During the 2016 presidential election, a slogan that entered into popularity in the 1970s was given new life. Regardless of your political leanings, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that the future is, indeed, increasingly female. Our annual Women to Watch are making an impact on every sector of local business, achieving success in the fields of finance, litigation, technology, hospitality, nonprofit and more.
On the pages that follow, you’ll learn more about their achievements, how they got to where they are and personal statements that will educate and maybe even inspire you.
Principal, Kaplin Stewart
A member of Kaplin Stewart’s commercial litigation and land use and zoning departments, Anisko is an experienced commercial litigator. She represents individuals and businesses in contractual disputes and business tort litigation including claims, and also has extensive experience representing buyers and sellers in real estate transactions and real estate litigation, including litigation arising from state, county and municipal governments and agencies denying property owners and developers their land use and zoning applications.
Of note: Anisko is a lecturer and gives seminars on various topics including property rights and land use and real estate law.
“The best business advice ever given to me was that if I wanted to be successful, I could not wait for things to happen, but I needed to make them happen. The key, I was told, is to continue to set new goals for yourself so that you have something to strive for and do not become complacent. Without set goals, you will not be focused and will not have a path for success.”
CHARLENE A. BARKER
Associate, Obermayer Rebbmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP
Barker focuses her practice on employment and labor law litigation, defending employers in federal and state court in a wide variety of labor and employment matters. She also represents clients before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) in discrimination, harassment and retaliation matters.
Of note: Directly after law school, Barker clerked for the Hon. Petrese B. Tucker, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
“A great mentor of mine always reminds me to be my authentic self. That requires taking stock in who you are as a professional and as a person. It means allowing your style to develop organically, to shirk self-censoring, so that you're able to remain true to your style in all business practices.”
KATHLEEN KIRK BELLWOAR
President and founder, PPT Consulting
With over 20 years of experience in the industry and as a partner of a major global consulting firm prior to founding PPT Consulting in 2003, Bellwoar has managed numerous strategic technology projects from software selection to implementation, and from establishing IT strategy to optimizing business processes. Her key to project success has always been to ensure the critical components of people, process and technology are addressed in the delivery of all solutions.
Of note: Bellwoar is the proud recipient of the 2014 Women of Distinction Award, the 2010 Smart CEO Brava Women’s Achievement Award and the 2008 Enterprising Women of the Year Award.
“Today there are at least more work-friendly programs allowing for flexibility and supporting women in the workplace. Sadly though, very little has changed with regard to the numbers of women holding top executive level and board positions. ... Honestly most of the time I think of myself as just ‘in business’ and not as a ‘woman in business;’ not sure why it should make a difference.”
ALISON J. EICHERT
Executive vice president and chief operating officer, Bryn Mawr Trust
Eichert was employed by the bank in May 1998 as senior vice president of marketing and was appointed executive vice president of the bank in 2001. She was appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer of the corporation in March 2015. She is responsible for the community banking division, marketing, technology and information services, operations, human resources and facilities.
Of note: Eichert has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry.
“A great boss once said to me, ‘I am not interested in having you make me look good, I am interested in having you help me be good.’ I loved that and I’ve tried to always operate inside of that as both an employee and a leader. It means operating as more of a question mark than a period. It’s an affirmation that getting it right means more than being right.”
Founder and executive director, Mural Arts Philadelphia (Mural Arts)
Under the driving force of Golden’s direction, Mural Arts has created more than 3,800 works of public art through innovative collaborations with community- based organizations, city agencies, nonprofit organizations, schools, the private sector and philanthropies. She has also overseen a series of increasingly complex, ambitious and award-winning public art projects, and is currently sought after nationally and internationally as an expert on urban transformation through art.
Of note: Golden has also co-authored two books about the murals in Philadelphia and co-edited a third, Mural Arts @ 30, published on the occasion of Mural Arts’ 30th anniversary.
“I'm inspired by the resilience of citizens across our city and their ability to push back against obstacles and hardship. I'm inspired by the profound difference that creativity and innovation can make in people lives—especially people who are grappling with extraordinarily difficult, somewhat in- tractable problems. Every time we see the impact of our work on people and their larger communities, we feel excited, energized and ready to do more.”
KELLY FINCH MOBLEY
Executive vice president and director of retail workforce readiness, PNC Bank
Mobley joined PNC as the regional sales manager responsible for the branches in the greater Philadelphia region. Prior to being named to her current position, she was the director of customer and employee experience for PNC’s strategic initiatives office. She has also served as market manager, retail banking for Philadelphia, Delaware and South Jersey, and was the customer experience manager for PNC’s retail bank.
Of note: She was named one of Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business and is a multi-year Gallup Great Workplace Award winner.
“For me, [stepping outside your comfort zone is] an essential element of both personal and professional growth. Facing new challenges requires you to explore new ways of thinking and being to achieve new goals. You can then take those new competencies into the next phase of your career.”
JULIA DRANOFF GUTSTADT
Chief investment officer, Dranoff Properties
In her role, Gutstadt oversees the funding for all development projects including acquisitions, investments, re-development and new construction. Gutstadt coordinates project pre- development planning, pro forma modeling, capital raising and due diligence for new projects as well as re-financings and strategic investments in existing assets. She also works to develop public-private partnerships and with government agencies to source and shape economic development programs.
Of note: Prior to joining Dranoff Properties, she gained professional experience at JPMorgan Chase working on strategic projects and business development opportunities for the investment bank.
“We live in a rapidly changing world, particularly as it relates to technology, sustainability, communication and innovation. Learning to expect and embrace change is the new normal. I encourage my staff to be curious, engaged and to seek out opportunities to develop their skill set and expertise.”
Director of sales and marketing, Hyatt at the Bellevue
While earning her degree, McCammon worked at several hotels in New York City, including the Elliot Hotel and the Sonesta International Hotels Corporation. She officially joined the Hyatt family in 1993 as an opening team member of the Harborside Hyatt Hotel & Conference Center and from there went on to earn various positions and promotions. In her most recent position, as the regional director of sales, wholesale for Hyatt Resorts in Hawaii, she achieved the largest revenue on record.
Of note: McCammon brings over 25 years of experience to her role, beginning with her position as a room attendant at the Harborside Inn in Port Jefferson, N.Y., before attending Boston University for hospitality and business administration.
“If I said I was passionate about selling a hotel room, I think people would look at me sideways. I am passionate about building and fostering a team that wants to work together to create a special, and thereby productive, working environment. I expect everyone that is part of my team to want to be there to support each other and to celebrate our mutual and individual successes ... and to laugh all along the way.”
LORI ARMSTRONG HALBER
Partner, Fisher Phillips
With an eye toward practical results, Halber has been representing management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law for nearly 20 years, providing labor relations counseling, defending clients in grievance arbitrations and representing employers before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). She also regularly provides preventive counseling and training for executives, supervisors and employees on topics such as harassment prevention, the respectful workplace, effective communication, performance management, diversity and inclusion and union avoidance.
Of note: She is a member of the firm’s Women’s Initiative & Leader- ship Council Steering Committee.
“Ask questions, listen and do not be afraid to learn (which includes failing). Many times we feel like we need to know it all—that others expect us to have all of the answers; but without information, without contributions from those around us, without thoughtful analysis, we cannot make the best assessment. Listening means not preparing what your response is while someone else is talking, but focusing your energy on understanding what they are saying.”
President and CEO, Urban Affairs Coalition
Matlock-Turner began her tenure at the coalition in March 1999, with a special distinction as the first woman to lead in the organization’s lengthy history. The organization’s efforts are focused in four areas: improving life chances for youth and young adults; building wealth in low-income communities; strengthening the grassroots nonprofit sector; and forging strategic partnerships across sectors and communities. The organization has successfully managed more than $1 Billion in social capital since its inception.
Of note: Matlock-Turner is founder and chair of the 18-year-old West Oak Lane Charter School.
“I’m the first woman to lead the Urban Affairs Coalition in its 48-year history. I can't begin to tell you how many doors we have opened for women, especially women of color, not only at the Urban Affairs Coalition, but in the nonprofit and business sectors as well. I’m proud of what we've accomplished but our work is not done.”
JUDITH M. VON SELDENECK
Vice president, Commercial Real Estate, M&T Bank
With 15 years of experience, she brings a unique approach to commercial real estate relationship management, with expertise in construction, redevelopment, bridge and permanent loans. Govette is also president of M&T’s WIN-Philadelphia/South Jersey, a group focused on highlighting M&T as the bank and wealth management firm of choice for women-owned businesses as well as the employer of choice for high potential female talent.
Of note: She serves on the executive board of Spark Philadelphia as well as the advisory boards of the Urban Land Institute-Philadelphia Chapter and the Society of Professional Women of the Main Line.
“Be where your feet are. If you’re not, you’ll miss something important every time. It’s something I’m always working on. [It] could be that you overlook the key nuance to winning a business opportunity or you miss the priceless smile on your daughter’s face when she scores her first soccer goal. We’re all juggling competing priorities. The most effective people can cut through the noise to be in the moment.”
SYLVIA PURNELL, M.A.
Executive director, NHS Human Services Foundation (NHS Foundation)
Purnell has more than 25 years in program development, project management, fundraising and community and public relations. Prior to joining the foundation, she worked with the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey (UWSPSNJ) where she implemented and managed workplace fundraising campaigns for a diverse group of accounts that included: nonprofits, government, local and regional corporate partners.
Of note: She served as the chief of staff for Philadelphia Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown where she managed operations, while partnering with district, at-large council and the mayor’s office on policy, legislative and community outreach initiatives.
“I’m motivated by my work and the impact I know I can have on an organization in helping reach goals while communicating its mission and vision. I am inspired by what I’m doing right now: working at the NHS Human Services Foundation. We engage with individuals and their families who are experiencing some of the greatest challenges of their lives. With the NHS team I am thrilled to see the differences we make in the lives of the people we serve through our programs.”
Principal and national life sciences sector leader, Grant Thornton
Walkush has more than 20 years of business consulting experience, including strategic business planning, operational improvement and compliance consulting. Walkush helps life sciences companies execute business strategy, transformation and technology projects. Before joining Grant Thornton, she held leadership roles at LECG-SMART and Anderson Business Consulting. She is active in the Women Business Leaders of the U.S. Health Care Industry Foundation (WBL).
Of note: Walkush is a member of the Healthcare Business Women’s Association, which recognized her as a luminary in 2015.
“The best business advice I’ve received came from Jack Welch’s book, Straight from the Gut. He talks about the need to deal with reality and eliminate what he called ‘superficial congeniality’ when developing a strategic plan. It may sound obvious, but sometimes it can be a challenge to get people to focus on the facts and be realistic about what your business is and what it is not. When you deal with reality, you’re in a position to develop an achievable plan based on your skills and strengths, which is how you build a platform for growth.”
Young works with public and private sector clients to investigate, manage and remediate contaminated soil and groundwater, and to redevelop brownfield properties into new residential neighborhoods and commercial centers. She worked 14 years for Roy F. Weston performing and managing industrial and federal environmental investigations. She joined WIK Associates in 1994, and helped grow the company in the area of soil and groundwater remediation. In 2003, she purchased WIK Associates and formed BrightFields, Inc.
Of note: She serves on the board of directors of the Delaware Nature Society and on the steering committee for Delaware EPSCoR—the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, led by the National Science Foundation.
“My advice to my employees and to students and to entrepreneurs: Networking is critical to your success. It’s not about who you know; it’s about who knows you, and what you can do for them. It takes six years to develop your own personal network. If you start today, it will take you six years. If you start in 10 years, it will still take you six years. So start now! If you’re shy, take Dale Carnegie classes. Use LinkedIn, it’s an amazing networking tool.”
Executive director of tourism, Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB)
Yazovskikh has been a part of the PHLCVB team since 2008, promoting Philadelphia as a premier destination to visitors from around the world, focusing on Western Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East, India, Asia Pacific, South America and domestic group markets. She has a vast background in multiple facets of global sales and marketing initiatives, including strategic planning, niche marketing, branding and advertising across multiple platforms and leading global sales and marketing teams around the world.
Of note: Originally from Yekaterinburg, Russia, she has been a proud resident of Philadelphia for almost15 years, and has an immense passion for keeping this exceptional city in the global spotlight.
“The key is to be passionate about what you do. I am lucky to represent one of the most vibrant and authentic cities in the world, to work alongside exceptionally talented and dedicated professionals and to connect with people from so many different cultures and customs from across the globe. It’s been an inspiring journey with endless things to learn along the way!”
Published (and copyrighted) in Philly Biz, Volume 2, Issue 2 (February, 2017).
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