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151 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: JOAN WALLACE-BENJAMIN, PhD

There is a Congolese saying that a single bracelet does not jingle. Everyone in your family are the bracelets that help you jingle. When you have that jingle, you are able to lead more fully because you have all of the people you love and care about, right there, on your arm. - Joan Wallace-Benjamin

 

Welcome to the story of a woman whose awards and accomplishments are simply too vast to list here. A self-described“mission girl” Joan Wallace-Benjamin has spent 37 years focused on creating better outcomes for underserved children and families.  A graduate of Wellesley College, she received her Ph.D from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.  A native of New York City, Joan learned a lot about love of community and social responsibility from her loving parents.   With leadership roles at ABCD Head Start, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, as temporary Chief of Staff for former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and as the President and CEO of the Home For Little Wanderers, Joan is a role model for anyone who aspires to lead with purpose and passion. Her new book is called Leading A Life In Balance and includes her sage advice as a working mom. Says Joan:  I think leaders lead more fully when they take as their first priority their own children and families.  For the inspiring story of a stellar human being whose life has been well lived, just hit that download button.   #workingmom #leadership #storybehindhersuccess

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150 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: AMY GOOBER

Women, at some point along the way, forget or need to be reminded, that they are in control of their own lives. The philosophy is: put yourself on your to-do list. - Amy Goober

 

This is a story about reinvention. Amy Goober is living proof that we all have chapters in our lives and the treasure lies in what we learn from them.  In her first job, straight out of college, Amy worked for a major advertising agency in Boston where she got her foot in the door as a secretary, spending four years working her way up to Account Executive.  It was there that she shared her love of making cakes and was soon asked to make elaborate cakes for the agency’s high end clients.   Before you know it, Amy had a plan to own her own bakery called The Icing On The Cake in nearby Newton, MA. With no business experience, she launched her tiny hole in the wall shop and grew the bakery to legendary status with two parts grit and one part chutzpah.  Her decision to sell the bakery and stay home to raise her three children for the next twenty years is an ode to mother-love and her new chapters as a certified health coach, speaker, author and founder of Drive Your Life are proof that Amy is living her life to the fullest.  In this chapter of her ever-evolving life, Amy’s goal is to reach as many women as she can with the message that:  “the things we regret are the things we don’t do.  Perfect is the enemy of done.  Just get out there, and do it.”  #reinvention #driveyourlife #storybehindhersuccess

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149 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: STEPHANIE MONIUK

I have a vision of what I want my life to look like and I’m gonna keep working towards it til I get where I want to go. - Stephanie Moniuk

Imagine living in chronic back pain for 20 years and then, hearing your doctor tell you that surgery is not an option for your degenerative disc disease, herniations, spinal stenosis and arthritis. Welcome to the life of Stephanie Moniuk.  In this interview, the founder of Knockout Wellness describes how hearing that news forced her to do her own research into the science of pain and the power of the mind-body connection.  Turns out, the childhood trauma she had buried deep in her psyche was connected to her back pain and that in many cases, physical pain is a response to our unconscious emotions.   A lifelong fan of boxing, she took a leap of faith and stepped into a training gym.  Stephanie’s journey from pain and misery to winning the Master’s Boxing Division World Championship at 48 are chronicled in this interview.  Her decision to found Knockout Wellness was based on one desire:  “to be the person I wish I had when I was stuck in chronic pain.”  If you are stuck in pain, hit that download button because this episode is designed to give you hope and a giant dose of kickass inspiration. #chronicpain #inspiration #boxing

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148 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: KAREN STALEY

In 30+ years of writing songs, I’ve never had writer’s block. God gives me something every time. 

- Karen Staley

We’re on the road in Nashville, Tennessee for this edition of The Story Behind Her Success.  If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to be a hit songwriter in Guitar Town, hit that download button because Karen Staley’s story is filled with wisdom.  Born in Weirton, West Virginia and raised in rural Pennsylvania, Karen was focused on athletics when she was growing up until she injured her back in her senior year of high school.  It was a music teacher who gave her a guitar and taught Karen the chords to Annie’s Song by John Denver and Karen just couldn’t put that guitar down. Her steady rise in Nashville has included being a featured singer/songwriter at the famous Bluebird Cafe, touring and singing backup with Reba, Dolly and Faith Hill as well as writing about 1,000 songs, including mega-hits Take Me As I Am and Let’s Go To Vegas for Faith Hill and Keeper of the Stars for Tracy Byrd.   In this interview, Karen shares both the joys and frustrations of making a living as a songwriter, adding that her greatest hope is that in this life, she has used all of her God-given talents. 

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147 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: STEPH PALERMO

When you live in fear, you’re dying.  You are not living. You have to find a way to life your best life, every single day.  - Steph Palermo 

If you’ve been depressed about what’s going on in the world, or if you’ve ever felt alone and needed some encouragement, Steph Palermo is here to help.  www.juststeph.com. The proud mother of four sons, “Just Steph” is an intuitive coach, a healer, and the author of three books. Born with a rare disorder that left the right side of her body impaired, Steph struggled for decades with self-loathing.  But not anymore. Her workshops and retreats have one purpose:  to help and to heal. This is a woman who understands the value of community and relationships. Says Steph:  “you are not taking anything with you.  Not the cars.  Not the money.  Just the love. “  For a shot of inspiration, perseverance, and humor, hit that download button. 

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146 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: MICHELLE PALLADINI

We need to come together, in community.  This is the time.  - Michelle Palladini

Meet police officer Michelle Palladini.  The daughter of a state police officer, she remembers asking her father what he did when he went to work.  When he replied:  “I help people” she knew what she wanted to do with her life. Now a sergeant with the Norfolk, MA. police department, Michelle is breaking new ground with a community based, heart-centered program called L.E.A.P which stands for leadership, empowerment, awareness and protection.  Asked to pilot her program in her town’s middle school, the goal was to create trust and pathways toward success between children and the local police…and it’s working all across the country.  A graduate of Stonehill College with a degree in Criminal Justice, Michelle believes in finding the root cause of risky and criminal behavior.  This, she says is the only way a police officer can truly “protect & serve”. #communitypolicing

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145 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: KIM GEDNEY

This is what I’m here to do. Being spiritual, giving readings is the easiest thing I’ve ever done.  And that’s how I know it’s right. Everything else has been hard.  - Kim Gedney

Most psychics will tell you that they always had a 6th sense.  They just “knew” things.  But that was not always the case for Kim Gedney.  The daughter of a drug addict, she had no time to think about anything else but survival and at one point, decided she wanted to end her life. That’s when her phone began to ring and ring and ring.   When Kim finally answered the phone, the person on the other end changed her life forever with his message and that is where this story begins.  Now a wife and devoted mother of two sons, Kim is a medium, a psychic, a healer and a spiritual and intuitive life coach.    Her ability to tap into exactly what her clients need is what sets this exceptional woman apart.  We settled into our interview at a little bed & breakfast in Simsbury, CT called the 1820 House for an interview that focused on a three things Kim believes to her core:  1. Your gut is never wrong.  2. Your mind can mess you up every time. 3. Faith is the belief that there is something more.  Curious?  Hit that download button for some earthly and spiritual wisdom to kick off 2021  #psychic #storybehindhersuccess #medium #believe #spirit

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144 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: TERI ADLER

I learned to be a great storyteller on TV and when I’m selling a house, I’m telling you the story of that house.  Buyers want that emotion, that’s what sells.  - Teri Adler

This is a story about reinvention.  Meet Teri Adler, Principal of The Teri Adler Group and a Boston area residential real estate superstar.  For the past twelve years, she has been a top broker for Pinnacle Residential Properties, including Broker of the Year, but her career path began with a very successful run as a reporter and news anchor on stations from the Cape to New Hampshire, to Hartford and finally, in Boston at WHDH and WBZ.  Turns out, Teri has used her well-honed storytelling skills to sell houses and this interview reveals what it took to make the transition from one profession to the other.  The mother of three daughters, including a special needs child, Teri speaks candidly about a decision she and her husband made regarding how they were going to raise their firstborn child:  “Jeff and I decided we were not going to let Alexandra’s disability define her, our our family.”  Her advice about multiple careers and what really matters in life are insightful and well worth your download.  Says Teri:  “Life is going to take you to places you never imagined and you have to bend and grow with it.  There is no blueprint.”  #reinvention #storybehindhersuccess #womeninmedia #realestate

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143 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: ERICA HORAN

I felt like I had a higher calling. - Erica Horan

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a critical care nurse on a med-flight mission? Welcome to the story of Erica Horan: wife, mother of three, Air Force veteran and registered nurse for Boston MedFlight.  Recorded in a hanger at Mansfield Airport, Erica explains that the mission of the non-profit is to take care of very sick people as quickly as possible.  She comes to this work with a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment.  Her career path began at 18 when she earned her EMT certification,  to a degree in nursing, to becoming a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force as a critical care nurse, to serving on the front lines in Afghanistan, to landing her dream job at Boston MedFlight. Twelve hour shifts are seldom slow for any Boston MedFlight’s 4 critical care teams and in this interview, Erica explains that every day is different and you just never know what you are going to get. A black belt karate champion with enough trophies to fill another hanger, this black belt credits her grandmother with teaching her to rely on the strength of her faith, and her karate instructor for teaching her about positive mindset, self-reliance and humility.  “Get out of your comfort zone, says Erica.  You only have one life, so go for it.”  #bostonmedflight #storybehindhersuccess #nursing

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141 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: NAOMI JUDD

I’ve been through an alphabet of tragedies and trials and I’m still here. - Naomi Judd

Recorded on Naomi Judd’s 500 acre farm in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, this interview takes you through Naomi’s life, including the birth of daughter Wynonna on her high school graduation night, a job as a receptionist for The Fifth Dimension in Los Angeles, and a mountaintop home in Kentucky where there was no heat, no phone and no TV.  While she studied to be a nurse, the family lived on welfare and Naomi traded her prized buck knife to buy Wynonna her first guitar. After receiving her nursing degree, Naomi moved the family to Nashville where she was the head nurse in an ICU.  When she learned that the father of one of her patients was in the record business, Naomi got up the courage to hand him a homemade cassette tape of she and Wynonna singing.  Brent Mayer was blown away by what he heard an arranged for an audition at RCA records. The Judds were signed to a record deal that would catapult them into country music history as the most commercially successful duo of the 1980’s with 25 singles, 14 number 1 songs, 8 CMA’s, 5 Grammy Awards, and 20 million + records sold.  From Naomi’s songwriting technique to her determination to beat Hepatitis C, this interview is an essay in perseverance.  For a deep dive into the soul of a country music icon, hit that download button and please, leave a review! #storybehindhersuccess 

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142 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: CARMEN FIELDS

Lord, you don’t have to move my mountains, just give me the strength to climb. - Carmen Fields

She may have grown up in a segregated community outside Tulsa, Oklahoma, but Carmen Fields was surrounded by love and encouragement.  The daughter of a teacher and a very well-known big band leader, she knew she wanted to write.  That love of writing led to a 40 year career as a print and broadcast journalist, a media relations pro and a college professor.  In this interview, Carmen and I settled in for a look back at a career that continues to inspire to this day.   It was her mother who encouraged Carmen to come to Boston from Oklahoma saying:  “You’ve never been East before, why don’t you go ahead to Boston, and just remember, you can always come home if it doesn’t work out.”  Well, it did work out and Carmen has both passion and perseverance to thank for her success.  As a black female reporter on the City Desk at the Boston Globe, there were neighborhoods she was afraid to go into during the Boston busing crisis.  Yet, as Carmen says: “those old men in the newsroom with their cigars and off color jokes took me under their wing” and she continued to grow as a print journalist.  Her career story includes her experience as a TV anchor, her stint as a press secretary to the Suffolk County District Attorney, her public relations roles at the United Way and National Grid her love of teaching at Boston University and her long running public affairs program on WHDH called Higher Ground. When it comes to the responsibilities of a journalist, Carmen Fields is clear:  “I still look at journalism as the first draft of history. And I still look at journalist’s role as a responsibility to give the facts and some of the context and background and yes, even get both sides of the story.”  For a look at a career worth emulating, hit that download button. #womeninmedia #storybehindhersuccess #journalism

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140 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: JO ANN SIMONS

In those first few days of his life, I realized that I wasn’t going to change anything about Jonathan, but I was going to change the world for him.  - Jo Ann Simons

She remembers everything getting really quiet in the delivery room just moments after her son Jonathan was born.  It was May, 1979 and Jo Ann Simons was 26 years old.  Her pregnancy had been textbook…no surprises, until this moment.  About 4 hours later, she and her husband heard the words:  “your baby has Down syndrome.”  At that time, services for families with disabled children were either minimal, or non-existent so Jo Ann Simons decided to change all that. Armed with a Masters in Social Work, she did not see a world that she wanted for her son, so she set out to build one for him and for others with developmental disabilities.  If you ask her, she’ll tell you:  “I didn’t choose this career, it chose me”.   Now the President & CEO of Northeast Arc, Jo Ann is considered both a trailblazer and a champion to the 15,000 people in 190 communities her organization serves.  Northeast Arc is leading the way in innovative ideas designed to help people with developmental disabilities become part of the communities where they live including the creation of a coffee shop called “Breaking Grounds” which serves as a training ground for people with disabilities who are interested in working in the food service industry.  A few years ago, Jo Ann launched “Arc Tank” with a 1 million dollar donation and in 2020, she spearheaded her largest project to date:  negotiating a lease for 26,000 square feet of highly visible space in the heart of the Liberty Tree Mall which will become the new home of The Linking Lives Center and Northeast Arc.  A member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on People with Developmental & Intellectual Disabilities and the Autism Commission, Jo Ann lives by the credo:  “I want to leave this world a little better than I found it.”  Download this inspiring story for a gigantic dose of grit, gratitude and wisdom. #storybehindhersuccess #northeastarc #disabilities

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139 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: HOLLY PARKER

Dating is like real estate;  the longer you’re on the market, the more people are going to wonder what’s wrong with you!   - Holly Parker

Meet New York City real estate powerhouse Holly Parker.  One of Manhattan’s most successful and experienced brokers, Holly is with Douglas Elliman, NYC’s premiere luxury residential brokerage.  With nearly 8 billion in sales, this exceptional woman is a force to be reckoned with. Holly has been selling high-end properties for 20 years and along the way she has  figured out that real estate is a lot like life, and life is a lot like real estate.   In fact, there are a ton of similarities between an impulse buy of a house unseen and jumping into a marriage too quickly!  After 7 years of marriage, Holly found herself “falling out of contract” and dreaded being a newly divorced woman who was “back on the market”.  This experience inspired her to write her first book, aptly named:  back on the market:  A Realtor’s Guide to Love and Life.  In this interview, Holly shares the pain of her divorce, the triumph of her second marriage, and the secrets to being a real estate superstar.  Her story about welcoming twin sons into her life via surrogate is priceless, and her advice about how to overcome obstacles and what success means to her will inspire you.  After all these years of selling real estate, Holly Parker has come to a simple realization:  love is what makes a home. Get to know more about Holly and join me for an honest and entertaining 24 minutes by hitting that download button.   #storybehindhersuccess #realtor #thehollyparkerteam

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138 / IN THE SPOTLIGHT: JODI HEMMER 

You are never too old.  Follow your dreams.  - Jodi Hemmer

Do you ever wonder if you’re too old to pursue your dreams?  Today’s guest believes that age is just a number.  Born and raised outside of Boston, Jodi had a real knack for acting as a child.  She recalls joining hundreds of young girls and boys auditioning for a role in a traveling production of the Broadway smash “The King & I” starring Yul Brynner.  Jodi was over the moon when she was offered a role and devastated when her parents told her that school must come first.   Years went by and she nurtured her love of acting by playing the piano and appearing in community theatre. Jodi married and had three sons. As a young mom, she decided that having a business of her own would not only be exciting, but financially rewarding so she founded Nobscot Supply Company in 1998 and became certified as a Women Business Enterprise and a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.  Now a well known and respected supplier of disposable safety and cleaning items, Nobscot Supply Company www.nobscotonline.com has taken on greater responsibility during the Covid-19 pandemic. But it was her decision to finally scratch that acting itch that brings new meaning to this interview. Jodi’s“ah-ha” moment came when she started filling in as a fitness instructor at Longfellow Health Club in Natick, MA. and the performer deep inside was on full display.  Jodi started taking courses at Boston Casting www.bostoncasting.com and began building up her acting portfolio.  Today, she has dozens of commercials and film credits to her name. And if you happen to see a woman in your social feed playing the piano as part of the Piano in a Flash worldwide promotion, that’s Jodi Hemmer!    She’s loving every minute of this new and exciting chapter in her life and has plenty of advice for anyone who wants to take a similar leap of faith. For an “I can do it” attitude adjustment, just hit that download button!   #storybehindhersuccess #16lifelessons #covid19 #reinvention 

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