Maritza Dominguez Braswell, Partner at Fox Rothschild, LLP
A pivotal moment in my career came during our representation of the Lehman Brothers Estate in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. A group of plaintiffs claimed Lehman owed them a collective $12 billion related to allegedly toxic mortgages. After we argued successfully that a loan-by-loan review was the only way to accurately value claims across hundreds of residential mortgage-backed securities trusts, I worked with my colleague Michael Rollin, to oversee the creation and operation of a technology-enabled, detailed review of tens of thousands of individual mortgages. It was the first time a law firm had undertaken the type of large-scale loan review ordinarily left to underwriters, making the matter truly groundbreaking. Moreover, to lead a team of dozens of lawyers through the review, and then play a lead role in the next phase of the case—a 9-week trial in the Southern District of New York—was personally gratifying. I was the only lead lawyer of color, and the only lead female at counsel table during trial. We secured a victory for our client, and I achieved a personal victory navigating a male-dominated environment in a multi-billion-dollar Wall Street case.
Gretchen Rosenberg, President and CEO of Kentwood Real Estate
In 1996 I became a single mom to an 18-month-old son. I had been working with my ex-husband’s family in advertising, and obviously needed to move on. I asked myself, “What can I do that combines my business background and my interest in architecture and design, with flexibility, so I can spend time with my son on my terms (like being a parent volunteer) and also have the ability to make a good living?” Real Estate seemed the natural fit. I started in sales and 10 years later became a selling manager of one of our three Kentwood brokerage offices. Then, 11 years after that, I stepped up into the CEO role.
Diane Eichler, President and Founder of Decibel Blue & Decibel Green Creative Marketing & PR
I spent the first half of my career as a senior account executive and director of client services for several branding, marketing, and design agencies. My clients during that time included Toyota Motor Sales, The Black Eyed Peas, Herman Miller and Apple. In 2005, my husband and I started Decibel Blue in Phoenix, and we managed to survive those crazy economic years ahead of us. A turning point for me came in 2013. That’s when we opened our office in Denver and moved here, full-time, shortly after. While reaching into the Denver market was certainly strategic, our real motivation was our desire to spend the next portion of our journey in this amazing city. So often in life you end up living someplace because of a job, family or some obligation out of your control, but we seized the opportunity to live exactly where we wanted. Since then, our agency has grown in both markets, and we couldn’t be happier exploring the mountains and living life to the fullest in beautiful Colorado.”
Julie Winslow, Vice President – Branch Manager for Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
In 2009, I made a career change from a sales manager in logistics, talking about moving ocean containers around the world, to a financial consultant. I was looking for a career where I could make a direct and significant impact for my clients. I focused on helping women understand the world of finance and empowering them to make positive changes to improve their lives. At a Metropolitan State University of Denver alumni event in 2010, I was sharing my passion for empowering women and was offered an opportunity to design and teach my own class through the Institute of Women’s Studies and Services. This was one of the best experiences of my life. There is a huge gap in education and partnering with MSU Denver gave me the ability to reach hundreds of women and give them the tools, knowledge and resources to make profound positive changes to assist them on the road to financial freedom. This experience also led to me looking for a company to match my passion, which I found in Charles Schwab. It has been incredible to work for organizations that share my passion for financial education and providing resources for investors of all levels.
As a young woman I have often imagined sitting next to a living legend, someone whose accomplishments left me in awe, to ask them how they achieved each milestone of their life. I knew it would never come to pass, but it was a way for me to imagine a coach outside myself who could instruct me on how to navigate the complex choices of career and adulthood.
Little did I know in 2018 the opportunity would actually present itself.
I still remember sitting down for the meeting. I’d received a message from the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, an organization I’d been supporting since moving to Denver, to discuss a potential partnership. No information was given, but to me it didn’t matter what the job was, I was ready to serve in whatever capacity the organization needed.
CEO Lauren Casteel sat at the head of the table and asked “Krystal, do you know why you’re here?” I said, “No, but I’m happy to discuss how I can support.”
I was then informed that I had been selected to interview tennis legend and women’s equality icon, Billie Jean King, at their largest luncheon to date, expecting over 3,000 guests. I remember my mind going blank, not realizing this was something I could even be considered for, but knowing I was ready to take the responsibility and have the opportunity to fulfill the dream of my youth.
I happily accepted and got to work spending months in preparation to research and understand as much about Ms. King as humanly possible. Between the research, phone conversations with BJK (our abbreviation for her), and the culminating interview I’ve learned 3 key lessons from the life of this living legend.
You can’t predict what your “moment” might be, but you must be prepared for it.
As a kid I remember being told that successful people have a goal and they strive for it. I always believed that meant knowing you’d be a CEO and going after that, or making it a goal to win a specific championship, but sometimes there are moments in life that we can’t predict will come our way.
Billie Jean King’s first big claim to fame was a 1973 tennis match called the Battle of the Sexes, which was viewed live by about 90 million people worldwide. Her moment came when self-titled Chauvinist Pig Bobby Riggs made the claim that he could beat any woman in a tennis match because men are by nature stronger and more equipped for sports. BJK was his second challenger and she welcomed the chance to stand up for women in a televised game.
In the end, Billie Jean King reigned victorious.
Moments like this cannot be predicted, but when they come, it’s important to seize them and win! King was successful because she made it her life’s mission to be the best tennis player she could be and to be ready for any opponent. She was also prepared to manage pressure, so she could take on challenges without allowing her natural fears and stressors to take over when the big moment came her way.
Similarly, we may not know when unpredictable moments will come along, but if we prepare ourselves, master our craft, and focus on the challenge ahead, we can succeed each and every time.
Know what you stand for and you’ll never look back with regret.
Even before the Battle of the Sexes, Billie Jean King was an advocate -- dare I say warrior -- for women’s equality in sports. Joining together with 8 other women, they created the Women’s Tennis Association to provide a voice to stand up for inequalities in prize money between men’s and women’s tennis. They believed that women were just as entertaining as men and should therefore be compensated equally.
Today, WTA is the principal organizing body for women’s tennis representing over 2,500 players.
When discussing matters of women’s rights in any interview, Billie Jean King has the resolve and composure of a woman who believes in what she’s fighting for. In viewing her clips and interviews over 40 years of career, I’ve watched her carry the exact same passion without ever backtracking on her beliefs.
Watching her resolve over the years reminded me of the importance of knowing what we really stand for. Each and every person has non-negotiables, things we aren’t willing to bend on, but we aren’t always willing to stand up for them. I can think of moments when I didn’t stand strong in stating my beliefs and allowed my principles to be compromised, so I could make others comfortable. Those are moments of regret that will always disappoint me.
When we stand up for what matters to us, and never allow ourselves to negotiate our beliefs to avoid conflict we can reduce those moments of regret and live a life we can always be proud of.
Never stop growing, expanding and making an impact.
If you believed that after that mega-match seen ‘round the world that Billie Jean King was done achieving you’d be very incorrect. During my research, I was astonished to read about all of the things she’s been doing just in the past few years such as becoming an owner of the Dodgers and launching an exhibit with the New York Historical Society.
And when speaking with her, I learned about unpublished achievements that continue to bring awareness to the causes that matter. Being able to refer to her unique life experiences to advocate for these initiatives enriches the conversation and encourages more people to join in.
It’s limiting to believe that once we do something great it’s time to hang up our hats or that age is a factor in when we should sit back and let the “kids” take the front seat. A life well lived is full of personal growth where we take every opportunity possible to make an impact in the world around us.
There’s no time limit on making a difference.
Having the opportunity to sit down with Billie Jean King to ask the burning questions I’d been wanting to discuss was a privilege and a moment I'll always remember, but the biggest lessons came from immersing myself in a review of her life journey.
While my approach of imagining these titans as my personal mentors seemed fantastical, there’s so much we can learn from their lives and often an abundance of resources to help us with the task. If there is a person in the world whose path inspires you and reaching them is not easily achievable I encourage you to make a project of researching them to learn as much as you can. You may find that watching their interviews, hearing their podcasts and reading their articles is an amazing way to capture some of the biggest lessons they have to share.
Contributed by Bree Weber, a copywriter for thought leaders and personal brands. http://main.breeweber.com/
Broke, divorced, and grieving the loss of her young son who died during childbirth, Danette May had hit rock bottom. She had $47.63 in her bank account and no idea how to move forward.
But to hear her tell it, her pain was her gift.
Looking at her life on paper, you wouldn’t see that she’s known any pain at all. A #1 bestselling author, former celebrity fitness trainer, and world-renowned motivational speaker, Danette runs a $20 million dollar business. She has built a strong personal brand from which she engages with 1.5 million followers. She’s a happily married, loving mother – all in all, her life looks perfect.
But less than 10 years ago, it was unraveling all around her.
And she did something unexpected with all of trauma that life had thrown her way. She accepted it.
Danette talks about her past as a series of choices. She chose not to be a victim. She chose to take 100% responsibility for her life. She chose to practice radical self-care. It’s radical because in this day in age, taking care of ourselves requires us to identify, acknowledge, and address shame.
Brene Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging”. Addressing our shame requires us to examine the stories we tell ourselves.
Danette first recognized her own stories after her losing first her son and then her marriage. She had been living on auto-pilot, flying down the path society had paved for her. It wasn’t until it all crumbled that she even realized the dishonesty in her relationships and lifestyle. Through uncovering those lies, she unintentionally discovered shame she had been hiding.
But choosing to take 100% responsibility for your life means taking control of how you react to the negative self-talk. It was from this responsibility – doing the hard work, lots of falling down, learning from mistakes and getting back up – that Danette discovered a small way to make big change.
When you’re in the thick of it, entrenched in pain and feeling heartbroken or pessimistic, big changes feel insurmountable, but the little things might just be possible. Danette, found three pillars that changed her life and allowed her to begin healing: healing foods, healing movement, and a healing mindset.
These micro changes turned into daily habits which developed into true healing. Within six months, Danette knew she had something powerful to share with the world. Healing your body and mind inevitably leads to soul work.
Slowly, Danette began rewriting those stories she told herself – and she’s still rewriting her stories. Though now, she’s helping millions of women do the same thing, through her latest book The Rise: An Unforgettable Journey of Self-Love, Forgiveness, and Transformation.
She shares her own painful, yet inspiring story to show readers how they can manifest what is in their heart and lead a life of true abundance. Her mission has shifted since the three pillars, and gone deeper, and is clearly reflected in her book.
The Rise doesn’t require you to start anywhere specific or arrive anywhere (ever). Any woman, anywhere, in any stage of her life can explore what it means to live her fullest expression: to be her brightest, shiny-est self.
And on the way she’s creating a community of women who believe in abundance and are letting go of female competition and the scarcity mentality. It’s far too easy these days to consume only the highly curated images on Instagram and stories on Facebook.
Women only bring other women down when they don’t feel enough. Women mask this pain with alcohol, buying shoes, overworking, and being judgemental to others, among other things, but this is only temporary relief.
But when we connect with each other to share that pain and help each other through it, we can all tap into abundance. We have sisters to fan our dreams and support us along the way, because we all deserve to have our community that have our back in darkness and the light.
Danette talks about abundance as a 360° experience. It’s not just about success in one area, but having a positive mindset about what is possible in every arena of our lives. She spent a long time striving for work-life balance, without ever attaining it. That is, until she realized balance isn’t real. It’s just made up.
Now, Danette doesn’t look for equilibrium. Instead, she plans her week around her non-negotiables: her two girls, her husband, eating something green, getting out into nature, and “I AM” statements – in that order.
Because it all comes down to this: what you focus on expands. If you focus on the negative or feel like the world is against you, you’ll get more of that. If you focus on the good that is happening and visualize what you want to happen, that’s what you’ll see more of.
And if you’re in the thick of it, Danette says, it’s hard to do those affirmations or feel positive. So, instead, start by moving your body.
You can read more of Danette’s story in her book, The Rise available everywhere books are sold. Be sure join her book club to receive valuable tips and insights as you read the book, and join a growing community of abundant women.
By Krystal Covington, MBA
I still remember Ms. Green. She was a funny, authentic and an academically-minded woman who taught my science class in 6th grade. Science was one of my favorite courses because it allowed me to explore, ask questions, and see the many gray areas in the world around us. I naturally became drawn to her as a teacher who helped introduce me to new and exciting topics.
After learning about my experience at a summer math and science camp I’d attended at a local college, Ms. Green saw fit to introduce me to the world of science fairs. Together, we created and executed a winning submission earning me 3 awards that included savings bonds that helped me with living expenses when I got to college.
That was my first experience with the concept of non-familial mentorship. After 20 more years of life I’ve now seen it demonstrated in a number of ways and understand there truly are many different types of mentorship that all come together to help the mentee rise to achieve a vision for success.
I was recently reminded of this truth at a panel event that I facilitated featuring 4 women who had been inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. The panel consisted of a diverse group of leaders including Juana Bordas, Gerie Grimes, Ding-Wen Hsu, and Gail Schoettler.
During the event, attended by over 70 women, each panelist described personal stories of giving and receiving mentorship, and each narrative was surprisingly unique.
Some of the key takeaways that caught my attention were:
Our vision of mentorship is often based on a patriarchal standard.
It shouldn’t have been so surprising, but I was genuinely taken aback by a reminder that our vision of what mentorship should be is based on the history of powerful men choosing a successor to whom they impart their knowledge in order to pass on their role as leader in an organization.
I’ve certainly fallen victim to this fallacy during certain points in my life resulting in me stating that “I’d never had a mentor.” I believed this simply because of the same patriarchal paradigm -- believing that to be mentored meant having a high-level corporate leader take me under his or her wing to bring me up to the top. While that can certainly happen, it’s definitely not the only version of true mentorship.
Intercultural mentorship can provide special insights for minorities
While there are general forms of mentorship that are relevant to anyone climbing the ladder of success, there are always nuances to navigating the world around us based on the cultural context we were born to.
Those who are 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation immigrant may find support in connecting with elders who can keep them in tune with their cultural roots while helping them navigate the business world here in the United States. That consistent support can help them to feel rooted in family tradition, connected to their ancestral culture, and accepted for who they are.
As an African American woman I can relate to having mentors in my life who understand the underlying challenges of being a racial minority. It’s not always easy to recognize how to respond to stereotypes, or to handle the discomfort of often being the only woman of color in a room. Mentors provide that support by advocating and showing that they understand.
It takes several kinds of mentors to help us achieve our goals
Many of the leaders on the panel discussed having mentors who approach advice from different angles -- creating a cabinet of sorts with experts who have diverse knowledge and are from specialty areas. As we grow in the different aspects of our lives, we might need to connect with a new type of person to draw from an expertise that is missing in our knowledge-base.
As a mentee, it’s helpful to understand the areas where you need the most support, so you can communicate this to the leaders around you. When you’re clear on what you need the right mentor can raise his or her hand to fill in the blanks of your knowledge base.
The role of mentorship is powerful and nuanced. Conversations such as these remind us of the impact we can make when we support others, and invite us as individuals to actively seek the advice of others who have knowledge to share. With our combined power, we can lift more women up to higher heights to gain greater power, wealth, and confidence in our futures.
I thank Deng-Win Su, Juana Bordas, Gerie Grimes and Gail Schoettler for reinforcing this for our guests that evening.
by Susan Golicic, PhD, CPIC, Holistic Life Coach and Stephen Glitzer, CHWC, Holistic Life Coach, Chef www.uninhibitedwellness.com
The Women of Denver is a mix of women in the corporate and the entrepreneurial world. Past issues of this magazine, as well as various networking and training events have highlighted many of the members and how they have gotten to where they are. Some of the most recent stories have described how some have taken perceived weaknesses, challenges faced, and even traumatic experiences and turned those into catalysts for enhancing their jobs and starting new organizations and businesses. Work is a large part of our lives, therefore, feeling good about your work is a big part of your well-being.
Occupational wellness is about finding meaning and purpose in your job — whether in your current position or a new one. A job doesn’t feel like a job if you are passionate about what you do and feel as though you are pursuing your "calling" in life. Improving your occupational wellness can impact those that work for and with you as well — if you love what you do, others will recognize that and it could be contagious! Here are 5 things you can do to further develop your occupational wellness.
Tackle an issue that matters to you. Get on a committee at work, join an initiative team, engage with your current environment, or get others to join you in supporting something. Giving energy to a cause which resonates with you can give you the boost you’ve been needing!
Fully utilize your skill set. Use your skills to not only influence and impact the work you do and the people you work with, but also work to refine and enhance them. What can you do to learn more and continue growing? Finding ways to contribute in areas that are not part of your everyday job can also help hone your skills.
Learn something new. Is there a skill set you don’t have that would be helpful in your job or life? Take a class, watch a webinar, attend a mastermind group, or approach someone that you admire and ask them to mentor you. Explore an area in which you’ve been interested but haven’t yet pursued — you may find a new passion!
Be an agent of change. It’s possible that the company you work for is stuck or stagnant in some areas. Have you done all you can to improve these conditions? If it’s time to move on to something new, what can you glean from your past so as to not relive it in your new endeavor? You can be a catalyst for greatness, whether in your current role or with yourself!
Join business development or networking groups. Getting involved with others that have a similar but different focus can be rewarding. Even if you’re using the group as a social component to your self-care routine, you may find yourself reaping the benefits on the business side as well. Seek insight from others to help broaden your knowledge and your sphere of influence. What all of this essentially gets at is ensuring you have a growth mindset when it comes to work (we recommend reading “Mindset” by Carol Dweck if you’d like to learn more).
The average person spends 90,000 hours at work, so why not make the most of that huge piece of your life? All areas of wellness are intertwined so you owe it to your overall health to improve your occupational wellness. Make the most of your job and career, and you will find yourself feeling not only more successful but also happier!
by Saralyn Ward
I am a working mother, with two children in full-time, center-based daycare, and I’ll be honest: Every month I wonder if it’s worth it.
When I was first pregnant, I was working full time as a project manager. I liked my job, but I knew it was only a step on my career path. I had many more goals to pursue, and I remember feeling nervous, unsure how having a child would impact my career. I wondered, would I want to keep working? Would I be able to find daycare? Would I suddenly become irrelevant in my industry? How would I balance my aspirations with my new, cherished role as mother?
But something unexpected happened after I gave birth: While my heart expanded exponentially with infinite love for my child, my personal goals and priorities came sharply into focus. Not only did I want to continue my career, but doing so became a matter of self-preservation. With little eyes watching me, I felt a renewed drive to succeed and live a life of purpose. I wanted to work, and I needed to do it efficiently. With dreams to chase and a daughter along for the ride, I was determined to continue my career.
Little did I know the biggest challenge I’d face was be the astronomical cost of daycare.
My husband and I both have good jobs, but still, our daycare costs surpass our mortgage payment. Currently 93 percent of my personal salary goes to paying for childcare. In the 4 ½ years since having my first child, I have tried almost every working situation imaginable. I’ve stayed home. I’ve worked remotely. I’ve freelanced. I’ve started my own business. I’ve worked part-time. And I’ve worked full-time. I even tried network marketing. Every one of my moves was heavily influenced by our childcare options at the time—or perhaps more accurately, lack thereof.
And I’m certainly not alone. Working parents across Colorado are trying to navigate the rocky waters of costly and limited childcare while minimizing the impact on their careers. Single parents and families living below the poverty line are hit the hardest by the lack of quality, licensed childcare in the state, and while there are resources available to help, they are hard to find.
As operational costs continue to rise and with limited federal and state support, childcare centers are forced to raise prices or sacrifice the quality of care. Often, this equates to hiring underqualified employees and paying them less than a living wage. In a September 2017 report written by the University of Denver’s Butler Institute for Families in partnership with Brodsky Research and Consulting, it was noted that “families are unable to pay the full cost of the quality care and education that they want and that society benefits from. However, society is not picking up the marginal costs between what families can afford and what quality services cost. The result is that the early care and education sector is in market failure.”
In the same report, the facts are laid bare:
According to the National Women’s Law Center, 7 in 10 mothers today are in the workforce. Yet a 2015 Washington Post survey reported 51 percent of parents stopped working or took a less challenging job for caregiving reasons.
Because women typically make less than men, mothers are often the parent to put their career on hold. Then, when their children enter school, women often struggle to find work because of the “mom gap” on their resume. Lack of affordable child care isn’t just affecting women in the years when they rely on it; their long-term career trajectory and earning potential may be affected for years to come.
The repercussions don’t end there. Companies are faced with the cost of high employee turnover, the economy suffers as disposable income diminishes, and society loses the long-term economic benefits associated with early childhood education. Yet there is hope: These socio-economic consequences are proving to be catalysts for innovative solutions.
For example, WorkLife Partnership is a Denver-based nonprofit partnering with Care.com in a pilot program to invest in family childcare settings. They aim to increase the availability of affordable, licensed care by providing grants to at-home daycare providers. This, in turn, serves the companies with which they partner.
“Our goal is to partner with businesses in Colorado to fill the need of their employees’ childcare. We hope this leads to less turnover,” says Cathy Fabiano, Childcare Business Manager for WorkLife Partnership. “What we’re doing is literally one-on-one [training for childcare providers]. I’m going to their house, looking at their space, helping them realize they could have 5 more children and saying ‘What do we need to do to make this work?’ We have used grant funding to replace fences and windows, given them equipment, bought curriculum. For one of our providers, we will pay for her Director certification. We are building these providers’ self-confidence [as] small business owners to increase their enrollment, which, in the end, helps employers.”
Fabiano sums up the problem we face in Colorado with one simple statement: “Colorado is known as a ‘childcare desert’ because there are more people who need care than the state can hold.” As our state continues to attract more residents and the cost of living increases, I hope this is just the beginning of our collective brainstorming session on ways to make the desert flourish with more opportunities for affordable, quality care. The women of Denver—and the country as a whole—are counting on it.
Saralyn Ward hosts a parenting segment on Colorado’s Everyday Show, and is the founder of The Mama Sagas, a community of women sharing their stories in video and blog form. For more stories of local Colorado women balancing a career and family, visit The Mama Sagas blog every Wednesday.
Heidi, works full time with 2 kids in daycare, $2400-3000 per month in childcare:
“Daycare eats a lot of our disposable income—$30k of it each year. That’s money that can’t be saved for college or put to other uses. But the other day I said to my husband, even if we were eating mac & cheese for dinner every night, I’d still keep my kids in school. When you find somewhere you love with people you trust, you don’t doubt what you’re doing. You just make it work.”
Jacquelyn, left full-time corporate job to move to part-time work, spends $1600 a month in childcare:
“The most challenging aspect to this situation is that as a mother I innately put my children’s needs first. Having to acquiesce to my financial situation is torture. Knowing your family needs you in a very close and personal capacity AND knowing that you have to sacrifice that to provide financially causes an intense emotional strain.”
Meggan, single mother working a demanding job with an airline, $2000 a month in childcare:
“The most challenging part of my move to Denver has been finding reliable childcare. I need child care consistently from 5 AM to 5 PM, but someone who is flexible enough to sometimes come earlier, stay later, and do overnights because my job requires a fair amount of travel. I was not able to be promoted as quickly as I could have been due to the lack of flexibility in my schedule due to unreliable child care. Having to call in on short notice and missing meetings because my child is sick, or I don’t have someone to pick her up from school means I need to take PTO, and impacts my performance at work. The amount of stress and worry is a huge distraction.”
Alima, made a complete career change because she couldn’t find childcare, $120 a month in childcare:
“I was an elementary teacher, but after scrambling for childcare constantly and going through 6 different childcare situations in one school year, I decided to quit my teaching job. It was too stressful! Trying to find a job that would work around my husband's constantly changing schedule was nearly impossible, so I created my own. I decided to take a year to fully pursue my passion in photography and see if I could make a part-time career out of it. It has been so much fun and manageable being a family photographer.”
Camille, works part-time in the fitness industry, juggles childcare between both parents and a kids’ club onsite at work, $150 per month in childcare:
“We began the process of looking for daycare when we found out I was pregnant. We toured many places, but they were ALL waitlisted. Even if they did have room, I wasn't sure we could afford to put him in daycare. We used a nanny two days per week for his first year because there was no room in any daycare facilities we researched. Also, most we found did not offer part time and because of the nature of our jobs, we did not need a full-time daycare.”
Celeste, single parent who works an hourly manufacturing job, pays $400 per month in childcare and drives 40 minutes each way for a friend to watch her child:
“My biggest challenge is not being able to have a stable babysitter. You don’t know if suddenly they’ll say they can’t watch kids anymore for whatever reason. It has happened to me before, to where I have to find someone the next day. It makes it really hard because I have to miss work or have to be late. I always panic. I don’t have the opportunity to do as much as I’d like to, like stay for overtime or go in on weekends if needed. Even if I wanted a second job for the extra income I’d have to find a night babysitter and that’s twice as complicated and I’d have to pay twice as much. I would prefer to work in a different department than where I’m at, where there’s better pay, but it’s a 12-hour shift with a rotating schedule and I can’t do that. I’m very limited in what I can do.”
This article was originally published in Women of Denver magazine.
by Joce Blake
Pop Quiz. Which of the following statements do you agree with?
We would all love to answer ‘yes’ to the questions above, but in many cases we need guidance to do so. Forbes has suggested that having someone help you define goals, solve problems and see situations in new ways is one way to take control of your life and career path. Sounds to us like mentorship is the solution. It is essential for us to have someone in our life that pours into us. Whether it is encouragement, sharing insight or helping to build discipline, mentorship is wildly invaluable.
For example, 12 year old actress, J.Lee has found her passion in life because of the impactful people in her life. J.Lee has done extensive commercial work for clients like Children's Hospital, King Soopers and Furniture Row. Lee said, “My mentors are my mom and dad. They are both actors, so I'm able to learn a lot from their experience.” She went on to say that having her parents, Tammy and Lewis Brown, as mentors has always impacted her passion for acting. She loves watching them on television and they inspire her to pursue her goals. “The most powerful thing my mentor has shared with me is to be authentic. That means always be yourself and don't be afraid to do so. This goes for acting and life. People can always tell when you're faking,” Lee shared with us. This shining star says that she plans to be a mentor in the future. “I know how helpful having mentors is to me, and I want to help someone else be their best too,” Lee exclaimed.
On September 27, 2017, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado hosted its Annual Luncheon and it was full of laughs, tears and “ah-ha” moments. The audience was packed with women of all different ages waiting to receive the award-winning actress, Octavia Spencer, who was the keynote speaker.
As J.Lee sat in the audience listening to the Hidden Figures actress talk about her life growing up in Montgomery, Alabama, her face glowed like no other. In an open and honest conversation with President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Lauren Casteel, Spencer shared that she decided to buy out a movie theater for young girls to view Hidden Figures. She got the idea from comedian, Kevin Hart, and was not expecting it to have such a significant effect.
In a heart-wrenching moment, she began to tear up as she recalled her mother working multiple jobs and how she could not afford to take Spencer and her siblings to see movies in theaters. “Hidden Figures had an educational impact and I felt a lot of people should see it. I remember being in class as a child and hearing the kids talk about movies they had seen and I knew what it felt like to not know,” Octavia shared as she choked back her tears. “I just wanted little girls to know that even if their families couldn’t afford to take them to opening weekend that no matter what dreams you have for yourself...these women weren’t maids, they were scientists and they were doing what they loved doing. They had no idea the impact they would have on the world. I felt like every little girl should see that so that they knew in that moment that if that was something they wanted to do, they could do it.” Spencer shared with tears streaming down her face.
Lauren Casteel told us that WFOC chose Spencer because the actress’ personal story of how her mother taught her and her six siblings to believe in themselves is beyond inspirational. Casteel continued, “That inspiration is magnified when the beloved Academy Award-winning actress brings strong women's voices to the screen. Through the characters she portrays, she brings important issues and history to life.”
With Casteel’s 20-year experience in philanthropy, she had so much to share about success through mentorship. “Mentorship can be formal or informal. What's important is that during an exchange, individuals share real stories not only of success, but of missteps and lessons learned. Mentorship requires authenticity and listening,” Casteel said. The CEO even shared a mentorship success story that happened during the summer. She said, “WFOC has been honored to host two to three diverse college interns and fellows. They are invariably passionate, curious and dedicated. I like to think the team contributes to their future success by giving them meaningful work and opportunities to learn and grow. We integrate them into the team and share real-time feedback and support. We have close ongoing connections with these students, who in some instances have gone on to join various WFCO committees. We grow by learning from them as well.”
There is no doubt that Spencer is a formal and informal mentor. Through her filmography over the years, the actress has continued to portray powerful women of color, spreading inspiration to the masses. Her first film debut, A Time to Kill, as Roark’s nurse began her journey of depicting an unrepresented minority: black women.
Spencer’s breakout role as Minny Jackson in the period drama, The Help, has to be one of her most memorable roles. As a colored maid in racially charged Alabama in the 1960s, Minny Jackson was the perfect balance of extreme strength and vulnerability. Spencer told the audience at the WFOC luncheon that her portrayal of Minny Jackson was the closest to home for her because she grew up with five sisters. “I realized after playing Minny, that if, as a woman, you have no agency, you don’t really know if the glass is half empty or full because you don’t own the glass. So I realized that, wow, I am happy that I own the glass and I know Minny in the 1960s couldn’t own the glass and now Octavia does.”
Most recently Spencer portrayed Dorothy Vaughan in the film, Hidden Figures. The critically acclaimed film depicts the true and untold story of several African-American women who provided NASA with essential information needed to launch the program’s successful space missions. Spencer’s amazing performance has earned her multiple nominations including the Screen Actor’s Guild, Golden Globe and NAACP Image Award to date. The Space Race would not have been the same without mathematician and colored computer, Dorothy Vaughan.
When Casteel asked the actress about her experience of conquering the role and the machine, Spencer’s advice was powerful. She advised the audience to allow boys and girls to choose their toys. “Let the little boys play with dolls; if they want to pull the doll’s head off, let them! And if the little girls want to play with trucks and science gadgets, let them. I think we start steering them into gender roles and then when a child shows acumen for a certain field of study like mathematics, science or anything STEM related, we say, ‘Oh that’s for boys’. If they have the academics, then we need to make sure they have programs available for them to express themselves.”
Spencer noted that she became veracious after she found her way around her reading challenges and she is a strong believer that when a child is supported, they have no choice but to flourish. Octavia also left us in awe after the film, Gifted, which is J.Lee’s favorite role to date. Lee shared, “Of Octavia's amazing roles, my favorite character was Roberta in Gifted. I liked that she was like a mother to the little girl, Mary, and a great friend to her and her uncle. She was also willing to fight for her! Her love, playfulness, and strength reminded me of my Nana.” Over a slice of chocolate pie, Octavia ended the luncheon by wishing the women and girls of Colorado dream big and that the men step up to help the women and girls achieve those dreams.
In Spencer’s “spare time”, she mentors formally as an AT&T Hello Lab Mentor. AT&T designed this mentorship program to pair entertainment industry leaders with aspiring filmmakers from diverse backgrounds as they create new short films. The program is focused on supporting each filmmaker by introducing them to studio and production company executives, agents and attorneys. Also, mentors including writer-director Rick Famuyiwa, rapper Common, film director Desiree Akhavan and producer Nina Yang Bongiovi are responsible for counseling filmmakers on pitching their work, managing budgets and directing character-driven narratives. Most importantly, these films will highlight and celebrate untold stories from neglected communities like LGBTQ, women and people of color. This program is proof that mentorship is crucial throughout our entire life span.
We had the amazing opportunity to have a heart to heart with Octavia after the luncheon and she poured out about the importance of mentorship. As she embraced young actress, J.Lee, you could see them connecting and building this beautiful rapport. While this actress did not have a mentor growing up, she remembers learning much from Whoopi Goldberg. Spencer told us, “She shared some solid advice and that was be true to yourself at the end of the day. I know what that means now.”
We asked the Hidden Figures actress what advice she would share with aspiring actresses like J.Lee and she said, “1. Train because it does not come naturally and while some people make it look easy, it’s not. 2. Live your life because life experiences is what an actor brings to a role. If you haven’t lived and gone on those trips and experienced things then you’re not going to be able to bring depth to the role. If you think that you will be an overnight success, then acting isn’t for you. Most people I know became successful in their 40s. I became successful in my 40s. It’s a marathon not a sprint.”
It is also very interesting that Spencer does not want to take on the title of “role model” because she realizes that she will do things that people like and dislike. Above all, she strives to make her mother proud of her by keeping her legacy intact. “I just want to be the best person I can be,” Octavia said. Amazingly enough, J.Lee left the room feeling empowered and inspired. Lee said, “After meeting Octavia Spencer, I had to pinch myself. Days later it still felt like a dream! I really enjoyed hearing her speak, and I'm motivated to work harder at being a great actress like Octavia."
- From WOD Magazine's Winter issue
By Karen Einisman, communications contractor and freelance writer.
If hashtags tell us anything about American culture and the current political environment, then the #FutureIsFemale. From #IAmANastyWoman and #ShePersisted to #MeToo and #TimesUp, our nation is reckoning with its history of inequality, misogyny and sexual harassment.
As this new era unfolds, more women are stepping forward, raising their voices and entering the political arena for the first time.
In Colorado, women serving in political positions is nothing new. In 1893, the Centennial State became the first to give women the right to vote through a popular election. The following year, voters elected the first three female legislators in the country to the State House of Representatives.
And, while Colorado comes the closest to gender parity than almost any other state, we have yet to elect a woman to serve as either governor or U.S. Senator.
The question that remains unanswered in 2018 is whether the current movement toward gender parity can shatter the glass ceiling that seems to have kept Colorado women from reaching the state’s highest offices.
What changed following the 2016 election and the subsequent Women’s March is that women are no longer waiting for encouragement from others to run for office. In 2017, organizations that train women to run saw increased interest from potential first-time candidates who want to make change in their communities.
As we commemorate Women’s History Month, Women of Denver is celebrating three remarkable women who have made the leap into politics and who hope to inspire others to do the same.
REP. FAITH WINTER
At 27, state Rep. Faith Winter ran for office because someone she admired asked her to run. While lobbying then-state Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, the senator encouraged her to consider a run for office. And so began Winter’s political career, one in which she addresses the issues women care about most, first as a Westminster city council member and then as a state representative. Now, she is parlaying that political work into a run for the state senate.
Winter’s mission is to improve the lives of Coloradans through affordable housing, paid family leave and climate-change legislation. She also believes that Colorado is reaching a boiling point on housing affordability.
“Even in rural places, housing is not affordable,” she said.
She hopes to address the state’s lack of paid family leave as well, working to pass legislation that would provide leave to families by creating a state insurance pool. Currently, only 21 percent of residents have access to this benefit.
“Whether you need to take care of a child, an adult parent or yourself, you would pull from the insurance pool for wage replacement,” she explained, noting the cost per individual is as inexpensive as a cup of coffee per week.
Aside from making news for the issues she supports, Winter recently joined the #MeToo movement by telling her story. She came forward to protect other women, she says, after hearing about continued harassment by fellow legislator, Rep. Steve Lebsock. By speaking up, Winter believes she is helping move our culture toward one of zero tolerance. We need to not only “stop [this] behavior, but also empower women and other survivors to hold sexual harassers accountable,” she said.
Winter is also helping to shift the makeup of our political landscape. For the past 12 years, she has encouraged and trained women to run for office.
“Our democracy is based on a diversity of ideas,” she said. “If all elected officials look the same, we’re not going to come up with the best solutions.”
That’s why she believes our legislatures need more diversity, including more women. She is inspired by working to empower them raise their voices.
“It’s fun work. It’s necessary work. And, I think its work that is going to change the world."
A sense of obligation to others runs deep in Cary Kennedy’s family. Her mother, a social worker, felt so strongly about this notion that she fostered three children, giving them opportunities to succeed and motivating Kennedy to dedicate her work to helping people who do not have those same opportunities.
Beginning her political career as an intern in Governor Roy Romer’s office, Kennedy has gone on to serve as Denver’s Deputy Mayor and Chief Financial Officer and, most recently, Colorado State Treasurer. In keeping with those values, she helped create the “Building Excellent Schools Today” program, which works to ensure that all students have the same opportunity to attend modern learning facilities.
“Students in poor school districts were in buildings with lead pipes, asbestos, mold and sewage backups,” she said. “[This] program has rebuilt or remodeled over 380 schools across the state.”
Kennedy’s next move? She is running for governor. In addition to education, her top priorities are health care accessibility and affordability, and protecting open spaces, air and water in the face of the state’s continued growth.
As governor, Kennedy would give all Coloradans the option to buy affordable public health insurance, and she would address climate change by ensuring the state meets the Paris Agreement’s emissions-reduction target, “with or without Washington,” she said.
Kennedy is among a long list of Colorado women who have helped shape the state in the past 140 years, but she points to the glass ceiling that needs to be shattered.
“Women in office pass laws that help women and families,” she said. “Improving our public schools, expanding health care, growing Colorado’s economy and working to protect our beautiful state.”
Can you hear that ceiling cracking?
After entrepreneur Heidi Ganahl sold Camp Bow Wow, her chain of pet care franchises, in 2014, she wanted to give back to her community. Her belief that education is the key to the American Dream led her to run for the Board of Regents at her alma mater, the University of Colorado.
Since winning her at-large seat in 2016, Ganahl has worked on campus issues of affordability, free speech, and safety. She’s made progress in the area of affordability, by instituting a four-year tuition guarantee, eliminating extra fees, and reducing the cost of course materials by piloting a digital library. And in the area of free speech, Ganahl helped CU create a new student debate group to teach students “how to think, not what to think,” she said.
During her term, she has tackled student safety by addressing issues of drugs & alcohol, depression, and sexual assault—a personal topic as the mother of a sexual assault survivor. After watching the justice system fail her daughter following the assault, Ganahl founded the Fight Back Foundation to try and change the harrowing experience. Of the #MeToo movement, she is hopeful that it can bring about real change, but notes that “we have to back up the bravery of those speaking up with a justice system that works.”
Ganahl, who was named one of Fortune Magazine’s 10 Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs, wants to see change in the number of women in Colorado politics as well. She is mentoring potential candidates on both sides of the aisle, encouraging them to run for office.
“Women across the country are recognizing that the decisions made at all levels of our society have a direct impact on them, and their families,” she said. “We have to encourage our current female leaders to step up and aim big because [we] bring a different perspective to the table.”
Ganahl has proven that if anyone can mentor someone to “go big”, it’s her.
Life is a process. Laundry is a process. Dishes are a process. Getting gas is a process. Getting ready for the day is a process. All throughout our life we must endure processes.
Overcoming Cancer was no different.
First you must find the Cancer. Tests, Colonoscopies, Scans. Once you find the Cancer, more process. Get a port in your body for easy chemo access. One round of chemo for me was six months going every other week on Mondays. Go home with Chemo bag. Wednesday go back and get bag removed. Next process. Side effects. Sometimes hair loss. Sometimes nausea or sickness. Lose taste in things because the chemo makes everything taste like metal. Take pills. Go to Yoga. Meditate. Power of Positive thinking. Process.
When a friend of mine mentioned this idea to me when I was struggling through the Cancer journey, it all made sense to me. It was easy for me to understand. It was easy for me to grasp. It was a concept I could adhere to and make sense of.
When I was down I remembered the process.
When I was sick I remembered the process.
When I was scared I remembered the process.
One year later and I am officially in Cancer Remission and I carry this idea with me still. How do we overcome the obstacles in our lives? Process.
Whatever you are fighting, whatever you are struggling through, whatever battles you are facing, whatever anguish, strife, trail or adversity you are enduring right now, I challenge you to think about The Process. What process are you going through to become who you really want to be? What process can you relate to that will get you through this? What lies have you told yourself through the years that you are ready to let go and what process do you need to go through to release them?
Life is a process. Learn it. Love it. Live it.
Contributed by TrishaTrixie
Contributed by: Alexandra Correll
As chief revenue officer of Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX), Tina V. Murphy is the driving force behind the company's customer focused culture. GHX specializes as a healthcare business and data automation company that works tirelessly to help healthcare providers bring better patient care and savings to patients and the growing healthcare industry. Since 2000, Tina V. Murphy has worked for GHX through a number of roles, including senior vice president of Global Product and Corporate Development, and as president of GHX Europe's business unit.
These are the secrets to her success:
"I don’t believe that success is about natural ability; rather, it is about outperforming your gaps through hard work," Tina V. Murphy stated when asked about her work philosophy. Her stellar track record and many accomplishments can be credited to her deeply rooted beliefs in the need to work hard, remain tenacious, and building and drawing upon the strengths of her teammates.
"Just as I expect myself to rise to the occasion, I expect that of others as well. Nothing pleases me more than to hear from the team that I created an environment where they felt valued and able to achieve more than they thought they could."
This philosophy is experience based. Tina V. Murphy knows personally how rewarding rising to the occasion can be. "At one of my first jobs, I was asked to do something that I thought was impossible, but being new in my role, missing expectations wasn’t an option. Two months later, I surpassed expectations. The lesson learned was the thrill of having an ambitious goal and then achieving it."
"That feeling has fueled my leadership philosophy - hire smart people and push them until they are uncomfortable, support/mentor them and then celebrate their successes. I continually raise the bar for myself and my team, while providing an empowering culture in which they can thrive."
Business is a bottom-line proposition and we need to understand and articulate the role we play in executing on the company’s strategy.
On Career Building
The experience that Tina V. Murphy has amassed has given her powerful insights into how to achieve success, affluence, and larger monetary gains in the workplace. She advises to remain result driven by focusing on your own personal goals as well as those of the company, and view every setback as a new and valuable tool for growth. True to her personal mantra, Tina V. Murphy says that it is important to constantly try to outperform your own weaknesses.
"Know your strengths and understand your weaknesses. Don’t apologize for who you are. Your unique personality, experience and perspectives are precisely what can make you a powerful, effective and successful leader. Believe in yourself and stand up for what you believe in. When you do, others will as well."
Tina V. Murphy stresses that knowing your strengths and understanding your weaknesses goes far in terms of salary and promotion negotiations. This includes going into the negotiation with determination backed by research, analysis of your own work, and knowledge of the value that you bring to the company.
"Know your worth. Recognize your strengths and the value you bring to the organization. Business is a bottom-line proposition and we need to understand and articulate the role we play in executing on the company’s strategy. Then, when making your case, be concise and to the point. The confidence you bring to the conversation will speak volumes."
On Overcoming Adversity in the Workplace
The outlook of constantly working harder, smarter, and tougher has given Tina V. Murphy a enlightened perspective on combating specific problems unique to women in the workplace. "Women do face challenges or obstacles, but I believe focusing solely on those challenges could be a distraction. Life will always present us with them. What we control is how we handle those situations," she answered when asked about how she approaches adversity while working.
"Women should recognize that they naturally bring a combination of knowledge and intuition to help navigate complex situations; they recognize nuances and motivations and can help ensure multiple perspectives are considered to develop the best strategy. Too often, women try to model the behaviors of their male counterparts, while suppressing their natural strengths. Cultivate those qualities that come naturally to you. It is precisely those attributes that make you a powerful, effective and successful leader."
On Rising Above
GHX has recognized that Tina V. Murphy's skill set - as well as outlook - make her exactly the type of strong, effective leader that is needed to push the company to greater heights. Before serving as chief revenue officer and senior vice president of Global Product and Corporate Development, Tina V. Murphy was president of GHX's European business for two years. She headed to the assignment not only as a woman, but as an American woman.
It is this distinction that initially caused some unrest in her team. Using the same skills and philosophy that helped shape her career, she was able to build and nurture a workplace that communicated, contributed, and ultimately delivered and accomplished much more than they did previously.
The experience is one of her best memories. "During my final week in that position, I received an email from one of the team leaders. He wrote, “Before you came, I couldn’t imagine a female president and now I can’t imagine success without a female president.” To this day that is my proudest moment - my presence and my actions opened the organization’s eyes to the power of female leadership," Tina V. Murphy shared.
The power of female leadership, and the lessons and tenacity that it took to earn it are lessons that any inspiring business woman would benefit from. "I am sure there are plenty of other people who have more natural ability than I do, but there are few who rival my drive, passion and desire to keep learning and growing. I focus on what matters – the company, its employees, and our customers – above all else. And I take full accountability for the results of my work, good and bad." Tina V. Murphy's abilities lie far outside raw skill, and have been grown and honed over 25 years, making her the successful individual she is today. The result? A woman with a success story that some only dream of.