BPW/Triangle develops a powerful network of leaders to advocate, educate and cultivate connections.
The views expressed by blog authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of each member within our organization.
Can you please give us a brief introduction of who you are and your current business?
My name is Karen McCann. As an experienced IT Program Manager & Agile Scrum Master, I have led teams to develop the latest technologies for over 15 years within small companies, large corporations, and the US government. I am currently networking to discover opportunities to increase the value of IT systems within new organization. My family and I relocated to Raleigh 6 years ago from Washington DC.
Why did you join BPW?
BPW is a dynamic organization where I expect to meet female leaders in new industries in Raleigh/Durham. BPW affords me opportunity to “give-back” by using my vast network of IT professionals, organizational skills, and project management techniques to enhance the group and its agenda.
What are your favorite hobbies or interests outside of work?
Spending time with my family.
What is your favorite super-hero and why?
Wonder Woman as she is a powerful role model for young girls.
What chores do you hate doing?
What did you want to be when growing up?
What do you like to do on your days off?
Go on day trips with my family.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Increase my technical knowledge in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (Deep Learning) algorithms and Quantum technologies.
How do you define success?
Success is working with AI technologies in a challenging position that fully utilizes my project management and team building expertise.
What can BPW do to support you in your business?
BPW is a great resource to network within the local business community and to reach companies that need expert IT project management. I would most appreciate warm introductions to organizations looking to improve their management of IT system development and operations.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Stephanie!
I'm Stephanie Ross, I'm a certified health educator and health coach, and I'm the owner and founder of Crown Wellness Coaching. I offer integrative health coaching and a lifestyle medicine program. I partner with physicians, corporations, and individuals to help improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.
How have you engaged with BPW so far?
I joined BPW in order to network with other women. You know, before getting into the professional world, I'd been a stay-at-home mom for about 10 years. I built up a really good network there with other moms, but as far as stepping out into the professional world, I didn't really know anybody. So, BPW has been a good way just to help me meet other women; I've participated in some of the networking events so far.
Who has helped you most in your career?
I would say, actually, my husband. He has been really supportive. At the time, I was pregnant and just had a whole lot to keep up with, so he was really good about taking on additional responsibility there. And then, through all of the training for health coaching, he's been really supportive, and certainly in launching the business as well.
What are your hobbies or interests?
I really enjoy reading, so anything, of course, about health and lifestyle medicine. But as far as personal reading, I like mystery novels. My oldest daughter and I actually read Nancy Drew together a lot, so that's fun. I also like Reader's Digest Magazine -- I read that every month. I like traveling as well, when I get the chance... not so much now. And just spending time with family.
Which superpower would you choose?
I would probably say super speed, just because that would let me do some of the mundane things, like cleaning the house, just really fast, so that I could spend more time doing other things.
What's your favorite restaurant or food?
Favorite restaurant for sure is Sassool. It's a Mediterranean restaurant. I usually get a platter with samples of different things. My go-to is called veggie kibbeh. A sweet potato salad, a fava bean salad, and roasted vegetables: that's my favorite combination.
What has been your most interesting job?
I would say what I'm doing now. One of the programs I facilitate called CHIP stands for the complete health improvement program. It's a 10-week intensive lifestyle medicine program. It's holistic, so we cover nutrition, exercise, stress management, sleep, social connection, and substance use. Participants who go through that really see improved health outcomes, and so it's really... I really like being able to share all the information, because it's so comprehensive, and just seeing their participation in it and seeing improved health outcomes.
What can the BPW community do to support you?
I would say just continuing to hold networking events. I really just love to meet other women and we can just bounce ideas off of each other, get to know each other. It's really good relationship building.
I was missing the BPW so much that I searched to find one that would be in this area, and in the beginning of January, I joined. I've just been in on a couple of the sessions and starting to meet people. I'm very excited about the cross-section, it seems, of the members. I look forward to the fellowship of the group, meeting people in person.
My experience with BPW--and I believe it will translate to the Triangle too--is that it's a diverse group of women, and sometimes men, who represent a whole bunch of different parts of the community, and they're an important part of the community, and that's what I hope to grow to be.
I was there during the tsunami and earthquake, the rather large one at the beginning of last decade. And although I always loved going there because of the food and the culture, what really impressed me during that very scary event was the way that the local population not only took care of themselves during a really, really devastating time, but how they actually cared for even people like me to make sure that I was safe and got to where I had to be and to do what I had to do.
So I really, I love the landscape. I love the culture. I love the food. And I hope I get to go back.
It's my experience, again with BPW, is that they're very integrated into the community. And having moved here recently, that's what I would like to have. Also, I'm just starting to learn what the skill set is of the members of this BPW, and I'm going to be needing some of those skills, so I really look forward to more and more interaction--even if it's just by Zoom now--and getting to know the members and what we can offer each other.
Earlier this month we exchanged holiday recipes. Feel free to add your own in the comments!
shared by Marcy Stahl
1 bag of fresh cranberries (about 2.5 cups)
½ c sugar
½ c chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
1 c sugar
1 c flour
½ c melted butter
¼ c melted shortening
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 10” pie pan (or 9x9 square pan). Add berries. Sprinkle with sugar and nuts. Beat eggs, gradually add 1c sugar and blend well. Add flour, butter, and shortening. Mix well. Pour over berries, cook for 1 hr. Top should be nicely browned and a knife inserted comes out clean.
Chocolate Rum Balls via keyingredient.com
shared by Jami Yazdani
3 1/4 cups crushed vanilla wafers
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup rum
In a large bowl, stir together the crushed vanilla wafers, 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and nuts. Blend in corn syrup and rum. Shape into 1 inch balls, and roll in additional confectioners' sugar. Store in an airtight container for several days to develop the flavor. Roll again in confectioners' sugar before serving.
Cranberry Orange Bread via Betty Crocker
shared by Jami Yazdani
3 cups fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) cranberries
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons grated orange or lemon peel
3 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches.
Stir together cranberries, sugar, oil, milk, vanilla, orange peel and eggs in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pans.
Bake 8-inch loaves 50 to 60 minutes, 9-inch loaf 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.
shared by Jami Yazdani
1/2 pint bourbon
1 pint heavy cream
4 pints milk
3/4 cup sugar
6 separated eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
pinch (optional) nutmeg
In a bowl beat the egg yolks with the 1/2 cup of sugar until thick. In another bowl beat the egg whites with 1/4 cup of sugar until thick. In a third bowl beat the cream until thick. Add the cream to the yolk, fold in the egg whites, and add the milk, Bourbon, Vanilla, and a pinch of nutmeg if desired. Chill in freezer before serving.
The Best Cinnamon Rolls via tasteoflizzyt.com
shared by Sandra Stowe
Can you give us a brief introduction of who you are and your current business?
I’m the owner of Smart Moms. We are a recruiting firm where we connect employers to various skilled, professional committed women who want part-time or contract work. I’m a mechanical engineer by training and over 16 years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to build things. I was very interested in helping women build their lives, build well-balanced lives so I made the decision to start Smart Moms.
What prompted you to join BPW and what positions have you held during your tenure with BPW?
In 2011, BPW Raleigh presented me with “Career Woman of the Year.” They did it at the Raleigh chapter and then the state nominated me and told me I was “career woman of the year.” They honored me telling me I had great innovations in creating work-life balance for women and I was really touched by that. I got a chance to meet a lot of women from other BPW chapters and I realized it was a great dynamic group of women. Phenomenal. They were doing advocacy from the state level to the federal level, networking, and the scholarship fund they offer, I was just so impressed. Fast forward five years later, I came to a meeting and was warmly welcomed and decided to join. I sit on the professional development team. I’m one of the individuals that help organize these amazing webinars for women such as self-care, financial wellness, leadership, negotiating skills. I’m just so excited to be part of this group!
What hobbies do you have outside of work?
I love to read. I’m an avid reader. The last ten years I’ve been reading a lot of business books. Quite a few of our members have written their own books so I read those. I also fish. My husband and I fish in the spring and summer at Jordan Lake and Falls Lake. I love to travel so I’ve been to Miami and Puerto Rico and trying to go to Ibiza in May, but my husband doesn’t know yet.
What was the best concert you ever attended?
Pat Metheny. He’s a fusion jazz guitarist who I got introduced to in my high school days. He came to the Carolina Theater in Durham and I got a chance to get great seats. He has this mechanical orchestra which he created and plays along with his band. It was just an amazing concert.
What are you passionate about?
Work-life balance for women is so important to me. My mom at the age of 49 had her first stroke. She was single parent raising two children, a homeowner, a DC public school teacher. She had two side hustles at the same time. I really believe if she had opportunities like being able to be remote or flexible hours, she might not have had a stroke so early. I have been committed the last 16 years help women negotiate work life balance, or connect with employers who have it, or create their own opportunities.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be and why?
I’ve always wanted to do those long hiking treks. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro or climb the Appalachian trail but I’m scared of bears. I think if I had someone teach me how to survive in the wild then I would go one of these trips.
What are you currently watching on Netflix or TV or any streaming services?
In December, I just got finished watching “Greenleaf” on Netflix which is a saga about an African American mega-church family that has drama, they create drama, they live in drama, but it has a Christian twist and I enjoyed watching it.
Which four individuals, living or dead, would you like to eat dinner with the most?
Michelle Obama for sure. I love her persona, who she is. Iylania Vanzant, she’s had a motivational speaker with a couple TV shows. She’s a minister and tells it like it is and she’s so clear which is why I have a couple questions I’d like to ask her. Octavia Butler, who’s a science fiction writer. She’s no longer with us, but she’s Black and she combined science fiction with Black spirituality and came up with amazing storylines. I would love to sit with her and ask her, “How did you come up with this stuff?” And lastly, Meryl Streep. I love her. She’s had a long-standing career, been married for a long time, had children and seems very grounded.
What is your favorite family tradition?
Going home. I have two daughters that are 18 and 20. For 20 years, we’ve put them in a car with pillows, blankets, games and snacks. We traveled to Tylertown, Mississippi, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Seabrook, Maryland to see their grandparents. When we get there, it’s always a lot of fun. We see family, we eat good food and it’s hard when we leave. But we leave with a heart full of love. I love going home.
What can BPW do to support you in your career?
Smart Moms is making a push to connect with as many principals in law firms as possible. We have very talented women who are attorneys that can work remote for any of the offices. We have paralegals, bookkeepers, assistants, HR support for recruiting. I’m really hoping that BPW will make introductions to law firms so we can get more women to work for them.
S M A R T M O M SWebsite | LinkedIn
Meet Alexa Colasurdo
Can you give us a brief introduction of who you are and what you do at your current organization?
My name is Alexa Colasurda and I’m a data scientist at SAS. I’m on the JMP team, and I support marketing and sales teams by making reports, predictive models and everything in between.
I think it was exactly a year ago that I was really seeking a tribe. I had a lot of failed networking group attempts, tried some events on Meetup which turned out to be really awkward, etc. But then I found the “Beyond the Boys Club” political panel that BPW hosted last year, with Deborah Ross, Janet Cowell, and Tamara Barringer and I ended up coming to that and was just so inspired. I found that this was a group of really passionate, driven women, which was refreshing. Everyone is very inspiring, self-aware and just cheers each other on. To have all of that in one room was really exciting, so I decided I had to join.
What hobbies/interests do you have outside of work?
My husband and I have his and hers 4-wheelers, so we like to go 4-wheeling. We also have his and hers kayaks, and I enjoy yoga and spending time with my cat.
If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing that you would do?
So this may seem really boring, but I would put it in a very conservative fund and try to be a responsible adult. I may also get a hot tub… but probably just the former.
What is the best thing that happened to you within the past couple of months?
Well I got married, so that was great. And professionally, I’m really excited because I just submitted an abstract for a client summit in Europe next year, to present a paper. So fingers crossed that works out!
Who is your favorite super hero and why?
This is a hard one because I don’t watch anything with superheroes in it, so I don’t really know many of them. I want to say Wonder Woman because she’s a bada** and she’s a woman. But the only superhero movie I’ve actually watched is Ironman 3, partly because I found out that they filmed part of it at SAS so I wanted to watch it for that reason. Ironman was actually pretty cool. So either Ironman or Wonder Woman would be my favorite.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is when women (especially younger women) apologize for things that don’t require an apology. I always try to address this with younger women, especially those who I’ve mentored, because when you apologize it sets you up to be inferior (when you’re not), especially if you’re the only woman in the room. So please, don’t apologize unless you’ve actually done something wrong!
What is your favorite game/board game?
I really love fantasy football. I’m one of 2 women in our fantasy football league at work and I actually run the league.
I really want to learn how to DJ. Not like a wedding DJ, but more like Steve Aoki, DJ-ing a festival with hundreds of thousands of people. I think that would be super rad.
Continuing the dinner meetings every month, and continuing to connect this group of women with our speakers, who are always other inspiring women in this area that we can learn from. It’s awesome that BPW gives us a place month to month that we can gather. It’s a great way to keep up the networking and a way to continue developing friendships with each other.
My name is Leslie Lemmons. I am a Financial Services Officer at State Employee’s Credit Union in Apex, NC. I help the families of the State of North Carolina reach other financial objectives. I assist members in various services ranging from budgeting, debt consolidation to mortgage loan servicing. I hope in the future to be more instrumental in helping the membership with their investment and estate essential planning needs.
I wanted to be apart of a fostering empowering group of women that want to help advance each other to become their very best in their organization. The connections that I make will help me to network and give me the tools to succeed career wise both inside and outside the office. In the future, I my hope is to become more of the mentor that shares her attributes to BPW membership that shares the common drive to grow daily beyond where they are today.
Fitness and living a happy healthy lifestyle. Currently, I am obtaining my group fitness certification through Athletic Fitness Association of America. I am obtaining the certification to be able to a group fitness instructor for a fitness club. I am passionate about giving knowledge and aiding someone to better themselves in wellness. I have been able to reap the benefits of being healthy and it has paid off for my quality of life substantially. I think that paying that forward to others like Kim does is the best way to have personal gratification at night when you lay your head on your pillow. I also enjoy any activity that aids in personal development and self-motivation.
If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing that you would do?
First, I would thank the Lord by giving a good faith tithe. Secondly, I would give to my family and provide for their needs. Thirdly, I would give a good portion to a faith-based organization like St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital. I would then give a healthy portion to an organization that empowers women professionally AKA BPW!
What is the best thing that happened to you within the past couple of months?
Joining BPW for sure! In the past couple weeks alone I have had the opportunity to meet and build so many impact relationships like Emily McIntosh & Jeanie Chang who helped me start a foundational basis for how to plug in and who to meet and greet to make an impact that I am passionate about for BPW. Emily was the one who introduced me to Rachel Pisciotta from Arbor Wealth Management and Kim Vanderheijden. Because of BPW I have been able to network with Rachel and Kim to help aid and organize events for the association. Rachel and I are currently planning a Financial Q&A in person event within the next month touching on wealth management & estate essential planning.
What is your favorite place to travel to and why?
Disney by far! Disney has been my best vacation destination experience ever! I had the pleasure of staying at the Port Olean’s in the Summer of 2017. The fast passes and extra magic hours were amazing! Best part was visiting the Beauty in the Beast Castle Dining Hall because you could eat in the palace, library reading room or the ‘Forbidden West Wing.’ I also enjoyed the ‘Story Time with Belle’ and ‘Ariel at her Grotto’ experience. Additionally, I enjoy traveling to Dollywood in Tennessee at Christmas time for the Christian faith based phenomenal experience that the park exudes.
I really don’t have many that I can think of. I sometimes see pet peeves as a way not to get along in society, therefore, I always try the live by the Kenny Chesney song “Get Along” to be best I can.
Operation because it teaches you patience. I have the patience to sit there and dissect the subject’s intestines i.e. bone, cheese, ice cream, etc. I have an edge because I have a lot of patience as a personality characteristic. I always approach things from the aspect how can I make this work, how can I approach this situation getting that gold nugget without causing the buzzer to go off or without the garbage hitting the fan? I have a philosophy in life that I want things for members/clients to go as smoothly and seamless as possible without bumps to the extent they can. (Life is not always this way, but one can dream) I believe Operation teaches you to have that philosophy. I also enjoy Jenga where you build the towers with the log blocks, another way to demonstrate persistence, patience and determination to get where you headed without the tower failing on you.
What has been your most interesting job and why?
I was telling Kim I had a short-lived interesting job as a Beachbody coach where I used Facebook as a motivational platform for my Clean Eating Dream Team and my Happy Healthy Fit by Leslie fan page. Through these forums I promoted the Beachbody products like Shakeology and endorsed different fitness exercise programs like Piyo. I found out that I could motive people and encourage them and they in turn could motive others with their posts as well. I gave them hope to eat well and exercise daily. Though I wasn’t the top seller of Beachbody products, I learned that the self-gratification element was enough to sustain me than the actual income this job generated.
BPW is a forum for its members to network and build upon each other in a positive and empowering way. I approach BPW as your only going to get as much out of the association as you put in. So, I have resolved to dive in and give 120% to this wonderful group of professional women that all have an Alicia Key’s “Girl on Fire” attitude. Emily McIntosh has helped me to envelop a few ambitions professionally speaking that needs polishing. I am right on the cusp of realizing the Senior Officer role at SECU. I am trying to bloom into the type of leader that my organization will define as indisposable i.e. hard to replace. I am seeking out additional responsibilities and opportunities for growth i.e. investment certification, trust officer. I also believe BPW can support me through mentorship and guidance to get through the rigor of obtaining my MBA. Currently, I am applying online to UNC@MBA and need all the support and advice I can to know what to expect as an upcoming graduate student.
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