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Business and Professional Women of the Triangle

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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. 

  • 10 Feb 2020 2:46 PM | Anonymous

    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 S
    Website | LinkedIn

  • 13 Nov 2019 12:08 PM | Anonymous

    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.

    Why did you join BPW?

    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.

    If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

    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.

    What can BPW do to support you in your career?

    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.

  • 14 Oct 2019 9:08 AM | Anonymous

    Can you give us a brief introduction of who you are and what you do at your current organization?

    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.

    Why did you join BPW?

    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.

    What hobbies/interests do you have outside of work?

    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.

    What is your biggest pet peeve? 

    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.

    What is your favorite game/board game?

    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.

    What can BPW do to support you in your career?

    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.

  • 12 Sep 2019 7:16 PM | Anonymous

    Can you give us a brief introduction of who you are and what you do in your current organization?

    My name is Lauren, I moved here to the Triangle about a year ago from south-central Pennsylvania. My background is in graphic design, and I currently work in marketing at Oxford University Press.

    Why did you join BPW and what positions have you held during your tenure with BPW?

    After moving here, I didn’t know a single person. I was going to a lot of different networking events, just going anywhere to try to find something that was a fit, but nothing really stuck. The day beforehand, I found out about the BPW panel that consisted of 3 female politicians from North Carolina. And I moved here from a place where no one really pays much attention to civic engagement or anything like that, so as soon as I came here I knew this was “the one”!

    What hobbies/interests do you have outside of work?

    I used to kickbox – that was really fun! I’d like to get back to that at some point. Recently my husband and I made it a goal to visit every professional baseball stadium in the state. We’ve been to 2 so far!

    Who is your favorite superhero and why?

    Quick funny story first: When the Avengers came out a few months ago, my coworkers knew I hadn’t seen it and they were very nice and tried to tiptoe around spoilers. And I had to tell them, listen, I’m like 19 movies behind… so don’t even worry about it! Just not my thing.

    So anyway, my favorite “superhero” is a little unconventional, but I’m going to go with Hermione from Harry Potter. She’s clever, she’s determined… and I think she’s the first character to really get the big picture and to fight for the idea that no one is free unless everyone is free.

    What chore do you absolutely hate doing?


    What would you do for a career if you were not doing what you are doing now?

    I always wanted to design for a professional sports team. That didn’t quite turn out, but I was really lucky to spend my first few years after school in a job I loved with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. I’d be interested in working for an environmental agency again someday. Part of my job was designing and publishing a quarterly magazine, so I’m interested, too, in getting a feel for the magazines around town and one day designing for one of them.

    How do you define success?

    I would define success as “never settling”. One of my favorite quotes (I’m not sure who to give credit to for it… I actually saw it on a sign on the side of the road) is “all I want to be is someone who makes new things and thinks about them”.

    If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

    Learn another language—maybe Italian—or play an instrument.

    What has been your most interesting job and why?

    I worked at DNR between the time I graduated college and when I ended up here. That was great because I got to do a lot of different things for something I really care about. I was the graphic designer, and also did some marketing, some writing; just a whole bunch of different stuff. One thing I’ll never forget, though, was early one spring I got to go along for a bear den survey. The biologists sedated the mama bear to do a health check and make sure the batteries on her tag were good. In the meantime I got to hold and keep one of the cubs warm, which was just so sweet!

    What can BPW do to support you?

    Just keep existing. I love events like this. Like I said, I didn’t know a single person when I moved here and it’s just been really great getting to know everyone!

  • 04 Sep 2019 10:10 AM | Deleted user

    To our returning members, welcome to another great year with BPW!  To our new members, welcome to BPW/Triangle and thank you for joining! 

    We are thrilled and humbled to serve as your co-Presidents for the BPW year 2019-2020.   But we absolutely could not do this alone. We have a wonderful team of diverse volunteers serving on our board this year, who are deeply dedicated to ensuring that BPW/Triangle brings you valuable, fun, and meaningful programming. These women are here to bring to life this organization’s mission: to develop a powerful network of leaders to advocate, educate, and cultivate connections.

    2019 is a momentous year for BPW/Triangle. 100 years ago, in June 1919, a small group of women from across North Carolina met in Charlotte, at which time they first organized the NC Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. Their mission was to support women in their professional endeavors at a time when women did not yet have the right to vote. Since that time 100 years ago, BPW chapters in North Carolina and around the world, including here in the Triangle, have continued to cultivate leaders in business, as well as leading the charge in advocating for legislation that assists women in obtaining economic equity, health, and civil rights.  We look forward to celebrating our 100 years of history this year and to planning for what the next century will look like for this organization.

    As we kick off  the 2019-2020 year, we renew our focus and objectives on quality over quantity; on providing well-known speakers who address the interests, needs, and desires of our members; on growing our membership to reach an increasing number of like-minded women; and on expanding the chapter’s scholarship program so that we can support more well-deserving women in our community who wish to further their education.

    We are thrilled to be serving as Team President for our chapter and looking forward to meeting and getting to know many of you at our events over the next many months. Cheers to a fantastic year!

    Donna Daniels, Allison Itin & Payal Nanjiani

    BPW Triangle Team Presidents

  • 26 Jun 2019 11:48 PM | Deleted user

    MEET MEMBER: Dilek Austin

    Can you give us a brief introduction of who you are and your current business?

    My name is Dilek Austin. I work for a company called Novozymes as a scientist, which produces industrial enzymes. All of you are using the enzymes in your household products. Even enzymes are in our bodies so they are natural things. My background is in food engineering and food science. Therefore, I work in the food division, especially on baked goods. So, the next time you buy a sliced bread, ask yourself how come the bread is still soft for a long time, that is because of the enzymes.

    Why did you join BPW and what committee are you part of? 

    Last summer I read a book You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. When I was reading one of the chapters, I saw something that related to me. She knew she needed to do something for herself but she didn’t know what it was, and someone recommended for her to join any women’s club in her area about business or interpersonal development. She said it was the best thing she did and she figured out what she really wanted to do with her life. That’s how I found BPW, via the website. Then I connected with one of you, I think I sent an email, and was introduced to Payal and it went from there. Payal was the biggest impact on me joining.

    Who is a person who has helped you in your career and how have they helped you?

    It’s cliche, but my mom and my dad. Because my mom grew up in an era when women weren’t educated and it wasn’t believed that women should be educated. I’m originally from Turkey. My dad had a college degree, an engineer. We are three girls and he always pushed us to be the best of ourselves and not to depend on men. So my mom wanted better things for us. All of us became engineers -. In fact, one thing about my dad was he always told us, “I cannot give you a bunch of money, houses, cars but when you have a good education, this is a golden bracelet for you for the rest of your life.” So that I think my parents are the main pushers in my career.

    What hobbies/interests do you have outside of work?

    I don’t know if this is a hobby, but I became a member of a Toastmasters club 3 years ago. It is very much like your group here, but with XY chromosomes and XX chromosomes together. I really enjoy that. I like to listen to public speaking and how people can develop themselves in public speaking. Seeing people how they develop in front your eyes with the support and guidance they get is amazing feeling. 

    I am so crazy about crocheting. I have to crochet every night. I find it very relaxing. One of the reasons I like technology is that I don't have my mom with me to teach me more patterns, but I can still learn from online. It's why I am so grateful about technology. I can just go learn things.

    Another hobby, of course, is reading books, specifically personal and professional development books. Because of a book, I am part of BPW.

    If you could have any one superpower, which would you choose?

    This is the best question ever because I always tell my kids, if I had a power right now, I would like to stop all the cruelty. Human to human, human to animals right away. It really hurts my heart to see that. It's why most of the time, I refuse to watch the news.

    What’s your favorite place of all the places you’ve traveled?

    I want to say Turkey. I do travel but I was born there and I really recommend considering traveling to Turkey. There's so many amazing places and so many different cultures in there. I travel to other places of the world, but still I feel like Turkey is a very beautiful country.

    What is your favorite restaurant and why?

    I don't have a favorite restaurant.  I love to try different things. Especially for a restaurant, it has to have a feeling. I just don't like the fancy restaurants. It has to have some colors, like a Latino type restaurant or Mexican type. I just love that vivid feeling when you enter. It's the feeling I'm looking for actually. 

    What was your favorite TV show or movie when growing up and why? 

    Growing up in Turkey, everything we see on the TV is almost 20 years after you guys. Growing up, I watched Dallas. Interestingly, I ended up marrying a Texan. It was interesting to go visit the ranch in Texas where the series was done. But my favorite show is Charlie's Angels. I like kickass and strong women. It's why I really loved that show.

    What has been your most interesting job and why? 

    The job I'm doing right now. I get to visit different places and interact with different people to help them with their challenges in the industry. At the same time, being able to help with my education through them is really rewarding feeling. I really love to help, teach and learn. I'm a lifelong learner. Whenever I chat with people I will look for learnings form them. The more I give, the more I learn from other people. 

    What can BPW do to support you in your career?

    I love listening to podcasts. I always feel like I need to be productive every second of my life. It's just me. I started listening to this podcast, "Hello Monday." I highly recommend it for business and professional women. I’m pretty sure many of you are very ambitious. The fact that you come to this dinner meetings after work, which shows some dedication. I feel like I can align with you and learn from you and help BPW.

  • 12 Apr 2019 9:56 AM | Deleted user

    MEET MEMBER: Jami Yazdani

    Can you give us a brief introduction of who you are and your current business?

    My name is Jami Yazdani and I was in higher education for about 15 years and I recently relocated here. I started a leadership management consulting business so I would like to be helping clients solve management problems, develop leadership skills, and build their administrative toolkits. The services I offer are coaching​,​ training, and facilitation.

    Why did you join BPW and what committee are you part of? 

    I’ve been involved in other women’s organizations so when I moved here I googled “women’s organizations near me” or something like that. I found BPW and joined. I think I’m on the marketing committee. The thing that was funny about that is I just joined, saw an event, I thought it was about marketing or business, I showed up, and it was the marketing committee meeting. So now I help with the ​BPW ​Instagram​ account​! But I feel very welcome and they were happy to put me to work. Yeah, I thought I was coming to something completely different.

    Who is a person who has helped you in your career and how have they helped you?

    I have been really lucky that I’ve had lots of people who have helped me in my career. But the person who always sort of comes to mind is a former supervisor of mine when I was at Northern Virginia Community College. She was just such a great supervisor. She was wonderful and encouraging. After I left NOVA and after she retired, she still sends me amazing emails. Every now and then, “How are you doing? What’s going on?” And when I tell her, she’s always like, “That’s so awesome! You’re doing so great!” And so she’s just so encouraging. Her name is Carol and I often say, “What would Carol do?”

    What hobbies/interests do you have outside of work?

    I’m a big reader. I like to cook. I like to travel when I can. That’s really all I can think of. I’m not a big hobby person. I’m too much of a perfectionist to actually do crafts or anything.

    If you could have any one superpower, which would you choose?

    I would love to be able to sort of beam myself somewhere. You know, like kind of, “Scotty! Beam me up!” Because I would save so much travel time. Even though I enjoy a good road trip, if I could sort of be at Target and then be at home, ​then ​get to a meeting​, that would be amazing.

    What’s your favorite place of all the places you’ve traveled?

    That’s kind of a tricky one. My husband and I, when I graduated with my second masters, went to Curacao to sort of celebrate. We were there for five days and somehow they had two national holidays during the five days we were there so everything was closed and we couldn’t go on excursions, so we just sat on the beach and at the swimming pool. It was the best vacation but I think it’s because we did nothing.

    What is your favorite restaurant and why?

    This one is hard. I don’t have a favorite restaurant. I like trying restaurants. I’ll eat most any cuisine. I don’t have a favorite restaurant. Erin (Cannon) had recommended Full Moon Oyster Bar and I went there the other night. That was really, really good. I guess I could recommend that but I don’t have a favorite.

    What was your favorite TV show or movie when growing up and why? 

    This was also hard because I watched a lot of TV as a kid, but I remember really liking Growing Pains. I think I also watch Golden Girls but I still watch that as an adult, actually. I was watching it this morning and I think I enjoy it more as an adult. Movie-wise, I enjoy Goonies and Star Wars. I watched Adventures in Babysitting like a thousand times, and I didn’t even babysit. So I’m not sure what that was about.

    What has been your most interesting job and why? 

    I think all of my jobs in higher ed were really interesting, sometimes because they were challenging. But I’ve often had jobs where I had to do a lot of things and I really like doing a lot of different things. A job that was kind of interesting, that’s not on my LinkedIn profile or my resume, when I got out of undergrad, I thought I wanted to be an archeologist so I did my field school and for a couple of months I worked for a cultural resources management firm on a dig. That was super interesting. I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Even though it was fun, I needed to be around people more - which was a good thing to realize - but it was really interesting.

    What can BPW do to support you in your career?

    So because I have a new business, of course, I would love clients and to network with people. But I’m new to the area so I also would just like to meet people and make friends. And I am in a career transition so I’m open to all kinds of opportunities. I think learning what people do and what’s out there would be most helpful.

  • 15 Mar 2019 6:31 PM | Deleted user

    MEET MEMBER: Marcy stahl

    Can you give us a brief introduction of who you are and your current business?

    I’m Marcy Stahl, I’m a business coach for women entrepreneurs and women in direct sales. 

    Why did you join BPW and what positions have you held during your tenure with BPW? 

    I moved from the DC area five years ago, and I was doing a lot of women’s networking up there, and as soon as I got here I was like, “Where are my people? I need to Google ‘women’s networking groups Raleigh.’” I found BPW and from the first meeting, I was just like, okay, this is my tribe, these are my people, I’m in the right place. So I joined actually pretty quickly after the state conference that year, which was fascinating hearing more of the history of the organization which has been such an advocate for women’s rights. We sometimes take our rights for granted but it’s very recent that we got those rights. So I’m a big fan of that.

    I was the Membership chair for a while and then I think right into the Co-Presidency. I think I skipped the Co-President Elect. Now I am the chair of the Scholarship committee.

    What hobbies/interests do you have outside of work?

    Yeah, that’s something I’m looking to fertilize and grow this year. Outside work, I definitely do a ton of reading, I have two rescue cats that take up a fair chunk of time, time with friends, and I’m a big lover of film and live music - and that’s something I want to be doing more of. Those are probably my main things.

    If you could sit on a bench in a beautiful woods, who would you like sitting next to you on the bench and why?

    What an open ended question with so many different options. So what about family? No. Friends? Maybe. Boyfriend? I’m not dating. So I circled back around to friends. One of my friends who lives in Montana and is a nature guide would be the perfect person to be sitting with because he and I love being together and he could tell me about everything around us in the forest.

    What was your favorite TV show when growing up and why? 

    The “why” part may be harder to reflect back on and figure out. When I was young, I was super intrigued by the first Batman show. And then when I was a teenager, I would say Saturday Night Live.

    What has been your most interesting job and why?  

    Define interesting. For sure it’s been being self-employed. I feel like that is the biggest personal growth journey you can pick. From the outside, it looks like, “Oh! You get to have control over your own schedule! Blah blah blah.” But it’s really an inner journey because it forces you out of your comfort zone every day of the week. So being an entrepreneur, for me, is my favorite job.

    What’s your favorite place of all the places you’ve travelled?

    Tasmania! Probably Australia overall is my favorite place and being on this little island off of Australia with amazing scenery and incredible food, it was so fantastic!

    And the thing that cracked me up is that Australians love meeting Americans and asking you where you’re from and what places in Australia you’re going to visit. And every time I said, “I’m going to Tasmania”, they were like, “Oh, that’s where senior citizens go.” So it was dorky at the time, but I loved it.

    What book, movie read/seen recently you would recommend and why?

    I am having a great time recommending this book, “In the Company of Women” by Grace Bonney. The author, who is a photographer, interviewed 100 different women who are all creative types. They’re everything from interior designers to writers to visual artists. She has beautiful photographs of them in their studio, in their space. Just to be able to see what they’ve got—the odds and ends, the pictures, everything—is fantastic. And she asks them great questions like, “the best lesson you’ve learned in your business”, “the mistake that you learned the most from.” And she asked something about advice, like good advice that you got or good advice that you ignored. She’s super inclusive in terms of the kind of women that she profiles so I highly recommend this book, and I highly recommend it in hardback and in full color.

    What’s your favorite tradition or holiday?

    Probably Thanksgiving. You know, just the 100% focus on food.

    What can BPW do to support you in your career?

    Probably the easiest thing is if you know of other women’s networking groups that use outside speakers, that is a great thing for me to be connected to. It’s always harder I think to talk to people about who is my ideal client and how do you know that they’re my ideal client. So speaking engagements, that’s the easiest thing.

  • 12 Feb 2019 8:54 PM | Deleted user

    MEET MEMBER: Melanie Stefanidis

    Can you give us a brief introduction of who you are and your current business?

    I moved to Raleigh a year and a half ago from Seattle and previously lived in the Florida Keys. I am currently working for DH Griffin Wrecking in their Raleigh Division. My previous work background ranges from a retail manager, flight attendant, financial aid advisor at a university, massage therapist, spa director, legal assistant /office manager. My work life has not been very dull.

    Why did you join BPW and what positions have you held during your tenure with BPW?

    I had previously attended BPW meetings in the Florida Keys and when I moved here I was looking for a group of like-minded women. I would say the deciding factor for me was when I was on our website and I saw the t-shirt "Inspired by my Tribe" I knew I was making the right decision. I am currently on the social committee.

    What hobbies/interests do you have outside of work?

    I enjoy hiking, my Orangetheory workouts and finding great places to eat in Raleigh and Durham.

    What was the best concert you ever attended?

    On the Sunset Pier in Key West, I saw Galactic with Trombone Shorty and the Blues Travelers. Two different concerts, same location.

    What are you passionate about?

    My passions are traveling and moving to new cities. My sisters affectionately call me Bedouin - I like to call it wanderlust.The "moving to new cities" is currently off the books since I just purchased my first home - ever - in Brier Creek.  I am constantly looking for new countries to visit - my current list of places to go to is New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam, and Croatia.

    What is the craziest thing you have ever done (that you can share)? 

    With less than 6 weeks of preparation I hiked across northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago for over a month. Needless to say, living 7 feet above sea level on a very flat island in the sunshine state did not prepare me very well for crossing the Pyrenees.

    What are you currently watching on Netflix or TV? 

    I just recently finished bingeing the Australian show "Offspring" on Netflix

    Which four individuals, living or dead, would you like to eat dinner with the most? 

    Dave Chappelle and Tina Fey - to laugh, Gene Kelly - to teach me to dance and Linda Carter because duh - she's Wonder Woman!

    What is your favorite family tradition? 

    My parents do not do it anymore but for Greek Easter my dad would roast a whole lamb in our backyard. It is quite an ordeal because you have to start early in the morning and, before we had a machine to turn the goat, the men would dig a hole, start the coals and manually rotate the lamb while drinking ouzo. Now while this is happening - all your family starts to arrive and you are eating a drinking all day long. If you close your eyes and imagine My Big Fat Greek Wedding....that's exactly what it is like. Growing up in Queens you always knew where all the Greeks lived during Easter especially if it was raining because you would see blue tarps everywhere.

    What can BPW do to support you in your career? 

    I do not think BPW needs to do anything but be there. I like knowing that I have women that I can talk to and ask questions. I also hope they feel comfortable to tell me if I walk out of the bathroom with my skirt stuck in my hose and can laugh about it with me. 

    Want to be featured in our Member Highlight? Or want to nominate someone else? Fill out our Member Highlight form and we will be in touch if you or your nominee are selected.

  • 17 Dec 2018 5:30 PM | Deleted user

    You’ll hear it over and over again when you ask someone why they joined BPW, “I joined for the people.” And it’s true. BPW of the Triangle is an incredibly supportive network of ladies. When you attend meetings, there are certain familiar faces who are always there to greet you and make you feel welcome. BPW fosters a warm environment of encouragement and camaraderie. It’s always exciting to hear when one of the members gets an opportunity to move on to bigger and better things. Though, it’s definitely bittersweet when their business journey takes them away from the Triangle.

    I wanted to take a moment to highlight one of our long time members, Karen Boardman. Karen has recently accepted a position with Sellers, Ayers, Dortch & Lyons, P.A, a law firm in Charlotte, NC. While we’re very excited for Karen and her new opportunity, we’re definitely going to miss her!

    Karen has been a member of BPW for the last 6 years, and if you’ve been to a BPW meeting recently, then you’ve no doubt seen her around, greeting you as you check-in. During her time with BPW, she’s served as both the Social Chair, and has fulfilled the role of Treasurer for the last two and a half years (doing an incredible job keeping us all on track)!

    I got a chance to ask Karen about her upcoming transition. She said it was funny, because she wasn’t actively looking for a change, but a friend of hers brought the open position to her attention. It turned out to be a perfect fit!

    Karen will be continuing her work in corporate matters and estate planning, but she’ll also be able to bring in her experience with trademark and copyright law. In fact, thanks to Karen, this is the first time that Sellers Ayers will be able to offer these kinds of services. So if you know anyone in the Charlotte area who’s looking for legal advice, be sure to send them Karen’s way.

    She will also have the opportunity to become a partner within one year, which wasn’t an option at her old practice.

    Not only is this a great move for Karen’s career, but she’ll be also closer to her family. She’s going to miss the Triangle, but she’s looking forward to new adventures in Charlotte! 

    “It’s hard for me to put into words what being a part of BPW/Triangle has meant to me for the last 6 years.  I leave every dinner meeting, board meeting, and social event feeling empowered by the truly extraordinary women who comprise this group.  It’s more than networking – these women truly lift each other up and create lasting friendships. Thanks to the organization for entrusting me as Social Chair for a year and then as Treasurer for 2.5 years.  Please do keep in touch! I will miss you all!”

    If you get a chance, be sure to reach out to Karen and wish her well as she moves into the next stage of her professional career. And thank you, Karen, for everything you’ve done to make BPW of the Triangle such a success!

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