The Inspiring Tales of How the 2021 Working Moms of the 12 months Give Again
Laura Feeney, Senior Manager, Customer Success Strategy, Adobe
Like many, I was unprepared for the profound challenges introduced by the pandemic. I was fortunate not to have lost immediate family members from COVID or my job, something many were not able to experience. For working parents, remote learning was especially fraught this past year and, for some, not feasible at all. My kids, Kai and Rae, are 6 and 4, and I knew back in March 2020 that virtual learning was not an ideal approach for them since they were so young. At the same time, my wife lost her teaching job as families struggled to pay tuition for the school where she taught and our kids attended, and the school had to close. But that gave us an idea: What if we hosted an outdoor homeschool pod at our house? We figured we weren’t the only parents whose kids weren’t amenable to virtual learning. Students could come together safely, wearing masks, social distancing, and spending most of the time outside in our backyard while learning in-person with teachers and peers and having some semblance of “normal” in a year that was anything but.
Although we live in the Bay Area with limited space, I knew we could make it happen. We got to work converting our yard into learning spaces, and as other families got onboard, my wife offered to teach a combined second- and third-grade pod and another teacher agreed to teach a pod of eight preschool and kindergarten students. And it was a success! Things were chaotic at times—I was on conference calls in the midst of 16 kids at my house—but I believe it was really beneficial. I think it’s fair to say the kids had a school year they’ll never forget, even if it wasn’t on a school campus. Even our dog, Mila, joined in and became our mascot of sorts. Working parents sometimes forget to take care of themselves. I manage a team at Adobe and I always say to them, “Do what you need to do to show up again tomorrow.” Whether it’s showing up for yourself, your family, or your work, working parents have been shouldering a lot and it has been incredibly hard. The pandemic has been a marathon, not a sprint, and hosting an outdoor school pod was a small way to ease the burden that parents shoulder.
Christina Hormuth, Vice President, Account Director, Arc Worldwide on behalf of Leo Burnett Group
As working parents, we often experience personal and professional changes in our plans that require flexibility. The ability to adapt to these shifts is what makes working parents such effective contributors, but the past 18 months have been trying. The challenge of mobilizing to becoming an at-home parent and worker has been monumental. As co-president of our internal ERG ParentKind, I had the added task of trying to help thousands of other parents like myself navigate this frightening new reality. Initially, I helped develop a list of short-term resources, including at-home options and suggestions for parents to keep their children (from infant to teenager) entertained and motivated for a few weeks. When we started to realize the pandemic wasn’t receding, it became apparent we needed more than just activities and entertainment for the children. We shifted our focus to help parents manage the mental strain the pandemic was taking on them and their families, organizing frequent live sessions with family therapists. These Q&A calls offered guidance for parents of all age groups, going beyond resources and tactics to provide the security and support needed by so many of our struggling moms and dads. Parents are oftentimes the backbone of the workforce. As mother myself, I take great pride in being able to make supporting them nearly as rewarding as supporting my children.
Beth Viner, Managing Director and Partner, Head of DV North America, BCG
I knew I wanted to be a mom. And over 40, with no husband or serious boyfriend in the picture, that meant I was about to become what the world refers to as a “single mother by choice.” Having Billie Rose, now 2 and three-quarters (as she tells me), was my best choice. As I became Billie’s mom, I knew it was highly likely I’d be the only mom like me in my role. And that could be not only lonely but also awkward or uncomfortable or just a little weird for those who had never met a mother who chose to go it on her own. For better or worse, I’m a wears-her-heart-on-her-sleeve kind of human and knew I could only be honest about my parenthood journey. But, more importantly, I really wanted to be intentional about how I showed up, bringing my mom-self to work daily. And I have. And I do. Whether it’s Billie coming by (pre-pandemic, of course) for lunch, or having her join a Zoom and wave at all her “friends,” I talk about Billie in important meetings and unimportant ones. And I’m clear about boundaries; with no partner in the picture, I don’t take calls before bedtime and if you want to catch me on the weekend, it will be after Billie is zonked. There’s no right way to be a parent and it, at the very least, should be much broader than what society reflects back to us as acceptable family structures. To me, I have both a responsibility and an imperative, as a leader and as Billie’s mom, to show that anyone can be a parent at BCG.
Sofia Blair, Assurance Partner, BDO USA, LLP
When I became a mom 15 years ago, I was at a crossroads; I was passionate about my job and wanted to demonstrate strong leadership for my daughter, but I also wanted to be present and involved in her life. My husband and immediate family knew how much my career meant to me and were an incredible support system. It was in those early days of motherhood that I learned openness and transparent communication are key to maintaining work-life fit. When I returned from maternity leave, I arranged to work from home once a week. The firm had just begun to embrace a strategic approach to flex, and I was the first woman on my team to propose a more flexible schedule. When I was granted this flexibility, my team and I quickly realized it did not impact my ability to effectively serve my clients and meet my responsibilities. A couple years later, my second daughter was born with special needs. I remained open with my team and received the support I needed to be fully present with both my children.
As my kids have grown, I’ve continued to prioritize open communication, which has enabled me to build trust and close relationships with both my colleagues and clients. The people I work with have become like family, and I always feel empowered to ask for what I need, knowing that these requests will be met with understanding and support. The trust built has also allowed me to work on setting boundaries between work and home. This was especially important over the past year and a half as I—and many others—transitioned to working from home due to the pandemic. Not only did this foundation of openness and communication allow me to seamlessly transition, it also helped establish guardrails for time spent with my family, which can be hard to maintain in a remote environment. For new working parents, there is nothing as important as being open with your team. That openness will pay dividends as you grow your family and your career.
Shanda Howell, Behavioral Health Program Manager, Blue Cross NC
I believe the most compelling story to share about Shanda Howell is her willingness to get involved and support the foster care community. Shanda’s child was placed in the foster care system at birth and left the hospital and was placed immediately in the Howell household. With little time to prepare for an infant, I remember her telling me of the quick shopping trip to get all of the necessities. Naturally soon after, family and friends came together to support this new family. It was interesting to watch and hear about the process that Shanda and her husband went through to become foster parents. While we know screening and preparation is necessary, clearly this was not something that all parents go through: certifications, classes, and home visits from social workers to name a few. Shanda never once complained about all she had to complete to make her wishes come true. While preparing and after becoming a parent, Shanda stayed involved with the foster care community. She attends support groups, will be the first to donate children’s items to new parents, and share of her experiences. Kindness and charity are values that Shanda holds dearly and it is so obvious that she holds these with every breath she takes. I often tease her that she is too nice. Shanda recognizes we have several working parents on our team and stays abreast of all of the resources available to them and makes sure they are aware so they can take advantage of them. While this may seem small, I know I truly value and appreciate what she shares with our group. Shanda is a wonderful mother, wife, friend and co-worker. My words do not even begin to articulate how generous, wonderful and charitable person she is. She is an inspiration and we should all want to emulate her kindness and dedication to her community.
Jamie Sigfrid, Non Clinical Intake Supervisor, Cigna Corporation
In November 2020, my brother was tragically killed in an auto accident and left behind two daughters. I was already struggling to raise two children of my own, but without hesitation, I took in my nieces and formed a new family of five. I work hard every single day to ensure they have all that they need materially, but more importantly, I am a mother to them in every sense: talking to them about their dad, their concerns, and genuinely helping them to become strong women. They may fight one minute, but they are best friends the next. It was extremely terrifying at first, but I love the way all of my kids love and take care of each other. It was an enormous responsibility taking in my two nieces, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Even with the added responsibilities, I’m still able to dedicate the time needed at work to ensure my employees are supported, recognized, and have what they need to succeed. My team consistently performs well and they often comment on how much they appreciate my leadership and support, which as a leader, is extremely rewarding. In the face of all I’ve had to deal with over the last nine months, my determination, strength and dedication have allowed me to maintain a strong and successful workforce, in addition to a strong and successful family.
Lallande De Gravelle, Managing Director, DEPOSITORY TRUST & CLEARING CORPORATION (DTCC)
I’ve always claimed to be a better working than stay-at-home mom. When my first son was born, I planned a three-month leave but was thrown for a loop when he developed medical issues requiring a liver resection at 11 months-old. During my one-year leave, I realized that staying home meant sacrificing an essential part of me. So, I returned to my career as a working mother plagued with the common stress of how to be amazing at both. I started to get my footing, found a loving caregiver, and focused on balance. Then, I was thrown another loop: My son faced developmental delays requiring extensive early intervention. Now I had three jobs: mother, advocate, and careerwoman. My second son faced mental health issues arising in preschool while his older brother continued to require extra support. I became entrenched in their school communities as an advocate not only for children, but also for their caregivers who needed support. Like many of their friends, my boys thrived and overcame many of their issues because I relentlessly focused on getting them the best possible intervention. All the while, I was advancing my career and becoming increasingly aware of neurodiversity and mental health struggles among my colleagues and their families. Naturally, my desire to raise awareness extended to the workplace. If you think the stigma is profound now, think back 15 years ago! In the beginning, I was vocal. Without a hint of shame, I shared stories about my boys, their challenges and triumphs. I hoped that making it personal could work, and I persisted.
When I joined DTCC in 2016, I continued my steadfast advocacy and allyship within the workplace, helping to form a new employee resource group, weThrive, focused on neurodiversity, disabilities, and mental health in the workplace. Despite conversations in mainstream media, the stigma remains. I hope we can collectively open the conversation to create a safe space while providing access to resources. I remain fiercely focused on evolving the workplace to value diversity and inclusion of people with different abilities both visible and invisible.
Jennifer Boswinkel, Senior Director Global Brand Strategy & Marketing, Hasbro, Inc.
“Mom! Mom! MOM! Come wipe me!”—words I never thought I’d hear at work while smiling on camera, but the pandemic gave us no choice. Laughing away my mortification of putting my team on hold, I knew my colleagues understood. As a mom to daughters Ellie, 6, and Abigail, 4, and a leader on Hasbro’s Global Marketing and Product Development team, I embrace the balancing act of working and motherhood simultaneously. For 17 years, I’ve been fortunate to lead some of Hasbro’s most iconic brands like MONOPOLY and MY LITTLE PONY. While I focus on brand strategy, I feel equally responsible for ensuring that employees are empowered to put their families first. At a moment’s notice, working parents balance grace and chaos. Whether they’re comforting a sick child, handling a virtual learning crisis, or stepping away from a meeting because their kid lost their pants (again), I tell my team to always pick their family—our team will jump in to help. While everyone was in the pandemic together, our experiences were drastically different. As a leader, it was important for me to provide perspective to employees without kids, sharing our experiences as parents in lockdown, and encouraging empathy as we managed conflicting priorities like meetings and reduced school hours. Employees should feel 100 percent supported and be given the flexibility to do what’s necessary at any moment with NO guilt. Like all working moms, the past 18 months have been a challenge! But there was so much joy that I wouldn’t have seen from the office, like my daughters’ excitement as colleagues delivered toys to test, making toy play videos for the sales team, and laughing when they jumped on camera to model their ‘makeup’ while still rocking pajamas at 3 p.m. Hasbro employees truly make the world a better place for families and children, and I’m proud to represent an organization that has allowed me to show my daughters what it looks like to bring your whole self to work, that you can be a leader and a mom (who finds time to play)—even during a pandemic.
Aida Garza, OPEX Program Manager, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
I would like to be remembered as a mother of hope. I have been blessed with four children and a very supportive husband. I am fortunate to work for Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), where working from home has allowed me more time with my family‚ especially with my 6-year-old son Michael, who has Down syndrome. My favorite parts of the day are the little hugs and sweet kisses I get from him during my work breaks. When Michael was born, I found that when you googled “Down syndrome,” you are told about all you must give up, the intellectual disabilities, and the physical delays. But what you’re not told are the things you gain: a greater capacity to love, to be patient, and how your child’s existence will make you a better person. It has been my passion since his birth to bring hope to as many people as I can and be an example of looking at a person’s heart rather than their appearance. I was on the Board of Directors for the Down Syndrome Association of Houston (DSAH). During this time, I consulted with over 100 families‚ delivering baskets to parents that had just received the news of a Down Syndrome diagnosis. It was not so much what was in the basket, but the hope, peace and love I was able to give them. This year, I was asked to start the North American chapter of the HPE Disabilities Network, a task I wholeheartedly accepted. Our mission is to help HPE become more inclusive and diverse by hiring more people with disabilities. The officers and I have worked on shining a positive light on people with disabilities, not just at HPE, but in society. As a working mom, I have provided my children a positive role model with a solid work ethic. I am a proud Hispanic, small-town daughter of parents who only had a sixth grade education and was the only child of five to pursue an undergraduate and graduate degree. I am extremely grateful for such an invaluable opportunity to be a working mom!
Veronica Vargas Lupo, IBM Associate Partner, IBM
In today’s corporate world we hear that it is OK to bring your authentic self to work, that everyone will accept you just as you are. That is the dream, right? For us all to be accepted just as we are. As a working mother, that means they not only have to accept me, but they also must accept both my kids just as they are because they make me who I am, and being their mother is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. With that said, being a working mom is hard, and it got even harder in 2020. This pandemic brought us all to our knees with the weight of what is expected of us while highlighting to the world just how unrealistic their expectations are. It is this gap between expectation and reality that fuels me to fight for women’s causes within IBM. As part of IBM’s Women’s Executive Council, I have had the unique opportunity to have a forum where IBM’s executives listen as I state the shared challenges, the shared struggles and, most importantly, the shared needs of working mothers. As the pandemic went on, IBM reacted quickly, first with the Work from Home Pledge, which stated that flexibility was essential and mishaps (insert child interrupting meetings on the daily) were accepted; then came the broadening of benefits for working moms, such as emergency COVID leave. That is not to say there is not much more we can do to ensure that working mothers feel supported and succeed. I stay committed to continuing to be a loud voice for working mothers, to create a space for us to be heard, to hold all involved accountable to not only listen, but to take action that ensures we succeed. I do this for my sons so they can grow up in a more accepting world where women are not limited just because they chose to experience motherhood. I want each and every one of us working mothers to feel empowered and know that each day we get up and do all we do, we are extraordinary.
Jennifer Cullen, VP J&J Self-Care, Johnson & Johnson
As a parent and a leader at Johnson & Johnson, my mission is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those I care about—my family, my team, and the consumers that we have the privilege to serve. As a mother of four, this means being present for my children and role modeling authenticity and vulnerability. I strive to do my best to deliver on the most important things for the kids every day, but inevitably I sometimes fall short. Just as I model for my team, I allow myself grace and try again the next day. As a leader, I have always been committed to helping my teams thrive. The pandemic challenged me to continue to grow as a leader because the need to support the team was more intense and dynamic as we all managed adjustments to our work and personal lives‚ as well as the world around us. As so many managers have role modeled for me in the past, I visibly shared that I was taking time for myself and my family, whether that is signing off or leaving early for family time or for my own self-care. Amid the pandemic, I’ve doubled down in encouraging my teams to prioritize daily breaks, focus on a healthy balance, and to be supportive to each other. I believe this has helped our team thrive and rise to the occasion of serving our consumers at time when they needed us the most. At Johnson & Johnson, I am surrounded by wildly talented individuals and some of the most amazing parents I know, so I feel incredibly thankful to be named Working Parent of the Year and share this recognition with my colleagues. I feel lucky to be a part of an organization that prioritizes the needs of employees and working parents through valuable benefits that help us live healthier lives. Through this experience, I hope to inspire other parents to feel comfortable embracing a work-life balance and feel empowered to spend valuable time with your children and families, while building a successful career and pursuing your personal missions.
Tracey Pavlishin, Senior Director, Head of Americas Marketing and Global Internal Communications + Alumni Engagement, Kearney
As a member of Kearney’s seven-person Americas Leadership Team, I am in the room and at the table when decisions are made about the operations and strategic direction of the region. More than my contributions in shaping the firm’s response to the pandemic, new ways of working, employee engagement with affinity networks, social impact priorities, and mental well-being; I believe the greatest impact I am creating across the firm is to make visible and normalize the commitments I have as a working parent. By talking openly about my flexible work schedule, I shine a light on when I prioritize showing up for my children and family. By modeling this behavior, I empower colleagues to create their own boundaries to support their well-being. For example, my team is motivated by my motto that “life comes first.” Knowing that I support their passions outside of work inspires them to bring their bold ideas to work. When I block my calendar for family time in the morning to help my boys get ready for school or to take my son to hockey practice, I let my team know. This is a small way I show others that their lives outside of work matter and they should feel comfortable sharing their own commitments. As a leader, I have a responsibility to use my platform to lead by example. Openly sharing family and personal priorities may seem like a small act, but when more colleagues do the same, we create a community of trust, understanding, and acceptance for the lives we lead outside of work that contribute so much to what we bring to the office. Our personal passions no longer need to be hidden in the shadows of our professional commitments. I believe they thrive side by side. The power to remedy problems facing working parents does not lie solely with leaders who have formal authority; the power is in each of us. By making it known and acceptable that our families need us, companies begin to expand flexible options to support working parents. Together we create a better company that allows everyone to show up as their whole selves, not just their professional selves.
Maribel Peralta, Team Leader – Physical Flows, L’Oréal USA
As a single mother, my life hasn’t been easy, but I always tried to see the bright side of things. I feel blessed to have been mother and father at the same time for my two wonderful kids: Albert, 26, and Brady, 13. Before joining L’Oréal, I struggled emotionally and economically when I lost some of my dearest family members, like my grandmother, and lost my job of 13 years. At the same time, my mother, one of the most important people in my life, was going through severe depression. My brother helped me get a car so that I could find a job to support my kids and parents. A friend told me about an agency that was recruiting people to work in the audit department at L’Oréal. When I first visited, I was impressed by how clean the facility was and their safety-driven culture. I started as a temporary employee, then my manager encouraged me to apply to an open cell lead position. I am very thankful that she saw potential in me and motivated me to apply. A few weeks later, I was extremely happy to accept the position. I remember this day vividly because my mother celebrated this accomplishment with me. After of so many years of her struggling with depression, seeing her smile and be happy about this job meant the world to me.
Since joining L’Oréal, I have gained stability in my life economically and I have also found a workplace where I feel appreciated and recognized. In my experience, it’s very hard for single working moms to find the resources and opportunities for career advancement. Thanks to my manager pushing me to believe in myself, I was able to find success at L’Oréal and provide a better life for my kids and family. Now, I feel like I belong to a team that I can rely on when times are tough, and L’Oréal is my second family. I love my job because I am learning and growing every day. This job has changed my life and the life of my family.
Carmen Brincefield, Senior Analyst Sales Operations, Nestle Health Science
This past year has been a challenge for each and every one of us. Personally, I was starting a new job and adjusting to a new family structure when suddenly the world paused, and we were sent to our homes with a lot of worries. I was trying to homeschool my children as a single parent, working from home, and managing what was happening in the world when I realized I wasn’t alone in this journey. In that moment, all I wanted to do was help others and be a support to them however I could. With that, I decided to implement the Working Parents Network at Nestle Health Science with the following objective: to foster an environment within Nestle Health Science that allows for collaboration among parents and also strives to make a difference in the lives of children and families through volunteerism. Since forming the group, we have donated 1,600 products to schools in need. We were able to provide nutritional support over the summer months to families. The administrators of the school were in tears over the impact this would make for families. We have also been able to reach roughly 120 parents at each meeting.
This group is a place where employees openly share with one another their happies, crappies, tangents, and life hacks. We laugh, cry, and most of all, support each other and every family within the organization. This was my mission to truly make a difference in the lives of the people around me. I will continue to strive to make a difference however I can as a working mom and to be the best mother and employee I can be. I will continue to live out the motto of the Working Parents Network: “”Families reaching families and making a difference in the life of one child at a time.”” This initiative is very close to my heart. Being a working mom and supporting other families in this journey is something I will continue to promote within my organization. Through transparency, empathy and trust, we can all help alleviate one another’s worries.
Dawn Fabian, Retail Transformation Manager, PNC Financial Services Group
As leader of the Retail Transformation team in PNC’s Retail Banking business, I get a great deal of fulfillment from managing six people who drive change that helps make our branches successful. My team is focused on transforming the customer experience within our branch network to better serve our customers’ evolving needs; everything from the physical layout of the branch to the tools and resources available to the branch teams. Our responsibilities will only get bigger because we will be adding many more branch locations to PNC’s existing network of more than 2,100 locations as part of the acquisition of BBVA USA. My team and I are proud to partner on work that has huge implications for PNC’s success. As much as I enjoy my work, achieving work-life balance is sometimes a real struggle; of course, this is true for many people. Working parents definitely feel the pressure of balancing their careers, duties at home, and their kids’ active calendars. I’ve found that being flexible, setting realistic expectations, and giving myself a break from time to time really helps me manage it all. It’s important for my son and three daughters to see me balance my career and parental responsibilities.
I’m hopeful my example is paving the way for future leaders, including my work as a mentor. For the past three years, I have participated in the Diversity & Inclusion Mentoring Program, mentoring female co-workers, and regularly talking with employees who are looking to learn more about Retail Transformation. I have gained a lot of perspective from my mentees, whether they need advice about how to approach a hiring manager or they want to talk about how their kids are doing in school, it is clear to me that having that outlet is important. I am so gratified that they can learn from me and, in turn, I can learn from them. Although it’s challenging at times to make all aspects of my life work, it’s certainly a fulfilling journey and I feel supported all along the way at PNC.
Michelle Broughton, Senior Manager, R2R Global GL Controls & HR Accounting, S&P Global, Inc
Michelle manages a team of 10 people and also plays a critical role as a product owner responsible for major deliverables on a significant project for our company. Michelle has also been involved in VIBE within the Global Business Services team for several years and is currently serving as the GBS VIBE Champion. She is a coach and mentor to her team members, with a newly expanded team across India and Manila. She also works closely with colleagues across Finance and provides training and support on the Blackline system and with the GL Reconciliation and close process. As a trained military veteran of 14 years, Michelle has never backed out on any work or personal challenge thrown at her. With her Air Force service background earning multiple medals including the Kuwaiti liberation medal, Michelle has been an all-rounder, juggling her work demands and responsibilities with her family. Michelle is married and has three daughters: one in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school. She is actively engaged in coaching her daughters’ teams, and she motivates the girls during track and field events and lacrosse games. Michelle is part of the fundraising events and parent groups supporting the school. She is also raising her daughters as a role model as her daughters are biracial and she is motivating them constantly. In her spare time, you can see her either running or walking with her girls around the town that she lives in or teaching Sunday School at her local church. She is an avid swimmer, biker, and runner, taking part in triathlons and marathons in the community. She has been an anchor and emotional support to her husband who recently lost his brother to gun violence-related complications. Her positive attitude and fighting spirit has inspired not just her family but many others around her.
Jessica Shaw, Senior Vice President, Licensing, Sony Music Entertainment
We are extremely proud to nominate Jessica Shaw as Sony Music’s Working Mother of the Year—and what a year she’s had! In the midst of the pandemic and returning from her maternity leave, Jessica not only persevered through the challenges that all working parents bravely faced, but she worked to create systemic change to make Sony Music a best-in-class employer for parents and caregivers by founding our employee resource group, The Village, offering a community of support to parents and caregivers through pregnancy and time away, to caring for children, seniors, and loved ones recovering from illness, and beyond. Right after she founded and assumed the role of President of The Village, Jessica was elevated to Senior Vice President and Head of the Sony Music SyncShop, the centralized sync licensing team housed within the Commercial Music Group (CMG). In this role, Jessica leads CMG’s sync-related creative and licensing activities across all entertainment media, including film, television, commercials, videogames and emerging new media. She is focused on driving Sony Music’s sync licensing priorities and developing a range of new sync opportunities in support of the company’s frontline labels, international repertoire and legendary back catalog of recordings and visual content. Jessica reports to Richard Story, the EVP and head of Sony’s CMG, who describes her as “an accomplished team leader with a remarkable ability to connect Sony Music’s artists and catalog to the world through innovative and effective approaches to sync licensing. Her keen understanding of the business has been instrumental in supporting the ongoing success of the CMG, and we look forward to her continuing to raise visibility of our artists across the media landscape. As a friend of Jessica’s and as a fellow working mom, it’s been amazing to watch Jessica catapult into this role during a time when working parents are under extreme duress and burnout. She not only is delivering tremendous business results, but she prioritizes giving back to working parents and caregivers and spends a great deal of time and effort to provide resources for all of us to thrive. This is absolutely awe-inspiring given the context of when all of these accomplishments occurred. Even with the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of the past year, Jessica’s ability to create a space for all of us to connect made us stronger together—we were never alone. Jessica has two adorable sons, 5 and 2‚ and continues to be a fantastic example of a working mother leader within Sony Music who gives back to our community daily; we are extremely lucky.
Krystal Gaynor, Care Partner, Wellstar Health System
Patience, diligence, strength, courage, resilience, and hard work: these things make Krystal a role model for other working moms. Krystal gives all she has to her children and her work family; a single mom to 1-year-old Renee and 5-year-old Maya, Krystal takes a bus to work each day after walking her children to their sitter. She does this in the rain, snow, sleet and hail. She lived in a hotel for a few months, then worked hard, saved her money, and finally got her own place for her children. She has such strength and energy and did this all on her own. She is motivated and dedicated. “My kids motivate me every day when I look at them,” Krystal said. “When things get tough, I don’t have the option of giving up; my girls depend on me and look up to me to provide and protect them. My two beautiful little girls bring me nothing but joy and excitement.”
Krystal works hard to create family memories for her girls by taking them to the park, reading and singing to them and making sure they understand that time with them is what keeps her going. Krystal is dedicated to her children and her job. “I love what I do and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to give our patients the best care possible and to make our nurses’ jobs easier,” she said. “I know I have a big impact on patients’ care plans.” During the pandemic, Krystal volunteered to take extra shifts, even night shifts, because her team needed her. “I love working with my ICU family. I did whatever I could to help during this difficult year, even though I couldn’t do much due to my pregnancy. I’m proud my team has recognized me for my dedication to my team and my family. Wellstar is a great place to work. They take good care of their employees and treat them as people. Receiving this award is a very big deal; a lot of people don’t understand how hard it really is to be a working mom, especially with small children who require a lot of attention. Hearing how other moms work and support their families is very inspiring.”
Kristy Earley-Murray, Regional Strategic Veterinarian – Midwest Region, Zoetis
I always knew I wanted to become a mom. I faced difficulty getting pregnant but thankfully, when I joined Zoetis, I joined a company with amazing benefits. And after reading Perseverance by Kristin Peck, Zoetis’ CEO, I felt inspired to continue trying to grow my family knowing it was going to be an extremely difficult journey. I was able to go through IVF, and via a generous egg donor, am now a mother to three beautiful children. Although confident in my decision to become a mom, when I was pregnant, I had a lot of fears. Was I going to be able to balance my busy travel schedule with all the responsibilities that come with being a parent? Would I be able to achieve the career growth I aspired for? With the incredible support of my husband, family, colleagues, and Zoetis, I eventually gained confidence that it would all work out. Becoming a mother has changed my entire perspective. I have a new appreciation for the sacrifices my single mother working three jobs made for me growing up. And it’s her inspiration that compelled me to help those I see in need. Whether it’s being there for a colleague who is struggling to find balance as a working mother or supporting a mother I saw nursing her child on the street while experiencing homelessness, I understand the importance of community in motherhood and strive to make a difference wherever I can—big or small. Becoming a mother has also provided me with the experience to learn about special needs and advocate for my neurodivergent child. When the opportunity arose to join the Zoetis Colleague Resource Group, The Differently-abled & Neurodiversity Alliance (DNA), not only did I leap at it, I sought a leadership role. This was another opportunity to contribute to an outstanding community, learn from other parents and provide support for each other. Connecting with peers who have similar experiences has provided me much comfort during times of uncertainty and I hope my involvement in DNA can provide other parents with the same.