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This week on the Women STaRs Podcast, we have the pleasure of talking with Jenice Contreras, the Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Hispanic Center for Economic Development. Jenice was born in Puerto Rico, is bilingual, bicultural and is proud of her heritage. Through her key involvement in CentroVilla25, an adaptive reuse of a vacant warehouse and office building, Jenice is a driving force around the neighborhood redevelopment efforts in Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood, the most densely populated Hispanic enclave in the state of Ohio. She has many achievements to commend her, such as features from prominent publications like Crain’s, other awards and community involvements, as well as her advocacy for others and dedication to helping her community.Listen to this fantastic episode and glean some stunning advice, great stories, and the inspiration you just might be missing in your life. Jenice shares with us the experience of being a young mother and raising children while building a career; how she learned to give herself grace; finding people in her she-tribe who fill her cup; and meaning it when she says “no.” You’ll not want to miss hearing about her greatest success that she’s currently going through: helping to strengthen the neighborhood she grew up in and making it more equitable.If you’d like to contact Jenice, you can visit her profile on you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“Oftentimes women feel like they have to choose one or the other: if you want the career, you can’t have the family, if you want the family, you can’t have the career. And I think there are many stubborn women who refuse to believe that that is the case. And so, I challenged myself to do it all. It wasn’t perfect and it was very messy most days, but I’m happy I was able to get through it.”“Plan, but also give yourself the flexibility to know that life happens. Give yourself the grace to say, ‘Hey, that didn’t happen today, it’s okay and we will manage.’”“Just to have the opportunity to play a leading role into creating something that’s transformational in a community, that’s going to live for generations to come, it’s pretty wild and pretty invigorating to me.”“I spent a lot of time on things that are not important. I would go to evening meetings or weekend events. In retrospect, now that I don’t have a lot of time and I’m super busy, I would analyze how a meeting or event fulfills my personal or professional goals. And if I couldn’t answer that clearly, I would tell people to walk out of that meeting.”
On this week’s episode, we sat down with Sara Jo Smith, Vice President – Senior Relationship Manager, Institutional Real Estate Group, KeyBank. Beyond being successful in her career, Sara Jo is dedicated to using her voice, being involved in her community, and finding balance in all aspects of her life.Our conversation with Sara Jo and her perspective on finding balance through her struggles and triumphs are inspiring and engaging. Tune in as she discusses working in a male-dominated field and being more boisterous to be seen, surrounding yourself with the right people, doing life with purpose,  and being more present to make fewer mistakes. There’s something for everyone in the wisdom she shares, such as her advice to serious people like herself: don’t be reckless, but try to have more fun. If you’d like to contact Sara Jo, you can reach out to her on Linkedin.Thank you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“I’m a huge proponent of self-care. I’m not an absolutely disciplined person when it comes to these things, but every day, I try to eat well, exercise, laugh, and get good sleep.”“I remember sitting in my sophomore year English class and we were asked what was most important to us. Even at that age, my biggest goal was to achieve balance in life. I have a fulfilling career, a relationship with a partner that’s everything and more than I could have ever wanted, I have friends who are interesting and challenging, and I’m giving back to my community. My biggest triumph is curating a life that I’m proud of.”“Task number one is to find something to do with the majority of your day that rings true to you.”“I consider myself a cerebral person. I’m in my head a lot. And, as I’m going even through simple things, I’m like, ‘Am I giving this my all? Am I paying attention to this? Am I present?”
This week on Women Stars, we’re ecstatic to bring you a wonderful episode with Catherine Bosley, owner of CJB Productions LLC and award-winning journalist. Catherine worked for many years as a news anchor in Akron and Cleveland, earning her prestigious honors such as Associated Press Awards and Emmy Award nominations. She is also known for her battle with online humiliation after images of her were spread online, resulting in struggles both mentally and legally.With accomplishments like a TedX talk, our conversation with Catherine was bound to be filled with great wisdom, and it surely is. Tune in as Catherine discusses overcoming her health issues with both heart disease and lung disease, facing the overwhelming and isolating struggle that is being humiliated online, and how she uses acronym like PACT (People, Abandon, Connect, This Too Shall Pass) to help herself and others get through hard times. She also discusses inspiring topics like taking back her own power through legal avenues after her online incident and learning to step aside from work to preserve her work/life balance.If you’d like to get in touch with Catherine, you can find her on most social medias, or you can visit her website,, where you can also buy her book, Forever and For All to See. Thank you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“We need to be so cautious about what we do online and off. There is so little room for that ‘What was I thinking?’ moment before something becomes part of your forever and for all to see.”“How many of you have gone through something and you feel like you’re never going to survive it? And you do. We’ve all been through those types of situations, and you survive it. And not only do you survive it, you’re stronger, you’re wiser, and you’re more equipped to help other people.”“Be mindful that what think is just for the moment, it’s not just for the moment anymore.”“Be very aware of the necessity to step aside, to set time aside…No more ‘one more thing’ when you’ve made a promise to spend time with your family or even yourself.”
This week, we’re excited to bring you a great episode with Erin Eurenius, Certified Elder Law Attorney and owner of her own firm, Erin C. Eurenius Attorney at Law. After her experiences with her grandmother having dementia and a stroke, and navigating guardianship and Medicaid, Erin left her career in accounting to help others. Erin helps seniors, individuals with disabilities, and their families in elder law, estate planning, and special needs planning. She is also a dedicated community member, serving on boards for All Faiths Pantry, Padua Franciscan High School, and the Consortium Against Adult Abuse. Join us in enjoying Erin’s episode as she shares the struggles that inspired her passion for helping others through her law practice and so much more. From stories of her feisty grandma rearranging wet floor signs in her care facility to the flexibility and hard decisions that come along with owning a small business, Erin has an infectious personality and a lot of wonderful advice to share.If you’d like to get in touch with Erin, you can reach her via email at, by phone at (440) 253-8800, or on Linkedin, Facebook, or Instagram.Thank you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“After I realize I’m in a mode where I’m trying to push through and it’s getting to a breaking point, that’s when I stop and listen to my mind and body and figure out what’s the next best thing.”“Take a step back and say, ‘I may be going through a rough patch right now, but based on my history, I’m still going to do more good and do more things in the future.’ It’s hard to look at your achievements and remind yourself of that, but it’s appreciation for yourself.”“I left a very toxic work environment when I initially became an attorney. One of the phrases they liked to use a lot was, ‘We’re a family.’ Now, years later, I know that’s one of the biggest red flags…One day I walked in and realized I couldn’t take it anymore. And a month later, I opened my own practice.”“I work with a lot of senior clients, and a lot of times I have no idea what they did for work, because when they come through my door, they’re talking about their family, friends, and hobbies. They’re not talking about an award they won at work. And for me, it’s an everyday reminder that these people have been through a lifetime and their job is not what they focus on.”
On another great episode of the Women STaRs podcast, we have a wonderful conversation with Julie Cruz-Blair, the Executive Director of Leadership Lorain County. Julie is dedicated to giving back to her community and providing resources that help people reach their goals and thrive. She also serves on the Board for the Elyria YWCA as the Vice-Chair, is a member of the Elyria Sunrise, and is on the Board Development Committee for Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio.Our episode with Julie is emotional, inspiring, and filled with humor. Join us as Julie discusses walking as a way to collect her thoughts, the importance and necessity of community, and even going through a divorce and being a single mom of three amazing kids. She dishes out great advice, such as getting over your FOMO and saying no when you need to recharge, or assessing people for who they are to determine who is a lesson and who is a blessing. She especially talks about the importance of family, blood or not, and even how your workplace should feel like a family as well. You won’t want to miss all of these great moments in our conversation—and so much more!If you’d like to reach out to Julie, you can email her at, or call/text her at (440) 396-2394.Thank you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“Family has always been important to me, and learning that family doesn’t always have to necessarily be blood, that was huge for me. When I was [going through a divorce], my sisters were there for me, and I knew they would always have my back.”“Where I feel most celebrated is when all three of my children climb into my bed all at once and we talk…At a very young age, I was told I have endometriosis and I was not going to have children. So, my children, they are the best thing in my life. And watching them, after what we all went through, they are so open, so trusting, and so loving.”“If anything, this pandemic has taught us that folks are very capable of getting what they need to get done, done…The whole mentality of 8 hours, 10 hours, 12 hours, that needs to be thrown out of the door.”“You don’t have to accept every invite. You don’t have to say yes to every task. You need time to reenergize. Be okay with saying no.”
On this episode of Women STaRs, we have an inspiring conversation with Inez James, Supervisor at the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission. Beyond her career, she is also the President of the Lorain Club of The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, and she was also appointed by the Ohio Secretary of State, Frank LaRose, to serve as the first African American and first female to hold the Democrat Party seat on the Lorain County Board of Elections.Join us as Inez gives moving advice and dives into everything from grief, to divorce, to giving back to the community and even more. Inez’s perspective on her struggles and triumphs contains valuable wisdom we all can gain from. She covers many topics, such as drawing on her support system while processing her father’s battle with AIDS, the power of forgiveness during her divorce, and so much more! Inez’s emphasis on community and living your truth is truly introspective and carries throughout the episode—listen in!If you’d like to reach out to Inez, you can find her on Facebook under Inez James.Thank you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“Community support is so important when going through trials…I learned how to listen and help other people dealing with grief because of how I was able to walk through my journey with support.”“That’s the way I worked through my trauma: I got connected. I got involved.”“When you serve others with the purest of heart and for the reason of the mission—besides it coming back to you in so many different ways, I get so much joy from doing that.”“The power to forgive…knowing that you have it in you to do that, to truly forgive, I think that’s a big triumph. That has given me so freedom and liberty and has opened so many other doors.”
This week we have another great episode of the Women STaRs Podcast as we sit down with Elisha "Cam” Campbell, owner of The People’s Cafe. Cam is a veteran of the Air Force and served for 10 years before transitioning to civilian life. After a long journey of getting her degree amongst other life events, Cam started the People’s Café as a place for the community to gather and feel a sense of belonging and peace. The People’s Café was created with people of color in mind, who she noticed were not catered to by coffee shops and bookstores during her travels around the world.Cam’s stories and advice about the transitions she’s faced and the triumphs she’s celebrated are not something you’ll want to miss.  She discusses the difficulty of going from the structure of military life back to the freedom of choice as a civilian, her journey to getting her Bachelors, opening up her relationships with family for the first time in her adult life, and so much more. Cam has great advice on putting the right things in perspective and embracing the fear you’ll face in life—being loud in what she wants and finding success in waking up before all 10 of her alarms are just some of the inspiring ways she powers through life.If you’d like to contact Cam, you can find her on Instagram under @cam_iam_she or @the_pplz_cafe, or you can email her at you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“I was looking at all the things I wish I had or all the things I wish I was doing, so I stated writing down what I did have and what I was doing. That helped me put things back in focus—that I really wasn’t in the bad space I thought I was.”“I wish I had trusted myself sooner. I wasn’t very confident in what I was capable of; I knew I could do good things or be somebody, but I don’t think I had the strength to be loud about it.”“Just being able to say, ‘I’m doing this,’ that’s success for me. Being able to get up and move, working limbs, sound mind, waking up to my alarm clock; that’s success for me.”“Embrace the fear. Leaving the military, even transitioning to starting The People’s Cafe, I was scared. Even if you fail or if things don’t go the way you imagine them going, take that as a lesson and use that as your next goal. Acknowledge the fear and push through it; there’s nothing out there that can stop you except yourself.”
This week, we have a lovely conversation with Charlita Anderson-White, Lorain County Court Magistrate. The Detroit native is a woman of strong convictions, great stories, and a proud career. She has dedicated her entire career to public service, representing the underprivileged at the Legal Aid Society of Lorain County, assisting victims of crime as a Lorain County Assistant Prosecutor, and serving families and children as a Domestic and Juvenile Court Magistrate for 22 years. Charlita also currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana Wesleyan University. In addition, she is a former President of the Lorain County Bar Association and has won awards such as the YWCA Women of Achievement Award for her community service work.Charlita is someone whose tenacity and outlook on life makes for great stories and even better advice. Join us on this episode as Charlita discusses topics like the personal experience that is having breast cancer, the discrimination she faced in law school, going after what she wants like a peacock, picking up the harmonica, and so much more. Above all, Charlita embraces the experiences that life has to offer and emphasizes being big and bold in going after what you want to achieve. You won’t want to miss this fantastic episode and advice we ALL could use—tune in!If you’d like to get in touch with Charlita, you can find and message her under Charlita Anderson-White on Facebook.Thank you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“When somebody tells you can’t do something…you have to go around it. You have to say, ‘Whatever.’ …You’ve got to be the best trier ever.”“One of the things I always try to challenge myself to do: Finish. You’ll always have these wishes—'I WISH I had done XYZ.’ You don’t want to be left with those kinds of things. Always keep yourself interested in something, and then finish it.”“If you don’t do that thing you’ve been thinking about, years down the line, you’re going to wonder how to let it go. I’m not saying that you should have regrets, I’m saying that I wish I realized that what I was dropping would be so important to me as I got older.” “You have to make yourself big. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you are conceited or haughty. You know what you have in your toolbox. If you have to be the loudest, the most obnoxious, the most showy, like a peacock…you have to do that. You can find ways to be subtle about it, but peacocks are not subtle. If you want to be something, you have to toot your own horn.”
On our newest episode of Women STaRs, we have the pleasure of sitting down with Kathryn Kelley, Executive Director at Ohio Manufacturing Institute. Kathryn has served as executive director of the Ohio Manufacturing Institute since 2013, where she develops policies and programs to support manufacturing innovation and workforce needs. Currently, she is lead coordinator of Ohio State’s Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology program.Our conversation with Kathryn is filled with great stories and even greater advice. Kathryn touches on many of her struggles and triumphs, including everything from using education as path to build her own life and support system, to finding success in building bridges between people who need to be connected. Kathryn’s perspective on coming at obstacles from all angles and to always keep moving is just one of the many pieces of wisdom that this conversation offers that you won’t want to miss. She even shares with us a tool she uses to uplift herself: keeping a compliment folder to buoy her spirit. Join us in enjoying this episode to learn more about what that folder entails, how she has overcome hardship and celebrated successes, and so much more!If you’d like to get in contact with Kathryn, you can reach out by phone at (614) 256-3724 or email her at Thank you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“You never realize what amount of fortitude you have until it’s tested.”“Part of being successful is sometimes you’re going to have missteps and mistakes. I really love this phrase from Emily DeRocco: ‘Proceed until apprehended.’”“When something is hindering your path, and you have to find a way to get around it, get through it, find another route—the most important thing you can do is just keep moving. I had a boss who called me Scout because I’m always finding new routes to take.”“I saw all these community leaders at the top of their game, and I noticed they weren’t trying to jostle with their position or put anybody else down. They were comfortable in their own skin…You have to find your own authenticity.”
On this episode of The Women STaRs Podcast, we had the wonderful opportunity to speak with comedian Natasha Pearl Hansen. Natasha began her career in 2006 and is now a successful performer with her own comedy special, "I Was Supposed To Get Married Today...", as well as headlining shows across the country. With humor focused on her own struggles, her family, and her relationships, Natasha’s witty humor and talent shine through in our conversation with her.Beyond her work as a comedian, Natasha is also a podcaster and business owner. She runs the podcast Future Role Model, a platform where guests from all backgrounds share how their experiences and "failures" helped shape them into being the influencers they are today. In addition to her comedy and her podcast, Natasha is the founder of My Break-Up Registry – a community-driven platform that allows people to crowdfund their break-up or divorce.Join us on this episode as Natasha gets into everything from finding new ways to empathize with those around you, the challenges you face as a woman in comedy, being your own best advocate and more! You won’t want to miss her stories about building her own start-up, passing out flyers to strangers in Germany, and her wisdom and advice as we enter a post-pandemic world.If you’d like to get in contact with Natasha, find her as @NPHcomedy on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or visit her website, You can also check out My Breakup Registry, her comedy special, "I Was Supposed To Get Married Today...", on Amazon Prime, and her podcast, Future Role Model.Thank you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“Balance is an ongoing obstacle for all of us, especially coming out of a time where the world was so quiet.”“I wanted to re-enter life after the pandemic building something real instead of something that makes me look busy. Taking that pressure off of yourself, you start to understand success in a different way.”“Ask questions. Figure out what your environment is, figure out your value in that environment, know your worth. Ask for the things you want. If you fake it until you make it too hard, no one knows what you desire.”“You can’t have any shame in your game…It’s not a negative thing to be your biggest advocate.”
On this episode, we have a great talk with Carmen Verhosek, a Senior Attorney at AlerStallings. Carmen provides legal services, guidance and support to older adults, individuals with disabilities, and their families by helping them prepare a plan for a better quality of life, preserve wealth, and protect their future. After being a paralegal for 15 years, Carmen made an impressive choice to pursue law school and become an attorney. In addition to her passion for her work, Carmen also serves her community on several boards and committees, is a 2019 Leadership Lorain County graduate, and was recognized as one of the 100 Latinos Cleveland Must Know in 2020.With an inspiring career and the struggles and triumphs she’s faced, Carmen had plenty of amazing advice to share with us. From positive self-talk to finding mentors to support you, Carmen emphasizes the strength women have and the importance of building bonds with others through vulnerability; in her words, this is where true strength and leadership come from. Additionally, Carmen tells great stories about learning English as a second language, making it through law school, and even more engaging anecdotes from her life.Tune in this episode as Carmen discusses Imposter Syndrome, making a big career change later than you planned, the tough journey that is law school, and so much more!If you’d like to get in contact with Carmen, you can call her at (440) 249-0858, email her at, or find her on LinkedIn.Thank you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“It’s really about rewriting the script and being cognizant of how you speak to yourself: I am good enough. I do belong. I am qualified. Speak positivity into every situation you’re in.”“If you really want something, it doesn’t matter how long it takes.”“When you’re faced with making tough decisions and choices—women, that’s what we do. We learn how to overcome, deal with all these challenges, and make it work for us. I think in that sense that makes me no different than any other woman in my life, but no less, I think it’s important for us to celebrate those victories.”“True strength and leadership come from moments where we’re most vulnerable…It’s okay to let someone know your true self; that’s where I built my best relationships that have helped me in my career.”
This week we’re chatting with entrepreneur Erin Toohey-Naso. In April 2020, Erin developed The Hanger Valet –an outfit organizer that hangs over an outfit on a hanger and has zippered pockets for keeping accessories, jewelry, undergarments, socks and more. Before setting off to create her own business, she was a PR and marketing consultant for more than 15 years, working with small local businesses and large national brands. Through her consultant work, she self-funded the startup of The Hanger Valet and continues to counsel women-owned businesses on do-it-herself PR and marketing strategies.Join us as we dive into Erin’s perspective on her struggles and triumphs, touching on everything from the six years it took her to fund her business, to the loss of her father in the past year. Valuing your time, setting boundaries, and making others feel seen are just some of the valuable pieces of wisdom that Erin imparts to us in this episode. Erin’s confidence and thoughtful advice bring something to this episode of Women STaRs that you won’t want to miss.Thank you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“I don’t really like to make mistakes. I value my time and mistakes take time. But growth is in those mistakes, and you have to get comfortable making those mistakes and learning those lessons.” “I view life as balls in the air; some are glass, and some are rubber. Some of those balls are bound to fall at some point because that’s life. My family, my children, my mental health, my health—those are all glass balls and I want to drop those as little as possible.”“Success is really just making someone be seen, heard, appreciated, valued, validated—all of the things. I just don’t think there’s enough of that and I think that’s what people are remembered for not, not the titles they had, the money they made, or the amount of followers they had.”“I wish I would have trusted that it’s okay to go slow at times. It’s okay to take your time, to not have all the answers and worry about how everything’s going to work out, because it all will, in some shape or form.”
On this week’s episode of The Women STaRs Podcast, we’re sitting down with Kionna Mcintosh-Pharms, Student Services Navigator at Lorain County Community College. In addition to over 25 years of experience in both corporate America and non-profit organizations, Kionna’s current work exemplifies how she enjoys impacting and elevating the lives of our youth. Kionna is an amazing woman who is actively involved in her community and values helping others. She is the President of Celebrate Your Worth, an organization with a focus on uplifting women. As someone who exudes positivity and dedication, Kionna also has a goal of obtaining her Master of Business Administration (MBA). Our conversation with Kionna is filled with stunning advice and Kionna’s compelling perspective on uplifting children as our future. To Kionna, success in her life has a lot to do with the way she impacts not only her own children but those she encounters in her profession and her community work as well. Beyond this important influence on her life, Kionna also emphasizes the importance of believing in your worth and living your life authentically. Tune in to this episode for more inspirational stories and to soak in the positivity and good energy that Kionna exudes.If you’d like to get in contact with Kionna, she can be found by searching Sereniki on Youtube or Kionna Sohappytobe Pharms on Facebook. She can also be found as Kionna McIntosh-Pharms at Lorain County Community College’s website,“A lot of people would say triumphs depend on the degrees or accolades you achieved along the way. But to me, triumphs don’t come in a monetary value, an accolade or something physical. It’s the things you don’t see. My biggest triumph is continuing to survive and being able to provide individuals knowledge; it’s being the person I want to see.”“To be successful, to me, you have to be willing to prepare the next generation. If I feel like I’m wearing a crown, I want to feel like I can take that crown off of me and share that with as many individuals around me as possible.”“Despite my obstacles—and even my triumphs—at the end of the day, what’s most important is that it’s okay to be me. Each of us have a significant calling, path, or purpose.”“You can be the best you without throwing other people under the bus. And be mindful that every action you put out has a consequence…No amount of money will equate to what you receive back from what you sow into the universe.”
On this week’s special anniversary episode of Women STaRs to celebrate one year as a podcast, we’re sitting down with Lucy Fanger, Founder & CEO of On Technology Partners. Lucy began the Women STaRs Podcast as a project of her company and has been an integral part of its success. She started her career as a registered nurse at the Cleveland Clinic but started On Technology Partners in 1994 to better help people as she desired. Further representing her compassion and desire to uplift other women, Lucy also serves on the board of WIN (Women In Networking) and she co-runs CREW (Cleveland Roundtable of Entrepreneurial Women).In our talk with her, Lucy describes her empowering vision for the Women STaRs Podcast, why she began it, and how she hopes it has impacted and connected all of the women it has reached. In a year of great advice, hearty laughs, and moving stories, Lucy, our very founder, makes the perfect addition to our group of STaRs to celebrate our one-year anniversary. Join us on her episode to hear more on her involvement with the podcast as well as her own struggles and triumphs as a successful businesswoman; from unexpected health issues to learning to ask for help, Lucy’s episode is full of great moments.If you’d like to get in contact with Lucy, you can reach out to her by email at or by phone at (216) 920-3100.Thank you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“Giving of ourselves was always a big piece of how women seemed to help women. And so, this podcast, it allows women to be more vulnerable themselves and give that over to other women, helping them to realize there’s someone out there similar to me. It helps other women feel they’re not alone: 'They succeeded, so I can do the same thing.’”“That was the premises for putting Women STaRs out there: we are stars, and we can shine even through the struggles. It just proves how strong we are as women.”“For the women on Women STaRs, our definition of success is not the money sitting in our bank. It’s our life and the people we’re enjoying it with.”“Reach out to people to help you; you don’t have to do everything by yourself. Reach out to the experts, reach out to your friends and family. There are people THERE to help you and people who WANT to help you. I know myself and a lot of women feel like they have to be superwoman and show we’re strong—sometimes we’re stronger when we ask for help.”
On this episode of the Women STaRs Podcast, we have the pleasure of speaking to Gia Bell. As a mother, community advocate, and driven worker, Gia has valuable and relatable advice that she’s gleaned from her life’s experiences, both good and bad. With awards like the 30 For the Future Award through the Young Professional Network, Congressional Recognition for her work on Autism, and much more, as well as her leadership work with organizations like United Way of Summit and Medina County and beyond, Gia is a wonderful representative of the power of passion, empathy, and determination.For Gia, her struggles became lessons that she used to drive her towards success. She graduated college at 33 after dropping out at 19 to care for her family, rose from secretary to manager in her career, and finds purpose in giving back to her community through a multitude of roles and organizations. She is also involved in advocacy for autism, is raising a son with autism, and led the project at Cleveland Clinic Akron General to designate Cleveland Clinic the first Adult Autism Friendly Hospital in the nation.In our interview with her, Gia recounts her struggles and the resilience she drew on to overcome them, giving back to those around her and putting her family first throughout it all. As she puts it, “I have had an extremely difficult road, but it’s leading to a beautiful destination.” Join us on this week’s episode to hear more of Gia’s accomplishments and incredibly useful pieces of wisdom. If you’d like to reach out to Gia, you can email her at, or call/text her at 330-338-401.Thank you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“I’ve been able to grow from both good and bad experiences. In all of the experiences I’ve had, I’ve learned from each one of them. And I’m more resilient because of those experiences.”“I have had an extremely difficult road, but it’s leading to a beautiful destination.”“I put my children and my family first…I can always work on my career and work on my goals; I won’t have forever to raise my children. Whether it means I need to stay up late to do my work, whatever I need to do, I put my children first.”“I measure success by the impact that I make and the lives that I change. In order to do that, you have to be willing to give back and you have to know that your life’s journey is way bigger than you. What I do now, I hope that it impacts generations to come.”
In this week’s episode of the Women STaRs Podcast, we are speaking with Kathryn Bryan, Ph.D., a financial planner at Skylight Financial group. Kathryn, who also goes by Katy, made a significant career change to be at her current position: after several years as a medical research fellow with the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, and the Cleveland VA Medical Center, Katy decided to enter the world of finance as a financial planner. Beyond this experience, Katy is a dedicated wife and mother to two kids, recipient of awards such as Crain’s Cleveland Business 2016 “Forty Under 40” honoree, and an advocate and volunteer for multiple groups, like the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging and Plexus LGBTQ professionals.Listen in to the episode where Katy provides valuable knowledge about navigating your career and your life all at once. As someone who made a major career change, Katy covers what it’s like to overcome challenges such as Impostor Syndrome and accepting that it’s okay to move on if your field isn’t making you happy. About the increasingly difficult field of medical research, she notes, “I knew in the bottom of my heart that if I stayed in the position I was at, I would probably be suffering for the rest of my life. Quiet, quiet suffering.” In addition to her thoughts and advice on changing careers, Katy gives thoughtful, relatable advice on viewing life as an evolving challenge, learning to stand up for yourself even if it’s hard, and finding success in giving back to her community in ways that are sometimes unseen.If you’d like to get in contact with Katy, she can be reached by email at or her cell phone, 216-297-5810. You can also contact her at you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.QuotesThere are always some skills that somebody is going to be better at. Are you going to get better at it, or are you going to use the skills you already have and try to master those instead of trying to be something that you’re not?Life is always evolving. That’s what I love about life—it is little triumphs that you are overcoming all the time. You never know how what you’re doing today is going to impact you next week, five years from now, 10 years from now. Who knows what today is going to be doing to bring great wealth for tomorrow?It’s not the goal that makes me excited, it’s getting to the goal that makes me excited about life. Success is the secret impact I have on people. There are stories that I might never hear that I hope have had an impact on someone’s life—those to me are what I live for.You have permission to live a good life and try out different things and see what fits and what doesn’t fit. And women should know that you have the right to speak up for yourself. 
On this week’s episode of the Women STaRs Podcast, we have small business owner Amy Witzigreuter. Amy is a challenge-driven entrepreneur with a passion for optimal health and clean, purposeful living. She is the Founder and Owner of Witzi’s Raw Granola, a successful brand of organic, grain-free, gluten-free granola. She is also a committed supporter of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and a determined advocate for organ donation through LifeBanc.  In our conversation, Amy shares the importance of mental breaks and learning to let go of needing to do it all. She is also a driven, disciplined, and committed athlete with accomplishments that include 13 marathons (including 4 prestigious Boston Marathons), multiple triathlons, and an Iron event; she knows a thing or two about not letting go. Join us to hear more on Amy’s life and the important lessons she’s learned, particularly those from her son, who pushes everyone to fully live in the present.Thank you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes“Success for me means doing something purposeful that’s serving others, that doesn’t feel like work; it’s being really satisfied with who I am and the path that my company is going.”“I wish I would’ve appreciated sooner the power of stepping away and taking breaks. It’s everything—it’s not just the physical release, the break from ‘go, go, go,’ it’s the mental break, stepping away and getting silent to yourself. It changes your outlook.”“I was a product of my environment and the culture—I was looking for the job, the salary, and the things. I would caution young women to look for the experiences; look closely at the culture of the organization you’re looking at and home in on the experiences you can gain from that. Be open to what you can learn.”“It’s okay if you’re on some path, and you recognize that it’s not your calling, to switch gears. It’s important to notice that it’s not resonating and it’s not the right place, and to look around you and take action. You can be passive and miserable in your work environment, or you can take action and acquire the skills you might need.”
On this week’s episode, we are speaking with Nancy Hammervik, Executive Vice President of Industry Relations at CompTIA. Nancy has had a successful career for 35 years, building herself up from sales assistant to CEO. As many women can relate to, she has jumped over hurdles in her professional life to succeed, such as breaking into the male-dominated world of business and feeling stifled in toxic work environments; likewise, she has dealt with personal hurdles as well, dealing with fertility issues for a decade before having her son. Through all of this, Nancy has cultivated an air of positivity, compassion, and perseverance, going as far as combining business with helping the community when she organized a volunteer effort to help New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. From using struggles as opportunities for growth to learning to be your own best advocate, Nancy shares with us invaluable advice, lessons, and so much more insight that speaks to women in their careers at all levels. For Nancy, your journey as a professional and as a person are often connected, and anything holding you back is something that needs to be let go of. As her Norwegian grandmother used to say, “If you can’t change the people, change the people.”Learn more about Nancy’s incredible career and gain more of her wisdom by joining us for this week’s episode. If you’d like to get in contact with Nancy, you can find her as Nancy Hammervik on LinkedIn or email her at you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes "Doing good work is sometimes not enough; you can’t rely on anyone else to advance your own career. You have to advocate for yourself, you have to have a voice, and you have to push a little bit.""We grow more in the tough times and the struggles. Anybody can be successful when the road is rosy, but pressure builds diamonds and struggle builds strength. We don’t know our strength until we’re hit by a struggle—and that only motivates and inspires you more, which really helps you appreciate when things are good." "Sometimes you don’t get what you want but you get what you need. All things work for good; it’s all part of the journey. Just take stock of what we’re learning and how we’re growing. We can choose to be defeated and let it define us, or we can redefine us. We have no idea how a struggle will make us greater and better.""As my Norwegian grandmother used to say, “If you can’t change the people, change the people.” If you’re in a toxic work environment that’s not letting you be yourself and not letting you grow, it’s okay to leave. Sometimes I stayed longer than I should have because I thought I could make a difference, but I was unhappy. When you have an opportunity, pursue it. Always be planning—what else can I be doing? What other opportunities are out there? Always allow yourself to move."
On this episode of Women STaRs, we speak with Akilah Williams. As a single mother and working professional with a lot on her plate, Akilah is someone whose own journey to self-betterment and acceptance speaks to the same obstacles and fears many of us also experience as we navigate our own lives and careers. Join us while Akilah discusses the “invisible beast” that is Impostor Syndrome, learning to make your own rules by letting go of society’s standards and expectations that hold you down, and why you should find success in every small moment rather than the big picture. Akilah’s first-hand knowledge on self-love and acceptance, as well as her many more insightful tips and advice, has value we all can share in.If you’d like to get in contact with Akilah, you can find her on Instagram, @collections_by_Kira, or on Facebook, @collectionsbykira. You can also visit her Etsy shop for handmade jewelry: you to our sponsor, On Technology Partners for their support, guidance, and ongoing encouragement.Quotes"My perspective on work/life balance used to be about being organized and having everything planned out--the reality is, you need to account for the fact that you’re not a robot. You might need to just slow down a bit because you’re exhausted and you’re trying to run this as if you’re not human. You’re human. If I’m not full, how can I fill someone else up? ""You need to be fair with yourself, be flexible. If I don’t hit every mark, it’s okay. And the mentality of the society we live in doesn’t acknowledge that enough. It’s more celebrated if you work yourself to death to reach those goals. I had to make a conscious effort to reprogram myself from those things we’re taught…Write your own rules.""I used to think of success from a whole picture standpoint—if everything didn’t look how I wanted it, then I didn’t consider that success. Now, everything I accomplish—I don’t care what it is. If I manage to get myself to work or get my daughter to tennis, that’s success. Acknowledging the small things in life, that’s success. Every moment that you’re here on this Earth and breathing, that’s success.""A lot of my problems stemmed from mental barriers. I call it a “fraud mentality”: I couldn’t see anything that I brought to the table as being special. Identifying those mental barriers, I was able to get over that…Don’t let the pressure or standards of this world stop you from starting. You create the experience you desire. "
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