Judy’s Comments

How I Became a Chemistry Major

How I Became a Chemistry Major

For the first half of honors-level chemistry in tenth grade, I hated the subject. Maybe chemistry and I got off on the wrong foot the first week when I did the wrong assignment for homework, and barely made it through a couple of problems about significant figures I had no business trying yet. I remember my early disdain for the subject, and I’m not alone. In October 2009, I wrote in an email update to my seventh-grade English teacher, “I'm taking chemistry this year and no one in our class likes it...it's basically math, math, math. Everybody says that they prefer biology from last year.” By February 2010, my attitude began shifting and I described chemistry as “kind of fun, but also hard.” A month later, a classmate was absent and I let her know what she had missed—“it was pretty easy in chem today.” By the middle of junior year while I was taking physics, I discovered chemistry had a pull on me. I emailed a cousin, “I had chemistry last year, and I miss it a lot now that I’m in physics.” During senior year of high school, I took AP Chemistry, my passion for the science becoming clearer. Fast forward four years later; in May of this year, I graduated cum laude with specialized honors in chemistry from Drew University.

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Rebecca Freed Interview

Rebecca Freed Interview

Once again, Garden State Woman has the pleasure of introducing you to another New Jersey woman leader.

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Career of a Military Wife

The life of a military spouse has its challenges.  Just ask Wendy Caldwell originally of Teaneck, NJ.  It is difficult enough to raise a family and sustain a career without the constant change and uncertainty that a military life can bring.  She has supported her husband Chris throughout his Army career following him to Europe, back to the US, is now living in Hawaii and will soon be stationed in San Antonio, TX.  Chris, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, has served in Asia, Europe and the Continental US.  He has driven tanks, jumped out of planes, strategized plans for base security and led troops through war zones.  During his deployment to Iraq from his duty station in Germany, Chris was a company commander while Wendy volunteered as a Family Readiness Group Leader to the families of his soldiers.

Wendy graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design.  As a military spouse and mother her career path has had to be flexible.  She has worked for a jewelry production and manufacturing company, held various positions in the education field and has continued to work on her own jewelry designs.  Wendy is fortunate to have a skill and passion that she can share wherever the Army takes them.  This has all led her to launch Homefront Metalworks. Her design lines include a series of unique hand stamped pieces, military inspired jewelry and awareness ribbon designs. 

Wendy is now filling custom orders for people around the world.  She was flattered to learn that her jewelry speaks to those who buy her pieces.  The stories people share when they are making a purchase touch her profoundly. Wendy is honored to hear about the friend who will be gifted an Awareness Ribbon Necklace because they have just been diagnosed with cancer or the wife who is buying a Military Pride Star Necklace for herself as a present from her husband who is deployed for the fourth time. People include her in their journey when they tell her what a piece of jewelry will mean to them or someone else. She keeps these stories close at heart while she is creating, making and packaging an order.

Visit Wendy's website.  Tell her your story and that Garden State Woman sent you!

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Centenary Offers Acting Classes & Scholarship

Two Adult Acting Workshops will be available this fall by the professional Centenary Stage Company in the David & Carol Lackland Center on the campus of Centenary College in Hackettstown.  CSC Artistic Director, Theatre Arts Professor and Communication & Fine Arts Chair, Carl Wallnau will lead the workshops beginning September 10 – December 17. Intro to Acting will be held on Monday evenings from 6:00PM-9:30PM.  This workshop will cover basic acting techniques, scene work, and monologues. From Shakespeare to Coward will be held on Wednesday evenings 6:00PM-9:30PM and is designed for experienced actors.  This workshop will cover in-depth scene study and monologues.  Actors interested in the Wednesday evening workshop are required to contact Professor Wallnau at (908) 952-1400 x2203 for a telephone interview prior to registering. Tuition is $200 for the 15-week session.

CSC is offering an acting scholarship to any high school senior who will be attending college next fall majoring in a theatre acting degree program.  The acting scholarship is applicable for the Intro to Acting Adult Workshop that will meet Monday evenings during the fall.  Interested high school seniors are required to email a performance and acting class resume along with a letter of intent by August 30 to the attention of Carl Wallnau, CSC Artistic Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Applicants are required to label email subject line "Centenary Stage Acting Scholarship".  The scholarship award recipient will be notified by phone prior to the start of the workshop.

Wallnau's recent acting credits include Antonio in the Tempest (PSF), Aegeon in Comedy of Errors (PSF), and Monsieur Molenoux in The Ladies Man (CSC). He has directed numerous productions including the world premieres of Inventing Montana, The Tillie Project and The Poetry of Pizza as well as the American premiere of A Laughing Matter and the New Jersey premieres of Below The Belt, Square One, Rounding Third, and Marvin's Room.  Wallnau has been cited for outstanding direction in productions of Springtime for Henry and Quartermaines Terms.

Centenary Stage Company is committed to providing quality performing arts education to the Northwest New Jersey Skylands region.  For registration information for the Actors Workshops, contact the CSC Administration Offices at 908-979-0900 X3 or visit www.centenarystageco.org.  CSC outreach programs are made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and CSC sponsors and members.

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Kathy Naasz: balancing family & work

Kathy Naasz
Garden State Women recently had an opportunity to catch up with Kathy Naasz, Assistant Professor of Business, SIFE Director, who walked away from a high powered, senior level, global position with AT&T to achieve a better work-life balance while pursuing a long standing interest in giving back by teaching at the university level. She is now at Centenary College in Hackettstown and making an important difference in the lives of the young people studying there.

GSW:    Kathy: when and how did you decide to switch career from working in industry to teaching at Centenary College?

Kathy:   I had been approached with an opportunity to teach as an adjunct at Monmouth University for a Global Business course and accepted the position and found out that I really enjoyed it.  Following that, I taught Intercultural Communications at Raritan Valley Community College.

GSW:    What was your prior industry career path?

Kathy:  The majority of my professional career was at AT&T, where I started in the prestigious Bell Laboratories, it was truly ‘the job to get’ as an engineer.  I then advanced to become one of the youngest Global Executive Directors, holding several positions in Sales, Marketing and Strategic Planning.  As a business consultant, I worked with several large corporations, such as American Express, Safeco Insurance, Thomas Cook, London Electric, JP Morgan and EuroTel.     

GSW:    What was your college education background prior to launching your career in business?

Kathy:   I have a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and an M.S. in Management from Stanford University.   When I was going to school in the late 80’s, having a combination of technology and management was very sought after.  There were not many women in Engineering back then either.

GSW:    At Centenary what have you been teaching?

Kathy:  I am an Assistant Professor in the Business Department and I teach Sales, Marketing, and Business Strategy.  I strongly believe in applying theory to practical solutions and have the students learn experientially, whether it is through creating Marketing Plans for actual small businesses or testing out a business strategy through a computer simulation.  The SIFE project approach fits perfectly with this philosophy.

GSW:    This year you have taken on additional responsibilities at Centenary College as head of the SIFE program you are re-starting. Tell us about the SIFE program. What is it? When did it first start at Centenary? Why was there a lag in keeping it going? Why is it important? How many students are involved at Centenary? What are some of this year's projects? Do you have many young women participating in the projects?

Kathy:  SIFE is an international nonprofit organization that works with leaders in business and higher education to mobilize university students to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders.

Centenary College had a successful SIFE team since 1996.  During the last school year, the team was inactive due to a transition from the prior leadership from an advisory perspective, but by no means a lapse in support from the College's administration.   I decided to take on the challenge, as I believe that it is a calling to help others—help the students to bring about change in the world through business principles and help people in need to learn how to continue to help themselves.

We have about 20 students on the core team, which functions as a class, and another thirty-five or more involved in the SIFE campus organization.  We are the third largest organization on campus and we went from 0 to nearly 60 student in less than a month and have the largest SIFE team in recent years.   We have strong participation by female students, from various races and cultures; it is truly a blessing to have such talent on the team.

We focus on local and global projects.  To provide two examples, we are addressing the need to support minorities in attending and completing college, with a focus on Newark, New Jersey.  We are launching a business in Guapi Colombia, to engage artisans to develop products for markets outside of Colombia

GSW:    Besides your teaching and leadership role at Centenary what are your other interests and passions?

Kathy:  A great question.  Is there time for anything else?  My other passion is being a wife and a mother.  I have two girls, ages 7 and 10, and I enjoy spending time with them.  I am always thinking of new business ideas or helping local businesses via informal consulting.  My other main passions are healthy living and languages.  I am a certified Yoga instructor and I speak three languages and am recently studying a fourth. 

GSW:    What advice can you give other Garden State Women who may have an interest in switching into college teaching mid-career? What are the pros and cons of transitioning into academia? What factors are critical for success? How can college level teaching opportunities be found?

Kathy:  It is through change and learning that we grow and improve.  I would encourage anyone thinking of shifting a career to plan for it (evaluate the pros and cons) and if it makes sense, just do it! The end point is not as important as the journey.  If it is something that year after year, you have the desire in the back of your mind, and it will not go away, then you need to move forward and fulfill it.  That is how teaching was for me.  I could not get rid of the feeling that I needed to share my skills with younger people.   The best way to enter teaching is to try to find adjunct teaching opportunities and get experience in the on-ground or on-line classroom.  Also, share your passion and write an article or two and get it published.

GSW:     Most women are really busy these days, do you have any thoughts to share on how to juggle all the balls?

Kathy:  In reality, it is all about balance and priorities and making sure that both professional and family needs are met.  For me personally, I had found that my balance was off in my prior position, and I did not have much energy left for my family.  I shifted my definition of success once I took on the role as a mother. Sure it is great to have a high-paying career, but time with my children was more important to me and luckily, I was able to excel in a teaching career that allows for improved balance and is also, personally, very rewarding.

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Gaining Life Focus Through Photography

So, what does photography have to do with being a businesswoman? Focus - which happens to be my photo tip for this blog. More on this later...

Since this is my first blog for Garden State Woman, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Michelle Arpin Begina and I'm a financial services executive, wife, mother of two active, young boys and a photographer. I rekindled my childhood passion for photography after my first son was born. Originally, I intended to capture great photos of my boys, but the photography has turned into so much more! I heard the phrase "career oxygen" recently and that sums it up for me. It's my outlet to live in the here and now, which draws out my creativity, and I don't just mean in my photographs.

I've noticed the thought process behind taking pictures, being in the moment (even if it's just 1/1000 of a second) and pressing that shutter opens my mind to new ideas and sometimes brief glimpses into solutions to stuff I'm working on. It's almost like getting a full night of sleep and waking up with an answer to a question that was challenging.

Like you, I'm juggling work, home, family and squeezing in some "me time." Balance is a fluid concept for me, but focus is not. The difference between a good and an outstanding day at the office for me is walking out knowing I finished important work and/or more the ball forward on a meaningful project or task. Focus.

We've all taken a picture and wished it were in better focus because then it would be great. Well, one of the easiest techniques to learn and use in photography is Focus – focusing on the subject and making sure the photo is "tack sharp." It can be the difference between good and awesome!

Photo Tips
When photographing people, make sure the eyes are razor sharp. The eyes truly are the window to the soul and you'll see that reflected in your photos when they are in focus. Decide what you want to focus on and what you want to be blurry. The sharp part of the photo will draw the eye. (In future blogs I'll talk about techniques to create blurry backgrounds.) Like business, focus in photography is emphasizing all the right stuff and downplaying the rest.

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Centenary College's Youngest MBA Student

Cara Gibson: Thriving Entrepreneur by Day, Centenary College's Yountest MBA Student by Night.

When Cara Gibson, 21, a resident of Hackettstown, was looking for a College to pursue a post-baccalaureate degree, she knew that Centenary College, her alma mater, would be where she wanted to complete her studies.

"I knew that the faculty members at Centenary were top notch and I knew I wanted to stay in the area," says Gibson.

The reason Gibson wanted to stay in the area was because nine months ago she launched a business called NetGeneration Social Marketing, a marketing and public relations firm for small businesses - while she was still an undergraduate at Centenary College.

"This was an idea that I had and I am committed to it," says Gibson. "My dad owned his own public relations firm when I was a small child, so entrepreneurism may be in my blood."

Clients include Family Village Chiropractic in Allamuchy, Riverview Counseling Center in Hackettstown and Lighten Up Salon & Spa in Flanders. Some projects include event management, website development, marketing research and social media page creation and maintenance. A recent successful event that Gibson executed was a "Dinner with the Doctor" event at Charlie Brown's in Hackettstown.

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A Top Astrologist from New Jersey


Linda Schurman
We recently spent a weekend in Ithaca, NY with Linda Schurman, a leading astrologist, and her husband, Dick. Dick is an old kindergarten friend of my husband’s who goes back to the era of no TV, trolley cars for commuting, cars with rumble seats, vinyl records instead of CDs, dial-up instead of cell phone and White Castle as the only fast food chain around!

Linda is an amazing person with unique abilities that she has developed over the past 35 years studying and practicing astrology. Linda’s web site is www.soothesayer.com where she publishes her highly interesting and hugely important web site newsletter. In June 2007 she published her first book What Next which outlined some of her world-wide concerns at the time.

Using her astrology skills Linda anticipated: the timing and severity of an event like the 9/11 attack, the 2008 meltdown of the global financial markets and the earthquakes and volcano eruptions that we are currently seeing throughout the world.

Linda sees a third political party forming and anticipates a spike in violence and civil disobedience in America. She is concerned about the food supply world-wide and sources of water in the U.S. and globally which is one of the compelling reasons that triggered Linda and Dick to move to Ithaca from Voorhees, NJ back in late 2008. She believes that we all have to become a lot more entrepreneurial in many of our efforts and take greater responsibility for our own well being.

Linda has a robust consulting practice using her astrology skills to advise individual and corporate clients throughout the world on dealing with all kinds of issues challenging them. The majority of her client work is handled by phone rather than in person. The most successful client relationships are ones that result in annual discussions and re-readings by Linda.

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Who Is Maria Baniel?

Maria Baniel
Maria Baniel is a good friend of Garden State Woman who believes in the organization's Mission to empower New Jersey women through education. She is also an independent wine consultant who is putting together and will lead our June 10th wine tasting event to be held in the Mansion at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ starting at 6 p.m.

There are plenty of wine tasting events being held throughout New Jersey so we challenged Maria to come up with a theme or concept that will make our event stand out from the crowd. She came up with a really great idea.

Our event on June 10th will feature domestic and international wines hand-crafted by women wine producers. Women purchase more than 50 percent of all wines sold in the U.S. Increasingly women are moving into the industry in key roles including as sommeliers and winery owners. At our wine tasting Maria will discuss the backgrounds of the sparkling, white and red wines included in the tasting.

Maria has a remarkable background that includes two engineering degrees from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken and a successful corporate career that included several years with Oracle in a high level director position managing six states. She put her career on hold to raise her two children.

During the intervening years Maria also took on volunteer work and eventually ended up heading the now substantial Roots & Wings Foundation, a non-profit that provides support for teenagers once they age out of foster care.

Now with the kids into their high school years Maria is again evaluating her options and instead of returning to the corporate world she has decided to pursue her passion for wine. Growing up in an Italian family Maria learned from a very early age to appreciate wine and its importance at the dinner table. From that early introduction to wines Maria has developed her knowledge and enjoyment of wines.

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Interview with a Sommelier

Wendy Tait is the Managing Director and Sommelier at the Park Avenue Club in Florham Park. The Park Avenue Club is New Jersey’s top private dining club providing essential support to 11 local charities through the Park Avenue Foundation. See www.parkavenueclub.com for more club information.

GSW:        Wendy, how long have you worked at the Club and in what capacities?

Wendy:     I came to Park Avenue Club in March of 2002 after having worked on Wall Street and experiencing the hell of 9/11. After being stuck in a city in what felt like the Apocalypse, I made a complete career change… leaving behind a large financial conglomerate and hair pulling commute and embracing Park Avenue Club where anyone would feel more like a part of a family comprised of members, their guests and our employees. I began as the Dining Director then became the Director of Food and Beverage and Sommelier and am now enjoying my current role as Managing Director.

GSW:        What was your background prior to joining the Club? Where did you grow up? What is your educational background? Where did you work previously? Doing what?

Wendy:     Before truly settling on a career I dabbled in a lot of varied professions…I was a Ford Model, Precision Motorcycle Rider for BMW, Professional Singer, Account Executive in Advertising and Marketing for print as well as TV and a restaurant owner. I grew up in Morris County and attended Newark Academy high school in Livingston. After graduation from high school, I went to Muhlenberg College in Allentown, a small Pennsylvania town, but after a year I was lamenting much like Billy Joel in his song “Allentown”, that there was a world out there begging for my participation and I had no choice but to listen. After my freshman year, I left Muhlenberg, moved to Montreal where I attended McGill University for a stint. After a while, I returned home went to the New School in Manhattan and then finally attended Rutgers. By the time I got to Rutgers, I had come to the realization that I needed to stay put in one place and at a school long enough, to get a degree. I planted my roots back in NJ and graduated from Rutgers with a degree in Mass Media and Journalism and a minor in Psychology. All of this time the hospitality business was my key to paying rent and saving money as I worked as a bartender and manager for many years as an extra source of income and loved the interaction with the patrons but, most importantly, their stories…because we all have a story.

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Self-Publishing a Book

How a Book Came To Be Published......When Renee Gatz, a career marketing communications professional in the financial services industry, completed the manuscript of her first book “Wise Words & Witty Expressions” she found herself in need of some education about how about to get her book published.

Since she was completely outside of her experience, she reached out to her fellow Association of Women in Communications (AWC) members for help directing her toward the next steps of getting published. By using AWC’s national database, Gatz was able to contact AWC members and received more than 200 e-mail responses from across the nation. Women Gatz had never met before provided the benefit of their publishing experience, offered contact information of those they felt could help her, and outlined the differences between self-publishing and working with a traditional publishing company. Others provided marketing ideas and offered to help promote the book in their local publications. Some responses did not include suggestions, but simply their congratulations and encouragement. The support Gatz received was so inspiring to her that it helped her remain motivated to get her book published.

Ultimately, thanks to all the information she was provided, Gatz elected to work with a start-up publishing company right in her own North Jersey AWC chapter. She met with Donna Thompson and Brenda Hendrickson, owners and partners of Woodpecker Press and members of AWC, to discuss the unique hybrid of self-publishing services they offer. The AWC networking, however, did not end there.

Woodpecker Press also was able to direct Gatz to some valuable local resources that were instrumental in the development and marketing of her book. The art designer, Hit Designs, provided a book cover design that has resulted in a tremendous amount of positive feedback. Gatz was directed to a local media company, Samson Media that helped her design and set up her blog site and provided some great marketing ideas. Additionally, Samson Media referred Gatz to the photographer used for the book, Sigen Photography, and fellow Northern New Jersey AWC Chapter member Holly Kaplansky of Minuteman Press developed the marketing materials used to promote the book.

What Gatz learned from this experience was that networking was integral to getting her first book published. By reaching out to those in her network, she was able to draw on their collective knowledge and take the information that was offered to her and draw a conclusion about how to proceed in a way that met with her personal goals. Once the decision about how to proceed was determined, she was able to again network with her new found resources to find and build all the components required to successfully bring her book to the public.

Even now that her book is published, she remains in contact with all members of her network, new and old, to learn different techniques to market her book and how marketing a self-published book differs from marketing a book that is produced by a traditional publishing house. She has also been able to benefit from her many years of marketing experience in the financial services industry by applying those skills and experience in the marketing of her book.

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The passion of a young artist….

Alicia Lang, age 23, has already learned through her art studies the qualities that all of us need to succeed on whatever path we decide to travel. They are “patience, give yourself time; perseverance, you have to have a certain mindset; dedication and commitment, you really have to want to do it.”

Alicia has art in her DNA. Both sisters are hairdressers, a form of art for sure. Both grandfathers are good artists. She has cousins who have art abilities, her uncle owns his own graphic design firm, several aunts have artistic abilities and her brother is a musician.

Alicia knew early on that she had a gift in art and that was her passion. In kindergarten she remembers everybody raving about a drawing she did of an elephant. Growing up and going through grammar and then high school she drew constantly. Everybody recognized her art abilities.

After high school where she was highly active in cheerleading, she attended and worked hard at Union County College part time for four years. There she received “A/B” grades and her Associates Degree in Fine Arts while working in a day-care center and studying art part time for three years at the highly rated du Cret School of Art in Plainfield.

Following earning her Associates Degree she followed Tim Jahn, who had been an instructor at duCret, when he opened his own studio in Central New Jersey. See the education section in Your Life section of this web site to learn more about Tim’s school. Or visit www.jahnstudios.com.

Artists that inspire Alicia are deVinci, John Singer Sargent, Salvador Dali and her teacher Tim Jahn and Tim’s teacher, Anthony Waichulis. Alicia juggles multiple jobs including one in a New Jersey art gallery in order to study intensively with Tim three or four days a week which has been her schedule for about the past year. Alicia is estimating it will take her three years or maybe a little longer to complete her studies.

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Freeholder Director Tahesha Way

Standing before a packed room of 350 supporters that included political heavy weights - Governor Jon Corzine, Lieutenant Governor Nominee Loretta Weinberg, State Democratic Party Chair Joseph Cryan, State Senator Nia Gill, Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver - Passaic County Freeholder Director Tahesha Way seemed every bit the veteran politician. However, she is not a long time elected official, and she is certainly not the typical politico. Rather, she is an Ivy League-educated working mother of three who, a few short years ago, was thrust onto the political stage after her community involvement, philanthropy, and resume caught the attention of Passaic County Democratic Chairman, John Currie.

In June 2006, Freeholder Director Way, a resident of Wayne, was appointed to the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders to fill a vacant seat. For Way, a practicing attorney and former English Professor, this was trial by fire as she had never held or sought public office. Moreover, after being appointed to fill the unexpired term of former Freeholder Lois Cucinello she found herself in the unenviable position of immediately having to run for re-election in order to retain the seat. She drew upon the skills that she honed as a litigator to mount an aggressive campaign that delivered the newcomer her first electoral victory.

Freeholder Way quickly developed a reputation as a hardworking, analytical, and effective public servant. Consequently, her ascension in politics has been swift. By the third year of her term, she had risen to Freeholder Director. She was also tapped by Governor Corzine to serve on the powerful New Jersey Highlands Council, which is charged with protecting New Jersey’s water resources. Freeholder Way, a Democrat, has even cultivated a Republican following based on the emphasis she places on fiscal responsibility. Most recently, she received statewide recognition when news broke that she was on Governor Corzine’s shortlist for Lieutenant Governor.

Now, as she seeks re-election to her second term, she credits much of her success to her parents, her children, and her husband. “I was fortunate to have two extremely hardworking and supportive parents who led by example. My father was a bus driver and my mother was a railroad clerk. They worked hard so that I could attend the best schools and have more opportunity than they had. And now I am blessed to have a loving and very understanding husband as well as three wonderful girls who also support me,” Way earnestly explains. Freeholder Director Way’s husband is former Giants Fullback, Charles Way.

In addition to her family, Way enjoys the support of a very influential network. Her fundraiser on Monday, October 26th at the Brownstone in Paterson was a veritable “Whose Who.” Aside from Governor Corzine and the other political heavy hitters, guests included New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese and his wife, New York Giants star running back Brandon Jacobs, all-star wide receiver Steve Smith as well as some of New Jersey’s prominent business leaders. Nonetheless despite all of the high profile guests, front and center was Way’s family who she effusively acknowledged and thanked during her rousing speech.

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A Woman With Vision

For Kim Miller, life was good for 33 years. Born in Barbados, her family emigrated to New York when she was 7. She pursued a career in fashion and while working in the industry attended the Fashion Institute of Technology where she earned a degree in Merchandise Management. She also held positions as International Sales Coordinator with ACCOR Hotels and Resorts traveling between New York and France, and finally, Sales/Financial Coordinator at Verizon Wireless in New Jersey. Then in 2002, something went wrong.

Kim began seeing spots before her eyes and her vision became increasingly blurry. Within six months, she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a hereditary disease, although no one in her family has it. Prior to the diagnosis Retinits Pigmentosa were words unknown to her as they are unknown to many.

There are many factors that can lead to sight loss – accident, disease, heredity, and of course age. For people with Retinitis Pigmentosa, the gradual loss of sight starts with the peripheral vision and eventually moves to the center resulting in complete blindness. Active, successful, and independent, Kim says, “I fainted when I was told what my future held for me.”

The next several months were heartbreaking as life as she knew it fell apart. “After I stopped crying for what I had lost, I cried for what I could gain,” she said. A call to The Foundation Fighting Blindness for help ultimately led to The Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She met Maryann Maysonett who became her counselor, friend, and mentor.

“She showed me how when one door closes, another opens. I began to realize my life was not over, only beginning.”

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Changing Careers

Suzie Guillette transitioned from working as an employee in development in the stable environment of the American Heart Association to becoming a no-stepping- back entrepreneur writing and teaching writing. Here’s how she made the decision to change her life.

Garden State Woman: Suzanne, tell us what you are currently doing career wise?

Suzanne: I’m a freelance writer, and I also teach writing.

Garden State Woman: How long have you been pursuing this as a career and how is it going so far?

Suzanne: I’ve been writing all of my adult life, although I became more serious about it as a career in 2003, when I entered graduate school to study creative non-fiction. I published my first book, Much to Your Chagrin, this past March. Publishing a book has long-been an ambition of mine, so it’s been a very exciting year.

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How Barrettes & Bows Became A Business

Barrettes & Bows
How One Woman Made A Business Designing Hair Accessories
Since her daughter was old enough to wear barrettes, Joanne Schlesinger struggled to find what I liked in stores and started buying hair accessories for women in stores like Nordstrom. Realizing it was foolish to pay high prices for something she could do herself, she started to make her own hair accessories.
Once her daughter was wearing Joanne’s designs, people asked where they could buy them. With such a positive response to her creations, Joanne decided to start a company and sell what she was creating. From that, Little Miss Julia was born. 
 Little Miss Julia offers a full range of stylized hair accessories. Each barrette and clip is handmade to order receives the utmost attention to ensure the highest level of quality. Each uses top of the line barrettes, alligator clips, ribbons and embellishments with designs that consist of crystal flowers, multi colored flowers, smiling daisy flowers, ladybugs, smile faces, strawberries and apples. Little Miss Julia hair accessories are unique in style. It is not just another bow; it is an embellished, stylized barrette that will add style and glamour to any girl's hair. 
Joanne’s philosophy is that a girl’s hair should always look pretty creates hair accessories to achieve that. She gets great satisfaction in seeing a girl smile because she loves her new barrette or a mom smile because her daughter’s hair looks beautiful.
Custom designs are also available. On www.littlemissjulia.com there is a “Create Your Own Barrette” option in which a customer can select the color combination they would like and special requests are always accommodated. 
For special occasions or birthday parties, gift sets and party favors are availabe. Both can include any number or combination of barrettes and is wrapped in a cello bag with shredded paper fill and ribbon to match the color assortment chosen.
Joanne is always looking for new embellishments, themes and styles to incorporate into my product portfolio and will soon introduce a new line of Pony O’s.  These fun, embellished ponytail holders are the perfect way to brighten up ponytails, pigtails or any hairstyle that requires a Pony O.
Little Miss Julia is also available at children's boutiques in New Jersey.
In addition to girls, Joanne also offers a line of hair accessories for “the pampered pooch” which consists of Swarovski Crystal barrettes in a range of colors; sports themed barrettes for boys, crystal flower barrettes, Swarovski crystal embellished jaw clips as well as Pony O’s. These items are currently available at select dog fashion boutiques in New Jersey.


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Getting Back on Track

I was a “Woman of the ‘80’s”. I could have it all – a well-planned life of a fulfilling and exciting law career, an equal and happy marriage, and children – all in that order. I would execute it all with ease and grace.

Years later, as a “Mother of the New Millennium”, I had four magnificent children, a successful husband, and a law degree languishing in the backdrop. I was on a parallel road from the one on which I had begun my journey. My choice to sideline my career was gradual, unintentional and, for me, unavoidable given the events in my life and the limitations of corporate culture.

Volunteering answered some of my professional restlessness during the early years home with my children. When my oldest child was preparing to enter high school, I longed for the intellectual stimulation and sense of individual accomplishment that my professional career had afforded me. Despite my community involvement, I found that I was no longer taken seriously as a professional. I was at a complete loss as to where and how to begin my re-entry.

A few months later I read an article in the September 25, 2006 Newsweek titled “Getting Back on Track”, about women who had taken career “off-ramps” to raise children and were having trouble finding “on-ramps” when they are ready to work again. It discussed the emerging Career Sequencing Movement, the growing number of professionals who have “off-ramped” from their traditional, linear career paths and are, after a period of time, returning to their careers (also known a “on-ramping”.) The article mentioned the upcoming inaugural class of the “Back in Business” Program at The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, an intensive, comprehensive program intended for professionals with MBA’s or MBA-equivalent experience who have worked in high-potential careers. This “Program”, designed to update and refresh the management skills of business professionals and help them reintegrate into the workforce, was my answer! I called immediately, but had missed the application deadline for the 2006 Charter Class. The following spring, I completed the formal application process and was admitted to the “Back in Business” Class of 2007.

The program spanned approximately nine weeks. Pre-session reading materials arrived before each of the three “classroom modules”. Each module lasted four or five days. During these days we were fully immersed in the Program. Our days started as early as 6:45 am and ended after 9:00 pm. Modules One and Three were held on the Dartmouth College campus in Hanover, NH. Module Two was held in New York City. The significant commitment of time and focus (during and in between modules) reflected the effort and commitment that would be necessary to re-enter the corporate workforce.

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