These moms exceed all expectations—and we’re recognizing them for doing so. For more Working Mothers of the Year, from the 2019 Working Mother 100 Best Companies, click here.
Name: Ciera Chancellor
Title: Procurement Specialist, U.S. Sourcing Operations, Global Procurement
Children: Hayden, 8 / Taylor, 14
Location: Elgin, IL
Ciera Chancellor says she tries to make herself better, others better and Abbott better. This lifetime of service started at age 17 when she enlisted in the Army. A young marriage, two daughters, deployment in Iraq, divorce and life as a single mom followed, as did a three-year leadership program through the Army (ROTC), earning a college degree and advancing to become an officer. After serving six years as an officer, a second marriage followed and then she transitioned to civilian life and earned her MBA, PMP, and LSSGB.
Ciera joined Abbott in March 2018, working in global procurement, managing translation services and global security. She has voluntarily taken on extra duties and has been an invaluable problem solver. Because of this, she was assigned to a newly formed communications team within the department’s business excellence group and is often asked to help with other top business priorities.
Ciera is passionate about Abbott employee networks and feels they were instrumental in facilitating her move to civilian life. She pays back the support she received by serving as a leader, a mentor and an advocate for a variety of initiatives.
Name: Kay Matsuo
Title: Senior Director, Buying Programs and Pricing Operations
Children: Koh, 8
Location: Los Altos, CA
“Even in companies where there is a lot of flexibility available to help achieve work-life balance (or work-life integration as some are calling it these days), it might not be a reality in practice. I’ve been at Adobe for a while, so I knew from experience that it wasn’t just an empty policy. Not once did I worry about my job being in jeopardy when I went through a period of having to leave work suddenly to pick up my son from school and then needing to see specialists for last-minute appointment openings, often in the middle of the workday. What I didn’t realize was that not everyone felt as comfortable doing what they needed to take care of their families. I came to understand that while I was making sure to take care of my family’s needs, I was also fostering an environment where my team felt they had flexibility to take care of themselves and their families and still be looked at as productive members of the team. I realized this when managers on my team shared their stories, and stories from other employees, with me. One manager had an employee on her team that felt, on occasion, he could leave the office early to take his kids to activities, and that seeing me do it made it feel OK. Another manager shared that she never felt her dedication to her job was questioned just because she had to leave in the middle of the afternoon to attend a school event. Although it wasn’t my original intent, I’m happy to be an example to other employees to utilize Adobe’s flexible schedule options to take care of their families. When employees feel that they can be their full selves, which for some includes being parents juggling the needs of their kids along with work, they are happier and more productive.”
Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America
Name: Valerie Felsch
Title: Senior Relationship Manager
Children: Zoe, 19 / Sonja, 17
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Valerie Felsch is a 20+ year valued employee for Allianz. Currently, she works as a senior relationship manager in a high-intensity position where she is the key back office contact for multiple broker/dealers in the financial services industry. Val travels 30+ weeks a year and never misses a meeting or customer request. Her broker/dealer clients frequently comment that the reason they value their relationship with Allianz is because of the service Val provides. On top of her demanding work schedule, Val commutes 60 miles from St. Cloud, Minnesota, to the Allianz office in Minneapolis; she’s always on time and engaged.
Outside of work, Val finds time to be the rock for her two daughters Zoe and Sonja. In 2018, Val became a single mom but managed to keep her family together. During this stressful time, Val sent her oldest daughter, Zoe, to college and supports her other daughter, Sonja, with school, work and other activities. Val also found the time to take in a Swedish foreign exchange student who needed a family to live with, and fulfilled her daughter’s wishes of finally adopting a dog. This past spring Val’s friend Julie’s husband passed away. Val helped organize the funeral and helped Julie move.
Whether it’s work demands or supporting her family, she’s the “rock” for many.
Name: Laura Badmaev
Title: Senior Manager Marketing Execution Transformation
Children: Alex, 8 / Abby, 4
Location: Falmouth, ME
“After an uneventful pregnancy, I was in shock as my first child, Alex, was carted off for test after test for an unknown syndrome. After three years, he was finally diagnosed with Bohring-Opitz Syndrome (BOS), an ultra-rare neurological syndrome. BOS results from a genetic change of the ASXL1 gene, which randomly occurs around conception and can affect any person. This syndrome is underdiagnosed due to challenges recognizing the diagnosis, shortage of genetic services and the cost of genetic testing.
There are limited resources to help manage care for a loved one with BOS. We, and other families like us, faced this uncertain journey day by day; listening to the screams of your non-verbal child in pain who cannot communicate what hurts; making life or death decisions for your child; helplessly trying different medications; going through chemotherapy and removing an infected kidney.
Many parents in my situation are forced to quit their professions to care for their children. For me, American Express, my leaders and colleagues, provided flexibility, compassion and support so I could manage Alex’s needs while growing professionally. From flexible work arrangements and rich benefits (all of Alex’s specialist visits, hospitalizations and some of his equipment have been covered) to endorsing work-life integration, Amex backs me so I can be there for my family when they need me most.
Last year, I cofounded the ASXL Rare Research Endowment (ARRE) Foundation arrefoundation.org to support research to increase our understanding of the ASXL genes and improve the treatment of individuals with ASXL syndromes. ARRE has partnered with UCLA to take foundational steps toward collecting patient data and samples in the ASXL Registry & Biobank. We are hosting our second conference this year to create community among families and professionals, and share ideas, knowledge about the patient experience, and studies in progress.”
Bank of America
Name: Dekeda Brown
Title: AVP; Community Relations Manager for Greater Washington
Children: Christopher, 19 / Jayden, 17 / Leilani, 14 / London, 10
Location: Washington, D.C.
“My family is truly unique. Not only are we blended (my husband and I each have two children), we are also ‘an autism family,’ supporting my daughter who lives with nonverbal autism, and supporting our special-needs community.
At just 14 years old, Leilani has overcome so much in her life, working hard each day to communicate with the world around her. Her strength and smiles in the face of adversity are my inspiration to be the best mom and the best person that I can be, and she is the reason I started Walk One Day In Our Shoes, to promote acceptance and awareness for people with special needs.
As moms, we always worry about the welfare of our children and never want to see them in despair. Having a child with nonverbal autism has meant that I experience other worries as a mom. What will her future hold? Am I showing the same amount of attention and love to our other three children? While I grapple with these questions, one thing that has helped me is having the support of the company where I work.
With Bank of America’s strong support for the special-needs community, I’ve been able to merge my passion with my professional life by serving as a Special Olympics cheerleading coach, and taking an active role in our Disability Advocacy Network by founding a local chapter for our teammates in Washington, D.C., and hosting an Autism Awareness Month webinar. “
Bain & Company
Name: Anita Cohen
Children: Riley, 2
Location: Chicago, IL
“Like many others, my journey to becoming a working mother was not an easy path. When my wife and I first decided to become pregnant, we faced a set of hurdles related to insurance policies and benefits that were designed in a traditional, heteronormative way. As we began to navigate the complex world of fertility treatments, we learned that Bain’s insurance provider would not cover our treatment as the policy was written to support straight couples only. Between medical procedures and donor sperm, the financial costs associated with becoming pregnant were tremendous. As my wife and I fought against the challenges of our healthcare system, Bain’s Human Resources department was incredible in terms of supporting us in raising these issues with our health insurance provider. After a year of back-and-forth with our insurance provider, they fully reimbursed us for the cost of my fertility treatments. Though this was a stressful experience at the time, knowing that I was pioneering this change to benefit the broader Bain LGBTQ+ community gave me the energy to keep fighting. Ultimately, the policy was changed to be inclusive of our LGBTQ+ colleagues; a huge win! I later shared my story in an internal newsletter with colleagues around the world, in hopes that others would be inspired to take advantage of the resources Bain proudly offers to anyone growing their family.
Another ‘family’ I work with and support on a regular basis is Bain’s BGLAD family, the LGBTQ+ network at Bain. For the past three years, I have led Bain’s North America BGLAD recruiting efforts. In addition to setting the strategy and directing a vast network of BGLAD volunteers, I personally invest in many candidates, ensuring each feels a genuine connection to the BGLAD family. Through these combined efforts, we have grown overall BGLAD hiring classes significantly, with greater gender and ethnic diversity. It is important to me to ensure our recruits and members of BGLAD feel the same support from Bain that I felt as I started my family, and that I can continue to pay it forward, cultivating the next generation of BGLAD leadership.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Name: Laura Stout
Title: Director of Network Contracting
Children: KatieMae,13 / Keira, 10
Location: Medford, MA
“I serve as director of contract operations, and while at Blue Cross, I have distinguished myself as a leader in disability advocacy both professionally and in the community. I focus on empowering my colleagues to seek development opportunities to achieve their personal best in every situation.
One of my proudest accomplishments over the past 30+ years has been leading the Blue Cross disability-focused Employee Resource Group, Empowering Abilities. As the president of the group, I have tried to be an exceptional leader and ambassador for the company, both internally and externally. Specifically, I have been instrumental in implementing disability awareness training across the company, ensuring our buildings are safe and accessible for all, and spearheading a variety of events throughout the year that support a culture of inclusion. I create positive change for working parents across the company and the country through my advisory role on the Brandeis University National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities, conducting research and providing training and technical assistance to improve the lives of parents with disabilities and their families.
Additionally, I have been a key member, thought leader, Executive Advisory Council member and annual conference host for Work without Limits (WWL), a network of employers, educational institutions, employment service providers and state and federal agencies united by the goal to increase the employment of people with disabilities. Since the group’s inception in 2009, I have used my energy and passion to help the group grow from a fledgling organization to a national organization with a network of more than 40 businesses.
And finally, I was recently honored with an appointment by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to the Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. In this role, I provide advice and guidance to the governor and the commission on related policy matters and review the work of the commission programs and policies, sharing their findings with the governor and the commission’s leaders.”
Booz Allen Hamilton
Name: Lidija Franklin
Title: Lead Associate
Children: Emma, 2
Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Manassas, VA
As an expecting mother, Lidija Franklin managed a large procurement modernization project across 45 locations in Indonesia, on-boarding 23 Indonesian employees to Booz Allen. The project trained and mentored over 1,000 procurement professionals across the government. Later, with a 6-week-old daughter, Lidija accepted a position in Saudi Arabia and relocated with her to support a large defense modernization project there. She quickly proved herself an indispensable team member when she took over an e-learning stream, assembled a team with U.S. reach back and developed the first ever Arabic computer-based training for Booz Allen. She exhibited initiative and insight by drawing together disparate capabilities within the firm to develop the solution. Clients routinely seek her advice and assistance and her colleagues and team members describe her as a leader and the most committed career manager with whom they’ve ever worked. She is a relentless advocate for her team’s career advancement, consistently providing advice and assistance and challenging her team to stretch themselves.
In Saudi Arabia, Lidija supports a municipal preschool by developing and delivering school projects that recognize important achievements for women around the world. Her latest project is centered around celebrating International Women’s Day and includes activities to teach children to understand their potential while displaying appreciation of women’s achievements in society. Her daughter, who turns 3 in September, has already decided that her mom is her role model and that PowerPoint is the best way to tell a story for a school project!
Lidija has accomplished all this in perhaps the most challenging environment for a female in all of Booz Allen: She works on a project and in an industry (military/defense) that is dominated by hard-charging, type-A men, and in a society that is maybe the most restrictive and challenging for women in the world (Saudi Arabia) in a client/project atmosphere that is extremely volatile and unpredictable. She has excelled in this environment, being promoted and serving as a valued member of the project’s leadership team. Perhaps most telling, she is the first woman to ever teach/train the Saudi military.
Boston Consulting Group
Name: Lu Chen
Title: Managing Director and Partner
Children: Lucas, 6
Location: New York, NY
Lu Chen is a newly elected managing director and partner in the Boston Consulting Group’s New York office. She shines as a role model and mentor to more-junior consulting staff by delivering exceptional client value, developing and coaching her teams, and demonstrating unfailing devotion to her young son. Her teams praise her listening skills; she makes them feel valued and heard. She opens up about her own challenges and coaches her colleagues through development opportunities and how to thrive as a parent in a demanding consulting job. Lu is able to draw clear boundaries around work and speaks openly about her commitments, modeling to all around her the importance of confidently and honestly communicating about both work and life outside of work.
Capital One Financial
Name: Jyotisana Dhawan
Title: Software Engineer
Children: Avi, 17 / Eesh, 9 / Aashi, 9
Location: Frisco, TX
“In 2016, with the support of my leadership team, I launched MentoringForHER. The program is designed to help other working women engineers understand the importance of mentorship in their career development. MentoringForHER offers one-on-one and group mentorship to help build confidence and the competencies needed to advance their careers.
In the last three years the program has grown from 20 to 80+ mentees and is now being adopted across multiple groups in Capital One. To give more associates the opportunity to benefit from mentorship, this year we’ve expanded the program to all women in technology as well as male allies. We continue to refine the program to help elevate and grow the talent within our organization.
Many of the MentoringForHER participants have formed long-term relationships and still continue to meet. I’ve learned so much from the women I’ve mentored. They’ve taught me how to be a good mentor and are now helping to shape the program. When I was returning to the workforce after being home with my children, a program like MentoringForHER would have been so impactful for me. I’m glad I’m able to take my experience and turn it into something meaningful for so many other women and working mothers.”
Name: Sheila Godreau
Title: Director of Strategic Risk Initiatives
Children: Melanie, 16 / Oswaldo, 19
Location: Bradenton, FL
“Life might not always be easy, but you live it at its best when you are grateful for what you have. I’ve learned to share my blessings, learn from every challenging situation, and strive to be the best version of myself to help others do the same.
I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in July 2015. At that time, I saw my life and dreams flashing by. I thought about growing old with my husband and continuing to be a soccer mom, carpool driver, cheerleader, team manager and team travel chaperone. I dreamed about watching my children grow up and build their own families—I didn’t want to miss out on anything. My parents are cancer survivors, so following their example I chose to fight to do the same. In the process I brought joy and hope to those around me.
I give inspiration by sharing my cancer journey, from the diagnosis to the news of complete remission in December 2016. I am the co-chair for the National Giving Campaign and the local chapter of Ceridian’s charity, Ceridian Cares, which gives grants to people in need. We do community outreach, clothing and shoe drives for children, and toiletry collections for the homeless. At church, I am a Youth Group Core team member and last summer I was a teacher’s aide for vacation bible school. Later this month, I will do mission work with the youth group in Joppa Mountain, Tennessee. I am a Eucharistic minister, lead the team that welcomes new parishioners, help plan retreats and serve meals at a local soup kitchen.
Fighting cancer has allowed me to re-prioritize my life and give joy to others. I am a stronger person and show others they can do the same! I am blessed for the gift of being alive and being working mom, wife, daughter, sister and friend.”
Name: Jessica Hettinger
Title: Senior Manager, Interior/Chassis/Thermal/HVAC Engineering Design Operations
Children: Kate, 12 / Grace, 9 / Keith, 1
Location: Dryden, MI
“I am a mother of three children and I inspire them to believe they can do anything they work hard to achieve. My role at General Motors is to be an inspiring leader and a change agent. In 2017, I was promoted to be the senior for the interior engineering design team, which is predominantly male. My plan was to help change the culture of this organization. I wanted to impact trust. Our company and executive leaders were open to allowing our employees to work from home. However, there was a strong resistance from first-line supervisors to allow their employees to do so. I worked for many months, encouraging the managers who worked for me to trust their employees to work from home. I started this change by showing my managers that I trusted them.
Approximately one year into my assignment, I leveraged design thinking to develop a new set of guidelines for working remotely. The workgroup conducted empathy interviews with employees, customers and managers and developed experiments to run. The experiments produced positive data on the effectiveness of employees who worked from home. The result was a recommendation for a new remote work guideline that allows employees to work offsite up to two days per week. I implemented this in my department of approximately 500 employees around March 2019. This is a critical benefit to enable working parents to manage their time at work and at home. It motivates employees at work because they are trusted to manage both their work and their home life. I recently was stopped in the hall by a female employee who thanked me. She said, ‘Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work from home. It has made me a better employee and a better mom. I enjoy my job more. Thank you for trusting us.’ Hearing this comment and knowing my managers have adopted and embraced this new policy justifies the changes I have made! I know I have changed the culture of this organization and enabled employees to better manage their work and home life.”
Name: Maya Kulycky
Title: Chief of Staff, Office of the Director of Research
Children: Gabriel, 7 / Sebastian, 9
Location: Yorktown Heights, NY
“For 10 years I lived and worked in Africa, in South Africa first, then in Kenya. During my time abroad, I broadened my perspective, became a parent and navigated through leadership situations I hadn’t faced before.
One stands out. I was hiring for a management role. It was clear in the interview that the top candidate was pregnant. Afterwards, when I expressed my support for hiring the candidate, a woman who reported to me, who was also senior in the organization, demurred, asking me if I had noticed that the candidate was pregnant. She would need to go on maternity leave, and the subtext was that we shouldn’t hire her. I understood that, in our setting, it was not common for a visibly pregnant woman to seek work. But she was brave for trying and was the best candidate for the job; I pointed out that any maternity leave, of whatever duration, would be worth hiring someone so qualified. After all, I said, what was six months, or even a year, in the span of a career? I had seen men take medical leave for long periods due to various ailments without consequence.
We hired her, and everyone was better for it. She was a hard worker, a skilled manager, an inspiring leader and a joy to be around, lifting the spirits of others. She seemed happy, and we were happy with her. I like to think of her, and our team, as a point of excellence in a challenging environment, aspiring to and applying a vision of the world we wanted to live in, to our office. The colleague who advised me not to hire the candidate has moved on to other organizations, taking the lesson she learned with her. I still mentor her, despite the geographic distance between us.
The experience taught me that there are myriad lenses through which people can be viewed, and challenges we face. Our candidate couldn’t hide her pregnancy, but others face challenges that are out of sight. A change in perspective can prevent lost opportunities, for organizations and people.”
Name: Joannie Fu
Title: Technical Assistant & Chief of Staff for Programmable Solutions Engineering Group Vice President
Children: Peyton, 12
Location: Redwood City, CA
“Because my wife and I are both working mothers, we are not bound by traditional gender roles and accountability assumptions. From our child’s birth to now, we continuously negotiate all parenting responsibilities, enabling both of us to have a sense of control to pursue our careers while enjoying parenthood together. My epiphany is that this sense of control has given me high confidence professionally and I should help others to gain this.
The universally challenging part of working parenthood is the daily context-switching as we pivot from our roles of affectionate parents to motivated professionals then back to caregiving mode. As the chief of staff for a multi-billion dollar division at Intel, one of my core scopes is directing our organization’s management meeting structure. A few years ago, I worked with our admin council to purposefully minimize early-morning internal meeting series and end-of-day elective meetings, as well as ensure all org-wide global forums are recorded for replay for others who are not able to attend.
It was a deliberate subtle change which resulted in huge cultural and mindset shift. It has enabled the working parents in our organization to be guilt-free in handling child dropoff/pickup and established high expectations for meeting participation. The practice sends a clear message that it’s acceptable to be family-focused. It also gave our childfree employees work-life-balance options to use the meeting-free time to manage their own personal obligations, such as eldercare or pet care. The shift has given all of our employees a sense of control and increased inclusivity in our work environment. The employee relationships became more positive and the teams are more productive as folks are more present and focused.”
Johnson & Johnson
Name: Laura Bueno De Greco
Title: Senior Brand Manager – LISTERINE® Innovation
Children: Leo, 7 / Oliver, 5 / Emilia, 3
Location: Berkeley Heights, NJ
Beyond her direct business achievements, Laura strongly impacts our diversity & inclusion culture as a leader on the diverse marketing team. She has been responsible for fostering a stronger sense of culture and community, recruiting an inclusive workforce and providing mentorship to retain our diverse talent. She motivates, teaches and inspires people of all backgrounds to be their authentically best self.
Name: Lisa Guthrie
Title: Senior Program Manager
Children: Mia, 12 / William, 9 / Samantha, 7 / Christina, 4
Location: Redmond, WA
Lisa and her husband, Richard, a fellow Microsoft employee, are pretty amazing people. Lisa is active in [email protected] and they’re both involved in [email protected] ERG and take time to give thoughtful advice and share experiences to help others. In February 2019, their youngest daughter, Christina, was diagnosed with Rasmussen’s encephalitis (RE), a rare autoimmune condition that causes the body to attack its own healthy brain cells, resulting in frequent, intractable seizures as well as progressive physical and cognitive decline. In June 2019, she underwent a left hemispherectomy (disconnection/removal of the left side of her brain) to address this condition. Richard and Lisa bring awareness to RE, making all kinds of decisions for their family, career and personal needs.
Although there is still plenty of road left to travel with recovery for Christina a few things still hold true: They do what they need to stay engaged with the other kids and their activities. They are 100% there for Christina and her recovery. They LOVE Microsoft: the community, benefits and their jobs.
Name: Jennie Ly
Title: Assurance Senior Manager
Children: Eevy, 5 / Rydon, 3
Location: Sacramento, CA
“We foster work-life balance at our firm, but there’s a self-imposed stigma to keep working and nothing else should conflict with deliverables. I hear and see many colleagues who have postponed their exams, haven’t had their annual checkup in the last few years, or didn’t go to the gym for the very same excuse: ‘I’m too busy because of work.’
My kids are at an age where they can start participating in various activities. The reason why I didn’t register them sooner was the logistics of how we can take them there during traditional work hours. A tax partner advised that I should register them anyway, and I will eventually figure out how to make it work. I took it to heart, and registered Eevy for dance and both kids for gymnastics classes. It didn’t help the activities were on Friday afternoons from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.; yet work was flexible, as long as my tasks were completed. It also didn’t help that the activities started during CPAs’ busy season, and we were working 55-plus hours a week. Thankfully, I can work remotely on my laptop anywhere/time when needed. What I realized was, ‘Why am I limiting my children’s opportunities just because it was inconvenient to our work schedules?’ I love my career and there are client deadlines to meet. However, does that automatically imply my work is more important than my children just because it provides financial security and health coverage? That’s been my mental perspective for the past nine years. I’m still working on changing that perspective, personally and within our work environment.
I’ve started with changing the mental stigma within my teams, where they can openly communicate their priorities and make time for them, and efficiently complete their responsibilities to the team.”
NYU Langone Health
Name: Mary Enquist
Title: Assistant Vice President-Strategy, Planning & Business Development
Children: Natalie, 8 / Zachary, 5
Location: Scarsdale, NY
“When I first became responsible for strategy, I was the only working mom with a young family. Today, 40 percent of my team is working mothers. I asked a direct report if there was anything I did as a boss to help parents. She replied simply, ‘You make it all possible.’
Empathy, lack of guilt, mentorship and encouragement go a long way. The biggest thing I’ve learned as a leader in supporting employees juggling work and life has been having the courage to be vulnerable and unashamed in letting the mix of boss and mom show up in a real and authentic way. I give my team a line of sight into the full person and the plates I’m spinning. It gives others permission to do the same.
My team knows that when they need to deal with something (such as doctor’s appointments or emergency pickups), they don’t need permission or to share the details. Parents keep a lot under wraps. Needing to notify your boss of every case of pinkeye, strep throat or stitches is embarrassing and it’s out of your control. In a high-trust relationship, you set and uphold the standard for excellence and let people rise, with the flexibility they need to achieve it.
As a working parent, you need to be crystal clear about your priorities on a daily basis. My team sees me carve out time for what matters most to me (attending my kids’ major events; performing with my daughter in her school musical). In turn, the team sees me set up childcare and get in the trenches with them to get an important deliverable out. One of my core beliefs is: Family comes first. Career enables family. For me that has proved to be true. I could never provide the life I am giving my children if it were not for my career and being at a company that supports me so well. It’s easy to fall into the mental trap of thinking that you need to prioritize your career or your family. I have found I’m most fulfilled when I’m giving my best to both.”
Name: Sara Govier
Title: Project Manager- Home Cleaning RD&E
Children: Lily, 8 / Charlotte, 4
Location: Muskego, WI
“In fall 2014, I ran into an acquaintance at our daycare that I had worked with Little did I know how that chance encounter would change my life. She told me she was trying to start a working mothers group at our company, and I immediately expressed interest in being a part of the group. For almost four years, we have co-led the Working Mothers Group and it has become one of the most active subcommittees in our company’s ERG network. With over 100 members, we are an energetic group with many events throughout the year. We have hosted multiple speakers, including an author and cable news anchor, parenting experts, a lactation consultant, a nutritionist and a midwife. We have developed a strong partnership with our corporate-sponsored Bright Horizons daycare to bring their staff onsite for sessions on child development. We have worked closely with our HR department to inform employees on the changes to our parental leave policy, to advocate for a surrogacy policy and an improved maternity policy, and to update our maternity leave packets to ensure all new moms receive the information they need for their leaves. We host a toy and gear swap twice a year where families can bring in baby, children’s or maternity items they no longer use, and other families can ‘shop’ for new-to-them items. All leftover items are donated to two Bright Spaces at local women’s shelters that are sponsored by our Bright Horizons daycare.
We have formed two sub-groups to provide support in more specific areas including a group to provide consistency, awareness and improvements to our mother’s rooms and a group to provide support for those experiencing loss, non-traditional family planning and fertility challenges. What I am most proud of, though, is the network we have created that provides mothers at our company a place to connect and feel supported. Our mission is to retain and develop women employees during the life stage of motherhood by fostering support and community among working parents at SCJ, and it is a mission we live every day.”
Name: Tracy Bohl
Title: Lead Development Manager, Client Services & Technology
Children: Alex, 10 / Daniel, 9
Location: Charlotte, NC
Tracy exemplifies the roles of mother, mentor, teammate and volunteer. As a mother of two sons in elementary school, Tracy is an engaged parent and active volunteer at her children’s school. As a mentor and manager, Tracy encourages and challenges her mentees and team members to do their best. In 2018, Tracy was awarded one of TIAA’s inaugural Inclusive Leadership Awards in recognition of her efforts to encourage inclusivity while driving business outcomes and modeling TIAA’s key inclusive leadership behaviors. She also instills a deep sense of volunteerism in her team, encouraging participation in TIAA events with local charities; making it fun for everyone.
On top of working to enrich the professional lives of her team members and raising her sons, Tracy is also the primary caregiver for her mother, who is fighting Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Tracy is there with her mother for every doctor’s appointment and hospital visit; all the while she maintains a smile on her face, a vibrant soul and the motivation to keep going.
Tracy’s team knows that she will always be there for them professionally and personally. One team member expressed gratitude to Tracy for her support, driving 180 miles roundtrip on a Sunday to attend the team member’s mother’s memorial service.
A member of Tracy’s team said, “Tracy Bohl is a shining example of how to care for others.”
Name: Jessica Richard
Title: Chief of Staff, Investment Platforms and Solutions Americas for Global Wealth Management
Children: Siena, 3 / Elle, 1
Location: New York, NY
“When I was four months pregnant with my second daughter I was nominated to co-chair All Bar None, the employee network committed to the professional advancement of women at UBS. This position meant leading 3,000-plus members across the Americas in addition to my day job. My initial reaction was fear: How could I juggle it all? I quickly realized that by saying yes, I opened myself to the magic of when women come together. Not only have I gained friendship and many mom hacks but also support to change the culture.
Together with my working mom partner in crime, Audrey Bommer, we introduced a new networking initiative called Plus One.
Typical networking events can be a challenge for working parents as it often leaves you with a tough decision to skip bedtime or skip happy hour. The Plus One initiative is an ‘ask’ to extend a ‘+1 invite’ to female colleagues during normal course of business (for a meeting, a lunch, an industry event) with goal of expanding her network through intentional introductions.
We launched the initiative on International Women’s Day with Plus One Luncheon where managing directors were invited to bring a female colleague; it was so crowded we ran out of food. A personal favorite was when our working mom’s group hosted a ‘bring a +1 mom’ to lunch; we talked business, self-care and navigating NYC schools (a very important topic on my mind!).
Our All Bar None team is also working closely with UBS HR and Diversity teams to further improve the workplace policies for working parents based on our personal experiences, feedback from our members and data analysis. We are currently working together to evolve parental leave policies, including providing more guidance for line managers and further improving contracts with insurance providers and backup daycare centers.”
WellStar Health System
Name: Renecha Abrams
Title: Clinical Nurse Specialist
Children: Erin, 11
Location: Douglasville, GA
This working mom “brings herself to her role 100 percent every day,” according to her manager. “But she is first and foremost a mother, wife and champion for health in her community. She knows firsthand the power of positivity, faith and seeking to do what’s right for ourselves, our families, our colleagues and our community.”
This manager poignantly tells her nominee’s story: “This mom is a breast cancer survivor. Not just any breast cancer survivor. Her survivorship transcends a journey fraught with sacrifice and perseverance.” She goes on to recount how this dedicated single mother moved to Atlanta, started graduate school, and two weeks later, was diagnosed with invasive stage 3 ductal carcinoma. She continued school while undergoing 17 rounds of chemo, and then had a bilateral mastectomy, just as her next semester was beginning. She returned to class during the second week; no one knew she had 4 JP drains tucked in her purse and waistband. Then she started 37 rounds of radiation. She would go to her first class from 8 to 11:45 a.m., drive nearly an hour to her 10-minute radiation treatment, grab lunch, and attend her 1 to 4 p.m. class. All this while caring for her then 6-year-old daughter.
This team member went on to graduate and begin her career at WellStar as a clinical nurse specialist in June 2015. “I’ve always known about this team member being a survivor; however, it’s been the past four years of watching her consistently perform and grow, with quiet yet powerful leadership, that caused me to take notice. Her journey through cancer, survivorship and tackling it head-on helped to make her the respected CNS she is today. This clinician has developed relationships with our nurses that mean something. She develops trust like it’s a part of her central being. She doesn’t get mired in the little stuff because she knows what the big stuff looks and feels like for our patients and nurses. She takes care of her colleagues by being boots on the ground at the hospitals, but also manages system projects that improve and impact quality and safety. She doesn’t go small on anything.”
Of this CNS, who has represented WellStar at international conferences, her manager says: “She’s come a long way from a single mom with breast cancer in a full-time graduate program to being a respected WellStar nurse with international speaking engagements on her resume.”
This team member is also an adjunct faculty member at KSU, where she mentors undergraduate nursing students, and in her words, “keeps my skills current and stays close to the bedside.”