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Her Step Forward
37 minutes | Dec 29, 2020
Lauren Popish, Founder of The Wave Podcasting
Lauren Popish is founder of The Wave Podcasting, which aims to help womxn tell their unique stories through podcasting. The Wave offers education resources, event-based community, and recording studio space exclusively for womxn. Their first womxn-only recording studio opened in Los Angeles in February 2020. Lauren's passion for creating spaces that inspire comfort and confidence comes from her 10 year career in commercial interior design and real estate. When she isn't helping other womxn create podcasts, she hosts her own podcast, Book Wine Club. --- Four years ago, in the middle of a routine presentation at work, Lauren Popish had a panic attack. As someone who had always been very comfortable speaking, and even being on stage, the experience was eye opening for her, because it showed her first-hand just how scary public speaking can be for so many people. While working to overcome her new fear, Lauren discovered that podcasting was one of the few things that helped her build her voice back, and she wanted to create a safe space to help other womxn exercise their voice in speaking, as well as diversify the podcasting landscape. After much research into the barriers that hold womxn back from podcasting, Lauren founded The Wave Podcasting - a studio in LA built by and for womxn; but within weeks of opening, Covid-19 shuttered their doors, and Lauren found herself needing to immediately pivot her brand new business into one that could support womxn digitally as they embark on their podcast journey. Joining us to share her story, Lauren opens up about her battle with imposter syndrome, and how her own experience helps her encourage clients who face the same feelings; why it’s critical to normalize the fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and other emotional barriers many womxn face when considering a podcast; and why purpose is the most important indicator that she’s now doing what she’s supposed to with her life.
26 minutes | Dec 22, 2020
Dawn King, Attorney and Fitness Instructor
Dawn King is an attorney in Massachusetts. She graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Business and holds her juris doctor from New England School of Law. Dawn worked as an attorney at the City of Boston Law Department for 12 years until recently taking a position with a court in Worcester, Massachusetts. Dawn has focused her legal career in the public sector, working as a state and municipal attorney. Dawn has also been a fitness instructor for over 20 years teaching all styles of classes, including Zumba, Indoor Cycling, HIIT and Bootcamp classes. In her "spare" time she also runs with her dog and does Half Marathons. Dawn and her husband love to be outside with their dog and travel, including visiting National Parks around the country. --- We like to joke that Dawn King is an attorney by day, aerobics instructor by night, but as she explains, she’s been into fitness longer than anything else in her life, and having a fitness community over the years to lean on and learn from has proven to be an incredible stress reliever. Most recently, Dawn found herself at a crossroads: continue her life in Boston, in a job she loved for 12 years, but one that limited the options she and her husband would have for buying a home in the congested city with a very high cost of living. Or, consider other career options that would provide more flexible housing options, and give her husband a chance to reduce his lengthy commute. As Dawn explains, it took a while to process the choices, and the job search quickly required a self-check, when the interview calls took longer than she would have guessed, based on her lengthy law career. Reflecting on the lessons learned in her career, and realizing that she needed to stay in the governmental law sector, instead of private, Dawn recently decided to take a leap of faith and leave the world of civil litigation for a new chapter in her law career. Joining us to share her story, Dawn addresses the stereotype of the “good old boys’ club” in the legal industry, the lessons she learned from being fired early in her career, and the joys of being a fur mom and running partner for her adopted Dachshund-Jack Russell mix, Griffin.
30 minutes | Dec 15, 2020
Darcey Hull, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Resident
Darcey Hull will soon be starting her residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation after slowly winding her way to this point. The arts, cultures, languages, and helping people have always been huge interests of Darcey’s. She has always loved traveling and outdoor adventures, and was always encouraged to explore and express herself by her parents. They took her and her brother hiking in the Rocky Mountains every summer growing up, had exchange students, and extensively traveled and lived abroad before starting a family. Darcey has always believed in and been interested in self-expression, and the positive transformation which it can bring, as a healing modality for all people. This is what kept Darcey interested in the Arts, and then pulled her into teaching yoga, studying Speech Language Pathology, and now into Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. ------- So many of us pursue a college degree that turns out to be quite different than the career path we ultimately choose. Darcey Hull knows this story well; in her mid-thirties, she’s about to start a new chapter as a resident, focused on physical medicine and rehabilitation. As Darcey explains, 17 years ago she started her education journey focused on that arts; but a chance conversation with classmates would change her path forever when she decided to take a neuroscience class. Falling in love with the class was easy: it gave an opportunity to use her art skills as she drew and studied her work, and the subject matter was fascinating. After changing her major and finishing classes, Darcey had to decide: what would she do with a neuroscience degree? Joining us to share her story, Darcey explains her journey from arts to physical medicine, the benefit of social interaction for patients and how she hopes to address that need one day, and the importance of travel, yoga, and meditation when it comes to staying balanced and pursuing the things that bring her joy.
27 minutes | Dec 8, 2020
Steph Cartwright, Certified Resume Writer & Founder, Off the Clock Resumes
Steph Cartwright is a Certified Resume Writer and the Founder of Off The Clock Resumes LLC. Since 2014, Steph has helped career-focused job seekers present themselves as the best fit for the job they want. She specializes in getting her clients through Applicant Tracking software, maximizing their networks and referral potential using LinkedIn, and eliminating the overwhelm from job searching with actionable job search plans. Steph completed her undergraduate degree in Human Resource Management online at Western Governors University while growing her online business. She's certified by the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches and an active member of the National Resume Writers' Association. When she's not working, you'll either catch her lounging lakeside or cuddling her three dogs while watching Disney movies or something a bit nerdy like Harry Potter or Game of Thrones for the hundredth time. --- Steph Cartwright loves her work. That’s a good thing for many of us, who feel intimidated, stressed out, or just plain frazzled as we sit down and try to make ourselves sound like the best candidate for the job. As Steph explains it, she never saw resumes as a career path. She just wanted to pick a career that would support her lifelong love of writing - yet she knew that the options of journalism or teaching weren’t in the cards. Over the years, she experimented with all kinds of writing: marketing copy, social media planning, helping professors, and the list goes on. But it was an ad that she found by chance on a job board that would change her career path forever. After completing a very brief training session, she realized that she wanted to learn more about the art of writing great resumes: and the more she learned, the more interested she became in the work that calls for a focus on strategy, creativity, and personal branding. Joining us to share her story, Steph opens up about the scam job that drove her to become an entrepreneur, growing her business as the job search and application process continually changes, and why it was so important to take a step back from it all and focus on her health.
31 minutes | Dec 1, 2020
Amber Marie, Private Chef and Nutrition Educator
Amber Marie has been working as a private chef and nutrition educator for about a decade in both South Florida and the Savannah/Hilton Head area where she currently resides. She holds a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University, an education degree from New York University, and a law degree from CUNY School of Law. Prior to entering the culinary field, she was an attorney for the government in New York City - but her lifelong passion for cooking and a series of health challenges led her to reconsider her priorities. She has studied nutrition extensively to not only regain her own health but to better support her clients, and she seeks to inspire others with her shift from the "employee" mindset to the more creative lifestyle of the entrepreneur - which required her to face her lifelong struggles around vagueness with time and money as well as compulsive busyness. In her free time, she enjoys writing poetry, yoga, nature photography, music, sailing, travel, pondering the spiritual dimensions of existence...and cats. --- Being an attorney is often thought of as prestigious work, but as Amber Marie explains, the pressure and stress of the role led her to reconsider. Facing personal health challenges, and seeing how her health improved as she changed her diet, Amber realized that perhaps her true calling was to pursue a culinary and nutrition-focused career. Of course, the change would also contradict her mentality to help people and make a difference in the world - or so, she initially thought. As Amber explains, given time to reflect upon her career options, she recognized that our days are made of the seemingly ‘little things’ - like catching a beautiful sunrise, or enjoying a delicious meal - and her goal became clear. She’d focus her energy on making meals that would be a highlight in the day of her clients, while also being nutritious. Joining us to share her story, Amber opens up about the role her spirituality played during her career transition; the importance of keeping your eyes on your own paper; speaking up about your needs at work; and trying new things instead of later regretting the choice to not try at all.
21 minutes | Nov 24, 2020
Shannon Russell, Sports Reporter
Shannon Russell has been a sports reporter for 20 years, with stops at The Athletic and The Cincinnati Enquirer. She has been honored with multiple national awards while covering everything from the NFL and Major League Baseball to professional tennis and high school sports. She has spent the last decade covering college basketball. --- Shannon Russell had recently graduated college (where she majored in creative writing and journalism) and was having trouble finding many job options, until she discovered an opening at a small, local newspaper that was advertising an opening for a news reporter. Excited to have an opportunity, she applied for the job and got the interview - but, imagine her surprise when she learned that the job opening was actually for a sports reporter. She had played some sports in her youth, but as Shannon explains, playing sports and writing about them are two different things! It would be especially hard for sports she’d never participated in, like football or wrestling. Instead of turning down the job, Shannon accepted the position: as she explains today, it wasn’t always comfortable at first, or even something that she looked forward to doing, but being able to grow into the position and feel confident doing it, led to a career that she would’ve never imagined. Joining us to share her story, Shannon talks about the connection between her background in creative writing and being able to tell a story about sports and the athletes who play them, earning respect in the sports industry before female reporters were common, how her hard work led to a top reporting spot covering Xavier University athletics, and how industry changes snowballed due to COVID-19.
36 minutes | Nov 17, 2020
Anna Korosadowicz, Senior Producer in mobile gaming
Anna Korosadowicz is an IT professional, currently working as Senior Producer on a popular free-to-play mobile game. In the past she worked as Localization Manager, Team Lead in Data QA, Head of Data Management and Product Manager for companies like Nokia, Apple and Kayak. Anna is originally from Poland, and in her 20s she decided to pursue her lifelong dream to live a life full of adventures. The number one adventure was to try living abroad. Since then she has lived in Finland and Ireland, and she is currently living in Denmark with her partner. She's a singer, song writer, traveler, scuba diver, and she is passionate about psychology and linguistics, and a few years ago Anna took up skateboarding. Anna lives strongly by the rule of "riding the waves of life" and giving in into unexpected chances life sometimes throws at us, even if they perhaps divert us from the original plan we already had meticulously put together. You never know what surprises may be waiting for you around the corner. All you need to say is "yes, I'll try that!" --- Growing up as a child in Poland, Anna distinctly remembers what life was like living behind the Iron Curtain. For one, travel was rare - it was incredibly difficult to get a passport to leave Poland, or to even be able to afford travel. But that all changed when, at 8 years old, Anna and her mom had a chance to visit a friend who lived in Western Germany. She distinctly recalls traveling by bus, that smelled inside of gasoline, for a journey that would take 18-20 hours to complete. It was the moment of crossing from Eastern Germany to Western Germany that left a mark on her: the contrast between the dark, unlit streets of the Eastern block communities, and into a place that was lit with bright lights… the fast cars flying by… and even the different smells in the air. It was an experience that would forever change her and help to shape her way of thinking. Anna knew from that moment, that she wanted to be able to experience the world. As she explains, when it’s very difficult to go somewhere, it makes you desire the trip even more. That’s why today, travel for Anna is associated with freedom - her top value in life. After graduating from university in Poland, and not being able to find a job that would sustain a move out of her parent’s home, Anna ended up in Finland, where the laid back and relaxed culture showed her the importance of living a life with little stress. Joining us to share her story, Anna talks about the role that music plays in her life, living in a country that values and supports men and women equally (Denmark), and the importance of pursuing a life full of adventures.
23 minutes | Nov 10, 2020
Dr. Jillian Losh, Project Manager in Medical Research
Dr. Jillian Losh is a Project Manager at the Houston Methodist Research Institute within the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world. She currently provides project support to research teams, helping to ensure that future drug, device, and biologic therapies will be available to a variety of patient populations. Jill completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Houston-Downtown, where she majored in Microbiology with double minors in Biology and Chemistry. She then attended the MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, earning a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Jill is an enthusiastic supporter of the biomedical sciences, as both a scientist and an administrator. Jill was part of a team who oversaw the development of the first FDA-approved convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19 and assisted in the therapy's transition to clinical trials. When she's not working, you can find her in Irish dance class, yoga class, or chauffeuring her dog to the park. Jill Losh always knew she loved the world of science, especially biology, but she never gave thought to anything beyond her undergrad program. After all, she didn’t have any scientists in her immediate family, and as a child, the few scientists who were known in the mainstream were males. As it turns out, Jill’s undergrad advisor, also a woman, played a huge role in encouraging Jill to consider grad school, and today the work of Jill and her team has left an indelible mark on the story of a virus that affects us all - no matter which corner of the globe we call home. There’s so much we don’t know yet about COVID-19, and for those of us who don’t work in the scientific or medical communities, it’s even harder to keep up with the facts. We asked Jill to walk us through some of the basics of the science for the general public: the difference between a therapy and a cure, a closer look at convalescent plasma therapy - including its history and why her team decided to focus on this treatment, the meaning of the name COVID-19, and what’s it’s like to be part of a heavily-female team when the STEM community at large is known for being male-dominated. Joining us to share her story, Jill talks about how her hobbies have helped her to achieve some of her professional success; learning to channel her anxiety and the lesson learned after putting off a new hobby for many years; and the impact of networking, not only in her professional life, but her personal life too.
40 minutes | Nov 3, 2020
Ann Hirschman Schremp, the "grandmother of street medics"
Ann Hircshman Schremp considers herself a true dandelion. Born in Staten Island NY in 1946, her earliest activism was with her mom and grandmother supporting women's health choices. Ann skipped 7th grade and spent much of high school at the United Nations. After a year at Wagner College then Bayonne Hospital School of Nursing, Ann then attended University of Miami Family Nurse Practitioner program and has been a NP ever since. She became more involved with protests and activism after she graduated. Ann worked with the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR) and with others helping to invent and train Street Medics. In addition to healthcare and public health, Ann also worked with anti war veterans since 1967 and has been on the board of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. At the age of 64, she attended University of Liverpool online and got her Masters of Public Health in 2010. Protests have been part of who Ann Hirschman Schremp is, since before she was born: she made her first appearance in the spring of 1946, still in her mother’s womb, at a protest for birth control rights for women. Growing up, Ann’s mother and grandmother taught her to always do what she thinks is right, and deal with the consequences afterward. But life taught her lessons too, like an experience with an African American friend in 1963 that really opened Ann’s eyes to white privilege and why it’s critical to use that privilege to help others. In fact, during the Civil Rights movement, Ann started marching with a group of brave medical professionals who were there not only to provide medical services to the protestors, but to also add gravitas to the movement, with their professional titles and dressed in white medical coats - an uncommon practice at the time. Their effort was an example of doing something that is right, even when it’s not popular, and the work also highlighted that there was not enough medical presence in the street with protestors. So, Ann and a few others from the group sat down one night to write what would become the first course for street medics in New York - work that is still part of the street medic courses taught all around the country today: an effort that led to Ann being known as “the grandmother of street medics,” as reported by The New York Times. Joining us to share her story, Ann opens up about being an activist at all times, the healing power of several different communities coming together in support as she fought breast cancer, and her book idea of life lessons learned growing up in New York.
32 minutes | Oct 27, 2020
Dr. Christine Bishara, medical wellness emphasizing mind-body & gut-brain axis
Christine Bishara, MD, is the founder of From Within Medical, a New York City medical wellness and weight loss practice that places emphasis on the mind-body and gut-brain axis to prevent and manage disease. With over 20 years of clinical experience, time and time again Dr. Bishara has discovered that the connection between these systems plays a significant role in disease prevention, but is not being adequately addressed. She also understands the impact that daily demands and stress place on our bodies and wants to help others learn how to balance a career and family life, while staying as healthy as possible. In early 2020, Dr. Christine Bishara found herself wondering whether it was possible that gut health could be directly connected to the sickest Covid-19 patients. Living in New York City, the epicenter of Covid cases in the US, and married to a Pulmonologist Intensivist who cared for ICU patients, at night Christine would discuss cases and treatment with her husband. Aside from the number of elderly patients, a fact that stuck out to Christine was the number of younger patients who had a very high BMI. Leveraging her expertise in gut bacteria, after years of helping patients in her weight loss and wellness practice, Christine partnered with medical researchers to see if the clinical observations matched the molecular pathways that Covid-19 attacks. Joining us to share her story, Christine talks about her exciting research, the role food plays for our bodies, balancing career and family, and why academic differences between males and females matter as we grow from children to adults.
33 minutes | Dec 5, 2019
Gabrielle Grant, non-profit executive director
Dr. Gabrielle Grant is a conflict transformation practitioner, executive director of a non-profit, researcher, and a university professor. She has a PhD in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from Nova Southeastern University and has spent her career working in a variety of different fields to change systems and advocate for children and families. Dr. Grant, or Gabby as we know her, is committed to changing society through restorative justice and conflict transformation by teaching, training, facilitating, and mediating non-violence techniques from Southeast Asia to Southern Appalachia. She believes in showing up, being vulnerable, and moving past fear to hold space for others to do the same. Leaving home at 18 for college, and thinking she’d never, ever come back to small-town North Carolina is something that Gabrielle Grant reflects on now. “I feel like the universe had a much bigger plan for me, and I wasn’t always on board, but now I’m ready to roll with it,” she explains. Feeling more at peace than she ever has before, Gabby couldn’t be happier to be back in the rural community where she grew up, working to make a difference in an area short on resources. But, it was her time abroad, working in countries across southern Asia, and practicing a few lessons learned from Brené Brown’s work - like setting boundaries, and showing up, even if that means failing - that helped to create her roundabout path back to where she first started. Joining us to share her story, Gabby talks about what restorative justice is and how she made it her career, why it’s critical to understand your values and use those to set your boundaries, creating ‘home’ in a variety of places, and making the choice to not have children (and why the choice is not reflective of a woman’s value or worth).
27 minutes | Nov 28, 2019
Sophia Ramsijewan, acupuncture physician
Sophia Ramsijewan is an Acupuncture physician who has been practicing for the past 6 years. Her experiences with tenured Acupuncture practitioners set the foundation for her to form her own private practice, which she has been operating for over a year. Sophia is passionate about educating and raising awareness about the many benefits which Acupuncture provides. With her passion and drive, Sophia has helped many patients on their journey to achieve overall health, wellness, and peace of mind. Growing up in South Africa, Sophia Ramsijewan always knew she had an interest in alternative medicine forms, after her brother saw tremendous health and physical improvements following reflexology. Today, she practices the ancient form of Chinese medicine known as acupuncture, which involves the use of hair-fine needles inserted at strategic points of a patient’s body - determined by her analysis of their tongue and pulse. But getting started was a lesson in growth and perseverance. As Sophia explains, when she graduated from acupuncture school, it felt like there was so much she didn’t know - and sometimes that insecurity would show up in front of her patients, which made her feel unsuccessful. Making it a priority to focus on personal and professional development, in an effort to combat her anxiety and fear, today Sophia tells us that her biggest win is “to be able to walk into a [treatment] room and it feels like second nature. I can’t imagine doing anything else!” Joining us to share her story, Sophia opens up about building a business as a young entrepreneur; the role her family plays in her success; and why acupuncture isn’t as scary as it sounds.
20 minutes | Nov 21, 2019
Dr. Zan Milligan, marine and environmental sciences
Dr. Zan Milligan is an assistant professor in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences at Nova Southeastern University. After completing her Ph.D. at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, Zan moved across the Atlantic to Florida for work, and four years later she is leading the Seascape Ecology Lab at NSU. She conducts research on deep-sea ecosystems to understand how fish use this vast environment, and how different human impacts - like oil exploration, fishing and climate change - might affect them. When she's not in the lab, Zan can be found behind a camera photographing wildlife (and occasionally, the podcast hosts at Her Step Forward!). See the view from behind her lens at wildoceanphotography.com. In the field of marine ecology, Zan Milligan spends her days learning about the largest inhabitable living space on the planet - from the ocean’s surface to the depths of the sea floor, and now the water columns found in the open ocean. Politely squashing the misconception that marine ecologists must study beautiful and exotic mammals, and spend a lot of time snorkeling, Zan explains how the role has dramatically evolved from the days when a net was the go-to tool. With today’s technology like remote-powered vehicles to acoustics and sonar, she and her colleagues are able to find new species of fish or study the ones we know least about, including the sort of “monster-looking” fish sometimes seen on tv. Joining us to share her story, Zan talks about studying phytoplankton (microscopic marine algae) in the context of global warming; making the decision to change continents for work; and why photography and time outdoors are important keys for staying balanced.
30 minutes | Nov 14, 2019
Dr. Françoise Sidime, neuroscientist
Dr. Françoise Sidime is a neuroscientist and assistant professor at the College of Staten Island, Helene Fuld School of Nursing and Wagner College. She obtained her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Graduate Center, CUNY in New York. Françoise currently lectures and teaches extensive skills employed in the field of biology and neuroscience. Françoise is also the founder and president of Ekarus Global Science - a program dedicated to providing academic advancements, mentorship and research opportunities to high school students in the STEM discipline. Dr. Sidime is also the co-founder of a sister company called PreMedPro - a program that offers pre med high school students training skills in the field of medicine. Dr. Françoise Sidime realized early on that having the right mentors plays a huge part in professional success. In the scientific world, the right mentors meant that Françoise would be introduced to depths of research she had never known before. When a research project at Johns Hopkins University led to the opportunity to work with high-profile scientists, Françoise was excited to accept the invitation. The team set out to see if brain activity is affected by consuming food heated in plastic containers in the microwave, and if the practice could potentially be linked to autism. It was this project, working with her mentors on the forefront of neuroscience, that made Françoise realize that she had what it takes to have a career in neuroscience. Joining us to share her story, Françoise talks about her keys to success as a woman in STEM, creating a program to help increase the number of underrepresented minority students in STEM disciplines, and the importance of women surrounding themselves with a like-minded network.
19 minutes | Nov 6, 2019
Nilsa Rivera, author and editor
Nilsa Rivera is an author with a background of over two decades working with families who are homeless or receiving housing subsidy to increase their earned income and reduce their dependency on welfare and rental assistance. As a writer, Nilsa explores gender and diversity issues (including child neglect, domestic violence, homelessness, and sexual abuse). Her work has appeared in the Huffington Post, The Selkie and several other literary journals. It's also been featured at Miami Book Fair's LipService True Stories out Loud Miami, the Writing Class Radio podcast, and at Muses and Music, a multidisciplinary event of the Cream Literary Alliance. Nilsa is also the Editor of The Wardrobe and Doubleback Review. When she's not working or writing, Nilsa can be found reading or working out at the gym with her husband and teenage son. Thinking back to her most difficult years - as a homeless teenage mom - if Nilsa Rivera could give herself any advice, it would be that “Everything you need is within you. You don’t need to look for love and validation externally; you have all the love and support that you need to do this.” Drawing on years spent homeless and in survival mode, and the stories of those she met along the way, Nilsa always found comfort in journaling and writing short stories, but it took some convincing before she felt brave enough to share her story with the world. Today, Nilsa’s writing focuses on creating stories where “women are empowered, and able to be the hero of the story, instead of being the victim,” including her current work which tells the story of a young woman who escapes from human trafficking, with the goal to help break down the trafficking cell. Joining us to share her story, Nilsa talks about working with the homeless for two decades, finding confidence and ignoring negative self talk, and what everyone needs to know about the facts of human trafficking today.
24 minutes | Oct 30, 2019
Jennifer Spieth, police officer
Originally from South Florida, Jennifer Spieth earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland and a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University in Boston. A police officer since 2003, her previous assignments have included patrol, K-9, and the Police Academy. Jen currently works on the Crisis Intervention Team with the severely mentally ill population, in an attempt to ensure this population’s service requests go to a unit trained in this area. Corporal Spieth is an adjunct police academy instructor and regularly teaches courses in Mental Health throughout the Metropolitan DC area. She also loves to travel with her husband and 3 year old daughter. >> "Work hard despite what other people say about you, or how other people treat you, because you’ll have that satisfaction of knowing: I did the best I could, and I worked hard, and I earned that spot." << As a woman working in a male-dominated profession, like the police force, is it hard to get respect from your colleagues? How about from the public at large? And how do you process the stressful and dangerous situations you see daily? These were just a few of the questions we had for officer Jennifer Spieth, a 16-year veteran of the police force. Joining us to share her story, Jennifer talks about finding surprising skills/strengths in her career, the need for self-care and changing the stigma around mental health for police officers, the need to separate work and home life, and why she and her husband make it a priority to travel internationally with their young daughter.
31 minutes | Oct 23, 2019
Kit Pier, stay-at-home mom
Kit Pier is a military wife, a stay-at-home mother of three, and a Biostatistician. She has an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and a Master's Degree in Biostatistics from George Washington University. She worked full-time as a Statistician until welcoming twin sons. She does freelance statistics work from home, but dedicates her time and her talents to her family, which now also includes an adopted daughter. The military keeps them on their toes: so far, in twelve years of marriage, she and her husband have moved to a new location five times. Kit has learned volumes about life and love through motherhood and adoption. Leaving her career as a statistician to be a stay at home mom offered a different kind of fulfillment for Kit Pier, but the choice wasn’t without its challenges. In her words, “it’s an adjustment when you come from a place where work and your earnings define your identity… some days I miss adult interaction and the satisfaction of completing a project. But in some ways, it was the most natural thing, to be home with my children to witness all their first things.” Staying at home also made it easier for Kit to shut herself off from connecting with other women, after a life-changing incident. Opening up for the first time to share her innermost secret, Kit tells about the medical misstep that led to emergency surgery immediately following the birth of her twin boys. Waking up to this news in the ICU was made infinitely worse when hospital staff decided to look into her medical records without permission. This breach of HIPAA privacy laws turned Kit into an item of gossip at the hospital where her husband worked as a doctor - and made her shut down and shut out the world for years. Joining us to share her story, Kit talks about getting past her darkest days with the support of the military community. She shares the advice she’d give to herself during her most challenging chapter; explains how her views on feminism have changed since adopting a daughter - and how she makes sure she’s raising a strong, independent, and capable woman; and why she also makes it a priority to instill women-supporting values in her sons.
31 minutes | Oct 17, 2019
Priya Jain, product manager
As a product manager, Priya Jain is passionate about leveraging technology and data to empower people. She has spent most of her career working for Fintech companies because she believes that any solution that helps reduce financial anxiety is worth pursuing. Born and raised in India, she moved to the US to do her Master's in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, San Diego. After spending 6 years in San Diego for one of the pioneer big data companies, she moved to France to do her MBA and has since lived and worked in four different cities around the world. Priya attributes her own personal and professional growth to having a supportive family and great mentors and tries to give back by mentoring women in technology when possible. Most recently, she co-founded Tales on Silk, a home decor brand inspired by Indian art forms. When she is not working, she is generally planning her next getaway or testing out a new recipe. Stepping out of her comfort zone, Priya Jain decided on moving to France to pursue her MBA. It was the choice that would help her realize just how much there is to learn by interacting with different cultures, explaining that “if everyone in this world starts traveling more, we wouldn’t need to think about borders or walls - because the borders and walls we have are more in our minds than actually being there.” Today, she doesn’t limit herself to locations or career roles, if there’s something she wants to explore. Spending time in roles from Management Consulting to Business Analyst, Product Manager, and more, Priya explains that one of the keys to her success was learning from a previous manager to make sure that she stayed focused on only her strengths, instead of taking the traditional look at strengths and weaknesses. Going on to discuss the other essential ingredients for women to find success in the corporate arena, especially in tech roles, Priya notes that it’s important to address the lack of mentors. “As women, what we can do is support each other, and mentor each other... and I also feel that we should never try to do that by alienating men. It’s not only about women supporting women, it’s also men supporting women.” Joining us to share her story, Priya talks about using her love of cooking to explore the culturally-diverse places she’s lived; connecting with her roots while giving Indian artists a platform for their work via Tales on Silk; and the framework that keeps her coming back to the most important priorities in her busy life.
31 minutes | Oct 10, 2019
Shawnna von Blixen, programme coordinator for children’s rights
Shawnna von Blixen is the programme coordinator for children's rights at the Council of the Baltic Sea States. She previously worked for the U.S. State Department and the European Union, and holds a master's in political science from Uppsala University. When she's not busy building international networks and landing grants, Shawnna enjoys wandering around both in cities and in nature, especially in her home base of Stockholm, Sweden. It was by chance - standing in line to pick up a UPS package - that Shawwna von Blixen would meet a diplomat, which ultimately led to a change in career and in location. At the time, she enjoyed her role where she helped bridge the communication gap between graphic designers and software engineers, but Shawnna was also aware of her interest in international relations. Within a year of the meeting, Shawnna was setting off for Sweden where she would have the opportunity to start work in that field. “If I were a less stubborn person, I would not have made it work,” explains Shawnna. Today, her career in international relations focuses on children’s rights, at the Council of the Baltic Sea States, an intergovernmental organization made up of 11 member countries plus European Union representation. Shawnna works to activate a network of professionals who are meeting children at difficult times in their life - moving as migrants, victims of human trafficking, or those otherwise exploited in some manner - with the goal of the Council being to promote best practices for children’s rights across Europe and beyond. Joining us to share her story, Shawnna opens up about the juxtaposition between her work and making the choice to not have children; the challenges and rewards of living abroad; and the role of email boundaries and outdoor time to support her mental health.
29 minutes | Oct 3, 2019
Xiao-Wei Wang, Packard Fellows program manager
Since 2004, Xiao-Wei Wang has worked at the Packard Foundation where she leads a program that aids the nation's most promising early-career professors in pursuing innovative science and engineering research. From inquiries into ancient microbes to exploring the evolution of galaxies, Xiao-Wei supports Packard Fellows as they dare to think big, take risks and explore new scientific frontiers. Xiao-Wei is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and Stanford University—completing her graduate thesis while working and parenting full-time. She cherishes her roles as domestic concierge, nurse, nutritionist, storyteller, counselor, Scout den leader, piano coach, chauffeur and custodian. Xiao-Wei lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and two kids. The self-proclaimed black sheep of her family, Xiao-Wei was the only one to skip the path of pursuing anything related to science, instead focusing on liberal arts as an undergrad - because she always knew she wanted to focus on community, volunteer work, and bettering society on the humanitarian side. Today, Xiao-Wei is both a mom and a career-woman, explaining to us that she always knew she would have both - because she saw her mom do the same thing, and never felt the need to choose only one. Going on to explain, Xiao-Wei shares, “at the end of the day, being a working parent makes me a better parent. It makes me more balanced to have my own interests, and passions, and focus - outside of being a mom. That’s just who I am.” And the secret to balancing it all? “Definitely keep your sense of humor, and make sure your kids have a sense of humor as well, for when they have to deal with shortcomings,” jokes Xiao-Wei. Joining us to share her story, Xiao-Wei opens up about issues for women working in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields and beyond, mistakes she’s made while trying to accomplish so much, and the importance of women’s networks.
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