with ADD ADHD and is facing a tough road ahead Coaching provides an unbiased independent perspective. Q Isn t coaching expensive A Since coaching is results oriented it s not uncommon for it to only take a few sessions to see an improvement. At Up All Night Coaching we provide coaching on demand. This means that you can work with a coach at any hour of the day or night for a single session or choose a discounted package. We are available to help everyone. Q I don t know if coaching is for me A What do many successful executives top athletes and joyful people have in common They all use coaches to help them live their dreams and be the best they can be. If you are ready to live life to the fullest and be the best you can be then coaching is for you. Q What is your Mission Statement A Up All Night Coaching is dedicated to sharing positive energy and moving our clients towards a more joyful life. As life coaches we offer positive change through a journey of partnership in self-discovery and awareness. 21 Women of Distinction Elba M. Jalil de Moisa S Accounting President - Jaybrian Multi Services Goose Creek SC erving as President of Jaybrian Multi Services Elba Moisa is focused on providing her clients and customers with all of their accounting and tax preparation needs in the most professional way possible. Elba s responsibilities as president of her business include helping her clients with their personal and business taxes working as a notary and justice of the peace providing immigration assistance and aiding with payroll and bookkeeping. It s important to be organized if you want to succeed in this industry -- get your priorities straight and manage your time well. One should also be able to adapt to new situations and have good communication skills. Honesty integrity and leadership qualities are important as well. Always keep a good work life balance and be prepared to embrace certain changes rather than resist them. Throughout her life and career Elba s biggest inspiration was her father who was the most decent hard working and caring man she has ever known. She picked up many lessons in integrity and honor from the way he lived his life. Never give up. Always think positive because you can do whatever you put your mind to. No matter how many obstacles you come across in your career you can succeed with persistence. In her leisure Elba enjoys painting crafting traveling and spending time with her family. She also serves as Treasurer in the YWCA of Greater Charleston the Art Pot of North Charleston and the Circulo Hispanoamericano de Charleston which are all nonprofit organizations. I want to leave a positive imprint on this world through good deeds and proper work ethics. I ve always remained dedicated to my career. Professionalism perseverance and my desire to continue learning in order to prove a knowledgeable and excellent service to my clients is what has kept me going for so long. In 1978 Elba received a B.B.A. degree from Universidad Estatal in Ecuador. She eventually attended Clifton School of Business to study Business Accounting in 1988 and has earned certification in property management in 2002. She has also been a notary in the state of South Carolina since 2002. Elba s first experiences in her field came in 1986 when she worked as a paralegal at a law firm in Passaic New Jersey and in 1988 when she worked for a multi services agency in Union City New Jersey. 22 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What is accounting A Accounting is the recording of financial transactions plus the storing sorting retrieving summarizing and presenting of the information in various reports and analyses. Accounting is also a profession consisting of individuals having the formal education to carry out these tasks. Q How does accounting affect my lifestyle A It s one of the good habits to have -- to be able to analyze your income and expenses and help to make proper financial planning. Accounting sharpens the mind and increases your intellectual thinking. Q How relevant is accounting and tax preparation in an age of software technology A It s very relevant. It depends on the complexity of your tax situation your own tax proficiency and or your schedule. The bottom line is that hiring a tax preparer or using a software package online tax site can both work well it just depends on your tax situation and your comfort with the process. Q Is education important for your line of work A Education is the most essential quality you need to be a tax accountant. A general knowledge of income taxes won t suffice -- expertise is necessary. Q Do you stay up to date on tax laws A The government amends tax laws each year and these changes can have a significant impact on your customers. Generally it s your responsibility to stay current with these changes. Q How do you handle customers clients A Professional accountants deal with a wide variety of customers ranging from low-income families to business owners. I treat them all the same with the utmost respect and on the same level. Q What is your schedule like during the year A Being an accountant requires full-time availability during tax time especially rising to overtime as the yearly tax deadline approaches. Most clients might retain my services part-time for the remainder of the year to assist them with filing amended returns and many of the other services we offer here at Jaybrian Multi Services. Q Your name is Elba Moisa so where does Jaybrian in Jaybrian Multi Services come from A That s an excellent question. The Jay is from my grandson who passed away at the early age of just eight months in 2005 and Brian is from my first granddaughter Brianna. Q What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing the accounting profession today A People attempting tax preparing without knowledge or licensing and damaging people s returns. It seems like many of these locations pop up for the season then close. Q Where do you see yourself in five years A In five years I d like to see my son take over the business. I m currently grooming him to run things after my retirement. 23 Women of Distinction Heather Richards-Barone Financial Planning President EPA Financial Services Corp. Toms River NJ L eaving her tenured position as a teacher behind her to join the family business Heather RichardsBarone knew that she was making the right decision. Yearning to work in a field where she could incorporate her teaching background into her love of investing and planning it was a logic choice for her and she never regretted making the move. Working as a financial advisor has afforded Heather the ability to raise her two sons have a very successful career and further her knowledge every single day. I am a huge believer in education and educating others Heather said who previously taught as an elementary school teacher for eight years. I not only make recommendations to my clients but I educate them so they feel comfortable with the choices they decide with their money. We have a true family atmosphere within our office and every day brings new challenges that I enjoy because I am constantly learning. As President of EPA Financial Services Corp. an independent financial services firm located in Toms River New Jersey Heather first got started by working as her father s assistant. Teaching herself the necessary skills by doing a lot of reading and research she now runs the entire office overseeing payroll taxes the hiring and firing as well as building up her own clientele. It took a lot for Heather to get to where she is in the company which was established in 1977 it wasn t handed to her. Working for her father since 2003 her biggest challenge was in getting clients to trust her. She had to prove herself as a women in the industry something that takes a lot of tenacity. Just to get clients comfortable enough to bypass her father and come to her took patience trust experience and more than anything time. Everything doesn t just happen overnight Heather admitted. You have to be persistent and you must constantly learn about your field. You can t just take a 9-5 job and think your day is done. I work weekends and at night. Whenever there is work to be done I put the time and effort into it to get it done right. It s okay to make mistakes but it s also important to acknowledge them and take responsibility so you can learn from them. Heather received her BA in Early Education from West Chester University in 1995. Five years ago she completed her Master s in Personal Financial Planning through College of Financial Planning. Newly elected to the Ocean County Library Commission as a member of a seven-person panel Heather also plays softball in a woman s league. Residing in Toms River for 42 years Heather and her husband Anthony have been together for 13 years. They have an 11-year old son Michael and a six-year-old son AJ. Her parents live just two miles away. Even though the family spends a lot of time together at the office they also spend a great amount of time together outside the office. Family is everything. I want my two sons to be proud of me Heather said about her successes. I want them to know that if mom can work full-time raise them full-time and still be able to get her master s degree then they too can do anything they put their minds to. 24 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Will there be a need for financial advisors with technological advances A Yes. Technology cannot hold your hand through turbulent times it will never fully understand your goals and objectives and it will never be able give you that personal touch that a trusted financial advisor can. Q What changes would you like to see in the industry through regulation A I would like to see stiffer penalties for those that do things wrong. There was an advisor who cut and pasted a client s signature from one form to another and there was nothing but a simple slap on the wrist. To me I would like to see people like that immediately removed from the industry. Advisors should have to live up to a code of ethics that cannot be altered. Q What role do you see women in the financial planning industry A I would love to see more women get into our industry. It is ideal for a woman who is motivated great at multi-tasking and who can give clients objective advice. Those qualities are in 90% of all women they just need to take that step into our field. Q Why do you think EPA Financial Services Corp. has been so successful A My father built this business and his clientele on trust. He and I would never think of doing something that could jeopardize the other s livelihood. Therefore doing what is in the best interest of our clients far surpasses any other aspect of the plan. Q What are some of the biggest mistakes you see A Mistake 1 is people believing everything they hear on the radio or TV and trying to change their investment plan to fit what the so called expert on TV recommended. These people have no idea of your situation your goals or your objectives. Mistake 2 is giving your money to your kids to help them out . Once or twice is okay but we re constantly telling our clients that they cannot sustain their own lifestyle if they re giving away their money to their kids. Clients need to think of themselves first. What good are they going to be if they go through all their money and end up living off their kids Mistake 3 is not planning at all for your future. Q What was one incident that inspired you to continue in this business A I was meeting with an older woman who just lost her husband. Her husband did 100% of all the investments bills banking etc. After a few months it was incredible to see the transformation that happened in the woman s life as she learned to do the finances on her own. Securities offered through registered representatives of Cambridge Investment Research Inc. a Broker Dealer Member FINRA SIPC. Advisory services offered through Investment Advisor Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc. a Registered Investment Advisor. EPA Financial Services Corp. and Cambridge are not affiliated. 25 Women of Distinction Jennie Murphy Restaurant Franchising Senior Manager Franchising at Cara Operations Vaughan ON Canada F I m 27 years old and my career has already been quite the journey. resh out of University Jennie Murphy started her career proofreading national printed flyers for Basics Office Products head office at the age of 19. After receiving her degree in English Language and Literature and also having completed a co-op term at BlackBerry head office in Waterloo as an Assistant Technical Editor Jennie felt that it was a perfect fit at the time. However four years ago Jennie made the transition into the franchising industry and absolutely loves it. When she s not busy franchising Jennie enjoys helping serve dinner at the homeless shelter spending time with her friends and family camping horseback riding and doing pretty much anything that gets her on a boat out on the water. Jennie also has a deep passion for singing and has been doing so since the age of three. Giving back to her community and society at large has been another passion of Jennie s since she was a young girl. I ve promised myself that by the time I m 35 years old I will have registered a charitable foundation which I will largely fund personally. Jennie wants her charity to help impoverished children specifically in a poor village in Peru. She would like to commit the entire charity to helping that one village grow through providing food resources wells schools education and whatever that village needs to thrive. Jennie would assemble a team that would visit the village once a year every year to make a permanent change in those people s lives. Now I get to meet hard-working talented people every day who come from many different walks of life and I love learning their stories about how they built their wealth and also any struggles they faced along the way. Jennie quickly realized that the relationships built with people in the franchising process are very strong and can last for decades. Nothing is more fulfilling than awarding one of our restaurant franchise opportunities to someone who will make a great partner for Cara because a single restaurant location is life changing and an excellent investment opportunity. As the Senior Manager of Franchising at Cara Operations Jennie is responsible for Franchisee recruitment and selection in Western Canada for all of Cara s franchised restaurant brands such as Montana s East Side Mario s Fionn MacCool s Swiss Chalet Harvey s Kelsey s and Milestones. The provinces that Jennie oversees stretch from British Columbia to Alberta to Saskatchewan. I hope that my story can help other young women realize that through blood sweat tears and tenacity they can make anything happen as soon as they make the decision to do so. In the following brief interview Jennie further explains her career business and industry 26 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why do you feel that the franchising industry is relevant in today s world A More and more people are choosing to own their own business versus charting a typical corporate career. Franchising allows people to be in business for themselves but not by themselves. They ll have a strong established brand behind them here at Cara and many restaurant experts to help coach and support them in their business at our office. Franchising as an industry is also a powerful tool for creating new jobs in Canada. Every time a restaurant opens its doors it s an opportunity for locals to find a new job. Q Does someone need to have restaurant experience in order to be considered as a potential Franchisee with Cara A No. We have people from many different walks of life as our now Franchisees. General Contractors Custom Home Builders Hoteliers Oil Field workers Corporate Executives Advertising and Marketing professionals you name it. We are looking for people who have strong leadership and people development skills a passion for food and for our brands and transferrable skills such as previous business ownership. We also do have many Franchisees who have come to us with a lot of restaurant experience behind them which is an added bonus but not a necessity. Q What restaurant brands does Cara have in its portfolio A We re up to 10 at the moment and will soon be 11 different brands with the recent announcement of Cara acquiring New York Fries. Currently our brands include Montana s East Side Mario s Fionn MacCool s Swiss Chalet Harvey s Casey s Kelsey s Milestones Bier Markt and The Landing Group. Q How much is the total investment for a restaurant franchise with Cara A It truly varies. The smallest investment would be a freestanding Harvey s which on the low end would be 625 000 all the way up to a Milestone which could be as high as 3.0 MIL. I would say most of our restaurant opportunities range between 1.5 to 2.1 MIL. Q How much liquid cash would I need to have in order to qualify as a potential Franchisee A You as an individual or you with a collective group of business partners will need to have 40% of the total investment in unencumbered cash. Again this will vary but typically we look to see between 600 000 and 900 000 in unencumbered cash down. 27 Women of Distinction Katafa Hall-Reed Consulting Services President Chief Executive Officer and Senior Consultant of Troppus Consulting Ser-vices LLC Washington D.C. H er years of experience as a legal professional led Katafa Hall-Reed to start Troppus Consulting Services LLC (Troppus Consulting) in 2009. Katafa even participated in a mock trial arranged by Toledo University and sat on its Board of Directors before serving as Council Placement Advisor of the Junior League of Cleveland. Most recently in October 2015 Katafa published her first book entitled Washington Wife . Working in Washington D.C. I meet so many different women. Some are professionals while others are stay-athome moms. I admire these women and see myself in them being a mother and an attorney in Downtown D.C. One of my close friends shared her journey with me from the time she moved to D.C. to five years later when one of her children graduated high school. Un-fortunately she and her husband divorced and her life took a different turn. I found her story so compelling. Katafa currently serves on the boards of the Women s Congressional Golf Association and the American News Women s Club. The rest of her free time is spent writing running playing ten-nis and doing yoga. She lives in Northern Virginia and is married with three children ages 12 17 and 18. My husband is the Athletic Director at Georgetown University. Our younger children attend schools in Fairfax County and our oldest son is studying business at the Cleveland State Uni-versity. Katafa believes in working hard and putting your best effort into everything you do. As a freelance paralegal Katafa saw a need for individuals to offer their professional services at a cost lower than most law firms while still earning enough money to make a living. I was previously employed with several agencies that contracted legal employees for outra-geous prices. During this time I met a lot of attorneys who needed support from individuals with less experience like paralegals and other support staff but didn t know how to go about recruit-ing those individuals. I basically started Troppus Consulting to assist my friends and col-leagues. Troppus Consulting provides strategic planning public relations contract negotiation and inter-national relations services for both small and large firms. And with skills in public policy volun-teer management tourism analysis leadership development and community outreach the company can also assist you in managing small and large projects and programs. Katafa serves as President CEO and Senior Consultant of Troppus Consulting where the end-less demand for legal professionals and consulting services keeps the company going strong. She is responsible for the hiring recruiting networking and marketing for the company and also handles the finances and any crucial business decisions that need to be made such as what projects and clients Troppus will take on at any given time. I feel good about the services I provide as well as saving my clients time and money. Prior to starting her company Katafa received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from East-ern Michigan University (1996) and a Post-Baccalaureate in Legal Studies from The University of Toledo (2005-2006). Soon after she completed coursework in Political Science at Case Western Reserve University and interned with the City of Cleveland s Department of Law as Editorial Coordinator for the Na-tional Paralegal Reporter (2007-2008). (Several of her articles were published.) Katafa later worked as Director of Professional Development of the Cleveland Association of Paralegals. She also served on the 3Rs Committee of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association s Women in Law Section and the Corporate Law Committee of the Ohio State Bar Association. I love my career but my children and family are more important. That s how I d like to be re-membered. I want them to know that a mom with three kids and a husband can start a consult-ing firm grow the business and be a leader in the profession. Final words of advice... Always keep your word because your word is gold. Don t be afraid to take risks. Try to be original creative and separate yourself from the herd. 29 Women of Distinction Lorna Johnston Hospitality Process Improvement & Standardization Chief Executive Officer SPOT International Services LLC Boise ID I I have worked in the hospitality and finance industries for almost 20 years and there is always something new to learn. n 1988 Lorna Johnston began her career in hospitality at the Hilton Hotel in Manila Philippines. Starting out as a management trainee she aspired to learn how to manage hotel operations and employees. In 2001 Lorna went to work for the Sheraton Hotel and Hyatt Regency in Dubai where she learned leadership and customer service skills which put her on the path to management. I was managing the Guest Relations department ensuring all our top VIPs were assisted with everything that they need all throughout their stay. Then in 2005 I joined the management team for the Sands Casino and Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino in Macao China as both hotels were being established on the small island. In China Lorna was tasked with establishing the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for both hotels for every position within each company which turned out to be about 18 000 SOP s altogether. She then went through Six Sigma training established and led the Quality Assurance departments that oversaw audited and improved service processes for all of the non-gaming operations of the Sands Casino and Venetian Resort. Lorna is very passionate about training service and giving guests a Wow experience is her ultimate goal. In order for the entire company of about 17 000 international employees to follow and adapt to the high level of service standards she has launched the Key to Excellence program in 2007. This program focuses on the two pillars of delivering a company mission. All 17 000 employees including top executives went through this training to learn and adapt the company core values and core standards. The company used this very successful program for more than 4 years. Acquiring international experiences in different parts of the world sometimes can be lonely and challenging. Learning to respect the laws of the land and their culture had made me become more understanding giving tolerant respectful and appreciative of the people around me. 30 Women of Distinction When she moved to the United States in 2013 Lorna was able to observe hotel service practices in several states. What she saw was a great opportunity to introduce what she had learned from working in other countries. I knew that I couldn t do this if I were employed by the organization where I am only tasked to do what I am required to perform. So as soon as I got the right documentation to work and establish myself I set up my own company. I started SPOT International Services in February 2015 to educate hotel and service-based companies on what five-star rating can do for their businesses. Lorna is the owner and CEO of SPOT International Services LLC and serves a Process Improvement Specialist for businesses who want to be at the top of their industry. Lorna has a two-cycle approach for improving a company s efficiency. First we provide business consultation in what we call the Monitoring Cycle. This cycle includes steps to measure and analyze current processes and procedures design or redesign improved processes and a plan to implement the new processes or procedures. Once a client approves and implements the new processes and procedures we then enter the Continuous Cycle. This cycle monitors the newly implemented processes and allows us to identify areas where adjustments need to be made and then execute those changes. The most important aspect Lorna knows is client education. She believes that educating clients and teaching employees is critical to the success of any process especially when implementing a new process. We ensure that our clients understand not only how to perform the processes and procedures we recommend but also the benefits to their business reputation and customer satisfaction. SPOT stands for Service Performance through Outstanding Training. We are currently developing a Gen Z skills set training which is a very unique approach in training our young tech savvy generation. There are so many soft skill trainers in the market but nothing like what we are developing for the children of Idaho. My aim is to roll this over in 2016 in Idaho then introduce it to the entire country afterwards. Currently Lorna and her company are also preparing for an exciting presentation to all the hotels and service industries in Idaho it s about the Key to Excellence which will be sponsored by Wyndham Hotel. Lorna compares taking a business to it s highest standard to playing golf no matter how well one hits the ball one can never perfect the game. However the game is always worth playing while continuously improving and updating the process will keep a player at the top of their game. I love to learn new things and I love challenging opportunities that allow my creativity to grow. I enjoy seeing the lifechanging effect of what I ve created brings to others. I enjoy embracing the market trends and bringing new and improved ideas into business practices. I also enjoy analyzing customer behavior to identify better ways to meet their highest expectations and finding ways to make those expectations reality. The goal Lorna wants to achieve is to encourage women to value their contribution to the world and realize their influence on the next generation. She believes that women are the fundamental foundation to children s mental spiritual physical and social growth and presence in society. Their values disciplines and characteristics are molded by the constant care and discipline of strong women who not only want to leave a better place for future generations but also teach those who come after us how to do the same. In her free time Lorna loves to paint. In 2005 she exhibited many of her paintings at the UNESCO building in Macao. Copies of Lorna s paintings were sold and donated for UNESCO fund to help the children with better educational tools books and other educational materials that they can bring to the island. Lorna also enjoys golfing with her family and spending time with her children As a Mormon I have instilled the teachings of our faith into my sons and have taught them how to value others for their individual qualities to be respectful and generous to people regardless of gender or status to act with integrity and kindness in everything that they say and do and to be forgiving and tolerant to those who do not see the world the same way that they do. Though neither they nor I are perfect in practicing these values I know my sons will always do the best they can to live up to what they ve learned from me. 31 Women of Distinction Dr. Phyllis Kohl Coston Education Founder Director West Virginia Wesleyan Learning Center Emerita Associate Professor of Education and Christian Education West Virginia Wesleyan College Buckhannon WV S pending the first eight years of her teaching career in the public school system in Illinois Dr. Phyllis Kohl Coston used the experience to propel her career forward making for a wonderful future in higher education. Leaving the classroom setting as a 7th and 8th grade teacher and relocating to West Virginia in 1962 she formed the West Virginia Wesleyan Learning Center at West Virginia Wesleyan College a year later. She then began teaching courses at the college retiring as Full Professor in 1998 but continued teaching part-time in the Christian Education Department until 2009. A pioneer in her field Phyllis began speaking all over the country helping other colleges start programs and helping public school teachers learn methods to teach learning disabled students. Wesleyan s program became so wellknown that they gained national recognition and was listed by Twenty Incredible Colleges for Special Needs Students as the number one program in the nation. Phyllis served as the Center s Director from 1963-1998. She taught at Wesleyan from 1963-2009 teaching in several departments including the Education Department beginning in 1970 and the Christian Education Department beginning in 1979. Now fully retired Phyllis still speaks at conferences for The Learning Disability Association Orton Society and International Reading Association as well as at special meetings. She will also be presenting a program at the 2016 Learning Disabilities Association meeting in Orlando Florida in February 2016. Becoming a published author in 2013 Phyllis wrote a book called Celebration of Success which contains stories of 38 students who coped and succeeded in a variety of professions in spite of their learning disability. It serves as a great contribution to the field of learning disabilities and teachers. She is also currently penning her second book The History of Diaconal Ministry in the United Methodist Church in West Virginia which she hopes to have completed in 2016. When I started the Learning Center in 1963 it was just a reading center in the era of speed reading Phyllis said. I was the Evelyn Wood of Buckhannon. The Center developed into a reading and study skills center serving all types of students such as those preparing for graduate school and those wanting to raise their college grades. About 15 years into her work Phyllis discovered that there were several dyslexic students participating in her Learning Center courses. She began working with them and they achieved success in their studies. As a result more students with dyslexia came to Wesleyan and the college formed an official Special Support Program in 1982 which still continues today. It was the first ever college center in the state. 32 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why did you write the book Celebration of Success A I wrote the book to help young people know they could succeed despite a learning disability. Q Describe the content of the book. A The book contains stories of successful adults with learning disabilities who attended West Virginia Wesleyan College and participated in a special Learning Center program. It also includes tips for teachers and parents. Q How did you choose the 38 students for the book A I sent surveys to students who had been in the program and over a hundred students responded. Those chosen represented a cross section of vocations. I believe that I ve been called by God to teach and write Phyllis noted. I began theological seminary in 1953 during a time when I was told I could not become ordained because I was a woman. It s been a privilege to teach both prospective teachers and ministers and to work with learning disabled college students especially dyslexics. Very much involved in her community Phyllis is an Ordained United Methodist Deacon called to serve beyond the local church. She teaches an adult Sunday School class has been on the Board of Ordained Ministry of the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is a member who has held several offices in both the United Methodist Women and The American Association of University Women. Phyllis received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from West Virginia Wesleyan College an Exemplary Teaching Award from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church an Outstanding Teacher Award from the West Virginia Reading Council an Outstanding Alumni Award from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and an Athena Award (Buckhannon Chamber of Commerce Women of the Year Award) for her service to the Buckhannon community. A 1953 graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College with a BA Phyllis later completed her MA a joint degree from Northwestern University and Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1958. Born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to Howard and Mary Kohl Phyllis has been married for 61 years to Dr. Herbert Coston a retired professor of history at West Virginia Wesleyan College for 50 years history department chair for 21 years and an ordained elder at their church. They have two children Bob and Susie. Q Where can you purchase Celebration of Success A You can purchase the book at Amazon Author House West Virginia Wesleyan College Tamarack in Beckley West Virginia and at the store Whimsical Treasures on Main Street in Buckhannon West Virginia. Q Tell us about West Virginia Wesleyan College. A It is a small liberal arts college in central West Virginia with a student body of approximately 1 500. Recently it was listed in US News and World Report in the first tier of best colleges in the south. This year Wesleyan was one of only two colleges universities in the US to receive a Title III grant from the US Department of Education the grant was for 10 million spread over five years. 33 Women of Distinction W hen Sandra L. Aponte MD was nine years old her favorite television show was Marcus Welby MD. One day my mother asked me why was I paying so much attention to some episode and I replied Porque quiero ser como el which means Because I want to be like him Thereafter my education focus was science and in 1984 I went to medical school. Sandra has always like helping others which she learned that from her mother a social worker that rescued anything that she found such as dogs cats horses and chickens. Sandra knows that many of her own behaviors were learned growing up watching her mother. As the Laboratory Director Sandra s roles within the organization fall under two major categories diagnosing disease by reading tissue slides under microscopy and administrative tasks. However she also oversees a microbiology and a small chemistry laboratory. Sandra L. Aponte MD Medicine Pathologist Laboratory Director I truly love being a Pathologist. Even though most of the work done in the laboratory is done behind the scenes the product of the effort is fulfilling and it s my way of helping our society. However for Sandra and her family to get where they are today they had to endure great adversity. Poverty language barriers discrimination politics prejudice and raising a family of four as a single mother were all major obstacles that Sandra had to face on the daily basis. Finally her persistence paid off. Through hard work and perseverance challenges translate into success and a meaningful life. My faith in the God has always kept me moving forward. I don t give up. I pray study and learn to the best of my abilities. Money doesn t mean anything without family humanity sanity and happiness. When she s not in the laboratory Sandra and her family rescue neglected and abused dogs. We have three so far and we treat them with love and respect and yes we really spoil them. Once she became a member of Humane Society International Sandra involved herself with lobbying on behalf of significant issues with government legislature bills. She also loves act and spends much of free time on casting calls and auditioning for new acting roles. Acting helps Sandra keep her sanity and is her artistic way of expression. 34 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What is a pathologist A Pathology is a medical specialty. A pathologist is a physician a medical doctor that specializes in the origin and nature of diseases. This doctor interprets and diagnoses disease if present through a variety of methods. The tool of trade is the microscope. The specialty has many subspecialties. Q What subspecialty areas encompass Pathology A This is a very broad field that includes Anatomic Pathology Chemical Pathology Clinical Pathology Hematopathology Immunopathology Medical Microbiology Cytopathology Neuropathology Pediatric Pathology Clinical Informatics Dermatopathology Molecular genetics and Forensics. Q Besides the microscope what other tools are used in the laboratory to make a diagnosis A Sophisticated analyzer machines performed the tests in the chemical laboratory. Software and medical computer systems allow for fast transmission of medical information results entry directly fed to the clinician s office computer systems and or into the patients electronic charts. Q Why do you feel that your profession is necessary in today s world A Our society is becoming more and more dependent on technology. Our laboratories strive to provide prompt and accurate diagnoses while providing excellent customer care in the most efficient manner by the usage of sophisticated laboratory equipment and technology. We make every effort to comply with regulations communicate effectively and contained cost while providing outstanding service. I work with an outstanding group of experts in their fields. The ultimate goals are to provide an accurate diagnosis so that the patient gets proper treatment and exceptional patient care. Q Why did you become involved with the Humane Society International A Because they are the leading animal advocacy organization seeking a humane world for all living creatures alike. It s due to their diverse work that I became interested in joining them. Their work is exceptionally transforming because although it seemed impossible to save lives in the past they ve been doing it all over the world. They choose large battles such as puppy mills animal fighting factory farming and cruelty during or after animal research seal slaughter horse cruelty captive hunts and the wildlife trade. What a waste of beautiful life but the impact and social consciousness has been created from such vile act. It was not until I received an email from Congressman Daniel M. Donovan Jr. responding to a letter crafted by the Humane Society and edited with my personal feelings regarding anti-poaching laws that I then realized what we do works. In the letter he said Animal abuse is unacceptable and should not go unpunished. Q How did you become involved with the entertainment talent industry A I needed money while in college and I always worked and studied simultaneously to support myself. However sometimes working would negatively impact on my studies. One dear friend of mine in college was doing commercials for Telemundo and taking free theater classes in their building. She asked me to join the classes and all of the sudden I am doing a couple of commercials as a background standin. The pay was reasonable and it only took a small amount of time from my school time. I couldn t work in this business during medical school for obvious reasons. After the divorce I became more involved with acting again predominantly as a non-union background in TV shows movies or commercials as time permitted. And at the end of the day acting is one of my life passions. 35 Women of Distinction Alicia N. Patterson Health and Wellness Psychotherapy Dance Movement Therapy Birthing Labor & Delivery Somatic Psychotherapist Dance Movement Therapist Birth Doula Boulder CO B I work with individuals and groups to provide a space for integration of one s physical emotional psychological cognitive and social selves. y choosing to go to graduate school in 2011 Alicia N. Patterson started her career in psychology. Before she officially entered the field Alicia worked for an orthopedic surgeon s practice. Although she enjoyed the work she continuously wondered about other possible connections to patients concerns. It s a twenty-four hours a day seven days a week life choice. I don t think of it as a job. It often doesn t feel like work even though I know I m working. Outside of her work life much of Alicia s personal investment turns into professional development and training. She reads books and participates in movement and embodiment workshops. She also loves cooking going to shows experiencing art exercise with dance yoga cycling weight lifting roller-skating and outside time. Alicia also enjoys good food and cocktails traveling and tending to her relationships. I haven t always been confident and rooted in myself. I ve invested years and thousands of dollars into personal and professional development. My heart body checkbook and brain have spent a lot on this. There is nothing I would change or take back. I have been privileged enough to be able to consider these pieces with a magnifying glass. I ve been privileged enough to question where I hold power and privilege and where I have been oppressed in the world. I ve cultivated balance and health through dedication and being extremely supported and cared for on multiple levels. The movement towards health was bigger than the exhaustion and frustration that yelled at me to quit. It is only from the rooted place inside of myself that I am able to see humanity and all of life with spaciousness and care. It s from this place that I hope to serve others. Providing witnessing and safe space for others to look at themselves receive support and challenge has been the largest gift I have ever received. It feels like the truest act of love that I can infuse into my interactions with living beings. I was considering different medical-based careers but the question kept nagging at me about most of the patients we saw What else is behind these symptoms I knew the medical path wasn t the correct path for me the more I went towards it. Through her graduate level work in psychology Alicia took herself through intensive processes to further her own professional development and eventually chose her field due to the support she had and the transformation that it led to. I love the work I do even the challenging parts. I have only felt this full and in alignment with my integrity around my professional life since being in this field. In her business Alicia serves as a Somatic Psychotherapist Dance Movement Therapist Birth Doula and her own boss. She manages the administrative professional identity and development clinical skill and every other aspect of her professional entity. Alicia also must deal with financial paperwork training credentialing office space usage decisions therapeutic work and every level of being an entrepreneur. 36 Women of Distinction Angela K. Householder Workforce Solutions Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) Senior Sourcing Specialist - ManpowerGroup Solutions Milwaukee WI T hrough her work as a Senior Sourcing Specialist with ManpowerGroup Solutions Angela Householder is responsible for designing and implementing strategic sourcing plans to identify attract and select the best talent for her organization. She is considered a Subject Matter Expert in sourcing tools and technologies and takes great pride in the training and development of her colleagues. Shortly after receiving her B.S. degree from Eastern Michigan University in 2003 Angela entered the recruiting industry. While she only had a limited knowledge of recruiting her solid background in communications and strong computer and research skills helped her adapt quickly. Following stints with Strategic Search Consultants and Adecco RPO she landed a job with ManpowerGroup Solutions as a Talent Acquisition Recruiter. The biggest challenge Angela faced in her career thus far has been the Recession. While things became tougher for many in her industry Angela used the Recession as an opportunity to sharpen her skills and grow as a professional while still taking on extra responsibilities and training others. Collaboration and communication are critical in this business. Working in a people business you have to be 100% focused on communicating information to all key stakeholders candidates hiring managers leadership and senior leadership. Technology has certainly changed the way we communicate and I think it is important to note that when working in the recruiting business technology is great but nothing can replace phone or face to face conversations. In her leisure Angela enjoys spending time with her family including her two inspiring children seeing live music traveling fishing boating and reading. She is also a member of SHRM and the Global Sourcing Experts Group within ManpowerGroup Solutions. You never have to work a day in your life if you love what you do I love being able to help people find meaningful work. I m proud and honored when I see individuals who I have trained and mentored blossom and grow in their careers. Helping others learn and achieve their goals is very rewarding and many of those people will remain in their careers making a difference even after I ve moved on. Successful professionals in this business have an innate curiosity and drive to constantly learn about new industries jobs tools and technologies and a passion for working with people. I majored in communications focusing on journalism and technical writing in college and that definitely provided me with a solid foundation in how to research and communicate my findings. After working as a Talent Acquisition Recruiter for ManpowerGroup Solutions for two and a half years Angela left the company to take up a Recruitment Team Lead position at Cielo. However she returned to ManpowerGroup Solutions to take on her current role in January 2015. Women of Distinction S temming back to her childhood while taking car trips with her family to her grandparents cottage Cheryl Munce remembers playing games with her twin sister to guess the model of the car up ahead before seeing its nameplate. Over the years her love of cars has continuously evolved and she has established a very fulfilling career in the automotive industry. She feels humbled and energized by all those she has met and worked with along the way and it has been those same people that continue to inspire and motivate her. Cheryl Munce Automotive Used Vehicle Remarketing Industry Consultant ALTESO LLC Trevose PA This industry is filled with real people people who know that relationships are key to longevity in business and in life Cheryl said about her 35 years of experience. These same people know that cars are connectors and critical to our society symbolic of our culture and drive much of our economy. After graduating from high school with honors and honed secretarial skills Cheryl found herself working for DuPont Canada in 1980 as an Executive Assistant. Discovering that their company car fleet was also managed there she began pursuing tasks that would satisfy her passion for cars. Cheryl has since worked for PHH Canada Impact Auto Auctions ADESA and Manheim Canada in various roles from General Manager to President. Joining ALTESO LLC in Trevose Pennsylvania in 2013 her current role as Industry Consultant has her assisting with strategic product placement providing industry insight into current and future gaps that can be filled via digital remarketing products supporting investor relations and helping expand customer and product reach. Coming from very humble beginnings with no post-secondary education Cheryl opened her own dog grooming salon at the tender age of 20. Considered a high achiever she discovered that regardless of background education or gender if you set goals and possess a real passion for your industry success will follow. Joking that her motto is From Dogs to Dodges Cheryl has a good sense of humor. Throughout her career she s faced the fact that she is in a field dominated by men. While that is slowly changing she has always viewed herself as an equal using empathy humor and humility to navigate sometimes uncomfortable situations. Yet she feels that a female voice must be louder in order to be heard which means learning sharing and being resourceful and trusted to present solutions. In this industry you must be passionate and persuasive but most of all you must be yourself she added and I think I ve certainly helped forge a permanent path that makes it easier and more acceptable for women to succeed and thrive in the automotive industry. Married to her husband Dave for over 35 years they have two children Ryan and Kyle as well as Mini the Yorkie and Cooper the cat. 38 Women of Distinction Gaylyn Rae DeVine Commercial Printing President Chief Executive Officer of TLS Graphics Inc. South Houston TX A fter her father s retirement in July of 1998 Gaylyn Rae DeVine was asked if she would step in and take over the family business. I had been working in commercial insurance at State Farm for 18 years and my father needed someone with a strong sense of business and accounting to take his place. For Gaylyn TLS Graphics. Inc. is more than just ink on paper. She and her employees help ordinary people start new businesses launch new products that grow the economy and contributes to the local community by giving back through print media. Every project brings an essential need from the smallest to the largest in helping someone else grow their business. For me that s not work that s fun As President and CEO of TLS Graphics Inc. Gaylyn serves as the day-to-day operations organizer and works hands-on with her staff organizing print projects for daily schedules in addition to estimating projects ordering of supplies accounts payable and receivable. She believes the only way to stay profitable with today s economic challenges is to keep a close eye on the bottom line. I want other women to know they can achieve their dreams and goals and that someone is there to cheer them on every day When she s not working Gaylyn mentors other businesswomen through the American Business Women s Association who also want to make a difference within their community. Making an impact on the lives of other women is important to Gaylyn because she is so grateful for the mentors that played an active role in her own leadership development. After serving on The Bridge Over Troubled Waters Board of Directors for five years I am passionate about breaking the cycle of domestic violence and abuse. By empowering women of all ages and backgrounds we create strong leaders for our communities. Recently Gaylyn has gone back to college to complete her Business Entrepreneur degree and has rediscovered a passion and love for learning. She also loves to read enjoys spending time outdoors with her family and shopping for shoes. You can tell a lot about a person from their shoes and unique ones are a great conversation starter. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 Gaylyn had to learn to overcome the feelings of self-doubt and fear by creating her new mantra of Why Not You She now attributes the phrase as a corner stone in running for national leadership positions going after large commercial print projects and overcoming a fear of public speaking which has assisted Gaylyn in helping other women achieve their dreams and goals. It is important to stay true to yourself your goals and dreams and be authentic. When you have hope you have everything you need to be successful. From hope anything can be accomplished and it is contagious. Random acts of kindness can create a ripple effect that sparks a fire which can be felt throughout generations. 39 Women of Distinction Gracie Armendariz Restaurant Owner and Chef Channah s Ta im Cuisine Douglas Wyoming G racie Armendariz has been cooking since she was 4-years-old helping her Nonna (Italian word for grandmother ) in the kitchen to prepare all kinds of Italian meals. Her passion to be a chef and love of people and food led her to start her own business to provide in-home chef services and cooking classes around Wyoming. Channah s Ta im Cuisine is an adventure in healthy and organic cooking. We believe in preparing with only the freshest ingredients. You can experience tastes from all over the world in your very own home. Gracie educates customers on the importance of home cooking and the benefits it brings to the table our body and our mind. I enjoy bringing a new perspective to people about the way they cook eat and come together as a family. In order to keep her business growing she follows up with all her customers to get feedback on what she can do better. Since relocating to Wyoming Gracie has also been teaching cooking classes at her local college and preparing meals at a senior center. The rest of her free time is dedicated to her new husband (Ubaldo Carreon) along with her horses and calf. She also provides counseling specifically for women in abusive relationships. Gracie would like to be remembered for the wisdom she has acquired over the years. Scriptures calls our wisdom the crown on our head but I call it my riches. If our lives are already written for us from the moment we take our first breath why are we so eager to rush through life and change what happens to us instead of enjoying the good with the bad Nonna always made sure that there was fresh bread pasta and lots of marinara. She cooked enough to feed the whole neighborhood. The most important thing she taught me was that if you want to keep your family together cook together and your home will always have love. I learned to incorporate love into all my food. Later Gracie met a wonderful lady named Lupe whom she affectionately called Gramma . It just fit her character. Gramma taught her how to cook Mexican cuisine making enchiladas chile rellenos (stuffed peppers) rice and homemade salsa. She was my greatest professional inspiration. Over the years Gracie experimented with her own recipes and various cooking styles while raising four children on her own. Feeding them fresh homemade food on a budget was a challenge but never impossible. After she was diagnosed with leukemia Gracie had to learn about other ways to cook and eat as this has a lot to do with so many diseases. In 2007 her research led her to a very wellknown chef who had traveled all over the world working with chefs like Emeril Lagasse (just to name one). By assisting Mrs. Samaniego for five years I learned the art of high-end cuisine and catering as well as how to cook the best 40 quality organic foods. Women of Distinction s Founder and President of MillSher Compliance Consulting Julia M. Sherman is dedicated to providing all of her clients with affordable housing solutions that will best suit their needs. MillSher Compliance Consulting which Julia founded in February 2015 is a professional consulting firm that offers a number of services to its clients including specialized consulting auditing and training solutions designed to ease the considerable burdens of regulatory compliance placed upon providers of affordable housing and by extension the deserving families and the communities they call home. I have found that I truly love the affordable housing industry. It s a very simple answer but I love what I do. Also there are so many hardworking women in this industry and that inspires me. I m always striving to do better because of this. After starting her career in affordable housing as a property manager for a Section 8 elderly community in 1997 Julia went on to work as a Regional Compliance Manager for several more companies all throughout the United States gathering extensive knowledge on Section 42 Section 8 Section 236 and Bond programs. As her career continued she also became both a Certified Occupancy Specialist and a Housing Credit Certified Professional. Julia s main role at MillSher Compliance Consulting is to oversee the daily operations of the firm and collaborate with potential clients. In addition she also travels to various locations in order to accommodate the needs and expectations of her clients by overseeing the successful completion of all projects. The best advice I could give to someone in this industry is to always keep learning. Things are always changing and all knowledge is valuable. It s also important to always treat people with the utmost respect. Listen to what they have to say even if they are being unpleasant and learn how to find answers to all problems no matter what the circumstances may be. In her leisure Julia enjoys being with her family traveling exercising and riding her Harley Davidson motorcycle. She especially loves to spend time with her six wonderful grandchildren while witnessing their journey through life as they grow into amazing people. I m a seasoned professional who has always been dedicated to my work and loyal to the clients I serve. I want everyone to remember me as a determined goal oriented professional woman who always served her community her clients and anyone else she s come into contact with in the best way possible. A Julia M. Sherman Real Estate President Founder - MillSher Compliance Consulting LLC. Kansas City MO Women of Distinction K alonna S. Carpenter began her career in 2007 teaching elementary middle and high school Spanish for nine years. Collaborating with several individuals she began forming her own charter school while simultaneously working in other industries including modeling publishing and public speaking. It has become a dream come true for her. Kalonna S. Carpenter I truly feel compelled to make a difference in the lives of young people and to inspire them Kalonna said with gratitude. I think this is why I have remained in education. It s important to follow your heart stay true to yourself and have fun along the way. As Founder and Executive Director of Jnana School of the Arts for Social Justice in St. Louis Missouri Kalonna will serve as the school s administrator for all upper administrative tasks such as curriculum and instruction personnel management fiscal responsibility and state and federal compliance to name a few. Crediting her formal education and previous experience during her years teaching in the public school system to her ability to manage her school effectively Kalonna is confident in her abilities and is eager for her future years in education. Kalonna published her first book in 2013 entitled Shedding From the Inside A Collection of Spiritual Poetry. In 2015 she returned to modeling after taking a 10-year hiatus and she is enjoying the opportunity. A member of Missouri National Education Association Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese Languages Kappa Delta Pi and The Poetry Center of St. Louis Kalonna is currently writing her dissertation on school connectedness and social justice initiatives. As a doctoral student educator I feel I have been marginalized due to my race she noted. Though I believe the challenges I face help me to connect with more people. The social ills of racism still plague my native country the United States but I think it s time that we speak out against the pain and problems racism causes. Social and systematic racism not only affect people of color it affects and impedes progress for everyone. Kalonna holds a BA in International Studies and Spanish Language and Literature and an MAT in Communication Arts from Webster University an EdS from Lindenwood University and she is completing her Ed.D. at Missouri Baptist University. She has taught Special Education for one year at Giant Steps of Saint Louis and has taught Spanish for eight years in both the city of Saint Louis and Ferguson Missouri all while forming the charter school. Enjoying quiet time with her husband Sam and their tabby cat Sol in her cozy home in the Midwest Kalonna frequently reads poetry and enjoys travelling when school isn t in session. Public Education K-12 Higher Education Media Communications Entertainment Founder and Executive Director Jnana School of the Arts for Social Justice Plus Model Published Author Public Speaker St. Louis MO 42 Women of Distinction Kimberly Sentek Publishing Author Tate Publishing and Enterprises LLC Hamilton NJ U I was born to tell stories. My dad was an avid reader he was known to read encyclopedia volumes when he had nothing else to read. I got my love of reading from him. Reading made me realize how much I wanted to tell my stories. Also my mom can use all the oxygen in the air by talking so much and I ve been accused of the same. Telling stories is in my blood an inherited gene. pon graduating from college Kimberly Sentek took her first full-time job as a magazine editor in the pharmaceutical industry. She always knew she would publish something of her own Kimberly originally had the idea she would be writing novels. In 2015 Kimberly signed a contract to continue publishing with Tate Publishing. She intends to continue the Nico and Tugger Tale series and to follow her dream of writing and publishing novels. Kimberly believes the most unique part of her children s books is the idea of perception. In her books the two dogs are able to tell their individual sides of the story. I hope my books help children understand that not everyone views every situation in the same way. Kimberly is responsible for every aspect of the books she produces from writing to marketing. The publishing company provides her with editorial illustration layout and marketing services but Kimberly s responsibility is to submit the best manuscript she can produce guide the production team on illustrations and layout and to keep up on the marketing on the local level. She also maintains content on her website posts to social media and researches non-profits with whom she can partner. As an author by night and a local government worker by day Kimberly knows that effective and clear communication is necessary in any field and that it demands continual attention. You must always be your biggest champion from the beginning of the process all the way through until the very end. When you think you ve finished something and you re done you should realize that is when more work begins and it never actually ends. One day my boyfriend Pete and I brought home our second dog Tugger. Watching our pets act like children amused me to no end. They fought over toys competed to see who d get in and out of the back door first fought over the same dog bed and fought over who d sit next to me. I was sure their behavior was like my sister s and mine when we were children. Nico and Tugger s sibling rivalry inspired my first children s book Oh Brother A Nico and Tugger Tale. Kimberly first self-published Oh Brother in October 2012. Less than a year later Oh Brother and the second book in the series Grumble and Tumble A Nico and Tugger Tale were picked up by Tate Publishing. Both books were recently awarded five-star reviews from Readers Favorite. Perhaps these starred reviews will help catapult Kimberly s enjoyment in one day seeing her boys as characters in a TV series or a movie. 43 Women of Distinction Kleandria Hester F Social Services Fitness Healthcare Rehabilitation Residential Counselor Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Chief Executive Officer Blaze N Hot Fitness Certified Fitness Instructor Box Mania Agent Seacret Independent Hair Braider Chehalis WA or the last five years Kleandria Hester has been mentoring youth and families and volunteering on the Community Accountability Board for juvenile diversion cases through the Community Youth Services (CYS). This experience earned her a position as a Rehabilitation Counselor Assistant and recently a Rehabilitation Residential Counselor with the Department of Social and Health Services in Chehalis Washington in May 2015 and it has been a blessing . Conducting routine security for the unit Kleandria supervises and services meals for youth inmate residents monitors movements assigns chores and currently carries a caseload of six youth to provide treatment planning assessments and target plans. She also implements interventions of youth offenders with disorders or service needs and is in charge of daily snack sheets and consumables all of which are important to the operation of the unit school and community when it comes to safety security and quality of life. Still juggling her volunteer position at CYS Kleandria helps prevent youth from entering the justice system. She is also a fitness coach trying to get her business Blaze N Hot Fitness off the ground a Certified Fitness Instructor with Box Mania an Agent for Seacret providing skincare regiments for clients and an Independent Hair Braider since 1997. Kleandria s busy schedule is enough to make anyone exhausted but she doesn t let anything get in her way. A single mother with three beautiful teenage children it s her job to make sure they are provided with every available resource to be successful in life. Achieving her certification in Medical Claims and Billing at US Career Institute in 2007 Kleandria then became certified in Box Mania in 2014 qualified in PX90 (Beachbody) in 2015 certified in CPR First Aid AED in 2015 and became a certified Counselor Agency Affiliate through the Department of Health in 2015. She holds an Associates of Technical Arts in Paralegal Studies from South Puget Sound Community College and a BS in Criminal Justice Administration Master s in Business Administration and a Master s in Psychology all from the University of Phoenix. Kleandria is active as a member of the American Psychological Association University of Phoenix Alumni Criminal Justice Honor Society and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees an organization that allows her to participate in the wellness of government employees. It s important to never limit yourself to the standards of society Kleandria noted. Educate yourself because empowerment comes through knowledge. Hoping to instill those ideas on others especially the youth and her own children Kleandria enjoys seeing our future generation prosper and live a happy life. If she can make one person s day a little brighter because of her service then she has done her job as a faithful servant of God. I should have been either a teacher paralegal counselor or mentor Kleandria said laughingly. I obtained education or volunteer services in all of these titles and I love what I do. I am also a very creative person my passion and determination to help others keeps me going. 44 Women of Distinction Linda Holden Givens Maritime Senior IT Business Systems Analyst - Foss Maritime Seattle WA L inda Holden Givens was born into a musical family rooted in Seattle Washington. Her grandfather Oscar William Holden is considered the Patriarch of Seattle because he brought jazz to the Northwest. Linda is the daughter and one of four children to David and Sandra Holden. She is also the proud wife of Milton Givens and together they have three children and four grandchildren. While she is very much into music and appreciates the sounds of Journey Frankie Beverly AC DC and Sam Cooke (among other artists) Linda s career went in a whole other direction starting at Boeing in 1986. It was there that she realized how much she enjoyed working as a business analyst. I love researching analyzing and capturing various types of information to provide to customers in order to meet their needs as well as working with a variety of individuals with diverse backgrounds. Once the implementation of a project has occurred just knowing that I was a part of a successful system is a great feeling. The business analyst role to me is a unique and fascinating experience. Linda was greatly influenced and inspired by two individuals who always believed in and encouraged her giving her confidence. Tom Weiss at Boeing gave Linda her first opportunity to be a business analyst and Matt Sater at McKinstry continuously gave her projects because he understood her role and knew she got things done. Linda holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems (City University 1987) a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis on Information Systems (City University 2004) a Certification in Project Management (Westpoint Project Management Leadership Group 2003) and a Certification in Geographic Information Systems (Green River Community College 2010). She also has a creative side as a writer having written essays for HistoryLink.org (www.historylink.org) as well as authoring the following book and play (respectively) Holden on to Family Roots (A Granddaughter s Family and Genealogy Search) 2009 http bookstore.xlibris.com Products SKU-0057586003 Holden-On-To-Family-Roots.aspx Unsung Heroes of Seattle Jazz - Holden on To Family Roots - Unexpected Guests - Reminiscing play. http www.freeholdtheatre.org events 2015 02 03 previewbuddy-bolden-project-seattles-unsung-jazz-heroes Understanding where she came from was very important to Linda and is something she wants to pass on to future generations. They were both honest in their assessment of me and provided guidance and suggestions for improvement. She learned quickly from them that being competent and honest are the most important qualities that one can have in business. Today she serves as a Senior IT Business Systems Analyst for Foss Maritime and is responsible for understanding the business documenting its current processes and identifying areas for improvement based on a customer s needs. Linda communicates with her customers on a daily basis to ensure that all areas impacted by a change are addressed. What matters most to me is leaving my family with a rich history knowing where they came from and what they re made of. 45 Women of Distinction Lori A. List MEd Education Middle and Secondary English Language Arts Teacher Thompson K-8 International Academy Southfield MI F ollowing in the footsteps of a family of teachers Lori A. List emulated her paternal grandmother who taught for over 40 years for Detroit Public Schools. Carrying on her work in an urban suburban school setting Lori says that teaching is more than just a job it is her identity. For 25 years she has remained true to her profession simply because it was what she was born to do. Today Lori is Student Council advisor Battle of the Books coach for competitive reading teams and this year is taking on the role of advisor for the National Junior Beta Club the school s local branch of a national honors society. Lori has also served as a representative legislative board member for Southfield Education Association labor union since 2008. However Lori s career successes were not achieved without personal challenges. Diagnosed with intracranial hypertension (fluid around the brain) at age 20 and degenerative disc disease at age 30 I ve dealt with chronic pain for most of my adult life. I ve made some major adjustments like ending my volleyball coaching days after eight seasons because I couldn t meet the physical demands of the position. I have however found other ways to work with students outside of the classroom. It s been an exercise in humility and self-acceptance to live with physical limitations but these conditions have helped shape me into a better educator. Despite personal adversity Lori strives to follow the positive attitude of her mentor the late Sr. Eileen Rice O.P. I ve always said that I was gifted with the ability to teach Lori said who has a BA in English and an MEd in Education. I ve taken that gift and learned to shape and enhance it but the God-given inherent instinct to teach is not something I developed myself it s something with which I was born. I don t know how to be anything else. I hope my grandmother would be proud of how I continue her legacy. Fresh out of college after graduating Summa Cum Laude from Siena Heights University Lori was hired by the Southfield Public Schools as an English Language Arts Teacher in August 1991 and excelled rapidly. She taught English at Thompson K-8 International Academy an International Baccalaureate World School. By 1999 Lori became English Department Chairperson and by 2002 she was serving as both Title I Remediation Program Coordinator and Gifted and Talented Program Coordinator. In 2003 she became a National Writing Project fellow served as Curriculum Consultant Professional Development Facilitator for Oakland Schools Intermediate School District in 2004 and by 2010 took on the role of English Department Curriculum Coordinator at Thompson. Lori also supervised numerous intern teachers and delivered professional presentations for Michigan Council of Teachers of English and National Middle School Association. I am here for children period. If I focus on them at all times I can make it through criticism long nights and the heavy workload that is teaching. I can continue to do the job to the best of my ability and make a difference in the lives of students. 46 Women of Distinction M arivel Garza had a rough life growing up to say the least. Born into an abusive household her mother and step-father were to blame. By the age of 15 she had left home because of the abuse. Working and going to school she found an apartment with a roommate and things began to look up. But one day after her roommate left the front door unlocked while Marivel was in the shower a man entered their home and raped her leaving her pregnant. She eventually moved to Houston to stay with her sister but it was only temporary so she found shelter in that same town at the Star of Hope with her son. Marivel Garza Labor Migrant Worker Green Bay WI I found an apartment and began working at a 50% off store. I was making just enough money to survive Marivel said. I later moved to Greenpoint got a job at Sears and bought myself a van. But after my new boyfriend began putting his hands on me I moved into a domestic violence shelter in Huntsville with my children. Marivel continued to experience severe ups and downs in life the biggest of which included having her children taken away from her for an entire year due to her mother s vindictive ways which caused her to attempt suicide and ending up in jail for making a bad decision another painstaking year that was taken away from her. But after finally getting her children back and living some sense of normalcy Marivel began to see the blue skies again. I felt something come over me in a very peaceful way she described guiding me closer to God. Jesus opened my eyes to see the things I needed to believe in. Now I know that He can help me in all my struggles all I had to do was believe in Him. Relocating to Green Bay Wisconsin Marivel found work as a Migrant Worker picking apples pumpkins and other vegetation. She also began season work in a factory to earn extra income. Becoming a member of Resurrection Lutheran Church she was immediately accepted by their people and have helped her in so many ways spiritually and emotionally. She does charity work with the church in the local community and helps out as much as she can in her free time. Giving back gives her a sense of peace. She completed her GED and is now taking college courses. Although she still continues to be talked down to as a minority in her new community from time to time Marivel has decided that she cannot quit on life. Helping my children get a good education and succeed in life is what I live for Marivel said. It s my job to help them along. No matter what happens in life we must keep moving forward. It s time for me to grow with my family and live in peace with them. 47 Women of Distinction Michele Ann Washington Ph.D. Information Technology Deputy Chief Information Officer Data and Records Management Division Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights United States Department of Agriculture and Adjunct Associate Professor University of Maryland University College Washington DC and College Park Maryland round 1990 while discussing career aspirations with her mentor Michele Ann Washington realized that information technology (IT) would play a significant and crucial role in society. After performing some research in her early position as a Computer Programmer Michele envisioned how IT would revolutionize various aspects of society. A I provide a learning environment which includes the skills of creating and maintaining an atmosphere conducive to student involvement interactivity and learning. The academic arena entails developing curriculum and instructional materials to provide instructional methods and techniques appropriate to different student learning styles. Michele s full time position as Deputy Chief Information Officer and Deputy Director of the Data and Records Management Division includes the responsibilities of functioning in the leadership role with regards to the agency s IT security program and policy capital planning the strategic and day-today operations of the division. In June 2007 Michele started her Ph.D. program at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale Florida majoring in Information Systems. In January 2015 Michele successfully defended her dissertation which focused on gathering the requirements for a mobile device tutorial for older adults. In June 2015 Michele received her Ph.D. in Information Systems. On top of her two Master s degrees Michele regards her doctoral dissertation as her proudest achievement thus far. Over the years I have observed how the Internet the worldwide web and social media have revolutionized and changed how we communicate with each other and the holistic vitality of information technology I knew the career field would change society s culture forever. After having obtained two Master s degrees Michele wanted to pursue her Ph.D. but wanted to take a pause from academics. However she still desired to remain in the academic arena and it was at that time that she decided to pursue an Adjunct Faculty teaching position within her local community. Consequently in 1996 Michele applied and was accepted for a position as an Adjunct Professor at Prince George s Community College (PGCC) in Largo Maryland where she got her initial start in the field of teaching in the academic environment. Michele taught at PCGG for about two years and then in 2000 she applied and was accepted as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland University College in College Park Maryland where she is responsible for instructing students in the pedagogical area of IT. I have always found fulfillment in education gaining knowledge having an interest in teaching since my mother was an elementary school teacher and giving back to my community. 48 Being the daughter of an educator my mother has always instilled in me the importance of a good education. Education may be the deciding factor with regards to the accomplishment of your goals and aspirations. Women of Distinction Monique Elliott LMSW LCSW Therapy Life Coaching Consultant Founder Chief Executive Officer - S.A.V.Y. (Success Achieved when Visioned by You) LLC Licensed Clinical Social Worker Executive Life Coach Author Motivational Speaker Grand Rapids MI s Founder and CEO of S.A.V.Y. (Success Achieve When Visioned by You) Monique Elliott has inspired many to achieve success. Though she has been empowering others through her work in mental health therapy since 1994 Monique didn t start S.A.V.Y. until 2007. In her role as CEO of her consulting company she consults with other professionals individuals and organizations to increase their capacity for exploring their full potential. Despite some initial struggles with finances and business growth Monique has overcome her obstacles through faith and perseverance. She is now achieving the success she s always dreamed of. A Life is about doing what is best for you and your God-given talents. Use what you have to bring wisdom and joy into this world. I am doing my best to overcome the fears that can hinder growth. I reach for goals that I have set for myself with an understanding that I must give the best I have. I also believe in self-care. Take time to rest your body mind and soul. Share and divide the load in your life. In relation to her work Monique is involved with the NASW (National Association of Social Work) and the NAMI (National Association of Mental Illness). She has received the First Lady of the Year Award in 2012 and the NAACP Community Leader of the Year Award in 2014. Monique is the author of two books titled My Sister s Arms and A Guide To Structuring Your Vision 7 Steps to Discover Your Dream which are both available on Lulu.com and Amazon.com. In her free time Monique enjoys traveling with her husband and family reading writing watching comedies attending Broadway shows and going on vacations with friends. She also loves devoting her time to volunteering by helping young people succeed in after-school programs conducting adult visioning classes doing ministry work with the homeless and orchestrating the Sister-to-Sister Experience Conference for Women. When I leave this world I would like to be remembered as someone who loved hard hugged genuinely loved her creator and left a piece of joy in many hearts. I want you to be patient and focused. Be willing to refocus when necessary. Always stay humbled and determined. Believe in your dreams and continue to surround yourself with those who are achieving. When you get derailed get up and find another way to get the task completed. In 1992 Monique received her BSW degree from Oakwood University and in 1993 her MSW degree from Walla Walla University. Monique then went on to become a Certified Family Therapist in Spokane WA in 1995 and eventually a Certified School Social Worker at LSU of Shreveport LA in 2002. She is now an LMSW and an LCSW in the state of Michigan. Monique has used her talents in a number of positive ways throughout her life. She has worked as therapist for individuals children and families and also has experience as a school social worker for K-12th grade students. Monique has also worked as a Positive Behavior and Intervention Support Consultant for schools a Multi-Cultural and Diversity Trainer a Restorative Practice Trainer a Gang Task-Force Intervention Consultant a Women s Ministry Assistant Conference Leader and a TV personality on Preacher s Daughters Season 2. 49 Women of Distinction Patti Darkow Higher Education Mathematics Chemistry Part-Time Math Instructor Forsyth Technical Community College Math Tutor Math Advantage Math Tutor Sloan Academics Winston-Salem NC Clemmons NC C omparing math to a puzzle just waiting to be solved Patti Darkow always had an affinity for the subject. In high school she took a particular interest in geometry and that s when she knew she wanted to someday teach math. Obtaining her BA in Secondary Education with a Major in Mathematics and minors in chemistry and computers at the University of Akron Patti began substitute teaching in Gaeta Italy at a secondary school for families in the US Navy. I really enjoy math and I also enjoy working with children Patti noted. These two facts together just made becoming a math teacher inevitable. I adore watching students discover the concepts that have been giving them difficulty. Throughout the course of her career Patti has continued to teach in some capacity while raising her four children which is a job in and of itself. She taught part-time at the University of Akron for many years. She has substitute taught held both short- and long-term subbing positions tutored students who were unable to attend school due to medical issues and terminal illness and was a classroom teacher in both part- and full-time capacities. In fact she taught math and computer science at Coventry High School in Akron from 1986-95 at the same school where her brother was also a math teacher. Relocating to North Carolina she taught middle school math at St. Leo School and middle and high school math at First Christian Academy. Since 2000 Patti has been working part-time at Forsyth Technical Community College as a Math Instructor while simultaneously tutoring students in math at Sloan Academics and at Math Advantage. She also volunteers at WinstonSalem Street School which is privately supported by area churches giving high school students a last chance at earning their diplomas. Today there are many problems with our educational system Patti said about what it s like working in the field today. As a tutor teaching children on a one-on-one basis it is much easier getting to know the child and their needs. Even as a classroom teacher it s essential to know each child and to care about them. It can be frustrating to know what a child is going through knowing that you can t improve his her home situation. But it helps the child to know that there s someone that does care. Then I pray for those students. Patti has been on textbook committees curriculum development committees and has served as a technology implementation coordinator. She s designed programs to assist students in passing proficiency tests and has prepared students to take college entrance exams. She s also written a program to help middle school students balance a checkbook and work with money and has written several presentations for various math curriculum. Teaching Sunday School and Vacation Bible School since she was about 16-years-old Patti also enjoys acting in community theater and enjoying quality time with loved ones. As part of a big beautiful family the mother of four whose ninth grandchild was born just before Thanksgiving. 50 Women of Distinction Robin Volger Education Food Service Director Teacher Wellness Program Coordinator for Montana School District 29 Somers Montana R obin Volger believes that she fell into her career by accident. After working in restaurants for many years she decided to return to college to finish her degree program in education. Right after my freshman year in Laramie I helped a friend move to Jackson Hole and I didn t leave for twelve years. Working in the good restaurants in this resort town exposed me to some culinary diversity and I learned from accomplished chefs while on the job. In 2004 after relocating to Montana to finish her degree Robin graduated with a Bachelor s Degree in Secondary Education with her Montana Teacher s License. Then she completed her student teaching with Somers Middle School in Somers Montana eventually becoming a resource room aide. Once Robin had spent one full year as a school employee an opening for a sixth grade teaching position was posted and she responded to this advertisement with my letter of intent to apply. However the Superintendent of Montana School District 29 took Robin aside and told her the Food Service Director s position was being vacated. The Superintendent knew that Robin had a vast restaurant background and expressed her enthusiasm to interview Robin for the directorship. Robin stated that she would interview for the directorship only if she was still able to teach and the Superintendent agreed. More than anything working with students has kept me in this position for the past eleven years as well as a love of food. Robin s title is the Food Service Director Teacher Wellness Program Coordinator for Montana School District 29 and although it is a relatively small school district Robin has taken on a multitude of roles and responsibilities. Most of her day is spent in the kitchen supervising baking receiving deliveries and communicating with growers and purveyors. Robin is also responsible for writing the menus planning events and ordering foods from multiple sources including local and school garden grown produce. As a teacher Robin also teaches nutrition to 7th and 8th graders in subjects such as fundamentals of nutrition global perspective and food systems and cooking as well as some gardening and hydroponics. Each day presents its own challenges to Robin but knowing she will have time every afternoon to work with the students keeps her passion aflame. She knows her students especially love the cooking experiences she plans and it inspires Robin to watch them become confident in the kitchen while creating dishes. What I want to leave to the world is an empowered youth knowledgeable about the food choices they make and the desire to create sustainable systems that value agricultural workers animals and the environment making those choices mindfully as they nurture their bodies joyfully. 51 Women of Distinction Tiffany Chapman Art and Design Photography Photographer Tiffany Chapman Photography Round Rock TX P ursuing a degree in fine arts Tiffany Chapman couldn t have imagined studying anything else. Graduating in 2005 from Texas State University she focused on photography and she was quite good at it. Landed several internships and jobs she learned many tricks from other professionals in the field. Eventually she felt comfortable enough to take on her own clients and from there her own business began to take shape. In 2011 she officially formed Tiffany Chapman Photography in Round Rock a suburb of Austin Texas where she resides with her husband and two children. I have this passion and slight obsession for creating photos Tiffany admits. From that has grown my passion for people and my relationships with them. I try to be very intentional with these relationships most of them become good friends. Friends are usually the ones who are the most likely to refer my business to others. My company is based on who I am what I love to do and what I can do for others. Tiffany does as much as she can to educate herself in the business techniques and trends of the industry to stay relevant. She networks with other photographers and industry professionals to share information ideas and friendship. When she first started her business Tiffany knew almost nothing about running one other than what she knew from working for other employers. She didn t have experience in bookkeeping paperwork or contracts but she did know how to interact with clients and how to hold a camera the two most important aspects. The business knowledge came in time and she continues to research better business practices 52 to become even more efficient. Learning from her failures Tiffany has dealt with unhappy clients awkward situations with travelling locations equipment problems and even lack of funds. But it has only made her into a stronger more persistent photographer. I wouldn t have a career if it weren t for my camera and my clients Tiffany said putting things into perspective. I don t ever want to be stuck in a career that I don t love. Volunteering her time photographing local 5K runs and other events that support the awareness of child safety Tiffany enjoys giving back. She s also worked closely with HeartGift Foundation taking pictures of children who come to Austin from all over the world and have recently recovered from lifesaving heart surgery and supports and photographs events for Helping Hands Home for Children a local foster care and adoption program for at-risk children. Deeply rooted in her faith Tiffany shares her beliefs with her husband (a seminary graduate and certified candidate for ordination) and their two children who are three- and oneyears-old. They go camping together hiking swimming and they love exploring new parks and places in Texas Hill Country. People always say that life is short but it really is she added. I hope for everyone s sake that they really cherish those moments spent with the loved ones that mean the most. After all we only get one chance. Women of Distinction Valerie M. Neri Corona O1 International Visa Service Co-Owner Creative Artist International LLC CA NY and London I Meeting people from different cultures only then can you have a better understanding of the world around you and respect each other s differences and professions. n 2013 after working for Stern Deeds for two years Valerie M. Neri Corona decided to take her career a step forward and go into business for herself. She teamed up with her long time friend and coworker Brittani and together they hatched an idea. Before starting her career in immigration and international visas Valerie has been a certified nurse since 2002. She s certified in psychological first aid first aid CPR EKGs and injections. After coming out of the medical field she worked for Stern Deeds which is now one of her biggest competitors. I decided to further my education by obtaining my certification in business law psychology of the consumer as well as business marketing. And now I m currently looking into possibly getting my degree in law. Creative Artist International LLC was recently nominated in five categories for the UK Trust Awards 2015. They won in the two categories of Most Trusted Start-up Company in the UK 2015 and the Most Trusted Entrepreneur 2015. Valerie wants to one day have Creative Artist International offices in every country throughout the entire world. She would also like her company to be spoken about positively and held in the highest of esteem of those it s helped as helping the clients is the reason Valerie went off on her own in the first place. My greatest inspirations are my kids and my grandparents. My grandparents helped me become the woman I am today independent confident strong and good-hearted person. And my kids remind me everyday that even when things seem too hard that giving up is not an option because I have four reasons that give me the strength to continue to move forward and be better. Valerie loves nothing more then spending time with her four children Angel Alana Alexis and Louie. Together they enjoy movie nights playing basketball baking or playing dodge ball. We came to the conclusion that we could help internationals more if we were our own bosses. Thanks to our previous work experience we were familiar with this industry. Together Valerie and Brittani cofounded and now are coowners of Creative Artist International LLC where they help international artists relocate to the United States to live and work. There are three offices one in California New York and London. I enjoy what I do I m glad that I m able to help people and have a positive impact in their life. Within her business Valerie s tasks include writing reference letters taking various inventories accounting and bookkeeping and research development. She posts informational O1 Visa videos on YouTube and the company website creates webinars gives free consultation both over the phone and in person and sets up affordable payment plans. And as the co-owner of Creative Artist International LLC Valerie is also responsible for making all of the final decisions for the company. 53 Women of Distinction ISSUE 25 Women of Distinction Team WDM Marissa Bacchi EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Holli M. Narvaez EDITOR HEAD WRITER LAYOUT GRAPHIC DESIGN Felix Pons Jill Mongonia EDITORIAL COORDINATOR Rachael Aspen Anne Silar SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE Kimberly Diehl SELECTION COMMITTEE Rebecca Valuch Women of Distinction 560 Broadhollow Road Ste. 310 Melville NY 11747 Phone (631) 465-9024 Fax (631) 465-9035 www.womenofdistinction.net Kalonna S. Carpenter Public Education K-12 Higher Education Media Communications Entertainment Founder and Executive Director Jnana School of the Arts for Social Justice Plus Model Published Author Public Speaker www.kalonnacarpenter.wix.com modeling kalonnacarpenter gmail.com Women of Distinction 55 Cheryl Ginnings Consulting in Business Real Estate and with families who have special needs children Chief Executive Officer & Founder of Cheryl Ginnings Consultant International Speaker and International Best56 Selling Author Women of Distinction