Women of Distinction Magazine Presents: January 2016 Edition
Charmaine O. Francois-HaysHousing
Regional Manager, West Coast
– Forest City Residential Management, Inc.
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4 Charmaine O. Francois-Hays
Regional Manager, West Coast
– Forest City Residential Management, Inc.
Los Angeles, CA
20 Cindy Joy Marvin
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30 Lilli Hetherington
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43 Dr. Karen W. Malm, PhD
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51 Tammy Wynette Mark
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Charmaine O. Francois-HaysHousing
Regional Manager, West Coast – Forest City Residential Management, Inc.
Los Angeles, CA
5 Women of Distinction
“Fear is merely False Evidence Appearing to be
Charmaine O. Francois-Hays said those words to her
boss shortly after starting her career in multi-family
housing when asked if she was scared of the drug-
dealing gang members that she had just removed from one of
the housing developments she was tasked with maintaining.
Today, as a Regional Manager specializing in federally
assisted housing, Charmaine is responsible for her teams
providing exceptional service to every person who walks onto
a Forest City Residential Management, Inc. property on the
“I assess every West Region Associate’s level
of skill and industry knowledge, and help them
develop a learning plan. Giving a person the
opportunity to determine where they would
like to be in three, five, and ten years really
helps facilitate a solid learning plan of action.
In addition to providing training, as Regional
Manager, I provide leadership to property
management and maintenance professionals
who are dedicated to ensuring quality service
and high property performance ratings.”
Charmaine comes from strong parents who have inspired her
to succeed in everything she does.
“My mother grew up in a small Creole parish
in Louisiana and only spoke a French-Spanish
dialect. However, she learned English swiftly,
graduated from high school; and obtained
her Associate of Arts degree, two Bachelor
degrees, and a Master’s degree (all with honors)
while raising five children. The life lessons,
determination, and spiritual strength that she
instilled in my siblings and I are great tools
that we use today. And my dad was a strong
intellectual who taught me the importance of
thinking through my decisions thoroughly. I
had an amazing childhood full of support, love,
and possibilities. I knew early on that I could be
whatever I wanted to be and had the support of
She is a firm believer of the presence of God and knows
without a shadow of doubt that her success was part of his
divine plan for her.
“My gifted ability to deal with people from all
walks of life and willingness to learn human
behavior and cultural differences comes from
his grace. I live my life treating people like I
want to be treated. The late Maya Angelo said it
best: ‘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.’ I keep this quote posted on my office wall
to remind me daily to perform in humbleness.
Every person coming through my office doors
will unconscientiously readjust themselves, as
they too will see this as a truth.”
This proud mother of three is married to James Hays II
and has two stepchildren (James III and Lauren) and one
daughter (Amanda Dominique).
“My family life is storybook-worthy. I married
the love of my life and we raised three awesome
kids together. The older two are very successful
in their careers; and the youngest is focused
on obtaining a higher education, while pursuing
her dreams of becoming an actress.”
People often know where they want to go in life, but are not
quite sure how to get there.
“I want to be known for leading people in the
right direction and always have a few minutes
to listen and offer suggestions. I want people to
say that I made them think of solutions and how
to be proactive in a reactive environment.”
6 Women of Distinction
Q: Why do you that feel federally assisted housing is relevant in
A: Housing costs continue to rise, and people really can’t afford
to rent or purchase a home (even) with all of the first-time
homebuyer programs available.
Q: What are the benefits of federally assisted housing?
A: Public housing gives working families an opportunity to live in
housing that is not substandard and is decent, safe, and sanitary.
Q: How does your team work towards breaking the negative
stereotypes of federally assisted housing?
A: It is really unfortunate that there are so many stereotypes
plaguing federally assisted housing. There is abuse and fraud,
but the government has created systems geared towards
catching them swiftly. My team monitors all resources and
data available to us daily; and when there appears to be
inconsistencies, they follow up through third-party documentation
and resident meetings. For the most part, these types of
inconsistencies are far and few in between. Most people simply
need housing that is affordable, safe, and decent. Our housing
stock enhances the communities that we are in. My team knows
that each unit must meet my expectations of being lease-ready.
Each unit is rehabbed with the understanding that someday “my
mother” may choose to live in it. I have encouraged the team to
use that philosophy when prepping a unit for lease. Our motto
is “Have the unit ready for your parents to move in.” Everyone
works independently and as a team to ensure we put out the best
Q: Who inspired you in relation to the work you do?
A: I was inspired by my worst managers. I would look at how my
worst managers kept the team divided and were concerned with
the numbers and looking good; people did not matter. I vowed
that I would care about the person affecting the numbers, as I
realized those people are my most valuable assets. A wise leader
once told me that I was only as good as my weakest link. I spend
my time nurturing that link, making it strong and steady. The late
Oscar Crowder, who gave me my Forest City start, was wise and
giving. His advice to me was “Don’t worry over the small things.
Give freely and be good to those who serve under you. Work
with them and they will work for you.” I am good at what I do,
because of these experiences and guidance. I always try to see
things from the other person’s point of view; reviewing the facts
before I respond. Sometimes I will wait prior to responding, as I
like to leave no stone unturned. I am not about quick fixes. I work
towards stability and sustainability. I learned this early on from
Q: What is the thing you like least about federally assisted
A: Interpreting the HUD guidelines, as they are often vague, is a
challenge. I will sometimes read guidelines two to three times to
ensure I fully understand them. My team constantly relies on me
to guide them successfully.
Q: What are your thoughts on addressing senior housing, as
there continues to be growth in that population?
A: The Department of Housing and Urban Development,
government, and private housing entities are watching the
growth. I hope all are thorough in addressing the need for
building new developments that will effectively address this
population. Training will be important for those hired to work with
them. There are also a series of social service programs needed
by this population. Building federally assisted housing in areas
that are within walking distance to services will be necessary to
meet the quality of life standard that this population requires. All
parties must recognize mobility challenges.
Q: What is the difference between assisted living and
independent living for seniors?
A: Assisted living is housing where 24-hour care is provided,
such as a nursing or group home. Independent living is simply
housing. The resident must be able to live independently and
site staff does not provide social services as a part of their job.
With senior housing, this becomes a challenge, as the staff is
often faced with dementia, Alzheimer’s, loneliness, hording, and
a host of other issues that they must navigate through and bring
resolution to; often reaching out to local social service providers
for help and guidance. It is especially difficult when there is no
family member involvement in the process.
Q: What is the HUD “One Strike” rule?
A: The HUD “One Strike” rule spells out admission and screening
requirements to help keep out trouble making households. It
gives housing providers leverage for eviction on households
that use drugs or commit certain crimes after they move into
federally assisted housing. This rule generally applies to Section
8, Section 202, Section 811, Section 22, Section 236, and public
housing sites. One Strike clearly sets out specific grounds for
denying applicants admission as well.
Q: What does the future hold in store for you?
A: I believe I will serve on a much greater level, impacting more
than the housing developments in my portfolio. I have partnered
with many, including local governments, Los Angeles Sheriff’s
Department, local police departments, church leaders and
members, businesses, social service groups, and non-profits to
enhance the quality of life for people residing within my portfolio
with great success and impact. Taking that success into the
community and enhancing it overall is where I see myself in the
Leonte, PhDEducation - Communication and Interpersonal Skills
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Professor Peaches
Kimberly (Glazier) Leonte utilized her strong
background in clinical psychology to develop
Professor Peaches, an extracurricular program in
which parents can enroll their elementary school-age children
to learn proven, lifelong, effective verbal communication skills.
Professor Peaches also partners with elementary schools by
integrating its curriculum into the existing school’s coursework.
She graduated from Tufts University in 2008 with a Bachelor
in Clinical Psychology and worked as a certified residential
counselor at McLean Hospital (a Harvard Medical School
affiliate) in the obsessive-compulsive disorder unit. Later,
while earning her Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Clinical
Psychology, Kimberly also worked as a clinical research
assistant at the New York State Psychiatric Institute for two
years, and subsequently as a clinical research assistant at
Mount Sinai Medical Center for two years. Additionally, she
was a counselor at Inter-Care, an outpatient substance use
treatment program for one year; and had one-year externships
at Bellevue Hospital Center, American Institute for Cognitive
Therapy, Schwalbe Psychological Services (neuropsychology
testing), and Max & Celia Parnes Family & Psychoeducational
Services. Kimberly’s internship was completed at Rogers
Memorial Hospital (Oconomowoc, WI), and her postdoctoral
fellowship is underway at Rogers Memorial Hospital (Chicago,
“Being able to work with different populations (e.g. anxiety,
depression, OCD, learning disorders, substance use) and age
ranges (young children through older adults) were invaluable
experiences. Over the years, I began thinking more and more
about how great it would be to target these issues before
they even start! Professor Peaches was born from this vision.
Instilling positive verbal communication skills within children
from their formative years will enhance their ability to overcome
obstacles and be successful in life. Graduates of the program
find themselves more articulate, even at their young age; and
are better able to express themselves, get along with others,
and achieve their goals as they grow up.”
Kimberly now serves as the CEO of Professor Peaches and
is actively involved in all aspects, spanning from minute
details to high-level decisions of the company. However, she
mainly focuses on course curriculum development, sales and
marketing, strategy setting, and overseeing the expansion of
“My most important responsibilities are to guide
the direction of the company and to ensure that
Professor Peaches is continually growing and
Her genuine passion for helping others is evident in her work.
“I love working individually with people to help them build new
skills, and to set and achieve their goals.”
She currently has 16 articles published and 15 posters
presented at national conferences; and is actively involved
in the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
(ABCT) and the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Foundation, where she was awarded its Trainee Poster Travel
Award for two consecutive years.
“As a member of both organizations, I attend
the yearly conferences and have chaired a
clinical round table presentation. In addition, I
was recently asked to (and subsequently did)
contribute work to the Misdiagnosis Association
Kimberly even used to play competitive basketball and was
recruited to play at the collegiate level.
“The internal drive I had for the countless hours of practicing
basketball is relevant today, because that same internal drive
propels my passion for Professor Peaches. Moreover, I never
viewed practicing basketball or my clinical training as “work”;
since I love what I do, I look forward to learning, practicing, and
refining my abilities.”
She and her husband (and Co-Founder of Professor Peaches),
Stefan, were recently married (June 2015).
“Stefan has worked in the financial industry within the
professional services and investment banking areas for the
past 10 years. His strong finance background and business
management skills, along with his volunteer work with
elementary school-age children and passion for helping children
make him the perfect complement to my own professional
background experiences and qualifications.”
Kimberly and Stefan have a puppy named Dewey, a red merle
“We are so very happy to have him as the first addition to our
Her free time is spent with Stefan and Dewey. They enjoy
playing ping-pong (minus the puppy), because Stefan proposed
to her while playing with the ring inside the ping-pong ball; and
taking road trips and going on weekend mini-vacations (with
the puppy). Aside from that, she likes basketball, tennis, bike
riding, reading, and writing song lyrics.
Kimberly would like to see generations of children that are
confident, effective, and empathic communicators.
“The skills to become a successful communicator are often
overlooked in formal education. Moreover, the ever-increasing
presence of technology is at the same time decreasing the
opportunities for children to learn and practice face-to-face
She hopes that Professor Peaches will make a difference in
children’s lives on a global level, so that children everywhere
will benefit from the advantages of being skilled verbal
9 Women of Distinction
Q: How does your background in clinical psychology translate
to teaching kids verbal communication through Professor
A: My strong background in child development, learning styles,
and the interaction between environmental and biological
factors allow me to truly understand and relate to children. My
clinical psychology training taught me that when working with
children, one aspect that is paramount to successful outcomes
is including the child’s parents or caregivers. Developing
strong rapport, a genuine understanding of the overall process,
and a strong collaborative working relationship with both the
child and parents is a must. These same core principles apply
to teaching kids verbal communication skills and are at the
heart of Processor Peaches. Furthermore, a critical goal as
a therapist is for my clients to continually develop a stronger
sense of mastery. The same goal is essential when teaching
children verbal communication skills. By promoting mastery,
children receive both an instant learning benefit and the ability
to continually learn, develop, and succeed long after their time
in therapy or at Professor Peaches.
Q: What are your goals for Professor Peaches?
A: Imparting strong verbal communication and interpersonal
skills within children during their formative years provides
immense benefits, such as increasing self-confidence, building
stronger family and social relationships, and instilling leadership
abilities. Since all children benefit from having refined verbal
communication skills, the vision for Professor Peaches lies at
the global level. Children everywhere deserve the very real
advantages associated with possessing strong communication
In the longer-term, we aim to also help adolescents and adults
build and refine their verbal communication skills. Our ultimate
goal is to eventually be able to help people across the full age
Q: Why do you believe verbal communication and interpersonal
skills are so important?
A: Communication is universal; all people, regardless of
factors such as age, gender, or race communicate. Moreover,
irrespective of an individual’s life goals, interpersonal skills
impact one’s overall personal and professional success. Even
for people who prefer less interpersonal contact, it is nearly
impossible to never interact with anyone. Verbal communication
skills also apply to a wide range of situations, like expressing
or selling one’s ideas, interests, needs, and desires; excelling
in school; obtaining and maintaining a job; progressing in
your career; and developing social and intimate relationships.
Everything we do is built upon communication!
Q: What exactly do communication and interpersonal skills
A: Communication and interpersonal skills in their purest form
are how we interact with and are received by others. It also
refers to how a person communicates with oneself, such as the
level of insight and self-awareness into one’s own actions and
reactions. The actual words a person says is one way that verbal
communication occurs. Nonverbals, such as body language,
eye contact, and facial expressions also contribute significantly
to how an individual and their message are received. Likewise,
the tone of voice, rate, and volume of speech impact the quality
and effectiveness of one’s verbal communication. Additionally,
communication occurs through the medium of written words
and images. Advances in technology are continually increasing
the ways for which communication transpires. Individuals who
are able to express themselves well across a range of settings
are more likely to have healthy relationships and navigate their
professional lives successfully.
Q: To what degree can these skills truly be taught to children?
A: These skills can 100% be taught to children. While some
people seem to be born great storytellers, amazing public
speakers, or strong leaders, the reality is that becoming a
skilled verbal communicator takes time and demands learning
and practice. As Mark Twain stated, “It usually takes me more
than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech”. The
attributes that ignite admiration from others, when broken down
into smaller steps, can be learned and mastered by anyone.
The first step is to understand the core elements behind
what makes an effective communicator; the characteristics
depend on the context at hand. For example, when giving a
presentation, some key elements include exuding passion for
the topic, changing the pace throughout the talk, and making
the audience care about what you are saying. However,
when meeting someone for the first time, the key areas that
embody strong interpersonal skills include being an active and
empathic listener, the ability to ask engaging questions, and
being able to share information about yourself. After learning
the basics, the next step is repeated practice to transition the
newly acquired skills into habit.
Q: Can you see Professor Peaches working in school
classrooms in parallel with your tutoring centers?
A: Earlier this year, we piloted Professor Peaches’ material in
a primary school with two teachers in their classrooms. The
feedback from the teachers and their students was exceptional,
and the ability of the program materials to work in the school
setting from the original Professor Peaches Center format
strongly supports the idea of developing strategic partnerships
with schools. Our goal is helping children develop their verbal
communication and interpersonal skills, and partnering with
schools is a great way to drastically increase the number of
children we are able to help.
10 Women of Distinction
Q: How are you different from your competition?
A: Most children’s tutoring programs focus on math,
reading/writing, test preparation, or the sciences. Of the few
communication programs in the market, the duration of the
programs range from a 1-week-long camp to 10 sessions
across five weeks. Brief time-limited trainings can provide a
strong understanding of the skills, but without continual practice
along with targeted feedback, true mastery is unlikely. The
Professor Peaches curriculum spans from kindergarten through
sixth grade; the curriculum uses numerous different teaching
methods in order to best stimulate learning, and the material is
aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Additionally,
homework is an important part of Professor Peaches, since
practicing the skills outside of the class session is essential
for transitioning new skills into routine. Another way Professor
Peaches stands out from its competition is that most other
programs focus on a narrow range of verbal communication
skills, such as public speaking or presentation abilities. At
Professor Peaches, we believe that verbal communication and
interpersonal abilities manifest in a wide range of scenarios
and aim to prepare children to be effective communicators
across varied settings.
Q: How does Professor Peaches measure the children’s
improvement as they progress through the program?
A: Improvement is measured using a powerful combination of
our proprietary assessment matrix, plus video footage of the
child. An initial assessment ascertains each child’s baseline
level coming into the program. Regular ongoing assessments
track each child’s progress and further highlight areas in which
the child is excelling and areas in which the child would benefit
from additional attention and assistance. Video is a critical tool
for us, as it provides an objective measure of growth, and the
insight offered to children from seeing themselves on video is
immense. Formal reports are provided and reviewed with both
the child and their parents.
Q: What role has research played in your career thus far, and
how do you envision it continuing in the future?
A: I’ve used research both as a source for knowledge, and
also as a means for shaping and sharpening my own research
hypotheses. The research area that grabs me the most relates
to education and training. For one of my studies, I designed,
developed, and tested the efficacy of a 30-minute educational
training video on OCD. I was also involved in research that
assessed the effectiveness of a 3-day workshop for training
medical health professionals in the basic principles of cognitive
behavioral therapy. For my postdoctoral fellowship, I created
four psychotherapy group modules and am collecting data on
the effectiveness of the following groups: communication skills,
mindfulness skills, cognitive skills, and behavioral skills.
The experience and knowledge gained from my prior research
projects set the stage for my passion for program development.
The principles and curriculum of Professor Peaches are
strategically and systematically built. The researcher part of
me knows that quality control and program enhancement can
only be done through methodically assessing and analyzing
the progress and outcomes of the children, which is why
Professor Peaches prides itself on using objective measures
to track children’s progress.
Q: What is the value of Professor Peaches to children?
A: The skills learned at Professor Peaches are simply
invaluable to children and are truly lifelong skills that will
continue delivering massive benefits many years after a child
has been through our program. At Professor Peaches, children
learn to overcome the many challenges that impede strong and
effective verbal communication. Building verbal communication
skills simultaneously enhances one’s self-confidence, so
Professor Peaches indirectly has a strong positive impact on
improving children’s self-concept. Moreover, children’s ability
to interact with and form positive and healthy relationships with
others benefits both their families and society at large.
11 Women of Distinction
12 Women of Distinction
Dr. Sue Cornbluth- Family Counselor, Certified Parenting Coach, Author, and TV Contributor
Education - Healthcare
President/Chief Executive Officer of the Consulting Firm - Parenting Beyond Trauma, LLC
Spring House, PA
13 Women of Distinction
“There isn’t one person in this world that hasn’t
experienced something painful. We have a choice to
either let these experiences consume our lives, or
let them be what they are; a part of our life.”
Dr. Sue Cornbluth set out on a journey to make
a difference in the lives of children and parents
when she earned a Master of Arts in Counseling
Psychology from Arcadia University (Glenside, PA) in 1995.
And while working on her Doctorate of Clinical Psychology
from Chestnut Hill College (Philadelphia, PA), she began
providing counseling for foster children in 1999.
“I’ve learned that in the worst of times, children
and families can become successful in life
if you provide them with the appropriate
educational tools and personal dedication. I
helped traumatized children build the highest
of self-esteem. My philosophy has always been
to show each and every one of my clients that
I believe in their potential in spite of what they
have been through.”
In 2002, Dr. Cornbluth moved from counseling foster children
to teaching psychology classes at Penn State University and
Temple University (for 10 years).
“I realized that I wanted to teach others how to
do the work I was doing and empower young
minds to see that they could make a big impact
on others’ lives.”
In 2011, she wrote a training manual called ‘The Ambiguous
Foster Child’, which is used by professionals across the
world. Dr. Cornbluth also began providing commentary on
childhood trauma and mental health issues for networks such
as MSNBC, FOX, NBC, and CBS in 2011.
“My commentary on the Jerry Sandusky Penn
State scandal and the Sandy Hook Elementary
School shootings catapulted my television
She fed her true passion for helping foster children the same
year by writing the best-selling book, ‘Building Self-Esteem
in Children and Teens Who are Fostered or Adopted’. The
book was published in 2014 by Jessica Kingsley Publishing
and voted 2014’s Must-Read Adoption Book of the Year by
15 Women of Distinction
“I’m extremely proud of that book, because it
provides professionals and parents with tools
to help traumatized kids.”
In 2012, Dr. Cornbluth founded Parenting Beyond Trauma,
LLC; a parent coaching company to help parents learn
how to cope with high conflict parenting situations such as
divorce and parent alienation. She also became a Certified
Breakthrough Parenting Coach in 2015.
“My goal in providing parent coaching is to
always treat others as I would want to be
treated. I always go the extra mile to help my
In 2014, she was named Top Professor and Child Advocate
by the Good Will Ambassador for World Peace for her work
with families and children; and honored as a Faculty Mentor
of the Year by Temple University.
Throughout the years, Dr. Cornbluth has also contributed to
several national publications and wrote an acclaimed monthly
parenting column in Parents Express magazine. She even
provided foster care trainings for two foster care facilities in
Pennsylvania and was a board member for the Terri Lynn
Lokoff Foundation (which promotes early childcare learning).
Dr. Cornbluth’s passion for helping others was influenced by
her mother and Nana. They taught her how to be a strong,
direct, and independent woman. This passion is why her work
doesn’t feel like work to her.
“I have this desire within me to see people
learn how to parent their children to become
successful, giving, and loving individuals. I
believe it can happen within any family, given
the proper tools and openness to learn. Making
a difference in people’s lives who are struggling
is such an empowering feeling. Knowing I’ve
had something to do with that is one of the
most amazing feelings in the world. Some
people are addicted to chocolate, whereas I’m
addicted to affecting other people’s lives in a
Yet, with everything she has accomplished in her life to date,
her biggest accomplishment is being a wife and a mother to
16 Women of Distinction
Q: Why is your high conflict parent coaching work so crucial
for families today?
A: We live in a world where divorce rates are very high.
People struggle looking for where to turn to for help, while
trying to keep their family intact. Divorced parents can learn to
co-parent after divorce and prevent their children from having
Q: What is the main key to helping divorced parents co-parent
A: The one thing that divorced parents tend to hang onto
following a divorce is their anger towards one another.
This is a normal response; however, it blocks them from
compromising and doing what is in the best interest of their
Q: What separates your parent coaching business apart from
A: First, we only provide counseling and coaching services
for high conflict parenting situations. Second, we focus on
parental alienation and provide clients with a strategic plan to
implement. Most of all, we treat our clients as we would want
to be treated ourselves.
Q: How do you empower your clients to take control of their
high conflict parenting situations?
A: First, I try to instill and teach my clients that they have to
become empowered mentally as individuals. They have to
learn to believe in who they are and what they are capable of
accomplishing. Self-belief is the key to moving through most
difficult parenting situations.
Q: How can individuals recover from traumatic experiences in
A: One step at a time; the most important aspect of
recovering from traumatic events is to begin to see yourself
as a survivor of the trauma, not as a victim.
Q: What would you tell children who are struggling with their
self-esteem and self-worth?
A: I tell them that they have the opportunity to define who they
are: “You define you.”
It’s not always about how others see you; it’s about how you
see yourself. No one can take that away from you.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of working with
A: The most rewarding aspect of my work is seeing progress
in family situations that appeared to be impossible. Nothing
is better than watching clients put a great deal of energy and
work into changing, and then seeing the results.
Q: Do you think that parents seek professional help as often
as they should when it comes to family issues?
A: I think things are improving in this area, but we are not
quite there yet. There is no shame in reaching out for help
as a parent. I’m a parenting expert and still need help
sometimes. No one is a perfect parent.
Q: What is your best advice for parents raising kids today?
A: I advise parents all the time to be their kids’ best role
models. This doesn’t mean that you don’t make mistakes
along the way. However, when you do make a mistake, take
responsibility for it. Your kids will respect you more for doing
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: In five years, I see myself continuing as the President of
Parenting Beyond Trauma, LLC. Currently, we’re expanding
to offer online classes. I will continue to help parents and
families manage high conflict parenting situations. I would
also love to have my own talk show that focuses on parenting
topics. (A girl can dream can’t she?)
17 Women of Distinction
Gibson Miller Clergy, Public Health
Co-Pastor and Administrator
Gates Of Joy Christian Fellowship, Inc.
Retired: Public Health Administrative Secretary
“As a young woman, God began to really birth a
desire in me to minister to others, especially teenage
In 1987 as a youth Sunday school teacher, Betty Gibson
Miller began a forum at her local church, which was
entitled “Teen Talk.” This forum was specifically meant
for helping teenage girls deal with the various transitions
that are generally associated with adolescence and young
adults. However, two years later, Betty began a career within
the Georgia Department of Public Health and began working
at the Pierce County Health Department as a Healthcare
Receptionist. Twenty years later, in 2009, Betty retired from
her career in Public Health.
“I’ve never really considered the ministry
as a career; I consider it my life’s calling.
It is my personal conviction that the call to
ministry, along with a heartfelt desire to make
a positive difference in the lives of others have
contributed to my longevity in this present, and
hopefully ongoing venture.”
Betty now serves as co-pastor and church administrator of
Gates of Joy Christian Fellowship. Her main roles within the
church are to teach, to train, and to encourage the members
of her local church in their “Christian walk” and becoming
productive citizens of the community. Both Betty and her
husband also oversee the business aspects of the church,
such as bookkeeping, program preparation, and other
pertinent tasks that ensure the ministry functions as efficiently
as possible on a daily basis.
“My meager upbringing, being taken from my family and being
placed in foster care, produced a mindset that destroyed
my healthy sense of self-worth. I’ve had to overcome this
debilitating mindset with its accompanying fear and shattered
I have been exposed to some very ‘uncomfortable’ conditions
that God ultimately used to produce in me a type of strength
and courage to remain committed to my cause, and overcome
the obstacles that would prevent me from fulfilling my destiny,
and thus helping others realize theirs.”
As a genuinely passionate person, Betty truly cares about
the well being of others. However, she finds it difficult to find
sincere people, and that most people are reluctant to really
opening up and receiving the counseling and help that they
need, which Betty knows will allow them to effectively combat
personal difficulties and ultimately rise above their struggles.
“I really care about people and I want to see
others succeed and be the very best that they
can be. It’s the personal, painful things I’ve been
through that have served to produce this type
of demeanor and has formed a genuine passion
to help others, using my own past struggles
as a catalyst to help launch others to on their
journey to personal greatness and fulfillment.”
When she isn’t busy with the church, Betty enjoys reading,
listening to music, having good, positive conversations with the
important people in her life. Betty also enjoys spending time
with and encouraging her two children, and four grandchildren.
“It has been said that the ultimate secret of life
is the sure knowledge of death; for this cause,
one strives to leave their mark upon the earth. I
want to leave definite evidence that I did during
my sojourn here.”
18 Women of Distinction
After moving to Atlanta in 1998, Brenda Lee Thomas
started Brenda’s Cleaning Service. However, after
getting laid off from the DeKalb County Board of
Education in 2012, Brenda realized her passion and became a
“The motivation was always there because of
my deceased mother Mrs. Hazel Lee Coley. I can
remember it like it was yesterday. Watching her as a
little girl cleaning, washing, and polishing silver of the
wealthy. Also, I was memorized how she would wash,
ironed and neatly fold their clothing with creases to
make certain that all of the whites, and colors matched.
I guess you would say, she was my inspiration and
instilled in me those wonderful skills and traits, which
have made me the person and businesswomen that I
Additionally, Brenda’s two daughters inspired, assisted, and
inevitably helped her to create Healthy Cleaning Systems.
As the President of Healthy Cleaning Systems, Brenda’s roles
include marketing, bookkeeping, sales, auditing, designing,
and the actual cleaning.
“I perform and work through all the ‘departments’ of
my company while attempting to evolve and become
the best person and vendor in this profession. I also
keep abreast on other janitorial services and what they
As a multifaceted cleaning service, Healthy Cleaning Systems
offers commercial, residential, construction, and crime scene
cleanups. Brenda recalls when she first started in the business
and spent her days cleaning horrifically disgusting rooms for
$50 a day.
“You must be willing to put in long, hard hours, be
patient, and just stay focused on your goals.”
Q: Why do you feel that your business is relevant in today’s
A: Obviously because a clean environment is a healthy
Q: Do you believe that your business will stay relevant?
A: Of course! People will always need something cleaned.
Cleanliness is something that never goes out of style.
Q: Why do we need more women in this profession?
A: To balance out the opportunities for all ethnic groups. This
would allow more women to tap into the cleaning industry,
which has been dominated by male figures for years.
Q: Why choose HCS to clean for your company?
A: HCS has been severing the Metro Atlanta community
for ten years with the mission to provide affordable and
accountable service so that people are not overwhelmed by
financial constraints as they relate to day-to-day cleaning
Q: What does HCS do differently?
A: We use eco-green clean environmentally friendly products.
In addition, we will always treat each job like it’s our only job,
and we won’t stop until the job is done.
Q: What does HCS offer that others don’t?
A: Integrity, licensed bonded and insured. We have employees
that are well trained and dressed to complete the task. Also,
we offer employment to those with prior records and giving
them a second chance in life.
Q: Does HCS offer any community services?
A: Yes, we offer cleaning to the elderly once a year free of
charge cleaning and we raffle off gift certificates to promote
our business while helping those who may not be able to
afford it regularly. We also participate in fundraising within
the communities. We work with Redan High School in Stone
Mountain, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, and (APD) Atlanta
Public Department School Systems
Q: Why choose HCS?
A: First of all, we’re family orientated, owned, and operated. We
are unique cleaning company that has been cleaning for three
generations and thrives on pleasing our customers, which will
hopefully call again.
Having been around the business since she was a child, Brenda
knows that working in a profession where other professional
women do not want to share their knowledge can be extremely
difficult and frustrating.
“They know the ins and outs of the business very well,
but most are unwilling to help. Therefore, if you want to
be in this business, you must make certain that this is
your destiny and calling.”
Brenda is a member of the National Association of Professional
Women (NAPW) and was a feature in the People You Need to
Know (PYNTK) magazine in 2013.
“I love spending time with my two daughters, Emori
Nicole Harris and Nichelle Renee’ Thomas, and my
three grandsons, Little Dre, Andrew, and Andre Paul.
I’m so proud of all of them.”
Although Brenda doesn’t get very much free time, she spends
whatever downtime she does have is spent exercising. She
enjoys working out by lifting weights, walking Stone Mountain,
roller-skating, and riding her bike. Brenda also enjoys going see
a good movies and reading to become more knowledgeable
about her business and craft.
“Healthy Cleaning System is one of the best janitorial
cleaning companies out here, and that no matter
what your previous cleaning experience have been
I’m certain we would surpass it. And would love the
opportunity to show you just what we can do. And
when you are feeling down and out, and it seems like
there’s no hope remember: triumph and trials brings
In the following interview, Brenda discusses her career, the
field, and what keeps Healthy Cleaning Services at the top of
20 Women of Distinction
Cindy Joy Marvin
Parent Coaching, Family Coaching and Education
Founder of Repairenting
Certified Parenting Coach and Trusted Advisor
21 Women of Distinction
After graduating from Rider University in New
Jersey with a Bachelor of Science in Business
Administration (Marketing/Management), working
for various retail chains as a department manager and fashion
consultant, and 15 years in finance industry; Cindy Joy Marvin
needed a change. While she enjoyed the work, she no longer
felt fulfilled. Something was missing.
Around the same time, Cindy was going through a divorce
and felt lonely.
“My family lived too far away to provide much
needed support; and my friends were either
married or single without children and couldn’t
relate to my issues. It seemed as though I
was on my own and had to do it all. I had to
be a super mom and an efficient employee;
a creative cook, bottle washer, accountant,
landscaper, and maid all rolled into one. I was
feeling so overwhelmed.”
However, raising a seven-year-old son alone wasn’t easy for
“One night in 2011, I sat in my living room in tears after yelling
at my son to take a shower. This was just one of the battles
we had that day. I had worked all day, just finished cleaning
up the kitchen after dinner, and I was beat. I didn’t want any
more arguing; just compliance and my bed. My head hurt
and I wasn’t in the mood. He could feel something was up,
was very clingy, and didn’t want to do anything I asked of
him. Instead of giving myself a break and connecting with my
son by giving him the hug he needed, I gave him a swat on
the behind. He ran into the bathroom and took his shower
screaming and crying. What an ugly scene. I felt horrible and
ultimately apologized to my little one, but I doubted myself
at every turn. How would I raise a self-assured, respectable,
and resilient young man, if I couldn’t even get him to take a
shower? I needed help; and fast.”
She began doing research by reading books, scouring the
internet, and asking for help. Over the next three years, Cindy
enrolled and graduated with a coaching certification from the
Robbins-Madanes Strategic Intervention Program; which led
to certifications from the Jai Institute Parenting Education and
Boys Alive Parenting programs.
“I just couldn’t get enough. Where was all this juicy
information years ago? I could’ve saved so much time and
Cindy’s family, friends, teachers, and ladies in her son’s
aftercare program all agreed that the world needed more
people with her skills. Since then, she has reached out to her
community and helped families with the tools and techniques
“They were so grateful and happy. I feel that due to all the
pain and suffering I went through, and how I’ve transformed,
I must pay it forward. If I can help a mom get through a
stressful situation, or pass effective communication tools to a
dad to stop him from hitting his son, that is a win-win for all.
‘Repairenting’ is looking for more wins to put in the toolbox!
Households that were once broken are being repaired and
rebuilt with a much stronger foundation of communication,
empathy, and compassion. Parents are now aware of
Repairenting’s peaceful paradigm, and there is less arguing
and fighting with more cooperation and communication.”
So many parents are searching for answers or want to
change the way they parent, but don’t know how.
“I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some. Parents
don’t have to be frustrated, mad, or unsure anymore. The
Repairenting Tools are just that; tools for parents to repair
and rebuild their family into one that experiences more joy,
happiness, cooperation, and harmony. Time is one commodity
you can’t get back, and it’s constantly ticking away. Let’s start
working together to get those answers and bring harmony
She has now been servicing clients for over 20 years, working
with them on a daily basis to understand the context of where
they were in their life and what was going on with them the
day and hour they were calling her for help or advice.
“I’ve developed a unique and close relationship with many
of my clients, and they’ve trusted me with their personal and
financial issues. When you stop to listen to a client’s concern,
without interruption and with respect, they feel heard and are
very appreciative. I’ve been told over the years by my clients
that I really ‘get it’. I listen without judgment and treat clients
like real human beings. When the phone rings, they get me
instead of an automated message. That’s rare nowadays.”
Her greatest inspiration has been Tony Robbins, because of
his approach to helping people realize their true potential,
his teachings of six human needs, and his whole philosophy
about living life to the fullest.
“Most of us run around all day long and never stop to
appreciate the thing we’ve been running around all day for.
When this begins to affect our family and children, it will alter
the course of the next generation that we (as parents) are
raising; a generation that will have their own families and will
be running our schools, governments, and world economy.
The Repairenting philosophy is to start appreciating what
we have and begin to make better decisions for our family’s
success. I also learned from Tony to not be afraid to fail.
Everyone has failed at one time or another. Failure is just a
way we found out if something didn’t work. Once you now
know that whatever you were working on didn’t work, you
can strike it off the list and try something different that might
actually work. Failure is just an opportunity to try it a different
way! This has been a huge tool for me personally; something
I’ve passed on to my son.”
22 Women of Distinction
This has allowed Cindy to focus on helping suffering parents
create a new and empowering mindset about their approach
to parenting, so they can enjoy parenting again.
“I bring a new compassionate awareness to
parents struggling to relate to their children,
while providing a safe space to educate
parents without judgment on how to heal their
childhood traumas, so they can repair the
relationship with their children and become
more loving, mindful, and effective parents. The
tools of empathy and compassion I use have
been proven to positively change the lives of
She wants others to know that it’s ok to get rid of the notion of
“perfection” for themselves and their kids.
“We are all human and therefore, we’ll never be perfect. If
you’re not perfect, don’t expect your kids to be. However,
there are a million ways to be a great parent! As life goes
on, we only have about 16 years to connect with our
children before their friends become ‘more important’. I
continually educate myself about the ‘skills’ of parenting,
so I can bring fresh, yet proven techniques to my clients
to make those first 16 years count. If the relationship
between parent and child is one of mutual respect,
compassion, and love, then when their children go off
into the world, they’ll always think of their parents as
And aside from her work, Cindy would like to be remembered
as a great mom who loved her son dearly.
“I want him to become a man of honor;
someone with compassion and empathy
towards others; someone who’s trustworthy
and self-confident; someone resilient enough
to take the road less traveled and stand up for
himself; and above all, someone who can find
happiness and contentment within his world.”
23 Women of Distinction
Inspirational Motivational Speaker
Mission, British Columbia, Canada
24 Women of Distinction
Denise Wozniak’s grandparents moved from
England to Canada in March 1927 to start a
dairy farm and seek a better life. Despite the cold
weather and snow, they didn’t let anything dampen their
spirits. They established a successful business through hard
work and a strong attitude. This proved to Denise that you
can’t wish your life was better; you have to make it better.
After being diagnosed with HIV in 1996, Denise came to the
realization that the only way to fight the stigma associated
with HIV/AIDS and support families living with the illness was
to speak about it.
“I was very afraid of what the personal
consequences might be in terms of personal
attacks against me, so I began with a friendly
audience by speaking to doctors and nurses;
those in the medical field. They told me that this
helped them understand what someone with
HIV goes through.”
It wasn’t long until Denise was asked to speak on national
radio and TV; and featured in national newspapers.
“This was a time when people were very fearful
of HIV. I felt they had to see someone with it to
understand that anyone can get HIV; there isn’t
a certain look or persona.”
As a speaker in general, Denise does a lot of preparation for
her speeches. Besides the hours of practice she puts in, she
gets as much stage time as possible at Toastmasters to help
her with vocal variation, where to stand, how to look around,
and audience involvement.
“After all the preparation, I still need to be
authentic and be honest with my audience. I
have to think about what people want to hear
and how it will apply to them. The audience is
the most important part. I want them to feel that
they gained a new perspective to help them
move forward and grow from listening to me.”
People asked Denise to speak to them about her story,
because they found it inspirational.
“After many speeches and talking to others
about their life problems, I was getting fabulous
feedback and it encouraged me that I was
definitely on track.”
She offers the following advice for other speakers:
“(1) Understand how you can help your
audience. (What are you an authority on and
will it help others? (2) Get a good coach who
will shorten your learning curve. I‘ve attended
Lady and the Champs coaching and found
it invaluable. (3) Get as much stage time as
possible and be prepared to practice every
day. (4) Always find new material to keep your
audience engaged. Don’t use old stories.”
Denise even co-authored a UNAIDS booklet about children
affected by and living with AIDS and is currently writing a book
(called ‘Katie’) on how she found out that her daughter had
AIDS and she had HIV; and the resulting secrecy surrounding
women and HIV. She is also a member of Toastmasters
International and a former Board Member of the International
Coalition of Women Living with HIV, North America.
In her free time, she explores her love of photography;
something that helps her appreciate the beauty in everyday
life. She also has two dogs (poodle and Doberman Pinscher)
that keep her very busy. Additionally, she is often asked to
speak at her local HIV/AIDS organization and at workshops
during an annual gathering of people with HIV.
Despite everything, Denise wouldn’t change anything about
“It may seem ludicrous when you consider that
my child died and I got HIV. However, all those
things led me to where I am today. They gave
me life lessons. Who can say where my life may
have otherwise led. I’ve been through the gamut
of life; including divorced parents, extreme loss,
grief, poverty, depression, verbal and physical
abuse, and PTSD. In the end, I’m thankful for
the support I’ve received, and the wonderful
experiences I’ve had in life. I’m especially
thankful for being married to a wonderful man
who is not HIV positive and loves me for who I
25 Women of Distinction
Q: What do you envision for the speaking business in the
A: I envision more women speakers at business conferences,
because I believe that companies are recognizing that women
are under-represented in this area. There are many incredibly
talented and inspirational women speakers.
Q: What has changed in your business over the years?
A: Technology has had an enormous effect on marketing
and on speaking. Marketing is through websites, and you
have to be very savvy on how to use social media to get your
message across. Not all social media is a good platform for
business, but podcasts, webinars, and YouTube have made
you more accessible and promote you as a speaker.
Q: What is your advice for people who want to become a
A: Go to Toastmasters to learn your timing, get evaluated, and
learn various facets of speaking (i.e. body language, visual
aids, and engaging an audience). After that, attend speaker
training by professional coaches, be prepared to invest in
yourself, and treat speaking as a skill that needs to be honed.
Get familiar with technology. Decide how much you want to
Q: What do you notice about poor speakers?
A: (1) Terrible PowerPoint presentations; too many slides,
filling slides with words that are already being spoken, and
overcrowded with information no one has time to read. (2)
Crutch and filler words, like “um”, “ah”, and “ya know”. (3)
Going over speaking times. (4) No stories; people connect
Q: Do you prefer to be independent or with a speaker
A: I believe both are important. Speaker agencies can have
many speakers for event planners to choose from. However,
being independent can help event planners negotiate fees
one-on-one to include handouts, workbooks, day-long
Q: Do seasoned speakers get stage fright?
A: Yes, but I have various practices to avoid it. One, which
I learned in elementary school, is to repeat the alphabet
backwards. I find it keeps me in the moment and loosens up
my voice. I also always sing my favorite song and listen to
upbeat music on my way to the venue.
Q: What is the most important part of your business?
A: You must keep event planners happy. Obviously, if the
audience gives good reviews, it makes them happy they hired
you; but there’s more to it than that. You need to touch base
when you arrive and find out how you can be of assistance.
Know the stage set-up, the visuals, and vocal arrangements.
Keep to your allotted time; don’t take up time from the
following speaker or make your audience late for breaks. I
always thank event planners for their confidence in me after
an event. Your job doesn’t end once you leave the venue.
Q: What don’t people understand about the speaking
A: How much planning and preparation go into a speech.
People can be surprised at the amount speakers earn for an
hour speech or a workshop, but they have to consider the
amount of time it takes to prepare and market a speaking
business; and the capital and time investment. It just doesn’t
make sense when a conference spends more on coffee and
cookies, than it does on its speakers.
Q: What’s the difference between a large audience and a
A: With large audiences (over 1,000), you usually have a
teleprompter. This can be helpful, but also a hindrance.
If you focus or rely on it, you can look as though you are
reading; and heaven forbid it should stop working! With larger
audiences, you tend to only see front rows, as people can
be extremely far away. I’ve found that the energy in a large
audience can be fabulous. Small audiences are obviously
more intimate and easier for taking questions.
Q: What is the most gratifying aspect of your business?
A: Individuals telling me I made a difference in their lives. One
man told me he had lost his whole family to the massacre in
Rwanda and was glad that I gave my speech. It touched me
deeply that my small pain and how I dealt with it could help
him with his enormous suffering. It was very humbling.
26 Women of Distinction
“When you have a bad day, a really, really bad day,
try and treat the world better than it treated you.” –
Christina Bomengo would like to be remembered as
someone who lived by those words.
However, bad days seem far and few between for her. After
graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University - College at
Florham in May 2014, Christina’s internship experience helped
her get hired at New York University (NYU).
“I can’t stress enough how important
internships can be; they can make all the
difference when you’re just entering the
workforce. Internships make you stand out
against other prospective employees. There’s
nothing like having real life experiences to draw
from when trying to impress employers.”
Her first internship was at the Child & Family Policy Center
at NYU, where as a high school student, she worked as a
research assistant.After college, this internship helped land her
a position at the same institution, creating a website and social
media campaign for playLab NYU that was being developed by
her former mentor. From there, Christina had the opportunity to
recreate a website for Insights Intervention, another lab within
Later, in November 2014, Christina was hired as a freelance
Social Media Coordinator for the New York Fire Department
“I greatly enjoyed this position and loved
educating the public about fire safety via social
She believes that social media is a powerful medium to make
“Under my control, the many social accounts under the
Foundation’s umbrella flourished. In September 2015, after a
year of trying to put my freelance days behind me and obtain
a steady ‘9-5’, I was hired as the Campaign Coordinator for
the Staten Island Media Group. I had previously interned as
a college student with its affiliate, the Staten Island Advance
(in the editorial section). I’m really enjoying this new learning
experience and love facing each day’s new challenge.”
As a Campaign Coordinator, Christina ensures that all
campaigns are pacing towards their goals evenly without falling
flat; and addresses any changes that need to be made along
the way. She also supplies advertisers with metrics, so they can
see the concrete impact of their campaigns; whether it be more
traffic to their website, or an increase in sales due to print ad
campaigns. Sales representatives receive similar metrics, so
they can advise their advertisers on any optimization changes
that need to be made.
While she is very young in comparison to most of her industry
peers, she shouldn’t be underestimated. Christina is a force
to be reckoned with and will succeed at anything she puts her
mind to. However, it’s more important for her family and friends
to remember the love and joy they received from her, as well
as her positive outlook on life.
Christina BomengoAdvertising and Social Media - Content Marketing and Social Media Analytics
Campaign Coordinator - Staten Island Media Group
Staten Island, NY
27 Women of Distinction
Q: Why is digital marketing so important?
A: Digital marketing is important for the growth, relevance, and
revenue of any business. Your constant goal as a business
owner or organization leader is to get your name out there
and get people to pay attention to you. If everyone’s noses
are constantly stuck in their phones, why aren’t you hitting
them smack in the face with your ads? It’s incredibly easy and
affordable to develop and maintain your web presence, and get
noticed with digital ads. There are hundreds of ways to interact
with the specific audience you want to reach with audience
targeting tools that will drive business and web traffic to you,
resulting in an increase in sales or awareness.
Q: What are the challenges of being so young in comparison
to others in your field?
A: Fortunately, coworkers have always treated me equally and
with respect; always valuing my opinion and never second-
guessing my intelligence. The personal challenge I face is that
I always feel I need to prove myself to others in the field. I
never want people to look at me and think, “You wouldn’t know
this, because you’re so young and inexperienced.” While I am
young, I’m always learning and absorbing. I’m definitely not
inexperienced. Someone will always be better than me and
I may not have all the answers, but I’m capable of learning
quickly and working out issues on my own.
Q: What would you say to the older crowd who does not see
the importance of digital marketing and social media?
A: Part of my job is educating clients on the importance of
connecting with millennials and keeping up with the times,
and ways to do this. I present them with the cold hard facts.
Facebook has 968 million daily active users, 500 million tweets
are sent per day, and 43% of all searches are done on mobile
phones via various search engines. It’s not hard to see why if
a business or organization isn’t on social media, has a mobile-
friendly website, comes up in the top results on Google or
Bing, or isn’t advertising online, that no one will know about
their products or services. Digitally savvy businesses have a
Q: Where do you see your industry in five years?
A: It’s hard to say, because we are constantly searching for
the next big thing and better, more advanced ways to stay
connected. I would imagine that one day, most likely in my
lifetime, there will be glasses with phones in them and ways
to communicate and send ads holographically. We never know
when the next product or service will come out that will change
the scope of our digital world or how we live our daily lives, but
we always adjust as a population. The businesses that do not
adjust or take advantage of these new technological advances
will fall short and become irrelevant.
Q: How important is it for a business or organization to be
digitally and socially engaged?
A: It’s extremely important, because people are always
searching online for new products and services; and if your
business isn’t being advertised digitally, or you’re seriously
lacking in the social media department, consumers and
potential customers will be less likely to trust you. Nowadays,
people are less likely to trust businesses who lack a Facebook
page (or have an inactive one) or ones that have a website
they can’t view correctly on their mobile phone. In order to stay
relevant in a digital world, you have to have some digital best
practices. If you can’t figure it out or keep up with it yourself,
outsource it. There are plenty of companies that can be hired
to serve your ads to your targeted audience and keep up with
your social media accounts.
28 Women of Distinction
Ms. Joella Grace SimmonsTravel Agent
Youth Behavioral Specialist
Travel & Tour Specialist with a niche in family travel
Youth Behavioral Specialist
29 Women of Distinction
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you
encounter various trials; 3
knowing that the testing of
your faith produces endurance. 4
And let endurance
have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect
and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4
Throughout her life, Joella Grace Simmons has
endured her share of trials, but they ultimately led
her to better place. Her life has been consumed with
grace and mercy from the time she was born.
It all started at the age of five, when she was hit by a car and
her scull was crushed on the right side. Joella fell into a coma
and the doctors told her mother that she would probably be a
vegetable if she survived. However, her mother refused to give
up on her.
“She strongly believed that if I did come out of the coma, I
would be as good as new. Three months later, I came out of
the coma, but I didn’t talk; even though I recognized my mother
and father. However, the lady who was driving the car that hit
me use to come to the hospital everyday and read books to
me, as well as bring me stuffed animals. I had one favorite
book that she would read me about a red tricycle. She told me
that if I talked, she’d buy the tricycle for me. Months later, when
she came in to see me, I started talking; so she came back with
the tricycle the next day.”
Several months after that, the doctors allowed Joella to go
home, but she had to be careful, because she had a soft spot
in her head and if she bumped, she would die. Additionally,
she had small pieces of her scull embedded in her brain, so
her brain needed time to heal before the doctors would put a
plate in her head. Nevertheless, she eventually made a 100%
recovery from the accident with no symptoms.
“At a young age, I learned how to persevere through trials. This
helped strengthen me for the journey ahead.”
Joella went on to graduate from Alvernia College (now Alvernia
University) in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
Administration. She wanted to work with juveniles and started
applying for jobs in that field. Unfortunately, she couldn’t find
the job she wanted and was offered a position as a parking
enforcement officer. After two years of doing that, she would
spend the next several years in jobs that allowed her to gain
skills and learn lessons that have helped shaped her into the
person she is today.
Years later, Joella took a job as a substitute school teacher for
grades K-12. This was the beginning of her work with children.
“I was afraid at first, because I didn’t know what to expect. But
when I started, I found that it was rewarding and challenging.
I loved the challenge, because it helped me work harder and
brought out the best in me. After four years, I began working
as a youth behavioral specialist at a children’s home, where
I taught life and social skills to young boys who were once
Additionally, she found a niche in affordable family and faith
based travel; finding destinations that are affordable for
“I believe that everyone should be able to go on vacation
and experience new things. Often times, people with children
can’t afford to go on vacation. I went on vacation to Disney
World one year with another travel agency when my son was
younger, and some of the families on the trip misread the ad
for the trip. The price was for the transportation and hotel stay
was included, but not the price of admission to the park. As a
result, people were upset and some families could not take
their children into the park. They had to enjoy the week at the
hotel and find other things to do around Orlando.”
In order to expand her knowledge on travel destinations, Joella
has been taking classes from the Travel Academy and has the
• Hawaii Islands Specialist
• The Greater Fort Lauderdale Specialist
• TravelSafe Specialist
• AMResorts Master Agent
•Oceania Cruises Expert
• Omni Hotels and Resorts Specialist
• River Cruises Specialist
• Iberostar Meetings Specialist
• St. Kitts Agent Destination Specialist
• MGM Resorts International Master Specialist
• Caribbean vacation information
She also has been receiving information from state (New
York, New Orleans, Ohio, Maryland, Georgia, and Washington
D.C.) welcome centers about what they have to offer visitors
(attractions and activities) for free or at a low cost for family
You can search for and book an affordable trip for your
family by going to http://www.jsparadisetravel.com and http://
In today’s health-conscious society, why are there over
one million heart attacks in America every year? More
than 500,000 people die from cancer annually; another
370 million suffer from diabetes. What is making us so sick?
While there are thousands of books on nutrition, “Take
Charge of Your Health” (Clovercroft Publishing—January
2015) by Lilli Taylor Hetherington provides scientifically-based
food for thought: you can fight disease, strengthen your body,
turn back the clock simply by giving your body the sound
nutrition it needs, and to avoid the premature obituary column!
“Take Charge of Your Health” offers a new paradigm on diet
and nutrition that can transform your life. Integrating biblical
principles and nutritional advice based on the latest in cutting-
edge science, “Take Charge of Your Health” will energize your
mind, body and spirit to levels you never imagined. As you
fuel your body with foods that complement your health and
longevity, you’ll add years to your life. In fact, independent
studies confirm that the book’s dietary recommendations can
extend your lifespan by up to twenty-nine years!
Hetherington has spent over thirty years studying and
speaking on nutrition and disease. When stricken with a rare
blood disease in 1989, she turned her life around through the
principles she now shares with others around the world. “Our
bodies, if given the right nutrients, have the ability to rebuild
themselves all the way down to the cellular level,” says
Hetherington, today completely recovered from an illness that
mystified medical professionals. “If you’re sick and tired of
being sick and tired, I can help you open the door to better life
Through her own journey toward optimal health, Lilli Taylor
Hetherington has coached thousands—including those
suffering from terminal cancer and degenerative disease—
to a quality of life they never imagined. Over the years,
hundreds of clients have shared their stories on her Dallas-
based radio programs heard on KWRD 100.7 FM, KSKY 660
AM, and on Believers in Business on KVCE 1160 AM. For
more information, visit www.takechargeofyourhealth.org.
Health Coach, Author
- Take Charge of Your Health
31 Women of Distinction
Q: What are some of the specific conditions women are
struggling with today?
A: The diseases that are killing women before their time, and
are mostly totally preventable, are as follows: Heart Disease,
which causes 1 in 4 deaths and is preventable. Several
cancers including breast cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal
cancer. Cancer is totally preventable by proper nutrition.
Strokes, which cannot only be deadly, but are also a leading
cause of disability. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD), which is often caused by smoking. Alzheimer’s
disease, which progressively degenerates one’s brain,
leading to severe memory loss and ultimately to total mental
impairment. Diabetes, which affects about one in 10 women
ages 20 and older. All of these are totally preventable with the
proper knowledge. There are other causes of death; but the
conditions mentioned here are not related to old age or any
age, only to our diet and lifestyle. No matter what your age,
there are dietary and lifestyle steps you can take to guard
against your life being snuffed out prematurely.
Q: What would some of those steps be?
A: Eating right, exercising regularly, practicing good hygiene,
reducing environmental toxins, consuming selective organic
supplements — these will all offer fabulous benefits. All of this
is explained in my book, plus more.
Q: What is involved in doing a consultation with you?
A: When you do a consultation with me, we will first clarify
what your needs are, then I will list the foods that will heal
your body of whatever condition concerns you. I will also
list the foods that are contributing to that problem, for your
personal knowledge. Most people are clueless and mindlessly
eat the very foods that are making them sick. Since you can’t
get what you need in your foods alone today, I’ll also tell you
the selective organic supplements you need to take, how
to take each one, how each one specifically betters your
condition. There is no guess work here! Our nutritional plans
have stood the test of time for over 40 years successfully
working with many people. Whether it’s 4th stage cancer
or mere low energy, they get well. Our clinically tested
supplements have stood the test of time for over 60 years.
Q: What is the formal definition of a health span?
A: Your health span is the period of your life during which
you are generally healthy and free from serious or chronic
illness. In many areas of this country, there is a serious gap
between health span and life span. In many or even most
cases, our longer lifespan is due to advancement from the
pharmaceutical industry and the surgical community. They
are doing their best to keep us alive longer with what I would
call “sick care” — state of the art procedures and expensive
medications. We are alive, but so often dependent on
pharmaceuticals and our days are being spent at doctor’s
offices and rehab. We are living longer but not necessarily
healthier. The longer we live the more vulnerable we become
to degenerative illnesses like cancer, heart disease and
diabetes. So taking preventative healthy steps early on can
improve your chances of living long and living well.
Q: How would you sum up our discussion and your take on
A: To live long and well calls for a mostly vegetarian diet
with beans, rice, and fish from the wild, with fins and scales
as protein sources. Get in some physical exercise, get 8
hours of sleep, drink enough water, take certified organic
supplements (not synthetics which are toxic) and make sure
you are consuming plenty of anti-oxidants. I hope by now you
are committed to ensuring your health span matches your life
span. And may I share a little secret with you? Your health
is not just about you. It affects the whole family. Many adult
children are having to quit their own jobs just in order to now
care for mothers and fathers who should have taken charge
of their health. Good nutrition = Good Health. Poor nutrition
= Poor Health. Incidentally, sometimes I hear eating healthy
and taking selective supplements is just too expensive. If you
feel that way, let me do a little reality check. Many medical
procedures are extremely expensive and leave you with poor
quality of health. Medical bills are the number one cause of
bankruptcy. We are saving people’s lives and also offering
quality of health.
You can listen to her podcast at:
32 Women of Distinction
It only took one job fair in 1998 for Nicole Marie Drone to
find something that satisfied her natural curiosity of the
economy and desire to help people. This came with a
strong personal determination to be in an industry that was
not welcoming to someone with her lack of connections and
She has since worked in many different areas of banking,
working her way up the corporate ladder; and was the only
African-American female commercial lender along the way.
As a result, Nicole is considering authoring a book about her
experiences as a “lone wolf” in the corporate banking world.
Today, as a Credit Officer for EDC Loan Corporation (an
affiliate of Economic Development Corporation of Kansas
City or EDCKC) in Kansas City, Missouri; Nicole assesses the
credit worthiness of applicants by analyzing credit reports and
tax returns (business and personal), and visits work sites. She
then compiles her assessments for presentation to the board
of directors/loan committee to make the final decision.
Nicole is also an alumnus of the Women’s Employment
Network, and works as an Ambassador to businesses, and
new and potential graduates; giving her testimonial of how they
helped her develop. She has even been included in promotional
ads and media; and her daughter is currently in the program.
Additionally, Nicole serves as a professional in Prep-KC, an
initiative of the City of Kansas City that helps high school
students with career exploration; where she participates in
various chamber events, conferences, and is often called on
as a panelist to discuss financing options to small businesses
by various unions and organizations around the city.
- Government Program Administration
Credit Officer - EDC Loan Corporation
(an affiliate of Economic Development
Corporation of Kansas City or EDCKC)
Kansas City, MO
Like the legendary artist, Prince; Nicole is someone who
doesn’t assimilate or conform to what society does and is very
“Prince is unapologetically himself. I totally relate to him and
his music. That’s why I’m a huge fan! At a concert in 2004, he
personally picked me out of the audience and let me come up
on stage to dance with him! He even handed me the mic and
let me sing a line of his song, ‘Kiss’; and looked me in the eye
and nodded his head in validation after. I had lived.”
Nicole was recently married in April 2015. She and her husband
have five children, two grandchildren (with a third on the way),
and an American bulldog (named Bruiser) between them.
Nicole also has a lot of nieces and nephews that she spends
time with. In addition, she enjoys writing poetry and decorating
She hopes to be remembered as a person who defied odds
and stereotypes; an example of an “overcomer”.
“My parents were teenagers and never
married when I was born. And my father was
incarcerated when I was three-years-old until
I was 37. I grew up in the late 70s and 80s as a
latchkey kid in the inner city with no real life or
a positive role model; but I became the change I
wanted to see.”
33 Women of Distinction
Q: What is the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of
A: It’s a statutory agency of the City of Kansas City, Missouri;
designed to stimulate the economy by attracting and retaining
businesses with an emphasis on job creation.
Q: How does the EDC Loan Corporation fit in with the EDC?
A: We offer low cost, low down payment gap financing;
mitigating risk from a bank to eligible businesses. Our clients
are typically underbanked and may not qualify for conventional
commercial loans. We partner with financial institutions with
a goal of making our clients bankable, while they grow their
Q: Have you ever denied credit?
A: Yes, many times it is because of poor personal credit and
lack of business management skills. You must demonstrate the
ability to repay the debt.
Q: What makes your role important for your organization?
A: As a minority woman with a traditional banking background,
I see myself as an ombudsman between economically
distressed communities and the resources to help them thrive.
I’m uniquely qualified to identify with our target markets and
develop meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships.
Q: Why did you get into small business lending?
A: I love the structure and exposure to all types of businesses.
I’m inspired by the entrepreneur and being part of them
realizing their dreams. It’s very gratifying.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about your job?
A: Being part of the economic system and knowing that I
contribute to job creation and retention in the city I grew up in
is extremely rewarding; and helping my fellow citizens realize
their dreams is very empowering.
Q: How is your approach different from your colleagues/
A: My experience as a teller and personal banker developed
my customer service skills. A lot of lenders have never done
anything in finance other than lending to meet goals. I don’t just
look at the numbers. My people skills are sharper.
Q: Will you retire from the banking industry?
A: I look forward to working with my husband; an entrepreneur.
I don’t believe I could ever retire from all the knowledge and
experience I’ve gained; so who knows?
Q: Do you plan on continuing your formal education?
A: I do in some form or another. I’ve thought about getting a
degree in business law and perhaps working for a financial
institution. However, I’d like to concentrate on my creative side,
and have toured the Art Institute of Kansas City. They have
great fashion and interior design programs.
Q: Are you satisfied with your career?
A: I am so grateful for the opportunities that God’s grace
has afforded me. I’ve experienced way more than I thought
possible. The good news is I’m not finished and am always
striving to do and be better.
Back in 2000, Wanda Atkinson-Wiley found herself
young, engaged, and in need of a career. Fortunately,
a temporary staffing agency had something for her
just in time for the holidays and sent her on an interview at
the Central Independent Review Board (IRB) in Research
Triangle Park (RTP). Soon after, Wanda was hired and started
her career in January 2001; where she spent over six years of
her career journey in multiple roles, such as a (voting) Non-
Scientific Board Member, Senior Quality/Regulatory Specialist,
and Single-Site Study Startup Specialist.
Today, she has over 15 years in quality/regulatory experience
working on device and pharmaceuticals projects, and over
seven years have been with a specialty Contract Research
Organization (CRO), Novella Clinical (a Quintiles Company).
Wanda thrives in the Regulatory Affairs department, completing
multiple types of submissions to Regulatory Agencies in the
United States, Canada, Greece, and the United Kingdom.
CL, MOSClinical Research and
President of the Association of
Clinical Research Professionals RTP Chapter
Senior Regulatory Affairs Specialist
at Novella Clinical, a Quintiles Company
Founder/Chief Executive Officer of
IiLead and SAM Worship
Minister at Grace Church of Durham
Research Triangle Park (Durham), NC
“I have a huge passion for what I do. This was
a must in order to continue, as I was looking for
a career; not just a job! I love helping people by
giving them nuggets on how to live and ways
to better themselves in general. The ACRP
RTP Chapter has provided me with the tools
needed to continue staying abreast of industry
happenings and regulatory requirements.”
As President of the Association of Clinical Research
Professionals (ACRP) RTP Chapter, Wanda holds the
responsibility of overseeing the Chapter’s activity and ensuring
its compliance with the terms set forth in the Chapter’s affiliation
agreement. She provides guidance to other Chairs, facilitates
Chapter Chair calls, and collaborates with ACRP staff chapter
relations to foster continued chapter growth.
35 Women of Distinction
Additionally, she serves as the primary liaison between
Chapter Affiliates and ACRP Global; responsible for monitoring
chapter activity, providing marketing assistance for educational
programs and membership reports (when requested), and
communicating recommendations to support education and
growth for chapter members.
Wanda was greatly inspired by her pastors, Dr. K.T. and Dr.
“They’ve been instrumental in my life’s journey
with their teachings and instilled leadership
skills that have propelled me forward in my
career and ministry.”
Wanda is the mother of two wonderful boys, Ivoree and
Damarion; and has been married to her loving husband, Travis,
for the past 14 years. They will be celebrating their 15th
anniversary on January 13, 2016. When she’s not spending
time with her family, Wanda is very much into fashion, as she
dreamed of being a model or designer while growing up (as
many girls did).
Ultimately, Wanda is a woman with a dream and a hope in
her Lord and savior, Jesus Christ; and prays for peace and
happiness for generations to come.
“I need everyone to know that I’m not trusting
in my own strength, as it fails me every time. I
trust that God has a plan and no one can stop
the plan for my life. Jeremiah 29:11 says ‘For I
know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith
the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to
give you an expected end.’ Since He knows how
the story ends, I will continue to trust Him!”
Q: How did you become involved with the ACRP RTP Chapter?
A: I have worked in clinical research quality and regulatory
field for over 15 years and been an active ACRP RTP Chapter
member since 2011. I was looking for a way to stay connected
with industry events. Being a member of the Chapter has
provided enormous and valuable opportunities for me to
broaden my knowledge and enhance my professional network.
I am truly passionate about my role in the ACRP RTP Chapter.
Q: Can you tell us about the work that the ACRP RTP Chapter
does and the programs you run?
A: ACRP RTP’s vision is that clinical research is performed
ethically, responsibly, and professionally. The RTP Chapter has
served the RTP area since 2003 and has over 215 members.
The Chapter is dedicated to fostering the exchange of ideas
and creating avenues for networking and industry education
among clinical research professionals locally and nationally.
Q: What results has ACRP RTP Chapter achieved in 2015 so
far? How has your program improved over time?
A: The Chapter has embraced more members, enhanced
communication with members through various social media
channels, provided educational scholarships for the Fall
Conference, increased community involvement, and introduced
its first ever virtual intern.
Q: What else has your attention?
A: My nonprofit organizations, IiLead and SAM Worship.
IiLead brings our youth to the clinical research industry and
introduces clinical research careers to Triangle area students.
For more information, please e-mail leadingonpurpose@gmail.
SAM Worship brings the focus back to God. Often times as
women, we find it difficult to take care of ourselves, because we
are so busy taking care of everyone else. For more information
please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Have you published any motivational writings?
A: No, but never say never!
Q: Has your success changed you or your lifestyle?
A: No, I’m focused and my family and faith keeps me rooted
Q: Do ever become tired of holding multiple roles?
A: Well I’m only human, so I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t say
that I get a little tired sometimes. However, I feel that if God can
As Founder and CEO of Le Bijoux Parfum Inc,
Adeline Dorsainvil loves to help women enhance
their beauty with her quality perfume products.
Being the CEO of her company, Adeline oversees all business
and sales involving her perfume products by communicating
with vendors and manufacturers in China and Europe,
expanding her products’ reach online, handling shipping and
distribution, hosting local perfume launch parties, and building
connections with customers.
“I had a passion for establishing a perfume line
for quite some time. Before I went about doing
this, I knew I would have to do a lot of research.
After doing the proper research on how to start
a perfume line, I decided to create my own
fragrance through a third party company and
communicated with vendors and suppliers
to create my own perfume bottles and logo.
Starting a perfume business is the hardest part,
but running it is a lot smoother.”
Aside from running Le Bijoux Parfum, Adeline works full-time
as an Enrollment Advisor for Consume Media Network and
HigherEducation.com. Regarding her education, she received
a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2010 and
a Masters degree in Human Resources in 2013, earning both
degrees from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.
Adeline DorsainvilPerfumes, Retail
Chief Executive Officer - Le Bijoux Parfum Inc.
In the past Adeline has worked as an Enrollment Processing
Assistant for Nova Southeastern University, a Graduate
Admissions Counselor for Keiser University, a Travel Nurse
Recruiter for Onward Healthcare, and a Senior Recruiter for
“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that
one should always treat others the way they
want to be treated.”
In her leisure, Adeline loves to read, exercise, and spend
quality time with her two-year-old daughter Olivia. She hopes
that her success as a single mother can inspire other women
like her throughout the world to pursue their dreams and
accomplish their goals, no matter what their situation may be.
Anyone who may be interested in viewing or purchasing some
of Adeline’s perfume products can do so by visiting www.
lebijouxparfum.com, where she has her online store set up to
tend to customers all over the globe.
“I want to see my perfume line branch out into
something bigger and succeed all around the
world. I would also like to use my business as
an example to show single mothers everywhere
that the sky is the limit. I’m a very ambitious,
caring, and loving mother. I want the world to
know that anything is possible if you believe in
37 Women of Distinction
Though she is now retired, Betty Jo Roller helped
spread her love for music as a Music Instructor in
the Amarillo Independent School System for 33
years, touching the lives of many children in that time.
Betty Jo had developed a strong interest in music after
receiving a violin as a gift during her childhood before moving
to Amarillo, Texas in 1942. Thanks to the impressive music
program in the Amarillo school system she proceeded to
strengthen her skills as a violinist, which eventually inspired
her to begin teaching.
“Find significant educators in the field and
spend time with them or one of their advocates.
Commit yourself personally to study relative
areas in the field of music education. Learn
proficiency on your chosen instrument and
participate in quality performances. Don’t allow
yourself to be discouraged, but keep developing
In 1953, Betty Jo received her Associate Degree in Music
Education from Amarillo College and, in 1955, she earned
a Bachelor Degree in Music Education from West Texas
University. She also eventually earned her Master of Arts
Degree in Music Education from West Texas University in
Aside from teaching children, she also served in the
University Interscholastic League and taught student teachers
who were pursuing a position in music education. She also
had a stint as Director of All City Orchestra.
Earlier in Betty’s career, she performed with the Amarillo
Symphony and Amarillo Opera. Though she has retired from
performing, she continues to support both the Symphony
and Opera by regularly attending their activities and making
significant donations to each organization. Ten of Betty’s
former string students are currently playing in the Amarillo
Symphony and four are teaching music in the Amarillo
Public Schools. Her musical influence continues through her
Denman RollerMusic Education
(Elementary and Secondary band and orchestra)
- Amarillo Independent School System (Retired)
Betty Jo’s achievements in music education have seen her
earn many honors over the years including a Texas Orchestra
Director of the Year award from the Amarillo Chamber of
Commerce Arts Committee in 1990, recognition from the
Mu Omicron Alpha Chapter of Texas for her Contribution to
the Advancement of Orchestra Music in the State of Texas
in 2001, recognition as an Amarillo College Distinguished
Alumna in 2010, and a place in the Amarillo High School Hall
of Fame in 2015.
“Know your own limitations, examine ways
to overcome any personal deficiencies,
understand the requirements for success in
your goals, and work hard to overcome your
limitations. Enjoy success and reorganize your
abilities to ensure future success.”
In her leisure, Betty Jo enjoys attending church activities and
spending time with her family. With 10 of her former string
students currently playing in the Amarillo Symphony and four
teaching music in the Amarillo Public Schools System, Betty’s
musical influence continues to show in her community.
“Personal dedication to areas that provide
enjoyment to as many as possible so their lives
can be fulfilled with peace, love and happiness,
such as I have had the privilege to enjoy, would
bring me happiness and peace of mind. In
a world that seems to experience more and
greater frustration, this legacy would bring
happiness not only to me but to those who have
learned to find peace and joy.”
38 Women of Distinction
Through her work as a Sale Executive for AT&T,
Carmen Dunn has remained focused on advancing
in her industry while continuing to help provide for
Carmen, who has been employed by AT&T since 2001, has
held a number of positions at the company including Business
Account Manager, Retail Sales Consultant, Sales Support
Rep, National Business Ordering, and Customer Service
Rep. At the moment her main responsibilities are to provide
multiple services to businesses that have an AT&T discount
and help them communicate their discount throughout their
company through fliers, posters, and onsite events.
“Know exactly what you want and where you want to retire
from. When taking care of a family, or even yourself, you need
to have stability and make sure that you execute your job
well. Look for a company that believes in promoting within the
organization so you can climb up the corporate ladder.”
With her knowledge of small business, she also gives
aid to partner channels and teaches them how to make
small businesses run efficiently through the use of mobile
applications by training sales reps. Due to her major success
as an employee of AT&T, Carmen plans to remain at the
company until she’s ready to retire.
“I have made it a priority to have expert product
knowledge by attending training sessions
and getting resources to help me further my
education in mobility applications.”
Regarding her education, Carmen has received an AAS
degree in Broadcasting from Hastings Central Community
College in Hastings, Nebraska and a BA in Corporate
Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma in
Carmen’s work has seen her earn a Service of Excellence
Award for the second quarter of 2015, EBS Run through the
Warehouse 2015, and she was also second runner up for City
Council in Victoria, Kansas in 2011. She is also currently a
director on her local HOA board.
“Being in sales is very challenging, hard and stressful. Don’t
ever think you can’t finish what you start — you can! Always
keep your head up and stay strong!”
In her leisure, Carmen loves spending quality time with her
husband and two children and going to the zoo, museums,
and parks. As a victim of intense bullying throughout high
school, she also offers her services as a guest speaker at
local schools to share her story and give hope to children and
teens who may be experiencing similar struggles.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that if I can live through
some of the struggles I’ve personally endured for years, then
I am the strongest person in the world and I can conquer
anything. I would never let anyone break my spirit.”
Sale Executive II IRU - AT&T
Oklahoma City, OK
39 Women of Distinction
Since beginning her work as an Author, Personal
Development Coach, and Motivational Speaker in
2014, Emelia Adjei has used her life experiences to
help empower women and change lives for the better.
Emelia emigrated from her motherland country of Ghana,
West Africa to the USA with nothing but dreams of a better
life and education. She overcame many challenges, including
near homelessness, but stayed determined, focused, and
worked hard to pursue her dreams.
“Keep pushing forward towards your dreams,
stay focused. Develop a thick skin, be
unstoppable since the naysayers and haters will
make it their job to crush you down. Surround
yourself with quality and positive people who
are pursuing a bigger vision for their own lives.”
She has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, which
she received in 2007, and an Honorary Doctorate Degree
in Humanities, which she earned in 2015. She’s received
various awards and has been featured on TV, in magazines,
and in a documentary movie.
Emelia has a big heart and has continuously demonstrated
her compassionate nature by generously giving and
helping those in need. She is the Founder of the Emelia
Adjei Foundation (EAF), which has partnered with two
organizations in Africa to make a difference and have an
impact in many communities. The EAF provides monthly food
drives, clothing, and toiletries to the needy, while also serving
the youth through mentoring, training, and seminars, which
leads them to becoming responsible citizens and productive
adults. The organization uses training, seminars and free
resources to motivate and empower the youth while driving
them to enhance their skills and reach their fullest potentials.
AdjeiPersonal Development & Motivation
Author, Personal Development Coach,
As an author, Emelia has written a book titled Accelerate To
Glory, created a book titled Life in the Diaspora - Ups and
Downs, and co-authored a book titled Organized Obstacles.
“Most of our fears and doubts are imaginary,
they only prevent and discourage us from
taking risk and pursuing our dreams or goals.
Most of the fears I create in my mind, even
before traveling out of state for an event, are
things that never happen. Everything goes
perfect and I make it home safely. As Nike says
— just do it.”
Emelia is a driven, authentic and down-to-earth person who’s
constantly reinventing herself and setting new goals. In her
free time she loves reading, organizing, and enjoying the
outdoors, and also volunteers at shelters and donates to
those in need.
She’s thankful and humbled by the opportunities and
blessings God has given her and has given herself the
mission to inspire, inform, and transform as many lives as
possible in order to make a difference in her community and
“I hope to leave a legacy of hope and love through my
foundation, which helps and supports the needy while also
empowering the youth.”
Jul. 7, 2016
This is the January 2016 edition of Women of Distinction Magazine