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Woman of the Year Receives Honors

donna_pepe_smallOne of last year's Garden State Woman of the Year Honorees, Donna T. Pepe and her agency, Communications Strategies, Inc. (CSI), were recently recognized with three industry awards. CSI is a marketing, communications and public relations firm specializing in prescription and consumer healthcare marketing. "These awards reflect not only our strategic thinking, but also the strong results that we achieve for our clients' brands," said Donna, the company's founder and president. "We're thrilled and honored to have been recognized by industry peer groups for our innovative work."

• Two Communicator Awards Go to Communications Strategies, Inc.
CSI won Communicator awards in the Special Events and Special Events Plan categories.

o Special Events: The awards gala, "50 & Fabulous: Celebrating 50 years of Women's Advances Since the Pill," brought together the most prestigious people in the non-profit world to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the FDA approval of "The Pill" and -- more important -- to provide support for prominent advocacy organizations devoted to women's reproductive health. The event recognized the world of women's advances, and the trailblazers who have helped revolutionize women's health.

o Special Events Plan: An integral element of the planning for this event was the creation of a timeline that showcased the progress in women's reproductive health throughout the last fifty years. The timeline captured historical events in the history of women and birth control by decades, and highlighted specific achievements from the first birth control pill being approved in 1960 to the latest Supreme Court movements of 2010.

• Leading Woman Entrepreneur Award Presented to Donna Pepe
Own It Ventures & New Jersey Monthly Recognize Donna T. Pepe as Leading Woman Entrepreneur.

o For more than 19 years, Donna Pepe has been an innovator and advocate for women's health with her marketing and communications firm. Building on her reputation as one of the leading public relations and marketing strategists in the industry, Donna has built Communications Strategies, Inc. (CSI) into a successful marketing communications and public relations company with a unique strategic focus in women's health. The company was recently ranked the tenth largest independent healthcare PR agency in the United States, and the first in New Jersey. In 2007, Donna was named one of the 50 top business women in New Jersey by NJBiz magazine. This year, she was named Garden State Woman of the Year in Media and Communications.

Donna is an entrepreneur and business leader who is committed to changing the model by which we market to women. Armed with the belief that the buying power and influence of women is undervalued and largely untapped by marketing executives who frequently fail to appreciate women's unique attitudes and point of view, Donna has created groundbreaking national campaigns that have significant impact on shaping public awareness and attitudes as well as influencing policy.

"Donna is a true innovator, and long ago found a way to combine her insight about women's health with success for her business. She has the ability to identify upcoming trends, and the genius to transform that vision into successful marketing strategies," said Michael M. Durand, long-time healthcare counselor.

An active member of the community, Donna has supported many women's organizations including Women In Need, National Association of Professional Women, the National Association of Female Executives and the Women's Fund of New Jersey, an organization dedicated to providing women and girls of New Jersey with the opportunity to succeed. Donna was named a "Woman of Influence in Communications" by this organization, who recognized her because of her excellence and vision in the communications field, and lauded her proven experience and innovative marketing talent that sets her apart as an icon in the PR profession.

Currently, Donna is an active member of Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey, working with its Board on their fundraising initiatives. She is also on the Board of Executive Women of New Jersey, and does pro bono work for them as well as Dress for Success in Madison, NJ.

The CSI Difference
We're the company behind "I've heard of that." Since 1993, CSI has been an innovator in marketing, especially when it comes to healthcare. We put our clients first, we relate to consumers and we haven't met a challenge that we can't overcome. We know how to make news. No wonder we have catapulted so many brands into household names. Check out our website at www.cstratinc.com and you'll see why we have some of the longest client relationships in the business.

CSI...Because Experience Matters

Jack Speece Can Help Your Business

JackSpeeceGarden State Woman recently sat down with Jack Speece to disucss how Ambrose Employer Group can assist small business owners.

Explain to Garden State Woman readers what your firm does and the types of organizations you target to work with.

Jack: Ambrose provides an integrated, outsourced HR solution as well as a dedicated service team, full suite of benefits, and technology platform for employee and manager self-service. Ambrose's service helps high end, white-collar companies focus on their core business by freeing them from having to manage key HR functions. As a result, clients improve operating efficiencies, reduce their compliance risk, and offer their employees top quality benefits. Ambrose provides clients with a full suite of benefits (medical, dental, vision, STD, LTD, Group Life, 401k, etc) at prices otherwise only achieved through economies of scale. This significantly reduces costs of providing employee benefits. Ambrose also offers the members/partners of LLCs or partnerships access to our benefits. The typical client size ranges from 1-250 employees but the service adds exceptional value to companies of 5-50 employees. We invite those interested to visit www.ambrose.com for more information.

How do your client companies benefit from working with you?

Jack: On the cost side, companies save money by consolidating numerous HR functions, employee services and products with one vendor (HR Administration, payroll, benefits, 401k, Group Life, LTD, etc). Clients also take advantage of the economies of scale we provide in insurance pricing. Equally important, those companies save time by having a dedicated HR Associate handle all the administrative tasks that normally take time away from the client's core business.

If companies sign up to work with your firm what type of commitment do they make? What is your basic fee structure and how long of a contract do you require?

Jack: Unlike many of our peers, we don't have a minimum contract – we simply require 30 days notice for administrative reasons. We only want clients to stay with us because they're happy with our service, not because they're locked in to a contract. Also unique among our peers, we have a set administration fee per employee per month that is based on the number of employees. This covers the cost of all of our services (i.e. no added cost for each additional service used) and it often results in a cost base less than the combined costs of the client's separate service providers (payroll, benefits, 401k, etc).

What is the compelling reason that companies sign up to work with your firm? What is the compelling bang for the buck?

Jack: Most of our clients would tell you it's our turnkey solution that includes the dedicated HR Associate - our key differentiator in the market - and that's what we focus on. However, while we don't promote it, the real "bang for the buck" is often the substantial overall annual savings we provide for our clients when they eliminate numerous other service providers and the pooled pricing they obtain for insurance.

You have competitors. What is your competitive edge?

Jack: We have the highest level of service out there from the dedicated HR Associate (main point of contact for everyone from summer intern to CEO) to the quality of our medical/dental/vision plans to our entire organization's focus on excellent customer service. Everything about Ambrose is tailored improve the client's business. It is our responsive and client centric focus. Any high end, white collar organization that truly values its employees will be hard pressed to find a better solution than Ambrose.

What are the key challenges you have to deal with when trying to close a new account? Your service seems logical and important. Why would target potential clients say "no."

Jack: Honestly the biggest challenge we face is one that everyone in our industy faces – the issue of co-employment. Ambrose and similar organizations use a legal arrangement called co-employment where we become the administrative employer of record and file all payroll taxes under our Federal Tax ID – this is what allows us the pooling mechanism for medical/dental/vision plan pricing. Many people have the misperception that they lose their employees to us when, in reality, it is a co-employment relationship for administrative purposes. The other big challenge is that our monthly administrative fee initially appears high, so the challenge is to help companies realize the costs they would avoid with Ambrose when eliminating other service providers and also the medical/dental/vision plan savings. Nine times out of ten, adoption of our service results in a net savings for our clients.

Give us some history on your organization. When did it start? How many states do you cover? How many client organizations do you have in the metro NY, NJ, Connecticut area?

Jack: Founded in 1997 in NYC, Ambrose has grown significantly but maintains an exclusive focus on serving white collar companies. In the early years, our main industry vertical was financial services, but we now also serve numerous other white collar industries (law, accounting, consulting, technology, life sciences, cleantech, etc). Ambrose currently has a staff of 78 employees of which most are HR Associates and supporting specialists (benefits, 401k, legal specialists, etc). Many of our clients are concentrated in the tri-state area, but we have client companies located across the US as well. Ambrose currently has over 500 client companies equating to over 7,800 serviced employees.

Any final comments for business owners and leaders?

Jack: If the costs of providing quality benefits to your employees are getting out of hand or you're tired of wearing multiple hats, it's worth your time to talk to someone from Ambrose to see how we can help. At Ambrose we take a diagnostic approach to meeting with new prospective clients, so I guarantee we can help – if we're not the right solution for your business based on your needs, we'll help you figure out what is the optimal one for you and can provide guidance for that solution.

Our viewers like to have a feel for the good people we introduce them to. So, tell us just a bit about you personally.

"I’m originally a farm boy from Ohio that wanted to get out and see the world.  West Point provided this opportunity, in addition to a top-notch education, and offered me some amazing experiences during my time in the Army.  I achieved the rank of Captain and realized that for the next 10 years or so my Army time would consist of staff positions rather than the operational side I enjoyed.  As such, I decided to get out and, while I was good at shooting things and blowing things up, those skills aren’t overly applicable to corporate America.  I was fortunate to get my MBA from Harvard and went to work on Wall St. as a trader.  Following that, I had a few interesting roles before joining Ambrose – I ran a Home Depot, worked at a startup, and was VP of Operations for a global call center company.  I’ve truly enjoyed Ambrose as it not only allows me to help business owners but also the quality of life it provides are phenomenal.  I have a 1 year old little girl and enjoy spending as much time as possible with her and my wife.  We’re very active and our daughter loves the outdoors so we’re usually out walking, biking, or hiking whenever we can."

Jack is an impressive young man! He is reachable at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

I Wish Daddy Was Here - A Book for Military Kids

I_wish_daddy_was_here_coverMore than 400K Troops Miss Holidays at Home-Military Wife Has Message for Their Families

You don't have to tell Kat DeMille about what it's like to be home for the holidays, but still without the ones you love.

The former Navy brat grew up to become an Air Force wife, so she doesn't need to be reminded of the 425,000 Americans who will celebrate the holidays somewhere other than home this year, according to U.S. Department of Defense statistics. She's been living those holidays most of her life.

"One of the most important things I learned as a kid was that it is okay to feel sad and to miss the ones we love," said DeMille, author of the children's book I Wish Daddy Was Here (www.iwishdaddywashere.com). "Children take their cues from the adults who surround them, and in military families, there is always this semblance of steely reserve. They don't want to show sadness around the kids, so all the kids see are the brave faces, and it makes it easy for them to bottle up their sadness or feel that missing their moms or dads is a bad thing. I had to unlearn that misconception, and it actually helped me feel better."

DeMille believes kids should know that while it's important to move on with their daily lives while a parent is deployed, that it's also okay to miss them and to let their sadness out when they need to. She said that part of the message of her children's book is that the sadness is a part of coping with the reality of modern troop deployments.

"My husband is currently deployed right now, so my daughter and I are living it along with every other military family this holiday season," she added. "Especially during this time of year, missing a family member is like the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge. The military life causes many families to endure extended separation. How we deal with the time apart makes a big difference in a child's life."

One of the key parts of helping children get through a holiday without a parent who is deployed is to get them to talk about what they are feeling, so they can work through it faster.

Kat_DeMille"Any job that takes a parent away for an extended period is difficult on a child," DeMille said. "Letting your children express their feelings will help them get through the separation. Life does not stop because someone we love is away, but that does not mean we cannot miss them. Emotions can be hard for a child to talk about. Letting your child know that you feel sad, as well, let's them know it is okay to have feelings and it makes them feel safe to express them to you. It brings them a level of security and makes them feel more mature when they know they are feeling the same thing as the adults around them. More than that, it helps them become stronger and more capable of dealing with the demands of being in a military family."

About Kat DeMille

Kat DeMille grew up in a Navy family and married into the Air Force. She studied Hotel/Restaurant Management in school, and still enjoys cooking. She works with stained glass windows to help pass the time during deployments, and is the proud mother of one daughter. Incidentally, Kat's family was the basis for the characters in her book.

The Dirty Dozen - Buy These Foods Organic

This information has been provided by Jeanette Bronee of the PATH FOR LIFE self-nourishment center® Where Wellness is Nurtured and Habits Change for Good.

Read more about Jeanette here.

12 Most Contaminated / Buy These Organic

• Apples

• Bell Peppers

• Celery

• Cherries

• Imported Grapes

• Nectarines

• Peaches

• Pears

• Potatoes

• Red Raspberries

• Spinach

• Strawberries

-and coffee + highly commercial teas

12 Least Contaminated

• Asparagus

• Avocados

• Bananas

• Broccoli

• Cauliflower

• Corn (sweet)

• Kiwi

• Mangos

• Onions

• Papaya

• Pineapples

• Peas (sweet)

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