Member Connections Newsletter, Member Spotlight

NAPW March Member Spotlight


Meet NAPW members in Member Spotlight, a monthly column that lets members highlight their careers and businesses. This month, we feature 11 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


Mary Wisniewski

Company: Orchard Harvest
Entrepreneur & Healthcare Professional
Title: Owner
Grand Rapids, MI

: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Wisniewski: A nurse, a wife and mother and a flight attendant. Unfortunately, I did not become a flight attendant but three out of four is pretty awesome.


NAPW: How do you define success?

Wisniewski: Taking the courage to step out of your comfort zone and become what really makes YOU feel happy inside and landing in that space that makes you feel totally fulfilled as a person.


NAPW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Wisniewski: I see myself financially abundant, an energy healer, physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy and really happy and at peace with who I am as a woman, knowing what my greatest purpose was on this earth.


NAPW: How do you relax?

Wisniewski:  I meditate daily,  do cardio and fitness workouts three to four times per week, read books that don’t have to make me think so much and hang out with my family and friends just to laugh and enjoy each other’s company.


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

Wisniewski: “Just go for it.”  Don’t dream small, dream BIG. First, do your homework and find a mentor or a coach to guide you along the way. Don’t do it alone. Find someone who resonates with you and can help you achieve your business goals and ideas. There will be many highs and lows along your journey. Find that person to hold your hand and help direct you on what needs to be done to accomplish your goals. It’s a process.


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Pearly Ejedepang-Koge

Company: Ejedepang-Koge’s ORIGIN Suites
Beauty and Charity
Title: Independent Business Owner
Location: Naperville, IL

: Have you ever had a great idea yet were told you could not implement it? How did you react?

Ejedepang-Koge: I recently joined a business, ORIGIN UNITE and will be launching it in the U.S. on April 19, 2014, however, everyone says it will not be successful and I should let go of the fantasy. That gives me more strength to ensure it is a success. I am passionate about supporting these children and fighting malnutrition all over the world.


NAPW: Describe the best boss and the worst boss you have ever had.

Ejedepang-Koge: My boss of about three years while in Africa was my best. He improved my English and respected all his colleagues, listened to his subordinates and encouraged everyone on his staff, even on our worst days.
I have never really had a worst boss since they all have a great personality, but it would probably be the one who never paid us on time and overworked us. That is the beauty of being an independent business owner, you make your own schedule and decide how much you want to earn.


NAPW: What is your dream job?

Ejedepang-Koge: My dream job is to be a marketing director of a company. I love marketing and went to school for that, but did not complete my education due to circumstances beyond my control. So, I want to achieve that level in ORIGIN UNITE and later climb the ladder to be in the President’s Circle.


NAPW: If you had to choose another profession, what would it be and why?

Ejedepang-Koge: An elementary school teacher. I believe children at that age are willing and have the passion to discover and to learn. Their minds will take you to places you will never see coming, enabling you to learn more about the world through their eyes and imaginations.


NAPW: Describe a team effort that went well and your contribution to the success.

Ejedepang-Koge: Last year, my team and I supported over 333 children dying from malnutrition. I shared the opportunity with several people and trained, motivated and showed them by example how to successfully run their business while reducing the rate of malnutrition. As icing on the cake, a few of us earned a free watch worth about $6,000.00. By telling them the importance of affirmation, their way of thinking improved their style of work.


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Dawn Doherty

Company: Dawn D., Inc.
Executive Coaching
Title: Executive Coach
Location: New York, NY


NAPW: How do you prepare for an important work event? (presentations, networking events, conferences, etc.)

Doherty: I realign myself with my messaging. For presentations, I determine what I want people to walk away with and how I’d like for them to interact with me (my offer).

Networking is about relationship building for me, not card pushing. If I know who’s at the event, I’ll research them and note interests so I can create an authentic rapport. It’s about THEM.


NAPW: What are some of the ways you benefit from the women’s affinity group in your workplace?

Doherty: I do my best work with women business leaders – they’re my target market as a CEO coach.

Knowing their individual stories and motivations and what they stand for – these elements are an inspiration for me.


NAPW: Describe a time when you had to give an employee or co-worker difficult feedback. How did you approach it?

Doherty: Step one:  never react… always give pause and honor the communication.

Go deep:  ask questions and listen.

Create a win-win result and move forward.


NAPW: What are some creative techniques you use to increase your team’s productivity?

Doherty: Encourage them to dream big. Visualize the direction they’d like their life and business to head in. Create vision boards with pictures of what motivates them.

“One Year from Now” exercise: I have them write down what their life and business is like one year from now as if it’s happened already. This has them set clear goals and serves as a motivational document on days that are difficult when they’re not inspired.

REALLY get to know each other. We create an “I’m from” poem that has them detailing what they’re made up from based on past life experiences.


NAPW: How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?

Doherty: I’m looking forward to meeting more executives and developing peer advisory boards of CEOs.

I’m fully dedicated to helping business owners and CEOs become better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.


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JoAnn Ajayi-Scott

Company: Essence of a Lady, Inc.
Title: CEO
Location: Houston, TX


NAPW: How do you network?

Ajayi-Scott: I network through social media, blog at women entrepreneurs’ events and have membership/affiliations with local, state, national and international organizations.


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

Ajayi-Scott: I have accountability partners I speak with frequently in each genre of my business, mentors to support and guide me through the tough times and daily prayer and devotion.


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

Ajayi-Scott: Philanthropist, educational trainer/coach and life/business mentor.


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

Ajayi-Scott: Powerful connections to catapult my business/nonprofit to national spotlight, which will support my desire to become a sought-after national empowerment speaker for women and girls.


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

Ajayi-Scott: My personal brand is me, JoAnn Ajayi-Scott. I am recognized as an iconic entrepreneur who provides opportunities for women and girls to become empowered. As the founder of Essence of a Lady, Inc., for the past 25 years I have been on a mission of recruiting professional and entrepreneurial women to become philanthropists to help educate, mentor and empower girls to graduate from high school and become productive citizens and future entrepreneurs. In addition, I am an award-winning philanthropist and educator, national educational trainer/coach, emcee/speaker, blogger and doctoral candidate. I showcase my brand on my websites and, on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Manta, YouTube and Google+) and on television segments, radio shows, conferences and workshops. I also take part in many group networks and organization affiliations. Through Essence of a Lady, I speak to girls and women monthly and I co-chair the annual Females are FABULOUS! Conference, which celebrates females of all ages and walks of life for their philanthropic efforts. I have purchased domains and am working on two more websites: and


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Victoria Moro-Hindley

Company: Blue Moon Brokerage
Real Estate
Title: Owner
Location: Newport Beach, CA


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

Moro-Hindley: Blue Moon Brokerage is made up of family members and is a unique, small “boutique” brokerage.


NAPW: What do you feel is your most important business skill?

Moro-HindleyMy most important skill in both my business and personal life has always been my ability to communicate with and relate to people where they are. I am very hands-on in my business dealings with my clients and am known to be extremely personable and an excellent listener.


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

Moro-Hindley: Absolutely! In my business, nothing could be truer. Real estate is, quite simply, all about relationships. I have found hands down that if people believe you to be knowledgeable AND they like you and trust you, they’ll do business with you.


NAPW:  What do you think every entrepreneur should know about business?

Moro-Hindley: The entrepreneur is a special breed. We are self-starters. We don’t wait for life to “happen,” instead we make things happen. We know that our business depends on our daily attitude, while also looking at things long term and through a broad lens as there are many ups and downs in any small business (most especially in real estate!), and it’s most definitely not for the “faint of heart!”


NAPW: How important is having a sense of humor to your daily business life?

Moro-Hindley: Sense of humor is always extremely important. I’ve been told my whole life that I’m actually pretty funny, mainly because of the way I view things. After all, life can at times be quite absurd! Self-deprecating at times, I generally have the ability to lighten things up, relaxing some of my more serious clients over the years!


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Gretchen E. Padgett-Flohr

Company: California Environmental Services
Biological Consulting
Title: President
Location: San Ramon, CA


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

Padgett-Flohr: There are three important steps to becoming well-respected in one’s field: 1) Attend professional conferences and present at these conferences. Attendance is very important, and presenting at a conference shows that one is staying current and attempting to make a contribution. 2) Reach out to others in your field and show respect for their contributions and expertise. Collaborate as much as possible and do not always have to be the one in charge. Show that you are a team player. Ask for advice and guidance from more experienced folks in your field. 3) Never do less than your absolute best on every task, regardless of how small the task may be.


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

Padgett-Flohr: I do not take any hiatus, ever.


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

Padgett-Flohr: I am never out of work mode; as a scientist, our work is our play and vice-versa. We are always questioning and researching. We are rather driven types due to our need to continually seek out answers to scientific questions.


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

Padgett-Flohr: As a scientist and biological consultant, my field remains a male-dominated profession. I do not acknowledge the dominance as I simply approach each client and task as a professional. It can be difficult to get a foot in the door with clients you do not personally know, so I will typically look for a side door. This means asking clients and colleagues for references and introductions.


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

Padgett-Flohr: The most important key to new business has been to obtain woman-owned business and small business certifications through a number of entities including state and federal agencies. Very few biological consulting businesses are woman-owned and thus, to fill diversity-supplier requirements, there is a need for high-quality woman-owned biological consultants. In addition, my staff and I are continually scanning for new clients and requests for proposals that we can respond to. Word of mouth is also crucial; once you have established a high-caliber reputation for responsiveness and top-quality deliverables that are scientifically defensible, word of mouth will help bring new clients to your door.


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Gwen Hurt

Company: Shoe Crazy Wine, LLC
Food and Beverages
Title: CEO and General Manager
Location: Chesterfield, VA


NAPW: Under what circumstances have you found it acceptable to break confidence?

Hurt: Fortunately, I have never been faced with this choice. As women, we are often faced with challenges, both professionally and personally. If breaking confidence would help prevent a life-threatening issue, I feel it is appropriate to break it.


NAPW: What qualities make a good leader?

Hurt: The qualities that make a good leader are integrity, ethics, passion, determination, perseverance and the ability to motivate and inspire.


NAPW: What is the most courageous action or unpopular stand you have ever taken?

Hurt: I insisted on hiring an applicant that had, for want of a better description, a challenging past. It was a decision I never regretted and this person went on to excel in their career. We all know great credentials and experience are key elements when hiring, but never underestimate your gut instinct. Take a chance on someone that doesn’t fit the traditional mold; it is a courageous action that could be one of your most satisfying accomplishments as a leader.


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

Hurt: During my first year as a controls manager, I wrote a white paper for business process management.


NAPW: Describe the most creative work-related project you have contributed to.

Hurt: I wanted to get in the wine business but could not financially afford to purchase a vineyard. One morning in May 2013, while in massive pain and recovering from a car accident, I began looking through my archived inbox and found a short email that I had sent myself in 2007. It outlined an idea for direct-to-consumer business. I took the high-level model in that email and used it as a basis to create a supplier-based business model that ultimately led me to launching a private label wine company within nine months, Shoe Crazy Wine, LLC.


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Kristen L. Bienstock

Company: Bienstock Law, LLC
Legal Services: Attorney/Partner/Judge
Managing Attorney
Location: Seattle, WA


NAPW: How is the economy affecting your industry?

Bienstock: The economy has affected the legal industry greatly, whether in the court system, clients being able to pay for services, being able to provide legal services to clients in need, etc.


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

Bienstock: Travel.


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

Bienstock: The last team project I remember contributing to was in my last year of law school preparing for our moot court assignment. My partner and I spent months preparing for our “day in court.” Our topic was for a criminal case that was going up for appeal. After months of preparing, we had to ‘face’ the appeals court. We barely even got our names out before the three judges started firing off questions to us. Both of us remained relatively calm and answered the best we could.


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

Bienstock: At the moment, I only have one employee and she is relatively new. I am having her shadow me in court, study the local rules and statutes, read voraciously and always, always stress the importance of asking questions.


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

Bienstock: This is a hard question to answer, as the job market is so difficult right now. I would suggest networking as much as possible. I believe that it really is who you know.


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Ria K. Story

Company: KaizenOps
Consulting Services
Coach, Trainer, Speaker
Location: Auburn, AL

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

Story: I have always believed in having a balance in several different dimensions of life: work/career, family, health, personal growth, physical environment and financial. In 2007, I realized that I had become unbalanced due to working a 60+ hour work week in a salaried position and managing the workload of two full-time positions. Realizing that my situation wasn’t going to change unless I did something about it, I joined a fitness club and started a routine workout program, which required a commitment to setting aside time intentionally for health and fitness. It was physically and mentally the best decision I could have made. Within a few months I had more energy and felt refreshed enough to decide to return to school. The following year, I was offered a position at another company with better benefits and less stress. I attribute the ability to manage stress in my life to my dedicated fitness routine. I now teach group fitness classes and enjoy helping others find a healthier lifestyle. I am now in the best physical (and, incidentally, mental) shape of my life.


NAPW: Do you believe in mixing business with pleasure?

Story: I believe that when you find your passion in life, business is a pleasure! When you find your “sweet spot” where you are working in your strengths and enjoying what you do every single day, then you have passion, energy and enthusiasm. I found my passion in 2013 when I became certified as a John C. Maxwell coach, speaker and trainer. In doing so, I not only found my strength zone but also my passion to help others reach their own potential in life. Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living.” That is true for me and I spend the majority of my time reading, studying and developing myself in order to be better prepared to help others.


NAPW: Do you believe our society glorifies “the busy woman?” Do you ever feel pressured by this stereotype?

Story: I believe our society glorifies professional success and a common misconception is that life must be crazy, busy and stressful in order to obtain professional success and balance a family or other interests as well. We are all given the same 24 hours a day – how we decide to spend it is up to us but we can only spend it once. I have found that creating harmony in my life was as simple as deciding what my priorities are in order to say “no” to the things that aren’t in line with my priorities. When we truly focus on what our priorities are, it is a simple matter, although not easy, to decide what activities will take us closer to those goals.

There was a time in my life when I certainly felt pressured by the need to have a successful career while balancing a family, an additional part-time job and also completing my degree. I have learned how to focus my time and energy these days and instead of managing my time, I now manage my life. There are two things that will tell you what is important to a person: their checkbook and calendar. How we spend our time and how we spend our money will tell anyone who is watching what is truly important to us.


NAPW: Describe the ways you stay healthy at work.

Story: As a coach, speaker and trainer, I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule so I don’t have a typical “desk job” any longer. When I am not traveling, fitness and health is easy because my schedule is flexible and I can focus on eating balanced, nutritious meals from my own kitchen. I became certified to teach group fitness classes in 2009 as a way to make sure that I was getting plenty of physical activity. I commit to teaching about 10 hours a week, which keeps me in shape, and eating healthy is just part of being fit enough to teach group fitness.

When I travel on the road, I always pack workout gear and my running shoes, even if I have to stow them in my laptop bag! Sometimes it means getting up at 4:00am and working out on a hotel treadmill but I find that it is the best start to my day and I have more energy the whole day as a result. Also, if I’ve gone through all the trouble to pack my workout clothes, I am going to use them. I pack an iPod and earphones for those days that I have to work out in the hotel. I always look for ways to stay active too – like sightseeing by walking or hiking instead of taking a car.


NAPW: In spite of your work schedule, which recreational activities do you always take part in?

Story: My husband and I enjoy mountain biking and stay very active outdoors. We love to travel to new places and find new trails to ride. We also like to hike in the woods. I enjoy running and usually do a couple of half marathons a year. The half marathon is my favorite race – I have done some full marathons but that distance is just more than I want to run most of the time. Reading is both a personal growth strategy and a recreational one for me and I read one to two books a week on average. I also enjoy cooking and baking, especially around the holidays!


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Marilyn A. Tsilimparis

Company: Standard Chartered and American Express Bank
Finance: Banking/Credit Services
Retired Compliance Officer
Location: Brooklyn, NY

: Are you where you want to be right now? If yes, what business skills did you use to get there? If no, how will you rectify the situation?

Tsilimparis: After a long and fruitful business career, I began my retirement in September 2013. Part of my decision was based on a desire to spend more time with my grandchildren. I thoroughly enjoyed my working years. I always wanted to work in international business where I could use my language skills (I studied Spanish and Portuguese for many years). In the beginning, I worked for a large international nonprofit organization and then went to shipping and export-import. While my children were very young, I taught English as a second language and ran educational programs for entry-level adults. In 1982, I went into banking and remained there ever since. I worked in marketing, loan administration, syndicated loans and internal controls. In 1993, I became one of the first compliance officers when the requirements for this function first began in banking. This was a special time and through the years, I continually increased my knowledge of regulatory issues and internal controls.

Compliance is an ever-changing environment. I designed programs and conducted a lot of training. Throughout the years, my knowledge of the subject continually increased and my skills and knowledge were sought after and appreciated by everyone, including external clients. My college education and ability to investigate and research helped me in my career. My desire for working in an international environment was also beneficial because it enabled me to easily understand the global environment. In addition, my creativity helped me design training materials, policies and procedures on internal controls and regulatory sanctions. I am currently planning my next venture – perhaps a consulting firm providing compliance and regulatory information and training. There is more information about me on LinkedIn.


NAPW: What one key factor made the difference in your business?

Tsilimparis: The difference in my business was that compliance was a new area and it required good creative and analytical skills in order to keep up with the regulatory demands.


NAPW: If you travel for business, how do you maintain your home life?

Tsilimparis: I did travel for business and had the opportunity to go to Italy, Germany, Thailand, Latvia, France as well as Chile in South America. My husband was proud of me and during my absences, he managed a completely satisfactory home life for my children. I did not travel until I went into banking when the children were older.


NAPW: Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” What will you do?

Tsilimparis: The thing that always scared me was getting up in front of a group of people to give a presentation. One day, one of the senior members of management said to me that the secret to overcoming this is knowing the subject matter well, and that I did. This helped me get over the things that scared me.


NAPW: Author/Poet Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When networking, how do you make people feel so that they’ll remember you?

Tsilimparis: People remember me for the great knowledge and understanding that I possess in my field and for my pleasant personality.


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Debi Silber

Company: Lifestyle Fitness, Inc.
Health and Fitness
Location: Dix Hills, NY

: What is the best career advice you ever received?

Silber: Don’t ever let fear stop you from moving forward. Obstacles will present themselves and fear will try to stop you; they’re just opportunities to see how committed you are to achieving your goals.

NAPW: What advice can you offer a growing business?

Silber: Find the right mentor who’s paved the path you want to take. They can shave years off your learning curve.
– Steer clear of “naysayers” who will confirm your doubts and have you second guessing yourself.
– Take actions that move your business forward daily. Learn the difference between busy and productive. Busyness can consume the day, but it won’t move your business forward.
– Before saying “yes” to an opportunity, decide if it provides either impact or income. Sure you want to take it all on, but if it doesn’t serve you or your audience in some way, reconsider.
– Your message will never resonate with everyone – find the ones who would benefit from your unique strength, gift, talent and calling and serve them authentically and generously.
– Start small and stay committed to your huge vision, breaking it down into manageable chunks that allow you to see and enjoy your progress.

NAPW: How do you keep your ideas fresh?

Silber: I strive to learn something new each day. As a health expert, it’s critical to stay current on the latest and most up-to-date research and negligent to keep teaching old and outdated material and misinformation. I also ask lots of questions to see what my clients/members/followers want and need and create new programs and products based on what would give them the greatest results.


NAPW: What do you like to do on your free time?

Silber: I spend time with my family (husband, four kids and five dogs) and friends, exercise and read the latest health, business and personal development books!


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

Silber: A combination of many things — offline through networking, referrals, speaking and just being visible. Online, I use many channels. I write for many sites, which gives me visibility to niches I would normally not have access to. I also use social media, guest posts on blogs, telesummits, webinars, radio, my own blog and websites, preview calls to add new information to my list and inviting my social media following to join me, collaborative and joint venture opportunities and more.


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Megan Bozzuto

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