Member Connections Newsletter, Member Spotlight

NAPW April Member Spotlight


Meet NAPW members in Member Spotlight, a monthly column that lets members highlight their careers and businesses. This month, we feature eleven accomplished women, so be sure to check out each of their profiles. VIP, Elite & Preferred Members: To be featured in an upcoming issue of the newsletter, contact us at



Carol A. Harris

Company: Shoelala
Industry: Manufacturer
Title: CEO
Birmingham, AL

: What would you tell young women about the obstacles they will face in your industry?

Harris: No matter your age or experience, there will always be obstacles that you have to overcome in order to reach success. I think it is important to understand that building a business is a process not a destination. There will always be problems and hurdles that you have to find your way around, but as long as you understand this is part of the process, and you are able to balance the problems with the successes, then you can enjoy the journey.


NAPW: What is the biggest career obstacle you have ever faced? How did you overcome it?

Harris: The biggest obstacle that I have had to face was learning how to balance inventory with demand.  As a start-up business, you want to conserve your capital and yet you need to have inventory to meet demand. What you do not want is to find yourself out of inventory, thus balancing the level of inventory is crucial and challenging.  Ordering inventory and having to pay for it in full to manufacturers and then go out and sell knowing you will have a 30-day window before your customer pays can create a lot of stress on businesses. Balancing the inventory level is probably the most difficult challenge during the first year of business until you begin to see a buying trend.


NAPW: It’s said that perseverance and hard work bring success. Do you believe this? Why?

Harris: I definitely believe that perseverance and hard work bring success. It is important to have a plan of action and to understand that things do not always turn out as planned. If you have perseverance and continue to drive forward, other opportunities open before you, which may lead you further than what you had originally planned.


NAPW: How have you overcome budget constraints while promoting your business?

Harris: One of the greatest constraints for a start-up business is learning how to maximize growth with limited capital. It is important to prioritize within the budget what requires expertise to achieve the level of quality desired and what can be done in an affordable manner. There are areas such as graphic design and advertising that require more capital, and it is crucial for a start-up business to plan this out accordingly.


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

Harris: You never know where you can go until you try. You never know what doors will open until you knock.  You never know what is possible until you actually take the chance and try. Our motto in our company is to live life boldly because we believe the only way anything changes is by someone taking that first step to make it happen.  We don’t believe in settling for ordinary when there is the potential for extraordinary.


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Lori Rolie

Company: Lori Rolie Publishing
Title: Children’s Book Author
Dripping Springs, TX

: How does your company differ from its competitors?

Rolie: My children’s books are entirely created by hand! It is unusual for an illustrator not to use a computer today, but that is what sets me apart from other authors. It’s distinctive. You will not find another book like it. It’s a one of a kind little book.


NAPW: How does your company encourage professional development?

Rolie: If you love what you do, go for it! There is great sacrifice toward any goal, but if you work hard, success will follow. Give it all you’ve got with open-minded flexibility, honesty and integrity. Be clear. Network. Meet as many people as you can. Treat everyone with respect and NEVER GIVE UP!


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

Rolie: The essence of why I write for children began years ago, reading to my children in a quiet atmosphere with a book in our hands. The world went by and we bonded. You could touch it, feel the pages, smell it and take it with you anywhere. It was wholesome, memorable and fulfilling. Today, the computer is replacing all of that with convenience and the human element is transforming. Life is faster today, but children will always be children and they should have time to grow up, exploring their senses. As an author, I know that computer software does offer fast and convenient ways to illustrate beautifully, but it’s sometimes challenging to buy a book with meaningful content as well. With increasing competition, you can spend a lot of time and money weeding through many before you find one with both. When I do, I grab it.


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

Rolie:  I’m going to have a publisher someday so that I can focus solely on my creative talent.


NAPW: If your work were suddenly eliminated, what kind of work do you feel prepared to do?

Rolie: Remodeling homes. Interior design. Organic gardening. Teaching meditation and the benefits of whole food nutrition.


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Brooke Friedman

Company: Reproductive Partners
UCSD Regional Fertility Center
Title: OB/GYN
Location: La Jolla, CA

: How do you network?

Friedman: I meet regularly with medical care providers who refer patients in need of infertility evaluation and treatment. I also will be providing educational seminars for other professionals and for the community in order to help educate women on their fertility options. In addition, happy patients often refer friends and family.


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

Friedman: When things get tough, I keep going because I am passionate about assisting women to learn about their fertility potential and options and helping individuals achieve their dreams of becoming parents. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to help care for my patients and always remind myself that this is a unique honor and privilege.


NAPW: What three business roles have contributed most to your success?

Friedman: I feel fortunate to have attended excellent institutions, such as Princeton University, the University of California, San Francisco and Stanford University Medical Center. I have learned a tremendous amount at these institutions and they helped provide the building blocks for a successful practice.


NAPW: What else would you like to get from your NAPW membership?

Friedman: Every week, I meet with women in my office who ask, “Why didn’t anyone tell me it would be so much harder to get pregnant as I got older?” Women are making tremendous professional strides, however, we are also more often postponing childbearing. Unfortunately, our fertility potential is limited and decreases significantly once we enter our late 30s and more dramatically in our early 40s. Because of the decline in fertility potential with age, it is recommended that women over the age of 35 who have been trying to conceive for six months without success have a fertility evaluation. I would like to use my NAPW membership to help spread the word about early intervention and treatment as well as options available, such as egg freezing, to help preserve fertility potential for the future. Also, many single women or women with female partners are frequently choosing to utilize donor sperm in order to conceive.


NAPW: Describe your personal brand. Which platforms do you use to showcase it?

Friedman: My personal brand is to deliver compassionate medical care that is always personalized to the individual patient. No two women are the same and in order to offer outstanding results, I am dedicated to providing each patient with a treatment approach that is tailored to meet her unique needs.


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Kathy Van Every

Company: Consilium Consulting Group LLC
Business Consulting
Title: Partner
Location: McKinney, TX


NAPW: How is the economy affecting your industry?

Every: Resources available to clients are definitely constrained. Working with clients to help them make the best, most strategic use of available resources is actually a plus for them. When times are “good,” we all tend to waste valuable resources. The key is helping clients see the value of learning how to invest resources wisely to continue to sustain and grow their businesses in a tough economy.


NAPW: Complete the following sentence: If I had all the money in the world, I would…

Every: …work with small emerging companies that cannot afford top-notch comprehensive consulting services.


NAPW: Name an example of when you were able to contribute to a team project.

Every: I led a team in the negotiation of a $140 million, 30-year commercial lease of a substantial portion of a public airport. It was a very big deal for the small community and the company. The effort involved the basics of a good commercial lease and close coordination with the FAA plus, working effectively with the community and its leaders to ensure this was a good deal for everyone.


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

Every: We invest time and money to ensure each of us has the proper resources and skills to be extremely effective for our clients. We also actively collaborate with other companies and organizations leveraging and sharing knowledge so that everyone grows and becomes empowered.


NAPW: What are some job search tips you can share with fellow members seeking employment?

Every: Connection. With every encounter, there is an opportunity. How we choose to show up is part of the equation. Are you approachable, articulate, conveying a solution? Having the right skills and knowing how to connect those skills to the needs of another is essential.


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Mandy Fassio

Company: Damsel In Defense Independent Damsel Pro
Title: Independent Damsel Pro
Location: Bookkeeper/Property Management/Real Estate/Sales


NAPW: What advice would you give your younger self?

Fassio: Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Learn women’s self-defense techniques so that you can protect yourself if you need to. Don’t live in fear; educate, equip and empower yourself! Sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking are all on the rise in America—get educated about them so you can make your world a safer place.


NAPW: Describe yourself in three words.

Fassio: Trustworthy, loyal and adventurous.


NAPW: Who is your role model and inspiration?

Fassio: My grandmother.


NAPW: What is your profession? Why did you choose it?

Fassio: I am an independent damsel pro selling personal protection products (stun guns, pepper spray, home security and more) for Damsel In Defense and assist in holding and teaching women’s self-defense classes in my local community. I am also a professional organizer, bookkeeper and office administrator.


NAPW: What or who led you to your career path?

Fassio: The life experiences of being molested by a neighbor in the late ‘70s (one in three girls will be molested) and my grandmother being raped and murdered when I was 11 led me to an interest in leaving a legacy of educating, equipping and empowering women!


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Kelley Shirazi-Lunceford

Company: BlueVolt
Technology/Digital Media/Electronics
Title: Director of Sales
Location: Beaverton, OR


NAPW: What makes this company a good fit for you?

Shirazi-Lunceford: BlueVolt is an excellent fit for me for many reasons. First, we offer an amazing product designed to help grow people’s businesses, from small mom-and-pop stores to large multinational organizations. In addition, BlueVolt offers the flexibility that allows me to balance my professional life with being a mother, which is something that is very important to me. I have a lifelong passion for learning, so working for an e-learning company makes sense.


NAPW: What do you find most challenging about your job?

Shirazi-Lunceford: Being able to stay on top of all of my responsibilities. I function as our director of sales and also as a national account manager developing new business and nurturing some of our most complex accounts. Learning how to manage people, process and customers can be time consuming, but it is incredibly rewarding.


NAPW: What do you find most rewarding about your job?

Shirazi-Lunceford: The feeling of accomplishment I get after solving my customers’ most challenging issues. I am lucky to have the privilege of working directly with my CEO and he is a willing and able teacher. I have learned so much about business by having this access and it has validated my belief that mentorship is key to success.


NAPW: What is your proudest accomplishment?

Shirazi-Lunceford: I’ve had many accomplishments that make me proud. For instance, after closing a $1.2 million deal at a previous company, I won MVP – a huge success for me. I was also able to broker the first million-dollar deal for another company I’d worked for. I’ve been fortunate enough to win many President’s Club awards, so taking it all in aggregate, I feel like I’ve had a very successful career. The fact that I’ve accomplished the majority of my success as a single mother while putting my child first still amazes me.


NAPW: How do you find balance in your life?

Shirazi-Lunceford: Balance is tricky to find sometimes. I try to remind myself of what’s most important, and I’m very fortunate to have a job that supports my priorities. Sometimes that means I work weekends while my daughter is with her dad or after hours. I love my job and my family and I am very blessed to have it all.


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Jennifer J. Kohler

Company: Affiliated Grounds Maintenance Group, Inc.
National Exterior Maintenance
Title: CEO
Location: Erie, PA


NAPW: What is the best business advice you ever received from another woman?

Kohler: You’re the CEO, so make the call! Most people can’t make a decision because of their own fears.  Collect the best data that you can and then make the call.

NAPW: Do you believe exercise and a proper diet aided your success?

Kohler: Absolutely. Having been through a scare with breast cancer, I have since taken better care of myself. A sound mind AND body are necessary for success.


NAPW: What stereotypes about women do you encounter that annoy you the most? How do you overcome the stereotypes others place on you?

Kohler: Because I have a quiet presence about myself, people think that I am timid. I patiently enlighten them and if that doesn’t work, I move on. I am comfortable with myself and I don’t need to feed into someone else’s insecurities.


NAPW: If you could take a day off from work, what would you do first? Why?

Kohler: Definitely spend time with my family. Traveling the world with the wrong person is not nearly as fulfilling as spending a day at home with the right person.


NAPW: What woman in history has most influenced your beliefs?

Kohler: I can’t say that it is any one woman; there are many– Angelina Jolie-Pitt, Robin Roberts, Christina Applegate, my mom, my daughters, etc. Every woman has gone through some type of tribulation and I respect those that come out on the other side with a renewed sense of hope.


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Courtney Worthman

Company: Cogent Entertainment Marketing
Title: Vice President of Talent Procurement
Location: New York City, NY


NAPW: What advice would you give someone who wants to move from just a business card to someone well respected in their field?

Worthman: Ask for in-person meetings whenever you can. In those meetings, ask questions and listen more than you talk. While building your relationships, focus on the one thing you can control – your actions. There will always be a way to cut corners, make easy money or respond to someone harshly out of frustration. NOT taking those actions will set you apart from the others.


NAPW: How do you keep your skills sharp during a personal hiatus?

Worthman: By unplugging. Putting my phone in a drawer for one day every weekend helps me come to work on Monday refreshed and ready to work instead of feeling overworked and taken advantage of.


NAPW: How do you transition back into work mode after a hiatus?

Worthman: By jumping in head first.


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

Worthman: Don’t be intimidated. If you’re sitting among powerful people, chances are you earned your seat. Know what you want then fight for it. No one will ever hand anything to you.


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

Worthman: Referrals from past and current clients are a huge part of new business acquisition for us. Always say yes to meetings, coffees and drinks. Even if you can’t see the immediate benefit of taking the meeting, expanding your Rolodex never hurts. Chances are those people will be your future clients.


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Sakine Gulec

Location: New York, NY


NAPW: What would you tell young women about the obstacles they will face in your industry?

Gulec: The fashion industry is very competitive, especially in accessories where there are way too many brands. It is very hard to differentiate yourself. Once you start, and when you do not have any stores that you sell to, making your voice heard is going to be really hard. Nobody has time to listen to an unknown brand. As young entrepreneurs, we need to be consistent and never lose hope. Even if 50 people do not listen to you, you will find that perfect person to take your brand to the next step.


NAPW: What is the biggest career obstacle you have ever faced? How did you overcome it?

Gulec: My biggest career obstacle was to differentiate my brand from other jewelry companies. Being creative, introducing new designs, forming extraordinary customer service and being interactive with our customers in social media helped us overcome this problem. In less than two years, became a known, trendy jewelry brand for all women who feel young. We export to over 60 countries. Also, finding sterling silver production facilities that could meet our standards and working with the workers day and night to produce the perfect piece was very hard in the beginning.


NAPW: It’s been said that perseverance and hard work bring success. Do you believe this? Why?

Gulec: I do believe in it, 100 percent. I would not be where I am if I did not have persistence in what I am doing. My uncle, who is a very successful businessman, always says that perseverance is the key to being successful in any business. If hard work, being creative and believing in yourself was not that important, then everybody could be successful. “Never give up” is my motto. I know that as long as I work hard and bring value to society, I will be successful. Each failure is a lesson, which will take you up in your career.


NAPW: How have you overcome budget constraints while promoting your business?

Gulec: Beginning is always the hardest, and I am thankful that I could overcome these constraints.


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

Gulec: As young women, one of the reasons why it is hard to start a business is that you need to prove to other people that you can do it. Your customer wants to know that they can trust you and that you will be able to do your job. Whether you are a jewelry retailer, financial service rep, broker, etc., you will need to sell and convince your first customer that they should buy from you instead of from someone they have known and trusted for years. I will never forget the joy of my first sale. I was so excited that I was nearly going to hug her.


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Peggy Smithson

Company: Senior Strategies
Insurance Services
Location: Whitewater, WI

: Do you feel you have achieved success by your own rules or have you compromised in any way?

Smithson: Prior to starting Senior Strategies Asset Protection, I had been in the insurance and financial services industries for many years, gaining valuable knowledge and experience to apply to my new business. Being a woman in this industry can be hard, but I have found that I love to work with my clients and educate them about the need for asset protection and preservation for their families. Now I create my own success by how hard I work and work with the types of clients that I love to help. I no longer have to play by anyone else’s rules regarding my business.


NAPW: What was the catalyst that inspired you to start your own business?

Smithson: I have always felt that I had the entrepreneurial spirit and have always had a side business while working for someone else. Once I was introduced to the products that I knew I could use to help protect clients, I had to move forward in starting my own business and creating a team of agents and attorneys that are all in business to help people.


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

Smithson: This has been very true for me. I was in the insurance business for many years but did not feel that I was really making a difference in clients’ lives when I was selling home and auto insurance. When I decided to leave my “job” and start my business, I was apprehensive but felt very strongly that I was doing the right thing and making a big difference in my clients’ lives by helping them protect the assets and investments that they had spent a lifetime accumulating. I still educate them about their home and auto insurance and the liability they may have if they are ever sued or in an accident, which is a big part of asset protection as well. My main focus, however, is on long-term care disability, life insurance and funeral and estate trusts.


NAPW: How do you network?

Smithson: I belong to several local networking groups and the Chamber of Commerce and I hold seminars at senior centers within a 30-mile radius. I also network with nursing homes and hospitals in the area and tell them how I can help their patients.


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

Smithson: I remember all of the people I have helped and all of the future clients that I will be able to help. Something usually happens as a result of my networking efforts and then I am motivated to keep going. I feel good about what I do now!


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Megan Bozzuto

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