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WDM Pam Thomason Corrugated Packaging Senior Account Manager Pratt Industries February 2016 Robin R. Lay Real Estate Property Management Corporate Area Manager - Realty & Mortgage Co. 2 Women of Distinction features WDM 4 14 20 45 51 Corrugated Packaging Senior Account Manager Pratt Industries Humboldt TN Pam Thomason Deborah Coleman-Givens Nursing (RN MSN CNS CCRN DNP Critical Care Nurse Leadership) ICU Nurse Manager - Methodist Hospitals Broadway IN Real Estate REALTOR with FORBZ Real Estate Group Alexandria VA Karla Polce Amy Schueler Dowell Medicine Speech Language Pathology Speech Pathologist Spectrum Speech Therapy Lutherville MD Real Estate JPatrick Homes - Sales Professional Houston TX Marion Gathe Pam Thomason Corrugated Packaging Senior Account Manager Pratt Industries Humboldt TN I Dearly beloved avenge not yourselves but rather give place unto wrath for it is written Vengeance is mine I will repay saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger feed him if he thirst give him drink for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good. Romans 12 19-21 19 n other words always be kind (no matter what). This is how Pam Thomason lives her life. She treats people not just the way she would want to be treated but the way she feels they want to be treated. And in her career Pam s goal is to be the top salesperson for Pratt Industries USA as well as the one who helped others reach that goal. Her road to Pratt started at Mead Containers (Lewisburg TN) in 1975. Mead was a pay for learning facility so she decided to learn all the jobs she could. The company was sold a handful of times over the years but Pam still continued her education and eventually became Plant Controller. After the last buyout she became the Area Customer Service Manager in charge of five plants. When the company (later known as Smurfit-Stone) went bankrupt Pam joined the sales team at Georgia-Pacific and worked for four years as a Sales Representative. And in April 2012 she made it to Pratt as Senior Account Manager. Pratt Industries is America s 5th largest corrugated packaging company and the world s largest privately-held 100% recycled paper and packaging company. Through its inherently sustainable processes the company saves more than 68 000 trees per day and over 21 million gallons of water. Each day its recycling division has to collect some 5 000 tons of recovered paper from cities businesses and homes throughout the U.S. I have a hunter mentality and love to seek out new partners meet new people and learn about their industries. I work with our design and production team to meet their needs and provide innovation. Our Customer Service team then takes the reins. They work to keep customers happy by delivering their product on time and develop deeper relationships within the partnership. We have awesome teams Her sales manager at Pratt Jason Benton is the mentor and coach who developed her skills in the sales area for their corrugate business. When failures occur he has taught me through it. In victories and losses Jason is my biggest cheerleader. He promotes teamwork and always listens. I haven t been selling for my entire career but he helped me enhance the skills I already had. Additionally Richard Curtis (now at Pratt) and Peter Mercier from Smurfit-Stone were the ones who had the foresight to move Pam from accounting to sales. Pete said my personality would take me to the top. Little did I know at the time how much I would love the sales part of the industry But throughout it all Pam s biggest inspiration has been her family. I felt working for this company is securing the future for our planet and future generations. Pratt is the leader of sustainability in this industry. I saw a company that was privatelyheld employee customer and family-oriented and innovative competitive and profitable. Pam brings partners to Pratt who fit the company s needs and brings those partners packaging solutions that enhance their productivity sustainability and profitability. My husband Billy came from a packaging background so he not only supports me emotionally but technically with his advice as well. Plus my children (Mindy and Will) their spouses (Keith and Cassie) grandchildren (Brianna Travis Aaron Madison Nathan Alexa and new great-grand baby to be born in May 2016) and parents (Howard and Margaret) are always there with encouragement excitement about new prospects and are the reason I have such a passion for my life and career. In 2001 Pam graduated from Columbia State Community College with an Associate of Applied Science in Business Management and was chosen as a commencement speaker. (http news details 2014 05 10 columbia-state-holds-2014-spring-commencement) Also having been a scholarship recipient herself she helps the school raise money for scholarships via their golf tournament each year. 5 Women of Distinction Pratt always sponsors two or three teams. Something unique about Pam is that she hasn t always been a seasoned salesperson so when she first started selling she noticed that one of the hardest things to do was get the opportunity to meet with someone. Q&A Q Why did you choose the packaging industry A Packaging is what gets the vast majority of products to the marketplace. Without packaging manufacturers and distributors would be limited on ways to get their products to the marketplace particularly with the advent of the Internet and companies like Amazon. If you look around packaging boxes are ubiquitous. Q Describe your role at Pratt Industries. A I m a packaging solutions provider. I help manufacturers distributors farmers and any other consumer of packaging use the right packaging for their application. Today the U.S. is over-packaged by as much as 30% compared to Europe or Asia. Through our innovative lightweight packaging initiatives (right-weight right-size solutions) we help businesses improve their bottom line by using less packaging. Q Is there a difference in quality between recycled and nonrecycled packaging A Aside from all of the positive environmental impacts recycled packaging is used in virtually all of the same applications as virgin paper. On the bottom of every box there s a box maker s certificate (BMC) that certifies a package to be a certain strength (regardless if it is recycled or not) so a 32 ECT strength box is going to meet a minimum of 32 ECT for recycled or virgin papers. Q What is Pratt s overall growth strategy A We use what we call a hub and spoke system. The paper mill is the hub and the box plants that convert that paper into corrugated sheets and boxes are the spokes. We have four such systems surrounding our mills in New York City near Atlanta in Shreveport and the new one outside Chicago. Q Does the company expect to continue such rapid growth in the future A Definitely. In fact we plan to double in size every five to seven years. I was tired of leaving a card and never getting to talk to someone so I had to figure out a unique way to get people to at least talk to me. I decided that I would try to leave some of my homemade jelly and pickles with a postcard that I had made with my picture and information about me and Pratt or even a presentation. If you just leave a card they may throw that away but with a homemade gift and the other info you ll at least get an opportunity to talk to the buyer. One of my prospects told our COO David Dennis that I didn t play fair. How could he not ask me to come in to talk to him when I had left him some homemade pear preserves Some of my customers request it because they take it home and their spouse or children ask for it They re the ones telling the buyer Buy some more boxes we re almost out of jelly I think you have to set yourself apart from your competitors and this is how I do it. As you can see Pam is very passionate about her work and about helping others. If there s any way I can help someone I will. 6 Women of Distinction Rasha Francis Design and Architecture President Raffin Design Studio Birmingham AL Atlanta GA S I have always had passion for design and decorations since my childhood. I believe design and passion for creation is a reflection of lifestyle that collects the creator s memories in a place I call home. The fact that we live in a world with ever changing modes it s great to be part of it. ince she was a small child Rasha Francis learned about design while growing up in the oldest city of the world Damascus Syria. Damascus displays a historic mixture of French Arabic and Turkish architecture and designs unique to the city. These sights inspired Rasha to earn in Design and Architecture from the Civil Engineering University of Damascus in 1994. Growing up and in school I learned to believe in my passion and never to stop trying to succeed. Love what you do keep learning because design is always changing so you have to be up-to-date. For ten years after receiving her degree Rasha worked for one of the largest interior design companies in Syria called ARCH. There she specialized in high-end residential and commercial projects and served as a distributor for exclusive European high-end textile fabric companies introducing and selling their lines in Syria. The main challenge was at the beginning in getting the right chance and opportunity. Now Rasha is the owner and administrator of Raffin Design Studio where she has created new lines of high-end decorative pillows and furniture. Since 2005 Rasha has been operating her studio out of her home city of Damascus. She started with a project to remodel a very old house in Downtown Damascus that was part of the trample of Jupiter that was built by Romans during the rule of Augustus. 7 Currently Rasha has two studios in the United States one in Atlanta GA and one in Birmingham AL. I work with my clients to provide ideas that translate into decorative solutions. I try to keep up with the projects targets to meet deadlines. Rasha has an impressive client list and includes the Syrian Embassy in Berlin Germany the Al-Salam restaurant in K ln Germany the Mansion for the Oil Prime Minister of Syria and numerous exclusive homes in Syria Europe and the United States. I believe that coming from a country in the Middle East adds to my abilities that make me a unique designer who can blend all sorts of art and architecture from multiple cultures to create new ambiances and atmospheres to enrich my customers desires and tastes. As Rasha believes building and designing mirror the relationships she establishes with family friends and her clients. She knows that the buildings and items she designs and creates will long out last her and so too will her relationships with others. Women of Distinction Carol Stanley Speaking Training and Writing Voice and Presentation Skills Trainer - That Special Touch of Excellence Author Federal Way WA Your passion beauty within and the impact you make can shine boldly on stage and camera from the inside out if you just lean into it. oice and Presentation Skills Trainer Carol Stanley guides ministers entrepreneurs and aspiring speakers and singers to gain confidence poise and command over voice body mind and spirit. They transform from unsteady shaky and fearful to capable confident and compelling presenters who make big impact on audiences large and small. Whether they speak or sing boldly or stand with power and impact without saying a word these transformed presenters inspire motivate lead and achieve to make the difference they are on the planet to make for the moments that matter the most. Since 1974 Carol has guided hundreds of formerly frustrated clients to step into their own unique brand of stage brilliance. Beloved by many she is known as the Fairy Godmother who sprinkles her special magic golden dust of presentation and voice skills to create golden outcomes in the balance sheet and beyond. Carol uses her gift talent and career on stage and screen to make others stars in their own lives and businesses. She has recorded music albums modeled fashion clothing on the Seattle-area runways for Nordstrom s and Macy s as well as performed in movies television and stage performances (including a regular on TBN Seattle Praise The Lord KOMO TV Northwest Afternoon female lead in Music Man King and I Li l Abner and others) so she knows the landscape to guide clients to succeed with poise grace and ease to make the most of their time to shine. Whether working one-on-one with action-taking clients directing stages plays or leading her popular workshops one thing is certain clients rave about the impact Carol has on their success. She is a published author in Incredible Life found on Amazon and of her forthcoming book Born to be Awesome A Guide to Shining with Brilliance through the Power of God in You Your Transformed Voice and Presentation . This is just a thumbnail of her career but Carol s love of music began at birth. My mother claims I would pat my foot against my cradle to the time and beat of my father s wonderful jazz organ music. Growing up I was the kid who created games to play with my friends and decided how they should be played. Have you ever created a backyard play with sheets on the clothesline for your curtains had your friends be the actors and or the audience etc. Most of my friends just wanted to be the audience but a few brave ones wanted to join me and act. I loved directing the process and I was only 10 years old Before that I danced and sang on local TV as well as in many recitals. V In high school Carol was honored to be accepted to the Arizona All-State choral performance groups and other specialized performing groups musicals dramas etc. I had some amazing directors who shaped my love for pulling the best out of people as they did in me. I fell in love with how that felt. However I also encountered some not so great directors and truly wanted to rid the world of bad music teachers by being the best I could possibly be and teaching and helping others be their best also. How s that for an arrogant 18-year-old Then in college Carol had the opportunity to direct her college concert choral group several times. That was an amazing soul touching realization of just how much I truly loved the challenge of verbally painting pictures for the choir in order to bring their best out through the music. While she knew as a young artist that she loved performing Carol also knew that having a family like the one she grew up in strong loving and highly valued was of even greater importance. I had a serious decision to make when my husband of now 51 years proposed marriage. I chose what I believe was the God-ordained path of wife mother of four and grandmother of six. However Carol still had a fire in her belly for performing and being her best so she kept her education going as a young wife and mother and continued performing at churches and concerts and recording professionally. I saw myself performing at Carnegie Hall which represented excellence to me so I kept acting in local Broadway musicals as leads to perfect my craft. As a young wife and mother I continued my own training with excellent trainers Marni Nixon being one of my favorites. I also began to model professionally and went on to teach others those skills as well. Carol was later pursued to direct a choral group for young mothers to teach them voice. In her 10 years of directing she enjoyed seeing them grow and become really great stage performers with costuming staging choreography and the works. 9 Women of Distinction They were no longer just a choral group of ordinary wives and moms but a true performance troupe performing at the Play House in Seattle s World Fair site (Seattle Center) to sellout crowds. What happened to their confidence and image of self was truly amazing. They began truly believing in who they were as God created individuals with gifts talents and desires to be more. This actually allowed them to bring more to their families because they were more centered and deeply fulfilled. She has always been a believer in having your cake and eating it too . So because being a great wife and mother was of high importance to her Carol wanted to protect the marriages and families of these women as well. We all have something to say of importance to others no matter your business or if you are a public speaker or singer or not. We all have a voice to be used for good and using it will bring you and others joy when used to bring the gift of you to bless them. What has kept Carol continuing her passion to train and guide women (in particular) to find and fulfill their dreams of speaking and or singing is the deep-seeded knowledge that we all deserve to be fulfilled and happy with who we are and what we are called to do in life. I made sure our rehearsals always had quality child care just down the hall from us and that we rehearsed in the daytime as to not interfere with family time. We had our cake and ate it too Being a prime vocal teacher and coach for many individuals and performance and worship groups has provided her with many opportunities over the years. Has it been easy No but it s been worth every minute Carol spent over 16 years of her life dedicated to serving and caring for her mother and father. I helped them through the devastation of moving out of their home in Phoenix to live with my husband and me in the Seattle area and saw the devastation of my mother s Alzheimer s disease and the toll it took on my family as well as Daddy s struggle through it all. My prayer was to help them finish well and go home to heaven together where absolute healing resides. God has been faithful to answer my prayer and allow me to experience both Mother and Daddy accepting and believing in Jesus for real. As of the end of 2014 they passed within six weeks of each other and are now home together with Jesus and eternally healthy and whole in the light of His presence. She has kept her coaching and pursuit of new training for her skill set going throughout her whole life because these endeavors give her life. It keeps me happy and moving forward when I grow and help others grow as well. I m feeling as if I m beginning anew now that Mom and Dad are safely at home in heaven together. Most women are gearing down at her age but Carol is ramping up with a new home learning course called Speak with Ease for Success and doing more private coaching leading workshops directing and speaking to audiences large and small. It feels fantastic Life is so worthwhile so I encourage everyone reading this article to grab hold of your dream and don t let go no matter what life brings. Choose to live your life being brilliant and the awesome person you were created to be. Live and be and make a difference in this world because you matter. It was great fun to set blocking and run lighting at the Seattle Fifth Avenue Theater for a prominent church group of which I was the voice coach for their lead singers. I also had the privilege of being in several movies shot in Seattle hosted my own radio show and have performed and been interviewed on countless TV shows. I ve even recorded music albums and continue to help others understand the ins and outs and skills of the recording process. This story about Carol s past is not a boastful one but meant to demonstrate that God is in control and He will and does see to it that you have the experiences you need to be His best representative as you fulfill your God-given purpose. Mine is clearly to help others with the insights from all the experiences that He has allowed and ordained in my life good and bad happy easy ones and unhappy difficult ones as well. We all have a choice to be bitter or better with what we experience. I choose better for sure and want you to do so as well She believes that Beauty is an Inside Job (the title of one of her courses) and that all you go through helps shape the true beauty in you as a gift to be given away to others whether through music speaking to groups or building one-on-one relationships in your personal or business life. 10 Women of Distinction Daphine Priscilla Brown-Jack Author Writer Motivational and Inspirational Speaker Owner of Brown Jack Books Houston TX 11 Women of Distinction T Keep life simple. hese are words that Daphine Priscilla Brown-Jack lives her life by now but things weren t always simple. She herself has been inspired by other strong women like Oprah Winfrey. Oprah went through struggles that I d say were worse than mine but she achieved her goals and dreams and is now one of the world s richest women. Daphine lives with her family in Texas. Her husband is an environmental investigator for their local government musician (lead and acoustic guitar bass and keyboard) and retired from the U.S. Navy. Together they have four children. My oldest daughter (24) is a student at the local university a plus-size model and an entrepreneur my second daughter (17) is a high school senior (class of 2016) FFA officer professional vocalist violinist and artist my son (13) is a 7th grader at a local public magnet school member of the National Junior Honor Society and plays football for school and little league and my stepson (32) is a graduate of Sanford University and enjoying life in California. In her free time Daphine volunteers as the chairperson for an educational scholarship committee a public relation and announcing clerk for her state church a workshop facilitator and she volunteers for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Ticket Service Committee. She is also a member of the Nonfiction Authors Association National Writers Union Story Circle Society Houston Astronomy Society and Divas Divas Divas Society Club. Additionally Daphine enjoys astronomy photography and traveling. As a wife and mother of four children she was inspired to write her first book The Other Side of the Story after being on the other side of the criminal justice system as a law enforcement officer and seeing how her husband could have been sent to prison for a crime he didn t commit if he had taken the plea bargain offered to him. On August 26 2009 I thought everything was fine. While driving home from work I began to reflect on my day grateful for all my blessings. But just as my gut instinct told me something was wrong my phone rang. My daughter relayed news of an allegation against my husband the man who was always serving and loving God and his family. Suddenly nothing was fine. In the following months as the situation in her home grew unbearable Daphine knew she could no longer depend on anyone and turned to her only remaining hope and strength God. As she relives the emotional experience of watching her life fall apart before her eyes Daphine provides a compelling glimpse inside her personal journey as she separated fact from fiction navigated through the criminal justice system and learned to trust in God s purpose and plan for her life. The Other Side of the Story is the inspirational true story of one woman s struggles within herself her family her faith and the justice system after her husband is wrongfully accused of a crime. (Nik Greene s book False Accusations Guilty Until Proven Innocent provided inspiration for her book as well.) I d like to travel the world speaking and motivating people that life is good in spite of what you go through. Daphine now enjoys life by remaining stress-free and keeping it simple . I want to share with others that if you didn t commit a crime don t take a plea bargain instead fight for your freedom in the criminal justice system. Daphine earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs with a concentration in Administration of Justice from Texas Southern University and is currently pursuing a Master in Administration of Justice. She has been a law enforcement officer since 2005 and became an author in 2015 selling her first books via the company she founded Brown Jack Books. I love being an author I love to write and inspire people. I hope to continue writing after I retire from law enforcement. After experiencing such a struggle I realize how important life is so I keep it simple. I stay away from negative people and am a leader of positive people. Whatever is going on in your life that you have no control of just deal with it and know that it will pass Stay focused on the end result because worrying causes a delay in your situation. Do whatever it takes to get what you desire out of life such as higher education writing a book etc. 12 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What is unique about The Other Side of the Story A It hits a variety of audiences like those experiencing the justice system those with children those in relationships and women in general. Q Why do you feel that your book is relevant in today s world A Today the criminal justice system focuses on the unfairness of the system. My book educates others about how a false allegation can almost send you to prison. Q What motivated you to share your situation with others A I accepted my embarrassing situation in order to help others fight through the justice system. Q How did working in the criminal justice system benefit you while dealing with your situation A Many don t make it out of the situation that my husband was in because they re usually misinformed and forced to take a plea bargain. Q After going through a traumatic experience how were you and your family able to adjust A We re taking one day at a time. We sometimes reflect on it and are able to discuss the situation without fear. It actually helped us discover that we can overcome any situation. Q How long have you been speaking A I have been a public and motivational speaker for over 20 years locally. Q Who is your target audience when you speak A I enjoy encouraging everyone but my target audience would mostly be women or people who have been in a similar situation. Q Could your book become a movie or play A I know my book could become a movie because of the storyline and to give readers and non-readers the opportunity to view the events that took place witness the emotional roller coaster of the book Q Have you considered writing another book A Yes I most definitely have considered writing another book. Q Where can we find your current book A The Other Side of the Story can be found at Amazon (http M76hg) Barnes & Noble my website (http and I was invited to participate in the Book Expo America (BEA) 2016. BEA is North America s largest gathering of book industry professionals from around the globe. With the increasing number of visitors every year BEA is the leading business event for publishers librarians retailers booksellers digital content creators traditional and self-published authors media rights professionals and movie and television executives. It s the best place to discover new titles and authors learn about trends shaping the book industry and network with those who have a passion for books and reading. My book will be a prime display. (Only 20-25 books out of 150 are selected for prime display.) Q When and where does BEA 2016 take place A The BEA will be held from Wednesday 5 11 16 to Friday 5 13 16. Location McCormick Place (http 2301 S. Martin Luther King Dr. Chicago IL 60616 Phone (312) 791-7000 13 Women of Distinction Deborah Coleman-Givens Nursing (RN MSN CNS CCRN DNP - Critical Care Nurse Leadership) ICU Nurse Manager - Methodist Hospitals Broadway IN 14 Women of Distinction D eborah Coleman-Givens journey into nursing started at the age of 13 when the nursing staff of a local hospital went to her school. They recruited Deborah as one of 10 girls and taught the group basic nurse aid skills. This brief exposure to the world of nursing was enough for Deborah to know that she wanted to become a registered nurse when she was older. Over the years she has continued her journey and improved her position by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Northern Illinois University (1980) a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) certification from Governors State University (2012) a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) certification from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Governors State University (2016). I ve come across some intelligent nurses who are skillful powerful and great leaders. They inspired me to learn as much as I can and become a role model for the novice nurses that I mentor with passion. Deborah loves to care for people especially those who need it the most. That is why I went into trauma critical care. I have a natural-born instinct to care and was born to be a nurse. Nursing is a very innovative field one where you must stay ahead and understand the human body. It wasn t easy but my willpower motivation and desire to become a nurse kept me going. Those early nursing skills also helped me outshine my classmates. Deborah has now worked in nursing for 35 years in critical care services and 16 years in critical care leadership. Throughout the course of her career she has worked at various hospitals including Rush University Medical Center (Chicago IL) as a Staff Nurse in the ICU Mount Sinai Hospital Trauma Center (Chicago IL) as a Staff Nurse in the ICU and Provident Hospital as Nurse Manager of the ICU and CCU. Deborah has also taught as an Adjunct Instructor at Prairie State College (Chicago Heights IL). Today she works at Methodist Hospitals (Merrillville IN) as Nurse Manager of the ICU where she is responsible for leading and managing a 15-bed ICU unit while continuously increasing her knowledge base as it relates to ICU critical thinking skills. I ve learned to work hard and continue to read and listen while communicating what I learn effectively. I am a transformational leader and have a desire to write about nursing and the many different experiences that one will come across. Deborah is divorced with a beautiful 25-year-old daughter (Crishonne) who has a gift for the arts. Crishonne graduated from Western Illinois University with a degree in production and editing. They live together in Glenwood IL (a suburb south of Chicago) and are raising two dogs Empress (a 2-year-old Doberman Pinscher) and Krypto (a 4-year-old Bichon Frise). She is also a devout Christian and member of the New Faith International Baptist Church in Matteson Illinois under the Reverend Dr. Trunell D. and Dr. Alexis Felder. Critical thinking skills are key in saving lives and caring for others like you would care for your loved ones. Deborah also organizes and implements changes to complement the unit and staff. Additionally she has created a vision to improve patient care and collaborated with other departments on evidence-based practices. She even mentors other nurses. None of my blessings would ve occurred without God. The most important thing that Deborah has learned over time is to appreciate life starting with her own. I eat right exercise and never take anything for granted. 15 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What is your philosophy when it comes to nursing A My philosophy entails compassion caring and understanding the healing process as well as having a desire to serve others and help them as I would help myself. Q How do you feel about new graduates coming into the ICU A I feel that new nurses should start off on a medical surgical floor because novice nurses need to understand basic skills and build their confident levels before moving on to more challenging areas. Q What are your feelings toward primary care nursing as opposed to teamwork A The volumes of patients admitted into hospitals have increased. They have co-morbidities (the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions) and require much more care. Safe quality care is the key and teamwork will help eliminate burnout as opposed to primary care nursing. Nurses are feeling overwhelmed and leaving the workforce too early. Teamwork will enhance collaboration and ensure that quality safe care is delivered as a team will provide unity. Q Is evidence based practice (EBP) essential in the nursing world A Absolutely nursing is an innovative field and advanced education with research is helping nurses understand the essential elements skills involved with EBP. Q How do you feel about technology and computerized charting in nursing A The advancement of technology in the healthcare system is great but not for nurses whose computer skills aren t up to par. They spend a lot of time on the computers which leads to the quality of care being compromised as some are having problems with time management. Overtime then becomes a problem because they can t finish on time. Q Is it true that bullying and workplace violence is in the healthcare environment A Incivility is a quiet form of bullying which is a silent form of violence in the workplace. As individuals are often not aware of their body language and behavior nurses are progressively becoming more educated about this topic through classes. Q There has been controversy with nurses concerning mandatory flu vaccinations some organizations are restricting nurses from working if they do not comply. What are your views on this topic A This is a very delicate topic among nurses and other healthcare workers. Nurses feel that their rights concerning their bodies are being violated. The right to choose what to put into their bodies is taken away but organizations also have rights and obligations to protect patients and other workers. I ve witnessed nurses becoming sick with the flu in ICU causing a trickling effect where others become sick and call-off rates increase. Q Leadership is important. When do you feel that a nurse is ready to lead A Leading is essential in nursing. The new millennium nurses are the future leaders of our time. It s vital that their skills are recognized and developed. Transformational leaders encourage followers to follow their vision. Q The Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) has increased insurance for over six million people. What are your views on the average length of stay in a hospital A The ACA is a good thing however some healthcare systems were not prepared for the volume of patients. The average length of stay has risen and is causing a great deal of controversy within the system. Q Emergency rooms have become more crowded since the ACA was enacted. What are your views on the average wait time A Emergency rooms nationwide have experienced an influx of patients causing the average wait time to increase and inpatient beds to fill up quicker than before. Most people have insurance now. Therefore the average wait time is greater than 6-8 hours even longer in some places. People need to understand that the ER is not a clinic. 16 Women of Distinction Gayla Thompson Health & Wellness Nutrition Whole Food Plant-Based Nutrition Founder & Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach Veggie Slim Down and Coach Gayla New York City NY 17 Women of Distinction fter 12 years of working in the public school system as a teacher and principal Gayla Thompson was ready for a new career path and officially began her transition into nutrition in March 2015. I had been researching nutrition and health on my own for a few years prior to enrolling in an accredited certification program. Three months into my certification training I knew this is where I wanted to be. I gave my 30-day notice and never looked back. The driving force behind moving into the nutrition field was concerns about her own health. A Gayla also has an eBook cookbook for people interested in trying meals that do not have meat called MeatlessMonday Recipes Easy and Delicious Recipes with Meal Planner . While this is a fairly new career path I see myself doing this through retirement. I m so grateful for all of the wonderful people I work with. It s extremely rewarding to know that my work is helping others. And being self-employed has given me the freedom and flexibility to make my own schedule which allows me to travel and pursue outside interests and spend more time with my family. This family includes two amazing children her daughter Lauren and her son Rhett. Lauren is working on a math degree at the University of Texas and Rhett works for his grandfather s family business in Texas. I also have two beautiful grandsons Kacen and Fallon who are the light of life As someone who struggled with her weight emotional eating and overall health for many years it was a challenge for Gayla to change her lifestyle to support good health. I suffered for 20 years with debilitating ailments in and out of the hospital and taking several daily medications. I had so many doctors and specialists and none of them could tell me why my body was shutting down. They could only offer more tests and more pills. I desperately turned to the only thing I hadn t considered what I was eating. As soon as I went whole food plant-based diet I was off all my meds and lost weight without even trying. That s when I knew I wanted to help others who were suffering the way I had. As the Founder of Veggie Slim Down and Coach Gayla Gayla works with clients in a coaching capacity and works on creating programs and resources to help them reach their health goals. I write blog posts post on different social media platforms keep the website updated and develop e-mail marketing campaigns. I also network with other health and wellness professionals to create opportunities to work together and support each other s work. The 30-Day Veggie Slim Down program is designed to help men and women transition into a whole food plant-based lifestyle in just 30 days. It was created to help people find sustainable weight loss and get off their medications making it a lifestyle change not a diet. The 21-Day Transformational Nutrition Cleanse is a whole food cleanse supported by daily supplements. It s the most effective and safest cleanse available with no fasting juicing or deprivation. I know what it s like to suffer silently because you either feel hopeless when doctors can t help you or you feel ashamed and don t want anyone to know what you re going through. Either way Gayla took a leap of faith and started her own company as a solopreneur after seeing the results of her new lifestyle. I m responsible for everything in my business so I ve personally experienced all of the ups and downs that come with venturing out on your own. Gayla would like to be remembered for helping as many people as possible. I want to help people get healthy inside and out for everyone to feel happy confident and comfortable in their own skin and for everyone to learn how to make healthy choices that will be passed on for generations to come. Healthy choices aren t only about nutrition but also about taking care of yourself emotionally being kind and loving to yourself first and then spreading that kindness and love out into the world. 18 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why do you think so many people struggle with their weight when our society is saturated with diets and exercise programs A I think we re not getting to the root of the problem which is lifestyle. Anyone can do a crash diet or three-day juice cleanse but if we don t change our lifestyle then there will be no long-term benefits. Q How is being skinny different from being healthy A There are many people who are skinny yet also extremely unhealthy. Health starts and ends with what we eat. You can t exercise your way to healthy you have to nourish your body with whole foods in their natural state. Q How do you feel about so many people taking prescription medications A We have really moved away from nurturing our bodies with healing foods. Instead most people are eating chemical and hormone-laden food products then they turn to prescription medications with devastating side effects. It s unfortunate that this is now the new norm in our society when none of this is normal or natural. Q Obesity and type 2 diabetes are now at epidemic levels. What do you think is contributing to this A It really is a combination between poor food choices and incorrect or misleading information. Animal products and sugar are the two main culprits that slowly destroy your body and lead to disease. Q Other than diet what other contributing factors are there A Stress is definitely a contributing factor. We live in a world where we feel stressed many times a day with no positive ways of relieving that stress and giving our bodies a rest. Instead of exercising or meditating we turn to food to feel better. Q What would you recommend for those who are interested in moving to a plant-based lifestyle A I highly recommend that anyone who wants to have permanent change do it slowly. Start with only one or two small changes so that it becomes a habit or lifestyle. Then add another change and so on. Q How important is exercise for good health A Daily exercise is extremely important for overall good health. But that doesn t mean you have to get on a treadmill for an hour a day or go to boot camp classes five days a week. It means moving walking or riding a bike instead of driving doing yoga stretches in the evening to unwind or dancing because it makes you happy. Do something that brings you joy. Q Was transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle easy for you A Yes and no Yes it was easy because I was desperate to feel better and to not have to rely on prescription meds each day. However it was difficult the first week or two because I went through withdrawals due to the extremely unhealthy eating habits I d established. Once I got through that first week or so I began to feel better and by the end of four weeks I was like a whole new person Q Why would someone need a health or nutrition coach A While there is information at our fingertips 70% of American adults are obese or overweight. That means they need help making these changes so they can get healthy and stay healthy. A coach helps them really dive in to see the root causes of what s holding them back and provides action steps on how to move forward. Q Is one-on-one coaching better than group coaching A Both can be extremely effective. One-on-one coaching provides that undivided attention on the individual and can be very powerful. Group coaching also provides attention on the individual while listening and understanding what others are going through at the same time. It can also be very powerful to know that you re not alone in your struggle. 19 Women of Distinction Karla Polce Real Estate REALTOR with FORBZ Real Estate Group Alexandria VA 20 Women of Distinction K Don t limit your potential because you re afraid of failure. You never know what you re capable of until you fail. arla Polce joined the United States Air Force at age 17 and served for six years before working with the Federal Aviation Administration and Missile Defense Agency for the next 4 years. While she enjoyed both careers with job security and a good paycheck something was missing. The number one thing that Karla always tells those who inquire about being a REALTOR is to seek out a mentor and be their shadow. My creativity was limited with schedules and rules. I was too busy making someone else s dreams come true while mine were sitting on the back burner. So she decided to change that by taking a risk. Knowledge is power. Educate yourself as much as you can about your industry and find your why . Why are you in this business By knowing your why you re better equipped to set a plan to reach your goals. I ve had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of individuals from small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to military retirees and those who ve succeeded in other countries. Because of this I ve taken a little from each of those experiences and formed a business mentality to suit any need. I owe a lot to those who have taken the time to coach mentor or just teach me a little about their successes and failures. Karla has been married for the last six and a half years. My husband owns a successful security consulting business and we look forward to a big family of our own soon. In her free time she is an avid horseback rider plays volleyball enjoys sports and participates in local church activities. She always strives to be better each day. I ve always loved real estate and decided to start investing before eventually earning my license. Generally you don t just wake up one day and decide to quit your 9-5 job to start a business. It s a fear of the unknown for most. For me it was a huge risk and a lot of fear but I knew this is where I was meant to be. Today Karla is a REALTOR with FORBZ Real Estate Group responsible for assisting buyers and sellers through the process of a real estate transaction and help them make informed decisions about their investment. I help buyers find their dream home and sellers move on to the next phase in their lives. My goals are to reach out to everyone I can and educate them on how FORBZ Real Estate Group is a step above the rest. We strive for the best communication and I provide the concierge service our clients deserve. Yesterday is in the past and tomorrow isn t certain you only have control over today. It s my goal every day to improve on at least one thing and use those improvements to make my business successful. Karla would like to be remembered for her encouragement purpose and love. It s easy to be a negative person and be miserable but you have a choice to inspire others through your actions which I plan to do. I have many talents and strive to make my life something bigger than me and make a positive impact on people through my strengths. None of us are perfect but we are all destined for great things. It s my goal to support and love those who I m blessed to know and even those I ll never meet. Q&A Q Why become an entrepreneur A Becoming an entrepreneur puts me in the driver s seat of my future and allows me to solve a genuine problem in my community. It enables me to create financial freedom for myself and my family. The possibilities are endless. I m making my own dreams come true now instead of someone else s. Q How do you balance your family life with running your own business A It s about knowing your limits and prioritizing. If I m overwhelmed I can delegate smaller things to someone else so I can focus on revenue generating activities. I ve also learned when to say no and when to say not right now which keeps me from impeding on my family time. Q What makes FORBZ Real Estate Group a powerful competitor A FORBZ agents are niche marketing experts for unique and high end properties with creative marketing strategies social networking power campaigns and high end video capabilities. We utilize the best in technology and continue each day to improve our clients experience. Our mission is to provide unparalleled trust between consumers and FORBZ REALTORS educate our clients and industry and negotiate for you. Q What unique skills attributes do you possess that give you an advantage A My home staging and military experience allow me to connect with a bigger audience. Traveling around the world and moving several times I know what it takes to transition to a new city. With my home staging background I give my clients the upper edge when selling because their home is ready from the moment I hit list . Q How did the military prepare you for entrepreneurship A The military teaches you independence drive and a never give up attitude. It s always about pushing yourself to the next level each day and learning to accept your failures as learning opportunities. To be successful as a business owner you must fail hard fail fast and fail often only then will you be successful. Q What would you say are the top three skills needed to become a successful real estate agent A To be successful in any business especially real estate you must be a people person. Secondly an agent must be self-disciplined and able to be willing to keep pushing when times get tough. Lastly and most importantly is to be an awesome communicator. Q What has been your biggest failure and what did you learn A My biggest failure was when I didn t believe in myself. Selfdoubt limited my ability to see greater opportunities and take risks. Taking the time to learn about myself and accept that I was talented and could be successful at anything I set my mind to really change my perspective on my future. Q What is a typical day for you A My mornings start by responding to e-mails follow-up calls to inquiries and meeting with clients. Then I focus on lead generation and marketing which can include knocking on doors posting on social media and looking for open houses to attend. The day usually winds down with education webinars reading and studying the market updates. Q How do you stay focused and motivated when the real estate market is down A I surround myself with like-minded people. You re only as good as the people you surround yourself with and those that live and breathe your vision for success. It s important to stay connected with those who are successful and learn how they push through rough times. Q What s your strategy for building relationships A Always always always approach any new relationship with a how can I help you attitude. If you figure out how to solve your clients problems and keep the focus on them you ll earn trust really fast and your business will naturally grow. Give a little gain a lot. 22 Women of Distinction Manisha A. Sharma M.D. Healthcare - Primary Care Innovation Clinical Innovator - Iora Health Co-Director - Iora Primary Care Leadership Academy and Fellowship Boston MA I never intended to become a doctor. I was determined to heal the world through music and dance upon graduation from high school outright defying the prescribed medical path seemingly prearranged for me at birth as the eldest child of immigrant parents from India and Pakistan in a medical family. anisha A. Sharma s maternal grandfather was the first physician in her family during British-rule in India coming from a poor farmer s family. Her mother being the first woman to be educated in the family followed in his footsteps and became the first female physician in her local caste and community. However life dealt Manisha a different hand in her early twenties as she was struck by a car while in a crosswalk. Over the next seven years I underwent four major hip surgeries and extensive physical therapy. I battled against a faceless health insurance company to cover my now deemed pre-existing condition (through no fault of my own) and medical bills. I saw scores of other patients and families who endured similar struggles and realized this was a bigger fight. I was inspired to become a patient rights advocate and since a patient s best advocate is their doctor I decided to become one. I wanted to redefine good health as not just the absence of disease but about where people live work and play. Her goal was (and still is) to help ensure health equity and social justice for all. While at St. George s University School of Medicine (Grenada West Indies) she quickly discovered a knack for community organizing on and off a medical school campus so in the thick of political change in health she took a year off after earning her Doctor of Medicine. We had a new president and there was a call to organize and fight for healthcare reform. I became a grassroots physician leader in organizations like National Physicians Alliance (NPA) and Doctors for America (DFA). We built a national coalition of community organizers politicians and physicians to dynamically capitalize on and foster the growing momentum in the country to improve health access. That s when I knew I wanted to be a doctor for with and by my community a family physician. Manisha wanted to be a part of a system that incorporated social justice into the art of medicine and was accepted into the family and social medicine residency program at Montefiore Medical Center (Bronx NY) where she was recognized with the Chairman Award for Research. I loved residency. I was trained to combine clinical excellence with a social and community-oriented perspective but my heart slowly broke day in and out taking care of patients. There I was giving great care to sick people making them better but sending them right back into the community home or workplace that made them sick in the first place. As my graduation was drawing near I kept having this agonizing feeling in the pit of my stomach and thought Is this all there is to medicine I d come to residency entrenched in idealism ready to save the nation through expanded primary care services for all. I figured that my core belief system values and skill set in medicine organizing and health policy would keep me focused on the goal of transforming peoples lives through phenomenal medical care. Yet everywhere she looked for a job that phenomenal care was nowhere to be found. M Sure I knew incredible physicians and nurses who gave amazing care some who were my mentors and teachers. But finding truly phenomenal care the kind that restores humanity back into healthcare envelopes a patient their families and their communities and nurtures them toward feeling engaged and empowered to have better health and a better quality of life didn t exist. I didn t want to be a cog in the system I wanted to be a system s architect. Manisha channeled these objectives serving in various leadership positions for National Physicians Alliance (NPA) and Doctors for America (DFA). These volunteer positions manifested my desire to engage within my communities and mentor future leaders in healthcare advocacy. After hundreds of meetings in community centers classrooms and even pubs sharing my personal story I built credibility and capacity while bridging alliances between key health civic academic and political entities. We addressed health issues of community concern such as gun violence civic engagement health inequity Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) advocacy before and after its passage. These coalitions generated common ground solutions and strategies to increase access to healthcare. One such effort was to increase public pressure on the long political process to pass the ACA. We successfully organized a demonstration of thousands of New Yorkers to come together and march across the Brooklyn Bridge participate in rallies lobby on Capitol Hill and express the need for Washington to finish the job . The appearance of elected officials union members doctors in white coats senior citizens neighborhood youth and small business groups presented a formidable force for positive community change. We reinforced our achievements by implementing an educational component to our outreach. This educational component was an Affordable Care Act 101 curriculum to train physicians medical students and community health advocates nationally about our law and have them pay it forward by educating our patients and communities. I amplify this important work today by speaking to high school and college students small business groups and larger organizations like the NAACP the Committee of Interns and Residence and testifying at the Institute of Medicine. I also developed a Go to Doc model for DFA a rolodex of physicians and medical students for our community partners across the nation to connect with and facilitate community-based health and health insurance literacy programs. For Manisha her most humbling accomplishment has been the numerous community members patients medical students and colleagues who have made their voices heard have become health advocates and are leading change movements because her story inspired and encouraged them. Their voices are my continuous inspiration and driving force for a lifetime commitment of public service. Today Manisha is a board certified family medicine physician and clinical innovator for Iora Health ( a Boston MA-based company building a new model of primary health care delivery from the ground up to ensure radically improved customer service high patient engagement better health outcomes and lower overall health care costs. Our mission is to transform the American health care system by dramatically changing the way primary care is delivered. We do this not by writing about or studying it but by doing it. The Iora Health model of health care changes everything including payment staffing processes IT systems and culture. We have no status quo to defend or arcane rules we must follow. Our only goal is to dramatically improve the experience and quality of care for everyone. Iora really works toward restoring humanity back into healthcare . Manisha serves as a core team member within the Clinical Development team focused on areas such as process improvement clinical technology decision support clinical analytics clinical model iteration pipeline development power-building and clinical quality design. Additionally she develops implements and operationalizes evaluation tools for data analytics and analyzes primary care work. Our care delivery model and innovation creates a culture that cultivates trusting meaningful relationships with our patients and communities by focusing on what matters to our patients not what s the matter with them cultivating true collaborative team based care where everyone s touch to a patient is equally important creating a mission of true service with humility. She also serves as the Co-Director for the Iora Primary Care Leadership Academy and Fellowship where she develops implements and operationalizes recruitment and selection of future medical students residents and fellows for each program. In addition she develops implements and operationalizes infrastructure continued curricular development and expansion of programs We hire for attitude and invest in training for skill. For Iora Health this is the path to the quadruple aim of health care access quality of care cost control and most importantly waking up everyday feeling joy and love for the work we do as a unified team. As National Director of Leadership Cultivation and former New York State Director of Doctors for America (a grassroots organization of more than 16 000 doctors and medical students in 50 states who are working to build health equity and a high-quality affordable health care system for all Americans) Manisha lectures regularly at institutions such as Albert Einstein College of Medicine Mt. Sinai School of Medicine Montefiore Medical Center Yale University and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (to name a few) teaching pre-medical students medical students and medical residents about health care advocacy physician activism coalition building grassroots initiatives social determinants of health health equity and social justice. She has even appeared on several major television networks including MSNBC CNN and Fox News addressing health policy wellness and preventive medicine. In 2013 Manisha was selected to be a visiting scholar by the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care in Washington DC where she participated in a policy immersion program developing original research that she has published and disseminated nationally. She has also been invited to speak before the Institute of Medicine s Committee on the Governance and Financing of Graduate Medical Education the National Council of Negro Women Maryland State Conference of the NAACP and the Democratic National Committee with President Obama. And most recently in April 2015 Manisha was selected as a Regional Finalist for the White House Fellowship program. Manisha currently resides in Baltimore MD the area where she continues her work to provide quality care to medically underserved and vulnerable communities as well as her grassroots commitment towards achieving health equity for all. 24 Women of Distinction Patricia Burton-McFadden Professional Education Services Owner Divine Individual W Virtuous Ambitions & Little Scholars At Play Academy Washington DC 25 Women of Distinction S pecializing in professional education services as the Owner Divine Individual W Virtuous Ambitions and Little Scholars At Play Academy in Washington DC Patricia Burton-McFadden offers training consulting childcare services educational before and after care adventurous summer camp and various other community outreach programs to the community. A former classroom teacher of more than 20 years Patricia first gained experience in education as a substitute teacher in 1983 fresh out of high school before acquiring a position with The GAP Community Child Care Center as a full-time teacher. This is when she really learned all about the field and everything it had to offer. This career chose me and when you are chosen for a career it is not easy to make a decision to ever leave something you were called to do Patricia explained. As Patricia s passion for the field of education continued to grow she began participating in different forms of educational programs that only solidified her interest in teaching. She desired to absorb as much as she could to be the best at providing a quality education for young children. Over time she discovered that this career had become a strong part of her purpose in life and she has since witnessed the fruits of her labor many times over Taking the next step by founding her academy in 2015 Patricia serves as the Executive Director while empowering inspiring and mentoring her teachers to become the best they can be for the students. Making sure that the school is functioning and is being maintained at a high level so that each child is given the opportunity to succeed Patricia is currently working toward getting the school accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children which will qualify them as a high quality program for young children. Investing in herself first Patricia seeks to be looked upon as a role model so that the teachers that surround her will witness the sacrifices and commitment it takes to walk in this chosen career path with great pride and adoration. A hands-on professional she is always highly visible in the classrooms so as to model the interactions and teachings that is expected of all of her staff. She also encourages each and every one of her teachers to attend trainings and workshops through other educational organizations to interact with other professionals in the field giving them the ability to become as well rounded as possible. But in the end it all surfaces back to the children. Understanding the impact these teachers will have not only on the children but also on the families and the future generations of leaders in society Patricia emphasizes the importance of really researching what one is getting into when they sign up to be a teacher. Teachers must recognize the power they have on impacting the world because it will be their work that is instrumental in the life of young children. Patricia is a Certified Trainer with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education a Contractor and Authorized Provider with American Red Cross a contractor certified trainer with the National Restaurant Association as well as a certified Proxy a PD Specialist with the Council for Professional Recognition an Educational Representative with Basic Goodness in DC a member of REID Temple and an Armor Bearer for the First Lady of Matthew s Memorial Baptist Church. She earned her Associate s degree in Child Development and her Bachelor s in Early Childhood Education from the University of the District of Columbia her first Master s in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University her second Master s in Educational Management and Leadership also from Grand Canyon University and recently began her doctoral studies in Education Specialist in K-12 Leadership at Grand Canyon University this past December 2015. Prior to founding Little Scholars at Play Academy Patricia was a substitute teacher at National Cathedral School a teacher at GAP Community Child Care a Lead Teacher and Program Coordinator both at Bright Horizon s Family Solutions at George Washington University and later at Bright Horizon s Family Solutions Marriott Headquarters an Accreditation Consultant for Washington Child Development Council and a Professional Contract Health and Safety Specialist Consultant for FM Talent Source. Currently single Patricia has 12 Godchildren whom she loves and adores ranging in age from two to 30 all of which call her God Mommy or God Mother . She loves to indulge in watching classic films (Mahogany Claudine and To Sir With Love are three of her favorites) listening to soul stirring music and attending live theater productions and concerts. She also loves to travel through the United States and it s on her bucket list to someday visit Africa the Philippines and Jamaica. Believing very much in the power of God Patricia wants readers to know that she is just an ordinary person doing extraordinary things for God s glory because He has orchestrated this plan for her life. She believes in destiny and the powers that be and she is enjoying every single moment of the journey. I am known for my work with children professionally and am personally respected for my zero tolerance attitude to entertain foolishness she said. When it s all said and done I want others to feel an unprecedented force in their hearts and souls to value children as the most important human beings on earth. It s the only way the world can continue to evolve and continue to produce great things in the universe. It s the only way. Our motto for my academy is To respect and appreciate the essence of childhood Patricia noted. I hope to make a bold impact with everyone placing emphasis and a strong level of importance over young children s care and education to help build a strong future for each generation. Most importantly we stand to represent being models for giving children back their childhood by providing programs that allow them to fully experience the joys of being a child. 26 Q&A Q What makes you stand out from the rest of the educators who have chosen this career A I speak boldly about the necessity for our children without thinking sometimes. I demand respect and quality for young children and enforce it anytime it s necessary. Q What makes your program different from other early learning centers in your neighborhood A Little Scholars At Play Academy serves families providing extended care back-up care drop-in care Fall Winter and Spring Break Camp. My organization also provides Professional Speech and Language Screenings on-site through Dr. Linda Bland-Stewart s Private Practice. Our Motto is Respecting and Appreciating the Essence of Childhood to Balance a Child s EQ with their IQ . Q What strong changes would you like to see in the field of education A The strongest change needs to be stronger longer and better commitment to the field of education from individuals who feel that they want to teach. Another change would be to mandate quality in all centers no matter how the funding for the programs are provided. My personal motto is All Children Deserve Quality Care. Q What is your best description of a quality program for young children A It s simple you feel it the moment you enter the door. It s a place where children and parents enter with interest excitement and peace knowing their expectations of receiving the best care every day is fully met and guaranteed. It s a place where every parent can leave their precious child and never doubt their individual child s care needs and education are prioritized. Q What is your best description of a professional educator A A professional educator is an individual who knows their calling and wears it in the way he she walks speaks and interacts with children parents and the world. When you enter a classroom and encounter a professional educator you know it. It s too difficult to explain nevertheless you can feel their presence. Q Why do you place such strong value on young children s li ves A I was born with a strong value placed on my life as a child. It was a one of the happiest times of my life and I feel the need to place the same emphasis on other children s lives. Q What advantages do young children have in today s education system that weren t previously available A Children in today s education system not only have the support but all of the technological advances to gain access to anything they want to know at the click of a button. Children also now have the power to be anything they want to be without question. Q What is your hope for the future of your students in your academy A My hope is for each of them to discover their purpose for living and walk in it with the highest level of commitment and the strongest passion so that their energy shakes up the world in the most profound way possible. The world s curiosity will trace their early learning years back to Little Scholars At Play Academy and know their childhood was a priority. Q What do you want them to remember about their founder A What I want them to remember is that their life and future was critically important to me and they were nurtured for success so they must succeed and impact the world. Q What is your favorite motto that has kept you on the road to the level of success you have A My favorite is God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things in this world to carry out His master plan for the world to continue to evolve. I m just so happy He chose little old me. 27 Women of Distinction Valarie Bostic Early Childhood Education and Management Executive Director - Immokalee Child Care Center Immokalee FL 28 Women of Distinction If a child can t learn the way we teach we should teach the way they learn. Ignacio Nacho Estrada alarie Bostic has been the Executive Director of Immokalee Child Care Center since 1998 but has been working with children since 1985 the year her oldest son was born. Her career started at the United States Department of Defense Youth Services Division in W rzburg Germany. Valarie eventually moved to the United States and continued her career at Child Care of Southwest Florida (Fort Myers FL) as their After School Program Director and later at Redlands Christian Migrant Association (Immokalee FL) as their Early Childhood Specialist. She finally settled at the Immokalee Child Care Center the nonprofit early childhood agency where she works today. My goal is to make sure that every child has the same advantages and educational experiences that my own children have had. I believe that it s not always about what children learn but about how they learn. The mission of the Immokalee Child Care Center is to serve the Immokalee community by providing exceptional educational programs and the highest quality childcare. As an educator my biggest disappointment for many years has been the pigeonholing of children into a scope of what we expect them to know. Pass the test but never learn the lesson. If they can t pass the tests we label them as unqualified below average or failures. Through all of this we re missing bright beautiful minds with so much to share. Valarie saw a major flaw in our early education system. In 2012 I was driving home from work very frustrated after a meeting concerning the latest test scores of voluntary prekindergarten students who labeled as below standard . I was trying to process how we could ever expect for children from impoverished non-English speaking homes to measure up to the standards set before them when they had so much going against them. With all the tests being given in English I asked myself how I could change this and help children get the start they need to be successful. She began to reminisce about her own childhood. I loved school and learning was fun We had art and music teachers who came to our classrooms weekly to encourage our creativity. During science class we would build volcanoes from baking soda and vinegar while discussing various volcanoes from around the world. However my favorite time of day was our reading circle. The teacher would read a book to the whole class often acting out the characters. V As Valarie reflected on these fond memories a light bulb went off. The word START literally popped into my head I knew I had to create a program for children that would put the fun back in learning a program that would create a foundation for them to get the START they needed for school. Valarie created a curriculum that she hopes to eventually take to the national level. START stands for Science Technology Arts Reading Together and is a model program designed for cross-curricular education and the development of innovative thinking. The program provides unique opportunities to combine science technology and the arts in a cohesive format to promote literacy and language in young children. Since its inception in 2013 the START program has proven to be a success. The Department of Education scores have increased for our VPK children 25% across the board. And the program itself has been so successful that we ve added a fitness and wellness component FIT START and START RIGHT a comprehensive parent education and support program. Looking toward the future my vision has evolved into the START Early Learning Initiative. What began as a simple idea is now changing lives. The best lessons in life usually happen when you least expect it Valarie is married to her soul mate Gary and they have three sons Christopher (30) Joseph (24) and Samuel (21). Gary is President of the Youth Services Coalition for the City of Fort Myers. Chris is very involved with several youth organizations in the area as well including Stop the Violence (a group dedicated to keeping our streets safe for our children). Joe works full-time for 21st Oncology and loves the fact he can make a difference in people s lives. And Sam is a full-time student studying theatre at Shenandoah Conservatory in Virginia. They are my world. Her personal philosophy is that the first step to knowing what you want is knowing what you don t want. She is also a strong believer in the power of positive thinking. Your thoughts become your words and your words dictate your future. If you remember those two things you can do whatever you set your mind to. Valarie wants to be remembered as the person who encouraged others to be the best they can be someone who never gave up no matter how hard things got. It s not about what we achieve on our own but the difference we make to others. Q&A Q Why is early childhood education so important A The first five years of a child s life are the most important. If you instill in them a sense of self-worth and purpose they will give you the same. Q What impact has your organization had on the community A The Immokalee Child Care Center has been in existence since 1964. Its humble beginnings were in an old migrant washhouse. Today we have a state-of-the-art facility and are nationally accredited. Q How has your field changed from when you first began to now A Early childhood education used to be referred to as babysitting or daycare . It s only now that people are just beginning to understand what an impact we have Q What is the biggest challenge that faces your industry A Making early childhood education affordable while maintaining quality in the program. Q What is the most interesting thing you have done in your career A I would have to say being laughed at by a child They say it like it is. What s that on your face Why is your belly big That shirt is ugly This is why I do what I do. They make me smile. Q It has been said that early childhood educators are underpaid. Can you attest to this A I saw a recent study stating that childcare workers are paid less than dog trainers. This speaks for itself. Q You are in a primarily female dominated field. How has this affected your career A I am proud to have broken this mold I have the best male Center Director in the world to work with but it s all about changing the attitude toward early childhood education. One of the main reasons I believe men do not venture into the field is because of the pay. Q How do you feel about technology use for young children A Technology is where our world is at today. It s a solid method of teaching but should be limited with young children. Q Where do you see yourself in five years A Hopefully writing a children s book Q Is it hard being an Executive Director A The E.D. is ultimately responsible for everything and everyone. Yet at the end of the day it is rewarding. It s not about the accolades it s about the difference we make. 30 Women of Distinction Georgiana Brooks (Wollnick) Agriculture (Hay Alfalfa Straw) Owner Operator - Wollnick Family Hay Business Henderson CO 31 Women of Distinction F or over 28 years Georgiana Brooks worked as an Owner and Operator at the Wollnick Family Hay Business alongside her husband Robert Wollnick who sadly passed away in recent years. As an owner and operator some of Georgiana s main responsibilities included being the company s full charge bookkeeper overseeing all sales of hay alfalfa and straw working as a truck driver and participating in general labor. Georgiana who entered the industry as a young mother in 1972 after being introduced to the hay business by a family friend enjoyed working in the agriculture industry due to the constant demand of her company s commodities throughout the year. Though she had no prior experience as an owner operator or bookkeeper before starting up the business she managed to successfully adapt and overcome the many challenges and hard times that came with her job. While she has stepped away from the hay business for the time being following the death of her husband Georgiana and her son Charles who is a professional semi-tractor trailer driver that runs his own trucking company hope to continue working in the industry again in the near future. After she took time off from working in agriculture Georgiana was employed by Brannan Sand & Gravel as a successful job cost accountant despite having little experience. Brannan Sand & Gravel owned several subsidiary companies which she was employed to help build from the ground up in a number of different positions including a receptionist job cost accountant sales worker and manager. To anyone looking to start in this industry I would recommend getting an analysis of the specific type of business in at least a twenty mile radius of where you re trying to work. Get the most recent prices along with the type of sales commodities etc. Also obtain a degree in business and have at least one year income in savings. Be sure to have a substantial line of credit for business and organize a budget around the costs of running the business. One of Georgiana s biggest professional inspirations has been Willie Nelson who was a customer of her family s business as he started farm aide in order to help farms and agriculture businesses that were going bankrupt. She is thankful that people like him gave their time and talent to helping farmers in need during moments of struggle in the industry. Regarding her education Georgiana managed to earn an AAS degree in Accounting from Albany County Campus in Laramie Wyoming in 2001 following many delays since her initial enrollment at a community college in 1984. She also attended Parks Business College a private business college in Thornton Colorado and managed to make the dean s list. In her free time Georgiana enjoys writing poetry and singing. Her poetry work has earned her many awards and she has been singing in choirs for 25 years. She is currently pursuing a career in music. Georgiana has also been an advocate for veterans for over 20 years and is a lifetime member of the U.S. Horse Cavalry. I have been able to persevere many times in my life. There have been many challenges hardships and tragedies but I ve been able to overcome them all. I have survived through faith hope and the grace of God. I ve never given up on anything and I continue to pursue my dreams and ambitions. 32 Women of Distinction Nan White-Price Disability Specialist Practitioner Consultant President Owner - Disability Claims Inc. Abita Springs LA Q&A Q What has kept you in your career for so long A I represent individuals before the Social Security Administration to help them obtain Social Security disability benefits as well as issues such as overpayments underpayments SSI stepchildren benefits death benefits just to name a few. I also consult by the hour discussing anything disability related helping my clients to make the right decisions for their future. The satisfaction I get from helping someone that is in need or being unfairly treated that s what puts a smile on my face and keeps me going. Q What is your role within the company A I AM my company. I am the owner president and chief cook and bottle washer. I take the problems issues that my clients have with the Social Security Administration Veterans Administration Medicare and or Medicaid as well as long term and short term disability claims and do my best to achieve my client s objective whatever that may be. Since the work I do is mostly on the federal level I am not limited to only the state of Louisiana. And I don t take every case that comes across my desk. If I can t win whatever they want then I won t take the case. I don t believe in wasting anyone s time. Q Who or what has been your greatest professional inspiration A I guess I would have to hand my hat to my oldest sister Charlotte (and she knows how hard this is for me to say cause she still calls me the kid ). She was twelve years older than I was and in law school and had study groups all the time at our home. They would sit around the kitchen table eating chocolate chip cookies drinking cokes and arguing the law. They didn t pay any attention to me then but I was listening to every word they said. I guess you could say I caught the legal bug from her and I ve never looked back since. Q What advice would you offer to someone starting out in your industry A Be smart kind compassionate and patient. Nothing with the government is done quickly. Unfortunately I think this is a hard field to break into these days. It s become incredibly more complicated since I started 20 years ago. I would also say this isn t for the faint of heart. My clients come to me with desperation on their faces most of the time and it s so hard to hear their stories and not be able to snap my fingers and fix it. Q What is the biggest lesson you have learned that you feel is good advice for others A The greatest lesson I ve learned is that if you do the right thing however hard it may be at the time truly good things will happen to you. Have faith in God faith in yourself and go after your dream. Don t listen to the nay-sayers. Reach for the stars they aren t nearly as far away as they sometimes seem. Q Please briefly include work history with job titles organization names or any other career history background information that you think may be helpful. A From 1987 through 2006 at one time or another I had exclusive court reporting contracts with The Department of Labor The National Transportation Safety Board The National Association of Securities Dealers The State Bond Commission New Orleans Traffic Court the United States Coastguard and the United States Bankruptcy Court. In 1988 I was one of the official court reporters at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans Louisiana. When the Brightfield crashed into the River Walk in New Orleans mid-90 s my court reporting firm handled all the depositions and hearings. From 2006 until present I ve been focused on disability claims. Q Are there any specific contributions that you have made in our field that contribute to your success A I do have something in the works to be published and am in publishing negotiations at the moment. Q What do you do in your free time A Since I work alone I work all of the time seriously. But I ve made time to volunteer at the Covington Food Bank for the past several years usually once a week sometimes more helping people fill out their applications etc. Other than that I fish with my husband in the evenings down at our pond. I love to read cook and play with our rescue dog Pope Francis. Just quiet things really. My phone rings all day every day and sometimes at night on weekends and holidays too. I get sick of hearing my own voice some days so to unwind I just do quiet relaxing and fun things. Q What would you like readers to know about you and why A Every time I hear the word no -- I just put my head down and push forward. Where there s a will there s a way. I survived MANY obstacles to get where I am today and there were many times I just wanted to throw up my hands but there are too many people out there who are treated unfairly and I just can t abide that. I want to help. Q What kind of legacy would you like to leave the world A I don t know about leaving a legacy for the world I mean that s kind of arrogant but I would like three very special people out there to know that I did this all of this for them because I love them. They were my constant focus. I had responsibilities and I met them head on and always did my best to give them the best life I could while helping my clients to do the same. I ve always had high expectations always tried to help others who needed it. Anyone who knows me well knows that I don t pass the buck. Ever. The buck stops with me and I will tackle it head on. No head in the sand here. Is that a lemon Hand it over. I ll make lemonade every time. Q List your degrees and or certifications. A Archbishop Chapelle High School 1978 Phillips Business College Executive Secretarial Degree 1979-1980 Court Reporting license 3 87 Associated Reporters Inc. 19871989 President owner White-Price & Associates Inc. 1989-2006 Sterling Who s Who Executive Edition -- 1992 President owner Disability Claims Inc. 1995-present. American Disability Representation Specialists Association ADRSA Professional Competency Examination 1998 Charleston South Carolina Crescent City Coding 20002001 Certified Medical Biller Coder Gretna Louisiana Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) 2010 Madisonville Louisiana Heritage Who s Who 2015. Q Include your family history. A I m happily married to Joseph W. Groetsch Jr and we have five children. Adam 31 is in sales Bailey 27 is a social worker Olivia 25 is a real estate agent Virginia 22 is a senior in college and finally Joseph W. Groetsch III 19 is a sophomore in college. We are so proud of them all. 34 Women of Distinction Patti A. Gander Training and Education Training Center Manager STI Electronics Inc. Adjunct Instructor University of South Florida Tampa FL 35 Women of Distinction I enjoy seeing products being built. The process is like a big jigsaw puzzle and you have to find the most efficient and effective way to put that puzzle together. Moving into the teaching side of the industry was a natural move for me since I have always approached my job from the perspective of teaching. I get to teach people how to build products and teach business students how to be better leaders hopefully in a manufacturing company. fter serving in the Marine Corps where she gained experience as an electronics technician Patti A. Gander started her career in the manufacturing industry. She returned back to her hometown in rural upstate New York and began working for Coleco Industries as they entered the electronics industry with hand held video games and home computers. Q&A Q On the surface it would seem that your role as an instructor at USF and your manufacturing and training career are two very different paths. How do you balance the difference or is there a difference A I agree that it would seem like two very distinctly different jobs but it really isn t. For my role at USF I can bring into the classroom my experiences in industry so it isn t just about what the text says but here is how I ve used it successfully or unsuccessfully. I teach senior 4000 level courses. I think that it is my role to prepare them for a job by the time they reach my class. I spend more time on how to apply the materials they have learned in their other classes and how this information can assist them in their career and making business better overall. The training side is about giving people job skills that get them to work. I use my experience in manufacturing to make sure the skills fit so they can not only get hired but stay employed. Q Is there a need for training programs and why A Industry has become more complex and our training has gone in the opposite direction. We look to hire people with experience and training but there isn t a way for people who want to work in manufacturing to get the training and experience. These programs provide a base level of training in the language of manufacturing as well as entry level skills such as soldering cabling and maintenance. It s a doorway into manufacturing to have people at some level of expertise not requiring the manufacturers to do the training that is most likely not in their wheelhouse. Q Why would a manufacturing company extend into the training business A Who better knows what the industry needs then someone in the industry. The two are not mutually exclusive but dependent on each other for survival. What helps set us apart is that we are manufacturers. Many training companies have trainers in a subject matter but have never worked in the area that they teach. We rely on our expertise to satisfy our manufacturing customers and in turn we can satisfy our training customers who are sometimes one and the same. Q How do you know your training is relevant A We are seeing a high placement rate with the people we have trained through our association with Career Source Tampa and Career Source Pinellas. If we were missing the mark these students wouldn t get placed. Q At the end of the day what is it that makes you love this business A We have the means to help both industry and people all at the same time and that isn t common. If there were no qualified people then manufacturing would be hurt and if the training didn t qualify people then they wouldn t have an opportunity. A I started out on the assembly line since women in technical positions were virtually unheard of at that time. I interviewed for many positions until the head of quality gave me a shot as a quality technician and I was off and running. Now Patti serves as Training Center Manager with STI Electronics Inc. Her primary role is business development since Patti is helping extend the company into Florida. She is also responsible for training product development creating technical and business training programs. In her role with STI she also provides consulting services in both Lean and Six Sigma. Patti also teaches at USF in a variety of business management classes most currently Organizational Assessment. I love doing this type of work because I get to see a variety of manufacturing companies. But more importantly I help them take that next step. I want manufacturing to succeed and hope that I can play a role in it. In manufacturing Patti knows companies and the industry on the whole can t succeed without qualified employees and she has become committed to the training side of the business. STI has partnered with Career Source Hillsborough and Pinellas in Florida to conduct skills training to help get people into the manufacturing industry as a career. This is the perfect fit for Patti as she gets to support manufacturing as well as help people break into and achieve success in the field. I believe in doing everything you can now because tomorrow has no guarantee of being available. I was diagnosed with a rare form of Cancer (Ocular Melanoma) the end of 2013. I tell people I had to have a disease in my eye to help me have a clearer vision. My prognosis is good but I realized I have an expiration date and I need to make it all count before that date arrives. 36 Women of Distinction A man s gift maketh room for him and bringeth him before great men. Proverbs 18 16. Robin R. Lay Real Estate Property Management Corporate Area Manager - -Realty & Mortgage Co. Chicago IL 37 Women of Distinction T hrough her work as a Corporate Area Manager at Realty & Mortgage Co. Robin Lay remains dedicated to serving others to the best of her ability which has helped her grow into a respected leader in her industry. Robin who began working in the Real Estate and Property Management industry as a receptionist in 1990 has held her current position at Realty & Mortgage Co. since 2008. As a Corporate Area Manager her main role is to provide professional leadership and executive oversight for a portfolio of properties that have been entrusted to her. Her responsibilities also include the management of 35 employees the training of all employees and the supervisory oversight of all projects. The Real Estate Property Management industry is the epitome of a service industry and requires a heart and passion to serve others. If you want to become a successful leader in this industry I recommend that you first find a good mentor that is currently serving in the industry that is committed to your professional growth. Secondly work hard and develop a strong work ethic strong character and integrity so that those communities that you serve will view you as a respected industry leader that can be trusted to provide good professional management service and advice concerning important matters relating to the industry. Lastly stay focused work hard and stay committed to your own personal and professional growth and development and success is inevitable. Regarding her education Robin received a BS in Business Management from Roosevelt University with honors in 2001. She then earned an MBA with distinction in 2007 and a Master in Human Resources Management with distinction in 2009 both from Keller Graduate School of Management. Robin also earned her Assisted Housing Managers Certification in 1993 Registered Cooperative Managers Certification 2001 Community Association Managers License in 2013 and became a CPM Candidate in 2015. She transitioned to an Illinois Licensed Real Estate Broker in 2012. All that I have been able to accomplish thus far in my professional career is not only due to my own personal determination and perseverance but also because of my faith in God. Without God s hand of blessing on my life I would not be who I am today and would not be able to do what I love to do -- serve others and help others succeed. I strongly believe that if you treat others with kindness and respect then kindness and respect will come back to you and you will experience fulfillment satisfaction and great success. Throughout her schooling and professional career Robin has earned a number of awards including a Special Achievement Award in 2002 a Building Manager of the Year Award in 2003 a Highest Average Occupancy Award in 2003 and a Property Excellence Award from the Chicago Land Apartment Association in 2008. She became part of the Franklin Honors Society at Roosevelt University in Chicago IL in 2002 and earned a place on the National Deans List Honoring America s Outstanding College Students in 2002 as well. I want to be remembered as a woman of strong conviction who placed a heavy emphasis on my faith in God first. I want to be remembered as a good steward of the gifts and talents that were placed upon my life as a servant leader and contributor to the professional success of others as well as a woman leaving a lasting and positive influence on society and finally as a woman who lived a life of purpose and reached the destination that was mapped out for me. In her leisure Robin enjoys spending time with family and friends exercising reading and traveling. She also currently volunteers as an Advisor and Business Plan Evaluator at her church Living Word Christian Center in the Joseph Business School which was founded by her pastor and mentor Dr. William Winston. Robin is a member of multiple organizations related to her profession including the Institute of Real Estate Management the Chicago Association of Realtors the Midwest Association of Housing Cooperatives and the National Association of Housing Cooperatives. She is also a member of Roosevelt University s Alumni Organization the Keller Graduate School of Management s Alumni Organization the National Black MBA and the National Association of Professional Women. I would like to first thank my dad who taught me the importance of developing a strong work ethic which has been a key contributor to my professional success to date. Next my mom who has been one of my biggest supporters throughout my professional career. Also my three siblings who have always been there to encourage me along the way my niece and three nephews who continue to heed my words of wisdom which has helped put them on the road to become the leaders that they are destined to become to all those that have ever received and viewed me as a trusted mentor and willingly allowed me to serve you in such a capacity and finally to all of my mentors and friends who have supported me in any way throughout my professional career. It is because of your friendship love and support that I ve been able to achieve the success that I am so fortunate to continue to enjoy today. You are greatly appreciated. 38 Women of Distinction Stacy Engelbrecht Owner of Cheyenne Feed & Supply LLC Owner of Eastern Plains Glass Repair Author of Sam s ProjectTM Cheyenne Wells CO Realistically the only way to survive in a rural community is to connect with your customers and understand their needs without our customers we wouldn t be in business. rowing up Stacy Engelbrecht had a desire for G entrepreneurship. For a long time her grandparents owned and operated a small business where her grandfather would let her address his envelopes to send out invoices. He took the time to teach me the important parts of balancing numbers and customer service. By the time I was in high school I had great business and accounting teachers and they kept the fire burning. My family has always been supportive. They always said You can do anything you put your mind to. So I attended college for marketing and sales with a lot of business classes and have made a life in small business. In the spring of 2002 a business opportunity arose to start a feed store to supply livestock feed pet foods and supplies to the local and surrounding area customers. The idea of being a small business owner was overwhelming I had attended college for marketing and sales and I had a very good understanding of finances. So by the summer of 2002 Cheyenne Feed & Supply LLC was created from ground up. Along with the success of Cheyenne Feed & Supply LLC Stacy also started a company in 2013 called Eastern Plains Glass Repair which helps to remove hazardous pits and small cracks from windshields. And in 2014 Stacy was asked to speak to students about business finances and she knew before you can understand business you need to understand personal finances this is how Sam s Project was created. As the inside of her book states Sometimes we are given the opportunity to share our knowledge and we find that it opens a door that we never even knew existed. Stacy created the instructor and student editions of Sam s Project Personal Finance is the Key to Your Future. It is a financial simulation project that s designed to be taught in sixth through twelfth grade classes. The book teaches basic skills of personal finance by managing cash flow recording financial transactions reconciling bank statements creating a budget and preparing an income statement. Recently receiving her copyright certification Mrs. Engelbrecht is now marketing her materials to schools and after school programs to teach the importance of personal finance and empowering students for their future. For more information on the booklets you can visit her webpage at www.samsproject14. com or email her at samsproject14 As the owner and operator of all three of her businesses Stacy wears a plethora of hats on a daily basis. She is responsible for the financials marketing sales purchasing unloading semitrucks full of feed loading out customer orders stacking out feed sweeping floors working in the seasonal greenhouse during the spring and summer working in her custom seed conditioning service for seed wheat making windshield repairs and teaching presenting her financial booklets. Her businesses would not thrive or be possible without the assistance of her family and staff. Each of them play a part in serving their customers. For Stacy the most pressing personal challenge is simply getting out of her own way. She feels that when she puts her inhibitions down and sees things as they are then she can commit to move forward. If you are a woman running your feed store be prepared for outside sales reps and phone calls to ask for the male owner it happens all the time. A new company rep comes in and wants to talk to the manager or the owner and they are looking right at me and some have a very tough time grasping it is I that makes the decisions for my businesses. Stacy and her husband John spend their time enjoying their two daughters and all of their activities. Their oldest daughter Jaden is in 8th grade so the family takes many outings to support school sports with their youngest daughter Trinity. Together the family rides horses farms with draft horses goes camping plays board games and enjoys their vegetable garden. For her own free time Stacy sews quilts leads bible study lessons and enjoys a good inspirational book when time allows. Connecting with our customers to see how we can better serve them and meet their needs is) one of most important duties. But work is not work for me I love what I do and in thirteen years I ve never been to work . Stacy knows that in her line of work one has to be able to roll with the punches. Understanding cash flow the high sales seasons and putting the profit away for the slow seasons are all lessons learned. Mother nature commodity prices and the economy all play a role in every season year in and year out. Being real and being honest to yourself and your customers builds a solid reputation commitment and understanding. I work hard and I put God first in all that I do. Although Stacy has faced many trials she s been surrounded by family and friends that continue to support and encourage her to keep going. My story of success is only because of the blessings I have received from the Lord. Each and every day I know He has a purpose for me and even in the midst of life s distractions I am here to serve others. Through her passion for personal finance and teaching Stacy feels very blessed to combine both of these gifts into her new book Sam s ProjectTM. Being able to inspire others as they watch me pick up the pieces and strive for better luck next time and share with them on how it all came together through trials and tribulations is even a greater story to share. I am but a servant of the Lord I have been blessed with the abilities to lead serve and teach. 40 Women of Distinction Tia Van Fossen Pest Control and Consulting President Owner of Nobody Pest Control. Owner of Mister Vaporizer Myrtle Beach SC I My start in the pest control business kind of came by chance. n October 2009 Tia Van Fossen s father informed her that he would be closing his pest control business after 40 years of service. Tia didn t hesitate immediately scheduled her license test and started working that December. I thought for sure one of my brothers would jump on taking the family business. But when they didn t I knew I had to step in. I immediately saw the opportunity to take my dad s company into the future of pest control. Although Tia had worked with her father on and off for 10 years she found it difficult to convince her father s customers of 15 to 30 years that she could fill his shoes. At first she was not prepared for onslaught of questions such as Where is your brother or father or When are the guys coming back Tia s particular favorite was a customer s reaction of You re a girl You shouldn t be spraying hire a guy. Finally one day I had enough and said I m sorry that my dad can t make it but I m just as good as he is. At first there were crickets... but they slowly started to accept me. After gaining control of the business and earning favor amongst her fathers most loyal clients Tia decided to bring Nobody Pest Control into the Green Age of environmentally friendly EPA approved guidelines for pest control. Change in the industry keeps Tia s interest and drive going on the daily basis. Once I worked the kinks out of Nobody Pest Control I was approached to assist another company that was offering steam sterilization and targeted steam to control bed bugs. Tia had become known locally for helping her customers get rid of bed bugs as they had become a sort of specialty for her. She was then approached and asked to consult for a company called Mister Vaporizer in January 2015. Tia was able to work out a deal with Mister Vaporizer to become a 25% owner so that she could negotiate their contracts train employees and carry the pest control license for them. It was a bit of a disaster at first. I quickly realized that the other owner and I didn t have the same goals for growth. So in May 2015 Tia took over as the sole owner of Mister Vaporizer. However she realized she wouldn t be able to handle both companies alone and she needed someone with a familiar face who knew the commercial clients of Mister Vaporizer like how she knew her clients of Nobody Pest Control. Tia made a partner out of the manager of Mister Vaporizer Jared Lane then merged Mister Vaporizer and Nobody Pest Control into one company. We re growing and I am seeing all of the hard work pay off. I am no longer a one-woman show. I have created a business plan that the other local companies have taken notice of. I know they know who I am and feel the need to catch up. When your competition worries about what you are up to and creates business plans that mimic your own feel proud. That s how you know you have done something right. The biggest lesson Tia has learned up to this point is to keep family first. From early on Tia realized that as an owner of a company she s going to have a lot of work. The best thing to do from her perspective is to leave work at work enjoy the family at home and dedicate time to them that they deserve. Tia wants to encourage women to get involved in the pest control industry. She understands that the industry is still very men oriented and women in the industry will see some discrimination. Don t let it be discrimination to you and don t let them tell you that you can t do it. There are not many of us but we are out there. I meet them all the time and we all have different stories to tell about how we got where we are. Some are very involved like me and some are not. Just take a big dose of big girl vitamins in the morning and don t lose sight of your goals. Go to class and be hands on because it s all mind over matter. In fact Tia s greatest inspiration comes from every single person who said that she couldn t succeed in the male dominate field of pest control. They inspire me to prove them wrong. I don t give up I get up and I let myself go through the emotions and I put on my poker face. I know that can and I stand up stronger and braver. I am fearless when I go toe to toe against those who put me down. One of the biggest challenges Tia faced was ironically arachnophobia. She knew that in order to be able to continue in the industry she would need to confront her fear of spiders. 41 Women of Distinction My first time in the field I ran into a spider web. I wanted to scream and run away but I told myself I was all right. With the internal pep talk I continued on with my duties. Now when it happens I don t even think about it. Also Tia believes that there is a misconception about running a family business. She knows that it s not handed over on a silver platter but it s an opportunity. When she first started at Nobody Pest Control Tia had to work three jobs within the company just to make ends meet. Currently as a single mother all of Tia s free time goes to her children. Her ten-year-old daughter is in public school but her seven-yearold son has special needs that cannot be met by public schools. Therefore most of Tia s free time is spent homeschooling and raising her children. However at night when her children go to bed Tia works on her studies and is in the process of earning her Ph.D. A mission that Tia has taken on is helping low-income families with bed bugs. She has installed payment plans so that the families can afford to irradiate the pests from their homes instead of continuing to live with them. Tia wants to inspire the industry leaders to step up and help low-income families. She would also like to see more education about bed bugs in particular. Most of all Tia wants to serve as an inspiration for entrepreneurs in general. America she believes was built on the backs of entrepreneurs and that more individuals should take the plunge and follow their dreams. I want to know that my children won t struggle in the future. Struggling does build character though so they will have to work for what they have. I want to be known because I was the best and not just because I m a woman. Q in terms of going green what changes did you initially have to make to keep up with the EPA s strict guidelines A The EPA s transition to safer chemicals was already in full effect. I was seeing older more dangerous chemicals being phased out for safer one s. There is misconception about how certain chemicals present dangers to different aspects of the environment. The most common is bioaccumulation to an unintended victim and pesticide resistance in the target pest. The book Silent Spring by Racheal Carson is a great inspiration to me. She truly was one of the first to recognize the decline in songbirds at the time as a direct result of broadcast spraying. Pesticides mixed too strong for the target insect and animal over prolonged time just makes them more difficult to kill. The pesticide industry really needs to catch up on enforcement on a local level to ensure individual pest control operators are mixing correctly in order to help prevent this direct reaction to the harm we do. Going Green for me meant initially to protect myself and family as I did research I had realized that for nearly every insect I could find a safe or naturally occurring repellant or bio pesticide to do the job. This route offers little resistance by the pest because it is natural and does not bio-accumulate in the insect the environment or in no targeted species. I was sold Being on the safer side or greener side really makes it much easier to be within the EPA s guidelines as it s not the chemical you need to pay attention to as much as the application or technique you use to finish the job. Q Other than bed bugs in low-income households what other specialties does your company have A Bed bugs are our biggest pest at the moment in 2016 and possibly for years to come. If you go back though it is a constant change for which pest bugs us the most. When termites were not controlled well the majority of research funding went to find a way to control termites. When German roaches became a hard to control pest then research dollars funded programs almost exclusively for roach control. Fire ants became a large issue after spreading as an invasive species so we put our money there. Right now it is bed bugs. In 10 years we may be focused on another insect or pest. I try to stay on top of it all and be five years ahead of everyone. That is my goal. Right now we specialize in targeted steam for pest control sterilization floors cleaning janitorial cleaning and much more. I specialize in Integrated Pest Management or IPM. IPM is the current trend I believe to control insects by less spraying and more targeting of sources. An example might be securing walls and outlets caulking elimination of food or water sources to control a roach problem instead of using 2 gallons of chemical. The result is 2 ounces of chemical and a much higher success rate for total control or elimination. Keys to this are prevention of problems to start and regular checkups to avoid issues before they start. Q Are there any preventive techniques that the average person can use when trying to keep pests from invading their home A We do prevention all the time. Recognizing potential issues like a dirty trash closet in a hotel before insects find it is a good way. It can be a massive undertaking for some locations like hotels. We maybe on site 15 days out of a month monitoring and taking care of issues as they come up. In Bed Bug control we will often create barriers like spray in some cases or encasements for mattresses. We have learned hidden issues that contribute to high infestations. We educate our clients so it does not occur repeatedly. My goal is to solve the problem and maintain it. Q&A Q In what ways has the merger between Nobody Pest Control and Mister Vaporizer impacted the local community A Mister Vaporizer created a larger outlet and more manpower to continue servicing low-income families. The plan is to eventually create a funding account that is funded by our other bed bug services or maybe through the sale of bed bug products. The account can help to fund either a portion of the service itself or maybe even to replace furniture if needed with bug free furniture or belongings. It may be another year before this program is off the ground but we will get there. I expect we will have a large impact on the community. Q Has the EPA enforced any recent mandates that have made it difficult for yours and other pest control companies to keep up A We really haven t had an impact on us. However I see mistakes others have made in the field all the time. I really hope someday they find a better way of monitoring what we as pest control operators do better for the safety of us all. Q How many trucks and exterminators does your company currently have on the road A We keep between 15 and 20 employees at any given time and 8-10 trucks. We all work in teams of two on every job for safety and accountability. 42 Women of Distinction Tracy Simpson Writer and Former Model Actress Writer - Book Adaptation Screenplay Writer Published Poet Songwriter and Children s Book Writer and Illustrator TX T Listen to your heart with your mind. racy Simpson was born and raised in Austin Texas where her storied career started at the age of 14 as a mannequin model at a local clothing boutique for two years on the weekends. She later started doing runway shows where she modeled for Biosilk Hair Products Casual Corner Christopher Jones (Designer) Andre Terry (Designer) Foley s I Do Wedding Gowns Making Memories Bridal Scarbroughs Department Store The Texas Cosmetology Association and Yaring s Department Store. It was during this time that I started writing poetry. She began to listen to her heart with her mind and took a journalism class at Austin Community College. Her instructor was Jack Keever a contributing writer for the Austin American Statesman newspaper. On the last day of class Mr. Keever asked three of his students to remain for a few minutes. He told each of us that we were really good writers and encouraged us to keep writing but also that my writing style reminded him of Irma Bombeck s (style). This gave me the confidence to continue writing. I wanted to write screenplays so I decided to major in Radio-TVFilm. Tracy went on to earn an Associate of Arts in Radio-TV-Film from Austin Community College and completed two one-year writing programs at the Long Ridge Writers Group and the Institute of Children s Literature in West Redding Connecticut. She later worked as an actress in Texas for ten years. Tracy also worked as a production assistant stand-in voiceover artist and dancer in film television commercials public service announcements and music videos. She has sung live in and around the Austin area as well performing songs like Wings of a Dove (lyrics and vocals by Tracy Simpson music by Jim Davis xrays 16672221) Do You Know Who She Is ( How Have You Been Now Baby lyrics and vocals by Tracy Simpson music by Tom Buchmann http song 49540) Mr. Moon (lyrics and vocals by Tracy Simpson music and vocals by Tom Buchmann http song 7688). Today she writes children s stories poetry screenplays and songs. Her first book of poetry titled Fusion was released in January 2009 by Xlibris where she even provided the cover art. 43 Women of Distinction I believe that Luminaries would make wonderful animated feature films because the stories express positive thought principles in a very creative and succinct way that will illuminate the hearts and imaginations of children and adults alike everywhere. The anthology focuses on the need for spirituality in everyday life as a means to grow learn and make positive changes in the world. Luminaries supports the position of the importance usefulness and proof that prayer meditation positive communication and teamwork bring about positive changes. Intuition forgiveness love faith and hope all play an integral part in bringing about these positive changes in the world for all sentient beings. In Luminaries the narrative has a string that ties all three stories together Story 1 The Battle between the Star Signs and the Kaptorvatons is a tale about power struggles between good and evil. Aliens are working together with corrupted humans to conquer and destroy earth s resources and the human spirit. Members of the zodiac and arch angels ultimately save the day. Story 2 Traveling with Francine and the Fireflies follows the adventures of two fireflies that befriend a fairy and show how friendship and understanding can overcome all obstacles. The story culminates with friendly time traveler visitors bringing a message of love and hope to all sentient beings. Story 3 The Enchanted World of Uniland is about two children who discover a talking unicorn. The authorities swoop down and capture her but she is eventually rescued by the children s Uncle Clyde who is a geological surveyor and horse whisperer. In return the unicorn Kira allows them to see a perfect utopia her home Uniland. She then entrusts them with 100 magical crystals to bring about the harmonization of earth. In addition she is currently adapting the e-book The Lasandraland Saga Episode One Mystee Magic by Taylor Starwave into a screenplay. Adapting an e-book by Taylor Starwave is a dream come true and a wonderful opportunity. When I asked Taylor why he chose me to do the adaptation he replied that based on my resume and my experience writing screenplays he thought I was the most qualified. That made my decade Q&A Q Why do you think poetry is still relevant in today s world A Poetry allows the soul to breathe. Q What are your screenplays about and why A Loss love and laughter we are all in this together. There is no instruction manual. I want the audience to come away with a sense of cohesion because we are all brothers and sisters learning the way. Q Why do you discuss the paranormal in your writing A Many people have had experiences that they cannot explain. Just because you can t see the force that moves the wind or the air we breathe doesn t mean they aren t there. Q What attributed to your decision to write a children s book A Children are our future. They don t see the world in the way that adults do. There s no clock so they re completely in the moment. I decided to write a children s book because I d like for them (hopefully) to carry the messages in the stories with them into adulthood. The most important messages are that we live in both a spiritual and a physical world that needs care and nurturing and that positive communication and teamwork can literally heal the planet and all of its inhabitants. 44 Amy Schueler Dowell Medicine Speech Language Pathology Speech Pathologist Spectrum Speech Therapy Lutherville MD T issues. As a child with a minor birth defect I received several years of speech therapy during my early childhood years. hrough her adolescence Amy Schueler Dowell began to develop a keen sense of the sensitivities of others as she herself had experienced the same sorts of For Amy her private practice affords her the opportunity to provide meaningful and continuous relationships with both her children and adult patients the time needed to meet the needs of those she serves and gives her the opportunity to serve diverse clients with diverse needs. I believe my experiences as a child dealing with psychosocial adversity truly led me to choose this career. It is easy for me to step into the shoes of a child experiencing communication difficulty or psychosocial adversity. It is easy for me to listen to and help the adult who expresses their feelings about the changes the impact on their life. Amy knows that her passion to help others is evident in both her energy and enthusiasm in each of her sessions. I have worked in a variety of settings including hospital school nursing home home health and private practice where I have gained a plethora of knowledge to carry into each unique situation as it pertains to speech language cognition and swallowing disorders. To compliment her work and business ideologies Amy enjoys challenging herself with educational opportunities as well as physical fitness challenges. Recently she received PROMPT training to better serve her pediatric clients. Amy also participate in long distant runs or running obstacle courses. During her attendance at Towson University Amy made the decision to go into a profession where her desire to care for and help others would be best served. Due to her childhood experience she knew that the field of speech language pathology was the perfect fit for her. After obtaining her Master s degree in Speech-Language Pathology Amy was surprised that she gained employment in the field immediately. She started her career as a speechlanguage pathologist in hospital and nursing home settings. In both settings I gained a wealth of experience with various types of patients with congenital and acquired neurologic impairments. I learned and expanded my skill set from experienced fellow speech therapists and rehabilitation physicians. Due to the yearning to challenge herself Amy was promptly promoted into the management arena. There she managed large rehabilitation departments and led a territory as a clinical specialist and although she was proud of her accomplishments in rehabilitation management Amy constantly missed the oneon-one contact with her clients. I started finding that the changes in healthcare were impacting patient care. I felt that my ability to care and help another was lost amidst the imposed time constraints as well as the flood of paperwork that crossed my desk. After much personal introspection I finally realized my dream job in the speech therapy field was a private practice. I am a believer that brain fitness exercise coupled with physical fitness is key to keeping me balanced and in shape for what the world has to offer. 45 Women of Distinction Aneatra P. Stirgus Convenience Store Owner - A&M One Stop Baton Rouge LA s Owner of A&M One Stop convenience store Aneatra Stirgus loves being able to brighten up a customer s day by providing them with certain products they made need during their daily travels. After a long career in retail and customer service she decided to open A&M One Stop in 2010. Though there were some money issues at the start Aneatra managed to overcome all obstacles and turned her store into a successful establishment. As owner she oversees all of her store s daily operations. Everything has its trials and tribulations but I ve remained in this career for so long because I have a passion for making people happy and putting smiles on their faces. Aneatra s biggest professional inspiration has been Bishop E. Bernard Jordan and his book titled The Laws of Thinking which helped her develop a better perspective of all situations one may come across in life. Regarding her education Aneatra received her BBA degree from Spencer College in 1988 and an MBA degree from Southern University in 1994. A In 2012 Aneatra was named an Exclusive Lifetime Honored Member of Covington s Who s Who and received recognition as one of The Nation Association of Professional Women s Women of the Year in 2012 13. In 2015 she was named a United States Deputy Sheriff s Association Citizen of the Year in Louisiana a Louisiana Patriot of the Year and a Donor of the Year to Hospitalized Veterans. I m a strong women of God. Despite struggling as a single parent I ve been able to raise my daughter to become a successful and independent young woman. If anyone is feeling down they should think of me and the many struggles I overcame to raise my daughter. You can do anything that you put your mind to. There is nothing that God can t handle. When she isn t busy Aneatra enjoys reading her bible cleaning relaxing and spending time with her daughter. She is also currently involved with the Southside Civic Association which works to preserve and promote the character and quality of life of South Baton Rouge LA. I would like to be remembered as someone who was able to always get things done no matter what a determined woman who managed to do many great things. I hope to leave behind my teachings and knowledge in hopes of inspiring others. For those who are looking to start their own business make sure you always have a plan If you don t have a plan then your business will not be successful. I ve also learned that one should be careful when choosing who they do business with. It s always good to do your research on people before going into business with them. 46 Women of Distinction Cheryl Louise Pollard Motor Transportation Owner Operator Rudolph Freight Murray KY I One thing that has kept me in this business is I m a natural at it. I love to travel and meet new people. Some of the scenery I see is spectacular. I really feel like I should ve been doing this my whole life. n August 2004 Cheryl Louise Pollard went to Schneider National Carriers in Charlotte NC for training to become a driver owner operator in the transportation industry. Now her primary job function is to get her cargo to its designation as quickly and efficiently as possible. In doing so Cheryl needs to keep her truck maintained and safe be cost efficient for her company keep logbooks updated and turned in on time and keep the dispatcher updated on her location and her agenda. Before Cheryl became an owner operator she had to overcome some overwhelming odds. So whenever she can Cheryl tries to get home to see her family in lower Alabama. When she s home Cheryl loves to cook for her family. She likes being a cohost of an online radio show Trucking Roundup Show on Spreaker Radio Network. She also enjoys going to truck shows like the Great American Truck Show in Dallas. Cheryl is also a part of a Mardi Gras society in Mobile. I love getting to go home to see my sisters and go to the parades and balls during Mardi Gras season. According to Cheryl s closest family and friends she s most known for her positivity in the darkest of times endurance through difficult times strength for all the challenges of life and her generosity to others. I was raised in a bad environment with a horrible childhood involving molestation and rape leading to drug and alcohol addiction a few divorces and some jail time. I ve also had some fantastic experiences like partying at Studio 54 and the Playboy Mansion in my early twenties. I was driving a Ferrari by age 21 and taking my eldest daughter to concerts in a limo when she was just a toddler. However I lost it all and eventually learned success in life isn t defined by money or status. Not all my choices were the right ones to make but I wouldn t change a thing because they gave me strength and made me into the woman I am today. Since starting driving one of the most important lessons Cheryl has learned is H.A.L.T. (Hungry Angry Lonely Tired). She knows that when driving each one of these four physical or emotional conditions can lead to poor judgment and mistakes. The solution to is to have a good network or group of others that will be there to listen and for Cheryl this lesson resonates even outside her work life. I ve been told that I can be generous to a fault. There have been several times I ve given my last dollar to someone I thought needed it more. This has gotten me in financial trouble a few times but I can t sit by while those I care about are in anguish. Always pick yourself up no matter how many times life beats you down. Keep getting back up there s always going to be bad times and good times. The bad times have only made me appreciate my good times all the more. 47 Women of Distinction Christina Gonzalez Q&A Q What does your company strive to provide to customers A Lippincott Van Lines Southern Nevada Movers forges ahead to provide the customer with excellent service during a stressful time. Moving can be a very stressful event but organization proper preparation and attention to detail can help create a smooth moving experience. Q Does your company have any new programs or services A Our newest program is called Decluttering Service. It helps realtors and their clients stage their homes to sell faster and remove excess items from the home to better represent the space to potential buyers. The goods are placed in a military certificated secure storage facility until the home is sold and they are ready to move. Q What are all the services Lippincott Van Lines Southern Nevada Movers provide A We provide residential and commercial local interstate and international moves corporate relocation packages full service packing and unpacking storage and labor. We are a smaller van line which means we can narrow delivery spreads to days instead of a week or two like other van lines. Being smaller also allows us to communicate more effectively which allows the entire staff to focus on each individual move if needed. Q What are your goals for Lippincott Van Lines Southern Nevada Movers A Right now we do about 90% military moves but my goal is to break into the civilian market here in Las Vegas for Southern Nevada Movers and provide military standard moves to civilians. Military standards are high and why shouldn t everyone get that treatment while they are moving Logistics Household Goods Relocation Specialist Military Estimator for Lippincott Van Lines Southern Nevada Movers Las Vegas NV I n 2006 Christina Gonzalez started her career in logistics after receiving an offer to work in the Overages Shortages Damage (OSD) Department at Roadway. I enjoy helping the customers and the challenges that logistics brings daily. Now Christina serves as the only Relocation Specialist and Military Estimator for Southern Nevada Movers a branch of Lippincott Van Lines. There she customizes specific relocation packages for each family providing them with estimates and inventories. Christina specializes in working with military families who are moving with Lippincott Van Lines Southern Nevada Movers. Her duties include anything from completing their surveys to being their contact for questions during their entire move. Christina also networks with other companies including realtors and property managers in order to promote the moving services she and her company offer. Q What would you change about the company dynamic A In business there is always room for improvement. My general manager as well as myself our recent additions to the company and we are constantly looking for new ideas to improve our company. How we as a team serve and communicate to our customers as well as ourselves is always in the back of our minds. My general manager is a true leader and a mentor for me. He is the reason I took the offer at Lippincott to enter into the world of sales. The office team is amazing and the crew is a priceless group of guys. 48 Women of Distinction Fran Glove eCommerce Entrepreneur Antiques Vintage Collectibles Owner The Wild Petunia Tucson AZ fter her husband passed away Fran Glove was on disability and also suffered a loss of a substantial amount of income. In 2012 Fran decided to learn everything she could about selling items online and sold her first product on eBay St Patrick s Day 2013. Having just placed the item for bid a week before Fran had her first sale and she was hooked. A The Wild Petunia is a virtual treasure hunt all in one place. It s a treasure hunt that specializes in antiques vintage collectibles one-of-a-kind items and a little bit of everything else. The inventory changes often and if you are searching for something special let us know and we will go a hunting it s what we do. Currently Fran is working on a program to teach others how to start their own business with little or no money. In doing so she hopes to help others to avoid the same pitfalls she had to deal with and come to know financial freedom. Fran knows that the internet has opened up the world to endless opportunities. I love working with my son who s now learning the business. I believe if we raise our children to be independent productive members of society that truly care about others we have been successful parents. To me being a mom is the most important job in the world and our greatest legacy. Once I came out of the fog of my husband s death I started on a journey to find a way to help support my three children. Little by little Fran was able to grow her business on eBay and other online platforms and in 2014 she grossed about 34 000. All of the products she found and sold were through yard sales thrift stores estate sales auction houses and friends getting rid of stuff. Over time Fran noticed that things began to change on eBay so she decided to launch her own website. On April 1 2015 Fran started the website Although I currently still sell some on other platforms The Wild Petunia is my baby I love building my own business. As the owner of The Wild Petunia LLC Fran is responsible for everything within the company sourcing products photography listing pricing shipping and marketing which Fran had to learn the hard way. She utilizes the help of her son Dalton and his friends Fran hopes to hire her first full-time 49 employee in the near future. Women of Distinction B orn in the foothills of the Appalachians of West Virginia Loretta Warner-Hardy grew up in a place where time seemed to stand still while the rest of the world progressed around it. Moving to the city in Ohio with her family they eventually settled in a small rural community a place similar to what she was born into but not as fast paced as the city. Graduating from high school in 1974 she became a factory worker like her parents and older siblings. By 1986 Loretta was ready for a new beginning she packed up all of her personal belongings into her car with her seven-year-old son and left for Oklahoma. Getting a job at a local factory temporarily six months later she began on a new path that eventually led her into social work. Loretta Warner-Hardy MSW LCSW In 2002 while working as a teacher s aide a third grade teacher inspired me to believe in myself Loretta remembers and that I could succeed in college. Two semesters into taking college courses part-time I enrolled full-time to complete my general education classes. As a therapeutic foster parent I had the opportunity to receive assistance form a clinical social worker who encouraged me to become a social worker. Finally I knew where my journey was leading me. Five years later Loretta had received her BA in Social Work from East Central University in Ada Oklahoma and began working as a child welfare worker until 2010 when she was accepted into the accelerated graduate program at Oklahoma University School of Social Work in Norman Oklahoma receiving her Master of Social Work in 2011. After 4 000 hours of clinical supervision she sat for her Licensed Clinical Social Work exam passed and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in October 2014. Opening a private practice in March 2015 Loretta is currently contracting with Medicare and Medicaid but contracts with other agencies as well. Providing services to children adults families and seniors Loretta works from her home office public schools travels to families homes and visits nursing facilities. She has an affinity for the field and thoroughly enjoys what she does. Social Work Psychotherapy Behavior Health Licensed Clinical Social Worker Loretta M. Hardy MSW LCSW Atoka OK I have always had an inner drive about me to seek and strive for the next journey never really satisfied to accept the fate that I once thought I had been given Loretta added. As I reflect on my path I remind myself to dream big believe it think it speak it and strive to make it happen to always be prepared for challenges that inspire me to continue my journey. A member of the National Association of Social Workers Loretta can also be found on Facebook by searching Loretta Warner- Hardy MSW LCSW . 50 Women of Distinction U When I initially moved to Houston it was my intentions to follow my degreed profession teaching. I arrived in Houston in 1981 and proceeded to go the Independent school district of which I wanted to be in. At that meeting I was informed that they were paying teachers 13 000 a year salary and I found out later that day that the city of Houston was paying trash men 25 000 a year. Clearly there was something terribly wrong with that picture. nhappy with the treatment of teachers both in principle and compensation Marion Gathe decided to switch her career to sales. She believed that it was profession where no one could determine her monetary value and worth except herself. Marion Gathe Real Estate JPatrick Homes - Sales Professional Houston TX In sales you can make as much money as you want depending on how long and hard you wanted to work. And I worked hard. After spending years cold calling working sales and recruitment jobs and selling furniture Marion decided it was time to make the leap into selling homes. When I was selling furniture a New Homes sales professional came into buy furniture for his new home. I followed him with a note pad and the sale that day was my highest sales and eventual commission that I had ever made. He walked around the store pointing and trying out furniture without even looking at prices tags. That day served as an inspiration for Marion she decided to pursue New Home Sales. Her client from that fateful day had left his business card and Marion proceeded to set an appointment with the company that he worked with. I interviewed with the company but there were no communities available at that time and I d have to wait three months until one became available. Well being the Type A personality that I am waiting is not an option. I decided to move on and pursue another builder Now sixteen years later Marion is still in Real Estate and has progressed to bigger and better companies through the years. Her role in all of these companies has been that of a Real Estate Sales Professional. Her main task has been to perform well and naturally sell homes by offering a quite unique excellent unequaled customer service to all of her buyers. I am an authentic self-assured confident successful woman who evangelizes when appropriate to those who need to hear God s word. I love all people acknowledge all people respect all people and enlighten encourage and empower all people that come into my light. It doesn t dim my candle to light another fire so I do. This is yet another way that I am giving back on a consistent basis. 51 Women of Distinction Natalie Rensi LPN NASM CPT Wellness Health Coaching Personal Training Pediatric Nurse Central Ohio Primary Care Physicians (COPCP) Founder MACfit Lifestyles Westerville OH Sunbury and Westerville OH H ealthcare wellness and fitness have been three very influential components in Natalie Rensi s life since childhood. Graduating from high school she considered becoming a personal trainer but instead became a Licensed in Practical Nurse (LPN) in 2005 working in pediatrics for the past seven years. Although she still craved the personal interaction that training and health coaching had to offer long after she finished school Natalie kept the idea in her back pocket until recently. Becoming a Pediatric Nurse in 2008 Natalie began working at Central Ohio Primary Care Physicians (COPCP). Four years later in 2012 she decided it was time to also pursue her other passion of helping others to not only live but thrive. Founding MACfit Lifestyles with two locations one in Sunbury Ohio and one in Westerville Ohio Natalie gets to do just that. Helping women rethink their concept of wellness through in-person training and online coaching Natalie works with each client personally to determine what this means for them by taking a realistic approach based on their life. There are few things more rewarding to me than watching a client become confident replacing self-shaming with selflove Natalie said whose goal for all clients is to embrace the notion that wellness is not just about working out and eating salads but about truly being in alignment of a healthy mind body and soul. Every time I witness this transformation in a client my passion grows fueling my desire to reach out to even more women. Currently Natalie is working with local pediatricians to develop fitness classes and health coaching programs for patients and families a way for her to weave her two expertise together. It s a very exciting concept for her and she is thrilled to get started. Dedicating her free time to family and me time whenever she can Natalie and her husband Brian are cognizant about instilling good habits in their children Hagen 8 and Suzie 4. They often go for bike rides do outdoor games and activities and enjoy nature walks and they even love to take in a good movie and some pizza every now and again. Soaking in all of the natural beauty that God has to offer is something that Natalie does not take for granted. Losing their son Mac at birth their lives are far richer and their hearts fuller because of him he is their angel. When Natalie does have quiet time to herself she ll often sneak off to read a good book or take a leisure walk all by herself. All of this she says works together to keep them busy balanced and healthy as both individuals and as a loving family. Love is more valuable than money Natalie noted. Success should be measured by the amount of smiles and laughter you have had rather than the material things you ve collected. Natalie became a LPN in 2005 through Columbus School of Practical Nursing a Certified Personal Trainer in 2013 through National Academy of Sports Medicine and a Certified Health Coach in 2015 through American Counsel of Exercise. 52 Women of Distinction Pamela Chapman Life Coaching Life Transition and Wellness Coach Founder Yucat n Wellness Eagle CO fter experiencing a major life transition in 2005 native New Yorker Pamela Chapman moved from her home of 30 years in southern California and relocated to Colorado to be close to her mother. Having previously worked in the corporate world for much of her life and in upper management for the last 12 of those years in her last position she was known as mother of the company . Employees confided in her and she was that special someone everyone felt comfortable talking to. This gift followed her all her life with complete strangers opening up telling her their stories. Listening and offering advice she enjoyed the interaction. Receiving her first certification as a Life Coach in 2008 was not only a clear choice for her but opened doors to freedom giving her the ability to live her life on her own terms. A Pamela worked as a Case Manager Certified Family Violence Specialist and Drug and Alcohol Abuse Specialist after transitioning out of the corporate world. She is a Radio-Show Host on blog-talk-radio s MIRACLE ZONE Making IT Reality Against Circumstance Logic and Economics and has written a 60-page workbook by the same name used in conjunction with the show. She self-published a novel Heaven s Hell depicting family violence in a young girl s life and the effect it had as she matured into a young woman. She also founded Pamela Chapman dot Biz as President Life-Transition Coach and Advocate for the domestically abused before forming Yucat n Wellness in 2014. Earning her AA in Information Systems Business Administration after 30 years in corporate made the transition to people ware becoming a Certified Life-Transition Coach and an Emotional Freedom Technique Specialist. She has recently received certification as a Corporate Wellness Specialist and is an ongoing student of Optimal Emotional Freedom Technique as well as a higher spiritual seeker and teacher. Pamela and her husband Andrew are both members of Slow Foods Association in Colorado. She s also a member of the International Coach Federation and Corporate Health and Wellness Association. She reads a lot mostly on spiritual matters and alternative healing and has a true appreciation for the great outdoors. I learned that a good life and wellness coach doesn t actually give advice but helps others reach their own conclusions and epiphanies through skilled guidance and questioning Pamela said about receiving her certification. Looking back I ve found myself in situations where I ve thought Why did I do that What made me go there or put up with that I can answer those questions now. I believe life is a series of assignments so when you believe such you keep giving keep enduring and keep persisting because you know it s something greater than a career. It s more like a passion a life calling. As Founder of Yucat n Wellness Pamela organizes promotes and facilitates spiritual alternative healing workshop retreats in Yucat n Mexico several times per year. She seeks out experts in alternative medicine and healing in both worlds (the Yucat n and the US) interconnecting ancient Mayan healing with US cutting-edge alternative solutions for her clients. 53 Women of Distinction Queen Sheba D. Cisse Nonprofit Women Girls Education Founder Executive Director - Queen Sheba Village Inc Cheverly MD T hroughout most of her life Queen Sheba Cisse has remained focused on helping others in any way that she can. This desire to give aid to those in need is what inspired her to start Queen Sheba Village Inc a nonprofit that mainly concentrates on providing education to girls and women in Africa in 2005. Queen Sheba became more interested in providing help to those in need upon visiting Africa in 2004. She returned a number of times following her initial visit after receiving invitations from the late scholar Imam Assane Cisse of Kaolack Senegal over the years. As Founder and Executive Director of Queen Sheba Village Queen Sheba has a number of responsibilities including the recruitment of volunteers the organizing of events and the management of new projects. Queen Sheba herself believes that all people who require any type of help should receive it without being judged by their personal traits or backgrounds and she has proven this strong belief through the work of her organization. I would like readers to know that I love to serve the public and help bring positive change in other parts of the world. Change may bring new challenges but I m highly adaptable and versatile. I m very concerned for the well-being of society. Service to humanity is fundamental to my life and the longterm progress of a society is very important to me. Queen Sheba s greatest inspirations in life have been her mother and grandmother as both managed to pave their own ways to find much respect and success in their lifetimes while overcoming many hardships. There are always lessons to be learned. If I could give advice to anyone it would be to never give up. No matter how you may feel you are not alone. Life is a journey and one should intend to complete it with grace while continuing to give their all in order to achieve their dreams. You must have faith and believe that you are the one In her free time Queen Sheba enjoys traveling writing and researching various subjects. She has a deep appreciation for the arts and the beauty they can bring to the world. Queen Sheba is also a mother to five children who are all currently following her positive example by pursuing their own personal dreams. This line of work is very fulfilling and brings a certain satisfaction though it can be challenging at times. It s very rewarding to witness the positive impact we have on the lives of those we work with. We provide the necessary aid to those who are in desperate need of our help with many requiring solutions to basic problems that people in developed countries tend to overlook and take for granted. In 2011 Sisters In Spirit presented Queen Sheba Village with a Humanitarian Award based on the organization s positive contribution to society. Since becoming an official nonprofit organization in 2012 Queen Sheba Village has served many impoverished areas in 54 Senegal and throughout West Africa. Women of Distinction Sharon Alston Pain Relief Independent Sales Representative - Real Time Pain Relief Greensboro NC T hrough her work as an Independent Sales Representative for Real Time Pain Relief Sharon Alston is dedicated to introducing others to her product in hopes of helping them ease any physical pain they may be suffering from. Sharon was introduced to Real Time Pain Relief cream in 2013 after meeting John Morant who is now her business partner and using the cream to successfully treat a migraine. As a sufferer of Multiple Sclerosis she also found that the cream helped relieve the excruciating pain caused by the disease. I want to be remembered as someone who always tried and gave their all. When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2003 I thought it was the end of the world. For me I thought about ending it all several times but thanks to the people who stuck by my in my hardest times I ve been able to hang in there. Life may get hard but find your person place or thing and hang in there In her leisure Sharon enjoys spending time with her son exercising walking kickboxing and reading. She is also an advocate and activist with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society participates in Multiple Sclerosis walks and fundraisers and was previously a group leader for a women s Multiple Sclerosis self-help group. Love what you do Tell your customers your story and why you use your product. Not everyone will agree with you and how you feel about certain things but you can t always change that. Appreciate those who have supported you and try to help anyone you can. Don t endorse anything that you wouldn t personally use yourself. As an independent sales representative Sharon attends flea markets vendor shows and health fairs as a way to introduce more of the public to her product. She also shares her personal story to inform others on how Real Time Pain Relief actually works and personally reaches out to those who may benefit from its use. While there have been challenges in persuading people to ditch over-the-counter medications that aren t working for them Sharon continues to push forward and successfully gain new clientele. Aside from her work with Real Time Pain Relief Sharon is currently working with a graphic artist at Azalea Coast Graphics and Vickers Marketing Group to create her own line of t-shirts with her favorite sayings printed on them. My life is nowhere near perfect and there are certainly hard times but I will not give up. I share my story with people in hopes of helping anyone who can relate. Feel free to contact me to speak as I know life is tough and I want to help. 55 Women of Distinction Theresa Roden Nonprofit Fitness Sports Founder Executive Director - i-tri (Inspirational Triathlon Racing International Inc.) East Hampton NY s the Founder and Executive Director at i-tri (Inspirational Triathlon Racing International) Theresa Roden is focused on inspiring and empowering young women to become comfortable in their own skin through physical activity. Theresa was inspired to begin i-tri after personally experiencing the positive changes fitness can bring to one s life. In her 30s after years of struggling with a lack of selfesteem she decided to participate in her first triathlon. Following her successful completion of multiple races over the years Theresa came up with the idea to introduce a new fitness and empowerment program to her daughter s middle school in 2010 which specifically catered to young girls who did not consider themselves athletes or who could really benefit from being a part of something special. Since its birth i-tri has gone from working with eight girls in one school to successfully working with 70 girls and families in four different schools with plans to add four more schools into the program by 2017. A Jump on opportunities that come your way but stay away from things that sound too good to be true -- because they usually are. Also be brave because sometimes you have to take risks. Theresa developed wrote and copyrighted the self-esteem empowerment curriculum used in i-tri which has been proven to raise self-esteem and self-efficacy in her program s participants. There is nothing more important than feeling good Whatever you do -- feel good first. When you feel good you make better decisions and you are more patient giving and understanding. In her leisure Theresa enjoys spending time with her family going for long bike rides and hikes through the woods with friends long open water swimming and Kirtan chanting. She also runs retreats for women s cancer groups and is involved with a number of local organizations that support youth involvement in the sport of triathlon including Ocean Rescue and OMAC. I d like to be remembered as someone who reminded others of the importance of feeling good. That doing for others feels good -- and there is a real ripple effect in the world when you reach out a hand to someone in need or even offer a smile. Everyone has something to GIVE and in the words of St. Francis of Assisi It is in giving that we receive The girls I work with have kept me going. Many of them come back to mentor the new girls and we have even been able to employ some as assistant coaches. Watching these young girls evolve and blossom into strong generous independent and kind young women is all the inspiration I need Through her role of Executive Director Theresa oversees all of the administrative and fundraising projects within her organization while still continuing to lead in-school selfesteem empowerment workshops. She also coordinates and attends every hands-on family nutrition and training session. When asked what advice she would give to someone who is considering starting a nonprofit Theresa replied Go with your gut If something doesn t feel right then don t do it. Ask for help and advice when you need it. Vivian Whiteside Yancey Pankey Nursing Healthcare Patient Care Associated Chief Nursing Service - Audie L. Murphy Veteran s Memorial Hospital (retired) San Antonio TX W ith 47 years of experience as a Nurse in the healthcare industry Vivian Pankey has always been determined to help her patients to the best of her ability. Though she is now retired she spent 25 years as an Associated Chief Nurse at Audie L. Murphy Veteran s Memorial Hospital. Throughout her career as a nurse healthcare provider Vivian developed and implemented staff development plans patient care plans and staffing plans while also participating in budget planning and utilizing her expertise to inspire others to further their education in health related fields. I m a Christian woman who is honest loyal faithful delicate determined energetic and inspiring. I believe that one must possess at least one if not all of these qualities in order to be successful. I love inspiring others to learn more about their healthcare needs in order to live a healthier lifestyle. Vivian is the President of the Interdisciplinary Healthcare Ministry at Grace First Baptist Church a chartered member of Theta Eta of Chi Eta Phi Inc. and a Chairperson in Planning Health Fairs in the community of San Antonio Texas. She also volunteers with the American Heart Association and for the city of Leon Valley Texas. In her leisure Vivian enjoys spending time with her family exercising bowling and doing yoga. She recently retired from playing for the San Antonio Roses in her local Senior Basketball League where she played in both state and national tournaments during her seven years on her team. In order to do well in this profession one must set goals and work to achieve them. It also helps to have skills in organizing and time management. It s important to always respect others and be willing to volunteer your services to those in need. Plan your career and stay determined yet flexible. Regarding her education Vivian received her BS in Nursing from Incarnate Word University in 1968. She then went on to receive a Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio Texas in 1975 and an MA in Health Service Management from Webster University in St. Louis Missouri in 1983. She has authored an article titled What Is It Like To Pioneer a Nurse Administered Evaluation Unit which was published in Nursing Management. Vivian has also received numerous awards and certificates relating to her work as a nurse and an inspirational person. Remember to always do your very best and don t let others discourage you from meeting your goals. Always believe in yourself and love yourself. Inspire others to set and achieve goals of their own through your actions. 57 Women of Distinction Tina Tillem Special Education Educational Activist. Volunteer with Right Your Life Co-founder of Running To Rebuild. Toms River NJ I I wanted to be a teacher so that I could make an impact on young people s lives. My mission was to enthusiastically touch the lives of many students infecting each of them with a new and positive attitude towards learning. n 1999 Tina Tillem began her educational journey upon graduating from Georgian Court College with a BA in Education. In 2001 Tina was presented with the opportunity to become a women s distance coach and teacher in a NJ public school system where she trained developed and mentored athletes in long distance running. She modeled drills assigned workouts and was responsible for planning the classroom curriculum. Teaching is a very rewarding career and whether it s in or out of the classroom advocating for the modest population is my passion. Tina currently serves as an Educational Activist and Volunteer for Right Your Life a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide community awareness and recovery resources to atrisk youth and young adults. There she collaborates with other educators and volunteers to create interventions for those in need. These interventions will allow children to have courage choice and change to help guide themselves in the right direction. After collaborating with Right Your Life Tina has created a signature fundraiser called Running To Rebuild. This is a 5k run walk that raises money in efforts to help a child struggling with an addiction and those young adults committed to living an emotional and healthy lifestyle. 58 The number of people who reach out to us each year continues to grow. The journey to recovery takes time and meant for those who seek to live a physically and emotionally healthy lifestyle. Tina has also taken on a personal mission to motivate young women by using positive reinforcement. In doing so she models good behaviors such as being assertive being able to say no with conviction and living a healthy lifestyle. Also Tina tries to encourage other women to work as a team and make connections between the mind and the body. I m a great motivator and it s through my own experiences and struggles as a women in education that I have been able to support and inspire young women to overcome adversity. My daughter inspired me to want to make a change in education. I advocate for her rights and women s rights in general through my strongest skill sets education and motivation. Women of Distinction T hrough her work as both an Author and a Life Coach Trenita Walker shares her love for life with her readers and clients while hopefully inspiring them to change their lives for the better. Trenita first began sharing her written works with the public in 1997 when she began reading her work to an audience at a lyrical cafe. In 2012 after years of perfecting her craft she published her first book titled God s Love Inspirational Poems for Everyday Living. Following the release of her first published work Trenita went on to write another compilation of her poems called Stars in Our Hearts which includes the poem titled I Am a Winner and a book of romance poems titled Bed of Roses. Her work in poetry has seen her earn the World Poetry Movement Published Poet Editor s Choice Award in 2012. Regarding her education Trenita has received Bachelor s degrees from both Lincoln University of Missouri and Elohim Bible College. She has also earned a certificate in biblical studies and remains a member of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority. Aside from her work as an author and certified life coach Trenita is a United States Army veteran who served a oneyear tour overseas in South Korea. She also plays both piano and viola professionally and has worked as a professional model as well. Trenita Walker Life Coaching Author (Romance Religion Poetry) Life Coach Author Writer Poet Bloomington IN I have a lot of love for my craft I truly love writing and telling stories. In order to become a successful writer one should always love and stay true to themselves while also showing love and appreciation to other writers. You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it. Realize that you have a very special gift and a talent and always appreciate it. Trenita s greatest inspirations throughout her career in writing and life coaching have been Maya Angelou Langston Hughes Joyce Meyers and Iyanla Vanzant. In her leisure Trenita enjoys reading writing exercising and doing yoga. She also loves spending time with her family including her parents Dr. Shirley Walker and Pastor Dr. Leonard C. Walker her son Jeremiah Noel Walker and her two brothers and their families. I m a happy and peaceful person and I feel that I m very blessed -- I m in love with life. Those who read my work will be able to feel the love that I have for myself and will even begin to feel the same about themselves and their own lives. I want everyone to remember me as a great poet and an outstanding storyteller. 59 Women of Distinction WDM Women of Distinction Team Marissa Bacchi EDITOR-IN-CHIEF DIRECTOR OF CLIENT RELATIONS LAYOUT GRAPHIC DESIGN EDITORIAL COORDINATOR ISSUE 27 SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE Anne Silar Helene K. Jennifer Hardy Jill Mongonia Donna Davis Simone Goodall EDITOR Kimberly Diehl Roni Gates Holli M. Narvaez HEAD WRITER Rebecca Valuch Steven Prescott Felix Pons WRITER Cyndi Murray Women of Distinction 560 Broadhollow Road Ste. 310 Melville NY 11747 Phone (631) 465-9024 Fax (631) 465-9035 Sharon Alston Pain Relief Independent Sales Representative - Real Time Pain Relief 61 Women of Distinction Daphine Priscilla Brown-Jack Author Writer Motivational and Inspirational Speaker Owner of Brown Jack Books 62 Women of Distinction