May 1, 2011

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30 Women to Watch

They’re innovative, confident and savvy. They own businesses, run vital divis...Read More

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30 Women to Watch

Heather Stewart, Candace Little, Sarah Ryther Francom

May 1, 2011

They’re innovative, confident and savvy. They own businesses, run vital divisions of large corporations and manage scores of employees. They serve their communities in various nonprofit and professional organizations. In short, they help define Utah’s business landscape. Utah Business proudly recognizes the 2011 30 Women to Watch. Heather E. Bertotti Strategic Accounts Director - 3M Health Information Systems Living in seven states in 10 years taught Heather Bertotti many lessons, and so did growing up in the woods of Indiana, where her town of 200 offered no school, street light or post office. “Don’t be afraid to take a risk and go to the unknown,” she says. “Bloom where you are planted—you will grow from the experience.” At 3M Health Information Systems, Bertotti has done just that, as she interacts with hospitals to help improve patient care, coordinates strategic projects such as increasing customer retention, and serves as the HealthCare Group Purchasing Organizations liaison, representing more than 2,500 hospitals and $200 million in annual billings. “The healthcare industry is in need of good women who are dedicated to determining how to solve the many issues that healthcare faces,” Bertotti says. “Women should support and build each other up. We need diversity in leadership roles and having mentors who can teach you great skills is one step to get there.” Megan Faulkner Brown Founder and CEO - The Sweet Tooth Fairy Though Megan Faulkner Brown’s career started on Capitol Hill, where she served as a member of U.S. Representative Chris Cannon’s staff, she found her real passion in the kitchen, baking delectable treats. In 2009, right in the middle of the financial crisis, Brown took a risk and opened the first The Sweet Tooth Fairy retail store—and it was a risk well worth taking. The Sweet Tooth Fairy has now grown to six stores, with five more in the works. The company has also raised approximately $1.6 million and has been featured on QVC. Brown has big plans for the company’s future, as she hopes to open more than 225 shops nationwide during the next five years. “I enjoy so many things, including being part of a business and an industry that is so meaningful to me, and being part of something way bigger than me and working with others to achieve a common goal—which is ultimately delivering happiness and making lasting memories.” Jacque Neilson Butler Founder and CEO - MedQuest Solutions Jacque Butler is a time-tested entrepreneur, having founded several companies. Her latest venture is MedQuest Solutions, a business focusing on various segments of the healthcare industry. “Our company is changing the way people age. I am so passionate about this. We are keeping people healthy as they age, and helping to eliminate the diseases of aging,” she says. MedQuest, which consists of six subsidiaries ranging from manufacturing to lab and pharmaceutical services, is in the process of doubling its existing facility to 90,000 square feet. The company also recently launched a proprietary software system “that will revolutionize a physician’s office,” Butler says. However, Butler is not ready to rest on her laurels. She envisions starting more businesses in the future, and says her many entrepreneurial experiences “have all taught me many valuable experiences that I then can use in my next endeavor. I love to create new businesses, and that is where I succeed most.” Maura E. Carabello Managing Partner - The Exoro Group Maura Carabello co-founded The Exoro Group in 2002 with the goal of making a measurable change in the state’s community by providing strategic communications in public policy. “I aspire…to be a problem solver and community builder. There is so much strength in the mainstream middle, and building consensus through the best ideas, not the loudest rhetoric,” she says. “Whether I am the leadership voice or supporting those speaking, I want to be a part of making exceptional projects, companies and ideas come to life.” Carabello has played an essential role in many public campaigns. Her successes range from transportation projects to the BodyWorlds exhibit to the passage of the Utah Museum of Natural History bond. “I enjoy the opportunity to make measurable change in our community,” she says. “That has included helping people access nonprofits to support, as well as giving people the tools to participate in government at a local and national level.” Gloria Cardenas Conn Managing Partner - Familia America, Immigration Law Group The economic downturn provided an opportunity for Gloria Cardenas Conn to reevaluate her goals and desired lifestyle. She and her husband moved from California to Utah in 2008 and established Familia America, a law practice focused on immigration issues. “I had to reinvent myself and work extremely hard and smart to build an immigration practice,” she says. “In less than a year, we have grown from one client to over 100 clients. We have been able to accomplish this by hiring excellent staff while actively participating in organizations that have given our law firm excellent exposure,” says Cardenas Conn, who has become enmeshed in Utah’s philanthropic and business communities. She serves as a board member of the Catholic Business Network of Utah and on the advisory committee for the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She also thoroughly enjoys her weekly morning radio show on Juan 106.1 FM. “I am passionate about giving the immigration community straight talk about federal immigration laws,” she says. Stephanie A. Charter Attorney - Jones Waldo Holbrook and McDonough, P.C. While working as a children’s attorney in Nevada, Stephanie Charter fought to have infants and toddlers moved from a large orphanage, congregate-care setting into foster homes. Her experience advocating for children gives Charter a unique perspective in her domestic and family law practice. “I am in a position to make a real, positive difference for my clients who are typically at a very difficult point in their lives. My goal is to help them see the bigger picture, past the current situation, and to focus on what is going to be the best possible long-term outcome for them and their children,” she says. Charter provides volunteer instructional seminars at the Erin Kimball Memorial Foundation, an organization that helps inform domestic violence victims about their legal rights. She is also a board member for the Dove Center, a domestic violence shelter. As one of only three female attorneys in Jones Waldo’s St. George office, Charter is also focused on attracting more women lawyers to the area. “Especially in the area of family law, that would be true progress and a real benefit for the entire legal community,” she says. Tracy Christman Audit Partner - Ernst & Young Tracy Christman has been in the public accounting industry for nearly 20 years, serving companies such as EnergySolutions, Headwaters and Omniture. “I especially enjoy working with entrepreneurial companies with the challenges that high-growth companies face,” she says. “I have been involved in a number of initial public offerings and other transactions with companies like these. It is very gratifying to be able to provide guidance and insights that help management make decisions regarding their business.” Christman is passionate about helping younger women find their place in the accounting industry. “As we go through the recruiting process each year, I am often saddened by the small ratio of women to men that apply for positions in our field and further saddened by turnover of women that we do hire,” she says. “I really want to try to help young women to realize that the sky is the limit on what they can accomplish.” Sharon Cook Senior VP of Marketing and Public Relations - Mountain America Credit Union The key to successful leadership, says Sharon Cook, is to build strong teams. “I’ve really learned that recognizing people’s individual abilities, getting to know them very well, understanding their roles—you can help them grow; you can make them very positive contributors to the team.” Cook has proved a valuable team member with extraordinary public relations expertise. She served at Beneficial Financial Group for more than a decade, then helped Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage weather the financial storm. In her current role at Mountain America Credit Union, her integrated marketing and public relations campaign resulted in the credit union moving from No. 144 in the Brand Value Index to No. 4 in the nation. Cook is also highly involved in the community and currently serves on the Utah Technology Council’s board, the executive committee for the American Heart Association, the women’s advisory committee for the David Eccles School of Business and the board of Women in Business at the Salt Lake Chamber. Jane Ann Craig President and CEO - Total Dental Administrators Jane Ann Craig says the key to leading a successful company is “casting a vision. If people are to follow you they must be able to see, believe and buy into the vision.” Since launching Total Dental Administrators in 1995, Craig has maintained a vision that others believe in. “Jane Ann is highly respected among the dentists, office managers and others who participate in the TDA network of providers, and is similarly held in high regard by business partners and the employer groups that use the products and services of TDA,” says Clark Merkley, president of By Monday. Craig says her proudest accomplishment was when TDA was acquired by long-time partner Companion Life Insurance Company earlier this year. “As founder of TDA, it is has been my dream to bring our shareholders a return on their investment while maintaining employment and a great work environment for our employees,” she says. “I was able to achieve both of these goals.” Patricia Quijano Dark Editor - El Observador de Utah El Observador de Utah, the Spanish-language newspaper that Patricia Quijano Dark helped the Deseret Management Corporation launch, recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. The thrice-weekly newspaper reaches 60,000 readers each week, and Dark is motivated each day, she says, by knowing that readers “will have learned something new through our paper. Whether it be how to find a good pediatrician or how to support your legislator, we try to teach something in every story we publish.” Education is a key value for Dark, who is a bilingual native of Argentina. “One personal success I value highly was working with a small group of like-minded women to set up the Dual Immersion Academy charter school in Glendale,” she says. The academy fosters both Spanish and English acquisition, enabling children to become or remain bilingual. In the future, Dark sees herself “seeking new venues to communicate with Hispanics and to other underserved populations. If knowledge is the key to success, I want to be the person handing out those keys.” Joy de Lisser Vice President and General Manager - ATK Aerospace Structures Joy de Lisser recently helped complete the lease of the 615,000-square-foot ATK Aircraft Commercial Center of Excellence that will house state-of-the-art composite manufacturing equipment. “This factory is even more exciting because it will bring hundreds of jobs to the community,” de Lisser says. “When I step back and look at what has been accomplished so far and what will happen over the next few months, I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this team!” In her industry, says de Lisser, being a woman has meant she’s had to work harder to prove herself and overcome traditional stereotypes, but she believes women bring a unique set of skills with strengths—in collaboration and multi-tasking—that strengthen an organization. De Lisser attributes her work ethic, loyalty and get-it-done attitude to her father. “I strive to emulate his positive attitude. He finds the lessons and blessings in each day and uses them to his advantage.” Jana Kettering Principal Adviser, Media Relations and Communications - Rio Tinto/Kennecott Utah Copper With a background in journalism and a decade heading up public relations for the Salt Lake Valley Health Department and the Utah Department of Health, Jana Kettering has brought a wealth of experience to her role as the Utah spokesperson for Rio Tinto, the second-largest mining company in the world and the parent company of Kennecott Utah Copper. “I have been in government, nonprofit and private business—all have offered new, exciting and challenging experiences where my knowledge has grown and benefited the next experience,” says Kettering. In fact, one of her greatest challenges has been introducing the Rio Tinto brand to Utah and linking it to Kennecott—a brand that has a rich history that spans more than a century in the state. She has also been instrumental in communicating the company’s Cornerstone Project, which is an effort to extend the life of the mine, preserving thousands of local jobs. “I have spent a career telling stories,” she says. “Taking years of planning on an issue and distilling down into a meaningful story that involves complex and high-risk situations is an art.” Catherine M. Larson President and Managing Shareholder - Strong & Hanni Catherine Larson manages her firm’s cadre of more than 50 attorneys, along with support staff. “In a time when the economy challenged the success of some businesses, I was involved in the success of making 2010 our second-highest revenue year during my first year as president and managing shareholder of Strong & Hanni,” she says. At the beginning of her career, Larson was a practicing nurse. She returned to school to earn a law degree and has now been an attorney for 18 years. Larson has drawn on her background and experience in nursing to inform her legal practice, which focuses on medical malpractice defense. “One of my most memorable trial experiences involved defending a physician in a small rural community,” she says. “I felt so responsible for my client’s livelihood … and that if we lost the trial, I would not only let myself down, but so many other people. Fortunately, the jury rendered a favorable verdict. This experience gave me more resolve to simply continue to do my very best and hope that the right result will follow.” Connie Spyropoulos Linardakis Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer - Zions Bancorporation Connie Linardakis oversees all aspects of human resources for Zions Bancorporation’s 10,500 employees located across 10 states. While the last year has been tumultuous in the banking industry, Zions has maintained a stable operational platform with solid bottom line performance, in part thanks to Linardakis’ team. “An important component of my role is to stay on top of new legislation and incentives and keep everyone focused and motivated,” Linardakis says. This past year, the organization took advantage of tax incentives like the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, which saved $600,000 in tax incentives across the corporation. Linardakis says in five years she hopes to be exactly where she is today. “I hope to still be bringing new ideas to the organization and still energized by the people around me,” she says. “My son will be able to drive by then, so I will be anxious about that.” Maxine Margaritis Chief Executive Officer - American Red Cross – Utah Region With a small paid staff and nearly 1,300 volunteers across the state, Maxine Margaritis is responsible for the funding and delivery of American Red Cross humanitarian services throughout Utah, which includes disaster services (readiness and response) and services to the armed forces. Over the past year, Margaritis has united five Red Cross locations into one Utah Region. This has been a difficult yet rewarding challenge. “As a leader in this transition, I experience the changes and their corresponding losses and gains both as a member of the team and as the leader,” she says. “This experience helps me guide our entire team (staff and volunteers) into our future.” Working for a disaster response organization, Margaritis says she’s still trying to find complete balance in her life, but what works for her is having quality time with family and friends, quiet times to reflect and lots laughter. Debi Mofford Senior Vice President of Information Technology - Workers Compensation Fund When Workers Compensation Fund revamped its entire IT department in 2005, Debi Mofford was tapped to lead the charge. “Debi stepped up to the plate and implemented policies and procedures to help transform the department,” says Greg Summerhays, director of public relations. “She created an environment where ideas could be shared freely, collaboration was encouraged, and relationships with other departments within WCF were strengthened. All of this translated to more efficient systems and improved customer interface with WCF.” One of Mofford’s recent accomplishments was keeping the company’s IT infrastructure running with zero downtime when the company moved more than 300 employees to a new corporate headquarters office—a success she attributes to her team. “The most ‘winning’ moment I have experienced in my career was watching the teamwork that came together during the move of the data center,” she says. Mofford is a member of the Association for Information Management board and Utah State University’s Masters of Information Systems advisory board. Fraser Nelson Executive Director - Community Foundation of Utah Fraser Nelson is the founder of the Community Foundation of Utah, an organization that works to gather assets and ideas to serve Utah now and for generations to come. As executive director, Nelson’s goal is to make the foundation a catalyst for innovation in the nonprofit sector. To that end, she organized a Social Innovation Challenge that teamed nonprofits with entrepreneurs and post-graduate students. “They were given three months and a tiny budget to solve a common, though complex, problem facing Utah nonprofits. The $19,000 invested by philanthropists brought a $210,000 return, and the lessons learned have been a source of innovation for the entire nonprofit sector,” she says. Before launching the foundation in 2008, Nelson led the Disability Law Center and helped to found And Justice for All. She also helped to create the nation’s first Community Law Center, a one-stop shop for nonprofit legal service providers. “I know we have a very short time on earth and there is a lot of work to be done,” she says. “So I try to work from a place of joy and personal commitment, tinged with a fear of failure.” Karma Newberry President and CEO - Wasatch Supply, Inc. When the economy took a dive, Karma Newberry didn’t flinch—she considered the downturn an opportunity. “Our goal was to gain market share in this tough economy,” she says. “I decided to put more money into our marketing and started really taking a look at our brand, where it was and where we want it to go.” Her diligence and risk-taking approach paid off—the company was able to increase sales by 98 percent from the previous year. Being a woman executive in a male-dominated industry can be challenging, Newberry says, but she’s found it all comes down to good customer service. “We have heard from several of our customers that we have above and beyond the best customer service in our industry.” To young women just starting their careers, Newberry says, “Do not be afraid, you do not have to fit the mold of industry standards. If you are interested in a predominantly male industry, go for it. Through hard work and integrity you can do whatever you put your mind to.” Teri Newell Project Director, Mountain View Corridor - Utah Department of Transportation Teri Newell is the director of the 35-mile Mountain View Corridor. This program has a $900 million budget and currently has 18 miles of roadway under construction. The Mountain View Corridor will service 13 municipalities and is planned to meet the area’s growing transportation demands through the year 2030. Newell leads with a clear vision. “A good leader arranges a team so that it capitalizes on individual strengths, gives them the right tools, encourages the team, helps clear their hurdles, holds them accountable, and shows appreciation for their efforts,” she says. “I love the feeling that comes from resolving a difficult issue, especially when it is accomplished and celebrated as a team.” As project director, Newell has been involved in every step of the project—including the research that started approximately eight years ago. “It has been incredibly rewarding to see it through the planning phase and now into construction in just the past year,” she says. Christina M. Oliver Director of Corporate Recruitment and Incentives - State of Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development “The best part about my job is helping create jobs in the state,” Christina Oliver says. “The citizens of Utah are hard working, educated and all around nice. They deserve to have a strong team on the national and international recruitment scene going to bat for their jobs.” In the past year, Oliver’s office has been involved in a dozen projects that will result in more than 4,200 jobs being created and/or retained in the state over the next few years. Oliver says her team of hard-working, responsible people who are willing to lead themselves, is the real reason for GOED’s success. “Although my team and I typically fly under the radar and only on occasion attend the fancy events or meetings after the deal is sealed, we are doing the ground work to make the ‘possibility’ of a new operation turn into a ‘reality,’ and that is a wonderful feeling,” Oliver says. Michelle Potter Director, Strategic Development - England Logistics, Inc. Michelle Potter’s responsibilities are wide, covering marketing, IT, business analytics and agent operations. She enjoys the people she works with, along with the diversity and challenges of her job—but overall is motivated by success. “I am very competitive and not real tolerant of failure,” she says. “I have the opportunity every day to make an impact, and people rely on me to perform.” Recently, she helped England implement a new transportation management system. Potter was involved with everything from software development, to managing the budget, to implementation. Guiding her team to success means leading by example, says Potter. “I’m very hands on and expect nothing more from my people than I expect from myself,” she says. “A good leader is someone who walks the talk, is honest and trustworthy, and helps others to be their best by effective empowerment.” Kathy J. Ricci CEO and Executive Director - Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund Kathy Ricci believes Utah’s small businesses are key to the state’s economic vitality. As CEO and executive director of Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund (UMLF), Ricci has assisted numerous small business owners in launching their startups, with one micro loan at a time. “It is incredibly rewarding to be able to tell someone ‘we believe in you and your business and we are going to work to help you grow,’” she says. Under Ricci’s leadership, the nonprofit organization has made more than 70 microenterprise loans totaling more than $1.4 million during the past 12 months. “It is estimated that this has resulted in the creation/retention of at least 150 jobs,” she says. Ricci has worked to ensure UMLF’s long-term viability, most recently writing a grant that resulted in nearly $600,000 received from the U.S. Department of Treasury. “I [hope] to continue to do work that positively impacts people and our community, whether it is lending to hundreds of small business owners statewide or some other type of activity.” Mary Michelle Scott President - Fishbowl Inventory (FBI) Software Mary Michelle Scott serves as president of one of Utah’s fastest-growing software development firms. Fishbowl is the No. 1 most requested addition to Intuit’s QuickBooks, but is also involved in helping the small business community and the Navajo Nation. Above all, Scott says Fishbowl is a business about people, and she loves seeing lives improved through her adventures at work. “At Fishbowl, we’re all in the game of work together,” Scott says. “There are many leaders who build financially successful companies and drive revenue at all costs. They lay off people and never know their names. A good leader cares, serves and supports. A great leader lifts people up and brings out the best in everyone around them.” Her positive attitude is a key to maintaining balance in her life. “Some days work out better than others,” she says, “but every day absolutely offers the opportunity to learn, develop and grow.” Mary Street Land and Investment Specialist - Commerce Real Estate Solutions Mary Street, land and investment specialist at Commerce Real Estate Solutions, says what she enjoys most about her position is the role she has in building Utah communities. “I am actively involved in economic and community development in Utah County,” she says. “I work alongside local governments, economic development agencies and the public on projects that shape the future of Utah Valley.” Street’s commitment to the community extends beyond her profession; she also serves as a board member for UTOPIA, Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce Women’s Business Network and Envision Utah Partnership, and she serves on the Orem City Council. “Mary is one of those rare individuals driven to give, give and give again,” says Dennis Astill, project manager and general counsel of Anderson Geneva Development. “We will see the results of her devotion for many decades to come.” Tera Sunder Chief People Officer - Nelson Laboratories Tera Sunder has a unique talent for growing a company’s employee base while maintaining a close-knit culture. Before joining Nelson Laboratories, Sunder served as the chief people officer for Cafe Rio, where she helped the company expand from 250 employees to 1,200 in five years. Today, Sunder is helping Nelson Labs grow from 360 employees to more than 800 during the next four years. Sunder says successful growth can’t happen without effective training—and that’s just what she enjoys most. “We have built a great learning culture and have put individual development plans in place for all of our employees.” Sunder says a strong leader must be able to quickly access skills and help people fit into the company. Since she joined Nelson Labs, the company has experienced double-digit positive sales growth and added 55 new positions to the company. “Tera is a master recruiter, a great communicator and industry leader, and a tremendous benefit to our state,” says Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions Bank. Sandie N. Tillotson Executive Senior Vice President - Nu Skin Enterprises “I really believe in the power of positive thinking and in the power of my dreams,” Sandie Tillotson says. She was one of two people in the office when Nu Skin first started and has watched her dreams come to life. From that little office, Nu Skin has grown to reporting record earnings of $1.5 billion in late 2010—its best quarter ever. But Tillotson says what’s most important is making a difference in peoples’ lives through Nu Skin’s products, opportunities and charitable deeds. Tillotson travels across the globe encouraging distributors to give back. “The Nu Skin Force for Good Foundation continued its tradition of giving by granting more than $1.2 million to support programs that offer a hand of hope to children. We also surpassed the significant milestone of providing more than 200 million meals to malnourished children throughout the world through the Nourish the Children initiative,” Tillotson says. Carlene Martin Walker Chair-Elect - Visit Salt Lake With a lengthy resume that includes eight years as a Utah State Senator, Carlene Walker has spent many years in full-time public service. Most recently, she is using her board position at Visit Salt Lake to facilitate efforts to develop a convention hotel adjacent to the Salt Palace in order to enhance Salt Lake’s marketability. Collaboration is a key value for Walker, who points to recent immigration reform as an example of successful compromise. “The drafting of the Utah Compact, which was endorsed by the CVB and also United Way, where I serve on the board…was a national trend-setting move. The resultant guest worker program and ‘kinder, gentler’ enforcement bill are a huge triumph for the state. It was a difficult task but groundbreaking and worth the tremendous collaborative work.” Walker is a member of the Salt Lake Council for the Aging, president of Professional Republican Women, and a board member of the Utah State Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, among many other community leadership roles. Sarah Waters Vice President, Corporate Development - Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Sarah Waters oversees a fundraising team that works with national sponsors to create, implement and manage fundraising events and campaigns to benefit the network of children’s hospitals. Despite the challenging economy, the organization has managed to grow its fundraising results. “We raised more than $237 million for children’s hospitals in 2010, and the corporate development team accounted for approximately $116 million of that,” she says. Waters also manages high-profile corporate partnerships, such as Microsoft, Ace Hardware and Marriott International. Her specialty is creating unique fundraisers for each company, such as Microsoft’s Xbox 360 “Children’s Miracle Network Family Game Pack.” Waters is motivated by the satisfaction of meeting goals and overcoming obstacles. “I also have the added satisfaction of knowing that when I do my job well, whether working with a sponsor account or an employee, that I am having a positive impact on pediatric patients at our Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals throughout the country,” she says. Suzanne Winters, Ph.D. Executive Director - BioInnovations Gateway Suzanne Winters long envisioned an educational center that would serve as a life science training facility and business incubator. After receiving a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and drumming up support from local leaders, Winters turned her vision into reality and founded the BioInnovations Gateway (BiG). Under Winters’ leadership as executive director, BiG has instituted a 2-year, industry-driven biomanufacturing program for both high-school and college level students. BiG is the nation’s only institution that supports both the startup business and the student striving to enter the industry. “For me, the synergy that has been created between the resident companies and between the students and faculty has been an incredible, unanticipated benefit,” says Winters. “This is relevant education, making students understand applications of math, science and engineering, and why they have to learn them.” Prior to founding BiG, Winters was integral to the development of Utah’s SBIR Assistance Center, served as science advisor under the Leavitt administration, and obtained several patents. Cherie Wood Mayor - City of South Salt Lake A local of South Salt Lake, Cherie Wood has a strong desire to improve her city. One of her administration’s first priorities was to explore what it means to create a safe, clean and beautiful city, and so she created a new department of Urban Livability. “Our comprehensive approach has tackled problem properties to drive out crime, improve conditions for tenants and mitigate hazardous properties,” Wood says. Wood enjoys traveling, but even on vacation she can’t resist the urge to work for her city. “While traveling, I find myself taking photos of developments, streetscapes, building facades, bus benches and directional signs, which are used as ideas for improvements in South Salt Lake.” Wood advises young women entering the workforce to find what they are truly passionate about and explore career opportunities in that area. “I believe passion is the difference between going to work every day and going to work every day to make a difference,” she says.
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