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Women of Distiction M a g a z i n e Abby Peel Strategic Social Media Owner & Founder 1 Women of Distinction Abby Peel E-Marketing Specialist Abby Peel 3 12 Women of Distinction Women of Distinction E-Marketing specialist Abby Peel is an expert at creating strategies that allow businesses to raise their public profile through social media. Her company Strategic Social Media (SSM) strives to teach and manage social media for all its clients. Abby recognizes that social media is quickly becoming a crucial part of a business s marketing strategy. Through Strategic Social Media she researches content and develops content by taking pictures and videos managing websites writing blogs and creating and operating social media for events. I forever picture myself working in some sort of social media position because this is what I feel most passionate about she said. My favorite part is when I sit down with a client who has no idea what they re doing on Facebook and by the end of our session together they understand the difference between their newsfeed and profile and how to post a picture. I never thought I would be a good teacher but I realize I can teach when I am most passionate about something and want that passion to spread to someone else. Abby is responsible for all aspects of her business -- from meeting with clients to content research billing and scheduling posts. Being the owner and only employee Abby has learned a lot about work life balance since founding Strategic Social Media. You must make time for yourself and step away from email she said. Being in charge of my own business and being the only employee I am solely in charge of my own success. In my mind unless I am sitting at my computer sending emails or posting to social media I am not growing my business. It took me a few months of being a sole business owner to realize that it is okay to take a day off. Abby holds a Broadcast Journalism Degree from Emerson College and has been gaining professional social media experience since college. As an intern at WCVB Channel 5 she worked closely with the team that handles station advertisements and electronic media. Additionally she was a morning radio host on WNTK 99.7 where social media was key to her success. After graduating Abby founded her business at 22 and became self-employed at 23. Sometimes it makes clients a bit 4 13 hesitant to sign on my service simply because of my age Abby said. At first I was definitely taken aback by that but then I realized the only way to change their mind is to show them what I can do for them. It has certainly taught me not to let no or an unsure person stop me from proving myself -- in both my personal life and professional life Abby believes that success does not come without challenges along the way. She encourages aspiring social media specialists not to dwell on mistakes but instead take a proactive and positive approach to resolving problems as they arise. I think the most surprising part to me about being a business owner has been how easy it is to see that dark side she said. Very rarely I have clients who want my social media service for only 3 months and then maybe they want to take the management part back within the company or have learned from what I have done and can management themselves. What I never expected with that however is when a few clients end my service it is so easy to see how the business could just fail and I would be out of business. You have to pick yourself back up and promise yourself that it will all work out. It will only fail if you let it. Abby s drive to succeed stems from her father s support and tremendous work ethic. She calls him her greatest professional inspiration and the visionary behind Strategic Social Media. He saw the need for someone who understood social media to go out there and teach it Abby said. Plus he was a young business owner him Women of Distinction Women of Distinction Hoping to leave a legacy of awareness When she is not working Abby uses her platform to Abby strives to give back to the community. She volunteers her services teach everyone to four organizations in willing to learn New Hampshire that needed help with their social media. more about But perhaps her favorite social media after work activity is being a cuddler for sick babies in how to use it the hospital. and its benefits. self so I go to him for all of my advice and how to handle situations. I go to a local hospital twice a week for 2 hours and cuddle the babies that need a little extra love she said. It s the best way to put life into perspective and be forced to take a step back from work. Sure you could Google directions on how to use social media but to me there is nothing like sitting down with someone sideby-side and seeing exactly how it all works she said. It will never get old meeting with a client who doesn t even know where to log in to access Facebook and then by the end of our time I have seen that light bulb in their head go off and the have solid understanding of social media. That makes me over the excited. 5 Women of Distinction Q Why should a business be on social media A The average social media user is increasing depending on the platform. However if you are a realtor you would think you don t want to market your services to young 20 year olds. But that is not the case even though they aren t looking for a property today they will be done the road in just a few short years so if your social media is in front of them when that time comes they will remember your Facebook page and then you get the business Q What is your favorite social media platform A Certainly incredibly hard to pick but I would have to say Instagram. More than anything I love how they started from the bottom and now have surpassed the amount of daily users on Twitter. We are a visual society and that s what Instagram does Q Do you have any famous followers on Twitter A Yes Justin Bieber was one of my first followers on Twitter and I have NO idea how that happened It certainly helps that I am a huge fan of him as well Q What do you think the future of social media A Social media isn t going anywhere. It has become a huge part of so many people s lives and the way of life for others (like me ). I can t want to know what the next social media platform to be successful is going to be. What else do we need But it s out there and I can t wait to learn it. Q Do you have any older customers who want to learn social media A Yes My oldest client is 89 years old and he just simply wants to understand what all of the social media outlets mean. He often times hears like us on Facebook while watching the news and wanted to learn exactly what that means. Q Do you do any presentations A Yes Often times I am asked to visit a company at a staff meeting or something to that extent and teach them about social media use. My most popular is my presentation called What the Heck is a Hashtag I love presenting that one because you can really see people s wheels turning in their brain trying to understand it Q How did you start Strategic Social Media A I realized there was a need for some sort of social media help and understanding within business. My dad actually was the one who got me my first client She s an interior designer in New Hampshire and still my client to this day Q Who is your most unique client A That s definitely a hard one to answer because I feel like each one is unique. Most unique is probably a woman in Boston that started a Facebook page called Boston Naturals that is a meet up group for African American natural hair. I post really cool natural hairstyles on the page and the audience grows so much every day I love each and every one of my clients though. I essentially have 30 different jobs Q If you could be anything else than what you re doing now what would it be A Definitely be a trauma ER nurse or a children s nurse. Why I m not totally sure but when I volunteer at the hospital I love watching the nurses help the patients. Q What is your least favorite thing about your job A Definitely tough but probably organizing Some days I am going a mile a minute and my desk becomes a complete nightmare. Those days make the next days even longer because I spend way too much time finding where I placed something. Overall I am an organized person just some days it gets away from me 6 15 Women of Distinction Women of Distinction Trish Leonard IOM Marketing Public Relations and Event Planning President of TLC Marketing & Creative Services Inc. 7 Estero FL Women of Distinction F When you ve put all you have into completing a project and your client is happy you know you ve done your job. rom her early years working for the McDonald s Corporation Trish Leonard knew that she wanted much more. While she was working as a Crew Member in 1976 McDonald s introduced a new program called STAR (Store Activities Representative). In 2009 Trish launched TLC Marketing & Creative Services a full-service boutique marketing public relations and event planning firm dedicated to helping businesses grow and enhance their companies through strategically-placed messages audience-growing events and well-honed networking strategies certain to create a buzz. From opening your door to creating buzz for your business to planning your events TLC Marketing & Creative Services proudly takes care of clients and believes that strong businesses grow strong communities which in turn grow stronger businesses. Trish enjoys being in the community serving on boards and volunteering her time. This allows her the opportunity to meet other business leaders and find referrals. She loves her work and is passionate about helping others succeed. I was asked to coordinate birthday parties and outside community events. I loved what I did and my career blossomed as I was eventually promoted to Director of Marketing for a local McDonald s franchise. Trish left McDonald s in 1996 and went on to become Membership Director for the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce where she increased memberships and held annual fundraisers at many of the events that she created and developed. As a master of innovation she turned ordinary trade shows into theme parties and organized massive community house warming parties because she noticed that Habitat for Humanity home owners had new homes but no furnishings for them. As a small business owner I hold myself accountable for everything. However I still allow the people who work alongside me do their jobs and try not to micromanage. I believe that if you want others to succeed you must help them succeed and grow. However Trish experienced some challenges early on. When she started the company in 2009 it was at the height of the economy downturn so many companies laid off their employees. But Trish worked by herself and was afforded the opportunity to do some work for companies because her overhead costs were less her pricing was more competitive and she outsourced what she could not provide. This also provided income to others in her situation. Yet despite the volatility of the economy she was not afraid to fail. No matter what I m doing whether it s working for a client or on a community event I m not content to do things the same old way not if there s a better more creative or splashier way to do it. As soon as an idea hits I get very very excited. I see the vision and can already see the steps. It s like a light bulb that goes off in my head. Her ability to connect with people is a gift and shows that she is truly a natural and genuine person. Trish believes in the power of relationships and has spent 25 years building a professional network in Southwest Florida that she can tap on behalf of her clients. It s the relationships you build over the years that are the most important thing in business. I m a relationship builder and live by my word because your word is all you have. I m not perfect but I strive to do the best I can. Never be afraid to fail. It s okay if you hit a bump in the road but it s how you pull yourself back up and smile with grace that really matters. I find inspiration in Eleanor Roosevelt a tough lady who spoke her mind. I keep her quote The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams hanging on my car windshield to remind myself to keep pushing growing and dream for the best. 8 Women of Distinction Trish co-founded a charity in 2009 called Love that Dress a program where women donate their gently-used dresses to others and the community can come and buy them with other boutique items for 5.00 and up at a one-night event. The funds raised go to PACE Center for Girls a 501(c)(3) organization that helps girls with troubled paths stay in school through mentoring and guidance by successful women in the community. Today the charity has grown and is known throughout Southwest Florida. I m no longer involved but I still contribute. Her company was recently named the 2015 Small Business of the Year by the Estero Chamber of Commerce. This was a proud and emotional moment for me as I m heavily involved in the business community from working with local chambers of commerce chairing events and networking. Additionally Trish was the 2011 Woman of the Year award recipient for the Zonta Club of Bonita Springs a nonprofit International Business Women s organization Vice-Chair of the City of Bonita Springs Arts in Public Places President of Everglades Wonder Gardens (an 80-year-old historical landmark) Board Member and Chair of the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the SW Florida Speakers Assembly Board Member and Chair of the Lions Eye Clinic Eyeball Soiree and Member of the Bonita Springs Film Festival. Trish has two sons who are both in the trade industry three grandchildren in school and her fianc Gary is a retired City Manager of Bonita Springs. She loves spending time with them whether they re fishing bowling or anything else. Just knowing that what she has done will continue to flourish is enough for Trish. If I can do it anyone can. Doing something for others (and not yourself) is the best legacy you can leave behind. 9 Q&A Q How do I choose the right firm for my company A There are a lot of great firms but mine has local experience and I have worked in various industries. One of the most important things for a business owner to do before working with a marketing public relations or event planning company is to check their credentials ask others if they have used another firm and referrals are always best to have. Q Why does it cost so much to put on an event A As with anything else you should first have a budget in mind. This allows the planner to be realistic about the event and the cost associated with it. Q Social media is big today how do I protect my clients from bad publicity A With social media s strong influence today it seems as if you are guilty before proven innocent. My best advice is to have a crisis plan in place including an organizational chart of who is in charge. Make sure you have factual information and don t ignore the media. If you don t have the answers to their questions be honest and then know you will get back to them as soon as you are able. Q Are marketing plans important A Absolutely. It s your roadmap to success and helps you know where you re headed as well as keeps you on track with where you re spending your marketing dollars. Q Do I have to have a website A Yes. It s crucial for people to see what and who a company is all about. It doesn t have to be fancy but it should show your business credentials. Technology plays an important role in people s buying decisions. Q Why do I need a business plan A Again without a roadmap you will drive all over the place and not stay focused. It s important to review your plan and see where you are with your plan. It also helps you maintain a healthy financial base. While it does take a bit to get it done once complete you feel more confident in your efforts. And if you ever need a business loan a bank will require a business plan. Q How can I run a business and still volunteer in my community A Staying connected in the community keeps your name out there and doesn t cost much of your time. I would dedicate maybe 10 hours a month to a local cause or chamber of commerce when you first start out. And if you have employees involve them as well. Q How much do you charge for your services A All firms are different in how they charge. Some are by the project or by the hour and others want a retainer. I have done all three. Q How can I get news about my company to the media A If it s newsworthy and something of substance it will be picked up by the media. Also if you do a charitable event most news outlets will cover the story. In addition it s good to get to know the editors and writers in your community. There are professionals who write and distribute releases to the appropriate outlets. Q At the end of the day what provides you with the most satisfaction A My greatest satisfaction comes from knowing that I have done my best and that tomorrow is a new day. 10 Women of Distinction Carolyn Stowers Nonprofit 501(c)(3) (mentoring and advocacy organization for youth) President Founder (Volunteer) - Young Entrepreneurs of the Future Inc. (YEF) Philadelphia PA S May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us. Yes make the work of our hands successful for us. Make the work of our hands successful. Psalm 90 17 ince she was eight-years-old Carolyn Stowers dreamed of a program that could make a difference in the lives of her peers. She first started with the Making of a Champion goal setting program that stemmed from her family business where four teenagers (ages 14-16) were coached. We met every weekend at my dining room table to discuss their concerns while we ate. This was the predecessor to Young Entrepreneurs of the Future Inc. (YEF) which Carolyn founded in November 1991. I purchased 25.45 worth of candy to continuously raise funds. Today as President (a volunteer position) Carolyn is responsible for leading the organization ensuring that YEF is accountable to the public. She also recruits volunteers promotes various fundraising projects and activities that contribute to YEF s growth and development develops and implements policies and procedures advises the board on the most preferred resolutions and strategies to meet goals and objectives writes proposals for grants and oversees the budget. Carolyn enjoys working with young people who want this type of opportunity but was only going to do it until her son graduated from high school. However every time she decided to quit she would get a telephone call from a parent agency or young person wanting to know how to get into the job training program with pay or for community service credits for school. As WRMW1 - Women s Radio Network s Inspirational Woman of the Year she developed a four-radio interview series for YEF alumni and a video documentary. Carolyn also helps raise scholarship funds for youth of the Freedom Christian Fellowship Church s Golden Saints Club. In addition she is a member of the National Association of Professional Business Women and the Philadelphia Christian Love Center. For Carolyn moving from the south with her son was a faith move faith risk and faith challenge but she wouldn t change a thing. We experienced the moving hands of God as he watched us with his eyes grace and mercy of his son Jesus guidance s of the Holy Spirit and the protecting hands of assigned angels in ways that no one could ve ever told us. She prays that someone will be inspired to move out of complacency to active faith and take a risk to use the talents and skills that God has given them to help and inspire others. I ve always known what I wanted to do. God has forgiven me for the mistakes in my teens and young adult years and I ve also forgiven myself. I ve been given the privilege to put to good use all the lessons I ve learned from my mistakes through YEF and have come to realize that recalling past displays of God s power has given me faith in Him for future struggles. She gets excited to see young people take a leadership role and lead a team of their peers or mentor youths from a homeless shelter who appreciate the possibilities that they didn t know existed for them. It s even more exciting for her when they call years later to thank her for giving them their first jobs. That s one of the reasons we started YEF. 12 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What is Young Entrepreneurs of the Future (YEF) and what is its mission A YEF is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) mentoring and advocacy organization for youth. Its mission is to provide youth with the necessary life skills to succeed in competitive society. This is accomplished through multi-disciplinary service-learning community service civic responsibility and hands-on projects. Youth learn to transfer academic learning and core competency to real world applications personal goal setting leadership development time management people skills development community services and hands-on job training. Q Who are some of YEF s supporters A Supporters come from various places including interns from local colleges and universities city schools volunteers organizations like the Harmonious Volunteer Center and Philadelphia Christian Love Center Bed Bath & Beyond stores churches businesses youth serving organizations and people like Reverend Ethel Harris Nancy Winder and Irve Shannon. Q How has YEF inspired you to continue your business A The moment that a young person says I got it inspires me. Seeing young people leading other team members in a project also inspires me such as when they showed up during snow and ice and there was barely any heat in the much-in-need of renovation building to set-up the We Gotcha Back store ( wegotchaback) on a Saturday. Q How does YEF help young people in developing confidence and self-esteem A YEF provides opportunities for young people to help themselves through hands-on projects that they can relate to by transferring their academic knowledge. Q What is your vision for YEF s future A The Young Entrepreneurs radio show on BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio is currently in development. Also Nyshae Wimberley Founder of Hood Professors Designaz tee shirts just started her business. My son and grandson along with youth participants will lead the organization into the future. Q What did your mother teach you A My mother (minister and farmer) taught me humility forgiveness and responsibility. Q What did your father teach you A My father (minister and farmer) taught me to go where you can be appreciated and grow take big risks and to not tolerate what hinders me. Trust God and share with others. Q Who is your toughest critic and can you laugh at yourself A I am my toughest critic and I can laugh at myself. God has a good sense of humor that helps to keep me humble... My daughter-in-law always gives me very nice things shoes being one of them. I never had any problems until I put on a pair with thick black rubber soles. I was walking to a meeting people were smiling at me and I was smiling back when suddenly I could feel the cement ground under my left foot. I looked down and back and saw nothing but a black rubber sole following me. Just as I reached down to take the left shoe off the sole from the right one started coming off as well. I hobbled to a bench where a homeless man sat pulled the remaining soles off my shoes and went on wearing the top (leather) of the shoes. They felt like a pair of socks. I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror saw that my wig was one-sided and hair was sticking all over my head. I combed it and went into the meeting room stuck my feet under the table and did not move until the meeting was over. 13 Women of Distinction Denyse Hicks-Ray PhD BCETS FAAETS Mental Health - Psychological Trauma Specialist with a specialized area of Cultural Trauma Founder and Chief Executive Officer - Trauma Services Associates 14 Hawaii but services are global. Women of Distinction T Nobody heard me. Additionally Denyse serves on the board of P.A.R.E.N.T. Inc. (an advocacy organization to stop child abuse) the Tahirih Association s programs of Teach a Girl Change the World Women in Prison and The Hygiene Project. hese were the words found in the suicide note of someone whom many (including Denyse Hicks-Ray) had believed to be fine considering she had broken through the corporate glass ceiling had a beautiful home was prominent in her church and had a great mentor. I m on a continual assignment to tithe my triple Ts My Time My Treasure and My Talent. Denyse is married with one daughter and two grandchildren and she attributes the person she is today to her stepmother who entered her life when she was five-years-old. Her shaping would help create a grateful woman who has stayed on the right path. Though there have been many obstacles along the way her guidance gave me the strength to persevere. Watching her navigate through life s struggles provided me with the courage to do more to do better. She soothed the pain I would ve otherwise had from the abandonment of my birth mother. Her insistence on me developing excellent study habits and very forceful hand about education led me to acquire a dual PhD. I do hope she is proud of me. Today she continues to be of service to the community as she believes there is still much work to be done. This was the catalyst for Denyse going back to school in the 1980s. She wanted to earn her PhD so she could hear . I didn t just want to hear I needed to hear. As Founder and CEO of Trauma Services Associates Denyse worked as private practice practitioner on call as a clinical first responder at every man-made or natural disaster on U.S. soil including the Oklahoma City bombing Columbine High School shooting World Trade Center bombings and Katrina floods in New Orleans until 2008. She then came out of retirement in 2013 at the request of colleagues who needed her assistance in designing treatment plans for survivors of human trafficking. Denyse also authored the book The Pain Didn t Start Here where she states The hearing was ignited by my friend s suicide but the continuation was driven by need. In addition to that she authored Trauma and Violence in the African American Community is currently working on Mirroring Images and The Traumatic Journey of Native Hawaiians and is editing numerous white papers on psychological trauma. However Denyse considers her finest hour to be under the leadership of Dr. David Satcher the surgeon general under the Clinton Administration where she coauthored the Surgeon General s Supplement on Race Culture and Ethnicity . My responsibility is to share my gifts. It still sets the standard by which I present any body of work and indeed remains my shining moment. She is also currently establishing Minding Your Manufacturing a job training program for homeless low income and recently released women from prison who are Native Hawaiians. The job training is critical with an emphasis on soft skills. I ve donated equipment and supplies from my default manufacturing company. 15 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Are the mental health concerns of African-American women being addressed A No there continues to be an overwhelming amount of denial throughout the community. Overall women continue to be neglectful of their total health but in certain communities the gap is wider. African-American women continue to subscribe to the get over it method of treatment while allowing the intergenerational pain to continue. Q What can be done to close the mental health disparities in treatment A We have to stop acting as if they don t exist. Women who understand the journey have to do a much better job of sharing through example. Q When was Trauma Services Associates (TSA) established A TSA was established in 1999 before the terms traumatized issues and PTSD became trendy. I was on the cutting edge of bringing the issues of emotional trauma to the forefront. Q Is TSA still relevant as a company A Yes workplace traumas are on the rise and require ongoing training to establish safe environments. With such diverse communities in places of worship religious leaders are prepared theologically. However they need help in assisting their parishioners in finding a balance between mind body and spirit. There are so many people in the churches who need help that some schools have added a theopsychology curriculum to their course selection. TSA is busier now than it was 15 years ago. Q What made you find TSA A In 1999 there were so few African-American women who were practicing psychology and even less specializing in the area of trauma. I wanted to establish a legacy in an area that had so much depth but at the time very little traction. Q Where are you and TSA headed in the next five years A We re moving through our global assignment. A few months ago we worked with a small team of practitioners at the United Nations to design a treatment model for survivors of human trafficking. On the agenda for site and data collection of cultural nuances is Pago Pago American Samoa Auckland New Zealand Heidelberg Germany and Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Q What is the difference between what you describe as cookie-cutter treatment plans and your approach of culturallyfocused treatment A To accomplish long-lasting change for specific populations services and treatment plans need to consider developmental norms. The mental health issues for these populations are embedded in family peer and sibling relationships. To have the greatest public impact the empirically derived approach will illustrate how culturally relevant treatment affects the ecology (families peer groups communities and schools). Q Is there much research on African-American women s mental health A No it remains deficient. There is a need for more inclusive knowledge-based research that includes the voice of AfricanAmerican women in the field of psychology. The knowledge must include a more comprehensive view of African-American women s experiences. Q What would you do to increase the research A Because I m aware that misdiagnosis occurs more frequently in the African-American community than with any other population my focus is on addressing the discrepancies. I have had a scholarship program since 1999. I continue to help female students focus on culturally-specific behaviors among African-American women. Their unique struggles have yet to be completely explored. Q Is your focus on all women s mental health A My concern and compassion is for the well-being of all women around the world. As a trauma specialist I ve spent most of my career focusing on the needs of women and children specifically in populations of the underserved. Since those populations did not include very many Caucasian women I don t have that much experience with their nuances. However I do believe that being a woman I can help women across races and cultural lines feel better. 16 Women of Distinction Dr. Gail L.Berman-Martin Food & Beverage Founder Chief Executive Officer of Femme Forte LLC Fall River MA 17 It s supposed to be hard. If it wasn t hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great A League of TheirWomen(1992) Own of Distinction D r. Gail L. Berman-Martin spent her entire professional career at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD) counseling mentoring and inspiring students to pursue and achieve their career goals. After earning a Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling from Bridgewater State University in 1976 Dr. BermanMartin was hired as a career counselor life skills educator in a federally-funded employment and training program before working as Career Counselor at UMD in 1978 where she continued to develop her counseling and administrative skills. She was also Union President Educational Services Unit Local 1895 at UMD from 1988 to 1993 and was responsible for starting the Office of Community Service & Volunteerism. Then after completing a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 1999 she was promoted to Director of Career Services. In 2007 Dr. Berman-Martin was in a near fatal car accident and learned a very important lesson Live each day in a positive way. So as Dr. Berman-Martin began approaching retirement age she started considering her own goals and passions and began researching a new challenge How can women stay healthier and stronger before the onset of menopause and beyond As we age bone density decreases as calcium is depleted. I was personally affected by this issue while caring for my mother who suffered from a severe case of osteoporosis and many fractures. Subsequently I was also diagnosed with the same bone disease. After researching osteoporosis I discovered that 80% of women 50 years of age and over are diagnosed with either osteoporosis or osteopenia (precursor to osteoporosis) Back then doctors prescribed 1 000 mg of calcium in hard to swallow pills (horse pills) or by annual injections of a prescription drug that causes painful side effects for many women. My mission was clear To create a delicious calcium-fortified beverage that women would love to drink Femme Forte Femme Forte means strong woman in French. Femme Forte LLC became a reality in January 2015 after outsourcing a juice producing co-packer a supplement company to supply calcium and other minerals and a formulation company to create the right blend of juices and supplements that provide the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) of calcium and other essential nutrients in one delicious juice cocktail that women will enjoy and that helps to keep them healthy and strong. Femme Forte comes in three flavors all consisting of a very rich antioxidant juice with black currant as the base then blended with either blueberry cranberry or raspberry juice. She owns all the trademarks beverage formulas secret recipes and rights to Femme Forte LLC. In addition Dr. Berman-Martin has been selected as a top finalist in the 2015 CWE Woman-Owned Business Challenge. She is truly someone who helps women live longer and stay stronger . Dr. Berman-Martin is married to Steven Martin and has one stepson Corey Martin. She loves the theatre and performing arts and has served as the President of New Bedford Festival Theatre for the past ten years. 18 Women of Distinction Shannon L. Williamson Ph.D. CCC-SLP Healthcare-Speech-Language Pathology (speech therapy services for children with speech and language learning impairment) Director Owner of Upstate Pediatric Speech Therapy Services Inc. 19 Mauldin SC Women of Distinction W ith hard work and determination you can accomplish anything. This philosophy was passed on to Shannon Williamson by her parents at an early age. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology from Columbia College (with Summa Cum Laude honors) and a Master of Speech Pathology from the University of South Carolina Shannon became a licensed speech-language pathologist in 1996. Her first job was as a pediatric speech-language pathologist at the Hitchcock Rehabilitation Center in Aiken SC. She later transitioned to a public school setting and was employed as a school speech-language pathologist for Lexington Richland School District 5 in Irmo SC and became the lead therapist at her school and a curriculum coordinator for speech-language pathology services in the county. During that time Shannon continued her education by taking night and summer classes at the University of South Carolina and obtained a Ph.D. in Speech-Language Pathology in 2001. I feel that I have lived the American dream by starting my own business and have watched it flourish and grow. We are currently negotiating a building expansion so that we can incorporate more therapists and services. My hope is to leave this business to my children and continue to help and serve the pediatric patients of upstate South Carolina. We strive for excellence in service and education for children and their families. In addition to her own caseload Shannon also performs administrative duties by overseeing the billing scheduling intake information of the office staff. She also performs all initial evaluations and meets each new family personally to determine the specific need for each child as well as the best suited therapist for each problem. I have a love for serving the pediatric population. The more education I ve received the more I realize there is so much more that we don t know. I ve continued my quest for learning and have achieved advanced training and certifications in neurofeedback integrated listening and orofacial myology. Shannon has participated in case studies with integrated listening and collaborated with them regarding studies for auditory processing working memory. She has also collaborated with New Mind Center in Atlanta Georgia to offer neurological therapy for children with attentional learning disorders. Additionally she is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and the International Association of Healthcare Professionals. This working mother is married with two children (ages 10 and 12) and is very involved in their lives. My mother and father both stressed the importance of education. They have been my role models for excellence both personally and professionally. Today Shannon is the Owner and Director of Upstate Pediatric Speech Therapy Services Inc in Mauldin SC. With a staff of seven speech-language pathologists and two office staff the clinic provides services to children in private schools during and after school hours and is currently contracted with five schools in the area. I participate in their school I do volunteer work by performing free speech-language screenings at their school and attend afterschool functions. 20 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What is a speech-language pathologist A An SLP is a practitioner with at least a master level degree as well as certified clinical hours to pass a board exam a speech therapist holds just a bachelor degree. Q What types of jobs can a speech-language pathologist do A An SLP can work in pediatric or geriatric settings full or part-time they are employed in public schools rehabilitation clinics hospitals private practice and universities. Q Why do you feel that your business is relevant in today s world A Parents are searching for help for their children. Our practice incorporates neurological approaches and technology to address speech language disabilities. Q What age demographic do you serve and what type of problems do you treat A We typically serve students ages 3-21 chronologically however their developmental ages may be younger. Disorders range from mild impairments with articulation problems to more severe handicaps such as autism. Q What types of neurological approaches does your practice offer A We offer integrated listening systems to help with sensorymotor impairments and reading processing disorders. We also offer EEG biofeedback. This therapy has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics to treat attentional disorders. Q What types of outcomes do you see with your patients by using these approaches A Many of our patients do not need as many special classes or accommodations at school due to our treatment and have been able to decrease their medications or not take medication at all. Q Is there anything unique about your practice or anything that makes it stand out A I am one of the few speech-language pathologists with a Ph.D. performing clinical work and not in an academic setting. In addition to my education our company stands out by having very experienced staff that focuses on the family. The family is very involved in our therapy which accounts for our success rate and the children s success in school. Besides our broad scope of services we house another business in our facility a vision therapy practice that we refer students to if they re struggling with reading and or learning. Q Have the changes in healthcare affected your practice If so how have you dealt with it A Yes many of our patients benefits were cut reduced or changed by limiting their coverage. We try to thoroughly investigate benefits eligibility prior to starting treatment so that there are no surprises. Ultimately the parents are responsible so more work at the beginning will help the relationship with the family since many of our patients are long-term clients. Q Where do you see your business in the next five years A We are expanding our business site to include a bigger 5 000 square foot office space to be able to serve all of our patients in one convenient location. We will continue to grow with the times to serve patients best incorporating both traditional and neurological approaches to maximize treatment benefits. 21 Women of Distinction Yvonne Singleton Davis Empowerment of Girls and Women Founder President & Chief Executive Officer of Sister to Sister One in the Spirit 22 Women of Distinction New York NY vonne Singleton Davis was born and raised in New York City and is the Founder President and CEO of Sister to Sister One in the Spirit Inc. a 501(c) (3) nonprofit and tax-exempt empowerment organization for girls and women based in Harlem. Out of a strong desire of wanting to help girls and women become empowered through obtaining information in areas (such as healthcare and finance) that otherwise would not have been made available to them she founded the organization in 2001. (Learn more about this in the Q & A section.) Through Sister to Sister (as the organization is known to most) Yvonne strongly believes that she is living her divine purpose and is extremely passionate about her work to make a positive difference by empowering and impacting the lives of girls and women in the United States and around the globe. The organization is affiliated with the Urban Sisters (US) program created for girls between the ages of 6 and 13 the Sister to Sister Knit & Crochet Circle and the Bushikori Education for Girls Project which provides scholarships for the education of girls at the Bushikori Christian Centre in Mbale Uganda East Africa. With the invitation of the Women s Intercultural Network (WIN) Yvonne will represent Sister to Sister through its involvement as a member of WIN and as a non-government organization (NGO) to the United Nations. (She recently applied to the United Nations for Sister to Sister to obtain its own NGO status.) They will work in alignment with their mission to address issues of inequality and empowerment among girls and women. Yvonne is also a published author a contributing writer and was recently made Assistant Editor-at-Large for the Gumbo for the Soul Publications (published out of California). She has contributed to Gifted Women an online magazine. This highly savvy educator who advocates on behalf of the children she loves grew increasingly frustrated with the misconception that teachers were solely responsible for the city s failing schools. Therefore she courageously decided to speak the truth stepped out on faith and authored the riveting jaw-dropping must-read book Teachers Under Siege . Y Moreover by having earned a Bachelor of Arts in English a Master of Arts in Language and Literacy and a Master of Science in Administration and Supervision from the City College of New York Yvonne was a featured educator in a past documentary aired on WABC-TV s Like It Is with the late Gil Noble and made a guest appearance on a talk show aired on 98.7 WRKS-FM Radio in 2005 as well as on 90.3 WHCRFM in 2011. She s been nominated to receive the Walt Disney s American Teacher Award and is a multiple-year honoree listed in Who s Who Among America s Teachers where the best teachers in America are nominated for induction by the best students. In June 2013 Yvonne received a Community Service Award from the Waverly and Thelma Jones Educational Foundation Inc. In addition she is on the Board of the Central Harlem Senior Citizens Centers Inc. and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. Yvonne still lives in New York City and is married to Wesley J. Davis (retired). She has four granddaughters who she loves immensely Brittany Bryant a student at Long Island University (Brooklyn Campus) Briana Bryant who attends elementary school in Brooklyn NY Shontele Sands a high school student in Greensboro NC and Makelah Sands who attends elementary school in Greensboro NC. And in her free time she enjoys to knit and crochet as well as swimming land and water aerobics walking and listening to music. Ideally she just wants to be remembered as someone who did her best to positively impact the lives of others inspiring empowering and motivating them to experience a better quality of life. 23 Women of Distinction Q&A Q How did Sister to Sister get started A Sister to Sister started in 2001 and grew out of my diagnosis of breast cancer and a desire of wanting to help women who may have experienced and or struggled through similar health issues and the mental anguish that can accompany them. Q How has the organization grown over time A We started in a church but have now evolved and moved out into the broader community-at-large where we have gained more exposure and established positive relationships working closely with restaurant owners health care professionals and other entrepreneurs in the city. Q Why do you focus primarily on empowering girls and women of color A We do so because they predominately comprise of the Harlem community that we serve. They re usually the most forgotten group and often times have little finances coming out of single parent homes with little resources from which to draw. However we embrace all women. Q Who are some of the powerful women that have supported your conferences A We ve been blessed to have Judge Karen Mills Francis from the syndicated television show Supreme Court Justice renowned actress Sheryl Lee Ralph and Vera Moore CEO of Vera Moore Cosmetics among other women of influence at some of our events and conferences. Q Why did you decide to sponsor the education of children in Africa A They have a thirst for education and their needs are so much greater than many here in the United States. They re orphaned and living in meager conditions due to their parents who have either been killed or died as a result of AIDS. Q In what other ways do you help the children whose education you sponsor in Africa A We send them packages containing articles of clothing pajamas and shoes. Additionally the Sister to Sister Knit & Crochet Circle has made them handcrafted hats and scarves which have been shipped to them in recent years. Q Where in New York City have you hosted conferences and other events A We ve held our conferences and other events at Aaron Davis Hall the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and most recently the Museum of the City of New York. Q How do inner city children in the United States benefit from your organization A We ve created Urban Sisters (US) for underprivileged girls ages 6 to 13 and have partnered with Camp Olmsted located in Cornwall on Hudson NY to sponsor them in a two-week summer camp experience where they re mentored to help build their character confidence and self-esteem. Q What are some of the challenges you face as an administrator A One of the many challenges is finding funding sources for our various programming. Another would be finding individuals who share the vision and are willing to commit themselves to doing the work. Q Have you ever mismanaged funds either in a nonprofit or for profit position A Absolutely not We have an experienced treasurer Amelia Montgomery whose integrity in managing our funds is second to none. Our records are for public consumption and we pride ourselves on our demonstrating accuracy and honesty in maintaining those records. Q What would your professional peers say about your management style A I would hope that they would tell me the truth being that I operate with complete integrity. I make a conscious effort to treat everyone in the same manner that I would like to be treated. I m wise in my decision making fair when dealing with people and giving while caring and being compassionate and considerate of others feelings. 24 Women of Distinction Elleanor Jean Hendley E Education NPO Founder Chief Executive Officer Teenshop Inc. Philadelphia PA mmy Award - winning former education news reporter talk show producer and host Elleanor Jean Hendley worked for CBS3 TV in Philadelphia PA for 25 years. In 1985 Elleanor created Teenshop Inc. a volunteer weekend nonprofit for Girls with Goals . As Founder and CEO of Teenshop Inc. Elleanor s responsibilities include developing its program of life-skills workshops college tours and community service and the management of a dedicated professional volunteer team of chapter leaders and board of directors. In her free time Elleanor is a student of jazz piano avid collector of African-American dolls and a seamstress. She also spends time mentoring several college students and recent college graduates. I never planned for the program to expand into other neighborhoods or cities despite repeated requests from parents and other community stakeholders about the need to help more girls. While Elleanor continued her broadcasting career three additional Teenshop Inc. chapters were established including one in Los Angeles CA. After leaving broadcasting Elleanor decided to direct her full focus to directing Teenshop. As of 2015 Teenshop Inc. has a total of 5 chapters in three states recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and over 7 000 girls have been enrolled. As someone who simply wants to make a positive difference the word retirement isn t in my vocabulary. I m always open to a new opportunity challenge or adventure. In fact one day I hope to have my own jazz ensemble In the following interview Elleanor further reflects on her nonprofit and visions for the futures of females in society My commitment to helping girls achieve is rooted in the experiences that I had growing up in a home where my parents both college educated professionals were able to provide abundant opportunities for my sister and me. But with those blessings they instilled the value of community service. 25 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What do you need to help sustain and grow your organization A Like many small nonprofits we need dedicated resources capacity building and operational grants. These funds would enable Teenshop to employ a manager to help me sustain and expand our program to serve more girls. Q How has the Teenshop weekend model been a catalyst for other opportunities to serve girls A We launched Girls With Goals an after school program which is presented at a few selected schools. In 2005 I created Girls Achieve the signature program of my company EJ Hendley Consultants LLC which empowers girls during the school day. And I m completing the Girls Achieve Activity Book for middle school girls. Q With two women from both major political parties vying for the Presidential nomination what message does this send to girls with whom you work A I believe it sends a strong message to girls that they can pursue whatever goal they dream may be possible. Q What innovative programs have you created that are unique to your region A Our Residential College Preparatory Summer Program for Rising Senior Scholars which is open to girls nationwide is held at Bryn Mawr College and prepares students for success in college and careers. We serve the community through our Shoes for Life Community Service Project a daylong annual event which provides free donated shoes for families in need girls going to prom and free foot exams from the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine. Q Why do emphasize the importance of education in your program A Education is the key to success. It s the foundation that helps make goals achievable and Teenshop is proud that all of our girls matriculate to college. Q As an award winning broadcast journalist what impact do you think the media has had and continues to have on how girls and women are covered A Many media images of women and girls continue to promote negative stereotypes. There are too few examples of women in position of power and influence. Because of this reality it s critically important to have programs for girls that enhance their self-esteem and provide positive examples of women achievers. Q What are you most proud of about Teenshop A Many of our girls come from disadvantaged homes but in Teenshop they are exposed to opportunities that might otherwise not be available to them. And I m very proud that we have alumnae now college graduates successfully pursuing their careers volunteering as leaders in their former chapters and serving on our board of directors. I ve been empowering girls since my tenure as a New Jersey public school teacher during which time I started an after school charm and dance club. When I began my broadcasting career founding Teenshop was a natural extension of my continuing passion to share some of my adolescent experiences with girls through creative and innovative programs. 26 Women of Distinction Judith Dickson Writing Independent Author Hartford CT P urchasing her very first piece of property in November 2014 a condominium in Hartford Connecticut with her significant other Robert Judith Dickson decided to retire to work on her writing career. With plans to write about her experience of purchasing a piece of property she could now call her own Judith hoped to help other first time buyers in the process. Published by Archway Publishing in 2015 2016 her self-help guide is called A Successful and Proven Home-Buyers Guide Putting It All Together. I have always loved to read and write Judith admitted and after several years of working in different industries I decided to begin a new career in writing. I guess it took me some time to assess what I really enjoyed doing. I have had an artistic background since high school and was always interested in the arts. I never forgot the adage that one should do what they love and the money will follow but it is not all about money for me. Writing allows me to take what I feel inside and turn it into a story enticing the reader and perhaps they will want to purchase my book as a result. As an Independent Author Judith is always looking for new topics to research now that her first book is complete. Because she no longer works for someone else she has the luxury of putting in her own hours although she admits to setting aside at least an hour or two each day usually seven days a week. Judith says that it s easy to turn anything in life into a story. Because writing is such a wide open field there are so many topics for writers to write about and so many genres to choose from. From biographies and memoirs to fiction nonfiction and mysteries the possibilities are endless. I must say that I hope to serve other potential writers out there as a springboard Judith noted about how she hopes to inspire others. If you look deep inside yourself there is a story there. Keep your eyes and ears open and talk to everyone. You may be surprised what you come up with. As a new professional writer Judith relies on some of her favorite authors to teach her about the writing process. Her favorite author is Gail Sheehey. Having just read her new book entitled Daring she also read another great book of hers called Passages several years ago. Judith thinks Gail is the most courageous writers she has ever read about. 27 Women of Distinction While there are thousands of authors out there from which to learn Judith also believes in attending writing workshops because they teach you about so many aspects of writing that you probably never thought even existed. It is also a great way to interact with other writers and learn more about the field itself. One workshop Judith participated in was through Writers Digest University. They have a diverse site that she believes is great for educating people. Judith is also an active member of National Association of Independent Authors as well as several other networking organizations. Currently in the process of putting together her own website so she can market her book and future books and be able to reach out to the masses Judith is eager to share her story with the world. She would love readers to know that she is available at any time to chat about the joys of writing and she welcomes those to contact her. She loves giving advice and if there is anything she can do to help someone else in the field or someone just considering taking the journey with her she is here to talk. The younger of two daughters Judith has an older sister who lives in Miami Florida and works as an adjunct professor for Miami-Dade University. Their parents are both now deceased. Searching for years for her soul mate Robert and she have been living together for more than 16 years. Offering different points of view in the many facets of life Robert has been very supportive of her writing career and has given her the space she needs to write. Having worked for large insurance company for 28 years he is now officially retired. While he likes to spend his down time reading doing photography and dabbling in investments Judith prefers gardening and swimming when the weather is cooperative. I hope to share as many of my books with the world as I can. I also hope that others will do whatever makes them just as happy as writing makes me. Life is short time goes quickly so start now Judith concluded. There will always be better writers than myself but I have always been drawn to challenges Judith added about the complexities of working in this field. But I never give up. Brought up in an athletic family whose mindset is to never stop trying although we may fall we always pick ourselves back up and move forward. With so many naysayers in this world I have personally had people ask me why I have decided to begin writing in this phase of my life. I say why not You have to believe in yourself. You just might make a difference. Judith earned her Bachelor s Degree in Education from Boston University in 1975. She completed her Paralegal Certification from The University of Hartford in May 2004 and her Medical and Coding Certification from Goodwin College in June 2011. Applying for her Master s Degree in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University just recently Judith cannot wait for the journey ahead. She loves to read and enjoys learning everything she can about topics that truly interest her. It is never too late to learn something new. The New York Sunday Times and the Wall Street Journal are two of Judith s favorite reads. Presently listening to The Great Courses an array of writing tapes that happens to be advertised in the Wall Street Journal Judith is also listening to Writing Creative Non-Fiction which is narrated by Professor Tilar J. Mazzeo. Tiller is best known for having taught British and European literature at Colby College. The tapes include a series of 24 topics that Tiller wrote for The New York Times. 28 Women of Distinction Dr. Philomena Chika Duru Healthcare - Nursing Senior Director Of Nursing - Steward Healthcare System Taunton MA D r. Philomena Chika Duru grew up learning to help others and knew that it was her calling to continue doing so. Thus she started her journey into the healthcare field by earning her Associate Degree in Laboratory Science in 1987. She derives satisfaction from helping people (particularly sick people) and making a difference in their lives. It was definitely a step in the right direction at the time. However as happy as I was to be working in healthcare I felt short of the human interaction and fulfillment that I was seeking. I wanted to help people. Therefore in 1990 Chika began studying to become a nurse another health-related career but in closer proximity to patients this time. She earned an Associate Degree in Nursing in 1994 and continued her academic ascent until finally earning her Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2013. Today as a Senior Director of Nursing for the Steward Healthcare System (in collaboration with other senior nursing leaders) Chika s responsibilities include (but are not limited to) overseeing the daily operation of inpatient departments staff education management of the directors managers and supervisors and ultimately ensuring that compassionate and quality clinical services are provided to patients. She is also the chairperson responsible for the hospital-wide patient flow and the patient and family advisory council where she coordinates the committee to assist in the improvement of the patient and family experience. The joy and fulfillment I feel when people I don t even remember show up to thank me because at some point in their lives I inspired them in one way or another are overwhelmingly powerful. Chika is very passionate and committed to quality nursing care. The word can t is off limits in my book. I believe that everything is possible as long as you are determined. I can truly say that I love taking risks embrace challenges without a flinch and do not pass up any opportunities. I give every opportunity a chance. She wants to continue making positive and significant impacts to the healthcare system and be known as one of the experts in the industry who improved the system of care translated evidence gained through research into practice and promoted patient safety. 29 Women of Distinction Q&A Q How involved should families be in the care of their loved ones A It is important to encourage families to be part of the healing team when their loved ones are being cared for by caregivers not only while they re in a hospital but also while at home. It is also important to be knowledgeable of the disease condition along with the treatment regimen to promote full recovery and prevent readmission to the hospital. Q Should patients ask questions when they are being cared for A Absolutely. Questions about their condition treatment plan progress report and medication should always be asked. They should have a partnering-to-heal mind set. Q Should people be encouraged to join the nursing profession for financial reasons A Absolutely not. Nursing is a dignified profession requiring individuals with compassion. It is one of careers that uproots from an intuitive and honorable calling and not just a mere skills-acquired profession. Q Are leaders born or made A Some leaders are naturally gifted or inherit qualities that predispose them to be in charge and are therefore better suited to lead while others acquire the skills through learning. Either way they not only have expertise to share but also have the ability to exercise purposeful influence on others. Q Is there any need to see your primary care physician if you do not have health problems A Absolutely. Regardless of your health status with or without a health condition it is imperative that you see your primary care physician routinely to check your health status. You cannot always identify health issues from the physical features. Q What advice do you have for patients who like to protect their health A It is crucial to understand your body. Besides keeping up with your primary care doctor for routine health screenings eating a well-balanced diet and exercising often are equally important. Q How much exercise does a woman need to control her weight A It is recommended to exercise for 60 minutes 3-5 times a week. Prior to exercising you have to be sure you understand your body. Q Should patients be educated even when they are symptom-free A Certainly. Preventative health is always the way to go. Patients need to know how to protect promote and maintain their health and well-being. Health education is not only important when a patient is hospitalized it is especially important to learn how to prevent diseases and stay healthy at home. Q Are family members required to comply with hospital infection control measures when visiting their loved one(s) in the hospital A Absolutely. Infection control is a team effort. Patients and families must team up to prevent healthcare associated infections. Q What is the most important symptom a woman shouldn t ignore A As much as it is not advisable to ignore any symptom it is definitely important to seek medical advice for pains around the chest upper arm back jaw and neck as they may be associated with a heart attack. For women the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack may be unique and different from men. A woman s health is delicate and must be protected. Bleeding or stroke-related symptoms by any means should never be ignored either. 30 Women of Distinction Anne M. Deatly PhD EEM-AP Healthcare Holistic Health Alternative Medicine (specifically Energy Medicine) Director of E Quantum Breakthroughs (part of Optimal Health and Wellness Center LLC) Ho Ho Kus NJ nne M. Deatly was a Principal Research Scientist studying viruses to make vaccines at Pfizer before her significant other died of colon cancer. She felt there was some other modality that could ve saved his life. A I set out to discover how to be optimally healthy and heard about healing touch and energy medicine. So I Googled these terms and found the Energy Medicine Kit. Among the items in the kit was a small cut crystal ball on a red thread. Immediately my critical thinking brain dismissed this modality as woo-woo and nothing I could get involved in. However Anne saw that the pioneer of Energy Medicine Donna Eden was going to be in New York City (just a few miles away) the very next weekend and surprisingly her whole body shook. Anne listened to her body. I went to Donna s workshop with an open mind and learned that energy medicine taps into the innate wisdom of the body to heal itself. Within two weeks I was in my first class of the 2-year Energy Medicine certification program. But as Einstein explained years ago everything is energy. To change anything in your life you have to shift your energy. Once you do that there will be a shift in your physical body. When there s a block in your life (i.e. your relationships aren t what you want your life isn t fulfilling you can t get a new job or a raise etc.) there s a block in your energy field. She s also working on a new program Star Success Potentials designing a new strategy protocol to help people eliminate the energetic blocks of self-limiting beliefs. Before we are seven years old our brain is in a theta state and there are no filters. All your childish interpretations become part of the programming of your subconscious mind that keeps playing over and over your whole life. These beliefs affect your energy and ability to step into your personal power as an adult. I d like to provide an easy system for people to replace these limiting beliefs with more empowering ones to enable them to feel confident to go out in the world and promote messages related to their purpose. EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique known as tapping is powerful and affects changes in the meridians around phobias fear and anxiety. I ve discovered that limiting beliefs also reside in meridians as well as other energy systems. I d like to offer a complete removal process for limiting beliefs and unresolved emotional issues. I want to show people a higher potential for living and succeeding in whatever is important and meaningful to them. Anne would like to be remembered for helping people transform their lives. Today Anne is the sole owner of E Quantum Breakthroughs providing workshops to enlighten and awaken people to the REAL world around them . People want to be their best and I give them the tools to do that. There s so much more available to us that we haven t been taught. We ve limited our lives by believing that only the material world exists. 31 Women of Distinction Argentina D vila-Lu vano Education Health Economic Development Social Work President & Chief Executive Officer - California LULAC Institute Inc. Antioch CA F or the past few decades Argentina D vila-Lu vano has steadily worked in providing better lives for women families and children in need. As President and Chief Operating Officer of the California LULAC Institute a nonprofit based in Antioch California she has been able to work with people in at-risk communities and continues to help them succeed at making positive changes in their lives and to society. Argentina who was born in Diriamba Nicaragua and arrived in the United States as a child in 1960 received her Bachelor s Degree in Social Work specializing in Child Welfare from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1985. Following her graduation she immediately got to work in understanding the needs of those in less fortunate areas by traveling all around the world with most of her work being done in Houston Texas and Washington D.C. as well as in various areas in California including Los Angeles San Francisco San Jose Antioch and Hercules. Aside from her work with the California Leadership Institute Argentina also currently serves as Secretary for Friends of the Contra Costa Commission for Women Treasurer of the East Contra Costa Democrats for Action and as President of the Kiwanis Club of Brentwood. She was also a past President of the Kiwanis Club of Delta-Antioch and former Lt. Governor for Kiwanis Division 26. Her accomplishments as a well-known civil rights leader throughout the United States have seen her bring a positive change in policy for disabled Job Corp applicants and provide culturally competent food for the elderly. She has also provided assistance in forming a number of nonprofit organizations to benefit poverty stricken communities. I view challenges as opportunities. My goal is to help as many as I can to achieve their dreams as it is in giving that we receive. I want everyone to believe in themselves achieve their smart goals succeed and pay it forward. Argentina has played an important role at the California Leadership Institute since it was founded in 2007. She has also served as the Treasurer for LULAC National VicePresident of the Far West for Women Secretary for LULAC National Education Services Centers and California LULAC State Director from 2007-10 before eventually taking up her current position as President and CEO of the California Leadership Institute. The women s movement has strengthened me and given me a powerful voice as I battle for women s equality throughout the world. We still have a long way to go before we re fully embraced by society as it stands today. Stay in school and complete your education. Young men and women do not be in a rush to get married and have children. Start your own business investing in classes which provide an understandings in cultural differences which are critical in a global economy. In her spare time Argentina loves to spread the message of equality and provide programs that benefit children young adults and seniors. She also enjoys reading swimming walking outdoors and spending time with her family. 32 Women of Distinction Brandi M. Williams Healthcare Unit Assistant - Chest Pain Unit Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital Wyandotte MI W ith over a decade of experience in the Healthcare industry Brandi M. Williams continues to show her passion for helping others through her work as a Unit Assistant in the Chest Pain Unit at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital. Brandi was first inspired to begin her career as a medical assistant after her grandmother became ill. In order to better take care of her grandmother following her return from the hospital Brandi became a Certified Nursing Assistant with the American Red Cross in 2004. Aside from receiving certification as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) with the American Red Cross in 2004 Brandi has also received an Associate s Degree in Medical Billing and Coding from Sanford Brown College in 2011. Never quit your job because someone else may not feel you re doing your best. Just continue to do your job the best you can and always go by the book. I go above and beyond for my patients no matter how much some of my peers may criticize it. To further her skills as a Medical Assistant Brandi is currently pursuing a BBA degree with concentration in Health Information Management and is expected to graduate in April 2016. I have a heart for people so caring for the elderly and sick is what has kept me in this field. It s not about the money with me. Knowing that I had the chance to touch a heart and make a difference is what s important. Working as a Unit Assistant in the Chest Pain Unit requires Brandi to admit patients assist them with their personal needs and sometimes perform several different tests including EKG tests glucose checks and urine tests. She also makes sure that all of a patient s Electronic Medical Records are up to date for the doctors and nurses she works with on a daily basis. Her main goal is to make sure that all of her patients enjoy their stay in the Chest Pain Unit despite the condition they may enter it in. The best advice I can give someone is to always be prepared because working in this industry isn t always easy. However being able to brighten someone s day by showing them you genuinely care makes everything worth it. The legacy I would like to leave behind is one of loyalty and honesty. I m always helping others regardless of whether I m receiving something in return or not. When she isn t working Brandi loves to spend time with her two young children and cook food to give to those in need including veterans and the homeless. As a lover of music she also enjoys singing and ballroom dancing at EARS Financial Showplace. I m a very passionate outspoken and caring woman. I know myself well enough to not let other people s opinions of me have an effect on what I do. 33 Women of Distinction Christina Rinnert Social Work Non-profit Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator Prevention Educator with HAVEN of Tioga County Wellsboro PA C Issues surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault have directly impacted my life and I felt drawn to become involved with HAVEN so that I could be a part of the solution to the problem. hristina Rinnert became involved with HAVEN after she went back to college to earn her degree in 2009. She has been in the Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator Prevention Educator position since May 2014 however her involvement with these issues began in the mid1980s. Surviving domestic violence and sexual abuse has forced me to evaluate my own place in the world. Christina came to the profound realization that everyone needs to do what they can to make a difference in the lives of others. HAVEN allows her to make an impact on all age groups within her community and gives people a chance to change their minds and lives. I have been in the lowest places imaginable having endured and escaped from domestic violence but those things have only made me stronger and more resilient. Christina is able to stand in front of rooms full of young people and talk to them about issues like consent rape culture red flags in relationships and building better relationships because she has been there and speaks from a place of experience and knowledge. I believe the students understand that I ve been there and that makes them more likely to listen to me and hopefully heed my advice. If they do that then this world can be changed for the better. Christina tells her classes that their mission is to put her out of a job. She would love nothing more than to go into work one day and be told that the issues surrounding sexual assault and interpersonal violence have been radically altered and her services are no longer required. Knowing from personal experience that one person can make a difference keeps me moving forward each day. I feel drawn to teaching and this job gives me the chance to feel like a vital part of the cultural change that needs to take place in order to end violence in our lifetime. As the Outreach Coordinator and the Prevention Educator Christina s role is important to the mission of HAVEN. Her main task is to put out information about the organization via social media platforms newsletters that she creates and distributes Public Service Announcements she writes and publishes interviews conducted on radio or television locally and through attendance at various fairs and events throughout the county. Since starting her position within HAVEN Christina has doubled the number of Facebook and Twitter followers. She has also played a pivotal part in getting two satellite offices opened in other parts of the country. Until then I will keep doing my trainings encouraging young people to take charge of their relationships and their lives and to help their friends and family do that too. Maybe one day a young person somewhere remembers what I have told them and they make a smart decision instead of one they will be haunted by for the rest of their life. 34 Women of Distinction Deborah Anne Dillon Healthcare Wellness Coaching Alternative Wellness Coach - Gypsies Soul65 Manteca CA s a sufferer of several chronic illnesses for more than a decade Debbie Dillon was inspired to change her life for the better by developing a healthier diet. This positive change in her life is what led to the beginning of her career as an Alternative Wellness Coach for Gypsies Soul65 an organization which she founded in 2015. Since 2003 Debbie has experienced a number of problems with her health including a Factor IV blood clotting disorder IBS two heart attacks COPD and cluster migraines which had all led to her taking up to 31 medications at one point. In 2014 however she was inspired by close friend Roberta Fujioka who had been battling Stage IV lung cancer for three years at the time to turn her life around through the magic of food. A As Owner and Health Coach at Gypsies Soul65 Debbie is required to put specialized programs together for her clients who she meets with at least twice a month which include proper exercise and dieting routines. The best advice I could give to someone in this field is to believe in themselves. This amazing industry is continuing to grow so fast and there is a lot of valuable knowledge to be shared. Our clients can use this knowledge to reverse their chronic illnesses through the consumption of certain foods. Food will change your life. Aside from her work as a health coach Debbie is also a Market Representative for Monat Hair Products. Her work as a health coach has seen her speak and share her knowledge at her local YMCA during a Foods for Cancer Prevention program as well. She has also been an affiliate for the Evolution of Medicine Summit and the Childhood Obesity Summit in the past. Debbie who is a mother of two grown sons living in California and Chicago currently lives in California with her husband Jerry Dillon. Listen to your body you know your body better than anyone else. Individuality is also very important. One person s preferred food could be another s poison. If the food is right then medicine isn t always needed. I have a desire to help people change their lives. I want to show people that they can certainly reverse a lot of their illnesses through a proper diet a healthy sleeping pattern and exercise. Doctors don t always spend a lot of time discussing these things with their patients and they don t always look at the other aspects of a patient s life in order to help them construct a proper plan to get better. Debbie quickly took the lessons she learned from Roberta who sadly passed away in August 2015 to heart and began her journey as an alternative wellness coach. As of October 2015 she is still earning her certification as a health coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Thanks to the positive changes she made to her diet and daily habits Debbie is now down to taking just five medications. 35 Women of Distinction Diane J. Shea Ph.D. Higher Education Associate Professor - Holy Family University Newtown PA fter earning her PhD in Academic Counseling Psychology in 2006 Diane Shea was hired by Holy Family University as an Assistant Professor. She was recently promoted to Associate Professor. A She also has experience working as a therapist for adolescents in the juvenile justice system in Michigan and was director of a residential facility for homeless teenage mothers and babies in New York. And she is a former member of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The years I spent with them gave me the impetus to find ways to integrate spirituality and psychology. She recently released her book Cognitive Behavioral Approaches for Counselors . I primarily teach in the graduate program for counseling psychology. In addition to teaching I am the advisor for graduate students with a concentration on school counseling. I have remained at Holy Family University for a number of reasons. The most important are my colleagues and students. I learn from and am inspired by them each day. Diane feels that anyone who wishes to pursue a career in higher education must have the patience to earn a doctorate. You must be willing to spend countless nights writing papers and doing research. Also have a self-care plan so you don t become overwhelmed in the process. And make sure you have friends you can trust to encourage you. Throughout her career Diane has been inspired by her great teachers and colleagues. My first psychology teacher Sister Agnes Hughes is still active at Immaculata University. And I could not have made it through graduate school without the encouragement of Mary Ann Hannon and Denise Horton. In addition to teaching at Holy Family Diane was also a member of Menago Associates an organization that offers educational and consultant services to various intermediate units in Pennsylvania. She was the former Director of Residential Services for the Child Welfare Division of Elwyn Institute. Diane even served as a supervisor for school counselors and psychologists in non-public schools throughout Bucks County. This book is written from the common factors perspective. It is a scholarly yet engaging book that introduces the historical development process evaluation and application methods of Albert Ellis Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and Aaron Beck s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). I have also published other articles regarding the effects of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy. Aside from the legacy left from her published works Diane would like to be remembered as someone who encouraged growth in her students and was loyal to her friends. I also hope I was able to emphasize the importance of advocating for social justice and equality for everyone. 36 Women of Distinction Jessica M. McCulloch Nonprofit Health and Medical Assistance Co-Founder President - Warrior Families Beating Spina Bifida Foundation Roseville OH s President and Co-Founder of Warrior Families Beating Spina Bifida Foundation Jessica McCulloch is set on helping families find proactive ways to fight and beat spina bifida. In 2011 Jessica whose daughter Ava was born with spina bifida in 2008 and her friend Kara Underwood whose son was also born with the birth defect decided that it was time to begin an organization to help people who were in the same situation as them. Warrior Families Beating Spina Bifida Foundation became a nonprofit in 2012. A I ve learned that when someone tells you something is impossible that s their fear speaking. People need to have faith unite and help each other. I ve also learned that God can change your life and that miracles can happen. Jessica s biggest inspirations in life are Jesus Christ and her close friends Kara Underwood Jennifer Tomc Cindy Smith and Krystle Creley who have all assisted her in getting through her struggles while remaining on her path to continue helping others. Her work has seen her earn the Brian T. Wagner Award and grant along with the CVS Community Grant though she insists that the best reward is aiding families in their fight against spina bifida. I want to do anything I can to help my daughter make sure she s happy and know that she s loved. There is hope and anything can happen when you have faith. In her leisure Jessica enjoys traveling with her family and researching medical advancements that may benefit her daughter and the people involved with her foundation. She and her husband also have a personal outreach program for several orphanages in Africa. I hope to see major advancements in the fight against spina bifida. I want to see doctors and therapists have a more hopeful outlook while helping families find the best way to fight this birth defect. When everyone tells you to give up keep pushing. No matter who you are God can lift you up and change your life. I have a true desire to help others whose children were born with spina bifida. My family wants to help others in our situation by showing them the amazing things that can happen when you have faith and pursue the right treatments. Jessica s role as president of the nonprofit sees her run virtually every aspect of the foundation including the handling of grant applications the handling of funds and the requesting of assistance from outside companies to be involved with certain grants. If you have a real passion for it pursue it. Always pray and treat others the way you want to be treated. There will be difficult moments and there will be people along the way who may disagree with you your thoughts or your beliefs. But everything will be okay. Aside from her work with the foundation Jessica is a stay-athome mother who home schools her children Ava and Ethan and helps her husband Travis run their family s lawn care and landscaping business. She also operates an appointmentonly hair salon. 37 Women of Distinction Kaloni C. Jensen I.E.W.P. Event Planning International Event and Wedding Professional for Cherry Creek Events Emmett Idaho My interest in the event business world started when I was a child at my aunt s restaurant and banquet hall. aloni C. Jensen attended her first wedding show in Boise Idaho during her junior year of high school. Kaloni was self-taught until she discovered the QC Event School where she attended and graduated as an officially certified International Event and Wedding Professional in December of 2013. Although Kaloni started working as a sole proprietor she soon launched a D.B.A. name change to Cherry Creek Events in October of 2014. K Even when she s not working Kaloni is always attempting to accomplish something. She volunteers often or advocates for the family as a fundamental unit of society through her association with Big Ocean Women where she serves as the President of the Idaho chapter. Kaloni spends her free time blogging and connecting with her online readers singing with the local community women s choir hunting fishing camping hiking and just about anything outdoors. She loves learning new things dancing and reading but her absolute favorite past time is mixing up cookie dough in the kitchen with her sisters and spending time with her family. From a young age I have networked and built my name in the industry. I trained and built experience while working for other event and wedding businesses in order to learn from my mentors what skills qualities and characteristics will foster success. With her natural talents for organization cutting deals and an eye for creativity Kaloni owns and operates Cherry Creek Events as an International Event and Wedding Professional. Her duties include planning events and weddings creating different packages for client selection and decorating for the events and weddings. Kaloni knows the importance of networking with others in her industry in order to bring the best quality for the best price to her clients. I want to be remembered as the woman who brought about positive change hope for a brighter future personally and professionally and inspired others to reach their dreams. I want my clients to know the attention and detail that goes into making their special day. Kaloni has six siblings two bothers and four sisters who were all raised together working on her parent s farm. Much of her nuclear and extended family all reside in the same town needless to say they are very tightknit. 38 Women of Distinction Residential Real Estate Appraisal Controller Premier Appraisal Group Inc. Richmond VA Leslie S. Rubio I n 2003 Leslie S. Rubio was in the market for a new kind of challenge. While attending a business-networking group she heard about a new startup company an appraisal business that was looking for someone to help them establish a footprint to manage their daily operations and to help grow the company. I felt like it was the challenge I needed and I liked that I could grow into my position. And now I ve watched as the startup company became a full service appraisal business flourishing and growing hiring new employees setting standards and writing procedures along with opening a second office in a new location. Although Leslie s position title is Controller she does a little bit of everything within the company. Her very personable nature compliments the established talents and skills that have allowed Leslie to benefit the company in numerous ways. She s involved in recruitment establishing guidelines and procedures marketing human resources and benefits management. However her largest role is the responsibility for the daily management of the business which includes financial management of the company. In her spare time Leslie likes to write and was a photojournalist and writer for an online travel magazine. She participates in local state and federal politics and is heavily involved in women s rights activism. Dedicated to her art Leslie enjoys photography travel and painting. She has painted murals in local homes and in the academic medical center hospital in Richmond VA. Leslie has worked through Make-a-Wish Foundation and partnered with charitable organizations involved with cancer and its research to donate art photography and murals. I am dedicated and multi-passionate. I care about others women s rights animal rights and our environment. As an activist Leslie has arranged protests and held rallies for women s rights at her state s capital. She s helped along with many other women to raise awareness about women s equality and the need for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Leslie has spoken before sub-committees at the State General Assembly Capital and at state boards regarding women s health and autonomy. I want to empower women and leave the world a more beautiful place one that recognizes each person s abilities and accomplishments and empowers them to do more to reach their goal. If they need help along the way I will be there. My mother is my greatest professional inspiration. She was a writer a news reporter and a photographer. For a short time she had her own column in our local newspaper. She was a strong single Mom. 39 Women of Distinction Loretta McCutchen Community Restoration Education Founder - The Last Shall Be First Project Author Shallotte NC s Founder of The Last Shall Be First Project Loretta McCutchen s main mission is to help those who are less fortunate. Aside from running her organization Loretta is also a writer and the author of a book titled The Glory of God Coming to a Town Near You which was published in 2013. After being forced to give up her careers in Nursing Assistance and Cosmetology due to a series of spinal injuries Loretta experienced a period of homelessness from 200812 as she waited to receive disability benefits. It was during this time of her life that she was inspired to bring change to communities through education and a love for God. A I would like to see an end to all of the hate in the world and I d like to see people treat the poor with more respect. We re all humans. Though her main work is done through her own organization Loretta also volunteers with Releasing Heaven Ministries ( and Patria Ministries (www. Her two main inspirations in her work are her good friends Yvonne Hicks who is President and Minister at Releasing Heaven Ministries and Pastor Michael B. French who is the President of Patria Ministries. In order for your dream to come true you must have a heart for your idea. Learn to love everyone and give hope to every man woman and child no matter what walk of life they come from. It s important to have a plan before you start anything especially in community restoration. You must make sure your plan properly suits the community you re helping. While homeless Loretta traveled to numerous cities around the United States and had noticed that a lot of people in her situation were going without food due to extremely long lines at shelters and soup kitchens. This discovery is what inspired her to begin handing out money to the last 12 people in every line she encountered which paved the way to the creation of The Last Shall Be First Project in 2010. Loretta believes that in order to create stability in personal lives and communities all people need food love education a sense of family and a spiritual connection which is what her organization focuses on bringing to every community she visits. Being kind to everyone and helping others is the way to live a happy and fulfilling life. You won t get rich but you will learn the meaning of true happiness. You will also learn how to pass it on to others with hopes of seeing them follow your lead. At moment Loretta is working on writing her second book and is currently furthering her work in Israel where she plans on opening an education center for women in the near future. In her free time Loretta enjoys writing creating music and working on 3D art which can be found at www. 40 Women of Distinction Mary Kay Lupton Soil Scientist and Pedologist Certified Professional Soil Scientist and Classifier PA Sewage Enforcement Officer and Chief Executive Officer of Soil & Land Investigations LLC Morrisdale PA M ary Kay Lupton is the Founder and CEO of Soil & Land Investigations LLC. She enjoys meeting and working with new clients regularly and helping them out. A typical day for her involves going out to the field and looking at soil to help determine the best use of it for clients. I also site areas where sewage disposal systems (AKA septic systems) can be built (given the soil s properties) and write reports on my findings as well as design septic systems issue permits for construction or repairs of sewage disposal systems and finalize construction inspections of the systems. Additionally I consult and do enforcement for local municipalities on matters related to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations pertaining ACT 537 and on lot sewage facilities. Mary Kay has always loved being outdoors and gardening but actually stumbled into the field of soil science in college. She started working at the USDA Agricultural Research Service Pasture Systems Watershed Management Research Unit as an Assistant Research Technician. After graduating she continued working at the USDA as a Biological Science Laboratory Technician while completing her Master in Soil Science. Mary Kay then worked for Penn State University as a Research Project Assistant in the Soil Characterization Laboratory with Dr. Patrick Drohan. I always realized the value of soil but learned how diverse soil could be and how every soil has a different personality. I became hooked on soils and all of their properties and enjoyed my soil judging classes (morphology and geomorphology) the most and knew that being in soil pits is where I wanted to be. I found it fascinating how you could tell the past history of the land and the best future uses of it just by looking at the soil. Many say soil is just dirt but what s hidden under your feet is truly vital. Without healthy soils we have no life. I started working in the soil field in 2004 and started Soil & Land Investigations LLC in 2009 while working at the Soil Characterization Lab. And in 2014 I started to work for myself as a Soil Scientist Consultant and Sewage Enforcement Officer. One of my favorites is when someone has purchased a piece of land wanting to build and found out that it does not pass for convention type of an on lot septic system through their local sewage agency SEO. I enjoy being the soil scientist who can find a suitable location for an alternate newer technology type of septic system which will work on poorer quality soils. I am always very happy when I can save the day. In her free time Mary Kay spends time with her family doing outdoor activities such as riding a motorcycle kayaking hiking and sport shooting. Mary Kay would like to help the world become a cleaner place by making sure that proper sewage disposal systems are being used. I d also like to pass on good values to my son so he can grow into a happy adult who can share his skills and talents with others. 41 Women of Distinction Mary Paige Forrester Contact Center Expert and Program Project Manager Director Advanced Services Project Manager Cisco Systems Raleigh NC M Everyone in Contact Centers has an interesting story about how they ended up in the industry. Although times have changed and there are now schools specifically for training to lead in the hospitality and contact center industries it wasn t like that in 1992 when I began my career. ary Paige Forrester grew up in a small town outside of the Charlotte NC area and began working at her father s medical practice at the age of 13. During college Mary Paige worked as a radio DJ at a local Public Service Station and had her own radio show. As her creativity blossomed during and after college Mary Paige decided to move to New York City where her extracurricular life was filled with cabaret shows theatre showcases modeling and wholesale showroom sales. At that time Mary Paige was as a Concierge at a luxury hotel which she regards as one of the most fun but challenging jobs she s ever had. After a while however Mary Paige grew tired of the weekend and holiday shifts and applied for a job at a Broadway ticket sales office. In this role Mary Paige had the opportunity to learn about the marketing and distribution center side of the business and this opportunity served as a great training ground in becoming a real leader and team builder. At a time when employee morale was at an all-time low and uncertainty filled the air due to the bankruptcy Mary Paige and her team still needed to increase staff to handle the ever-increasing contacts regarding backordered merchandise that they couldn t get back into stock. In the midst of this Mary Paige successfully increased the Customer Service staff by 300% while reducing the turnover rate in CS from 80% to 7%. The Employee Incentive Planning Guide Mary Paige created to achieve this has since been modified and published several times and featured in an Industry Incentives eBook. Her long and successful career has included working for the State of North Carolina serving a 2-year federal appointment with the Department of Homeland Security serving as the Director of Contact Centers for a major federal contractor and founding her own independent consulting business. Four interviews later and I was offered the 4pm-Midnight manager position at Tele-Charge the Shubert Organization s contact center for selling tickets to the shows in their theatres. Mary Paige s superiors saw her leadership potential work ethic and years of work experience so at age 25 she became the youngest manager on the Tele-Charge team. She directly led a team of 80 workers indirectly led a team of up to 175 workers including specialized reps and supervisors and processed payroll for a 320 person staff. In 1996 I chose to leave NYC to move back closer to my family in my home State of North Carolina. I knew contact centers and I knew the garment industry so I landed a position as the Customer Service Manager at a contact center for a catalog clothing company. I have successfully lead global project teams primarily in the area of contact centers and contact center related technologies applications solutions and services. This includes start-ups upgrades and other migrations depending on the customer and client needs. Mary Paige s passionate determined and resourceful management blends expertise in client relationship management contact center operations and innovative project direction to provide the highest caliber of program leadership. 42 Women of Distinction Michele Hooten Healthcare Home Healthcare Home Health Nurse CNA Caregiver - CareLink North Little Rock AR W orking as a Home Health Nurse and Caregiver for CareLink Michele Hooten is driven by her passion for helping others as she gives aide to the elderly who are unable to leave their homes due to medical conditions. Michele began her career in healthcare as a Licensed Practical Nurse at Colonel Belcher Hospital in Calgary Alberta Canada from 1972-74. Soon after getting married in 1980 she began studying to become a midwife but was forced to put her love for healthcare on hold following the birth of her first child. Her interest in midwifery led her to have all four of her kids through a natural birth at home which she has deemed as a wondrous experience. Michele s biggest inspiration when it comes to her work are all of her fellow nurses and doctors throughout the world who continue to give the utmost care to all of their patients regardless of their situation or condition. She also views Mother Teresa as a personal role model due to her dedication to providing care and treatment to people who would have been ignored otherwise. For those who want to work in the healthcare field make sure that this is exactly what you want to do. A lot of people realize that this isn t their true calling after a while but if you truly have a passion to care for the ill and enhance their quality of life then this is a path you might be interested in. She didn t return to working in the healthcare industry until the late 2000s following the closing of a commercial cleaning business she owned in 2008 though she quickly rediscovered her love for helping those in need. Some of Michele s responsibilities as a Home Health Nurse for CareLink include the monitoring of her patients medication nutrition and hygiene. The biggest lesson I ve learned is that you never stop learning new things. My patients have taught me how to face the worst circumstances with bravery strength fortitude a joyful heart and thankfulness. We don t have the right to complain about trivial things while there are people out there facing serious illnesses with a positive attitude. The law of reciprocity is very real and very important. If you give your all to love your neighbor just as you love yourself it will all come back to you. I know this because I m experiencing it now and hopefully my children and grandchildren will carry the torch to make their world a better place to live in as well. When she s not working Michele loves spending time with her family and taking care of her four grandchildren whom her and her husband have had permanent custody of since late 2014. In the future she plans on going back to school to finish earning a degree in Clinical Psychology. I have faced many times of despair and hopelessness but my strong faith in God and his plan for my loved ones and I has helped me get through it all. 43 Women of Distinction Michelle J. Ward Military Former Active Duty USAF Airman Stay-at-home Mom Irvine CA 44 Women of Distinction fter a long career as an Active Duty Airman in the United States Air Force Michelle J. Ward decided it was time to focus on what truly mattered most to her being a stay-at-home mom in order to spend more time with her young daughter Laila. A Know who you are and don t ever let anything change you or shake your confidence. You must find your own personal dream deep down inside of you and own it. Starting her military career as a member of the Security Response Team at Minot AFB in North Dakota in 2001 Michelle would eventually go on to become a Military Training Leader at Sheppard AFB in Texas and later a Military Justice Paralegal at Lackland AFB also in Texas. My passion for helping others is what kept me in the military for so long. I love having the ability to motivate and inspire people to do better even today. At the end of her career with the USAF Michelle was a First Sergeant whose main responsibility was to act as an advisor to the commander on all enlisted matters meaning she would play the role of mentor counselor and disciplinarian to her fellow service members in need. She decided to leave the military in 2015 in order to give the majority of her time to her daughter Laila who was born in 2010. Be your authentic self and everything else will fall into place. Embrace your differences instead of viewing them as flaws. During her time in the military Michelle earned several degrees at the Community College of the Air Force. She earned an A.S. in Criminal Justice in 2006 an A.S. in Education and Training Management in 2008 an A.S. in Paralegal Studies in 2009 and an A.S. in Human Resource Management in 2014. She also received a B.S. in Behavioral Science from Wilmington University in 2007. It took a lot of shaping and molding to make me the woman I am today. I made a lot of mistakes along the way but it never prevented me from receiving the great things God had planned for me. No matter what you ve been through or what you ve done there is still a chance for your dreams to come true. In her leisure Michelle loves spending as much time as possible with her daughter Laila and enjoys catching up with old friends when possible. She has also recently been accepted into a doctoral program at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Make time for those you care about. Time is far more valuable than anything money can buy. During my 14 years on active duty I traveled and did my best to show up for the ones I love. In the hustle and bustle of this world we tend to overlook the fact that sometimes all a person really wants is for you to prove you really care about them by being there. 45 Women of Distinction Dr. Maureen M. GouveiaWhitehead Education Founder Executive Director MMGW Christian Academy Inc. Orlando FL ttending college in the UK Dr. Maureen M. Gouveia-Whitehead always played a significant role in education. Accepted to Bedford College of Higher Education in England she graduated with her teaching certificate in 1979 and was offered a full-time position soon thereafter. Earning her tenure at Homerton House Secondary School as a Lead Teacher Maureen remained for eight years before becoming the Head of the Business Studies Department for Pimlico High School and later as a Lecturer II and Program Supervisor at Croydon College. A Courses include Ministry Gift Assessment Five Fold Ministry courses and arts courses such as Music Voice Training Dance and Poetry Writing. Skill Development Courses are also offered in English Practical Math Finance Banking ESL and Technology. Overseeing daily operations of her school Maureen chairs board meetings prepares curricula and assists with student recruitment and fundraising events. She is presently hiring volunteer instructors as well as other staff members for teaching courses. With over 30 years of experience in education and administration Maureen wanted to create a school that would proactively instill the importance of living in communities that boasts ethics integrity and most importantly God s will. Honored to serve as an ambassador for Capella University Maureen is involved in empowering and referring prospective students. She s also a member of convocation for the University of London. In 2008 she authored a book entitled Morvet s Memoirs God s Divine Intervention and Protection and in 2013 she authored The Investigation of Faculty Training Needs for Instructing Adult Nonstandard English Speakers. Maureen has her teaching certification from Bedford College of Higher Education a BA in Sociology with honors from North London University an MA in Educational Administration from the University of London and a PhD with distinction in Leadership for Higher Education from Capella University. Married for 15 years to a wonderful man Maureen has two adult step-children and grandchildren. I ve always wanted to see others succeed and I ve enjoyed doing my part in making it happen. As a leader and lifelong learner I m always excited about the changes education brings Maureen said. Moving back to the US Maureen became an Adjunct Instructor for Florida Metropolitan University in 1997 before taking a position as a General Education Professor with ITT Technical Institute. She then became Director of Education for Galiano Career Academy Director of Education for Centura Institute and finally Faculty Member for Southern Technical College. During her time with ITT Maureen also founded MMGW Inc. (as President and Owner) a publishing services company that specializes in typing and formatting services for original books cards verses for all occasions flyers and educational learning materials. Still in business today she s since founded her own school for adult learners MMGW Christian Academy Inc. MMGW Christian Academy is a non-profit corporation that provides both ministry and community education services. Located in Orlando Florida their mission is to assist students in developing ministry gifts refreshing and enhancing their various skills through programs that will produce confidence knowledge understanding and encouragement for work in the community. 46 Women of Distinction Shari Andrews Healthcare Network Marketer - Youngevity East Haddam CT s an advocate for natural medicine Shari Andrews is a woman on a mission to help others change their health through nutrition and biofeedback. For more than three decades Shari has been interested in the wonders of natural healing and is now in the process of starting her own biofeedback company Pioneer Healing. She was first inspired to begin learning about nutrition as a teenager in 1980 after witnessing her father who was suffering from an illness at the time change his health for the better through a proper diet. A Shari s biggest inspiration in her work has been her father who has constantly persevered in his research of finding natural ways to heal both the mind and body. Some people are ill and are looking to feel better but are not willing to make the necessary changes to heal. They expect some magic pill but fail to realize that the body will take time to repair itself just as it took time to break down. I take the time to listen to my clients and find ways to help them. I do whatever I can to make sure they have a good experience. Along with her work in natural healing Shari is involved with the Biofeedback Forum and the Global Mission for Peace. She is also currently raising funds to attend school for a degree in natural medicine. I ve been through many challenges but I m still standing. I earned a degree in something I wasn t truly passionate about but now at the age of 50 I m finally pursuing my passion. It s never too late to do what you love. In her free time Shari enjoys hiking cooking and reading especially about subjects that involve health and selfdevelopment. Find your passion. Everything works out when you spend your time doing what you love. Challenges will appear along the way but you will always find ways to overcome these challenges especially when it comes to your passion. Despite her interest in nutrition Shari went to school at Northeastern University to become a computer programmer eventually earning a Bachelor s Degree in Engineering and Technology. After working as a computer programmer and lead designer for several companies over the span of 22 years she decided to pursue her passion and begin a career in biofeedback. At the moment Shari is currently working as a Network Marketer for Youngevity. She is also a Certified Biofeedback Specialist and a Licensed Spiritual Health Coach. The biggest lesson I ve learned is to never give up. I ve made mistakes but these bumps in the road show us what works and what doesn t. The only thing you can do is learn from the mistake and move on. I would like people to know that they can rely on me because I truly care for others and the state of our planet. There s so much violence in the world and too many people aren t showing love and care to others. 47 Women of Distinction Valerie McKinney Food and Beverage Warehouse Distribution Warehouse Manager Coca-Cola Refreshments Las Vegas NV T here s something to be said about the proud feeling Valerie McKinney gets after taking care of customers that she just cannot get enough of. For almost 30 years Valerie has worked behind the scenes in warehouse management beginning with Federal Express in 1989 then with University of Phoenix Online and finally Navistar. Landing the title of Warehouse Manager with CocaCola in 2014 Valerie now oversees one of their largest standalone distribution centers located in Las Vegas Nevada. Overseeing a staff of 70 employees who process inbound and outbound product daily for customer orders Valerie also maintains an annual budget and productivity plan to ensure they are aligned with their goals. She takes a continuous improvement mindset to make changes that enhance the business and encourages her team to do the same. Additionally she serves as an Ambassador of Coca-Cola representing the organization within the community and being a part of annual volunteer events. Most recently she spent time with the Girls on the Run Organization teaching girls lessons about bullying self-esteem and healthy habits. Valerie has always been inspired to do what she loves by her mother who balanced her job children marriage and volunteer work every day with what seemed to be little effort. And while there is very little difference in how people should be managed as either a male or female boss it s important that Valerie express her thoughts and opinions and be the very best manager she can be. She never lets anyone hold her back from her goals and never lets herself get in her own way. Humble and not afraid to admit when she s wrong Valerie holds herself accountable for her actions in the same way she would hold an employee accountable. My immediate and extended family has instilled in me a strong spiritual foundation and I use it to build on in my life and in career she noted. Without their support and the foundation they ve helped me form I wouldn t be as successful as I am as a person woman or manager. When I was working with Federal Express I noticed that I liked the environment of working in the warehouse Valerie said whose mother was a shipping supervisor with Motorola for years. There was limited technology but it was great exposure to a team environment atmosphere. As I grew with the company I expressed my interest in management and was lucky to have two managers mentor and guide me through the process to get my endorsement to apply for management positions. Valerie has a BS in Business Administration an MBA and a Doctor of Education Leadership and is a member of International Women s Leadership Association and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. Single she has one niece who she s cared for since she was 10-years-old and works for Coca-Cola as a merchandiser. She also has a younger brother who lives in Phoenix. And while both of her parents are now deceased Valerie still feels their presence with each new day. 48 Women of Distinction Wendi Hatton Life Coaching Music Business Life Sales Coach - Wendi Hatton Coaching Clarinet Instructor Performer - Hatton Clarinet Studios Springfield VA W endi Hatton is a woman on a mission to change the world for the better through her music and her coaching. As an instructor and owner at Hatton Clarinet Studios and a life business and sales coach at Wendi Hatton Coaching she continues to work towards inspiring others to live the best lives they possibly can. After receiving her Masters of Music degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1981 Wendi joined the U.S. Navy Band in Washington DC as a clarinetist. Once she retired from the band in 1996 she decided to open Hatton Clarinet Studios where she continues to teach people of all ages and skill levels. After years of focusing on her music Wendi began a lifechanging journey of optimizing her health through coaching in 2011. Her experience with coaching helped her discover the huge impact it can have on the world which led to her launching Wendi Hatton Coaching in 2012. Once you become crystal clear on what you want to succeed in your business and life then everything else will fall into place. Stay consistent even when challenges arise your passion will carry you through everything. Seek out professional training in sales and marketing which is crucial to the life of your business. Be patient and stay the course. Follow the people who are where you want to be and pay attention to their advice so you can implement it into your life. Aside from running her coaching business Wendi also cohosts a weekly radio show on Blog Talk Radio titled Sky s The Limit Radio with two other coaches. Wendi has been interviewing coaches who specialize in life and businesstransforming areas since the radio show s launch in 2012. Wendi s greatest professional inspiration has been her father John H. Allen who passed away in 2001. Serving as a trailblazer and perfect role model in a family full of successful entrepreneurs he inspired Wendi to always tackle her challenges head on and come out on top. You must set your goals and remain focused on taking the right path toward achieving them. In her free time Wendi performs with the Virginia Bronze Handbell Ensemble volunteers at church and enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Her long-term goal is to establish the Life Harmony International Foundation which will focus on building fine arts academic schools in the United States and Africa while also providing aid to the less fortunate. I strive to live by the golden rule of treating others the way that I want to be treated. I use this philosophy in my business life as well through honesty integrity and compassion. I love helping people thrive whether it s in their lives businesses or careers. This includes helping service professionals who are passionate about improving the lives of others which can create a ripple effect throughout the world. It s my hope and prayer that our planet becomes the empowered peaceful world that God intended it to be. 49 Women of Distinction Women of Distinction Team WDM Jennifer Hardy EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Holli M. Narvaez EDITOR LAYOUT GRAPHIC DESIGN Jill Mongonia Anne Silar SELECTION COMMITTEE SELECTION COMMITTEE Helene Kaye Women of Distinction 560 Broadhollow Road Ste. 310 Melville NY 11747 Phone (631) 465-9024 Fax (631) 465-9035 Deborah Anne Dillon Healthcare Wellness Coaching Alternative Wellness Coach - Gypsies Soul65 51 Women of Distinction Dr. Gail L.Berman-Martin Food & Beverage 52 Founder Chief Executive Officer of Femme Forte LLC Women of Distinction