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WOMEN OF DISTINCTION CarolLee Kidd Transcription President - CLK Transcription Inc. 1 Women of Distinction Leora Edut Women Empowerment Sex Trafficking Advocate Creatrix of Goddess On The Go LLC 2 Women of Distinction CarolLee Kidd Transcription President - CLK Transcription Inc. Tobyhanna PA 3 Women of Distinction I m not afraid of hard work or even hard failure I know that both lead to success. fter seeing how larger companies treated their contractors and clients CarolLee Kidd got into the transcription business with the formation of CLK Transcription Inc. in 2001. A Companies such as CLK are helping her profession come back from overseas allowing skilled transcriptionists in the United States to have their jobs back. I knew I could do better. Understanding that I m there to serve a direct purpose for a client and that I need the assistance of others to meet that directive (making each of them feel important) was my main goal. Without a great team there is no business. Without clients there is no business. Having a strong base of both makes CLK a formidable force in the field of transcription. CarolLee is a hands-on working owner transcribing audio to text accepting assigning and tracking all project files from start to finish and marketing the services of CLK. She researches new and innovative ways to complete the projects and frequently reaches out to clients to see how they do their work and what steps they take in their job so she can offer the appropriate services and best possible product. Additionally CarolLee oversees the billing and invoicing and does everything from quarterly minutes to tax filings for the company. She even works closely with a few schools across the country that offer transcription certificates taking on their graduates to offer them the experience they need for them to even be considered at other companies. So many companies send work offshore only to have a U.S. transcriptionist proof and edit the work where it could have been completed right here by a skilled and professional transcriptionist the first time. This would allow those who have worked so hard to perfect their talents to continue to earn a living and enjoy the work they do. Many who choose this profession are physically or functionally challenged or have a dire financial need for one reason or another. To continue taking jobs from these very hardworking people is just a shame. Such wonderful talent right here in the U.S. is being overlooked the majority of them being women. Her best piece of advice for anyone looking to enter this industry is to do your due diligence. This isn t just about typing words on a page with speed and accuracy. There are tools you need and most transcription schools do not prepare you for the real world of getting the job done. It takes time to make money and most expect to make it immediately but once you find your rhythm there is a living to be made. When she s not transcribing CarolLee actively volunteers for her community currently in her second consecutive term as Vice President on the Board of Directors of her homeowners association her fourth term in 10 years. She is also an active member or liaison to various committees within the community. I truly love what I do. I enjoy knowing that others depend on me doing my job in order to do theirs. I feel a sense of obligation to my team to ensure that work is flowing so they can earn the living they are working to earn. I love watching a newbie come on to CLK and seeing them grow into great transcribers becoming a star within CLK and watching how my team of independent contractors helps one another and works together to gain success both in their personal and professional lives. And actually seeing my company acknowledged in books and production credits as being a valuable tool in a client s project is beyond anything I could ve ever imagined. 4 Between work and volunteering there is little time left but I always find time each day for music. I find it gets me in the right frame of mind for whatever the day has planned for me or it helps me out of any funk my brain may be in on those more stressful days. It s the simple things in life that make me happy like sleeping in on Sundays staying in my PJs on Saturdays having an amazing dinner out getting my nails done or just buying a great new outfit. I also enjoy when I m able to do a pay-it-forward and treat others to a simple surprise whether it s the person behind me at a checkout donating to local or national charities or surprising a school with paper products for an entire 3rd grade class for a year. Women of Distinction She proudly boasts the following professional affiliations as well Greater Pocono Chamber of Commerce Member International Women s Leadership Association Member National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) VIP Member and 2015-2016 Women of the Year However as a widow with two sons Matthew (32) and Mark (24) what she is most proud of is her family. I m very proud that I raised two sons who are respectful and work hard. Although they struggle at times they know how to fight and come out ahead. Matthew is a father of five (two of his own and three stepchildren) who lives in the south with his beautiful wife and is in the hotel management auditor field. My daughter-inlaw Danielle is also my independent contractor office assistant manager. She helps me keep the place running when I have tasks that take me away from the day-to-day workflow such as billing marketing and networking. My other son Mark is a single musician. He lives at home with me and works in the industrial field but has aspirations of seeing his band become a household name. And my grandchildren own my heart. I work so hard now because I have to spoil them. As a family we ve been through some tough times over the years (particularly as my sons got older) but I hope I m showing them that they have a strong mom who works hard loves who she is and wants the same for her family and friends. We can all be what we want to be we just have to want it bad enough to work hard for it. 5 Women of Distinction Q&A Q For those who aren t familiar with it what exactly is transcription and why do you think you are so good at it A Transcription is developing text from audio video files. I believe I m good at it because I listen well and understand what s being said not just how it s being said. I not only transcribe what I hear but I know or work to know about what I m transcribing to ensure that it makes sense. It s not just putting words on a page it s putting the right words on a page. Q What kind of clients do you provide your services to A CLK Transcription handles audio files for everyone who has something they want documented from journalists corporations and others who have an entrepreneurial need for transcripts to the student and layperson who may just want their thoughts saved digitally. Q Do you need any formal education to become an independent contractor with CLK Transcription A Not everyone is able to afford the time or money for a college education or any type of continuing education especially women and women of a certain age. However that doesn t make them any less fierce than those who do. I absolutely love that every day in this job is an education that challenges our critical thinking skills something that can be difficult for even those with a college degree. The people who are independent contractors with CLK are nurses teachers photographers bloggers artists and one even has a degree in psychology. So you see some have degrees and some do not but every one of them knows when they sit behind their desk as an independent contractor for CLK they re a business owner in their own right and deserve the same respect as those who may have an office job outside of the home. They are rock stars Q You say your team loves what they do but what makes them love working with CLK Transcription A The independent contractors working with CLK are single moms handicapable autistic spouses of active-duty military people suffering from depression and those who otherwise could not work outside the home or just need the additional income to make ends meet for their family. (Even my photographer for this article is a disabled veteran.) The flexibility at CLK allows us to balance work-life to our own specific needs. We work well together in our own home offices without competition office drama or politics and set our own tone for how we want to work. In addition we have a very active Facebook chat group that allows us to brainstorm on how each of us can do our job better juggle our lives or just gripe and carry on because there is a camaraderie amongst us that we enjoy and we all want the same successes in life for ourselves and each other. Q How does CLK Transcription accommodate its independent contractors in a way that s different from other opportunities A CLK Transcription utilizes the services of transcriptionists who are independent contractors. They make their own schedules and accept only the assignments they want and feel they can handle. The flexibility of the schedule allows them to handle personal matters scheduled or surprises in the manner they choose. It also allows them to learn and earn as much as they re comfortable with. This is in contrast to other transcription companies that use the term independent contractor but still have line count and time requirements that put a strain on the other responsibilities that these men and women have. Q What is the most important skill needed for the work you do A Most people would say typing speed but I think it s most important to not only have a strong understanding of grammar and the English language but also have strong research abilities. Handling topics that range from family to technical to entertainment to financial is difficult but with strong research skills you re sure to learn something new every day and be able to develop the best end product for the client. Q How important is social media and networking to your business A It s very important. I use social media every day not only for networking to find new independent contractors to assist me and market my business to others but even more important to share my clients work which helps them gain exposure and grow. I interact daily on Facebook Twitter and LinkedIn (professionally and personally) to get and share ideas. It really does help grow your business. Q Why did you choose Pennsylvania to start your business A I was born in Pennsylvania and moved south at a very early age. After relocating with family to New York for a number of years I ve found the happy medium of city and country in the heart of the Pocono Mountains. Being a virtual company I can be anywhere but I love my home in Pennsylvania. I live in a gated community (A Pocono Country Place) that has so many wonderful people from all walks of life with such a varied background that stimulates me. There are activities events and so many wonderful opportunities that when I have the time to volunteer or participate I can choose how I wish to go about it. And yet the community and area is quiet enough for me to enjoy my work without interruption or disruption. 6 Women of Distinction Q What is the most satisfying part of your work A First being able to help others have the flexibility they need in their life (whether it s a transcriptionist or a freelancer) and see them enjoy their work as much as I enjoy mine. I love the e-mails I get from clients telling me that simple thank you or you just made my day . Also when completing the project having something tangible at the finish (an article a book a TV show etc.) that I can say CLK assisted in that is just awesome. Q What do you do to balance your work life with your home life A Now that my kids are older my home life is basically maintaining my home and volunteering. To me balancing home and work starts with having a great support team who I can trust to handle things while I take care of personal needs like yard work laundry or just running errands. Q What would you say to women who are trying to do the same but struggling A Don t give up or let the failures of yourself or others bring you down. Every misstep is a learning experience. My biggest piece of advice is BREATHE. You can do it Q What are the most important things to think about when starting a home-based business A First you have to understand that it s no longer a 9 to 5 job. Although you re home with family you have work that needs to get done. Some days are harder than others to focus but the dishes in the sink will be there when you re done. You have to be self-motivated organized and able to think out of the box on occasion. If you re a person who needs constant interaction with people then maybe working at home isn t for you. 7 Women of Distinction Alejandra C. Moate Parking Lot Construction Owner Office Administrator - AC Moate Industries Inc. Auburn WA business. A s an Owner and Office Administrator at AC Moate Industries Alejandra Moate takes pride in providing top of the line parking lot construction through her Alejandra entered the parking lot construction industry in 1997. At first she worked alongside her husband cutting asphalt for asphalt contractors as a part-time side job to supplement their income. Following a change in ownership at her husband s previous job the couple decided to build their business fulltime. Since the start of AC Moate Industries the company has added 10 divisions and now offers the most complete parking lot construction in their area. My determination not to quit has kept me in this career. We went through some rough times but we knew God would get us through them and he did in a big way. We have been as low as having our water and power shut off and everyone telling us to quit but we just hung on and turned it around. In her current role at AC Moate Industries Alejandra handles the bookkeeping auditing and balancing. As a couple Alejandra and her husband handle strategic planning spending time each year to set goals and figure out the proper plans to reach them. After this the company s leadership team is brought in to understand the plan and get started on achieving the company s goals. Alejandra and her husband have written a book on asphalt maintenance for property managers as well as a book for property managers regarding winter services. She has also developed a software program that is specific to her industry for estimating and operations which is patent pending. Alejandra and her husband have also spoken at BOMA and Wumfa for property manager training. I believe anything is possible when you have an engine in your heart. My engine is God along with some special people who have helped me to reach my goals. In her free time Alejandra likes to exercise and does missionary work with her husband which has seen them travel to missions in Nicaragua Malawi and China. She also volunteered at an elementary school for several years. In the future Alejandra and her husband plan on teaching people in impoverished nations about how to run a small business. I want to be a great representative of Jesus Christ. I want to leave this world a little better by living well and giving back. The advice I d offer to someone starting out in this industry is to count the cost have a game plan don t compromise your integrity and stick to the plan. Don t get over extended watch your overhead make a budget plan and stick to it. 8 Women of Distinction Alison J. Knowles SPHR SHRM-SCP HRPM Human Resources Associate Partner Director of Human Resources Syska Hennessy Group New York NY I ve always wanted to positively impact the lives of others. lison J. Knowles got started in Human Resources fresh out of high school in 1995. Over her more than twenty-one year career she obtained her bachelors degree in HR Management and secured her Senior in HR Professional Certification (SPHR) Senior Certified Professional (SHRM SCP) and HR Project Management Certification. But it s her on-the-job training that Alison says has taught her the most. A Learn everything you can and never assume you know everything the world is ever changing. Be open listen and always think before you speak. Never promise things you cannot deliver. As an HR professional your words and actions are the vehicles that drive corporate perception. Remembering this on a daily basis will ensure success. The following brief interview describes Alison s thoughts feelings and premonitions for the future of Human Resources and its development The greatest challenge for the HR director is dealing appropriately with sensitive situations on a daily basis. The HR professional must make sure not to wear his her emotions on their sleeve. Today Alison serves as the Director of Human Resources with Syska Hennessy Group in New York NY. Alison is responsible for developing and administering corporate policies and compliance initiatives as well as coordinating all HR related activities. She also oversees employment compensation labor relations benefits and training. Her advice to those interested in an HR position 9 Women of Distinction Amy P. McIntosh Social & Education Services Nonprofit Founder Chief Executive Officer - Live2Create Center for the Arts Inc. Columbia SC s Founder and CEO of Live2Create Amy McIntosh is dedicated to spreading her passion for art while helping kids discover their own God-given talents that rest inside them. Amy began her career with Live2Create in 2012. She was inspired to start her nonprofit organization after realizing that children and teens who were interested in the arts had little to no opportunities to pursue their passion and express themselves. After meeting and speaking with the youth of her community for some time Amy felt it was her duty to provide them with hope through Live2Create. I ve always had a passion for the arts. Seeing the kid s faces light up when they realize they can do something they thought they couldn t do and discover they had that talent inside of them the entire time is the best feeling in the world. That s what keeps me in my career. Not anything I m doing but the transformation that happens before my eyes from simply inspiring kids to just be themselves. In her role of CEO Amy oversees most projects and leads the organization s after-school program. She also manages daily operations with the help of volunteers and her board of directors. Amy constantly assesses the needs of both the audience and her staff keeping her team motivated by continuously reminding them of their passion to help children discover their inner talents. A Regarding her education Amy received her BA in Studio Art (Digital Media) from South Carolina State University in 2006 and is currently earning her MA in Professional Counseling from Liberty University with an expected graduation date in 2017. She is also certified in Directing for Film by the New York Film Academy and Entrepreneurship by the Walt Disney College Program. Amy is an active member of Midlands ATD SCANPO BoardSource Americans for the Arts and AACC. Behind the advocacy I am happily married to Demetrius Dzyne By God McIntosh with three boys Khaleb Jayden and Noah. This is important because it s what fuels my passion. I want to leave a legacy that not only my Father in Heaven will seal with Well Done but one where my boys will be forever proud. In her leisure Amy enjoys spending time with her family and working with the Fine Arts ministry at her church. She also volunteers as a 5th grade Sunday school teacher and occasionally works with middle school girls at the Daybreak Crisis Pregnancy Prevention Center. I hope millions are encouraged to live their dreams because of Live2Create s message. I value purpose creativity and imagination. I hope that through my actions and service to the community I will inspire people to live their life on purpose finding the true gifts God has equipped them with to live a promising life. I hope through my support of education no child is left without an opportunity to be great and creativity is something that is cherished forever. Stand for your mission. If you don t believe it no one else will. All the things you think you need you probably don t. Keep it as simple as possible and stay true to your audience. Observe them know them and go as deep as you can with them so in the end your products and services will always meet their needs. Be authentic and never underestimate your story. 10 Women of Distinction Annabella Wood A Service Building Professions Contractor Professional Handywoman and Owner of Belle s Buildings Handywoman Service LLC. Blue Bell PA fter her home was hit by a tornado in 1991 Annabella Wood had to hire a contractor to come in and repair the various damages to her house. Within her trade Annabella can do it all from plumbing to carpentry to tiling to wiring. However Annabella also performs a plethora of other roles. She writes and performs serves as the choir director and guitar teacher for delinquent boys and the music minister at her church. Annabella also has a successful music video on YouTube called Truck Driving Mama. She s also an ordained New Thought Minister and truly believes in the value of volunteering. Volunteering is one way to help enrich the world and your life at the same time and I simply love to do it. I recently drove an 82-year-old woman on a 7 000-mile cross-country trip in a semi for a charitable organization to help her realize a life long dream. Give generously to good causes give your time to the ones that really matter. In terms of a professional goal Annabella wants to find someone to run the business once she retires specifically a young woman looking to get into the handywoman industry. It seems that people entering the workforce are not very interested in the trades. If I found a woman with similar goals and abilities I would like to teach her everything she needs to know and give her the company in a few years. Each night after work I d come home and fix all the mistakes the contractor had made. It finally occurred to me to fire the contractor and fix my own house. Annabella loved fixing houses so much that she started her own company Belle s Buildings Handywoman Service LLC where she is the only employee. On a daily basis her duties include answering the phone scheduling service calls planning projects and of course the actual handiwork. Although she has a few trusted specialists that she must call from time to time Annabella essentially carries out all of the work within her company. I love being of service to people. My primary customers turn out to be single mothers and the elderly. They need their houses fixed like everyone else but aren t necessarily comfortable with most handymen. They feel at ease when I am there. 11 Women of Distinction pet dogs a little bit more than before. Barbara J. Freeman Publishing Children s Book Author Omaha NE R etired secondary school counselor turned acclaimed children s book author Barbara J. Freeman uses Sugar to share life lessons. Inspired by her deceased American pit bull terrier Sugar Barbara s writings delicately tackle pertinent issues of stereotyping and encourage perseverance in a manner that young children can relate. Her first book Sugar A Princess Pit Bull Finds Her Family tells the story of how the runt of the litter was adopted into her forever home. Through lively illustrations and carefully crafted words Barbara addresses society s misguided negative perception of the breed as well as shares a thoughtful message about children who are waiting to be placed with a family. Barbara s second book Super Smart Sugar is equally poignant it is a tale of Sugar a very intelligent American Pit Bull Terrier. The book is complemented with an educational page about the intelligence of dogs and a dog intelligence ranking scale as well as a Super Smart Sugar Quiz for kids to identify their dog s performance and skills. Both books have received Reader s Favorite 5 star reviews. Super Smart Sugar won first place in the 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Contest for education and instruction. Sugar A Princess Pit Bull Finds Her Family won a first place in Purple Dragonfly Book Award Contest for family matters. Barbara holds a Bachelor s in Education Minor in Library Science from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and her Masters Degree in Guidance & Counseling from University of Nebraska. Her ultimate passion is educating others and helping to make the world warmer and more loving place. Sugar graced my entire family lives with her good nature gentleness and love for others Barbara said. She filled our home with happiness and our hearts with love. My desire is to share the message that Sugar intends for each reader to learn. I want to have Sugar teach children to be confident hold their heads high and remain hopeful for their dreams can come true. Barbara s compassion for all animals and all children extends beyond her book series. She is deeply involved with Prayer Partners at Salem Baptist Church. Barbara gathers materials for animals at the Nebraska Humane Society. An avid reader she is a gifted public speaker and volunteers her time reading to children all across Omaha and its surrounding cities. Every summer she is a reader at Camp Kindness for the Nebraska Humane Society as well as a reader for Omaha Public Schools Libraries and Barnes and Nobles. Additionally she hosts creative writing workshops for students in Omaha Public Schools. School counselors and puppies have a lot in common wrote Omaha World Herald columnist Janice Gilmore. Most are loving caring eager to please and helpful. So writing books that engage children would be a natural for retired counselor Barbara Freeman. The book is entertaining and will keep readers engaged with Sugar and her antics one reader said. The illustrations are bright and colorful and add to the intrigue of the story. The narration is so detailed and descriptive that readers will find it easy to connect with Sugar... The story is charming and delightful and all dog lovers will enjoy reading this story as much as I did and will find themselves appreciating their 12 Women of Distinction Bonnie J. Sullivan Mental Health Psychologist Self-Employed Calgary Alberta CAN W hen Bonnie J. Sullivan was just 15-years-old she gave a speech about child abuse in school. Moved by the many stories that she had read about she decided to join a peer counseling group at her high school. Studying the art of psychology and providing therapy ever since Bonnie has been a Licensed Psychologist since 2004 and has been in private practice since 2005. Parenting has contributed immensely to my work as well Bonnie added. By learning to raise healthy happy children I learned all about myself and my weaknesses. I took those lessons and applied them to my work. Parenting also gave me ideas for how to interact with my clients in more loving ways when they needed nurturing. Bonnie is a mother to two daughters ages eight and six. Her family and friends in the US are still a big part of her life as she travels to see them at least once or twice each year. The work I do helps others reach for their potential she said lastly. Many of my clients are leaders or are becoming leaders. By helping them be more effective and more confident in their own lives I hope to indirectly affect the larger community and leave the world with better self-awareness and confidence. Bonnie has been inspired to continue growing and developing in her career by two wonderful women Helen Marlo PhD and Beth Hedva PhD. Dr. Marlo taught Bonnie to focus on the client rather than just the problem. Dr. Hedva encouraged her to keep pushing the limits of her current beliefs and ideas and to push her personal limits so that she could use those subsequent lessons to help her clients. Bonnie holds a BS from San Francisco State University a PhD from Palo Alto University and an Embodied Awareness Facilitator Training Certification. Bonnie successfully tested for her second-degree black belt in Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen in March 2015 an Indonesian martial art she s been practicing since 1995. I began my private practice in California. At the time I supervised clinical psychology students facilitated a group with sexual offenders and provided assessments for a long-term care facility Bonnie said. I moved to Calgary the year after marrying my husband and opened a private practice in 2008 working with professionals who were seeking help overcoming obstacles. I also provided consultation at the Operational Stress Injuries clinic for veterans completed a year-long training in Embodied Awareness in 2013 and joined the team at Inner Solutions Inc. offering Dialectical Behavior Therapy to those with suicidal urges and overwhelming emotional experiences. Still self-employed today Bonnie says that the clients she works with are both interesting and diverse. And while every part of her life influences her work she is always studying and learning different techniques to use. Bonnie s work never gets boring there is always more to learn and skills always need improving. 13 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist A A psychologist has a PhD in psychology with a focus on the behaviors thoughts and emotions of a person. This is the person a client should approach for psychotherapy. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with a specialization in psychology. A client in need of medication is encouraged to visit a psychiatrist for advice and possible prescription medication. Q Which therapeutic approach is the most effective A That depends on what you are hoping to accomplish in therapy and how you experience the world. If you just want to change some behaviors or thought patterns Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be helpful. If you notice a pattern of relationships in your life that you would like to understand better it is best to seek a Psychodynamic therapist. If you have suicidal urges and intense emotional responses to things it s likely that Dialectical Behavioral Therapy would help. Q How can I find the best therapist A Keep searching until you find the right one for you. That means that you feel comfortable with that person and believe that s he can help you. Therapy is about the relationship between clinician and client. I recommend starting your search with the licensing board in your area in order to be sure that you are going to someone who is licensed and properly covered by the psychologist s code of ethics. In Alberta that website is In the United States you can look up your state licensing board for their referral page. Q What makes you unique A Most therapists find one style of therapy and use it to help their clients. I have an unquenchable thirst for learning psychology which means that I am always learning about new perspectives and techniques. Every time I learn something new I apply it where relevant to my work with my clients. It also means that I have a lot of tools in my tool belt so I can choose the most appropriate one for the client and the issue. Q How does a psychologist with a PhD which usually takes at least five years to complete differ from a psychologist with a two-year degree A A psychologist with a PhD has been trained to conduct and understand research which means that s he can more effectively utilize the current scientific understanding to choose which methods to use and how best to use them. S he has also had direct supervision from several different sources in different training environments giving her a broader exposure to different perspectives and more in-depth training in providing therapy. Due to the confidential nature of a therapy session it is difficult for a supervisor to see what a student is doing and to give accurate and helpful feedback. In my graduate program we used video so that our supervisors could monitor us and give us direct feedback on our therapy. 14 Women of Distinction Caroline Dorick Beauty Industry Beauty Consulting Personal and Professional Beauty and Business Consultant and Coach Beauty Expert Consultant and Coach Owner and Founder of Make-Up By Caroline Pine Beach NJ product of a broken marriage growing up in Brooklyn New York was not easy for Beauty Expert Caroline Dorick. She was bullied and suffered from crippling self-esteem. It was not until a traumatic car accident Caroline endured in 2011 that she started down a path of selfdiscovery and self love. At the age of 38 she switched gears and began to focus her business on helping others achieve both inner and outer beauty. Having already graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor s Degree in Criminal Justice and Political Science from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey Caroline returned to school to earn a Certification from Atelier Esth tique Institute of Esthetics one of the industry s most respected educational facilities for estheticians. In 2002 she became a dual licensed Esthetician (Skincare Specialist from New York and New Jersey). She began in the industry by freelancing for several highly regarded beauty industry companies including working as a special events Makeup Artist for Smashbox Cosmetics. Her vast experience led her to start her own business Make-Up By Caroline in 2008. A Photos of her makeup artistry have been featured in DaGLAM Magazine and she has written an article on skincare for 50 The Second Half Magazine. Caroline continues to share her passion and talents through her writing. She is currently writing an Ebook called Beauty is NOT Negotiable -- A Woman s Guide to Whole Beauty how to perceive it achieve it and succeed in life and in business. Beauty is NOT Negotiable will soon be available for preorder on Amazon. Caroline draws inspiration from the iconic Max Factor and his sons Dean and Davis Factor the creators of Smashbox Cosmetics an organization that she absolutely loves and worked with for many years prior to launching Make-Up By Caroline. She encourages the next generation of Estheticians and Makeup Artists to build a trustworthy rapport with their clients and learn from the talented people within the industry. The biggest challenge is always how to stand out from the crowd however because of this there are so many talented artists who you can learn from to teach you things you didn t know before she said. I chose to use this to my advantage and learn as much as I could. Aspiring to change lives for the better Caroline uses her knowledge to teach women that anything is possible as long as you strive to do your best by continuously growing as a person and giving back. Caroline is a dedicated member of the Chamber of Commerce The Small Business Association and was recently inducted into Strathmore s Who s Who of Distinguished Professionals as a Woman of Excellence for 2015. Caroline has been with her husband Brian for 14 beautiful years. Brian is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and is an incredible Chef. The couple has three wonderful children Caitlin 16 years old attends the Performing Arts Academy in Lakehurst New Jersey Jake who turned 10 years old in February and Austin their newest addition turning 18 months old in April. What has kept me in my career for so long is simply the gratification I get from helping others look and feel beautiful Caroline said. It is my mission to not only enhance a woman s beauty but empower it she said. My goal is to educate women on the concept of whole beauty and how to easily obtain it. As the sole proprietor of Make-Up By Caroline Caroline wears many hats and in doing so has contributed significantly to her field. She formulated her own makeup and skincare line called Carolina Cosmetics and Skincare as well as her own handmade costume jewelry line called Carolina Designs. 15 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why do you feel your message is relevant in today s world A I believe my message is more important now than ever before. We live in a society dictating how beauty should be perceived. I want to change the face of beauty so we can teach our children the importance of how to not only look beautiful on the outside but also feel beautiful on the inside where the true beauty lies. Q What makes your approach to beauty unique and different A I provide my most valuable tips tricks and tools as well as the resources needed to get started easily and effortlessly. I even expose the secret to how to use the information. My approach is simply to create a virtual makeover unlike any other using me to support and guide them through the process so they can achieve their desired results and become their most beautiful potential. Q Who are your clients A M y clients range from women who may just be interested in learning the concept of whole beauty or those who want to actively change their perception and self image to woman who want to take advantage of the training I provide and teach them how to succeed in the beauty industry as beauty industry professionals business owners and entrepreneurs. Q Whom do you enjoy working with the most A I love to work with all women especially the younger generation teenage girls who are just coming to terms with their own individuality beauty and discovering who they will become. Q Do you have a favorite quote A I have many but my all time favorite is Gandhi s famous words Be the change you want to see in the world or as I affectionately like to put it Be the beauty you want to see in the world. Q Do you have a particular philosophy you live by A Yes I do my philosophy has always been to continuously keep moving forward growing as a person and giving back. I find that if I keep that in perspective it helps to keep me on track. Q How do you respond to women who say they don t have the time to care about themselves or their beauty because they re just too busy A M y response is life s way too short to waste time on anything else. Time is more precious than you think so if you don t think you have the time then I suggest you make the time because nothing is more important than you and mostly because you re worth it Q What s next for you A I ve only scratched the surface of what I d like to achieve so my next step will be to expand even further and offer online classes. 16 Women of Distinction Darlene E. Fountain Pest Control Implementation Training Manager for a Leading Industry Pest Control Company Atlanta GA D arlene E. Fountain s career in the Pest Control Industry grew out of necessity and evolved into a passion. In 1984 Darlene began working at a local Pest Control branch in Orlando. She needed to return to work just six weeks after the birth of her third child. When she was asked during the interview if she had any bookkeeping experience she immediately answered yes though she only had experience balancing her family s checkbook. She started manually entering data but through perseverance and dedication Darlene quickly moved up the ranks in her profession. Within 18 months Darlene was offered a position at the regional level which came with a salary bump. She went on to become Region Administrative Assistant for 9 years a Division Administrative Assistant to the Vice President of the Pacific Division for 8 years and then owned a company franchise for 5 years. Today Darlene is an Implementation Training Manager with the company. This position is a 2 to 3 year project which will enhance the company s data input into a new web-based software at more than 400 locations across the United States. It hasn t always been easy to maintain a career in a male dominated company. The company has come a long way to promote females to management positions but that wasn t the case during her early years in the industry. One of Darlene s greatest challenges was starting a franchise with very little information as to licenses payroll taxes and all the other information needed to start a business. She and her son had to learn through trial and error and a lot of research. We soon gained the respect of the customers and employees alike and enjoyed every aspect of the business. To gain experience Darlene earned her pest control license and passed several courses offered through the company such as Sutton Management 1996 the Texas A&M Termite Course 2006 Purdue University Management Course 2007 and AIB Course 2007. I have worked for and alongside many Branch Region and Division Managers and have learned from each opportunity she said. One of the biggest lessons I ve learned is to remember where you came from. I say that because when you move up to a corporate position your peers automatically think you are going to forget what you learned in the field where the real heart of the company is located. I think the fact that I started out in the local branch and then gradually moved up to other positions gave the field a reason to put their trust in me as an advocate for their needs. I would like my legacy to be that I inspired others to be true to who they are foremost and to reach for higher goals whether it is in their personal or business life Darlene said. As my Manager often tells me I am the voice of reason in the group and the team comes to me for a sanity check when our job gets difficult and overwhelming. I wouldn t trade the experience and knowledge I ve gained for anything. 17 Women of Distinction Dawn E. Shedrick LCSW Human Services Training Organizational Development Consulting and Coaching CEO and Founder of JenTex Training & Consulting LLC. Women of Distinction Long Island NY 18 D awn E. Shedrick was raised in a family who tirelessly contributed to their community through volunteerism and advocacy. She fondly recalls accompanying her mother as she performed community service through her employer. She fed the homeless raised funds for local nonprofits and helped her mother with her lesson plans as a literacy volunteer to name a few. Shortly before her senior year in undergrad she decided to forsake a finance degree and chose to fulfill her purpose of serving others. The day after graduating Quinnipiac University with her Bachelors degree in May 1996 Dawn began working with people living with HIV AIDS. She went on to receive a Masters in Social Work in 2000 from Stony Brook University and has enjoyed a rich career in social work. In 2013 Dawn s passion for helping others thrive led her to found JenTex Training & Consulting LLC an award-winning professional development company for social workers and human services professionals and organizations. Though the organization is based in New York the company serves clients nationally and internationally by creating experiences for professionals to cultivate the careers of their dreams while staying connected to the passion and purpose of their work. As CEO Dawn designs and facilitates training courses and consults with organizational clients on their staff development needs. She also networks with potential and existing partners and clients. When she is not working to advance others in their careers she is giving back to her community. She is the Vice President of the Board of Directors of LUNA Love Unconditionally Now Abundantly a nonprofit organization that helps cultivate healthy self-esteem in young women and girls through workshops and social activities. Dawn is also involved with several professional and business organizations including the National Association of Social Workers International Federation of Social Workers International Consortium for Social Development Employee Assistance Professionals Association Suffolk County Women s Business Enterprise Coalition and Mid Island Clinical Connection in New York. When I leave this world I want people to know that love really is unconditional and is the ultimate healer provider and source of all that is good in this world Dawn said. My only hope is that people remember that I spread as much love on this planet as possible and that they can too. Dawn encourages others aspiring to lead a career in social work to follow their passion. Don t be deterred by what others may say about how much money you will make how stressful it can be or anything else she advised. You will only go as far in your career as you believe you will. Continue learning after graduate school. Cultivate a network of like-minded professionals who can be your sounding board and source of support and inspiration. Invest in supervision if you don t receive it through your employer or if it s not meeting your needs. Most of all know that you are making a difference every day. In her free time you can often find Dawn s nose buried in a good book. A self-described bookworm Dawn loves to read literature from authors of the African diaspora and memoirs biographies. She is an avid traveler and has plans on planting her feet on each of the 7 continents and to use up all of the pages on her passport. When all else fails Dawn love blowing bubbles laughing with her family and friends and cuddling with her two pooches Ziggy and Kingston. I love what I do and am led by the knowing that this is what I am supposed to be doing she said. An awesome personal and professional support network superb supervision and mentoring a passion for my own personal interests and a willingness to change course at the right time are what have kept me in this work for this long. And bigger than all of that I trust that the work I do makes a difference in the lives of those I serve even when it doesn t appear that way. Family remains a guiding force in Dawn s successful career and personal life. Her sister Denine is JenTex s Chief Operations Officer and Dawn s mother continues to be her greatest inspiration. Professionally speaking my mother has an exemplary work ethic that has been passed on to my siblings and me Dawn said. She took pride in her work and did it very well. Dawn s talents and business know how has made her a sought after and highly regarded writer and public speaker. She is a contributing author to a book for women in business titled HERspectives Rules and Tools That Build Successful Women. Her chapter is titled Balancing Act 3 Spiritual Practices for Business Bliss. She has also spoken widely about entrepreneurship and women in business at The Power of Now Conference in New Jersey and the Women in Business Summit Connecticut s annual conference for women entrepreneurs. Additionally Dawn has been featured on Divine Business Radio. Photos by Tamara Fleming Photography 19 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why do you feel your business is relevant in today s world A Social workers and human services professionals navigate through budget cuts bureaucracy inadequate supervision changing political forces burnout and compassion fatigue pretty consistently when all we want to do is help others achieve health equality and safety. JenTex was founded to provide continuing education support and social experiences for change agents so they can do their best work and feel good about it. Q How does your company develop services to meet the ever-changing needs of social workers and human services professionals A Our programming is offered as a result of direct feedback from our clients and participants which is conveyed via a dedicated email address on workshop evaluations in focus groups and on social media. We are committed to ensuring that our services meet their specific needs. Q How does JenTex stand apart from other professional development companies A Our core belief is that the people and communities that human services professionals work with are best served when we are well trained and supported. Our workshops consulting work and coaching are always delivered with authentic passion joy and a commitment to each and every participant s growth. Q What are your plans for JenTex within the next 5 years A We will offer a vast catalog of online continuing education trainings (self-study webinars and teleconferences) in Fall 2016. Beyond that we will expand our trainings and consulting work nationally and internationally and will offer domestic and international retreats for all varieties of human services professionals. Q To what extent do you use technology in your work A We utilize interactive multimedia presentations in our workshops consulting work and even in our coaching with clients. We ll be unveiling a new website for our online trainings that will enable clients to establish their own personalized account to access trainings forums and other tools for professional development. Q How do you select trainers and consultants to join your team A We are committed to offering our clients the very best trainers and consultants in this industry who are local and afar. Our team members endure a rigorous selection process that not only assesses their expertise but also their passion for sharing their knowledge with others. We want our clients to get the very best professional education and enjoy it at the same time. 20 Women of Distinction Deborah Duley MSW LGSW T Mental Health Psychotherapy for Women & Teen Girls Psychotherapist - Empowered Connections LLC Leonardtown MD hrough her work as a Psychotherapist at Empowered Connections Deborah Duley is dedicated to helping women with their mental and emotional needs to the best of her ability. Over the years Deborah has worked as a women s rights activist in various capacities which ultimately motivated her to get started in her current field. After earning her Master s in Social Work in 2012 and failing to find an agency that specialized in women s psychotherapy she went on to start her own private practice Empowered Connections in April 2013. I m passionate and dedicated to working with women in finding their best selves this has kept me engaged and fired up Although I m a newbie in my industry my years of work with women and my own personal adversities have kept me alive and focused. I m known in the town where I work from as the Women s Therapist and this is my specialty. As owner and CEO of Empowered Connections Deborah oversees all daily operations of her company. She is in charge of advertising networking client scheduling billing progress notes updating her website paying all bills creating treatment plans and handling all day to day crises that arise including client cancellations and rescheduling requests. Deborah also supervises an intern that she recently hired while showing them the ropes of her business. She credits her dedication to being consistent reliable and organized with the smooth running of her business as she is able to implement systems to keeps everything in order. The greatest advice I could offer to someone starting out in the counseling therapy industry is to BE YOURSELF. The most important component of a successful therapeutic outcome for your client is the relationship you have with them. Being authentic nonjudgmental compassionate and kind is so important but unfortunately I hear from clients over and over that their experience with previous attempts at therapy were so often the opposite of this. This makes me sad but I think this stems from many years of old school psychotherapy. We are discouraged in graduate school to be real and authentic. I feel that these days are over and people in our connection starved society are yearning for a human connection where better to find this than with your therapist The biggest lesson I ve learned is that you only have your reputation in this industry. In addition to her work as a psychotherapist Deborah has written articles for a local women s newspaper called Southern Maryland Woman and regularly contributes to the website which is a great resource for those struggling with anxiety. At the moment she is also in the process of writing her first book. Deborah is an active member of Southern Maryland Women s Business Networking and has spoken at the 2nd annual Unstoppable You Women s Conference working closely with its Owner and Founder Jennifer Foxworthy who is a local domestic violence motivational speaker. As she continues to develop more helpful systems Deborah hopes to work with more organizations that benefit women within her community. 21 Women of Distinction I was not born with a silver spoon nor given an easy life. My parents provided for me but my father was very strict and I believe he was a misogynist which is what drove me to become the feminist I am today. The relationship he and my mother had was unhealthy and could be viewed as abusive this paved the way for me to enter many unhealthy and abusive relationships as I matured. I suffered from many of the same struggles my clients face bad choices negative thought patterns low self-esteem narrow thinking and what I call low standard living . This set me up to chase my tail for many years until my 2nd marriage landed me in a situation that I had to leave. My ex was verbally emotionally and mentally abusive and physically aggressive. I believed if I didn t leave him he would ultimately kill me so leaving this relationship was the beginning of my healing for me. I had a 2-year-old to care for and I was a stay-at-home mom when we moved out. It was time to get real I worked very hard with little to no support from anyone for many years and had to overcome my self-defeating beliefs. If I can accomplish this and create a life I m excited about and proud of then anyone can I have found a true partner that I was lucky enough to marry and I have become a person I am proud of. By bringing my experiences to my clients I believe this helps them feel heard understood encouraged and hopeful that they too can have the life they deserve and yearn for Regarding her education Deborah received her BSW from Bowie State University in Bowie Maryland in 2010 and her MSW from Howard University in Washington DC in 2012. In her leisure Deborah enjoys traveling with her husband and experiencing foods from all over the world. She also loves reading cooking boating spending time outdoors and motorcycling with her husband. I am hoping to change the landscape of mental health and the horrible stigma surrounding those receiving counseling services. My goal is to lift the veil of darkness and show how glorious it is having a connection with someone who can help you unfold your story and 100% support you root for you and be in your court This is a game changer for people and I know it helped me in my life as well. If I had my way therapy won t be looked at as a thing for crazy people . We seek medical attention for our physical ailments so why are we so afraid to seek help for our emotional hurts and pains Mental health is as important to our longevity as physical health and my goal is make it pleasurable and desirable. 22 Women of Distinction Edvyna Valkiunas Beauty Tanning Spray Tanning Owner Operator - Sunless Kiss Inc. Wheaton IL T hrough her work as Owner and Operator of Sunless Kiss Inc Edvyna Valkiunas is dedicated to providing an optimal spray tan service to her clients while boosting their confidence in the process. After taking some time off to raise her family Edvyna had no desire to return to corporate America and started looking for a career that would allow her to find a proper balance between having a successful business and being a mom. In September 2012 Edvyna purchased her salon and opened Sunless Kiss. One of Edvyna s greatest professional inspirations has been Kristin Little who is the inventor of the tanning solution Bodi Bronze which is used at Sunless Kiss. Not only has Kristin taught Edvyna everything she knows but she has also made herself available to offer help support and encouragement to Edvyna whenever it s needed. The fact of the matter is that this is the best job I have ever had. There is not a day that I do not love coming to work. I attribute this 100% to my amazing clients. As the owner and operator of Sunless Kiss Edvyna takes on all main roles within her company. Some of her responsibilities include booking clients performing the spray tan service and ensuring clients receive the proper pre-tan and post-tan instructions in order to achieve the best results. She also handles the marketing and customer service. I would tell someone starting out in this industry to be willing and open to learning new things every day. Not one person is the same therefore not one tan is the same. You are your brand everything you do and how well you do your job reflects on you. You need to have a passion and a desire for perfection you have to love what you do. In business there will be those that will support you and cheer you on as well as those that will try to tear you down. Surround yourself with positive energetic people that want to succeed. In turn will become that person. I truly love what I do. I try my best with each and every tan to make it as perfect as possible. I m not just making people look more tan I m helping people feel more confident. I believe this makes people feel better about themselves and they leave with a pep in their step. Spray tans do give you superpowers. In her leisure Edvyna enjoys playing with her dogs volunteering at a local animal shelter riding horses and spending time with her three amazing daughters. Every month she also gets together with a group of entrepreneurial women that meet to network support each other and work together to help each other s businesses grow. The one thing I truly wish for is that my daughters find something they are passionate about in the world. If they can make it their career work will never seem like work and anything can and will be possible. 23 Heather Martin Consulting Engineering Corporate Administration Coordinator - Morrison Hershfield Limited Markham Ontario Canada H eather Martin would tell you that she fell into her career by accident. She had planned on being an archeologist and had studied both science and history in high school but her mother insisted that she take some typing classes just in case... She is a member of the Women s Executive Network (WNX) and the American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP). It turned out that just in case is what happened. Due to a series of mishaps I ended up falling back on those typing classes. Once I realized that this was going to be my path I embraced it and took additional courses to improve my skills. I had a real talent for administrative work. Today Heather is the Corporate Administrative Coordinator and Senior Executive Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer of Morrison Hershfield Limited. My role as the assistant to the COO requires managing her schedule attending and doing minutes for her department meetings organizing meetings and retreats and other dayto-day tasks. In addition I m responsible for the management of the shareholder program including organizing the annual general meetings and maintaining all architectural engineering and business licensing in the United States and Canada. I also oversee the legal claim files and act as under-secretary for the Board of Directors and secretary for all the Board committees. I m even the only notary public in the Canadian company and pioneered the Administrative Excellence Program a training program for our admins to make their careers more fulfilling. I also encouraged and helped Human Resources create a career ladder for the administrative roles in the company. While she loves her job Heather admits that administrative work is a lot more challenging than most people think. ASAP is a brilliant organization that every admin should belong to whether they re American Canadian or from any other country. I attend their conference each year. It is a great opportunity to network and to learn new ways of doing things you have always done but better. Heather is always positive and willing to work very hard to achieve whatever goals are put in front of her. I m loyal and honorable. These are traits that are critical to being an excellent admin. If your people can t trust you then you ll never climb the ladder. She would like for the management of every organization to understand just how valuable their administrative assistants are and give them the same opportunities they give to technical or management staff. We are smart resourceful and willing to learn. Take advantage of our special gifts (i.e. organization multi-tasking out-of-thebox thinking etc.) as we can enhance a company s success. Heather has been married to her husband Steve for the past 21 years. They don t have any children but they do have three cats. Steve is remarkably supportive of my role and the long hours it often entails. It is very diverse work with plenty of challenges. By accepting each challenge as they came along learning from them and applying the new skills I d learned I was able to take on more and more interesting jobs with increased levels of responsibility. 24 This has kept my career fresh and exciting. Women of Distinction Leora Edut Women Empowerment Sex Trafficking Advocate Creatrix of Goddess On The Go LLC Long Island City NY F inding a dream career is a personal journey. Leora Edut knows first hand. She arrived in New York via Detroit 13 years ago. She left behind a difficult past and spent 8 years searching for inner peace. At one point of loneliness Leora realized what she was truly missing --girlfriends and sisterhood. She began a Goddess Group to help women heal past pain and celebrate one another. So many miracles happened in this short time. One woman adopted a child another women quit her corporate job and began a healthy catering company. The experience inspired Leora to found Goddess On The Go. Everyday she creates ways of bringing women together. She hosts many events designed to encourage women to form relationships. Her smaller weekly goddess circles inspire women to reach their highest potential. She is in the process of adding Yoga & Tutus which is a day for mothers and daughters to dress up and participate in movement classes. In the future Leora would like to build safe housing and community centers for women around the world who have been affected by sex trafficking. I want to empower women all over the world and remind them of their power their worth and that there is nothing that they can not achieve with consistency faith and allowing themselves to be lead by love Leora explained. Leora is a new mother which has inspired her to introduce Yoga & Tutus. A perecentage of the profits from Goddess On The Go event ticket sales to support the non-profit GEMS. For her latest project Leora collaborated with the editor of Heart N Soul Magazine to build the girls a library with inspirational spiritual books art projects DVDs and iPads. I love seeing other women get what they want its so inspiring to see the belief that we instill in one another when we leave competition behind and come from a space of authentic caring she said. It reminds them of their power to speak up in life to let go of fears and limiting beliefs and begin moving toward what they really want. Goddess on the Go is active in New York Los Angeles and Detroit and there is more to come. In 2016 Leora plans to launch leadership training so that other women around the globe can lead Goddess On The Go workshops. 25 Magnolia Dela Cruz BS in Human Services Social Work Woodside NY 26 Women of Distinction M agnolia Dela Cruz has always had the desire to help people overcome their obstacles. But it was not until she was in her late 40s that she decided to pursue her dream career in Human Services and Social Work. Magnolia enrolled in Touro College and earned a Bachelors degree in Human Services and attended Fordham University where she completed course work in Human Behavior and Social Environment. Additionally she obtained several New York State Mandated certifications in Substance and Alcohol Domestic Violence and Child Abuse. Her credentials earned her a position interning as a school counselor at William Cullen Bryant High School. She was handpicked for the role based on her academic achievements. During her internship Magnolia maintained accountability for a caseload of nine students. This included documenting student behaviors and performance. She applied her schooling throughout her role while performing classroom observations. But it was her compassion that made Magnolia stand out. She excelled at providing support for the youth championing the execution of short-term individualized sessions with the general education student population. She encouraged her students to continue their academic studies and taught them various techniques to gain self-control and stay focused in their career. It has been an honor learning from such an important figure she said. She has shown how every individual can succeed in life and turn his or her dreams into something positive and productive. She is an admirable human being who deserves respect from everyone she has come along way and has the support from a loving family. Following in Ms. Obama s likeness Magnolia too knows the importance of helping others in need. She avidly opens doors for the less fortunate. She advises aspiring counselors to follow their passion have a positive attitude and to stay focused. We all have it in us to progress she said. Have an open mind to learn that no matter how hard it gets you can pull through and walk with your chin up. Hoping to leave a legacy of hope Magnolia tirelessly works to teach others how to improve and become successful regardless of their background. I gave them the tools to learn that we all are put through a test in life and we as adults learn to tackle the situation with dignity and perseverance she said. I have determination and passion to help people in need. I feel that we all come from diverse cultures and have the power to increase our knowledge to help each individual to succeed in life. Following the successful internship William Cullen Bryant High School hired Magnolia as a teacher s aide. There she utilized her excellent communication and interpersonal skills accompanied by fluency in Spanish to interact with parents. Today Magnolia is well versed in working with clients from diverse ethnic and demographic backgrounds. Her track record of accomplishments reflect her ability to effectively discern student needs mitigate student obstacles and strengthen relationships between students and their family members. She is looking forward to a long and thriving career. But it took a long road of self-discovery for Magnolia to reach her position. The challenge I faced was growing as a person and finding out who is Magnolia And What does she want out of life she said. Magnolia draws strength from powerful female role models especially First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama. Social Work values care about social stability and equal opportunity and individual access she said. I am a people person who loves helping and advocating for the minority. I feel that everyone deserves a chance to prove their ability and to succeed in their profession. Magnolia is a lifetime member of the Covington Who s Who Community Professionals group and is a mentor at Fordham University s Latina Girls Club. Additionally she is a dedicated member of the Human Rights and Social Justice Foundation. She takes pride in empowering young women to stay focused on academics. Magnolia currently resides in Woodside New York and enjoys shopping walking and reading and traveling. You become who you want to be by Reaching the level of success with Determination and preserving. 27 Women of Distinction Q&A Mind over matter What ever you put effort into you Will gain a positive outcome toward The end. Q Who is Magnolia Dela Cruz A She is a determined focused professional who has a lot of passion for people. Q What has Magnolia done for people in need A She has opened doors to the needy and has geared them toward becoming successful. Q What has Magnolia done for her family A She has expressed lots of love for her family and has helped them come to terms with themselves. And has taught to believe in themselves no matter what may arise. Q What has been one of Magnolia happiest moments A Being featured in the daily news for Paralegal Studies. Life is full of many surprises just Learn to grow and gain knowledge. 28 Women of Distinction Marie Francoise Gibson Military Armed Forces Senior Project Manager Army National Guard Bureau retired Arlington VA 29 Women of Distinction M arie Francoise Gibson doesn t know how to fail. As the first and only woman in her family to serve in the military Marie always believed in herself. She recognized early on that she had the inner drive to prove to herself and others she would never be average soldier. In January 1982 she entered the military at 25 years old while the majority of the recruits were 18 years old. Today Marie is a widowed single parent of three grown children. She has 11 grandchildren and one great grandchild. She has recently joined University City United Methodist Church in Charlotte North Carolina. She plans to participate in various member group classes and is looking forward to sharing her expertise. Marie also hopes to write a memoir. I was not physically fit couldn t do one pushup nor sit-up and I had difficulty running 100 meters Marie recalled. At the end of 8 weeks training I was so motivated I excelled at all tasks required for graduation to include running 2 miles at 14 minutes. Her dedication never waived. Before retiring from active duty in 2015 Marie rose through the ranks to become a Senior Project Manager in the Army National Guard Bureau. In her role she was responsible for the development and functional training requirements for Unit Level Logistics System Aviation Enhanced. As the Program Manager for the Air National Guard from November 2002 to November 2006 Marie wrote and published articles for Air National Guard Quarterly newsletters and updated Air Force Regulations and course materials to reflect current information. Reaching her position did not come without its trials including sexual harassment. I would like to share with others the importance of cultivating a close relationship with God Marie said. My faith has sustained carried and guided me through all the turbulences of 28 years in the military. As a soldier in the military I have encountered many bias and unfair treatments but I didn t let that stop me from doing my job nor from accomplishing my goals Marie said. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Do not ever compromise your integrity. Undeterred Marie participated on various Soldier of the Month Soldier of the Quarter and Soldier of the Year boards during her service. She received a myriad of accolades including being the only young soldier to receive the High Performance Award for Excellence from Post Commander at Fort Dix New Jersey. Winning the various boards inspired Marie to continue to set her goals even higher. She enrolled in college in the evening to complete her education. In 2007 Marie received her B.S. in Business Management from National Louis University. In 2011 she earned her masters degree in Human Resource Management from Webster University. 30 Women of Distinction Marilyn McCoy Player M Special Education 8th grade English Inclusion Teacher Special Education Inclusion Teacher at Auburn Junior High School. Auburn AL arilyn McCoy Player always had a sympathetic heart towards her fellow students with difficulties acquiring knowledge in a classroom. While in high school she held summer jobs as a teacher s aide and enjoyed inspiring others to learn. Although Marilyn originally intended on becoming a medical doctor upon entering college she found herself gravitating towards special education during her freshman year at Tuskegee University. I felt comfortable on the path of becoming an educator and realized that this profession was well suited for me and would allow me to accomplish one of my life goals caring for others Marilyn said. In May 1980 she graduated and began her teaching career in January 1981. Today Marilyn is a Special Education Inclusion Teacher at Auburn Junior High School in Alabama. She is required to facilitate the learning of students with IEPs within the classroom. This involves tweaking exams to accommodate individual educational plans adjusting all materials or lessons to meet the needs of the students and maintaining an open line of communication with parents to keep them abreast of student progress. I love to interact with young people and find it rewarding to see the light bulb come on Marilyn said. I feel fulfilled as an educator when former students look me up and come to visit me to say Thank you for being such a great teacher and caring for me as an individual or You were truly the only teacher who really cared for us. Marilyn has contributed significantly to the education field. One of her most treasured awards was that of Secondary Educator of the Year which was given to her by a local Council of PTA. This award indicated recognition for many years of giving her all to her parents and students. As a doctoral student for Auburn University she studied abroad in Australia with her doctoral colleagues in 2012 where she gained insight on the education system of Sydney and the education system of Australia s indigenous people. Her doctoral research focuses on the cultural competence of school leaders and how they can support increased educational achievement of low achieving students within our nation s schools. Marilyn was nominated and selected as a Jackson Scholar due to her aspirations to teach on the collegiate level. When my life on this Earth ends I would like to have published a plethora of reading materials for ones left behind to enjoy she said. I would like to write a memoir books that inspire children to read and spiritual inspiration books. Marilyn is married to a wonderful husband of 22 years and is the mother of two children both graduating seniors this year from high school and college. She truly feels blessed and highly favored when she reflects on her children. Q&A Q How do you feel about the field of special education A Special Education is one of the most important educational fields in existence. It is a broad area that encompasses numerous exceptionalities. Special Education has evolved over the years yet it continues to be an important part of meeting the multiple challenges faced by students with disabilities. Q What do you feel is one of the most important topics regarding education and teachers A Disciplining students with dignity has become one of the most important topics in education. Likewise battling the over representation of students of color in In School Suspension programs is an ongoing dilemma. Q What is one thing that has impacted the field of education in the last 5 years A Allowing the use of cell phones by students has transformed the classroom environment. For many students cell phones have negatively impacted student engagement. Q Whom do you admire most in the field of education A I admire all teachers who really get it and have dedicated themselves to touching the lives of children in a positive manner. Q What is one thing that you have always desired as an educator A I have always desired built in leave time to go and enjoy programs at my son or daughter s school especially when they were younger. As an educator and one who understands the impact of parental involvement I have agonized over missing events at my children s schools during the school day. 31 Women of Distinction Minnie Stevenson T Recruiting specifically dental Healthcare personnel President - Believers and Achievers Recruiting Champaign IL hrough her work as President of Believers and Achievers Recruiting Minnie Stevenson is continuously displaying her passion for helping others by finding jobs for candidates while filling positions for her clients. Minnie was inspired to begin her current career after spending time as a motivational speaker and mentoring young girls at a local school. She started Believers and Achievers Recruiting in 2004. I have a strong passion for helping people find career opportunities that they qualify for I love it. I love meeting and talking to people every day and building relationships everywhere I go. In her role of president Minnie is responsible for meeting CEOs and decision makers of companies in order to determine if her business can assist them in staffing. It is also her priority to build a strong relationship with her clients in order to keep her company growing. She is always looking for ways to help both candidates and clients find success. My advice for someone starting out in this industry would be to only do this if you love it and always do it for passion and not for money. I believe that if you do something you love and enjoy then compensation will find you. Also do not give up on your dreams because they will come true if you pursue them. And don t try to be someone you re not -- be yourself. Minnie is involved in A&O development where she helps kids after school with tutoring and is involved with a board of women over 40 where she encourages fellow women to openly talk about their lives in order to help them improve their health. She has authored many monthly newsletters and is currently finishing her book titled I ve Got A Testimony. Minnie has spoken publicly at numerous schools for NAPPID Day and Lincoln Challenge and has appeared on WCIA 3 News. She has also mentored young girls and has partnered with several local organizations to help get people back to work. Minnie has opened up for recording artists such as James Fortune and FIYA Aaron Wilson and others and has also hosted many musical functions as an MC keeping them tuned into the show with her energy. She is known in her community for her singing abilities and being able to minister by way of song. I really love helping people in any way that I can and I am me at all times. I had it hard when I was growing up. I got hit by a car and had my thigh bone broken leading the doctors to tell me that I would never walk again. But I spoke out of my mouth I will walk again and I truly believed in myself and made it happen. This event is what inspired the name of my company. I believe that if you truly believe in something with your whole heart and don t only speak about it it will come true because I m living proof. I am walking and have been ever since the doctors said I couldn t. In her free time Minnie works as a traveling assistant to a local evangelist enjoys spending time with her family and helps those in need whenever possible. She give free haircuts to those who cannot afford to pay hosts cookouts for people who may not have family or friends to depend on checks on those who have recently lost loved ones to tend to their needs and has provided families with a place to live until they get back on their feet. I d like my legacy to inspire others to believe. We all have a purpose and if you remain true to who you are you will be happy There is only one of you and you might as well live life to the fullest every day. Don t be a copycat. It s ok to be you that is why God made us all different. 32 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why do you feel that your business is relevant in today s world A I feel that my business is relevant in today s world because there are so many people who have a gift to do certain things. Those who have a degree to do things along with those who don t both have a hard time finding careers in their chosen fields so I know that what we do is needed and it is making a positive difference. Q What type of jobs are available through your services A We specialize in placing candidates in front office services management and dental positions. Q What kind of services does Believers and Achievers Recruiting provide A We provide interviewing career coaching career wardrobe styling background check resume writing motivational seminars and workshops and training. Q How long will it take to get placed in a new job A It is not a guarantee that you will get hired. Ultimately it s up to the companies we work with to choose if they would like an interview with you and if they would like to hire you. It is up to the candidate to interview well and get hired. Q Can one accept other job offers after an interview with BAAR A Yes you can. You are not obligated to wait until we find you an opportunity unless it was someone we presented you to within the initial one year time frame. Q Does one have to report in weekly with BAAR A Yes you have to call in once a week to let us know that you are still actively looking for work. Q Can we apply to other staffing agencies while signed up with BAAR A Yes you can apply to other agencies. The only thing is that you cannot accept a job with a client we already presented you to through BAAR with a new agency if your year-long wait has not been met. Q How much will it cost someone to use your services A It doesn t cost you anything. Q Can one decline a position that was offered to me A Yes you can decline any position offered to you. Q Are positions presented to more than one candidate using your services A Yes we present positions to all of the people we interview who may be a good fit for the client. 33 Women of Distinction Nicole Merritt Transportation Public Relations Parking Control Officer San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority San Francisco CA M I enjoy working with people and I feel that I make an impact on my city and its inhabitants. ore than fifteen years ago Nicole Merritt began her career working with the State of California. However after facing reorganizational challenges Nicole used her brief sabbatical to make her way into a similar yet different career. I resigned from my position with the state went back to college to complete my Master s Degree and accepted my current position with the City of San Francisco in 2013. Nicole now serves as a Parking Control Officer with the City of San Francisco. As a Parking Control Officer Nicole s responsibilities include issuing parking citations as well as assisting the public with questions regarding the City of San Francisco. Nicole s days may also be spent directing traffic and towing vehicles that are illegally parked to keep the flow of traffic moving. There will always be roadblocks both literally and metaphorically but you have to learn that you will always have a detour you can take that will get you to the top. The sky is always the limit for anyone. I m proud to say that I ve helped so many people reach their potential by providing them assistance with resumes cover letters as well as motivate them to promote an upward mobility which ultimately presented my staff with Gold Superior Accomplishment Awards. At the end of the day Nicole knows that her successes have come from the fact that she s a self-motivated person who enjoys helping people I believe that if you have resilience you will succeed. It s also important to have a spiritual background so that when things seem of balance you can pray for guidance. Nicole firmly believes that her inspiration has always been to excel in whatever she does in life both personally and professionally. I know that my husband has been my inspiration and my children my motivation. In my career I have excelled tremendously and I have promoted several times because of my knowledge and organizational skills. I want my family and peers to see that anyone can do anything they put their minds to. When she isn t busy working Nicole spends her time with her grandchildren Amirah and Jayceon Cash McDuff who are four and three years old respectively. As well as attending her youngest son Lamar J. Merritt Jr. s high school baseball and football games at Pittsburg High School. Nicole also supports her daughter Amara Nicole Merritt with her modeling career with Look Modeling Agency and her oldest son Robert McDuff III with his college endeavors and his dream of being a Stylist for the Stars. Nicole loves to cook multi-cultural dishes and soul food with her husband and simply spend quality time with her family. 34 Women of Distinction Pamala Thomas-Davis Education Special Education Teacher - Fort Bend Independent School District Sugarland TX T hrough her work as a Special Education Teacher with the Fort Bend Independent School District Pamala Thomas-Davis is dedicated to helping her students succeed to the best of their ability. As time went on I found myself so intrigued by the students that I became more and more passionate about teaching. I take pride in teaching students and helping each child achieve their independence at their level. In 2007 Pamala began working as substitute teacher following her graduation from college. While working as a substitute teacher she shifted her interests towards working in Special Education. After subbing for about six months Pamala was offered her first long-term special education job which she gladly accepted. Eventually she completed an Alternative Certification Program at ACT Houston and became certified to teach Special Education EC-12th grade. The advice that I have for someone wanting to become a teacher is don t give up. If you start teaching and feel it may not be right for you try changing subjects or even grades. If you truly feel that teaching is for you you will find your place or purpose. Changing grades subjects is always good because it gives you more knowledge that can be taken with you when you do finally find your place purpose. Also never give up even when it seems there is no hope. Pamala s daily responsibilities as a special education teacher include helping the students with their daily lessons in the classroom and modifying lessons to accommodate her students needs according to the Individualized Education Plan. Regarding her education Pamala has a BS in Administration of Justice and is a Certified Special Education Teacher EC12th grade. She is also has a Cosmetology License. I m a very dedicated mother wife and grandmother which is something I take much pride in. I say that because I have truly come a long way. I became a mother at 15 and had five wonderful children by the age of 25. My first marriage wasn t working out so I decided to do the best I could with my children on my own. I worked two jobs to make ends meet but realized that was not enough. I then began working at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as a corrections officer in order to be able to provide benefits for my five children. However an injury eventually forced medical retirement. Unable to work it became depressing and very difficult but I was very determined not to allow this injury take my dignity or my drive as I still had five children to care for. In her free time Pamala loves to spend time with her family including her five grown children of whom she is very proud of and is a court appointed Advocate for Child Advocates Inc advocating for children in CPS custody. She also helps take care of her loving and caring husband Deottis who is recovering from a serious accident in a rehabilitation facility and is improving each day. I want to be remembered as a person of integrity who has mad love for people especially children and elderly persons. Also as a very hardworking honest and caring person that will give you the shirt off their back. My passion is to inspire individuals to become as independent as possible. 35 Women of Distinction Ruth Mutoda Nwinye Non-Profit Ministry President and Founder Gracious Women Fellowship International California USA Omaha NE L ocated in Beaumont California Gracious Women Fellowship International California USA (Gracious Women USA for short) was started by President and Founder Ruth Mutoda Nwinye. The non-profit organization which is dedicated to raising the standard of women in society assists women in living empowered lives that are based on Christian principles. It is our job to help women take a stand spiritually and physically help them find their passion and walk in their God-given purpose in life Ruth said. Ruth s passion to help struggling women began in 2006 after discovering that most of these women that were indeed struggling had been jailed divorced or had been suffering some other some sort of tragedy or loss. As she began piecing it all together she realized that she could combine her spiritual gifts her personality and her experience to help these women better serve the Lord through the formation of a ministry. A Registered Nurse by profession who works in hospice Ruth has seen it all. I ve seen people dying without hope in Christ she said sadly. I feel that God placed me in this position so that I could redirect these women to eternity. Every woman is born valuable beautiful and worthy of all that is good and I love seeing their lives transformed through the help of my ministry. Gracious Women USA has excelled in leaps and bounds with the addition of their food ministry which they started five years ago. Providing food to the surrounding community the organization is feeding hundreds of families on a weekly basis. Women have a chance to serve their community by providing food to them and in return they gain a sense of compassion unlike any other. The dedication these women have shown has made Ruth feel that it has all been worth it. More and more I am seeing doors open in these women s lives as they seek to become more obedient to Him Ruth added. With this changing society women of the 21st century have to be careful not to be pulled in the direction of the rest of the world forgetting to pay attention to God s wishes. Although Ruth admits that it can be difficult to always have a positive attitude there are a number of ways in which these women can return to a state of happiness and regain a positive outlook on life. The loss of a loved one the loss of a job living with a chronic illness even dealing with a breakup can almost seem unbearable at times but that is what Gracious Women USA is all about leaning on one another for support in their time of need. Ruth is a Motivational Speaker Children s Book Writer Chaplain and Pastor. As a Motivational Speaker Ruth hopes to encourage women to live more empowered lives. As a Writer she hopes to soon publish her first book so that she can enrich the lives of children by educating them about God s love for them. As a member of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) she is involved not only in her church and ministry but in several other churches and women s ministries. She loves to hike read inspirational books and plans to take sewing classes in the near future. Ruth also recently formed her own business Sunrise Sunset In Home Care offering home care to patients in need. Married to her husband Achi they have four children and 10 grandchildren between them. Two of their children live in Nebraska and two live close by in California. 36 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why is your ministry important in your community A Women need relationships with other women. They need Godly role models wiser more spiritual mature women after whom to pattern their lives. Women need to be helped in discovering their spiritual gifts and need to know that they are important to God. That s what my ministry is all about to bring this awareness to light. Q What is the business of Gracious Women USA A We attract members teach them to lead a meaningful life and mobilize them for ministry in their community. Q What purpose of the ministry does your ministry have A Our ministry is designed to exalt Christ and to reach out our community. It is designed to build women in our society to mature and someday become leaders. Q Who are you trying to reach A We try to reach out to women that have been battered abandoned divorced or even single. Q How does your ministry do what it has been called to do A Our ministry has been called to empower women to have a purpose in life. Q In what ways do you serve people A We provide physical emotional mental and spiritual needs. Q Where is your ministry headed A Gracious Women will create jobs for women and teach them how to be independent. Women must use their talents to empower members of their community. Q Because of your ministry how has your audience changed A The makeup of our ministry is constantly changing. We are seeing new faces have extended beyond our ministry. Q What are Gracious Women Barriers and how can they be removed A We are looking for trained leaders who are more versed in different subjects as sometimes we lack topics relevant to the lives of women. Q What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses A We work as a team and support each other in bad and good times. One of our most recent weaknesses was dealing with the loss of one of our members. We also lost two young women last year. 37 Women of Distinction Sonia Lopez I Financial Consulting and Financial Services President of VIZ consulting corporation Chicago IL ntroduced to the financial industry in 2004 Sonia Lopez was set on learning how to manage her own finances and soon after she began the process to do so. She earned her Bachelor s of Science Degree from DePaul University and after years of obtaining the necessary certifications to develop a career in the financial consulting field Sonia emerged in July of 2015 as the President of VIZ Consulting Corporation in Chicago Illinois. Sonia has since collaborated with various organizations to provide her expertise in areas including identity theft and health insurance. She has also hosted events with daycare providers offering safety kits for children. Sonia takes pride in her profession knowing just how important the need for insurance is. It truly protects families from financial hardships bankruptcies and other catastrophic events it s the philanthropic side of me. She says. As a young adult Sonia felt she was ready to purchase property and she was extremely eager to gain knowledge on how to properly manage and invest her finances for a prosperous future. Her own experiences are what have led her to so graciously enable others to feel secure and confident on their personal road to financial success. Sonia s holistic approach with her clients is sincere and kindhearted as she truly has their best interest in mind. Activity equals results. Plan course of actions that will take you to the level you need to be. Breaking down a large goal into small attainable goals will provide the results you want. She explains. She takes her time and simplifies the vast goals of each client to make it less complex for them to understand and more realistic for them to attain. Sonia has developed strong business relationships with her clientele as she aids them in choosing suitable plans that ultimately lead them to the fulfillment of their aspirations. As previously stated this conscientious woman certainly has a philanthropic side. Sonia actively gives back to her community by participating in fashion shows and fundraisers typically for causes such as suicide prevention and premature birth. Aside from all of her hard work and dedication Mrs. Sonia Lopez is a loving wife attentive mother and enjoys exercising and cooking in her spare time. Sonia mentions the women in her family as her biggest inspiration to succeed. Her mother who unfortunately passed when Sonia was just a young child was an admirable entrepreneur. Sonia remains close with her aunt another role model very dear to her who raised her while having 7 children of her own and working full time. The women of Sonia s family never gave up and neither will she. Her mission is to make a difference in people s lives which is something that Sonia Lopez has already accomplished in countless ways. 38 Women of Distinction Stephanie Freund Energy Industry (Natural Gas and Power) Business Owner President Sundara Energy Inc. Ontario Canada fter 20 years working in sales management in the beverage alcohol industry as well as the medical field Stephanie Freund embarked on a new career in the energy industry. She discovered her passion for working in natural gas and power after relocating from Montreal to Vancouver in late 2005. The moved prompted Stephanie to resign from her management role working for a large Quebecbased beverage alcohol distributor. Following a brief job search she got the call from an Alberta based Energy Company and was hired as a sales representative. For nine years Stephanie learned the ropes from the ground up and moved into more senior roles. Through working in the industry Stephanie identified an opportunity and took a bold step in an entrepreneurial direction. In 2014 she founded Sundara Energy which provides commodity sourcing solutions for industrial commercial institutional (ICI) and governmental clients to meet current and future energy supply needs. Her ambitious venture opened up a fresh industry partner option aimed towards clients seeking bilingual assistance with their consulting and Energy purchasing needs across Canada. As the company s president Stephanie is a true energy management partner. Having worked and lived in provinces throughout Canada including Quebec Nova Scotia New Brunswick British Columbia and now Ontario she possesses a unique understanding of the business landscape and client needs nation-wide including offering French speaking bilingual support. Stephanie puts her customers first working closely with them to create specific energy supply solutions bringing long-term value to their bottom line. A The fast pace commodity trading aspect of this industry has been engaging for me and has kept me challenged over the years she said. The Industry is forever evolving so the need to stay informed and communicate that information to my clients is essential and an interesting part of my day-day role. This Industry may seem intimidating to some but is in fact is all about relationship building. Stephanie is currently working on Provincial Energy Programs directed towards the Ontario Greenhouse Sector in an effort to cut their rising energy costs. She participates and supports various industry charity events including runs and bike rides such as the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer -- a cause close to her heart. Stephanie is breast cancer survivor since 2002. These events are popular venues for industry gatherings that bring people together while adding great value towards communities and causes. She is also involved in the Big Sisters Go-Girls program as a school mentor to groups of young adolescent girls. I ve always felt that a true mentor is a gift who helps build confidence and provides support to enable success and growth both on a personal and professional level Stephanie said. Young woman in these times need strong female role models and I truly aspire to fill that role for someone. 39 Women of Distinction Susan Hallsby Legal In-House Independent Attorney Chief Legal Officer LLC Batavia IL isualizing a photo that her mother-in-law has in her home of a frog hanging out of a bird s mouth and a caption that reads Never give up Susan Hallsby might have once been that frog but in time realized her true potential and calling. Coming from very modest means both of Susan s parents were elementary school teachers. Breaking from the mold she was 100 percent responsible for financing college and going on to grad school without earning debt then entering law school after deciding to make a career move. Earning every single aspect of her life s successes on her own whether it was a job promotion or award Susan used her tenacious personality to scrape her way to the top. V Law is my second career Susan explained who is now an Independent Attorney of Chief Legal Officer LLC. In my first career in business I had the opportunity to work with our in-house counsel getting firsthand experience from the value they brought to me. I saw the talents and skills they possessed then evaluated my own and determined that I wanted to help my company in such a fashion. Upon earning my MBA I quit my job and went to law school full-time to make it happen. Landing a position as a finance lawyer at The Dow Chemical Company in 1990 in Midland Michigan Susan counseled the US financial group on private activity bonds leveraged leases handled inter-company loans joint ventures corporate guarantees did project financing and implemented strategies terminating financings as well as host of other responsibilities for just over five years. In 1996 she relocated to Wisconsin to work as a Corporate Counsel for Consolidated Papers Inc. before moving once again this time to Chicago Illinois to serve as Vice-President General Counsel and Secretary for Mannesman Rexroth Corporation (now Bosch Rexroth) in 1999 and later for OSI Industries LLC as their Assistant General Counsel in 2003. In 2009 Susan ventured off on her own and began working for herself as an independent consulting attorney and owner of Chief Legal Officer LLC. 40 Women of Distinction As a finance lawyer I had the opportunity to learn my craft. But after five years I wanted to spread my wings Susan said honestly. Becoming a corporate generalist gave me the ability to do a variety of work and it was exciting. Now as the owner of my own company I look forward to opportunities where I can help a company with either strategic projects or relieve tactical work load and I perform the work. I also get to utilize temporary search engines to assist in looking for prospective projects. Over the last six years in business for herself Susan has partnered with companies like Morton Salt Inc. McCain Foods USA The Joint Commission Allstate Insurance Company and Hub Group Inc. Advising small and medium enterprises as well as larger budget-conscious organizations on a wide array of legal matters Susan focuses on corporate and commercial transactions as well as compliance. She is well-versed in corporate law and transactions risk and crisis management finance law commercial contracts mergers and acquisitions international transactions cross-territorial initiatives employment and human resource matters litigation management law department management and outside counsel oversight. The key to being a great in-house attorney is in knowing your business. Susan says that it is equally important to focus on relationships and be intellectually curious at all times. As a woman she surely relies on her ability to work as part of a team too since her communication style widely differs from the majority of male attorneys. Active as a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel s Chicago Chapter as a volunteer Susan is also a member of The Coalition of Women s Initiatives in Law Firms as a volunteer on their in-house committee helping plan substantive topics of interest to in-house women attorneys. Susan studied Business Administration at Ferris State University earning her Bachelor s in 1983. By 1987 she had obtained her Master of Business Administration from the University of Toledo. In 1990 she completed her Juris Doctorate also at the University of Toledo. Q&A Q What is it about your business that is important A We as a society even though we probably cannot see it are in the midst of breaking into a new era. The traditional way of working such as being a direct hire employee is going away. Employers are looking to maintain only enough staff to handle a level of work that is sustainable over the long haul and hire flexible workers when the level of work explodes. Employers are not interested in hiring law firm lawyers at hundreds of dollars an hour to pick up this overflow work. Professionals like me are what employers are searching for. Q How do you find your opportunities A Like any business I market myself. But unlike many businesses my marketing is solely through networking. I attend a variety of networking events meet people and discuss my business and how I can help them. Additionally I rely on word of mouth and references. Finally I engage temporary employment agencies to bring opportunities to my attention. Q How many hours per week or weeks per year do you work A The answer to the number of hours I work is a typical lawyer answer it depends . It depends on the specific projects on which I work whether I have contracts running simultaneously or merely concurrently. The short answer is that I work when there is work to be done. Q How do you keep track of everything A I rely heavily on my calendar. If something is not on my calendar it doesn t get done. I am a big practitioner of breaking tasks down to the smallest particle and prioritizing. I develop a plan for the day week and month and work it. 41 Women of Distinction Tara J. Weston Management Writing Author & Business Entrepreneur & Consultant Halifax Nova Scotia Canada I love helping people and I enjoy the freedom of being my own boss the financial stability and ability to be available for my son who spends an enormous amount of time in the hospital. fter spending more than twenty years as a management professional Tara J. Weston decided to embrace her love for writing. Upon realizing that parents of special needs children such as herself needed information about the journey Tara knew she could reach out and provide other families with lessons she had to learn. In 2013 Tara wrote her first book in three weeks and it was published in October of 2014. Writing gives me an outlet to release pent up thoughts and emotions and use them to fuel my passion to touch the hearts and minds of others around the world who could use some words of hope inspiration comfort and advice. Along with writing her first book A New Normal Raising Special Needs Children & Keeping Your Sanity Tara is the owner of a couple of businesses. She owns a health and wellness business with Arbonne International where she serves as a District Manager and Independent Consultant. Tara is also a certified financial counselor and has her MBA HCM in business administration and health care management so she can consult for personal and business clients. The most important job I have is being a mother to my amazing sixteen-year-old son Noah. Although he has special needs he has taught me the most and is the love of my life. Tara is in the process of publishing four more books two of which will be focused on special needs and published in 2016 and two more books coming in 2017. A I always want my readers to feel like they can relate to me. My goal is to always be authentic in my writing so that I can be a support guide and source of humor inspiration hope and love for others. I want to get into the minds and hearts of others through my writings so that I can change the world one person at a time. At the end of the day Tara wants to create a paradigm shift in how society thinks and functions as a whole by celebrating our differences. She firmly believes that if society truly accepts the uniqueness of each person and appreciates what each person contributes to the world then society at large will become whole. The human body is a perfect example of this concept. It takes many different and unique parts to make a complete and functioning body. Tara is in the process of establishing a local Legacy Fund in Noah s name and is also in the early stages of creating a National Foundation focused on helping special needs persons on a larger scale. I m happy when I know that I ve touched someone s heart and have effectively moved them to a new understanding acceptance or effected change in some way. Although it s nice to have a goal of being recognized as a Best Seller in the writing field it doesn t mean much if people aren t moved by what I ve written. 42 Women of Distinction DeVon Williams Daniels Founder Daniels Tansey LLP 43 Women of Distinction As a Founder and Partner at Daniels Tansey a registered investment advisor DeVon Daniels has become a recognized leader in the wealth management community. It s been a journey over her 35 year career one that DeVon says has challenged her to grow professionally and as a person but it s been very fulfilling . Growing up with a father who was a business owner DeVon knew that she wanted to work for herself from an early age. After graduating from the University of Maryland she saw sales as her best opportunity. Rather than real estate DeVon entered the life insurance industry. She was soon hired by a small firm Topkis Associates. It was here that she met her husband Kit and their careers have grown together since. I once read a proverb that said no matter how long you have been on the road it is never too late to turn around . I realized at that moment that I no longer wanted to be associated with a life insurance or investment brokerage firm. I wanted to venture out for myself. Since 1982 their firm has grown organically and through acquisition to the Daniels Tansey that exists today. Their services have expanded over time part of their ensemble approach always guided by a commitment to best serve the firm s clients. My advice for anyone starting out in this industry or any profession is to believe in yourself and to work hard. Be curious respect others and be open to change. Put the client first firm second and self-interest third. Remember there are no shortcuts. DeVon has extensive experience across a broad range of wealth management services. She works with clients to develop comprehensive financial plans and specializes in divorce cases. Sensitive to the personal challenges that face divorcing couples DeVon works with clients to reach equitable financial settlements almost always outside of 44 court. Her professional credentials include Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU). She remains focused in client work but plays an active role in internal management as her firm continues to grow. I ve stayed in the field for so many years because I love working with clients. These become personal relationships at Daniels Tansey we work hard because we genuinely care. Outside of Daniels Tansey DeVon is a Founder of the Fund for Women (DE) which began in 1993 to help girls and women in the Delaware area. Initially the organization s goal was to have 1000 women give 1000 netting 1 million. Today the organization has assets of 3.2 million and gives annual grants of over 125 000. DeVon is also on the board of the Nativity Preparatory School of Wilmington (DE) an inspiring development program for students in grades 5-8. I want to be known as someone who cared for others someone who helped them achieve their life goals. I hope to be remembered as someone who advocated for others less fortunate and for those going through difficult times. We don t need grand acts to change lives simple acts can mean more than we realize . . . most importantly I want my husband children and grandchildren to know how much I love them and how proud I am of them. It s impossible to put that into words but I ll always do my best to show it. More than anything DeVon loves spending time with her loving family and friends. She and Kit live in Wilmington DE. They travel at any chance to see their children and grandchildren but of course cherish the time with everyone back at home. Women of Distinction Q&A Q What do you feel differentiates Daniels Tansey from similar wealth management firms A First I d say that it s our commitment to clients. We genuinely care for them and personalize our service so that it meets their exact need. Second it would be our ensemble approach. We have an amazing team of planning tax and investment professionals working together to deliver comprehensive service from one firm. Q What s the value in an ensemble approach rather than using separate firms to provide the same set of services A Everything is more connected in today s world. Personal finance is no exception. Financial planning is linked to tax strategy both of which feed into investment management. It s a ton of information and the different professionals need to be connected. That s why we brought the team under one roof. We connect the dots and empower our clients with a clear understanding. Plus there are synergies and clients save on fees. Q Divorce is often a very difficult time. How do you help clients through that A I start by assuring them that they will be okay that life will go on. It can be a very emotional time and I m very sensitive to that. While maintaining that empathy it s my job to lead the client to an equitable settlement. By illustrating various scenarios over time we visualize and plan for life post-divorce. After the settlement the focus shifts to empowerment. I do whatever it takes to ensure the client understands their financial affairs so they can make informed decisions going forward. I stress that it s a new beginning as much as it is an end. Many of these clients stay with Daniels Tansey well beyond a divorce for advisory tax and investment services. Q What do you see for your firm in the future A We ll always have a small firm feel and we ll continue as an ensemble firm. Our services might adjust over time but Daniels Tansey will always be absolutely committed to our clients. I m fortunate to work with such talented dedicated Partners and employees . . . it gives me confidence that the firm will continue to lead ahead of an evolving industry. 45 Women of Distinction For award-winning novelist comes naturally. She is at her happiest when she has a pen in her hand or is typing at her keyboard. There s always a story waiting to be birthed. Growing up in Pinole California Lori realized her talent early. She started writing poetry in high school before going on to graduate from Heald Business College majoring in Business Administration and to study Creative Writing at the Monterey Peninsula College. During college Lori worked for a local attorney and took a fulltime job as a stenographer upon graduating. Over the next 35 years she continued to work in the legal healthcare and manufacturing industries. The experience gave her the knowledge and leadership skills she needed to embark on her successful writing career. Lori was the Co-founder and Publicist for the Monterey Poetry Review magazine which has grown to more than 4 500 circulations for three counties. Additionally she is the director and writing coach for poetry workshops. Lori is the founder of In a Writers Mind a website featuring her popular novels poetry and blog posts. The website also serves as a forum for Thompson writing is like breathing it Lori Howell other poets to share their works. In 2012 Lori published her first murder mystery novel Reflections a terrifically exciting pulse-pounding mystery that entwines the reader in suspense. An ardent writer Lori loves to create mystery characters that are lifelike. The plot twists and reliability to the characters capture the reader s hearts. Not only is Reflections promised to become a New York Times Bestseller the novel and story was turned into an award-winning screenplay by screenwriters Kathy Krantz Stewart and Steph Kimmel. The screenplay was met with critical acclaim. Reflections was awarded OFFICIAL SELECTION for Best Screenplay by the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and WINNER of the Best Screenplay Award from the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival. In honor of the HIMPFF achievement award Lori will be travelling to Hollywood in January 2017 where she will walk the Red Carpet have opportunities for media interviews attend the awards ceremony and continue to increase exposure of the screenplay among producers and directors. It is very exciting Lori said. These are tough awards to win. I am still walking on air. This has been 46 Women of Distinction a huge new learning experience. I am amazed it has come this far. Dreams are something you should make time for everyday. Don t put it on a shelf. Lori is a talented children s book writer as well. She recently published An Adventure with Joshua and Hoppy Frog. It is the first book of a series that teaches children self-worth. Lori just finished writing and illustrating the second book in the series An Adventure with Joshua and Rocky the Otter which teaches courage. Lori s exemplary work has not gone unnoticed. She was received the International Library of Poets award for the Best Poems and Poets in 2007 and has had poems published in The Poetry Gems 2000 and Halcyon Days 2002. In her spare time Lori gives back to her community. She teaches bible study at a local women s prison. She is actively working with her with church to start a new women s bible study group called Women of the Word a program that aims to help young women in prison by partnering with community businesses and providing them with resources to help them change their lives. Lori will be offering to write their resumes connect with employment agencies and coach them how to be professional confident and prepared for job interviews. Lori is taking art classes and enjoys painting in between creating characters for her next novel. Lori was a Captain on the Relay for Life for Cancer a cause that is close to her heart. I am a cancer survivor she said. When I was diagnosed 2010 my husband of only one year left because he felt he didn t sign up for this. I thank God that I have a second chance but most of all that I was blessed with cancer. I met some of the most wonderful women who shared the same heartache that I did. I ve learned to embrace my cancer as my best friend and never to take it for granted. I volunteer and try to give back to show my gratitude for a second chance in life a promise to God for His love and grace for me. God has blessed Lori in many ways. She is newly married to a wonderful husband and is a proud mother and grandmother. Lori s family and Christian faith inspire her everyday. She encourages future writers to be confident and never settle for being mediocre. Q Was it hard to create your characters A Some are easier than others because you have to turn off your surroundings and go into another place within yourself to create a character. It s amazingly fun Q Is it true that there s a certain time of day when you are the most creative If true what s your time A Yes between 2 00 a.m. and 3 00 a.m. And have noticed that my painting is best at 1 00 am. Q Do you write other types of books besides mysteries A Yes children s books poetry and a biography Q How much of the novel Reflections is fiction your fantasy or actual experience A The story is fiction. When I write about forensics it s factual or about an actual location. I ve traveled to some of the locations. Q Are you writing other novels A Yes a trilogy to Reflections and two other novels. Q Is your novel becoming a movie A Yes I am working with a screenplay writer Kathy Krantz Stewart. Q Do you have a favorite character in your novel A Yes Dr. Bailey Fairchild she is the forensic pathologist Q What s the one thing or advice that you give to other writers A Follow your dream write and write. I Live to Write and Write to Live Is my motto. 47 Women of Distinction Follow your dreams she said. Fill your life with grace . My faith defines me. My life has been woven with threads of love joy happiness success challenges and defeat but through it all God has been my strength and direction. He is my rock. Lori Howell Thompson 48 Women of Distinction Natalia Levey C.N.C. Health and Wellness - Nutrition Certified Health and Nutrition Coach and Chef Founder of Healthy Intent Tampa FL fter completing the Art Institute of New York City s professional culinary training program in 2002 Natalia Levey dedicated the next decade to being a wife and mother while teaching private cooking classes and perfecting her recipes. I became a master at cooking family dinners throwing parties and teaching people how to cook. In 2013 her passion for health was reignited by the challenge of going on a serious elimination diet in pursuit of learning about her body. This led Natalia to becoming certified as a health coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and as a nutritional consultant from the American Association of Nutritional Consultants training under world-renowned integrative medical experts like Mark Hyman and Deepak Chopra. The following year she founded her company Healthy Intent. My goal is to educate professional women about the importance of proper nutrition and self-care through private and corporate cooking classes lectures workshops and a digital magazine. Natalia believes that each person is unique. My health systems are based on your personal patterns. No more one-size-fits-all health programs that give the same old advice. If you want to truly catapult your energy and productivity you need advice that makes sense for YOU. She has been greatly inspired by women with strong voices and fun personalities like Dr. Christiane Northrup Kris Carr and Marie Forleo. I m very fortunate to be in the company of very supportive and successful women. For Natalia English is a second language however it s been her primary one for the last 15 years. A Her book Cravings Boss - The REAL Reason You Crave Food and a 5-Step Plan to Take Back Control is available now in most major bookstores and online. Natalia s professional affiliations include International Association of Health Coaches American Association of Nutritional Consultants American Association of Drugless Practitioners American College of Nutrition In addition she connects with the community by doing nutrition workshops and talks at various cancer support groups. As a business exercise Natalia had to ask people in her circle to name the best things about her. It was really challenging because I prefer to talk about other people s lives and successes. However what they came back with was so amazing and made me feel truly appreciated. It helped me see myself through their eyes. They said I was loving curious generous and dedicated. Her best advice for others is to not be afraid to show vulnerability. People want to be able to relate to you. As soon as I started opening up a little about myself I received great support. It s ok to ask for help. Someone out there actually cares and wants to help you succeed. It took a lot of work for me to learn how to write well. Words are very powerful and are the way we communicate information and ideas how we support and inspire make someone laugh or influence others to take action. I knew that was going to be something holding me back so I took numerous writing courses and read a lot of books. I then actually wrote a book. 49 Women of Distinction Albertina ClayDowning Human Development Entrepreneur ATOD Development Corporation St. Louis MO H ardworking and compassionate Albertina ClayDowning has and continues to dedicate herself to inspire and help others live their best life. She alongside her husband Andre Downing serve as pastors at ATOD United In Worship Deliverance Center in St. Louis. Albertina s faith understanding and drive for human development are foundational reasons why she has created ATOD Development Corporation. Her goal for this company is to rehab the lives of others starting with One Person One Family One Neighborhood and One Community at a time. In her mid-20 s she has worked in various fields including computer technology childcare and education library science and billing coordination. All of these fields have contributed to her versatility communication skills and business like stature. My mom Mildred Clay was my greatest professional inspiration in my life because she inspired me to be independent honest and efficient. She understood me when no one else could she stated. My father who is still living at the age of 93 is inspiring me now that age doesn t matter but hope and believing God does. Albertina demonstrates selflessness and optimism in the face of great adversity. Physical illnesses were and are still a challenge she faces daily. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis Albertina has learned to never give up even when the battle or the struggle of the consequences seem to be overwhelming. I suffer through the pains and the issues that MS would bring to the physical body Albertina said And it s not just multiple sclerosis. There have been other physical illnesses that I had to go through that happened before the MS which was my learning experience that you can press pass your feelings and your issues even when life doesn t feel fair. This experience helped me through having a tumor on my foot migraine headaches mitral valve prolapse extreme vertigo over one hundred gall-stones bell palsy tumors covering my womb were the doctor said I couldn t have any more children shingles that lasted for three months seizures and still dealing with multiple sclerosis which caused me to be paralyzed and unable to walk and feed myself. But through it all I am still here by the grace of God. It took a loving husband and nine loving children to help and love me through it all. Albertina has been married for 24 years to her devoted husband. The couple has 9 healthy and ambitious children. Albertina stated that she would like to leave the world aspiring with new life patience love hope and kindness. 50 Women of Distinction Anika M. Brewster T Community Health Services Owner Entrepreneur CEO - FabUless Boutique On With Life Health & Wellness Advisor Owner - Total Life Changes Co-Owner CMO - Sophisticated Chi-Town Licensed Real Estate Broker - Real People Realty Chicago IL hrough her work as an owner and entrepreneur with several business Anika Brewster expresses her passion for business and helping others by providing clients with a number of services. At the moment Anika is the Founder and CEO of On With Life the Co-Owner and CMO of Sophisticated Chi-Town the Owner of FabUless Boutique and is a Health & Wellness Adviser and Owner of Total Life Changes. She is also a Licensed Real Estate Broker with Real People Realty. Regarding her education Anika received a double B.A. in Spanish and International Studies from St. Xavier University in 1997 and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from University of Phoenix in 2010. She also earned a Certificate in Paralegal Studies from Roosevelt University in 2004 a Certificate At Home With Diversity from Mainstreet Organization of Realtors in 2008 and a Certificate in Entrepreneurship Level 1 & 2 from NXLevel. I m a realist. I enjoy everything I do. I don t put anything above God & family. I feel a sense of duty to share the information I receive because if it s relevant to me it may also be to someone else. I m open minded and accept critique suggestions etc. I m a listener and observer and I m very tolerant. In her leisure Anika enjoys reading traveling cooking volunteering at children s schools and spending time with her family and friends. She is a member of the National Association of Realtors the Illinois Association of Realtors and the National Association of Professional Women. I would like to leave a legacy of realness and resilience. Realness because I stay true to myself and my vision in all I do. I don t concern myself with how others do things. I appreciate that there are so many ways to do everything and I ll always choose what s best for me. Resilience because regardless of my personal situations and my business obstacles I face daily I keep it moving . I don t sweat the small stuff and I always keep my vision in mind. I m a product of an entrepreneurial household. I ve always wanted to own my own business. It s all I know. My parents and cousin are my greatest professional inspirations. Their keen knowledge persistence dedication and pursuit of business continue to motivate and inspire me. Anika s main role within all of her work is to interact with people on a daily basis. Whether they are in search of a new home looking for a unique outfit or pair of shows need a listening ear networking or need a consultation on bettering their health and wellness Anika s primary responsibility is to focus on them and fulfill their needs. The advice I d give to anyone starting out is (1) BE PATIENT (2) WRITE everything down on paper (3) be open to suggestions (4) take others opinions criticism rejection as learning tools not personal attacks (5) observe with your eyes and ears (6) don t be afraid of change (7) be prepared to feel overwhelmed BUT don t turn it into fear and NEVER GIVE UP (8) keep in mind no two people do anything the same. Find your comfort zone and find your niche (9) ALWAYS remember NO ONE will see your vision the same as you do because IT S YOURS and (10) your business is a reflection representation of you. 51 Women of Distinction Darlene Bennett Counseling Motivation & Life Coach Outreach Speaker Author Founder & CEO Bennett Motivational Center Suitland MD S I kept hearing the Lord speaking to my spirit and I kept feeling His nudges telling me to run on and see what the end will be. And I m reminded everyday when I see many settling for less than what the Lord has predestined for them. Accepting their jobs as the end result for why they were created. There is more to life than marriage family buying a home having a successful career and such. We all have a Destiny to fulfill. As I come and go to work on a daily basis I see so many people unhappy. I often talk to many people in my travel to and from work about their Destiny. Many are actually shocked at the word Destiny . Some want to know more and others are content with where they are. That is fine as well. When I see this a fire is ignited within me and I want to talk to everybody to stop settling to study and get to know who they are. Find out what all has been placed within them and begin to use it. Many don t realize that what they were created for is right in front of them but we expect it to be more difficult than what it really is. Total fulfillment comes from walking out your God ordained purpose. ince realizing her calling in life Darlene Bennett has been able to understand that she has a career and a passion and that the two are very different planes. Darlene s career consists of manning contracts and handling the processes of hiring within the Federal Government. It was during her work that Darlene began to feel the nudge. In 2014 Darlene began taking the initial steps of starting a business based around her calling but there was still much procrastination and uncertainty. In 2015 she decided to push her passion into a reality. Now Darlene serves as the Founder & CEO where she believes that she has been mandated by the Most High the Lord and Savior to carry out His mission. That mission is to encourage motivate and counsel everyone she comes into contact with on a daily basis locally nationally and eventually globally. She wants people to know is that she is simply a vessel a tool that He has chosen to use to touch the many people He sends me to. I m inspired when I speak with the youth our students when visiting schools. Seeing that light come on that says Yes there s more to life than what the naked eye can see or the status quo . Speaking with the students and informing them at an early age is very empowering and rewarding. Darlene firmly believes that anyone can be an overcomer a conqueror or anything they set out to be but it all starts with the changing of the mindset. She believes that you have to remove doubt defeat fear failure and say to yourself I am somebody and begin to search yourself to find out whom that somebody is. I enjoy my work but I do know and acknowledge that my career is not my purpose. When you figure out the difference between the two you are well on your way. The Lord knows exactly where you are. Nothing is a surprise to the Lord. So if you are experiencing a hard time financially physically emotionally or mentally the Lord is aware. It just maybe that the Lord is orchestrating all of these events to get you to that place in which you begin to live out your Destiny. 52 Women of Distinction At the end of the day Darlene truly wants to leave a legacy of faith because faith is what she chooses to hold on to when it seems like life has taken a downward turn. When she activates her faith Darlene knows that everything is going to be all right and that all is well. The word of the Lord says Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. It goes on to say that If you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can say to that mountain be removed and cast into the sea. That simply means whatever you are going through speak to it speak out of your mouth what you expect to see. Thank the Lord for what you expect in advance not what you see now and then trusting the Lord to bring that thing to pass. I would like for you to write your vision on paper and make it plain. Though it tarry and seems slow in coming wait patiently for it for it shall surely come to pass. Believe by faith for your vision to come to pass change your mindset begin to thank the Lord and start moving yourself in the direction of your vision. Preparation is in order. You will look up one day and you will see that you have either arrived or you are closer than you have ever been before. It requires action on your part. Q&A Q Who or what encouraged you to start a business A It was His nudging and promptings that said to me that others can benefit from what it is that I have on the inside of me. I very often would find myself speaking motivating counseling and praying with those on the street at the schools in church and grocery stores. In praying one day the Lord said I did not give you those gifts for yourself. The gifts I placed within you are for the many people that I will have you to cross paths with. The experiences that you have overcome and yes although they were very painful are for those who you will encounter. The Lord entrusted me with pain to help save a generation of people. I thank the Lord for choosing me. I don t think I would have chosen me. If it were left to me to make a decision to motivate and counsel others it would not happen. Q Where do you see yourself in the next five years A I have plans to expand outside of my borders and to purchase a building that I can house staff and begin to expend upon bigger projects. I would like to take on many new platforms. As of now my platforms consist of speaking at schools and church. I would like to speak on corporate platforms locally and internationally. I believe if we build it the projects will come. So I am looking to begin enlarging my territories. Q What do you define as success A Although I have not hit that plateau yet in which I consider myself successful I would consider success to be in my life a level of effectiveness. Accomplishments on all platforms that the Lord has given to me and doing well at it. That would be the full embodiment of family career business relationships health and outreach. To be totally fulfilled until it is running over and spilling over into my family business communities church and so on. That to me is how I define success. 53 Women of Distinction Deborah Anne Jasien Handmade Personal Care and Cosmetics Owner Maker at Fields of Ambrosia BATH-BODY-AROMA North Conway NH 54 Women of Distinction W hen Deborah Anne Jasien retired from life in the professional theatre in New York to move to her partner s family s farm in New Hampshire she had no idea how much change was still in her future. At the time her partner s Mother was fighting her final battle with breast cancer. Deborah planted a garden which led to three more gardens along with a discovery of healing plants and flowers and their uses. In researching natural soap making and aromatherapy Deborah recognized many of the ingredients for creating these items could be found in the gardens orchards and fields around the family s Intervale Farm. She began making natural soaps and lotions and then expanded into aromatherapy products using essential oils to help her sister through her cancer treatments. The positive effect that these products had on her body and her mind then led Deborah to establish Fields of Ambrosia BATH-BODYAROMA in May 2001 to share her new found knowledge with others. Deborah is the sole mastermind behind all the product formulations created at Fields of Ambrosia. She designs labels and informational brochures as well as print and web advertising. She writes and records radio TV and Internet video promotions. Since founding Fields of Ambrosia Deborah has always operated her business on a cash-only basis. She has never taken out loans or lines of credit despite the difficult times during her formative years as a business owner. The rewards of this stringent policy are empowering. Today Deborah owns all of the company s manufacturing equipment packaging and ingredients cabinetry and store displays. She is debt free. But Fields of Ambrosia is more than just a business. Deborah and her company share a personal mission which is reflected in their generous donations to a Cancer Foundation in the heart of the Mount Washington Valley of New Hampshire. Ten percent of the company s profits as well as product donations go to support Jen s Friends Cancer Foundation in the memory of Deborah s sister and mother who lost their battle to the disease. Combining the life force energy of healing plants which is absorbed by your skin to generate healthy new cells with the aromas and healing powers of pure essential oils gives each creation a signature fragrance which can help to enhance health and psychological well-being she said. The aroma of aromatherapy is not as important as how it makes you feel. Families and individuals are buying more natural and organic products every year. Fields of Ambrosia serves today s ecoconscious and health oriented consumers a fast growing percentage of the population in the U.S. and globally. All of Deborah s products are free from petroleum and animal derivatives and they are handcrafted and packaged right in house. The consumer who buys from Fields of Ambrosia knows they are taking extra care of their physical body gaining peace of mind in giving back to the earth instead of taking away and satisfying their soul with the knowledge of helping families touched by cancer said Deborah who serves on the Board of Directors for Jen s Friends Cancer Foundation. Additionally Deborah is an Ambassador to the White Mountains Region of NH Made an organization that strengthens New Hampshire s small businesses local artisans and farmers. She is also Head of the North Conway Village Association an organization that represents local businesses under the auspices of the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. Above all family come first. She spends as much time as possible with her sisters their children and her significant other Francis. Natural bath and body is the next step for living closer to the earth for this group of consumers she said. What you put on your body is as important as what you put into your body after all the skin is the largest organ we possess. 55 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why do you feel that your business is relevant in today s world A We are targeting today s eco-conscious and health oriented consumers a fast growing percentage of the population in the U.S. and globally. Q Why do you choose organic and natural ingredients A Families and individuals are buying more natural and organic products every year. Take a look at the growth of Natural Food departments in grocery stores right here in the valley for support of this trend. Natural bath and body is the next step for living closer to the earth for this group of consumers. Q Why focus on Aromatherapy as essential in your business A Combining the life force energy of healing plants which is absorbed by your skin to generate healthy new cells with the aromas and healing powers of pure essential oils gives each creation a signature fragrance which can help to enhance health and psychological well-being. The aroma of aromatherapy is not as important as how it makes you feel. Q Are you an eco-conscious business A Our products are free from petroleum and animal derivatives and they are handcrafted and packaged right in our retail store. The packaging is assembled from recycled glass plastic paper and cork and we craft crates and baskets from locally harvested timber. Q Why do you love gardens A As a child I was always fascinated with the gardens of my grandmothers in the rural mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania. I loved the colors the scents the tranquility and oh yes the butterflies. I would lie in the grass and watch them float through the air for hours on end. I did not know it then but maybe somewhere deep inside my soul that these beautiful creatures do more than just look pretty and pollinate flowers. They can serve as wonderful spiritual messengers-- both literally and figuratively Q What was your first garden A I started with a perennial and herb garden which I designed as a healing labyrinth path. After the whirlwind of life on the road for so many years it was part of my inner focus establishing itself in the new environment. Walking a labyrinth is a wonderful meditation for practicing mindfulness. It brings your awareness into the present moment. It also connects you to nature and all its creatures. Q Why choose the Monarch butterfly as your moniker for Fields of Ambrosia A Butterflies have always had a magical quality to me. They appear so ethereal and fragile much like fairies dancing on air. It is no surprise that my early fascination with flowers and butterflies is so prevalent in my life today. I chose the Monarch butterfly as the symbol of my business because its connection with my soul is so fitting. It also symbolizes the work that I do with Mother Nature s bounty in creating my products transforming simple ingredients into wonderful lotions and creams therapeutic and healing remedies and sometimes just plain and simple good stuff Q Are you a spiritual person A We are all on a long journey of the soul. On this journey we encounter endless turns shifts and conditions that cause us to morph into ever-finer beings. At our soul-journey s end we are inevitably changed not at all the same as when we started on the path . Excerpt from Animal Symbolism by Avia Venefica 56 Women of Distinction today after 32 years in practice the ability to help my patients regain their health continues to excite me. Dr. Bonnie Liakos DC DABAN H Healthcare Owner of Dr. Bonnie Liakos Inc. New York NY elping patients regain their health is one of Dr. Bonnie Liakos greatest passions. A veteran in her field Dr. Liakos has been a practicing Holistic Chiropractor and Applied Kinesiologist for 32 years. Since 2000 Dr. Liakos s holistic integrated practice Dr. Bonnie Liakos Inc. has been helping patients overcome a variety of health issues. As the owner of Dr. Bonnie Liakos Inc. her ultimate goal is to help patients restore their health through various noninvasive protocols. These techniques include but are not limited to chiropractic eastern medicine nutrition homeopathy psychology osteopathy naturopathy and exercise rehab. Dr. Liakos specializes in treating patients with Lyme Disease Candida IBS and other digestive issues as well as hormone imbalances food and environmental sensitivities electromagnetic field imbalances (EMF) and heavy metal accumulation. She is also an expert in treating migraines fibromyalgia chronic fatigue parasites autoimmune disorders ADD ADHD Autism -- and much more. Dr. Liakos graduated from Life Chiropractic College (now University) in 1983. She began her career as an associate doctor for one year before opening her Washington D.C. based practice in 1984. In this practice Dr. Liakos employed a number of highly specialized chiropractors acupuncturists massage therapists and exercise rehab specialists. When she returned to New York after 20 years Dr. Liakos founded Dr. Bonnie Liakos Inc. -- a boutique-style practice. This has allowed me to go back to what I have always enjoyed the most helping my patients get well and stay well. My healthcare practice evolved over the many years that I have been in practice. When I first started taking seminars in Applied Kinesiology (AK) I knew I would be able to pursue my chosen career for many years to come. Eventually I became a certified Applied Kinesiologist which has allowed me to continuously increase my knowledge base and work with more and more patients with very complicated health issues. Even A lifelong lover of learning Dr. Liakos regularly attends seminars to learn new techniques and protocols to help her patients. She holds numerous health-related certifications and is a member of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). Additionally she is a contributing member of the International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK). Dr. Liakos is in the process of writing a series of children s books and is dedicated to inspiring young adults to pursue their passions. When I was in college I had no idea that I would end up as a Holistic Chiropractor Applied Kinesiologist. Originally I wanted to be an actress and then a jewelry designer. When I realized my greatest joy was helping people get well I knew I had found my calling. If you don t know what career path you wish to peruse or are just confused keep an open mind research and explore things you are interested in until you find your passion. Dr. Liakos has been married to her husband since 1986. The couple has one adult daughter and one adult son. When she is not caring for patients Dr. Liakos enjoys going to theatre museums traveling and exercising. She also actively participates in educational health talks at various businesses and organizations throughout the New York area. When a healthcare practitioner tells you there is nothing else that can be done for you remember there are always other choices out there. Never give up until you find a person who is willing to try new things to help you get well. I hope that my patients always remember that I was the doctor who new gave up and kept learning new things to help them and that I was always there for them. 57 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What is an Applied Kinesiologist A An Applied Kinesiologist is a holistic doctor that evaluates the body as an equilateral triangle called The Tiad of Health . This triad is composed of mental structural and chemical aspects of the body. As an AK doctor my job is to correct the imbalances on all 3 sides using noninvasive techniques and help my patients regain their health. An Applied Kinesiologist (AK) becomes a certified AK doctor after taking hundreds of hours in seminars and then passing a specific exam. Q How is a Holistic Chiropractor different than a regular Chiropractor A A regular Chiropractor primarily does structural manipulation and some physical therapy. A Holistic Chiropractor like myself not only does structural manipulation and physical therapy but much more. I incorporate into my practice lifestyle changes nutrition exercise diet rehab AK protocols acupuncture and acupressure NET testing and desensitizing protocols for foods toxins and environmental sensitivities and protocols for things like Lyme Candida Heavy Metals and more. Q What would I expect if I made an appointment to see you A I would do a complete case history of not only your current health problems but also those in the past. I then would do a comprehensive exam checking structural chemical and mental aspects of your body. . I would then sit down with you and explain what I have found and what is the best way to proceed in order to help you regain your health. Q Do you only treat patients with extremely complicated health issues A No although a large percentage of my patients do have complicated health issues many of my patients come to see me because the want to become healthier and prevent more serious health problems from occurring in the future. Q What are some of the health issues people come to see you for A People come to see me for many different reasons. Areas that I am especially proficient in are illness like Lyme Disease Candida food and environmental sensitivities Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other digestive disorders heavy metal accumulation and imbalances migraines fatigue anxiety depression autoimmune disorders hormonal imbalances and more. Other patients come to see me because they don t feel well and don t know why. Others come as well because they know why they don t feel well but other health practitioners whether holistic or allopathic have not been able to help them. Q Do you treat patients of all ages A Yes I have patients from newborn to elderly well into their 80s. No one is too young or too old to improve his or her health. Q Do you treat children with ADD and ADHD A Yes I have treated many children with both ADD and ADHD and even Autism. Prior to moving back to NY these children comprised 25% of my practice. Most thrived under my care. It is important that they have the support of their parent (parents) for this to be accomplished. Q Are you accepting new patients A Yes since I have two locations one in NYC and one on LI NY I am able to accept new patients. In fact many of my patients go back and forth between both my offices. Q Do you feel you offer your patients the type of healthcare more and more people are seeking presently A Absolutely. I look at the whole person not merely their symptoms. Because I incorporate so many different techniques and protocols each patient receives specific treatments based on their health needs. Everyone is different and as such must be addressed as the individuals they truly are. Q Are you available for speaking engagements A Yes Actually I have done a lot of public speaking both in businesses and social settings. This includes organizations houses of worship schools and men and women s groups. 58 Women of Distinction La Shanda S. Taylor Healthcare - Nursing Administration Director of Nursing - Wedgewood Health Care Lakeland FL Q&A Q What motivated you to go this far in the nursing industry A I was motivated by those who doubted me and said that I couldn t do this and wouldn t make it. Q What can a person expect their life to be like if they become a Director of Nursing A You can expect your life to be stressful with no applause or prizes at the end. However you ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you made a difference in someone s life no matter how small. Q How do you feel that Wedgewood Health Care helps people A I feel that our facility is more family-based thereby giving us a different perspective on the outcomes we have. We focus on person-centered care and are customer service-driven which gives us better clinical outcomes. Q What is something that you have attempted to instill in your co-workers A We are not an island unto ourselves we need each other to progress to further heights in our profession in order to produce better patient outcomes. Q At what level of a nurse s skill set do you feel that a nurse should work at A I believe that a nurse should always work at the top of her licensure or skill set. The nurse should give a 100% or better and treat the patients as if they were a family member. Q How do you manage the stress of your job A I relieve my stress by praying and singing songs of inspiration. I sing in spite of the fact that I can t hold a tune to save my life. My stress outlet is God and knowing that everything he does is intentional. Q Do you make a lot of money L a Shanda S. Taylor started her career as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in 1997. Nine years later she became a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and worked as a floor nurse unit manager wound care nurse and supervisor. She then completed nursing school in 2012 to become a registered nurse (RN). With almost 20 years of experience in the healthcare field specifically in rehabilitation and long term care La Shanda has served as Director of Nursing at Wedgewood Health Care for almost three years. Her role in the facility is to ensure that regulatory compliances are met ensuring facility protocols and procedures are upheld per state and federal guidelines and educating and upholding the facility s core values for patients to receive the best care possible. I love taking care of people who need care and assistance. In my mind I see my life as working in God s waiting room. Her spirituality is what keeps La Shanda going. A Well you won t get rich doing the job but the salary depends on the company you work for. Some companies offer bonuses that are contingent on outcomes as well as census and overall budget. God has been my rock and has blessed me with everything I have. 59 Women of Distinction Debra S. (Ewoldt) Roettger Retail Artwork Owner Artist The Blacksmith Boutique and Garden Studio Dysart IA O n the wall of Debra S. (Ewoldt) Roettger s back patio is a saying that suited her when she first started her journey in business And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. (Eden). Living in the quaint town of Dysart Iowa which also happens to be where her storefront is located Debra is surrounded by similar boutique-like stores to hers. As Owner and Artist of The Blacksmith Boutique and Garden Studio since 2006 she is living proof of that community means everything to her. I purchased a large piece of history which is now home to my retail space that features one-of-a-kind metal garden pieces that I custom make and a greenhouse that is filled with an abundance of plants Debra said. The Brick-a-Brack Building is also home to eight other businesses that I rent space to. Passionate about her work Debra enjoys entertaining customers as they enter her store. She loves to show off her work and educate them on how she does what she does. A welder artist and businesswoman Debra first learned how to weld by her father Dwayne a former welder and shop owner. My dad gave me my first welding machine and plasma cutter Debra said fondly. If I get in bind with a particular project I always know who to call for help. Debra s artwork is very unique in that it s all made from old pieces of metal found in and around town or given to her by local farmers. Each garden sculpture created has a story to tell. And while custom pieces often include items like flowers butterflies and other pieces you ll find in nature Debra doesn t shy away from out-of-the-box requests from customers. A member of Dysart Business Builders and Dysart Historical Society Debra is a former Realtor of 18 years a family tradition that began with her grandfather s business Carl Luze Real Estate. She also holds a BA in Public Relations. Spending free time on her husband s farm Debra has three sons a daughter two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren. Q&A Q What makes your studio different than others A My studio is a working studio you will find me welding and creating while people shop. Q Do you do much custom work A The majority of my work is custom and I create special items for people. I like all of the pieces to represent something whether it be a 50-year anniversary with 50 strands of copper in the center or many leaves to represent children or a butterfly to represent new beginnings. Q What was your favorite piece A Probably the piece I created for the arboretum with my dad. Q Do you have a mission statement A I love to create my metal pieces with the hope it will bring a smile to someone s face. I enjoy seeing people s expressions as they enter my studio and watch their eyes fill with joy as they become filled with energy from the atmosphere of my shop. 60 Shirley Sanders Arts and Entertainment Writing Publishing Author Publisher Bookspurdee Publisher Henderson NV t the age of 84 Shirley Sanders has seen and (almost) done it all. After spending more than 56 years in the health and beauty business she retired and was given the task of raising 11 of her 13 grandchildren due to neglect. A mother of seven children herself she raised six of them on her own. Yet through it all she has persevered and she has proven to the world just how deep her love truly runs. A Keeping a notepad in just about every room in the house and even one in her car Shirley jots down little tidbits whenever one comes to mind. When she hears or comes up with a clever idea she jots it down to remember them for future inspiration. As a writer you never truly stop working your mind is always thinking about that next sentence that next paragraph that next chapter. Born on a farm in 1931 in Cheraw Mississippi to an African American father and African American Choctaw Indian Mother Shirley was lucky enough to get a good start in life. Her parents insisted that their children get an education and stressed the importance of what it takes to make it in this world. They also instilled the power and grace of God. Going on to earn lifetime teaching credentials in cosmetology and barbering Shirley attended classes at Merritt College Laney College of Oakland San Francisco State University and University of California at Berkeley. Enjoying time well spent reading Shirley reads everything and anything she can get her hands on. She does word puzzles every morning to keep her mind sharp and takes naps every afternoon to rejuvenate her body for the rest of the day. Her biggest and most admirable companion is her Yorkie Louie who probably knows her better than her own children do most days. I retired relocated to another state and the courts gave me custody as a mother all over again to my grandchildren for more than 12 years Shirley said very matter of fact. I did what I had to do. When Shirley finally had time to get back to living for herself she had made the decision at the age of 80 to go back to school to study publishing and writing. At age 83 she had published her first novel Sessy s Journey a memoir and it has been doing very well ever since. One year later The Kenards and The Lockwoods was launched. It is the first book of three which can be found on She is currently working on the next two books in its series. Writing is my passion now. I am in another world when I tap the keyboard and try to write lines that I feel will inspire entertain teach and give freedom to anyone that will accept and use it as a learning tool Shirley said admitting that she no longer relies on her memory but instead on her records. I was blessed to have had good parents who taught me how to be a productive individual in life. 61 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 Minnie Stevenson Recruiting specifically dental Healthcare personnel President - Believers and Achievers Recruiting 63 Women of Distinction Award -Winning Novelist Lori Howell Thompson 64 Women of Distinction