By M. Diane McCormick
Breaking through the glass ceiling – cracked, but not yet shattered – calls for women working together in mentorship and support.
That is the unified message of the YWCA Women of Excellence, Class of 2019. As Alicia L. Frederick puts it, “Having a strong female mentor and offering yourself as a mentor to other women will only improve the future for all of us. Find another woman that you can support and bring along with you on your ride to the top!”
Legacy Award honoree Virginia Roth of PPO&S and Emerging Leader Kelsey Ireland of KPMG frame the vast experience of this class of 29 women. All find their centers through self-reflection, family, and maybe a regular workout or hike. Each gives back to the community in equal measure to the guidance received from parents, peers, and employers.
• Legacy Award •
President, PPO&S Integrated Marketing Communications
“Find the real world, give it endlessly away. Grow rich; fling gold to all who ask,” goes part of a quote that has been on Ginny’s desk for 15 years. Her life has been enriched by her visionary, brilliant women friends from college days, and by her longtime association with PPO&S’ trailblazing founder, the late Carolyne Smith. She sees her impact in cultures shaped and professionals scoring victories over complex challenges. Days start with a handwritten to-do list that helps focus her energy on demands coming her way. Her advice for other career women: “Invest wisely in mentors of all ages, experiences and voice. Ask. Listen. Risk. Have a financial plan.”
• Emerging Leader •
Advisory Practice Associate, KPMG
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Albert Einstein’s wisdom drives Kelsey to focus on the impact she can have. Volunteering at Whitaker Center at 12 years old instilled the satisfaction of involvement in something bigger than herself. She has been an active volunteer ever since, currently serving on the HYP board and co-leading her office Green Team. She is learning not to waste energy worrying about what other people think. Caffeine and mascara are the consistent elements in her varied days, empowering her to feel “presentable, confident, and mentally able to take on my day.”
It’s the time of the year when the YWCA Greater Harrisburg plans to honor the Women of Excellence who have consistently given back to the community in their working and personal lives. Over the last 29 years, the YWCA has honored more than 640 extraordinary women for their contributions to our region, both professionally and philanthropically. This year, 29 women who dedicate their time and talent to making a difference in Central Pennsylvania will be feted at the 30th annual Tribute to Women of Excellence (TWE) awards dinner on March 21, at the Hershey Lodge. The YWCA also recognizes two prestigious awards in addition to the annual class of honorees as tribute to two inspiring women in our community: the prestigious Carolyne L. Smith Legacy Award and the Emerging Leader Award. Harrisburg Magazine is pleased to highlight these nominees through the following short bios. Congratulations!
Not pictured: Keisha McToy
Chairman, South Hanover Township Board of Supervisors
“Stay positive, work hard, be a team player, and work with integrity and conscientiousness.” Rebecca applies a “whatever it takes” attitude to her professional and volunteer life, even when it meant shattering her comfort zone to run for public office. As board chair, she must be out front – sometimes taking criticism, but always listening, being fair, and working her hardest to make a difference. She channeled childhood feelings of abandonment, after her mother left her life, into compassion for others, including animals. Exercise, jigsaw puzzles, and time with family and friends, including her two delightful grandchildren, offer destressing moments.
Terri Lynne Bowling
Outreach & Education Coordinator, Child Grief Specialist, Highmark
To Terri, every gathering is a memory in the making. The sudden loss of her grandparents when she was 16 has shaped the way she builds meaningful connections with family. “Follow your passion and be open to opportunities,” she advises. Her passion for lifelong learning – her parents were nontraditional students in an era when that wasn’t common – inspired the terrifying decision to quit corporate sales and return to school full-time when she was in her late 30s. Her mantras converge as she lives her life to “be the change,” assuring “more to follow” on life’s journey.
Executive Director, Girls on the Run Capital Area
Girls and young women are “hungry for a consistent, positive presence” providing support, strength, and vision, says Gilly. Smiles and tears abound on 5K day, when girls show transformations accomplished by crossing the finish line. A wandering spirit – with youthful excursions in New Zealand and South Korea – culminated in a life-changing trip to India and Nepal, walking in the footsteps of a departed friend who had been researching the life of Buddha. Balance, if there is such a thing, results from being present in every moment and facing “every emotion head on and heart forward.”
Interim Executive Director, Dauphin County Library System
Karen derives joy from sharing the benefits libraries have offered her since childhood — free and open access to information, lifelong learning, reading as an escape, and a welcoming place for making friends. Nancy Drew’s resourceful mind and self-assurance – she even had her own car! – inspired Karen’s desire for independence and her drive to “figure out things I didn’t understand.” Treat yourself the way you’d advise a daughter or best friend to care for herself, she advises. Volunteer work for Castaway Critters, she hopes, “has made life a tiny bit better for the abandoned animals in our community.”
Audrey J. Daly
General Counsel, Gannett Fleming
A semester of study in Botswana taught Audrey that people have “an unlimited capacity to find meaningful connections.” The daughter of a Colombian mother who married an American Peace Corps volunteer understands the isolation and financial challenges among immigrants who leave everything familiar. Accompanying her mother to GED classes taught her the value of education. “Don’t let your choices be dictated solely by what others might think,” she advises, and choose career and volunteer that align with your commitments. The words of Ralph Waldo Emerson help her live in the moment: “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
Alicia L. Frederick
Vice President/Senior Branch Manager, M&T Bank
Ready for a career change but afraid of moving forward, Alicia L. Frederick dove feet first into M&T Bank, where she found the team-oriented atmosphere she needed to thrive. An honest mentor helps women tackle their challenges while staying true to core values and strengths, she believes. Volunteering with Junior Achievement to teach real-world budgeting provides the delight of seeing that “light bulb” go off for teens about to embark on adulthood. Her mother – positive, tenacious, gracious, and giving with her time – is Alicia’s hero. Her son is her regular traveling companion on jaunts to new cities.
Director, Cleve J. Fredericksen Library
Bonnie’s parents “made the world less wide,” supporting their children’s range of pursuits. She infuses that joy of exploration into Fredericksen Library, where her tenure has seen introduction of a STEM maker space, Disney-style customer service, and a new Business and Career Center supporting entrepreneurs and workforce development. The loss of her middle son at age 28, working for the Defense Intelligence Agency, taught her that the ripples of one life can continue to spread goodness. Anything involving family – exploring gardens, Penn State basketball, playing with “badly behaved” puppy Gromit — is “all fun.” Maybe soon, she’ll learn to fly fish.
Executive Director, Neighborhood Center of the UMC
Providing a community setting for adjudicated youth to grow and learn. Ushering students from high school to college. Escorting young people on a trip to China for cultural exploration. As the Neighborhood Center’s executive director, Kyla strives to deliver hope through empowerment and inspiration. Growing up in an atmosphere that encouraged service, resilience, and challenging the status quo, she believes in dreaming big and not taking “no” for an answer. Her personal relationship with God and the Philippians 4:19 quote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” have helped her overcome obstacles and, in turn, be a change maker.
Catherine A. Hoke
NJ Commercial Lines Underwriting Manager, Penn National Insurance
By giving back, “you can only enhance yourself as a person,” says Cathy. You’ll find her in the community, especially with Order of Eastern Star, supporting health care nonprofits, service-dog groups, and veterans. Her parents taught the value of perseverance and the importance of family, who remain core to her life. Cancer in 2005 inspired her to do even more for others, even if it’s a simple card or visit. Continued advancement for women in the workplace, she believes, means “continually striving to share our knowledge, education, and points of view to show what we can contribute.”
Founder/Executive Director, Feel Your Boobies Foundation
Try anything that interests you, Leigh’s parents encouraged her. Breast cancer at age 33 truly tested that lesson. Sharing her experience with other young women inspired her to leave a corporate job and create an innovative approach to breast health education and outreach. Be clear about your goals, and pursue them with persistence, she advises. Also, take naps to give your body energy. Fifteen years into Feel Your Boobies, testimonials arrive from women who found breast lumps as a direct result. That kind of direct impact on lives, says Leigh, “is truly a gift.”
Kim Lee Kenawell-Hoffecker
Founding Partner and Senior Family Wealth Adviser, Avantra Family Wealth
Performing at the highest level possible is the only way Kim does anything. It inspired her to leave an established firm and start her own. It drove her to add private divorce medication to her services, convening couples without attorneys to negotiate settlements and parenting plans that dissolve the marriage but not the sense of family. The lifelong firefighter serves on the Southcentral Critical Incident Stress Team, counseling emergency responders dealing with traumatic incidents. Her passion for giving includes involvement with the Eagle Foundation, supporting the rich academics and activities of Cumberland Valley School District.
Renae Lynn Kluk Kiehl, Esq.
Senior Counsel & Deputy Corporate Secretary, Capital BlueCross
Military service strongly shaped Renae’s character. As an Army National Guard trial defender, she defended soldiers enduring PTSD and realized that that we don’t always understand the sacrifices demanded of service men and women. Army leadership training during law school taught her “how strong I can be, what it means to truly work hard, and the obstacles I can overcome.” Success doesn’t come from being the smartest or most talented person around but the one who perseveres, she advises. Her desire to explore different cultures helped her overcome a fear of flying. She hopes to someday learn to ride a horse.
Director, Four Diamonds – Penn State University
When it comes to deriving satisfaction from work, it’s hard to beat helping to conquer childhood cancer. Plus, there are the life lessons delivered to the inspiring young people of the Mini-THON movement, who have raised more than $36 million. Kristen learned from family to give back and get involved, which led to her Four Diamonds career. She also learned independence from the strong women of fiction – especially Mary Tyler Moore, whose character was “an independent, smart and hard-working woman who also knew how to have fun and not take herself too seriously.” Kristen began a path to fitness that continues today.
Chief Social Services Officer, Hamilton Health Center
Jude was 14 when her gym teacher told her she couldn’t run one mile. Jude responded by running every day. She now has five marathons and five half-marathons under her belt, testament to the importance of keeping fit and finding a center, but also a reminder that others can’t set her limits. The mother of two young boys is pursuing “intentionality,” carefully allocating her time and energy. At work, she models for staff how to address strengths and resilience in helping patients overcome barriers. Her next challenge: Looking beyond local impact and standing up to injustice nationwide.
Director of Operations & Human Resources, Alder Health Services
Everyone has privilege that must be used “to uplift others instead of continuing the cycle of oppression,” says Keisha. She is “unapologetically me,” striving to be her best – which includes the self-care that many in nonprofits often neglect. Positive self-talk about her capabilities helps dispel the fear of not being good enough and that phenomenon called “imposter syndrome.” Living at the intersection of traditional biases against women, people of color, and LGBTQ, she knows challenges can be overcome if women “lift each other up in solidarity.” At LGBT-friendly Alder, she is part of a team that is expanding services and making lives better.
Diversity & Program Inclusion Manager, GIANT Food Stores, LLC
At 17, Stacey enlisted in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard and discovered “a whole new world.” Rising to Chief Master Sergeant proved that women can achieve their goals. She advises finding cheerleaders – hers have been her husband and a dear friend – to challenge and provide the strength to overcome obstacles. She fulfilled a dream of presenting to groups, despite a fear of public speaking, by addressing topics near and dear to her heart. She knows that every action she takes as diversity and inclusion officer has a direct impact on others because she can honestly say, “I love my job!”
Chair, Prevention/Education Team, Community Responders Network
A girl from another country, trying to fit into an unfamiliar world, Saima learned from “Alice in Wonderland” that “you can slay your dragon and overcome your fears.” That courage infuses her work with Community Responders Network, a grassroots organization fighting bias and discrimination. Her mother, a single, self-made businesswoman, taught her that “no matter how tough today is, tomorrow can be better.” Praying five times daily offers quiet amid chaos. Married to the love of her life and mother of four “rays of sunshine,” she has added another challenge to her docket: pursuing a master’s degree in community psychology and social change.
Kathy L. Pape
Of Counsel, McNees Wallace & Nurick
A seat at the table and a voice. Wherever Kathy is in leadership, from utility companies to health care nonprofits, she strives to assure that everyone in every post has a say. The death of a cousin in Vietnam and her father’s death while she was in college taught her to make every day count, but “I Love Lucy” also taught her the power of laughter to build bridges. Crafting relationships with other women, even when it’s piled onto the work-family balancing act, helps advance your career and theirs, she advises. And don’t take for granted the opportunities we’re offered as Americans. “Regardless of how today went,” she says, “every day you get another chance to make a difference.”
Terri Lynne Redmond
Director of Counseling, Pennsylvania Housing\Finance Agency
Staying a step ahead of her industry is Terri’s norm. Engage an industrial psychologist to design a recruitment tool for housing counselors? Why not? Terri’s innovations introduced thousands of low- and moderate-income Pennsylvanians to sustainable homeownership. As a volunteer, she helped transform an Uptown Harrisburg neighborhood into a thriving mixed-income community. Faith and the support of her mother – now 98 and living with Terri – helped her through trying times and toward independence. The Serenity Prayer – “God grant me the serenity to accept . . .” – taught her that “the spirit of discernment helps us all cope with life on life’s terms.”
Program Supervisor, Drug Free Workplace PA
In the wake of a drug crisis affecting her family, Gina made a pledge to God – that she would educate herself, her family, and others about the impact of illegal substances. Her career took that path, raising awareness of substance use disorder’s devastating effects. “If even one person is able to enter recovery and start a path to sobriety and wellness, then my time has been well-spent!” she says. Changing careers later in life was “definitely an adventure,” pursued with help from family, friends, and colleagues, but as she likes to note, “Never think you are too old to pursue your passion!”
Vice President and Chief Development Officer, Pinnacle Health Foundation, UPMC Pinnacle
As a child, Jessica saw the passion that drove her mother, a community nurse, to support first-time, low-income mothers and their babies. Watching her infant son endure surgery and NICU taught her to rely on the support of others and ask for help when it’s needed. Raising a hand to join volunteer efforts opens professional opportunities through networking. At day’s end, she opens her Five Minute Journal app, noting what made her amazed or grateful. She hopes her role in building Pinnacle Health Foundation into a volunteer powerhouse raising millions of dollars has moved the needle toward a better community.
Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications, PSECU
To Karen, the path to success isn’t always straight or easy, but that’s what makes it a journey worth embracing. Allow yourself to make mistakes, because even small steps constitute forward progress, she believes. Grateful for the opportunities she has had in life and career, she gives back by supporting others. Serving on community boards, she helps nonprofits hone the branding and marketing essential to generating community support. Leadership must be earned every day through the “opportunity to start fresh and inspire others through our actions, our service, and our words.”
Sandra J. Schultz
Executive Vice President Chief Financial Officer, Centric Bank
Seeing women in executive positions encourages Sandie to follow their examples and set examples for others to follow. “Thank you, Patti Husic, President & CEO of Centric Bank!” she says of her pioneering boss. Don’t fear the left turns in life, “because you never know what opportunity is around the corner and how much you will learn,” she advises. She strives to be “the standard of person that my daughter needs me to be” – once again, setting an example she hopes will encourage her daughter to be “confident, proud, successful, and most of all, happy.”
Community Health Nurse Navigator, UPMC Pinnacle
Theresa, known as T, treats everyone the same. Through her role as community health nurse navigator, the homeless and underserved of the area realize that someone can care for them as they see better days ahead. Her parents taught her the importance of giving back, and she passes that belief to her kids, as the family together serves meals to the homeless or distributes clothing. She strives to create a quality medical model for those who are often overlooked. Someday, she’d love to start a “street medicine” program, extending UPMC Pinnacle’s resources to the people she calls “our community friends.”
Senior Instructor, Penn State Health
Savoring a cup of coffee, whether she’s alone on the porch or with her husband or son, gives Gail her quiet time or a few precious moments with family. Her parents are her heroes, for putting five kids through college on mailman and secretary salaries. Social injustice has always riled her, from childhood days of reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” to the sight today of workplaces – fortunately, not her own – that lack anti-discrimination policies against the LGBTQ community. No need to compare yourself to others, she believes. Just be yourself, always be kind, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Principal, Boyer & Ritter, LLC
Kim’s father taught her to pursue a career in a field she loves, one with multiple pathways to success. The TV show “MacGyver” taught her that anything is possible. As an accounting-firm principal, she shows women there that career and family are possible. Maintaining that balance, especially during tax season, means delegating, even when it’s hard to let go. Volunteering financial expertise to Commuter Services of Pennsylvania and United Way of the Capital Region showcases the power of giving back. She’ll never truly love public speaking, but she learned to be comfortable with it by joining boards that required participation in discussions.
Branch Manager, Members 1st FCU
Bentley can’t control what others do, but she can manage her own trajectory. Her parents respected her opinions and taught her how to justify them. Her fear of the unknown only inspires her to dive in, even if it’s taking a friend to help break the ice at networking events. Find mentors, she advises other women, even as she mentors colleagues to new professional heights. Daily yoga and meditation prepare her for the challenges ahead. Someday, she hopes, her 7-year-old daughter, partner in camping excursions and daytrips, will know her mother did “absolutely everything I could to help her.”