Member Spotlight

April 13, 2016 Member Spotlight

Meet NAPW members in Member Spotlight, a bi-weekly column where members highlight their careers and businesses. This week, we feature 10 accomplished women, so be sure to check out each of their profiles. VIP, Elite and Preferred Members: to be featured in an upcoming issue of the newsletter, contact us at

Donna Cotton

Company: Air Force
Industry: Department of Air Force/
Title: Chief Information System Security Manager, Technology/Networks
Location: Eglin Air Force Base, FL

What was your first-ever job and what did you learn from it?

Cotton: My first job was a being a Hostess at Po’Folks in Fort Walton Beach, FL, in the late 80s when I was 16 years old. The biggest lesson
I learned from working at Po’Folks was that anything worthwhile required hard work. I wanted these Aqua Len “Colored Contacts” which were all the rage in the late 80s. My mother was single and living on a limited budget. While she didn’t care that I had them, she told me that I would have to get a job to earn them. So, I did. I greeted customers, as required, with the phrase “Howdy y’all. How y’all doing?” In the late 80s, you can imagine how many customers I had to greet to earn contact lens on part-time minimum wage job.

NAPW: What did you learn from an experience in which you did “all the right things” and were still unsuccessful?

Cotton: First and foremost, I learned that not all organizations are equal and change agents must recognize the importance of how communication will be received early in the process. It’s important to not just hit the ground running before you learn the lexicon of the particular organization. Take your time and do not try to make changes for the first couple of months.

NAPW: How does your company encourage professional development?

Cotton: DoD has made professional development more difficult due to budgetary constraints for training, or attendance of anything labeled “conference.” It is not impossible but it is up to the employee to be proactive and take professional development into his or her own hands.

NAPW: What types of change are occurring in your profession?

Cotton: More stringent cybersecurity is evolving every day.

NAPW: In business, are there ever times when you feel your confidence waning? How do you handle it?

Cotton: Yes, there have been several instances when I felt my confidence waning. It has taken time but I have finally come to realize that I need to focus on the things over which I have control. It is not always easy to recognize in the moment but meditation allows me the opportunity to reflect on the situation. I open my mind to new ideas as well as new ways to manage the stressors of life.

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Karin Erbacher

Company: Grifols
Industry: Healthcare
Title: Marketing Communications Manager
Location: Emeryville, CA

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Erbacher: In five years, I see myself as a Communications Executive in a global company. I’ve gained experience in various areas of communications in pharmaceutical and diagnostics industries, led small teams and worked for a local agency as well as international companies in Switzerland and the US. After I’ve earned my M.B.A., I want to pursue a more senior position overseeing a large communications department.

NAPW: What advice would you give to women planning to enter your field?

Erbacher: It is important to first gain insight into various areas of communications. The field is broad and provides great opportunities to learn about the business. The main challenge I’ve experienced as Communications Manager is that the business often does not understand the significance of communications. To be truly successful in this field, I advise to establish the role as a business partner function, identify business needs and showcase how communications can positively influence outcomes. Align the communications strategy with the business strategy, establish quantifiable key performance indicators and report the results on a regular basis.

NAPW: It’s been said that when one door closes, another opens. How true is this for your business life?

Erbacher: I am a firm believer that every change, good or bad, is an opportunity. I do, however, prefer to take charge and play an active role in my life to lead myself towards a better place. Every time I decide to change a situation or take my career path into a new direction, opportunities have typically opened up. I wouldn’t say that one door has to close before another door opens, but I think we can control the doors throughout our own life.

NAPW: When things get tough, how do you keep yourself going?

Erbacher: I often have a clear goal for whatever I want to achieve. When things get tough, I visualize the end state and the results to keep me going. The journey is also the reward, so I try to celebrate the small wins along the way and appreciate the setbacks and challenges as a learning experience to help me grow. Staying positive is a key factor in success, no matter how complex the situation. Optimism and persistence have always helped me through challenging times.

NAPW: What have you recently done to pursue your dreams?

Erbacher: I continuously invest in pursuing my dream, which is to lead an independent, happy, healthy and balanced life that allows me to explore the world for work and leisure. Two and a half years ago, I moved to the US to gain experience in a new area of communications and increase my international exposure. The majority of this past year, I invested a lot of my personal time applying for an M.B.A. program, which I’m excited to begin later this year in Madrid, Spain. Before I dive into this next important step in my career, I will take time off to travel the Caribbean to relax, re-energize and spend more time on my hobbies.

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Meggan Hartman

Company: Meggan Hartman Pediatric Sleep Solutions
Industry: Pediatric Sleep Consultant
Title: Owner
Location: Ashville, NC

When working on a team, what role do you usually take? Why?

Hartman: If I am working with a team doing something I have never done before, then I love to follow. The scenario creates an opportunity to learn. When I am on a team that is completing a job that I have done numerous times, I prefer to be in the lead. I like to set the tone, solicit everyone’s input and make decisions.

NAPW: Describe the most creative way you have solved a customer’s problem.

Hartman: Problem-solving with clients comes from listening carefully to their concerns and following up with well-aimed questions to get to the root of their concerns. I work together with them to create a solution. Sometimes, it might take a little longer to solve the problem, but when I take this approach, the outcome is always positive.

NAPW:  Tell us about a time when you had to go above and beyond to get a job done.

Hartman: As a Personal Consultant, I like to think that I go above and beyond with my clients. There are certain cases in which I have to dive deeply into a family’s issues. Typically when families come to me, they are very tired and desperate. Sometimes there are compounding issues such as postpartum depression and anxiety. In these cases, it takes extra phone consults to support and make sure these clients are getting the support they need throughout the process.

NAPW:  What does your company do to contribute to its employees’ professional development?

Hartman: Since I am the owner of and the sole person in my business, it is up to me to carve out time for professional development. Each year, I make sure I complete at least one new training on a topic that will add value to my clients.

NAPW: If your job progresses as you like, what would be the next step in your career?

Hartman: My next step is to add adult sleep to my repertoire.

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CarolLee Kidd

Company: CLK Transcription, Inc.
Industry: Transcription
Title: President / Owner
Location: Tobyhanna, PA

When do you feel it’s a good time to quit a failing endeavor to start anew?

Kidd: If it is something you truly want, then it is never a failing endeavor. Don’t start something for someone else, do it for yourself. You may have to change course, but we should call our failures a learning experience and work toward a successful endeavor in the end.

NAPW: Name three characteristics you feel all successful people share?


  • Understanding what customers truly want
  • Understanding those who use your services/buy your products
  • Understanding how to get to the end of both without compromising your values

NAPW: What techniques do you use to handle difficult employees?

Kidd: I take a moment to breathe. I listen to what their issues and/or concerns are. I always try to explain the ‘whys’ and not just the ‘must-dos’ when asking for a task to be completed. I believe that explaining why you need something enables understanding as well as education for the employee, which is something he or she can use in the future as well.

NAPW: It’s been said that it’s not what you know, but who you know. Do you believe this is true? Does is relate to you?

Kidd: Not entirely. I believe that what we know can help us in any professional or personal circumstance, either for our own growth or to offer help to others in their growth. I do believe that knowing how to treat people properly with respect can lead to successful relationships within all walks of life. People can be great resources to enable professional and personal growth for ourselves.

NAPW: When starting out, how important was networking to the success of your business today?

Kidd: Extremely important, and it still is. My client base is now 95% referrals. Knowing what potential clients want, being able to offer it to current clients and respecting their special needs within their projects spreads via social networking, whether I am personally present or not.

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Melanie E. Magdalena

Company: Origins Scientific
Research Society
Industry: Science/Digital Publication/Education
Title: Founder/Editor-in-Chief/Creative Director
Location: Albuquerque, NM

What do you want members to know about you?

Magdalena: On paper (and in field experience), I am an Archaeologist. On an everyday basis, I am a Web Developer and Creative Designer.
I call this collection of expertise ‘technoarchaeology.’ Since 2012, I have been using these fields to create Origins Scientific Research Society, an open science web portal where science is made freely available using the latest design and web technology trends. Origins allows me to continue my research while giving back to the public. The quarterly journal component has had great success, with an average of 500,000 readers per issue. When I’m not securing authors or modifying the website, I have the opportunity to read, edit and illustrate articles by passionate scientists, who are undergraduates or even professionals today.

NAPW: How do you use social media to promote your career or business?

Magdalena: One of my favorite ways to use social media and network is by reading and providing constructive arguments and/or feedback to what others are posting on social networks. I participate in scientific discussions on Google Plus. I also provide tips and tricks in both the Issuu and Weebly community forums about how Origins Scientific Research Society uses the tools available from these services. These comments often teach others how they can do something new and interactive with their websites and publications.

NAPW: How do you find balance in your life?

Magdalena: I start each day drinking a latte while reading about the latest trends and new tools in the design and technology industry. After that comes yoga, reading and replying to emails, then picking my main goal of the day. I have found that I am much more successful when I pick one thing to do each day rather than trying to tackle pieces of multiple projects in a single day. I always end my day knowing that one thing was completed and it gets to be checked off of my to-do list. This process also ensures that I always have “me time.”

NAPW: Describe your methods of managing a heavy workload.

Magdalena: I manage my workload with a variety of software. I write down all my tasks for various projects in Trello and split up each task into checklists. I use Kifi to manage all my research bookmarks and use the on-webpage chat feature to discuss articles with my co-workers.
I keep track of my time with Time Tracking for both invoicing and knowing when it’s time to take a break. I back up all my work to Google Drive. With these tools I’m able to get stuff down on time, keep track of what needs to be done and I never have to worry about losing all
my progress.

NAPW: At the culmination of your career, what would you look back on as your biggest achievement?

Magdalena: My greatest accomplishment is still working on Origins. Though the service is free and very few people support my work financially as Patrons of Science, I continue to research, edit, illustrate, design, develop and publish. There have been many instances where everything is behind, deadlines are missed and articles are never submitted, but the viewership following keeps me going. I know everyday someone wants to read Origins and is looking forward to the next issue. Origins continues six years later and is about to begin its fourth year with Origins: The Journal of Open Science.

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Tannia Santacruz

Industry: Manufacturing
Title: Industrial Engineer
Location: Allen, TX

What difficulties do you face as a woman in your industry and how do you overcome them?

Santacruz: When I started working as an Industrial Engineer about 20 years ago, not so many women were working in the field. I had to face the challenge to demonstrate that women can equally achieve results in an industry dominated by men. The passion I have for what I do, the confidence I have on myself and not being afraid to learn new things or processes has helped me succeed and grow as a professional woman. It is satisfying to see that every day, more women are succeeding in this industry and are setting an example for future generations.

NAPW: What is the best business advice you ever gave to another woman?

Santacruz: Work hard for your dreams and what you love in life. Sometimes we face challenges that may push us to quit our goals or plans but instead, we need to reevaluate the way we are doing things and make the changes that will help us to achieve our goals in life.

NAPW: Did you have a mentor who guided you on your career path? Would you have had the success you have now without them?

Santacruz: During different stages of my life I have had mentors who motivated me to pursue my passion and continuously improve as a person and as a professional. One of them is my father, who is also an Engineer. He always teaches me to not be afraid of the challenges we can face in life, to be a strong person and to remember that there is always a way to achieve our goals.

NAPW: Where do you find inspiration? What motivates you to succeed?

Santacruz: My family motivates me to succeed. I want them to know three things:

  • Women are as powerful and capable to achieve results as men are
  • We work hard for our dreams and goals in life
  • Be a better woman and help other people to be better. That’s what inspires me every day.

NAPW: Describe the challenges of moving up in a male-dominated industry.

Santacruz: I have to not be afraid and be aggressive and confident at all times, especially at the moments when I have to to resolve problems and to face challenges at work. This attitude makes me succeed.

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Angela Smutek

Company: Clean Motives
Industry: Organic Skin Care
Title: President
Location: Mesa, AZ

What do you do to stay productive and disciplined while working from home?

Smutek: I have basically turned my home into Clean Motives headquarters. I do have a separate room and office so I am not distracted by sharing the same space. I enjoy working from home.

NAPW: Which is worse, failing or never trying?

Smutek: In my experience, never to try. I could come up with many different excuses as to why I couldn’t achieve my goals but I am too busy thinking, “Why not?”

NAPW: What drives you to do better?

Smutek: Well, I am going to be one of those people who changes the world. I have always felt I am going to do something great. I am not sure what that is and if it will be this company, but I have always had a hunger to strive to be the best for myself.

NAPW: What is the best career advice you ever received?

Smutek: “If you don’t succeed try, try again!”

NAPW: What advice would you give someone who is changing career paths?

Smutek: If you are not filled with a fire of passion and have a hard time finding your bearings, take that leap and trust yourself. You are all you’ve got at the end of the day.

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Ellie Tabibian

Company: California Career Coaching and Counseling
Industry: Counseling
Title: Master Career Specialist
Location: Encino, CA

Describe a time when setting aside personal time from work was the healthiest choice for you.

Tabibian: One weekend I had the idea to help leverage athletes’ success on and off the court, particularly after they experience a major transition such as a severe injury. I knew I was onto something big, but needed clarity to pull together all of my skills. It only became clear after
I invested time in my other passion, which is hiking. After hiking by myself for a couple of hours, I felt refreshed and my vision for helping not only injured athletes on and off the court, but also others experiencing major transitions became crystal clear. Time alone in a beautiful surrounding, combined with exercise, is a great health booster for body and mind.

NAPW: Has your career choice positively influenced other areas of your life?

Tabibian: Absolutely. When our career choices are congruent with our values, the combination fosters a sense of purpose and intentionality.
I have experienced more psychological well-being, which greatly helps me tackle the demands of being a single mom. And because I understand my MBTI type of INFJ, I know how my personality preferences yield greatest fulfillment in my other life roles.

NAPW: How do you handle your workload during a personal crisis?

Tabibian: Personal crisis are transitions we all experience and sometimes we feel there is no room for any workload. In addition to utilizing my most prized career interventions when facing transitions, I try to prioritize what matters most for the day and week. I try to delegate to others, whom I trust will best manage some of the responsibility. A re-declaration of my values helps me to move through the personal crisis in and out of the work setting.

NAPW: When things get tough, how do you keep yourself going?

Tabibian: I seek positive social support, try to be less hard on myself and remind myself that I have a larger purpose in life.

NAPW: What advice can you offer a growing business?

Tabibian: Leverage your success by utilizing StrengthsFinder to identify and maximize talents and blind spots for your staff. Utilize MBTI for leadership, team building and screening and interviewing employees. Maximize engagement with social media (Twitter, Facebook
and Linkedin).

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Angela Taylor

Company: Angela Taylor
Industry: Performing Arts: Independent Writer
Title: Author
Location: Chicago, IL

What woman in history has most influenced your beliefs?

Taylor: I was greatly influenced by the late Reverend Doctor Johnnie Colemon. She created a Religious New Thought movement on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s in the form of a church, Christ Unity Temple, later changed to Christ Universal Temple. Her New Thought sermons centered around the thought which teaches that we can change our lives by reprogramming our subconscious mind for success. New Thought principles emphasize the teachings of Jesus Christ, the power of positive thinking, faith and working toward our goals in order to create change in the lives of New Thought practitioners.

NAPW: What is the best business advice you ever gave to another woman?

Taylor: Always strive to be and do the best that you can and when your best isn’t good enough, find a mentor.

NAPW: Describe the most significant piece of writing which you have had to complete.

Taylor: The most significant piece of writing I have completed is, The Beauty and Vanity of Denial: Unmask Your Stories and Embrace Your Truth. I had a desire to write this book after discovering my denial stories which I realized kept me from progressing and moving beyond my depression and anxiety. These stories helped me avoid thoughts, feelings, conversations and changes that would have benefited me, yet made me uncomfortable. I wanted to stay inside my comfort zone and maintain my façade of confidence and well-being. Meanwhile, my stories were creating confusion in my mind, causing disease in my body and chaos in my life. I knew there are other women who were experiencing the same pain, stress and confusion that I lived through. I wanted my experience to inspire them to discover their denial stories, acknowledge them and make necessary changes that will allow them to overcome the obstacles that are holding them back from feeling happy and being healthy.

NAPW: Did you have a mentor who guided you on your career path? Would you have had the success you have now without them?

Taylor: Yes, I have a mentor. I believe that I am much further along than I would have been without my mentor guiding me.

NAPW: Where do you find inspiration? What motivates you to succeed?

Taylor: I find inspiration from listening to sermons and music in church, reading inspirational books, listening to or watching motivational lectures, walking in nature and meditating, which allows the cares of the day to fall away, for peace to resume and my mind to clear so that my creativity can flow.

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Heidi Wilson

Company: World Class CME
Industry: Medical Education
Title: President
Location: Charlotte, NC

What women in history have most influenced your beliefs?

Wilson: Margaret Thatcher and Katherine Graham.

NAPW: What is the best business advice you ever gave to another woman?

Wilson: Try to find a combination of education and skills that are in demand, but not common. For example, couple a scientific field with statistics (big data), or a M.B.A. with a C.P.A. or J.D.

NAPW: Describe the most significant piece of writing which you have had to complete.

Wilson: My thesis.

NAPW: Did you have a mentor who guided you on your career path? Would you have had the success you have now without them?

Wilson: My parents were entrepreneurs who launched their business of institutional kitchen manufacturing straight out of graduate school.

NAPW: How to you get more clients/customers for your business?

Wilson: We keep focusing on treating our faculty well and taking care of details which they should not have to bother with.

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Megan Bozzuto