This Digital Edition requires Flash 9.0.115 or above to activate some rich media components.

Please click the following link to download and install: Get Adobe Flash player
When you are finished installing, please return to this window and PRESS F5 to view this edition.


WOMEN OF DISTINCTION Carine Duval Medical Aesthetics Practitioner Teacher Fitness Competitor Registered Nurse and owner of Infinite Beauty Medspa 1 Women of Distinction Carine Duval Medical Aesthetics Practitioner Teacher Fitness Competitor Registered Nurse and owner of Infinite Beauty Medspa 2 Women of Distinction Carine Duval Medical Aesthetics Practitioner Teacher Fitness Competitor Registered Nurse and owner of Infinite Beauty Medspa Greater Boston MASS 3 Women of Distinction R and out. egistered Nurse fitness competitor and owner of Infinite Beauty Med Spa Carine Duval is dedicated to helping others live an inspired life -- both inside Carine began her career as a Registered Dental Hygienist in 1993 and 15 years later in search of a new challenge she returned to school to become a registered nurse. Not only did she change her career the decision changed her outlook on life. Her desire to empower women and help them achieve the confidence they need to live fulfilling and successful lives led her to focus her talents on the medical esthetic field of nursing. She realized she had an ability to use specialized techniques and a woman s own structure to draw out and emphasize her beauty in a way that could make her feel better than ever. In her 40s Carine founded Infinite Beauty Med Spa. Today she is a licensed registered nurse award-winning fitness model and fitness enthusiast providing excellent medical grade aesthetic procedures and products in the greater Boston area. Her compassion combined with her professional experience allows her to create customized treatments tailored to each individual producing personalized results that make her clients feel more beautiful and confident than before. Some of Carine s services that make her and Infinite Beauty Med Spa stand out among other medical aesthetic providers and med spas in the area are the innovative Vampire Facial FaceLift BreastLift Scar Repair Hair Regrowth The O-Shot for women and The Priapus Shot for men. She is one of the limited practitioners trained and certified in the United States with the The American Cosmetic Cellular Medicine Association to use PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) for these procedures one of only a few practitioners in Massachusetts offering the O-Shot and the only practitioner in Massachusetts offering Priapus Shot . These procedures especially the O-Shot which helps with incontinence and sexual satisfaction in women by reinjecting their own blood into their vagina to stimulate the growth of healthier new tissue and the Priapus Shot for men with sexual dysfunction are a great example of why Carine opened Infinite Beauty Med Spa in the first place. It s a procedure that changes men and women s lives either by curing incontinence which can open up opportunities to live life to the fullest or by essentially curing any number of sexual issues that may otherwise lead to lack of self-confidence and difficulty maintaining a happy healthy intimate relationship. Carine s ultimate goal is to offer high-quality products and services that yield incomparable results. Knowing that I can make people happier healthier and more self-confident in their professional and personal life has kept me in my career. Also the relationships I ve built with my patients and clients show their loyalty to me. I rely on them to give me purpose and they rely on me to fulfill their needs. Besides performing aesthetic procedures She is aspiring to teach PRP techniques for collagen induction female incontinence female and male sexual dysfunction hair restoration and scar or stretch mark repair through The American Cosmetic Cellular Medicine Association (ACCMA). Having launched her new career in her 40 s at a very difficult period in her life during which she was struggling with her health career and personal life Carine shares her story to inspire other women to reach for their goals at any age no matter the circumstances. She recently penned an inspirational article for a popular fitness magazine. Being in the medical field I ve always helped people in one way or another and helping people is part of who I am. I wrote that article in the fitness magazine to help people who are depressed or feeling alone or who feel there s nothing else to do but give up. Giving up is not an option. Looking back I never thought I would get to this place of peace and happiness but here I am. The words No and I can t are no longer in my vocabulary. There s no other option except moving forward with everything you have. I get satisfaction and happiness from helping others. I want people to know that whatever downfall life throws at you you can throw it right back full force. Carine holds numerous certifications as a nurse injector from The American Cosmetic Cellular Medicine Association for The Vampire Procedures The O Shot and Priapus Shot The Aesthetic Institute of Massachusetts for Dermal Fillers and Botox The Aesthetic Academy for Advanced Training in Botox and Dermal Fillers and the American Academy of Medical Micro Needling -- amongst others. She is also a member of the American Nurses Association The Massachusetts Nurses Association The American Academy of Medical Esthetic Professionals and The American Cosmetic Cellular Medicine Association. 4 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What advice would you offer to someone starting out in your industry A Do it because your heart is in it. If you re not 100% in then don t do it. You will cheat yourself your patients and your loved ones out of happiness. If you want it bad enough you ll feel it deep into your soul. If you don t have that chill that runs through your body when you think about it then direct yourself elsewhere. It s not worth trying to make things happen that aren t meant to. Q What is the biggest lesson learned that you feel is good advice for others A Don t spread yourself too thin. Be good and concentrate on only a couple things as opposed to not being good at several things. If you re going to do something make sure you re excellent at it. We re not super heroes although sometimes I wish I were Also another thing that I can t stress enough is that it s never too late or you are never too old to try something new to change your career or to be in the best shape you ve ever been in. Q What kind of legacy would you like to leave the world A I want to leave a legacy of tenaciousness for life the middle aged woman with spunk who went back to school to be a nurse who won Miss Bikini Boston Overall 2013 at the age of 45 over girls 20 years younger the girl who opened her own business at the age of 47 and is successful at it and the woman that every other woman can get inspired by. I want to motivate and help other women get their self-confidence back and live a healthy and happy life. Q How can I learn more about The Vampire FaceLift The O-Shot and The Priapus Shot A Here are the websites for the procedures to help you better understand them. And here is a quick video I made to describe the O Shot https watch v ScEdJz3DZYY Q What fitness titles have your won A 2010-First Place Bikini Classic NPC New England Championships 2010-Fourth Place Bikini Short NPC New England Championships 2010-Finalist Bikini Classic Fitness America Weekend Las Vegas 2011-Second Place Bikini Classic Fitness New England 2011-Fourth Place Model Division Fitness new England 2011 2011-First Place Bikini Fitness Classic WBFF Eastern US Championships 2011-WBFF Pro Card 2012-First Place Bikini Classic Fitness America Boston 2013-First Place Bikini Classic Fitness America Boston 2013-First Overall Miss Bikini Boston 2016-Third Place Bikini Classic NPC 5 Women of Distinction Betsey Williams M.S. LMFT G Mental Health Counseling Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Sacramento CA rowing up in California Betsey Williams parents instilled in her the value of community service and giving back to others. After college she worked in corporate America while serving on several non-profit Boards of Directors. As a Senior Real Estate Asset Manager for 15 years she learned about pension fund investments and traveled the U.S. but was always happy to get home and give time to community organizations. She assisted children in foster care to be matched with an adult who mentored them through several different homes tutored juveniles at risk financially helped to support a boy in Columbia for 10 years and traveled to Mexico with Sports for the World s Children a non-profit that collected and delivered baseball equipment to poor communities. Betsey left her corporate job to become Marketing Director for Junior Achievement. During different personal and professional transitions in her life she found working with a therapist to be extremely beneficial. Upon turning 40 she decided to change careers and follow her passion to help people move forward in life. It was risky financially to stop working and attend graduate school full-time to get a Master of Science in Counseling but Betsey took a leap of faith and became licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist. Due to her strong business background and desire to be her own boss she opened a therapy consulting practice devoted to helping children adults and families get through challenging times. She states With the huge advances in technology and fast-paced living I believe people are looking for connection. Many people get burned out trying to juggle their personal and professional life. Each person that enters her office has a unique history. Client issues may include depression divorce child abuse grief anxiety PTSD addiction relationships and self-esteem. She is fully committed to helping her clients make peace with the past in order to live joyfully in the present. Betsey works with her clients not on them to establish goals explore emotions and get relief. Her counseling style is compassionate interactive and supportive. She owns and operates her business and feels that it is essential that anyone who wants to become a therapist engage in their own therapy. She explains If a therapist has a lot of unresolved personal issues it can negatively impact their ability to assist their clients. Everyone faces adversity at different times in their life. It can be easy to isolate or not want to become a burden . During Betsey s life she has faced many stressors including divorce the death of family members depression and cancer. When she became overwhelmed she found that working with a therapist was crucial in helping her understand herself and design ways to get through the tough times. Betsey s mission is to humanize her profession by educating the public. You don t have to be crazy to get help. Find a therapist who has experience working with your issues. Many people are unaware that several health insurance companies now offer behavioral health benefits to their clients. In addition to her therapy practice Betsey is a Divorce Coach and Child Specialist for the Sacramento Collaborative Practice Group. These professionals (family law attorneys licensed mental health practitioners and financial specialists) are trained in mediation and use a team approach to help people stay out of court when going through a divorce. Betsey serves on the Board of Directors as a Vice President and is the Co-Chair of the Public Education Committee. Betsey also received her Business and Life Coaching Certification from the Academy for Coaching Excellence. This business is separate from her therapy practice. She works with individual clients and also looks for opportunities to give workshops on a variety of mental health topics to organizations associations and nonprofits. Some popular workshops are Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory Managing Stress The Road to Resiliency Grief Relief What a Difference a Change Makes Putting the Pleasure Back Into Parenting and Nurturing Your Teen s Self Esteem . Betsey Williams would like to someday leave behind the legacy that she lived her life with integrity and spread compassion laughter and joy to others. Her greatest hope is to have made a positive contribution to her clients business colleagues family and friends. She holds the belief that no matter how tough life gets there is resilience and hope for change in the future. 6 Women of Distinction Brenda Hutcheson Fickey I Higher Education Writing Author Children s Novels Adjunct Professor of English Southern Arkansas University Tech Instructor Camden Fairview High School Camden AR nspired to study juvenile writing while caring for her ill husband Brenda Hutcheson Fickey s first book Whispering Darkness was published in 2007 about a year after her husband s passing. Brenda s since trained through the Institute of Children s Literature in Connecticut earning two diplomas and published three more books Echoing Silence Beckoning Shadows and Kidnapped Justice which have all contributed to her profession due to the complexity of the plots characters and format used. She s been able to use her books to model writing techniques in composition classes and make contributions to school libraries and classrooms too. Brenda who teaches AP English Language Composition and AP English Literature Composition courses to junior and senior students for concurrent college credit at Camden Fairview High School full-time also teaches as an Adjunct Professor of English at Southern Arkansas University Tech. Q&A Q Why target reluctant readers A I take what turned me off from reading and make it the goal of the stories I tell. So while students are being entertained they re secretly learning how to get through other reading they ll need to do as they complete their education. Q Why target boys A What is typically available for boys is shallow predictable and more formulaic than they want. My novels have a strong yet flawed boy as the main character with friends who are just as strong yet also flawed to give the boy readers interest. Q How do you handle grammar issues in the classroom A Before getting into lengthy writing assignments my students use practice writing to test their critical thinking and communication skills along with the two- to three-week writing boot camp at the beginning of the school year. We look at spelling agreement sentence structure punctuation and cohesive issues and I incorporate vocabulary development with the grammar practice. Q How do students earn college credits in your classes A Because I have experience teaching the college writing courses that are used in the AP writing programs I make my class a college classroom every day of the week using the same types of assignments I use in the college setting as they apply to the AP writing demands. I teach because our kids deserve hope for a future Brenda noted. I teach at a high school in a very economically depressed region and county. Low income and low self-esteem floods our hallways and I want to turn this around. As an author I write historical fiction mysterysuspense novels using my teaching experience to help reluctant readers enjoy reading while giving them non-threatening learning environments to build their skills. My goal as an author is to see my novels in classrooms as part of the reading curriculum. Brenda relies on her unique boot camp regime to get students where they need to be quickly and to give them the tools to fill in the gaps in their writing development. Teaching since 1980 in both public and private post-secondary institutions she holds a BA in Secondary Education and an MEd in Language Arts Education. 7 Women of Distinction Carole Gurgone C Healthcare Former Director of Finance and Operations East Bay Perinatal Medical Associates Oakland CA arole Gurgone spent 25 wonderful years working for East Perinatal Medical Associates in Oakland California beginning as a Practice Administrator and ending as their Director of Finance and Operations. After many successful years in business however she found herself searching for the next chapter in her life when the company decided to dissolve to pursue other ventures as they were nearing retirement. She loved the organization so much that she spent the entire first quarter of 2016 volunteering for the practice helping to transition the staff and dealing with the many intricate details of closing down the business. It was a bittersweet time for her in her career. I was fortunate to work with extremely brilliant and dedicated clinicians and administrators. My colleagues were highly educated competent and fun to work with Carole said fondly. Many of them chose to give back to the community and volunteered at community clinics. I have great amount of respect for all of them. Our practice had the policy of never turning away patients regardless of their ability to pay for services while striving to give the highest quality of services to each and every patient. We had amazing outcomes and delivered thousands of healthy babies year after year. During her 18 years as Director of Finance and Operations for the multi-site women s healthcare practice some of Carole s responsibilities included developing and monitoring the financial budget that included a P&L of more than 18 million in revenue oversaw operations by providing leadership and collaboration with the activities of her management staff recruited for and oversaw the management of their inpatient hospitalist service that included maternal-fetal medicine specialists OB physician and CNM hospitalists and key operational support staff that consisted of 75 employees and more than 20 independent contractors negotiated hospital coverage agreements and insurance payer agreements negotiated building and equipment leases and insurance rates and managed the compliance with various regulatory agencies. Carole s loyalty for the practice showed in her work ethic. She always gave 110% with every project she took on and was very resourceful when it came to problem solving. Much of her determination on the job had much to do with those surrounding her. It was a great place to work and she was surrounded by people that made her strive to be the best version of herself. The Medical Director and Managing Partner of our group Stuart M. Lovett MD in particular was always ahead of the curve with regard to healthcare trends Carole noted. He had a big picture mentality and I enjoyed working with him on many different ventures. He is brilliant generous and has a great sense of humor and he is highly respected by the medical community. With more than 27 years in the healthcare industry overall Carole is confident that her next opportunity is just a short time away. She looks forward to finding her next role and giving the same level of competence integrity and enthusiasm she gave in her former role. In the meantime she is taking the time off to reflect on the many blessings she s received and the countless positive experiences she s enjoyed at East Bay. I am passionate about continuing my career in the healthcare and community service environment Carole said proudly. It is my hope to land a long-term operational program management position and I believe that my experience in operation management and finance will be a huge asset wherever I go next and I look forward to the challenge. In 2008 Carole became an Operational Development Team Member for Mainstream Health Inc. a start-up company based in Lafayette California. In charge of assisting and overseeing the start-up team by providing operational support for their clinical experts in codifying and digitizing the best obstetrical practices to enhance patient outcomes while also reducing medical malpractice costs. She also handles the financial analysis and forecasting business modeling and strategic planning and participates in the operational logistics during the venture capital investor funding phase. Previously Carole served as 25% owner of East Bay Physician Management Inc. a management services organization from 19822015 where she provided hospital efficiency consultative services to Bay Area hospitals. She also helped establish Comprehensive Perinatal Service Programs and provided management oversight to the Alta Bates Summit Perinatal Center where she ensured staffing and regulatory compliance. Completing her BA in Management Accounting at Sonoma State University in 1989 Carole continues to actively participate in Fund and Fair Market Evaluation Accounting and Risk Management courses since 1990 to stay abreast of new and changing industry functions. She also began taking Lead Management and Microsoft Project online tutorials in 2015 to sharpen her skills. Carole is active in her free time as a member of East Bay Family to Family Support Program Medical Group Management Association and The Doctors Insurance Company Executive Committee is a VIP member of National Association of Professional Women and is a former administrative member of OBGYN Hospitalist Society. Married Carole s husband Ken is a Marketing Coordinator for a video conferencing firm. They have a daughter Michelle whom they are both very proud of. Following in mom s footsteps Michelle already earned her Master s in Accounting and passed every part of the CPA exam by the age of 24 and is currently employed as a Tax Specialist. Carole comes from a very large family with three sisters one brother and dozens of aunts uncles and cousins surrounding her. 8 Women of Distinction Clara Thompson M Social Service Senior Executive Director JEVS Human Services Philadelphia PA any people react to someone with a disability out of fear of the unknown and try avoiding them. In Clara Thompson s role as Senior Executive Director for JEVS Human Services in Philadelphia Pennsylvania one of her goals is to educate the public and disseminate fears. People with disabilities want to contribute to society hold valuable roles in their communities and do their part to give back and we can only recognize their talents if we as a society give them a chance. All people regardless of disability can live a full life in the community Clara said. They can work vote spend money and enjoy the same activities as any other person. It s important that we embrace and advocate for them and get the message to the community that disability is not a reason for alienation. Working for JEVS Human Services since 1991 Clara quickly moved up the ranks and in 2006 became Senior Executive Director overseeing some 400 employees. Leading a dynamic management team dedicated to supporting those with disabilities both in their homes and in their community Clara oversees staff development labor management policy and regulatory compliance and much more. Working for a non-profit like JEVS presents many challenges and although the pay is nominal Clara enjoys the work. During her career she s created a training Mentoring Means teaching employees how to be a mentor and prot g and network with each. She s also collaborated to develop a curriculum to teach people with co-occurring intellectual disability and mental illness to manage their illness. In the 80s Clara worked for Beacon Lodge Camp for the Blind after first being introduced to the camp by her family due to her father s blindness. Graduating from Messiah College in 1982 with a BA in Behavioral Science her first job included working with physically and intellectually disabled children. Her entire career has been dedicated to social service. A member of several social services organizations Clara s also a Ruling Elder at her church. She recently returned from a mission trip to Guatemala with her daughter. Her daughter 9 is 19 and her son 22. Q&A Q What is the future for your business A People with disabilities comprise 20% of the population. As technology develops there will be more opportunity to support people in their own homes via smart home technology and personal assistance apps. Q How and when can individuals with disabilities and family members get support A As soon as a parent notices possible differences in their child it s important to talk to have the child assessed. There are plenty of early interventions that can support a child s development and once a child reaches adulthood at 21 it s important for diagnoses to be in place so that the young adult is eligible for services. Q Describe some of the programs that you oversee. A We have a variety of residential services including some with 24 7 support job seeking and on-the-job support illness management and wellness services. We develop individual plans with tailored goals and help our participants become active members of their communities. Women of Distinction Crystal A. Williams MA Parenting and Health Education Founder & CEO of Family Hugs Inc. Park Forest IL C rystal A. Williams has been in the nursing field for over 30 years. She worked in schools and saw firsthand the need for parents and teachers to become educated on different health topics such as Asthma Epilepsy and Diabetes. Crystal pursued her current career after being offered a scholarship to DePaul University where she graduated in 2010 with her Master s degree in Parenting Education and Support. Upon graduating Crystal explains having difficulty finding a job so she continued her position as a school nurse. During this time she discovered many parents who required support on communicating with their children and many children becoming diagnosed with behavioral disorders. Crystal states They really didn t have disorders but simply needed some TLC from their home environment. Crystal was certain that her classes and workshops could aid in building stronger family connections. As the present CEO of Family Hugs Inc. Crystal tries her very best to market her organization and reach out to help her business grow. As society is becoming more and more dependent on technology Family Hugs Inc. strives to provide their customers with the most efficient life tools through various classes focusing on parenting skills to parents of all ages including teenagers who are pregnant or newly delivered. Her classes enforce nurturing and bonding with infants and deal with parental obstacles such as postnatal depression. Crystal also offers help to parents with children that have special needs as well as Health Education classes on immunizations and other topics. Crystal explains The need is growing as you see and hear more about children on daily medications the increase of violence in schools and the surrounding neighborhoods. Many parents are not aware of how the home environment reflects on their children s behavior outside the home. Her efforts successfully help these families learn how to relate and communicate with each other better as well as reduce anxiety in family relationships and make more room for harmonious family fun. When asked about her greatest professional inspiration Crystal names Dr. Martin Luther King. She has always viewed him as her mentor for many reasons since she was a child because she had dreams as did he of overcoming the hand she was dealt in life. Crystal was born with a birth defect and attended a handicapped elementary school. She states I comprehended his speeches in a way of inspiration for me to press forward in life to not give up on my dreams. Crystal had spent most of her childhood in hospitals due to multiple surgeries on her limbs to enable her to walk. Later in life she was diagnosed with Epilepsy another obstacle to fight but she did not give up by any means. Instead she learned how to stand up for her rights and advocate for herself and others like her. As a mentor for children and families Crystal A. Williams encourages her patients to thrive and reach their goals as best as possible. She is working on publishing her first book based on her writing titled Parenting Starts with Pregnancy. Her words have helped many teenage moms stay in school and seek necessary advice and guidance. Crystal is an active member of various organizations including but not limited to the National Association of Professional Women (Orland Park Chapter) the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago A Caring Hand Foundation and the Illinois Black Association of Professional Counselors. Crystal would like readers to know that she is an outgoing woman who is trying her absolute best to offer her expertise to people in this world that need help. She states So many of us speak and talk about others but don t reach out a helping hand. Crystal refused to let her hardships define her and defeat her. Instead they have only made her stronger as a woman wife mother Nurse and Educator. 10 Women of Distinction Dawn C. Lang Healthcare CEO - Perception Access Inc Advisor & Former Partner - Safekeeping LLC Fishers IN ability. A s CEO of Perception Access Inc an Advisor and former partner with Safekeeping LLC Dawn Lang is dedicated to serving her clients to the best of her My passion for health is what kept me on my career journey. Healthcare is the common thread that ties all of my jobs together. They are stepping stones that have built upon one another. The skills learned client relationships developed and leadership opportunities I gained over a 20 year span helped give me the confidence to become an entrepreneur. Dawn has been passionate about health from a young age due to her mother s untimely passing from a stroke. After this Dawn became much more aware of the importance of good health and smart lifestyle choices. Following her graduation from college she began working as an activities assistant in a nursing home. After earning her Master s degree Dawn spent the next 20 years working in business development and strategic marketing roles for various organizations and agencies in healthcare and consumer packed goods. In 2014 she ventured out on her own and started her own consulting firm Perception Access Inc. That same year she also became a partner with Safekeeping LLC. My advice for others is to get involved in professional networking groups that align with the industry or trade you wish to be in. Build a network of contacts. Seek out professional mentors or advisors that can help you. Become a volunteer. Successful business leaders are active volunteers and find ways to give back to the community. To succeed you must learn from your failures and mistakes and don t allow them to limit your potential. In the companies she oversees Dawn takes on a leadership role. She helps guide the vision and long-term strategy of the organizations while her specific tasks include securing strategic business development partnerships CRM and sales and marketing strategies. Dawn helps lead and manage her companies teams based on their strengths and team fit. 11 The power of positive intention is real. I try and look at each situation as an opportunity for growth even if the experience is painful at that moment. There will always be someone or something standing in your way. Forge ahead with the attitude of an achiever a winner or a leader in spite of what others think. Don t feel the pressure to be perfect. No one is perfect but we are all perfectly flawed. That is what makes us unique and interesting. Regarding her education Dawn received a BA in Communications from Hanover College in 1991 and an MA in Health and Wellness Management from Ball State University in 1997. Dawn is a registered 200hr yoga instructor and is a group fitness instructor as well. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband and their children. She is also a member of NAWBO The StartUp Ladies the Indiana Health Industry Forum a 1 1 Discipleship mentoring program and an Executive Women s Peer Advisory Forum. I want my legacy to show that my time was well spent on people and things that mattered. That I was a loving mother and spouse and a servant leader. I want my children and grandchildren to look back and know I was a key presence in their lives and deeply cared about them. Women of Distinction G etting back to her roots Debbie Deering is actively building up her newly formed financial planning services firm Relevant Life Financial Group Inc. After dedicating the past 16 years serving as a Director of Business Development for Freedom 55 Financial in the city of North Bay Ontario Canada Debbie was part of a financial centre where she helped advisors learn the craft of full financial planning through mentorship and by helping advisors build and grow their own client base. Debbie Deering EPC Financial Planning Services Financial Security Advisor Senior Managing Partner Relevant Life Financial Group North Bay Ontario Canada In 2015 I decided it was time to focus on health and family and began planning to build a partnership with advisors I respected and have worked with for over the last 20-plus years Debbie said. I am so happy to work for a company that taught me how to do the full planning process. I knew that if I could become knowledgeable I could help a lot of people. This career has given me so much and I m proud to give back by helping others succeed. Debbie knows from experience how quickly one s life can change. As a young mother of two girls Debbie began pursuing a career in the financial planning business due to unfortunate circumstances. Divorcing her husband in 1995 who unexpected passed away the following year Debbie married Bill in 1996 and blended their new family. Introduced to the life insurance industry by Mark Stewart Debbie knew if she focused on her goals she could help a lot of people. 20 years later Bill continues to be her best friend and biggest supporter and Mark is now one of her business partners at Relevant Life Financial Group Inc. Working through all the ups and downs life truly has come full circle Debbie said smiling. We always believed in one day opening up our own financial firm and in 2015 Mark and I made it happen. No one becomes successful alone. Blessed to have mentors like Bill Deering Bob Rappolt Jim O Neill Brian Leipert and Gail Rappolt who taught me how to lead with grace listen with compassion and speak with conviction. Most importantly they taught me how to understand my audience. Debbie is an Elder Planning Counselor. Together with Bill they have four wonderful children Cameron (Andrea) Amanda (Justin) Emilie (Ryan) and Brandon and four grandchildren Rachelle Robyn Declan and Kinsley. They enjoy farming hunting and the great outdoors. Q&A Q What s the best thing about your career as a Financial Security Advisor A I m in the generations business. Financial planning today affects families futures for generations. Q What s the biggest mistake people make when it comes to financial planning A The biggest mistake is that people don t place enough importance on life and critical illness insurance in their plans. Q If you knew what you know today 10 years ago what would you change about your career A Nothing. It s been worth every second of every day. 12 Women of Distinction L aid off from her job in Washington DC after nearly seven years of service Debra Keller-Greene who was working toward her BS in Business Administration at the College of Notre Dame at the time decided it was now or never. Making the decision to focus on becoming her own boss she launched Keller Professional Services in Baltimore Maryland two-and-a-half years later in February 1997. Debra KellerGreene Management Consulting Workforce Professional Development and Training President Chief Executive Officer Keller Professional Services Inc. Baltimore MD Instead of taking a new job I decided to market my skills and freelance as I completed my undergraduate degree Debra said. I landed my first client in 1996 was assigned as a temp for their organization and they later became my first client when they needed someone to perform billing services. After landing that first client Debra became so inspired to pass on the knowledge she gained to other women. This came in the form of welfare reform and a paradigm shift toward women entrepreneurship. The welfare system was being restructured requiring women on welfare to seek training and employment to maintain their benefits she explained. Simultaneously there was an upward spiral among women leaving their jobs to start their own businesses. I was perfectly positioned for both opportunities. Since 1997 Keller Professional Services has been providing management consulting services with specialization in Workforce Development Training and Employment Services and Management Support and Human Resource Consulting to facilitate the business and government clients operational and organizational development objectives. As CEO Debra focuses on a number of tasks one of which includes maintaining external relationships with clients. Meanwhile her husband David is Partner at the firm overseeing sales management. Credited for developing trademarking and implementing the Keller Professional Services AdvantagePlus Vocational Training Program to integrate vocational and soft skills to prepare unskilled and low-skilled workforce for the job market Debra and her firm also design and deliver training programs for job readiness to assist those transitioning into the workforce through social welfare incarceration unemployment and underemployment. Q&A Q What advice would you offer entrepreneurs prior to starting a business A Be prepared to make sacrifices to grow your business because it will require a lot of your time and personal resources. Also study best practices to save time and avoid costly mistakes. Q How do you motivate yourself each day A At first I was motivated by the fact that I could freely use my gifts and talents and be rewarded monetarily as a business owner instead of as an employee. After being in business for a while I recognized that I do my best work and achieve the greatest reward when focused on being of service to others. Q What do you like most about being in business A Providing valued service and getting paid for what I believe my time and effort is worth is my reward. I also enjoy having flexibility and the freedom to be creative. Serving as Chair of the Greater Baltimore Chamber of Commerce and as Commissioner for Christian Social Action through her church Debra s since earned her Offenders Workforce Development Specialist Certification and completed 13 CEO Training. Women of Distinction DR. SARAH MWAKIUNA KILEMI DEVELOPMENT ECONOMIC ADVISOR TO THE VILLAGE TRUST KENYA 14 Women of Distinction I was born and brought up in a rural village of Kenya in Meru County and so I have lived a rural life and I know how tough it can be. I am from a very humble background with my parents being ordinary village people. I have watched my mother work so hard to ensure that we are well fed and educated. In fact she made sure that I knew how to write my name and do simple mathematics before I went to nursery school. Their resilience and hope for a better tomorrow is what keeps them going. I am a first born in a family of 4 boys and 2 girls and therefore I was the de-facto Deputy Mom in the family. I learnt to serve others and take responsibility from when I was 4 years old long before I went to school. My mother would prepare food for us and instruct me to feed my brothers while she was away in the farm. Being a child I also needed time to play and at the same time do my chores. Thus I had to learn effective time management planning monitoring and more importantly managing how to control rowdy boys to ensure that we were a team that was gelled together by a great sense of humor which is still alive in our old age The struggles of women in the rural villages are the same world over. Women work so hard and yet there is not much to show for their extra hard work because all they work for is consumed by the family. They wake up at 5 am and sleep after midnight. As a girl I used to be very observant because I knew that I would also be required to be responsible of my own family when I grow up. While growing up I was not only expected to take care of my siblings no it was my duty to take care of domestic animals (cows goats and sheep) fetch grass for them fetch water and firewood for the family prepare food and ensure the house was cleaned. I also had to set a good example for the boys and instill discipline in my brothers who like all village boys their only concern was food and play. There were no TVs and radios to keep us busy and entertained at night so we used to entertain ourselves by sharing stories of the day s happenings and my mother who is a passionate storyteller used to tell us folk stories with great meaning on respect for humanity. Some were funny and we would all crack out in laughter until my father would tell us to shut up others were so emotional and would get us crying until we fell asleep. My father owned small scale tea and coffee plantations and therefore my brothers and I started working in the farms when we were very young. My father also had herds of domestic animals and therefore I started taking care of them when I was four years old and later when my brothers grew up we used to take turns grazing them. I would accompany my mother to work in the farm and having worked with women in the farms and observed how they struggled to make ends meet I was determined to make sure that I study hard in school and get a job to assist my mother. Thus both positive and negative village experiences acted as my motivators for launching and funding TVT. The communal spirit to solve individual and community challenges inspired me to start working on women and youth groups. From an early age I would team up with other girls to till our respective parents land plaster houses with cow dung thatch each other s huts and more. Older women would team up to harvest each other s farms one member at a time they would take turns to protect their crops from birds monkeys elephants and other wild animals. This collective effort played a big role in the establishment of TVT. My goal was to broaden the village setup to make it global whereby social problems of one group become problems of the entire human race. My father was very keen on ensuring that we did not miss school and he was so tough on us to the extent that if you didn t perform well in school he would not pay school fees. In such situations my mother would have to sell her farm produce to pay fees for somebody who had not scored the grade that was pleasing to my father. In the village when a child excels in school the father was proud to be associated with him or her and when they are not doing well they are told that they were like their mothers. This made me wonder how happy families would be if mothers had the wealth and property that men had. The love of women for their families including the husbands who used to beat them at their will was either so great or they had no choices and this is why they used to tolerate such hardship. As I grew up later I came to realize that it was due to lack of options that women or anybody for that matter is made to tolerate unacceptable behavior. This realization made me work even harder in school to ensure that I had options of taking care of myself and my family. Women have demonstrated that they can take a lot without cracking up. At times women would cook food and if not enough for everybody they would sleep hungry. In fact in my early age I used to think that mothers don t feel hungry because they used to eat what had remained or eat nothing at all. This was the opposite of fathers who were served the best food even before the babies just to buy peace in the family. This was a positive factor of resilience which I capitalize on today in ensuring that TVT is able to empower women and young girls. With this background one would understand why I was determined to work hard and make a difference for women not as lucky as I have been. Thus my desire to set up an organization that empowers women has not been inspired by stories and theories of what women go through in their quest to provide for their families. Mine is a life I lived and witnessed firsthand. The struggles of my mother and other women and their perseverance even in the midst of tough times has always continued to inspire me in my quest to make a difference for myself and others. My faith has also enabled me to know that nothing is impossible for those who work hard with faith and belief that God loves us all equally and that God created all of us in his own image irrespective of our different colors shapes and behaviors. 15 Women of Distinction As tough and cruel as he might have been my father also played a big role in making me to be the person I am today. He instilled in me not only pride and self-confidence but also courage to stand up against any form of bullying. When I was seven years old and in grade 1 we did the end of the term exam and I was ranked 2nd position in a class dominated mainly by boys. I came home happy hoping that my father would commend me highly since the only child who had defeated me was a boy. He asked me what number I was and I told him very proudly that I was number two and I was quick to tell him that the one who was number one was a boy. I have never forgotten the look in his eyes. He remained quiet for a moment and then he asked me how many heads this boy had I told him one. He asked me how many heads I had and I told him one. I could already start feeling that my father was not happy with my performance. He asked me what was in the head of the boy and I told him brains. He looked at me and said if his head has brains then it means that your head has porridge and not brains . My father was not the joking type-God rest his soul- so I knew the comment was not in good faith I quickly said my head has brains too to which he laughed sarcastically. He went on and asked me whether when the teacher was teaching the boy who defeated me was seated inside the classroom while I was asked to follow the lessons through the window. Again I said no I was also seated in the class and in fact I even told him I normally seat in the front row. This is the time he told me that I have no excuse of not being number one in the class because I have one head like the boy who was number one and I was seated in the same class. I tried to argue that boys do nothing after school while I was expected to cook for the family fetch water and firewood but he just dismissed my argument as mere excuses. I was so challenged that I promised him that when I go to girls boarding high school I would always be number one a promise I kept until I finished secondary school and went to college. The comments of my father however harsh they may sound have positively stuck with me even today. They have continued to influence my attitude towards all manner of challenges. I have never looked at myself as a woman when it comes to dealing with life challenges and my desire is to empower other women and youth to look at themselves as agents of change as opposed to mere spectators of change. Through TVT we have transformed lives. We work with women and youth to pass on the relevant skills to enable them capitalize on available opportunities. TVT is a charitable organization which depends on donor support. We support women groups to develop income generating projects and orphaned girls and those from very poor families go to school. We support education through donation of books courtesy of companies and individuals. I promised myself to study hard in school and be able to help and inspire other women to realize their dreams and live decent respectable lives. I was lucky to marry a man who loves education and who believed in my potential. He has been very instrumental in my education and social achievements and he believes that I can do anything I set my mind on and he does not hold his support. He and our children have been my immediate source of motivation and they are very much involved in TVT work. I started my college education in the Silicon Valley at the Foothill College in Los Altos hills and eventually got a PhD in Economics from Aachen University in Germany. I have done a lot of research on women in development. My PhD research was on the efficiency of women lead NGOs compared to those led by men. More or less on the line of what my father was trying to make me understand when he asked me whether my head has porridge while that of a boy has brains. Even though I have a senior position with the United Nations I take every opportunity to tell women that they should not use their current situations to live mediocre lives. At TVT we empower women to vie for leadership positions in their communities instead of complaining of poor leadership. With the upcoming elections in Kenya in 2017 TVT is seeking for supporters and partners in order to provide civic education to women and youth and inspire them to have confidence in themselves. The civic education is aimed at enabling women and youth to have their say in whatever goes on in their lives. From a young age I had the desire to escape the harsh village life in search of help for my fellow villagers and TVT has enabled me to continue to give back to the community. If you would like to support any of the TVT s projects I do welcome you to visit the website or send a message me at kilemi or ceo 16 Women of Distinction Emily Thrope Medical Marijuana Co-founder & COO of The Guild CA & Box of Jane Oakland CA T he growth of the medical marijuana industry has been splashed across news outlets nationwide. Proponents tout the benefits of its use pointing to its ability to treat a wide range of illnesses or symptoms. For this reason many argue marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. Among those at the forefront of this movement is Co-founder & COO of The Guild CA & Box of Jane Emily Thrope. The Guild CA is a non-profit collective that provides high quality lab-tested medical marijuana products on a delivery schedule designed to accommodate its members. The organization aims to help promote healthy living through cannabis education product testing and a variety of health and wellness services. The marijuana delivery service known as Box of Jane specializes in weekly and monthly subscription boxes. Each Box of Jane is individually curated to patients specific needs. Most importantly the service provides alternative solutions to patients seeking safe access to medical marijuana. The future of the marijuana industry and the medical potential that marijuana has to offer sufferers inspires Emily s work on a daily basis. The lack of education about the real medicinal benefits of marijuana plays a huge role in my career path. There needs to be a platform where the general public can find out the truth about the benefits of medical marijuana and can help change their perspective on marijuana and learn to understand that it s not just a drug that teenagers use to get high. Emily s commitment to raising awareness about the benefits of medical marijuana is rooted in her first hand experience with using the product. Emily was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis a chronic disease. Having suffered for many years with stomach pain she learned that medical marijuana could help increase her appetite and aid with digestion. Since she was living in New York at the time Emily was not able to legally access marijuana. She made the decision to move to California where medical marijuana is legal. In hopes of learning more about the cannabis industry she arrived in San Francisco California in January 2014. What keeps me interested is being able to have a positive impact on the lives of people who suffer from aliments that can be helped with medical marijuana but can t access it because the federal government refuses to change the scheduling of the drug. The medical marijuana industry has crossed over all types of mediums and is only continuing to grow and expand. Medical marijuana has the potential to disrupt the entire pharmaceutical industry bringing much needed change to our health care system. Working in the controversial and often misunderstood medical marijuana industry has presented its fair share of challenges Emily admits. I want readers to know that I am not a pothead. I am a productive member of society just like everyone else. It helps me regulate my eating habits and even helps me stay focused and awake during the day. Instead of finding a way to educate mainstream culture we continue to let the movement be misunderstood. I want readers to know how important it is to become educated on something before you pass judgment on it. I want readers to know that you can be successful and enjoy cannabis. 17 Women of Distinction Erica Tu Travel Hospitality Principal Owner Love Tu Travel Oakville Ontario CAN 18 Women of Distinction I ndependent Travel Advisor and Principal Owner of Love Tu Travel Erica Tu knows a thing or two about traveling. Operating her business out of Oakville Ontario Canada she has explored much of Europe while living there as a family for more than three years visiting more than 15 different countries during her stay. She s also visited many of the Caribbean islands as well as the western portion of Canada and much of the United States including the beautiful islands of Hawaii. I actually got started in this business after living abroad in Denmark and the United States Erica explained. I ve always been passionate about traveling and visiting new places and I wanted to start my own business so I could share my love and experiences with others. After registering and taking the Travel and Tourism course through ISC Canada in 2011 Erica began marketing her business through friends and acquaintances and her business just grew from there. Relying heavily on referrals and repeat business her five-year-young company is making great headway and Erica couldn t be happier with its success thus far. Choosing to partner with TTI Travel due to a similar business style as what Erica envisions the family-owned organization has taken great pride in offering some of the most incredible services to clients for more than 40 years and today is the largest boutique travel company in Ontario. They are also one of the only Canadian agencies that are affiliated with the Virtuoso Travel Association which means their travel advisors all have access to some of the finest hotels cruise lines airlines and tour companies. They also have access to exclusive travel offers preferred rates and special privileges that are inaccessible to other agencies. Staying current with new promotions and world events and being extremely organized are three areas of Erica s business she finds most important. With a client services background she equally believes in going above and beyond clients expectations because each and every client regardless of their budget should always be treated the exact same way throughout the entire travelling process. Lastly Erica is adamant about being up front and honest every step of the way so that her clients are never hit with hidden costs or surprises. Client satisfaction is her number one priority and the only way to achieve it is by keeping constant open lines of communication. Meeting and exceeding client expectations is essential to me she said. Understanding as much as I can about my customers is imperative in finding the proper fit for them and their travel needs. After all traveling is a leisure and a luxury so I absolutely have to get it right every time. It s all about the client experience and ensuring the destination that makes their travel dreams a reality. As someone who didn t find her true calling until her early 40s Erica says it s never too late to change careers to do something you love and something that better fits your lifestyle. A mother of two very active teenage daughters there is nothing more important to her than finding work and family life balance and being a role model for her kids during a time when they are most influential. When she does find time to sneak away you ll find Erica playing tennis (she s a former board member for the Bronte Tennis Club) doing yoga and being active as part of the Gala Planning Committee for the Darling Home for Kids a non-profit organization that provides high quality respite and palliative care services for children who are medically fragile and technology dependent many of whom suffer from progressive illness. Recently and unexpectedly single after 19 years of marriage Erica is finding joy not only in her two girls but also in managing her third baby Love Tu Travel. And while she admittedly has little to no free time as a single working mom she is loving life and the many blessings she has right in front of her. By showing my girls that together we can preserve continue to move forward and succeed no matter what curve balls are thrown our way I can rest assured knowing that I ve done everything I possibly could in life for myself as well as them Erica said graciously. Erica s daughter Megan 16 is completing her senior year in high school and has plans to become a surgeon. She is currently participating in a co-op through her school at the new Oakville Trafalgar Hospital and is very involved in her schoolwork and athletics. Daughter Madison 13 is in the eighth grade and plays soccer and basketball. Her Division 1 basketball team recently won the Ontario Provincial championships. Erica s parents live in the same town in which she was born Sarnia Ontario and her sister and her family reside in Edmonton Alberta. Earning her Bachelor of Art s degree at the University of Western Ontario Erica then completed a second Bachelor s in Human Resource Management at Ryerson University. She worked in the restaurant industry the mental health field as well as the banking industry. Her years in banking enabled her to live abroad in both Copenhagen Denmark for three years and in the States in Pennsylvania for two years. Erica is also a Certified Travel Counsellor through TICO Certified Beaches and Sandals Specialist and a St. Lucia Specialist. 19 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why should someone use a Travel Advisor when there is so much access to booking trips on the internet A Whether you re the do-it-yourself type or are looking for someone to completely take the reins collaboration with myself. A Virtuoso travel advisor eliminates stress so you can focus on the excitement of travel. I can save you time cut through the clutter and personalize trips tailored to your needs interests and budget. My expertise and connections around the world help you travel better. I have access to the same (and often better) pricing that you can find online and can secure VIP perks such as free room upgrades daily breakfast and other benefits you can t get on your own. I can even go behind the scenes and price match. In addition to saving you time and money I can help make the most of your free time. Plus I m available 24 7 before during and after your trip to ensure peace of mind so you can relax and have fun. Q How did you build your business A I started building my business through friends and acquaintances. I then started to do a bit more marketing built my own website and have found that my most business is from my repeat clients and referrals. For me there is no better compliment than a referral. Q What sets you apart from other travel advisors A I offer complete devotion to clients expectations and needs. I m also very flexible with my time and don t strictly adhere to set hours so it offers my clients a bit more flexibility. When one loves their job as much as I do it doesn t feel like work. Q What type of clients do you service A Most of my clients are leisure clients families and multigenerational groups. I specialize in luxury travel based on the immense connections I have worldwide within the industry. I also work with several corporate clients and their group travel. Q What are the frustrating points of your business A One of the most frustrating points is dealing with the ever changing prices. There are times when I m in the midst of booking a flight hotel or package and before I can even finish the prices have changed again due to availability. I always advise my clients beforehand of this. Q What makes you feel really good about the service you provide A I love it when clients are very happy with the recommendations I provide and are able to reap the rewards of the value-added benefits I can provide to them. Q What are your clients most concerned about when booking a vacation A I find that no matter how much money a client is spending they always want to make sure they are getting the best price and the best place that will suit their needs. It s very important when children are involved to make sure that the resort hotel has the right amenities for both the children and the parents. I also have several clients that have children with allergies. It is very important to find the right resort with the right contacts and reputation which can handle this type of request well. Q Do you get to travel a lot yourself A The opportunities are endless for business related travel. I do try to travel as much as time will allow me while raising two teenage girls. One of my latest excursions was to Dubai and Abu Dhabi and that was a fantastic bucket list item Q Do you see yourself continuing in this career A Absolutely I love working with my clients and find that every day holds something different. I feel very fortunate to be able to do something that I love and am looking forward to seeing more of the world myself. Q With recent world events is it impacting your business or people s desire to travel A No. However I always try to advise my clients on where it s safe to travel and where it isn t because precautions are always important whether it be for health reasons or safety. 20 Women of Distinction Grace Garland Writing Author Birmingham AL G race Garland born and raised in a suburb of Birmingham Alabama authored the book Beyond the Laughter...A Daughter s Story in 2001. Grace began writing as soon as she could print As a young child she would often draw pictures and create stories descriptively depicting them. She has fond memories of teaching one of her neighbor s daughters when she was only in elementary school herself. I would go to her house with my portable chalkboard and teach her the ABC s and numbers She explains. Grace s family consisted of many educators and she knew that it was her destiny to become one. Her mother also a writer has been Grace s biggest inspiration in this industry. I loved when my Mom would read to me. I truly believe that was what gave me the desire to write books She says. Grace graduated from Gardendale High school in 1972 and attended Jacksonville State University studying drama and later sought out to earn her Bachelor s Degree in Elementary Education in 1990 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Grace served as a special education teacher in Jefferson County Schools for several years until beginning career as an Elementary school teacher in Birmingham City Schools where she retired in 2011. She has even educated adults during her career providing them with the necessary reading and writing skills to take the Government Education Diploma test. Grace s work has been a huge contribution to the Birmingham News where she wrote a weekly column for several years which had originally been her mother s position until she retired. Grace occasionally wrote for the North Jefferson News in North Jefferson County as well. She was given the honor of being inducted into Who s Who Among American Teachers 2007-2008 has written the motto for several schools served on the textbook committee and has used her expertise to tutor many students in writing. Currently Grace has a children s book in the works that she says will not only be a teaching tool for the classroom but will even benefit parents by helping them further educate their children at home. Writing is Grace Garland s true passion that she claims has been passed down many generations. This includes her daughter who she refers to as the person who makes her life worth living and even her young granddaughter I write down the stories that my granddaughter tells me until she can learn to write them herself. It s in our blood She says. When asked what she enjoys doing in her spare time Grace replies with I write This woman is clearly devoted to her career as an author. Her advice to others interested in pursuing her profession is to write from your heart because she believes that if you write from your head you will be a shallow writer never a true author. Grace s biggest dream is that her flame for writing never dims. Her ultimate mission is to write at least one profound sentence that will be read around the world to enable generations of both writers and readers to remember her hard work. 21 Women of Distinction N ot afraid to share with the world the physical and emotional pain she endured as a victim of domestic violence Heather Giaudrone used her experiences as a way to heal herself by pursuing a career in criminal justice. After graduating with an AS in Criminal Justice in 2011 followed by a BS in Information Technology in 2013 at Kaplan University she landed her first position working for Safeco Field in event security. Today as a Rove Security Officer for Universal Protection Service Heather s role has enabled her to gain a better understanding of what it s like being out there in the field risking her life but in an entirely different way. Heather Giaudrone Law Enforcement Rove Security Officer Universal Protection Service Seattle WA I chose this field because I wanted to be on the other side of the spectrum making a difference Heather shared. I ve been a victim several times. For those of whom share similar stories as mine and are too afraid to reach out for help and for those that know someone struggling to seek help I want to be their voice. Heather s position comes with its fair share of risk but that s what she loves about it so much never knowing what the day will bring. Working inside a private building she patrols the main areas and the first few floors of the building making sure that everyone herself included is as safe as possible at all times. If someone is acting suspicious or doesn t have any business being in the building she has the right to escort them out that s her job. A strong-willed woman Heather has lived her life by getting back up even when the chips were down. Q&A Q How is security going to further your career A I respond to medical general emergencies related to investigation gather information to write reports and sometimes depending on the situation I get to take photos on the scene and write reports on those as well. Q How risky is your job A It s actually very risky since we aren t allowed to have weapons. Although we can defend ourselves we do have the ability to call for back-up when needed. Q Is it likely you will get hurt in this position A I ve been assaulted once already less than a year on the job. You must always be on alert. My mom always told me if there s a wall in front of me knock it down she said. I know the world isn t going to stop turning for me so I always have to push through. Heather also spent time working event security for StaffPro and as a Cross-Utilized Agent with SkyWest Airlines at SeattleTacoma Airport. A participant of the Union SEIU with hopes of becoming a shop steward she also aspires to eventually move out of security and into an investigative career. Heather has a son Jordan whom she gave up 11 years ago. As tough as it was she knew it was the right thing to do at the time. Single loves spending time traveling and being with friends and family. 22 Women of Distinction Jennifer L. Armstrong CPT ACE Fitness Holistic Personal Training Founder and Owner Armstrong Integrative Movement LLC Asheville NC J ennifer L. Armstrong is the founder and owner of Armstrong Integrative Movement LLC. She offers a very thorough assessment process requiring an in-depth knowledge of functional anatomy and incorporates a collaborative approach with other practitioners in the field of fitness and Holistic personal training. She is a C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle Coach one of very few in the Western North Carolina area. Her most unique feature to date is that she is virtually the only professional in the western North Carolina area who currently offers the ELDOA method a very effective spinal decompression stretching technique. Jennifer s career began in 1991 by teaching group exercise classes at that time coined aerobics at a local health club. She states It actually wasn t my idea to teach I got to know all of the instructors because I went to their classes religiously. Her instructors picked up on her enthusiasm and encouraged her to try teaching. She gave it a try and after one class she was hooked. As the fitness industry is constantly evolving she enjoys being involved in such a dynamic field of consistent education and growth. Jennifer s clients have been a tremendous source of inspiration to her motivating her to continue to learn and develop professionally to seek answers to the various orthopedic and systemic challenges they face. Jennifer s role within the Armstrong Integrative Movement is everything. She is the sole operator so she takes care of her own bookkeeping marketing advertising and various other tasks. Armstrong discusses some professional challenges that she has faced that have contributed to her overall success. She names the health challenges of her clients and states that If all I had ever done was train healthy clients I may not have been inspired to get advanced education to know how to help people better. She pays homage to each client and explains that because of them all of her hard work has been worth it. Jennifer believes that neither your education nor your business progress is going to be linear there will be plateaus and setbacks times of frustration and confusion. She allows herself to learn about her business through its mistakes as well as its successes. She is a member of The National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) The Rotary Club The Asheville Chamber of Commerce a Pinnacle Professional Member of Continental Who s Who and Sterling Registry. In her free time Jennifer enjoys reading playing with her son and engaging in outdoor activities with both him and her husband. She especially appreciates time spent at their family lake house. Jennifer L. Armstrong would like readers to know that she leads a very normal and full life. She is a devoted mother and wife as well as a professional. She has experienced and does experience the same life challenges as most of her clients which is why she can relate to them. She has to manage her time stress temptations to eat the wrong foods and finding time for myself. She has been a competitive triathlete marathoner and downhill ski racer and she can also relate to being inactive due to injuries and rehabbing from them. Jennifer would like to someday leave a legacy of a paradigm shift in the way in which people view wellness and what it means to truly be healthy. She states Being healthy is not managing symptoms of sickness it s not taking a pill for everything. It all starts with each one of us working on ourselves being the very best we can be as humans and then helping others using ourselves as examples. Imagine the powerful and positive change she could create in the world if every person did this on a daily basis 23 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What services unique features do you your Company offer to the community A I offer a very thorough assessment process requiring an in-depth knowledge of functional anatomy I incorporate a collaborative approach with other practitioners and I m a C.H.E.K. Holisitic Lifestyle Coach one of very few CHEK certified professionals in the area. My most unique feature to date is that I am virtually the only professional currently offering the ELDOA method a very effective spinal decompression stretching technique. The ELDOA method is otherwise unheard of in this geographical area of Western North Carolina. Q Will Clients lose weight on this program A My program frames bodyweight in a unique and effective perspective a Client will lose weight because they become healthier they don t become healthy to lose weight. This approach works because it focuses on health not pounds and body-image. Through my carefully constructed programming Clients get wel- educated about how their body works how to move it the way it was intended to move and as they learn that there is no one cookie cutter method for weight loss they learn how to eat according to their own unique metabolic needs. Q Can you help break the cycle of going from one practitioner to another for weight-loss injury pain without getting any lasting results A Yes I am dedicated to providing a sound and comprehensive program which meets all of a Client s needs while remaining within my professional boundaries. If those needs go beyond my scope of practice I refer out to other professionals for a collaborative strategy surrounding that individual with a team of professionals or send that Client on to those who are equally dedicated to getting permanent resolutions. Q Can you help Clients who don t like to exercise get and stay motivated A Many people don t like to exercise because they think it will be too hard it will hurt and or they set goals that are unreachable because they placed unreasonable expectations on themselves from the beginning. I can t force anyone to like exercise but when Clients discover that exercise doesn t have to hurt that they can begin seeing benefits very quickly (such as less joint restriction less pain increased energy and in some cases increased muscle tone) they usually become more motivated. Lasting change doesn t occur overnight and I work with a Client every step of the way to implement change slowly over time. Q How often does a Client typically see you A New Clients typically see me once a week for 3-6 months in their first phase of training (restoration and correction) depending on the level of complexity they present (systemic and musculoskeletal challenges current or past pain and or injury). As a Client graduates into the next phase (functional strength and conditioning) they become less dependent on seeing me and more independent with their exercise program. A typical weaning of a Client would be once every two weeks then once every three weeks to once a month and so on. Q What s the purpose of such lengthy in-depth assessments A My system is assess then address. The assessment process is used to find out as much as I can about a Client s past and present state of health and to provide a baseline from which to begin examining a number of factors such as musculoskeletal imbalances. These imbalances can lie unnoticed for years yet are the root cause of pain and injury the assessment allows me to uncover potential problems before they happen and subsequently build a unique and effective program to get the Client to their goals safely avoiding injury along the way. Q How soon will Clients see results feel better A My system is involved but highly effective but takes a fair degree of faster they will see and feel their desired results. Q What type of Client should be seeking your services A My demographic here in Western North Carolina has been primarily the 65 retiree who wants to remain healthy and active in their later years but as the area is growing that is changing to a fuller spectrum of ages. I have had Clients ranging in age from 20- 30 such as the post-collegiate athlete (age 23) to the octogenarian. I can help youth and the younger set hone their athletic abilities and enhance their performance as well as the frail elderly regain a sense of independence in their activities of daily living (ADL s) and enhanced function. Q Do you hold a vision for your Company s future A Most definitely. In a metaphysical sense I see the Company at the forefront of the new paradigm for the fitness industry one of addressing the person as a whole being with stress sleep patterns nutrition and other lifestyle factors taken into consideration. In the practical sense I see the Company growing by expanding the services offered some of these services will be in the very near future and some further out more in-depth health and nutritional coaching offering yoga and meditation classes holding presentations and workshops on posture and low back pain. Q What challenges do you and others in the profession face today A We are all well aware of the obesity epidemic and how it appears we are losing that battle as a nation. On the other hand there is definitely a shift in the population s perception of what health and fitness mean and thankfully more and more people are waking up to the knowledge that diets don t work and there are no quick fixes or shortcuts to being healthy. Those of us professionals who embrace the new paradigm have much work to do not only must we encourage more people to get off the couch and get moving but at the opposite end of the spectrum we must compete with the billion-dollar industry diet and exercise giants churning out strenuous all-out fitness programs junkfilled meal-replacement shakes expert flashy marketing and the flaunting of scantily-clad smiling ripped actors making everything look easy. 24 Women of Distinction Joan Hill Art Travel Director and Owner of Artful Journeys LLC North Eastham MA W ith an adventurous spirit and passion for culture Joan Hill is helping others explore the enriching world of art music and food through her innovative educational program Artful Journeys LLC. Artful Journeys is an annual arts education program designed to teach new skills widen horizons and allow participants to experience art and culture of a region from an artist s point of view. As the Director and Owner of Artful Journeys Joan wears many hats. She is the company s researcher tour organizer luggage handler public relations specialist and reservation maker. Her ultimate goal is to provide superior customer service and unforgettable cultural experiences. A trip with Artful Journeys is about passion whether for painting cooking music or photography. A trip focuses on one art with other arts sprinkled about in the form of good meals or a visit to an art museum or a concert. We don t dash around madly to see every possible tourist site. Most of the Artful clientele are quite sophisticated travelers and have already visited much of the world. Artful Journeys was conceived as Tuscany A Journey for the Senses in 2008 which was a year of planning and development Joan said. Her unique business plan emphasized travel with a focus. Founding a start-up company however was not without its challenges. Because of the market downturn and subsequent recession it was one of the worst possible times to start a business contingent on expendable income. I almost gave up after a particular person tried to stiff me. I felt as if the deep happiness I had gained from the art trips had been ripped away from me. My grandson Carl said to me Mimi don t be so sad. That simple sentence made me realize that I couldn t give up just because of one bad person and one unsettling experience. This was my dream job and I had to keep going. Besides I had more art people and places to see. Drawing strength and inspiration from her family Joan forged ahead. She booked her first trips in 2009 both to the Val d Orcia in Tuscany. Today Artful Journeys continues to grow. The programs have recently expanded to include art and cooking workshops as well as music and cultural tours throughout Europe and workshops on Cape Cod. A proponent of the arts outside of the office Joan is avid supporter of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival and is a member of the Cape Symphony Guild and the Orleans Chamber of Commerce. Additionally she is a Cape Symphony fundraiser who regularly organizes music trips to Europe for the Symphony. Joan is also a member of the International Women s Leadership Association. I hope that the legacy I leave the world or at least to people who have traveled with me is the opportunity to see more beauty in the world either in some really wonderful people art in museums landscapes or on their own canvases to hear great music whether it be opera at La Scala or at St. Marks recitals in private villas or at festivals or from their own instruments to taste delicious food in Bologna Verona Fiesole or at home to smell delightful aromas in the kitchen or from flowers at La Foce or the Trauttmandorff Gardens or in their own backyards and to feel the wind gently rippling over their faces and to touch great fabrics or their grandbabies hair. 25 Women of Distinction Julie Booksh J Health Professional Counseling Public Speaking Founder Julie Booksh LLC Birmingham MI ulie Booksh knows change. Living in her hometown of New Orleans during one of the county s worst natural disasters Hurricane Katrina set the backdrop for her career transition. Moving from accounting to mental health her calling pulled her forward to become a professional counselor and speaker. Along with her career change she got married left her hometown and created a life in a new city. Just as she watched her city s rebirth and having experienced her own she now witnesses rebirth of all kinds in her work as the Founder of Julie Booksh LLC. As a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in transformation and freedom Julie teaches her clients to face the things they avoid rather than running from them. Our society teaches us that there is something wrong with sadness anxiety and anger. These emotions are actually great teachers. We can learn from them if we give them space Julie said. Like physical symptoms we are quick to want to fix them but the fix is often in the symptom itself. Q&A Q What s most satisfying when you speak to large groups A I feel so energized when I see people having moments of awareness and insight. When I see it happen to several people at once it s a beautiful thing. It s truly a privilege to witness these transformations. Q How do you know when someone is making a real shift in their mental health A When someone has really shifted sometimes it as if they totally forget they even had a problem. They often don t even realize the change because it feels like they re now so naturally themselves. Physical symptoms also begin to change. They even carry themselves differently. It s so gratifying to see that. Q What s one of the biggest misconceptions about mental health therapy A People think their problem isn t big enough to warrant therapy yet they feel terrible because of it. Relationship and money issues or dealing with physical illness and ailments people come to me for many reasons. Sometimes it s none of that. They just want to find a greater sense of purpose in life. That s why I m here. I m looking forward to spreading my message of helping people across the nation. A sought after keynote speaker Julie conducts workshops to help people build a better life. She has presented at Fortune 500 companies and community organizations teaching her unique and heartfelt approaches to modern challenges. Whether she is headlining motivational summits or supporting community health events Julie s passion is about people living fully. The therapist and speaker has her own private practice in Southeast Michigan and has helped people all over the country. Her speaking engagements focus on expanding awareness and healing. That means getting out of the comfort zone and discovering the whole self Julie explained. Anxiety depression anger relationship issues and even physical symptoms all of these are there to tell us something. Julie s dynamic style and approach have helped her build a niche for herself as someone who explores people s situations beyond traditional talk therapy. 26 Women of Distinction Laney Evans Hanley M.S. CCC-SLP Healthcare Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) Silverado Memory Care Bee Cave TX n aspiring interior designer Laney Evans Hanley learned that some professional desires are not always as they seem. While attending the University of Louisiana at Monroe she found herself disillusioned with her career goals. Fortunately a strong willed and impassioned professor sparked Laney s drive to reach her highest potential. After shadowing a PT OT and Speech Language Pathologist Laney knew she found her niche. In 1996 she graduated with a B.A. of Communication Disorders prior to earning a Master s Degree in Communication Disorders from Texas State University. Today Laney enjoys an impressive career as a Speech Language Pathologist at Silverado Memory Care in Bee Cave Texas. As a Speech Language Pathologist or SLP Laney s role is to provide assessments and interpretations of patient s evaluations and to implement a therapeutic plan that is conducive to each individual patient. Throughout her career Laney has had the opportunity to touch many lives. She has worked with diverse demographics including the elderly and underprivileged preschool children. Passionate about advancing her field and networking with fellow professionals in the industry Laney is a member of both the American Speech Language Hearing Association and the Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Association. A I have stayed in my career as a Speech Language Pathologist for the last 20 years simply because of the versatility of the populations that I have the opportunity to enrich in each of their everyday lives. I am committed to all my patients each and every day because it takes one smile to brighten their day. I love to make them laugh and to see their faces light up. Laney encourages aspiring Speech Language Pathologists to take pride in each encounter with a patient. The biggest lesson I have learned is to ALWAYS be an advocate for your patient first. Keep the family notified of progress or lack of progress make them aware of therapies that are being implemented and ask families for their input. Keep the lines of communication open. A loving wife and mother Laney has been married to her husband John for 17 years. The couple has three wonderful daughters Brooke Sloane and Reise. Community minded when Laney is not working she enjoys spending her time with family. Laney and her two oldest daughters are avid volunteers with the National Charity League. Laney also coaches her youngest daughter s soccer team. 27 Women of Distinction Lida DalBello-Dighton Alternative Healthcare Optimal Health Facilitator at Divine Strategies for Wellness 28 Markham Ontario Canada Women of Distinction s the owner of Divine Strategies for Wellness Lida DalBello-Dighton helps her clients optimize their health and happiness through the healing power of energy medicine. Using highly effective alternative healthcare modalities Divine Strategies for Wellness promotes and facilitates deep levels of mental spiritual emotional and physical energy healing for overall well being. Lida s work includes eliminating disease vibrations such as cancer neutralizing traumatic emotions from past events finding relief from the pain of stress and anxiety rejuvenating depleted energy and more. Easily approachable Lida s clients find it easy to open up to her and share their personal struggles. With professionalism and a witty sense of humor she creates a relaxing environment which enables trust comfort and tranquility. In addition to owning Divine Strategies for Wellness Lida hosts mediation and Reiki nights where likeminded individuals gather together to share and inspire each other with stories of personal growth and transformations. A Having survived cancer and helped others optimize their health Lida now plans to write a book. She hopes her story of recovery inspires others and raises awareness about alternative choices for healing which conventional medicine does not offer. Understand the limitations of what people offer and create your own customized healing plan. Now I have incorporated my journey of healing within my wellness clinic and facilitate energy medicine and counsel others to obtain optimal health as well. I believe that my healing results should be the norm and not the exception. Everyone has the choice to live or die. If you have the will the power to heal yourself is totally and absolutely within you. I am living proof. What little free time Lida has is spent with family and friends. She loves to laugh and believes it s important to have a balance in all facets of life. A lifelong lover of learning Lida enjoys reading and researching topics such as metaphysics other healing modalities natural health cures and remedies. She encourages aspiring alternative energy practitioners to heal themselves first and be patient with the results. What inspires me to do what I do is the reaction of the hearts I touch in the people I counsel. People show up at my door with hopelessness heavy hearts and despair and walk out strong hopeful and positive. Ready to embrace whatever life may bring their way. It is so fulfilling for me to finally find my passion in life. Helping others does that for me. A simple change in perception and unloading of heavy thoughts and feelings is all it takes. I am blessed to have the ability to facilitate these miraculous transformations. Lida said her greatest professional challenge was taking her own advice. In the fall of 2014 she was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer a month after the passing of her mother. Medical professionals estimated Lida only had a few months to live. With her husband and three young daughters by her side offering love and support Lida found the courage and motivation to live. Having several years of energy medicine training she understood that she was not just a physical being. Against her oncologist s advice Lida chose to incorporate energy medicine and alternative therapies in her healing journey to address the cause and heal the symptoms she was experiencing at the source. Three months after diagnosis Lida was in remission and six months after that she was cancer free. Today Lida remains cancer free and her once skeptic oncologists now recommend that she continue with energy medicine and alternative therapies. The legacy that I would like to leave the world is...discovering YOUR power within. We all have it and we all can move mountains if we have the will to act on it. What I accomplished last year many say was a miracle. I say I discovered the strength which I was born with and therefore always had and found the courage to us it. I believe the results that I obtained need to be the norm and not the exception. I would love one day to create a facility that offers a variety of energy therapies (alternative therapies holistic nutrition education etc.) for overall well being. I believe it s important to have awareness choice and a balance with modern medicine and alternative energy medicine. Together is where the miracles happen. 29 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What is Energy Medicine A Simply put energy is everything. Everything is made up of molecules and atoms that vibrate at various frequencies. All living things are made up of energy or vibration levels - physical mental emotional and spiritual which are known as the Aura. Energy medicine is the healing and restoring balance of all the vibration levels. Reiki Meditation and Acupuncture are some modalities that facilitate energy healing. Q What is Reiki A Reiki is a non-invasive energy medicine modality that unlocks inner flow of vital balancing energy to restore the inner balance of body mind and spirit via the seven main chakras (energy portals) in the body. Reiki vibrates on an energy frequency of Love and Light the unlimited healing life force of the universe. Q How does one benefit from energy healing A There are tremendous benefits such as stress reduction pain reduction promotes relaxation accelerates physical healing strengthens immune system and is non invasive to name a few. Via energy healing anyone can eliminate and or change negative behaviors and realities to positive self-enhancing ones. Once ones perception is changed or refined one then is able to feel and perceive situations in a manner that better serves them. Energy healing works well with our animal friends as well. They too have an aura and are very receptive to this type of healing for whatever may be ailing them. Q What is distant healing A Distant healing occurs when I conduct a session with a client who isn t in the same room as me. One of the great things about energy healing is that it s geographically limitless. I have clients across the nation and the sessions are just as effective as having a one on one. Energy healing works with intention and the vibrations that one emits. Q What modalities do you use in your clinic and why A The modalities that I currently use are mainly Reiki which clear energy blocks and balances energies Raindrop Aromatherapy Massage which aligns balances and detoxes on several levels with essential oils Akashic Record sessions allows insight with past present future of one s soul Meditation allows deep relaxation and release of energies and thoughts that no longer serve you and PSYHC-K enables one to alter old beliefs and behaviors for a happier life. These modalities are all spiritually guided but not dependent on any religious denomination and are practiced worldwide. All of these very powerful modalities I have used for my own personal healing. Because these tools were so successful with me I wanted to learn and share their life altering benefits with others. Q What other illnesses can energy medicine treat A Energy medicine can be used to help any illness (vibration) or symptom (vibration) experienced physically emotionally mentally and spiritually. What you think about and how you truly feel when those thoughts are thought becomes your reality symptoms and all. Therefore your current reality--all the good and the bad--is solely created by you and your thoughts (the vibrations you emit). That s the law of attraction. Q How effective is energy medicine A Energy medicine is extremely effective and very fast. One can pivot from a negative to a positive vibration in a nanosecond. It starts with a thought and a feeling which in turn manifests to your physical reality. It does take time for your physical to catch up with your emotional and mental vibrations but in time you will see the physical shift and change accordingly to match the vibrations you are thinking and feeling. You are always creating with your thoughts. That s why it s so important to be positive because that is what you attract. Q How did energy medicine help you cure cancer A Knowing that we are made up of several energy levels I addressed and healed each simultaneously. I researched what cancer was and understood what it needed to grow. I exercised every day incorporated ion oxygen therapy and kept my body in ketosis. As well on the physical level I used machines called Mora and Biofeedback to balance the various vibrations or frequencies in my body to healthy levels. Reiki biogenesis vibrational remedies acupuncture raindrop aromatherapy massage reflexology to clear blockages increase vibration and balance the organ vibrations to a healthy state. Mentally I used meditation visualization past regression therapy and PSYCH-K to reprogram my subconscious mind with positive thoughts and beliefs that serve me. I never thought of myself as being sick I thought of myself as being on a healing journey to optimal health riding the wave of the cancer frequency to get me there. Emotionally I changed my perceptions and feelings to positive so I would watch happy movies listen to Esther Hicks law of attraction audio books read Dr. Joe Dispenza s books on quantum physics associate with people that were positive and uplifting did things that made me happy every day and wrote a gratitude list that I would review when I was feeling down. Spiritually I would pray and meditate daily with my guardian angels God my higher self Universe and all beings of Light and Love to keep me safe happy and healthy. By healing all these levels I was able to find the cause of the cancer that passed through me and healed it. Because I healed the cause it will never be a part of my reality again. Q What was the cause of the cancer A I simply wasn t happy. I was holding on to negative emotions and thoughts of scarcity. There were several issues of trauma and life experiences that I identified cleared and healed. They all were linked to my ability to letting things go and just being happy of all the blessings in my life. Cancer was a gift that I received which brought that awareness and self-love back to my life. Cancer was a life lesson to me not a deadly disease. Q Why do you feel that your business is relevant in today s world A The more people I talk to the more I see that the world is reverting back to organics and want a less toxic way of living. What I ve discovered is that our society is realizing that current western medicine isn t enough. Energy medicine is centuries old. In other parts of the world like Europe people seek a naturopath and incorporate natural remedies prior to visiting a medical doctor whom would most likely prescribe synthetic prescriptions. In my experience conventional medicine focuses primarily on the physical when in reality we are comprised of much more. I believe and feel the need to share that awareness of choice and incorporate all forms of wellness for a healthier and happier life. I am living proof. 30 Women of Distinction Lynda P. Thiels Human Services Administration Retired Training and Development Manager Pinecrest Supports and Services Center Consultant Colwell Inc. Pineville LA C onsulting with Colwell Inc. a small provider of supports and services for people with developmental intellectual and behavioral health issues Lynda P. Thiels delivers the social services component under the supervision of a licensed social worker. Providing social service assessments progress notes discharge planning for adults with intellectual developmental disabilities and behavioral health issues Lynda has been working in this role part-time since fully retiring from Pinecrest Supports and Services Center. Providing social services is how Lynda began her career with Avoyelles Parish Department of Public Welfare as a Social Services Caseworker with children and families in 1968 with the Region VI Child Welfare Office in 1970 and later at the Louisiana Special Education Center and St. Mary s Residential Training School for Mentally Retarded Children. Lynda s social work career encompassed conducting abuse neglect investigations for the court providing casework services to children and their families working with foster parents and children adoptive parents and children and licensing day care centers. In January 1981 she began what would become a 20-year career with St. Mary s Residential Training School for Mentally Retarded Children. Beginning as a Social Service Caseworker her work with children and families evolved into the organization s Associate Administrative in 1994 where she served as both a liaison on the Parent s Group and on the Board of Directors Finance Committee. Taken on board with Pinecrest in March 2000 it was one of only Supports and Services Centers for People with Developmental Disabilities operated by the Louisiana Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities. Eventually Pinecrest became the only remaining state-operated residential facility for people with developmental intellectual disabilities and behavioral health issues. Joining their team as a QMRP she was later offered the role of Accreditation Coordinator before retiring 14 years later as a Training and Development Manager. When I first went to work in human services it just suited me Lynda said. I ve been blessed with a career that has paid me for doing what I love and has offered me the opportunity to branch out into new territory. No matter how hectic or long my days were I always loved it. In working with all types of children and parents facing so many challenges and finally getting to see the stars align and a life turned around where the parents can develop a richer menu of parenting skills while the children develop into well-adjusted adults was the hook for me. At Pinecrest the mandate for all residential facilities operated by the state is to achieve accreditation from The Council on Quality & Leadership (CQL). CQL proposed a philosophy of customer service that was directed by the person rather than fitting people into existing programs. It was an extraordinary time. Meshing the person centered principles into the curriculum they re-evaluated policy and procedure from the person s point of view which offered opportunities for people to exercise control over their lives sometimes for the first time ever. People who lived at Pinecrest attended city council meetings and signed petitions for sidewalks and other improved access to the community. People also served on committees both at Pinecrest and in the community in respected positions. One of the members of the Accreditation Committee had ties with the local Museum of Art and artists at Pinecrest had their own show which became an annual event for several years. As a result of the coordination of this work Pinecrest was the first agency in the world to achieve a Certification in Basic Assurances (Health Safety and Rights) a two-year accreditation in 2008 and a four-year accreditation without conditions in 2010. This was unheard of for an agency this size. Most of the people who were very involved in the accreditation effort are now living in the community however their work and the work of the accreditation team has forever changed the perceptions of what is possible for people with disabilities. It was one of the most challenging times of Lynda s career. Lynda graduated from Louisiana College with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Psychology and English in 1968. She completed coursework in early childhood development a course in quality improvement at Louisiana State University as well as several other courses workshops and training in personnel law curriculum development social work and other areas. Until recently she served as President of the Louisiana Training and Organizational Development Group where she also served as a Charter Member. Currently a member of American Talent Development (formerly the American Training and Development Organization) Lynda is also a Member Board Member and former President of American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities where she earned a Service Award twice for contributions to the improvement of services and supports for those with intellectual and related developmental disabilities the Helen Thompson Memoria Award for significant dedication and accomplishments on behalf of the organization and a President s Award for accomplishments during her tenure as President. Growing up on a farm in West Carroll Parish in the northeast corner of Louisiana Lynda now has two wonderful children and seven grandchildren. 31 Women of Distinction Lucienne Larrabure Education Mentoring Spiritual and Emotional Teacher Prosperity Mentor The Conscious Attitude LLC Farmington Hills MI E stablishing her business The Conscious Attitude LLC in 2013 Owner Emotional and Spiritual Teacher and Prosperity Mentor Lucienne Larrabure has since been offering life transforming programs in both English and Spanish to her ever-growing audience. Over the past three years she s taught and mentored thousands of women across three different continents who are seeking personal and financial freedom by helping them to stop ignoring the exact foundational principles to unlock their centers of abundance forever. Wildly successful Lucienne has been rewarded on so many levels. It wasn t until after Lucienne s life was truly falling apart did she begin on her amazing new journey. After her marriage had ended she was left financially and emotionally wrecked. Moving back to her native country of Peru with her two small children she desperately needed to reclaim her life. Spending the next seven years studying Science of Mind Religious Sciences Spirituality Metaphysics Quantum Physics Universal Principles and Universal Law Philosophy and Psychology she then became a Licensed Spiritual Practitioner and Emotional Teacher paving her own path to entrepreneurship. As the creator of these life changing services Lucienne facilitates masterclasses workshops and online programs to help powerful women seeking personal emotional and financial freedom so that they can reveal their greatness and manifest the life they desire in their own terms and standards with peace of mind and absolute freedom. Relying on her team to help build and run her educational platform she serves as an Emotional Teacher and Prosperity Mentor taking a unique approach to education that incorporates the four pillars of existence Spiritual Emotional Mental and Physical. Offering private and group mentoring sessions transformational programs like True Prosperity Your Story and Marrying Myself she teaches individuals how to reverse lack and activate their centers of power and abundance in their different areas of life. Lucienne is dedicated to helping women comprehend the magnitude of their own being so that they can organically manifest their desires and move from yearning to experiencing the biggest vision of themselves. I am convinced that spiritual and emotional education is needed Lucienne said. When we don t know we ignore and when we ignore the fundamentals we experience the undesired again and again. As a result we limit the unlimited because we don t know any better. It s my purpose to facilitate this evolving education that activates prosperity and is life enriching. It s so important to deeply know yourself and how the invisible side of you and life works she noted. It s the only way to show up in life with confidence peace of mind and a natural consciousness of worthiness and abundance. I want everyone to be prosperous live in peace of mind in confidence to fee abundant and experience abundance to be successful without stress lack of time and feelings of overwhelm. 32 Women of Distinction Q&A Q You focus your work on prosperity. Why is this so important A Usually prosperity is understood as having money and being wealthy but it s more than that. Prosperity involves all areas of our lives relationships career money family social life lifestyle and how you show up in life. Q Many people are stressed about these things. Why A The area of more stress and shame for women is money but money is only a result of consciousness. A consciousness of fear about money will create lack and difficult scenarios while a consciousness of abundance and worthiness will create peace of mind and wealth. Q Why you dedicate your work to women and prosperity A As women we are evolving at the speed of light. There is a fast feminine awakening and we are moving away from waiting and limitation . We are pioneers and masters on manifestation.This is the women s era and as women we need to comprehend and activate the fullness of our abundant creative nature. Q There are many Law of Attraction coaches Mindset coaches. Are you one of them A No. I m an Emotional and Spiritual Teacher. Law of Attraction is one of the many laws in the universe that works with spiritual principles. If you don t know the principles you re misusing the law. My work goes beyond the Law and the mindset. It is Consciousness and Foundational Principles. Q What is the difference between manifesting and attracting A Everything you attract you are manifesting. Attraction is a result and manifesting is the process by which you bring into experience the results. These results are always reflecting your level of consciousness. Q What is the most common cause of financial struggle in women A A belief that they cannot become wealthy by themselves a feeling that they are not enough to play a bigger game in life and a tendency to over give focusing more on others rather than cultivating self-connection and being grounded in her own worth. Q Tell us about your online program True Prosperity. Who is this program for A It s for women who desire to create a lot more income and freedom in peace of mind for who feel intimidated by the outside world and cannot market themselves well enough who are transitioning from corporate to entrepreneur who undercharge who want more clients and who wish to have a green light to live and experience their dreams. Q You rebuilt your life from zero to an upper six-figure income within one year. How A I made the decision to invest all of my resources creativity and power within me to make magic for myself. I ve always wanted more out of life but it was when I hit the ground and had nothing that I made the wisest decision of my life choosing myself. 33 Women of Distinction Maria A. Audin Cultural Resource Services President Archaeology & Historic Research Services LLC (AHRS) Rock Tavern NY M aria A. Audin believes it is never too late to achieve your dreams. Her long and diverse career path was full of twists and turns that ultimately led her to her dream job as the President of Archaeology & Historic Research Services (AHRS) LLC. With an interest in research education and technology Maria s professional journey started with earning a BA in Communications and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Elementary Education. In 1996 she became an elementary school teacher for a Catholic School. Quickly realizing she was not on the right path she moved to a computer graphic company and became a technical administrator. Hoping to return to teaching after five years Maria started at Huntington Learning Center as a Managing Director before transferring to their corporate office as a Coordinator assisting with their marketing and education centers. She later applied and worked for Langan Engineering as an IT Assistant. While working full-time at Langan Maria decided to continue her studies receiving her Master s Degree in Historic Preservation. My decision was based on several factors. I had an introduction to archaeology in 2006 and it got me thinking about history Maria explained. I wanted to do something that incorporated everything that I learned during my life and career as well as doing things I enjoyed such as learning about history and architecture. This lead me to Historic Preservation which covers a cornucopia of different areas that deal with history architectural history research preservation and use of technology to preserve and or record our history. Although I am a more recent practitioner to my field the skills and experiences from my previous occupations prepared me for this major career change and to own my own business. As the President of Archaeology & Historic Research Services Maria oversees the day-to-day operations of the company. This includes coordinating with clients writing proposals managing staff conducting research handling technical equipment and more. And although very rewarding Maria admits that the journey to becoming a successful small business owner was not without its hardships. I would consider fear to be one of the biggest challenges I had to overcome Maria noted. When I decided to change my career and return to Goucher College to get my Masters for Historic Preservation I was 41-years-old and the decision to go back was terrifying especially having to juggle a full-time job and my studies. It was my determination to change my career and to operate my own business in the field of Cultural Resources that fueled my determination to overcome that fear. When fear took root Maria credited her supportive husband Michael as her greatest inspiration to keep forging ahead. When I decided to change careers and go for my master s degree he supported my decision and encouraged me to follow my dreams Maria said. The biggest lesson I ve learned is never to give up. No matter how hard things get whether one is trying to work through the process of becoming a certified Woman Owned Business or any other type of legal certifications that would benefit one s company it s easy to get exasperated. However never give up. It s worth it in the end. 34 Women of Distinction Q&A Q What are Cultural Resources A Cultural resources include historic properties archaeological sites Native American sites and cultural items shipwrecks museums historic documents cultural use of natural resources folk life traditions and social institutions. Q What is Cultural Resource Management (CRM) A CRM identifies document and mitigate historic places of archaeological architectural and historic interests and consider the impacts of the project under environmental and historic preservation laws. Q What does a CRM company do A A CRM company such as Archaeology & Historic Resource Services LLC (AHRS) provides a full range of CRM services including archaeology and preservation to clients for any undertaking that required under the law. We provide guidance to our clients on navigating the regulatory process or clients with private projects that require our expertise. These services can range from nominating or registering a historic property for the National Register of Historic Places or working through the National Historic Preservation Act s Section 106 process or restoration project. Q What is an example of this type of work A A current project with an engineering company involved a client looking to develop in an area that required a state wetland permit. As part of that permit application a cultural resource assessment for archaeology and architecture was required. The research for the project area helped us to determine if there was any archeological sensitivity to the area. In addition there were buildings over 50 years of age on the premises. These buildings were evaluated to determine if they were historically significant and eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We provide our evaluation of the site and recommendations on how to proceed. Q What sets your company apart from other CRM companies A AHRS is client oriented. We listen to our client s needs in order to determine the best course of action for a project. We offer our clients creative solutions effective project management and a fiscally responsible approach to all issues. AHRS employees strive to maintain high standards in every project completed and deliverable produced for our clients. Q What is the most interesting item you ve found A While working on a mitigation plan for the Gowanus Canal an EPA Superfund site in Brooklyn we were able to identify a few sunken barges and a shipwreck. 35 Women of Distinction Judy Lynne Energy Healing in Life & Business Transformation Coaching Founder of Harmonic Living Now Energy Healer & Life Business Coach Boulder Creek CA E nergy Healing Transformation Coach and Founder of Harmonic Living Now Judy Lynne has been helping people heal naturally for the past 15 years. After witnessing first hand the power of transformative healing practices she founded her company in 2010 to help others liberate old patterns rediscover their passion and align with their purpose. As the founder and face of Harmonic Living Now Judy carefully designs and creates life changing transformation programs. Judy works with clients one-on-one and in groups. Additionally she cultivated a strong online community and publishes free weekly tapping videos. Judy draws on her rich experiential and educational background to bring a down to earth practical balance to her teachings. The transformation inspired Judy to earn her EFT Certification in 2010. Judy then went on to become LOA Certified through the Global Sciences Foundation and became certified to teach Margaret Lynches Tapping into Wealth program which Judy continues to incorporate into her practice. Sharing her expertise Judy co-authored a book called Braveheart Women Purpose and Prosperity Revealed Volume 2. Judy is also a member of several industry-related organizations including the Holistic Chamber of Commerce the ACEP (Association for Comprehensive Psychology) and the Global Sciences Foundation. In both her career and her personal life Judy s ultimate goal is end each day knowing that she has touched a life and made a difference. I absolutely love watching the life changing transformation take place in my clients. Starting with someone who is feeling worthless or believes they are stuck and can t move forward and watching as an empowered happy and centered being emerges ready to take on the world It s exciting and I love being a part of their incredible journey EFT or Tapping is an energy healing process that combines modern psychology and gentle tapping on the meridian points to shift negative emotions and beliefs. Judy first discovered the practice while trying to quit smoking and the results were nothing short of miraculous. That success in Tapping inspired her to heal other areas of her life particularly old traumas and deep emotional pain from the past. I am heart centered and sincerely care about the well being of others. I am as committed to the success of my clients as they are because I have been in the same disempowering place. I have found a powerful way to rise above trauma of the past current adversity and tap into affluence. I am passionate about helping others do the same and to those who are committed to positive change because I know what a difference it has made in my own life. 36 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why do you feel that your business is relevant in today s world A Because there is more and more being discovered everyday that supports mind body science and how we can take responsibility for healing ourselves and creating all the love joy and abundance we truly want to bring into our lives. Q When someone signs up for coaching with you what can they expect A They will discover what their family paradigm is and how it affects everything in their life today if they have any hidden agendas and what beliefs and patterns have been holding them back. They complete the program with a powerful awareness of who they really are harnessing the power within and the ability to access it in an effective way with life-long tools to keep them centered grounded happy and on track for life. Q What do you feel is most misunderstood about energy healing A First of all I think a lot of people think energy healing is woo-woo and not science based. But if you take a peek at quantum physics you ll gain a better understanding of just how universal laws work and how we are a part of the natural ebb and flow of the universal energies. Q Is it important to understand how energy works in our lives A Yes. Our emotions create a certain vibration within us which then creates certain energies that emit out into the matrix. Emitting a particular vibration will result in like energy being returned to us. For instance a vibration of gratitude will bring to us more circumstances people or things to be grateful for. The same is true for the vibration of anger sadness or jealousy. Understanding this gives us the power and a better sense of how we can be conscious creators in our life. We are not victims being knocked around in what ever way the wind blows. Q How does Tapping (EFT) help someone heal trauma stop unhealthy patterns and create new empowering beliefs A EFT (Tapping) combines modern psychology with acupuncture points. We focus on the bothersome issue while gently tapping through the meridian points. What would normally be a flight or fight response in the brain is received as it s now safe and a calming signal is sent out through the body instead. It speaks directly to the body rewiring the neural pathways in our brain. Changing our programmed emotional and physical responses to that same bothersome issue. Q In Your experience what is the most significant and life changing tool you offer your clients A Although tapping is an extremely powerful and healing tool in my experience helping someone raise their awareness to the truth of who they really are is life altering. When you separate from the lies you ve adopted about yourself and your possibilities in the world and truly embody your highest self that part of you where your intuition comes from you realize how powerful you are to change the things that aren t working for you and create what you really want. That s a miraculously powerful and life changing discovery. Q Is having an energy healing coach that beneficial A Since we are made up of energy it stands to reason that learning ways to heal and enhance your personal energy system would be beneficial. I still have a coach and will always seek out ways to expand into the best version of me yet. Most of us need guidance when the direction we are headed becomes too painful or we can t seem to move past our current status or the old pain-body. Energy healing is the quickest way to achieve that in my opinion. Q What advice would you give someone looking for a Transformation Coach who does energy healing A Look for someone who has sufficient experience in energy healing and transformational work. Check out their references and testimonies. Ask if you could speak to one or more of their past clients if possible. Speak to your potential coach on the phone first and find out how they work to see if the two of you are a fit. A good coach will want to do the same to ensure effective change for you. 37 Women of Distinction Penny Shifrin RN BSN CCRC ASCLNC Risk Management Nursing Legal Nurse Consultant Atlantis FL T hrough her work as a Legal Nurse Consultant Penny Shifrin is dedicated to helping her clients while continuing to learn new things in her field. My inspiration to remain in my career was the diverse opportunities the field of nursing offered as well as the people I have met and helped. There has always been something new to learn and it has never been boring or dull. Penny entered the nursing industry in 1982 when she became a registered nurse. Since then she has spent time working in many positions and settings including time as a medical surgical nurse. Penny has also conducted research in the pharmaceutical industry and taught Anatomy and Physiology along with a nursing skills course at Palm Beach State College. In 2009 she became certified as a legal nurse consultant. When you think of the field of nursing avoid the stereotype of the nurse who wears a white uniform in the hospital or at the doctor s office. Think about a nurse who uses what she has learned and then applies it to create a niche to help others in new ways. My thirst for knowledge and willingness to take on unconventional jobs put me in a unique position to help people. Regarding her education Penny received her Bachelor s Degree in Nursing Science and is a Certified Medical Research Coordinator and Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. In her leisure she enjoys remaining active with community organizations and spending time with her family and friends. Penny has served as a Chairwoman for the American Heart Association and chaired the Go Red for Women campaign which educated women on heart disease and raised money for research. My best advice for those starting out in this industry is to be patient and not to pass up an opportunity. Jump in and embrace unfamiliarity. Because it takes many types of experiences strength and determination to find your own niche. Also the biggest lesson I ve learned is to be yourself. As a legal nurse consultant Penny serves as a medical expert in legal cases helping attorneys and other legal professionals interpret records charts understand medical terminology and consult on health related topics. She also provides clients with a proactive risk management approach while helping them apply the legal standards for nursing care to avoid and manage litigation exposure. I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference. I want to be known by my family friends and co-workers as someone they could always count on. I am a fixer and try my best to come up with solutions. I want my children to know that my impact on the world extended to all those that needed my assistance. As a nurse I have had the opportunity to help people at critical times in their lives. I have been trained to react and provide comfort for those in need as well as life saving measures. 38 Women of Distinction Rita NicholsonWeaver Social Work Residential Program for Women Housing for Homeless Men and Women Director of Social Services Urban Pathways Substance Abuse Counselor Anchor House Clinician Integrity Senior Services Yonkers NY E xperiencing trauma that no child should ever have to bear Rita Nicholson-Weaver grew up to be a survivor of childhood sexual abuse which led to several domestically violent relationships well into her adult years. Rita was not afforded the opportunity to receive mental health services after experiencing her trauma and like many of those who have also experienced trauma she was introduced to illicit drugs with which she masked the symptoms of her internal pain. Destined for a life filled with broken promises Rita boldly noted the love God had for her to give her the strength optimism and perseverance to work toward a brighter future. Although Rita works as a Director of Social Services for Urban Pathways today for individuals with histories of chronic homelessness she identifies Anchor House where she works as a Substance Abuse Counselor working with women who have histories of trauma and substance abuse as her true calling. I am passionate about women and issues related to substance use the traumatic precipitating events where the core of the problem lies. The substance use is the only symptom of the actual issue she said. Currently working on developing her own non-profit organization Rita is taking a Grant Writing Consultant course at Molloy College in order to support her dream of opening her own mentoring program for girls between the ages of 16-21 years old. The program would support those who are pregnant or already have a child the opportunity to live in a residence where they can attend college and get the support of the services that the program offers to succeed and reach the goal of a degree in Higher Education while also receiving the preparedness for independent living. Through treatment and therapy I was able to forgive others who caused me harm and forgive myself for the self-inflicting abuse Rita said. When I entered college I wanted to pursue a career where I d be able to work with women so they too could experience the freedom I ve experienced over the past 15 years. I knew there was a holistic approach to assisting women who have experienced trauma so social work was the answer. Rita first attended Nyack College to earn her BS in Social Work followed by her Master s in Social Work at Fordham University. She has also since become a Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor through the Resource Group for Education and Training. Rita has worked as a Substance Mental Health Clinician at Help Your Way in Richmond Virginia as a Therapeutic Case Manager in foster care with Inspiration Youth Services also in Richmond in a group home for St. Dominic s in Blauvelt New York working with developmentally disabled men and women as well as with children and adolescents diagnosed as severely emotionally disturbed. God allowed me to reinvent myself and live in my purpose. I am a resilient survivor and conqueror. I never gave up on my dreams and aspirations Rita said humbly. I hope to empower as many other women as possible so they too can live up to their potential and God s purpose for their lives. The mother of three and grandmother of 11 all three of Rita s sons reside in New Jersey. Her parents and step-parents live in Virginia and Maryland and her five siblings are all in the DC area. Rita resides in New York with her husband Allan. 39 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Why is social work such an important profession A Social work is an important profession as there is always a need for a social worker. In today s society people experience multiple traumatic events some all at once others in different times in their lives. Social Workers can be utilized in almost every venue of life. We wear multiple titles be an advocate mentor coach facilitator trainer or therapist and list goes on. Social workers are in demand. Q Why do social workers salaries need to be increased on the macro level A Social workers spend a lot of time in the community making home visits hospital visits and medical and mental health appointments. Some of the areas and living conditions where we provide services are not always the safest or secures neighborhoods to work. A good majority of people who go into this field do not do so for monetary gain but rather for the love for humanity community and society that drives them. Salaries should be increased across the board as well as an increase for living expenses. Q What would you say to someone considering this field A Please love what you do. Q What would you like your contribution to social work to be A I would like my contribution to social work as being a mentor life coach and surrogate parent to as many young women who have found out that they were pregnant and desired to seek higher education. I would also like to see reduction in the recidivism of public assistance by providing this opportunity. Q Who inspired you to become a social worker A In addition to my mother Patricia and my grandmothers Annie and Alberta Billie Holiday Maya Angelou Mary McCloud Bethune Dorothy Height Sojouner Truth Angela Davis Septima Clark Fannie Lou Hammer and Afeni Shakur. 40 Women of Distinction Terri L. Clevenger Healthcare Life Sciences Communication Founder President Continuum Health Communications Westport CT 41 Women of Distinction I mmediately after college Terri L. Clevenger began working in the bustling city of Boston Massachusetts doing public relations work overseeing the Concerts on the Common program for a local firm. It was 1983 and she was eager to show the world just how strong and capable an educated woman can be in the corporate world. However what she didn t know was that she really had to find herself what inspired her and what would keep her yearning for more. Discovering the very intricate and complex field of healthcare she eventually found a way to marry her love for both industries when she finally formed her own company as Founder and President of Continuum Health Communications in 2006. Based in Westport Connecticut Terri oversees everything from new business development account supervision and client counsel to finances human resources and serving as what she calls Delagator-in-Chief . She runs a tight ship that is based on integrity honesty and loyalty. There was a time in my career when I was working with cancer advocacy organizations and it was at that point that I realized just how important the work of communicating clearly about disease drugs clinical trials and other pertinent information was to patients and their families Terri recalls. It didn t matter who I was working for at that time I knew that I was making a difference. Never forgetting the deep impact this experience had on her Terri held on tight to the feeling it gave her inside knowing that what she was doing served a purpose. Taking that emotion with her with the formation of Continuum Health Communications she is an entrepreneur who is growing her business by focusing on providing high quality work that is strategic and directly aligned with clients business goals. As far as I am concerned integrity is all you have at the end of the work day and you must always maintain it she noted. Someone once told me it s A or nothing I would go one step further and say it s A effort and teamwork or nothing. With a mission to purposefully navigate the continuum of communications to help clients reach the next level of their potential Terri s philosophy and the philosophy of the organization is believing that true success is the result of meaningful and sustainable relationships which are essential in solving the problems facing businesses today and often hold the key to long-term success. A communications agency that specializes in strategy and corporate and product communications Terri and her dedicated team of professionals are experts in public relations who partner with likeminded individuals across many fields and industries including pharma biotech device diagnostics and B2B technology. Boasting a team of skilled senior level counselors that work together with clients to tailor a myriad of programs designed to work effectively the sky s the limit. Services include advocacy relations content generation and marketing data and regulatory milestones educational awareness campaign events issues reputation management market development traditional online and social media programs physician patient spokesperson campaigns positioning and messaging product launches and thought leadership. Over the course of her career Terri s had the pleasure and honor to work with some amazing women from Genentech National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship Oncology Nursing Society and Association of Oncology Social Workers helping create and develop the award-winning Cancer Survival Toolbox. I am incredibly proud of this program which teaches cancer survivors the skills necessary to advocate for themselves throughout their cancer journey she explained. Enthusiastic about the future success of her business Terri hopes that the Continuum name will continue to flourish helping many more patients understand their diseases better. It is her biggest wish. Terri Clevenger a BS graduate of Colby College later completed the Executive Management Program in Pharma Marketing Communications at Tuck Business School and is now a student at Inner City Capital Connections. She s a Goldman Sach s 10 000 Small Business Program Alumni member of National Association of Professional Women (where she was named VIP Woman of the Year 2016 17) and MassBiotechnology Organization and is a PharmaVOICE 100 recipient. Married for 29 years to John A. Clevenger they share three children Caitlin a 2013 graduate of Vassar College Drew a 2015 graduate of Southern Methodist Univesrity and Zach a senior at Weston High School. A true believer in maintaining good health Terri runs does strength training and takes Spin and Pilates classes to keep her mind and body at full capacity. She also loves to sit back relax and watch her beloved Red Sox baseball team when she s at home. More than anything I want my children to know that passion and work can go hand-in-hand. I was lucky enough to be able intertwine two amazing fields public relations and healthcare and create a dynamic and enjoyable career out of it. I can t image doing anything else. I m so blessed to be able to wake up each morning knowing that I love my life and that I have a wonderful family that supports me. 42 Women of Distinction Q&A Q How is your business changing changed over the last decade A Healthcare communications is evolving and information arrives on many different formats from in-person to print to online and mobile devices. This makes it even more critical that messages adapt to the new ways of learning and remain compelling at all levels. Q Why is public relations so important in the healthcare life sciences industry A As Biotech Pharmaceutical Medical Device and Diagnostic companies look to target their customers advertising has become extremely targeted through online and social media sources. In parallel public relations must remain focused on the fundamental messages that are relevant and relay these messages via credible third-party sources. The messages must be compelling and resonate with the stakeholders (physicians patients investors) to ensure a true connection. Q Do you see a gender gap when it comes to wages in your industry A As a whole public relations is a female-dominated industry. I haven t personally experienced a wage gap but as a female business owner you do find yourself perhaps bargaining more. Q How is social media changing the media landscape A Social media has become an amazing way to distribute information instantaneously for the good and the bad. When talking about healthcare it is a great way to get important and relevant information to people quickly as long as the source is deemed credible. To remain relevant traditional media has embraced social media but must ensure it adheres to its objectivity. Q What are some of the pitfalls of social media in healthcare today A While social media allows us to get information instantaneously we find that some of this information is wrong and possibly dangerous. This is why BioPharma has been slow to embrace social media as it is a highly regulated industry. But social media cannot and should not be ignored and BioPharma must find a way to utilize it for the purpose of relaying pertinent information to patients. Q How do you stay relevant in today s changing technology landscape A At the rate technology is changing today we must embrace it to enhance our business and stay relevant. However I have never thought that we should embrace at the expense of other avenues of communication. A balance of direct and indirect traditional and new communications tools is what is needed to stay smart strategic and relevant. Q Explain your business model. Why Virtual A Continuum Health Communications is a virtual communications firm for Life Science companies. Our staff is located in various cities around the country. Our model is to invest in our people their experience and expertise rather than brick and mortar and we are able to pass those cost savings on to the client. Our clients value the maturity and deep understanding of the market we bring to identifying and addressing their needs. Q How do you compete with all of the other agencies out the re A Our value proposition is our point of differentiation strategic expertise that is cost-effective. Each of our staff has at least 15 years of experience and because we have little overhead our clients get the value of their experience versus being assigned younger professionals from a larger agency with not much experience to draw on. Q Where do you see healthcare going A With the Digital Health tent expanding beyond wearables personalized medicine will begin to take over from the more generalized approach to medicine. At the nexus of health big data and analytics we are learning how to disrupt disease at its core. While Pharma has been slow to the big data analytics party it is quickly ramping up to speed and will use data and analytics to pinpoint and attack disease on one end of the continuum and identify physicians and patients who would most benefit from their products on the other end. 43 Women of Distinction Katie J. Martin Financial Services Industry Financial Advice & Planning Financial Advisor and Owner Martin Financial Solutions Pittsburgh PA F inancial Advisor and Owner of Martin Financial Solutions Katie J. Martin does more than just help clients invest she helps them charter a course toward their future. Her attention to detail and willingness to truly listen and fully understand her clients needs has enabled her to have a lasting impact on their lives. With a focus on Retirement Income Planning Katie s primary objective isn t to sell a product or offer up an easy solution but to learn as much as possible about her clients dreams and future plans and together determine a roadmap taking clients from where they are to where they want to be. As a woman operating in a profession that has historically been dominated by men Katie often sensed that doing things their way felt a little awkward until she realized her strength lies in doing what comes natural building relationships with her clients rather than simply performing transactions. It was then that she recognized that female clients prefer working with someone who listens and cares and can relate to their personal challenges and experiences. I have always loved finding solutions that can make life easier and make things go a little more smoothly she said. My goal is to help reduce the anxiety surrounding financial decisions. I realize that my clients financial concerns are of the utmost importance to them and I address their needs with the same care and attention that I would give to my own. Katie is aware that there is no more powerful advertising than a satisfied client. I reassure my clients that I hear understand and share their priorities and that I will take all of the appropriate steps to get the job done. Katie has been serving clients in the financial services industry since 1999 and holds Series 6 63 and 65 registrations with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) as well as a life insurance license in the states of Pennsylvania California Ohio Maryland and North Carolina. She is a member of the Women s Business Network the National Association of Professional Women POWER of Southpointe and the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. In her free time Katie loves being outdoors and playing with her fourth child a Golden Retriever named Champ. Martin Financial Solutions 1910 Cochran Road Manor Oak Two Ste. 520 Pittsburgh PA 15220 412-341-2888 ext. 316 Securities and investment advisory services offered through H. Beck. Inc. Member FINRA SIPC. H. Beck Inc. and Martin Financial Solutions are not affiliated. Once I realized that this is an area of strength I was able to turn a challenge into an asset Katie said. The clients with whom I work best are women in roughly my age-range some of whom are small business owners who are also trying to balance family life pay for higher education for their children and save for a secure retirement. A wife and mother Katie draws her inspiration from the challenges she and her husband Jim have faced in raising three children to be independent and financially responsible adults. 44 Women of Distinction Q&A Q Do you have an area of specialty A An area I like to focus on is Retirement Income Planning. Leaving the workforce and shifting from accumulating savings to drawing an income from your investments can be very unsettling for anyone and it s something you do not want to approach in a willy-nilly fashion. When and how you take withdrawals can have a huge impact on how long the money will last. I can help bring clarity and a sense of security during this time of transition and reduce the anxiety around this major life event Q Does a person have to be ready to retire before they need your services A No In fact we have the best success with those who start early but I work with people in all stages of life from those just getting started to those needing guidance on how best to draw retirement income from the money that they have accumulated. Q What is a common concern that you hear from prospects and clients A The most common concern is the fear of outliving one s money. One way to alleviate this is to prepare a Retirement Analysis a segment of a comprehensive financial plan to show how long their money will last at various withdrawal rates and then create an income strategy which helps to provide them with a sense of security. Q Who would you say you have helped the most A I love helping women in the 45-65 age range basically me because women often face a unique set of challenges. Their retirement savings may fall short due to taking time off to raise children. In addition their wages are often impacted by the gender gap . And women usually express the most concern over a fear of running out of money. These women are the ones who need my help the most. Q What should a person do when they change jobs if they had a company-sponsored retirement plan with their former employer A They should seek out help from a financial advisor who can explain the pros and cons of each of the options available to them. They will have several options available to them so good solid advice is essential. Q What types of accounts do you typically open for clients A The types of accounts I help clients open would include Traditional IRA ROTH IRA 529 Education Plan Individual & Joint accounts and Trust accounts. And the types of investments that we might use could include mutual funds variable annuities fixed or indexed annuities and managed investment portfolios as well as insurance contracts. Q Does Martin Financial Solutions offer fee-based planning A Yes if a client desires comprehensive planning we can do as much or as little as their situation requires in the areas of asset allocation analysis retirement income planning education planning estate planning and insurance analysis. Q Do you also work with Small Business Owners A I do I help small business owners realize the tax advantages that contributions to retirement plans can make on their bottom line. I help them set up retirement plans for themselves and for their employees and show them the benefits both to the company through tax savings as well as to their future selves and to their employees futures at retirement time. Q What have you found to be the most effective way to grow your business A I have a number of clients for whom I know I ve done a great job. I let them know that I am expanding my business and taking on new clients and that by way of introduction not only would they be helping me but they would also be helping those they care about. A personal introduction from a satisfied client is by far the most effective way as well as the most rewarding way to grow my business. Q What would you say sets you apart from others in your field A I feel what differentiates me is my ability to put myself in my clients shoes because I ve been where they are for example trying to balance the budget while putting three kids through college and I want to bring the survival skills I developed to others in the same situation I spend time each day thinking about the impact that I can make in their lives. And when the going gets tough I never forget what brought me into the financial services business in the first place the reward of knowing that I can make a difference. 45 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 Diane Barry Women of Distinction 560 Broadhollow Road Ste. 310 Melville NY 11747 Phone (631) 465-9024 Fax (631) 465-9035 Lynda P. Thiels Human Services Administration Retired Training and Development Manager Pinecrest Supports and Services Center Consultant Colwell Inc. 47 Women of Distinction Erica Tu Travel Hospitality Principal Owner Love Tu Travel 48 Women of Distinction