Page 1



MARCH 2018


Melissa Bender Simrell

Kathy Casarin

Brenda Colbert

Veronica Dende

Patricia Dickert-Nieves

Mimi Doherty

Amy Everetts

Lisa Garry

Lauren Hazzouri

Vonda Howell

Katie Leonard

Terri Lupini

Cynthia Mailloux

Jill McAlarney

Grace McGregor Kramer

Kerri McKeown

Michele McNamara

Deborah Mozal

LeeAnn Perry

Donna Powell

Nannette Refice

Rebecca Schoonover

Jesicca Skoloda

Marlee Stefanelli

Michaeleen Sultzer

Photos by Emma Black. Profiles by Jennifer Butler.



top 25 women in business in nepa

Lisa GaRRY

Lisa Garry’s favorite quote is “A woman who walks with God will always reach her destination.” She is president of Countrywide Enterprises LLC, Stroudsburg. Countrywide Enterprises specializes in quality home improvement and commercial construction and remodeling services throughout Eastern Pennsylvania. “We proudly stand behind all our work with complete satisfaction guaranteed,” she noted. Her goal is to be the leading residential and commercial remodeling company in the northeast. “Thanks to our outstanding quality and services, we are ready to handle all your commercial and residential projects in a timely, professional and courteous manner with the finest craftsmanship in the area,” added Garry. Countrywide Enterprises is a family owned and operated business. Garry and her husband, Arthur, run the business. They began in 1987 in New York with two general contracting companies. They ran both of them for ten years. Her husband decided to take a different route and went into investment banking for ten years, while she was a stay-athome mom with three children. Her husband would travel for weeks and it became too much for both of them and their family to handle. They then decided to go back to the basics and reopen Countrywide Enterprises in 2007 in Pennsylvania. In Garry’s spare time she likes to camp with

teRRi Lupini

her family. She has three children ages 27, 25 and 14, and has been married to her husband for 31 years. Garry volunteers for with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She is always open to lending a helping hand and putting others before herself. She is a self-made woman. She is a true believer of Jesus Christ and is involved with Pocono Church of Christ. The business woman is the president of Countrywide Enterprises and of Home Solutions Partners and handles all the financial responsibilities for both companies. She works closely with her husband in all aspects of the businesses. She works diligently with her customers to provide 100 percent satisfaction.

Healthcare is very near and dear to the heart of Terri Lupini, chief operating officer at Signallamp Health Inc. “I’ve been in Healthcare for 30 years, so I know my way around a physician setting, I have that edge of knowing how practices think and what issues are most important and understand the constant struggles practices and healthcare systems undergo,” noted the COO. “Our company is extremely unique versus other Chronic Care Management companies out there since we work right within the practice’s EMR electronic medical record. We are able to see real time what’s happening with the patient and have the ability to communicate with providers and staff members complications or issues patients may be having at the time of the phone call.” A Chronic Care Management company that partners with physician practices and healthcare systems throughout the U.S., Signallamp acts as an extension to the practice. “We work with Medicare patients with two or more chronic conditions. Our remotely embedded nurses reach out to patients monthly via phone calls to communicate with patients and relay that information back to the patient’s provider in between office visits to ensure patients are taking proper prescribed medications, following care plan instructions as per their doctors’ recommendations, educating and alerting providers of any acute issues that could lead to ER visits or potential unnecessary hospitalizations,” noted Lupini. “With this added value we are able to keep patients healthier and reduce the risk of additional complications due to their current chronic conditions. Currently we are partnered with 1,000 providers throughout eight states, but hoping to spread nationally within the year.” Her mom, Diane Arnoni who is retired now, was a very well respected practice administrator

for a multispecialty practice in Scranton for 37 years. “My mom was an unbelieveable mentor. She taught by example the meaning of hard work and the satisfaction of a job well done,” she noted. Her admiration for her mom and the success she created made her more passionate for her own success, she admits. She lives by the philosophy of thinking outside the box because you never know when you’ll find that “secret sauce to success.” While healthcare starts with research - one has to read everything you can to begin developing strategies and workflows for what is in store down the road that will fit into your business model. “Heathcare is not easy and constantly changing. Practices face the daunting task of implementing the infrastructure needed to meet the new value-based care objectives while simultaneously juggling business as usual. She is very honored to have been selected as one of the Top 25 Business Women for the NEPA Business Journal, and would like to extend many thanks to her colleagues Drew Kearney, CEO; Andy Goldberg, CFO; and Jen Nicastro, CNO, for nominating her for this prestigious award. Although healthcare is her passion, she also noted that she would not be where she is today without the constant love and support of her husband, Mike, and son, Dominic.

classes • parties • fundraisers • summer camp 253 Scranton Carbondale Hwy Dickson City, PA 18508 570.507.1560 • •



MARCH 2018

top 25 women in business in nepa

DeboRaH moZaL

Credit Union Administration and one of her employees is pursuing her Financial Counseling Certification and attending Penn State University’s accounting certificate program with funding from the grant. The funds will also allow Mozal to attend the Credit Union Development Education program later this year. “This program provides critical lessons in cooperative principles, credit union philosophy and international development issues while incorporating challenges credit unions face today,” she noted. Professionally, she has served on the NEPA Deborah Mozal’s personal mantra is “knowledge is Chapter of Credit Unions as a director and treasurer; power.” Communication in her line of work is crucial, the Legislative Day Task Force with Pennsylvania Credit she notes, and as manager at Community Regional Union Association; the membership committee of the Credit Union, she impresses upon employees that the CFO Council for the Credit Union National Association; industry is constantly changing and there is no room and the Community Outreach Committee of the Global for stagnation. Women’s Leadership Network, an arm of the World Mozal began her career in accounting with the Council of Credit Unions supporting the Weinberg Department of Army at Tobyhanna Army Depot. She Foodbank and their Thanksgiving food campaign and earned an associate of arts in business administraLuzerne County Dress for Success. tion from Keystone Junior College and a bachelor of At the credit union, employees participate in Toys science in economics and finance from the University for Tots, the Salvation Army Giving Tree, Paint Pittston of Scranton. Having found herself employed in the Pink 5K and the American Heart Walk. “This past accounting field, she continued her education to comholiday season, we held an open house with the U.S. plete all of her accounting credits while at the Depot. Marine Corps and Santa Claus. We collected toys and Her mother was the president of the Nesbitt monetary donations for the Marines, while entertainMemorial Hospital Federal Credit Union when the ing community children, complete with Santa’s goody treasurer suddenly passed away and Mozal was asked bag,” noted Mozal. to become the assistant treasurer. Within a few Mozal believes she is extremely blessed to do short months, Mozal had assumed the position of the something she loves for most of her adult life. “Every manager at the credit union and has continued her emday is a new challenge, sometimes frustrating, but ployment with the credit union movement for the past rarely boring,” she admits, “We help people purchase 26 years. “The credit union industry itself is a unique their dream home, their dream car or just take their industry and lends itself to community involvement dream vacation. Sometimes we just help people to which can be very rewarding on a personal level with pay their heating bills or pay for their children’s college the philosophy ‘people helping people.’” textbooks. Everyday, we make just a little bit of differMozal recently secured a leadership grant from the ence in someone’s life, she concluded. Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives with the National

KeRRi mcKeown

While much of life is out of our control, Kerri J. McKeown understands that what is within her control is the effort and attitude she puts into her daily life. “I try to give each and every situation 100 percent effort and a positive, unwavering attitude,” explained the director of sales and client management at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. While she believes that success is not owned, it is leased, and the rent is due every day (J. J. Watt), she works hard to give it her all every day. As a director at Highmark, McKeown oversees a team of sales professionals who serve the small employer market segment in 13 counties of northeastern Pennsylvania and 21 counties in central Pennsylvania. Her department is collectively responsible for selling health insurance to new small businesses and renewing existing customers’ coverage, as well as fostering relationships with brokers, healthcare providers and other industry professionals. She is also responsible for managing Highmark’s small employer insurance quoting and renewal tool that is used by both internal sales teams and external broker teams. While many sales professionals in the health insurance space migrate toward large businesses, this business woman is drawn to the small employer market for a host of reasons. “Small employers frequently do not have HR or finance departments to help manage health insurance coverage decisions like large employers, and the small businesses look to the health insurance carrier to wear some of those HR and financial hats when developing their coverage approach,” she noted. Outside of her role-specific duties, she is actively involved in the community affairs department’s activities which support many causes and events throughout the community such as the American Heart Association, the United Way, United Neighborhood Centers of NEPA and others throughout the year.

McKeown’s career began 13 years ago at Blue Cross as a customer service representative and progressed into Customer Solutions and Product Management/Development. “There, I was responsible for filing the first-ever Qualified Health Plan (QHP) for both the individual and small group market segments. Based on my research and experience in the healthcare reform realm, I then entered sales as a Health Care Reform Program Manager and Broker Liaison,” she explained. She then obtained the Certified Healthcare Reform Specialist designation from the Healthcare Reform Center and Policy Institute where her role was to ensure that the sales teams were educated and prepared for all-things healthcare reform related; developed solutions for sales, brokers and customers to manage new guidelines brought on by healthcare reform; and managed broker education, communication and relationships. As Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania merged with Highmark, she was given an opportunity to interview for a director level position in sales, the position she currently holds. “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known,’ and it’s 100 percent true. Yes, I’ve worked hard, but I have taken most of my knowledge and inspiration from people I have encountered and had the privilege of working with,” she said.

Congratulations Kerri McKeown! Serving Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties

Congratulations Deborah Mozal, CEO, Community Regional Credit Union and all of this year’s Top 25 Women In Business

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.



top 25 women in business in nepa

maRLee steFaneLLi

outpatient therapist at Tri-County Human Services Inc. and also as a staff counselor at Marywood University until the birth of her daughter in 2009. She and her husband began their private practice in 2006. While working full time at other jobs, they only saw private clients on weekends or weeknights. “Over time our practice grew and we bought a house that we converted into offices to grow our practices,” Stefanelli explained. By 2009, the private practice had grown enough to leave her full-time job to work a few days a week and then stay home with their daughter the other days. “I had the wonderful opportunity to work part time in my practice from when my kids were not in school, but now they are in school and I’m working to add more hours and again grow our business,” she noted. Her professional mentor is her husband, Matt Stefanelli. “He is an amazing psychotherapist who has taught me so much about therapy, therapeutic relationships and counseling theory. He has had a major impact Marlee Stefanelli loves what she does as a on my professional development and continues to push licensed professional counselor and co-owner of me to be a better clinician,” she said. Her personal menStefanelli Counseling in Blakely. tor has been her mom, Debbie Tomasetti. “She is the As a psychotherapist and dietitian in private practice, she performs individual and group coun- one who has instilled the activist and advocate qualities in me. She always showed my brother, Marcus, and I seling, specializing in the treatment of eating dishow to stand up and fight injustice,” she explained. orders. In her work, she practices psychodynamic As an adjunct professor at the University psychotherapy which relies heavily on identifying of Scranton, Stefanelli teaches and supervises unmet needs in one’s past and developing insight students in the treatment of eating disorders. This into how to fulfill one’s needs in the present. This self-developed course is taught at both the underwork is accomplished within the confines of a caring, supportive therapeutic relationship, which is graduate and graduate levels of education. While Stefanelli believes “Hardships often prethe foundation of the clinical work. She became involved with healthcare advocacy pare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny” in 2016 when the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid (C.L.Lewis) and that “while we try to teach our were under attack at both the federal and state lev- children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about,” (Angela Scwindt). She is very els. “As business owners, my husband and I purchase our family’s insurance from the marketplace, grateful for her supportive family, and the passion and dedication she has to her field of study that has and my 5-year-old son, who has type 1 diabetes, enabled her to enjoy success. receives Medicaid benefits. My family’s needs The couple have two children, Isabella, 8, and inspired me to get involved to advocate for all those Matthew, 5. in need,” she noted. The young mother met many She is president of Action Together NEPA families and children like hers and continues to keep fighting to protect them all. “Also as a mental committed to community action, political advohealth professional I see how important healthcare cacy, and real progressive change in NEPA, and serves as mental health and nutrition representais to my clients so they can access treatment, so I tives on Congressman Cartwright’s healthcare also advocate for them,” she admitted. roundtable. “We are working on specific legislaStefanelli earned her bachelor’s degree in tive suggestions to improve the Affordable Care nutrition and worked as a dietitian at St. Mary’s Act as well as the American healthcare system in Medical Center and then Moses Taylor Hospital. She later returned to graduate school and received general,” she added. She received the “2017 Grassroots Activist of a master’s degree in community counseling from the Year” from PA Health Access Network. the University of Scranton. She worked as an

LauRen HaZZouRi

Dr. Lauren Hazzouri believes that each person has a purpose. “To tap into all that we are, it is our duty to shed the impact of society, so that we can bring all that we are into - all that we do. The only goal for any of us is to be our authentic selves because that is how we make our lives matter,” explained the licensed psychologist. Hazzouri is the founder of The Practice, a community of women getting radical with their own being in relentless pursuit of self. The Practice was born from Dr. Hazzouri’s desire to de-stigmatize and normalize caring for mental health through a radical new approach: interactive, community-building experiences both on and offline. The doctor is also the founder of Hazzouri Psychology, where she’s carved out a successful niche treating girls and women who are trying hard and yet not getting satisfaction. Through her life experience and training, she has developed a curriculum that allows women to live meaningful lives and feel fulfilled doing so. Hazzouri graduated from Scranton Prep and Phi Beta Kappa from Penn Sate University, then earned both her master’s degree and doctoral degree from Marywood University. “After years of working in my private practice, I wanted to bring my message and expertise to a larger demographic. My goal was to bring evidence-based psychology to the masses especially, to girls and women,” she noted. She began contributing to a variety of online publications, networking in New York City, working with some of the top thought leaders in the country, when The Practice was born. Being a psychologist is a tremendous responsibility with many tasks that vary depending on the day and whether she is working at Hazzouri Psychology, engaged in one-on-one psychotherapy, or working at The Practice, which often requires travel across the

country and internationally, hosting events, talking to women’s organizations, and conducting The Practice Pop-ups including The Practice Ceremony performed at the Scranton Cultural Center every six weeks. It is a 90-minute communal ritual designed to help people to individually and collectively heal, grow and BE who they truly are, forming a deeper awareness and appreciation for ourselves and others. “It feels like a workout for your spirit, combining the sacred arts of music and movement with evidence-based insights and practices of western psychology and eastern philosophy,” she explained. Hazzouri partners with Gurls Talk, a safe space for girls and women to talk mental health. She chats it up each week on Self Service, a top-rated wellness podcast on The Girlboss Network. She serves as contributor and advisor to Levo Institute and was recently featured in both British Vogue and German Glamour for her work inspiring girls and women internationally. Hazzouri was named Evan Pugh Scholar at Penn State, earned the psychology/statistics award at Penn State, the Psychology Media award from the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Shining Star from The Junior League of Scranton and was named Northeast Woman by The Scranton Times. She is a member of the Dreamers/Doers, The Wing, the Pennsylvania Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association.

Congratulations Kathy Casarin on being selected as one of NEPA’s

Top 25 Women in Business Thank you for all of the great work you do for Penn State Worthington Scranton!



top 25 women in business in nepa

KatHY CasaRin

Kathy Casarin envisions herself standing on a sheet of glass. Why? “To me it symbolizes the glass ceiling. I didn’t break it. We should not break anything or anyone on our journey to rise up through the ranks. Our peers and colleagues may need that ceiling to protect them for the time being. They can look up and see that they too can rise up and stand ON TOP of that glass ceiling, rather than breaking it,” explained the mortgage loan officer at Fidelity Bank in Scranton. “If you find yourself on top of that glass ceiling, reach and help someone up along the way – pat them on the back, recognize, congratulate, applaud, support, encourage, EMPOWER those around you. It’s good for the soul and great for them.” As a mortgage loan officer, the businesswoman originates residential mortgages for customers who are buying, building or refinancing their home. She works with clients to fully understand their financial needs to best fit them with the best residential mortgage program. “It’s not about doing one mortgage with a client, it is about learning about them, their family, their needs, this develops a relationship, and thus enables me to help them in the most effective way possible. Clients for life,” she added. Casarin is also active with volunteer work for Penn State including events like breakfast with the Lion, turkey and porketta take-out dinners and an annual golf tournament for which she is a chairperson. She has also supported/volunteered with Marley’s Mission, Kathleen’s Crusade, Women’s Resource Center, St. Francis Of Assisi Kitchen, United Way, Ronald McDonald House and Dr. Lauren Hazzouri’s the Ceremony on Women Empowerment. The businesswoman says her success is due to a great work ethic instilled in her by her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, but also the connections and networking of friends, colleagues and leaders she has met along the way. “They believe in me and yes it is what you know, but networking and building professional relationships builds your reputation,” acknowledged Casarin.

She has had several key mentors over the years, too numerous to name all of them, “you may not realize your key attributes or talents. A mentor, leader, guidance counselor or manager will most likely recognize these and point them out to you and guide you to enhance these talents. I didn’t listen at first. I questioned my mentor why do they always come to me for direction, for answers, to get the ball rolling?” They told her to be the leader they see her as, accept it and use it. One mentor, who holds a special place in her heart, Nora, who has since passed, has always been such a positive force for her, and saw things in her she may not have seen herself. “People like Nora, you want in your circle. Believe people come into your life for a reason. People that build you, teach you, people that help you grow, keep those close. Cut out toxic people you can’t change them,” she added. As a mother of three, she is always trying to get her children involved in volunteering and giving back. “I have two daughters so we get involved in whatever we can to help empower them as women and give them self-confidence,” she noted. Her first year in real estate she received a national level award as one of the Top 50 Realtors on the Rise by RISMedia; she is a two term president and lifetime member of the Penn State Worthington Scranton Alumni Society and is a lifetime member of the Penn State Alumni Association, and is on the Current Campus Fundraising Campaign Committee Member (PSU) and was a past advisory board and Leadership Council member (PSU).

VonDa HoweLL

For Vonda Howell her circle is small, but she is loyal to the end. Beginning as a receptionist 20 years ago at Trion Industries, Inc., Wilkes-Barre, she climbed her way up the ladder to chiefof-staff, coordinating eight corporate director positions as well as the office of both the founder and Chief Executive Officer. She leveraged her organizational skills to mesh with the technical aspects of a $50 million a year fixture manufacturer and the retail industry to now hold the position of vice-president of operations. She oversees all aspects of Trion Industries, whose total employment reaches as high as 600 persons during busy times. “In the course of this growth and success, I was a single mother, raised and educated two daughters, bought my own house, cared for an aged, sick mother and did all the many other things required of life,” she explained. Her journey to where she is today has been inlaid by many roads. “With each job I held, I gained valuable knowledge and skill required to become an effective leader and a role model to other women at work as well as at home,” she noted. Growing up as an Iowa farm girl, her parents instilled in her Midwestern values including a diligent work ethic, which often began at the crack of dawn before school had even started. Then she added other ingredients such as commitment, passion and pride in Trion

as a business, and respecting and listening to the all employees, to achieve the great success she has today. She is the recipient of the Women of Distinction Award, Member of Shop! Retail Environments, and the won an award for Women of Influence in the Food Industry. She advises those wishing to achieve success and personal fulfillment in the business world to care about the job you are undertaking and the people with whom you are working. “Do the right thing even if it is difficult and perform the tasks to the best of your ability, which in turn builds integrity and ultimately provides influence,” said Howell. One of her favorite quotes is “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” There have been many mentors in Howell’s life. “I try to incorporate the best from each into my life,” she admitted. Her first manager, who reminded her of the Grinch, before his heart grew, offered her advice that she still firmly believes and incorporates into her daily life, both personally and professionally; and that is: “When you make a mistake, own it, make no excuses, and offer a solution.” At Trion Industries, the owner gives sound business advice, “listen to your employees, know their strengths and use the knowledge for the good of the company. During the day-to-day routine, make time to laugh and have fun creating the best factory and product” she added. Howell, in her spare time, enjoys hiking trails located in the Pocono Mountains and touring other family-owned businesses in the area, such as Yuengling Brewery; reading historical literature; watching the History Channel, especially the Viking series playing to her Nordic background; and cooking and baking for her family.


Kathy Casarin

Mortgage Consultant, Fidelity Bank




MARCH 2018 570.342.8281


top 25 women in business in nepa

bRenDa CoLbeRt

active in the community they love so much, the partners and their staff can be found volunteering regularly at the Walk to End Alzheimers, St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen, making Friends of the Poor Thanksgiving and Easter baskets, and at the CEO Food Bank. Colbert and Grebas also provide free community education events, and Brenda is a frequent speaker for the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Lackawanna County Bar Association, Wilkes-Barre Law Library and Wilkes University. She is the chair of Brenda Colbert’s philosophy by which she the Wilkes-Barre Law Library Elder lives is simple — “I believe that it is important to Law committee, is on the Board of Directors of the go out into the world and do well, but even more Dunmore Senior Center, and an active member and importantly, to do good.” (Major Meyers) past president of the Northeast PA Aging Network Brenda and her law partner, Kevin Grebas, beAlliance (NANA). gan their firm in 2012 based on three philosophies, Brenda began her career as a Social Worker as follows: after earning her BSW from Mansfield University. First, they wanted to bring a high level of She worked with elderly nursing home residents as experienced elder law services to NEPA. “Since a social worker, patient advocate, and eventually as we are both Certified Elder Law Attorneys by the Director of Social Work and Admissions. She deNational Elder Law Foundation, we possess that cided to pursue her law degree at age 29, attending level of experience,” she noted. Secondly, they Touro Law Center and earned her Juris Doctorate. wanted to truly be a local firm. That meant focusing She then earned a master of laws in estate planning their practice in NEPA and, not only participating in from the University of Miami, School of Law which community events, but encouraging and enabling she attended on a fellowship. “I was blessed to be their staff to do so as well. Finally, they wanted to able to return to my roots in NEPA once finishing provide peace of mind to their clients and their my education and to be able to practice in the field families, as well as to the community at large. of Elder Law where my passion lay,” noted Colbert. “We have witnessed the fear that people experi“I am very honored to be counted as one of the ence when a loved one needs nursing home care, Top 25 Business Women in NEPA. I love NEPA, particularly because of all of the misconceptions in it is my home. I love the people of NEPA and feel the community, and we wanted to alleviate those blessed that I have been able to do a job that I fears,” she explained. love while helping the people in my community,” As a local firm, and deeply believing in being concluded the lawyer.

miCHaeLeen t. suLtZeR

“Good, better, best, never let it rest until your good is better and your better, best” is the philosophy by which Michaeleen T. Sultzer lives her life. As the owner of Sultzer Monument, in Chinchilla, she devotes her life to family and her work always remembering the verse her late husband once told her. Her responsibilities in her job include the entire operations of Sultzer Monument. This includes sales, purchasing monuments, markers and mausoleums and any work to be done in cemeteries. She also insures the cleaning of monuments, lettering and repairs that need to be done. The replacement of monuments is also very important and she guides the workmen who do this job in local cemeteries. Sultzer’s deceased husband, Thomas, began the family business in 1950. “We have been in the same location since he purchased the property in 1959. He taught me every phase of the business so that I was able to continue myself after his passing in January 1987,” she noted. Meticulous in her work, she follows every order she receives from the time of sale to completion of

each order and each customer is given her full attention. “Because I sell a product that is everlasting and meant to be in cemeteries forever, I do not approach families to make a purchase too soon after their loved one’s demise. I know their sorrow generally makes clear thinking difficult and it is a most vulnerable time in their lives. A suitable everlasting memorial should be done thoughtfully and carefully because it will suitably represent their loved one’s life for eternity,” she explained. Both her husband, a fourth generation funeral director, and her father, were involved in the deathcare industry most of their lives. “I was taught at a very young age to be thoughtful and caring of the sorrow of the bereaved family of the demise of a loved one endures.” “In my mind there is always the thought that a suitable memorial should represent a person’s life while here on earth and it is important to get a selected place of one’s choosing,” she added. Over the years in business, the couple has donated war memorials and many cornerstones for churches and community buildings.

Your Experienced, Local Choice for Elder Law. the colbert & grebas family Congratulates

Attorney Brenda D. Colbert

on being named to the Top 25 Women in Business 570-299-7909 | 210 Montage Mtn. Rd., Suite A, Moosic, PA 18507 | |



top 25 women in business in nepa

meLissa benDeR simReLL

We applaud your ability to perform when it matters most Congratulations to Melissa Simrell, and all of the Top 25 Women in Business! Our financial advisors recognize the talent, focus and determination that set you apart. Believe in your goals. We do. Bender Wealth Management Group

Merrill Lynch 417 Lackawanna Avenue Scranton, PA 18503 570.346.5073

Merrill Lynch Wealth Management makes available products and services offered by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, a registered broker-dealer and Member SIPC, and other subsidiaries of Bank of America Corporation. Investment products:

Are Not FDIC Insured Are Not Bank Guaranteed May Lose Value

© 2018 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved. | AR5NDLDS | MLWM-122-AD | 470975PM-1017 | 10/2017



MARCH 2018

Her career path has been certainly unique as she began with a degree in elementary education from the University of Scranton. Her husband and she started their family at a young age, and before she had even finished college, she was already beginning to think of different career paths. “Having grown up observing my Dad and how he helps people in his daily life, I was intrigued by the finance world and opted to follow in his footsteps,” she explained, and took a course through the Boston University Institute of Finance to earn her Certified Financial Planner designation, and has since become a Chartered Retirement Plan Counselor and Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor. Although her professional mentor has been her father, Bill Bender, who has taught her a wealth of knowledge about the business, it is her mother, Maureen Bender, who she recognizes as her lifelong mentor. She has taught her more about how to manage the big picture than anyone else, and as the most thoughtful, hard-working and selfless person in the world, she is the epitome of a role model. The mother of five children and a registered Melissa Bender Simrell believes that anynurse, her mother worked long hours to help supthing that is worth saying is worth saying with port the family in their early years and could always respect and kindness. “I like to treat others come home and make the smooth switch from as I want to be treated. I believe this carries work life to home life, acknowledged Simrell through all aspects of my life, I try to put mySimrell’s six children - Taylor, Alana, Jenny, self in their shoes,” stated the vice-president Nora, Price and Clara are the driving force behind and wealth management advisor at Bender everything she does and her greatest cheerleadWealth Management Group. ers. “They are the reason I work so hard every As part of a family wealth management day of my life, and wanting to set a positive team within Merrill Lynch, Simrell has the example for them is probably what has led to privilege of coming to work every day with most of my success,” she noted. her father and three brothers. “We work Her husband Chris has been the most incredtogether to help individuals and institutions ible support system throughout her career. “We with their financial needs,” she explained. have an extremely busy, crazy life and I am not As a Certified Financial Planner, she aids sure there is another person out there who could her clients with all aspects of their financial survive it with me, but together we not only make life, from retirement planning, to insurance, it work, but we truly enjoy it. Our goals have education and estate planning and lending. always been aligned, as we both want to see one Her main focus is addressing her clients’ another succeed, so that makes it easy to support goals, and then coming up with a strategy to one another,” admitted Simrell. achieve those goals. She laughs, “as the lucky mother of six beauti“I truly enjoy getting to know people from ful children my community involvement at this all different walks of life, and it is a humbling stage of my life comes from the three different experience forming a relationship with them and schools they attend, as well as their various extraearning their trust. There is nothing more reward- curricular booster clubs and athletic clubs.” She ing to me than sitting with a client on the day that has also assisted her parents with many of their a lifelong goal, such as retiring, actually comes to fundraising endeavors by serving on committees fruition and seeing the payoff of years of working for organizations such as Marley’s Mission, the together toward that goal,” she added. American Red Cross and Family to Family.

top 25 women in business in nepa

GRaCe mcGReGoR KRameR

lens. A few years of working in a different industry outside of the area reaffirmed for her, her want and decision to move back and work in NEPA. “I believe it is the responsibility of business owners to generate meaningful jobs, and I am proud that as a manufacturer headquartered in NEPA, we are able to do that. I am deeply committed to both the success of our business and our area. Scranton is an incredible place to work, live and raise a family,” she acknowledged. As the oldest child of six siblings, Grace McGregor Kramer says she is incredibly lucky to work alongKramer knows the importance of family and how suc- side her father, Bob McGregor, everyday. “He has cessful one can be because of the family unit. “Having been an incredible teacher and mentor not just during parents that always pushed me to be the best that I my five years at McGregor Industries, but throughout can be, and a husband who is 100 percent supportive my entire life. He also is an incredibly supportive boss, of everything that I do, I would not be where I am especially as I try to balance life as a working mom,” without them. Juggling work, community involvement she noted. Additionally, to say her mother, Virginia and two babies isn’t the easiest, but we have fun doMcGregor, is only a mentor would be an understateing it,” explained the Director of Strategic Operations ment. “She believes in me more than anyone else and at McGregor Industries, Inc. always pushes me to be the best I can be,” she added. As with most who work in family and small She is the wife of Michael Kramer, her soulmate, business, Kramer wears a lot of hats, but the core and mother to two children, Teddy, 2, and Virginia, 6 of her job is to get work, and to make sure that it is months – and they are her everything and also keep profitable, producing a dual sales and operations role her pretty busy. She is very passionate about the area, for the businesswoman. McGregor Industries was and does what she can do to contribute to it. She founded in 1919 by her great-grandfather, and the serves on the board of Heritage Valley Partners; is company is a proud union manufacturer and installer current vice-president and incoming president of the of miscellaneous steel components, like high rise steel Scranton Preparatory School Alumni Board of Goverstairs and decorative railings. Most of the customers nors, and was recently appointed to the Pennsylvania are outside of the area, but fabrication of all of the Commission for Women by Governor Tom Wolf. In products is completed in Dunmore. 2016, she was elected to represent her congressional Kramer graduated from the Wharton School at district at the Democratic National Convention as the University of Pennsylvania with dual concentraa delegate for Hillary Clinton. She also served as a tions in finance and operations. Unlike many of her Delegate Whip Captain during the convention to coclassmates, she chose to attend Wharton primarily ordinate voting and communication of the convention because she knew that someday she wanted to come floor. Additionally, she volunteers and fundraises for back and work in her family business, so everything causes that she cares about. she studied and did during that time was through that

VeRoniCa DenDe

Veronica Dende’s philosophy is holistic. “I reject the one size fits all approach to financial planning,” said the financial advisor for Dende & Associates, Clarks Green. Since 1992, the executive has been trying to help people plan for the security of their financial future while finding joy in learning to manage their

money. “It brings satisfaction to see clients meet their needs and reach their goals and dreams. I believe that planning your finances should be fun and informative. There is lots of learning and laughter in our office and finding solutions together makes my work very satisfying,” she explains. The financial services company plans for retirement, sets up plans for college funding, helps with life transitions including divorce and death of a loved one, assists with Social Security and Medicare questions and helps save for life goals. “If we see that our clients need an estate planning attorney or CPA, we refer them to other professionals who have expertise with tax and legal matters,” she added. Dende believes the success of her business is due to a supportive family, the desire to keep learning each day and a genuine desire to help people feel less stressed around money. Growing up, she lived all over the country as part of a military family so she learned to make friends easily and adjust to change. Her sister Terrie has been her greatest mentor. “She was a woman with great integrity, an unstoppable work ethic and the kindest heart I have ever known. She always encouraged me to take risks, especially when I first started my business and has been my biggest fan as it continued to grow,” she acknowledged. Her personal philosophy is to improve in all areas of her life every. “You cannot let a bad day, or year, or decision stop you from trying to do it better,” she continued. Her husband, Chris, and she are proud parents of four children. Dende is involved in the Abington Rotary Club, Ignatian Volunteer Corp. and a member of St. Gregory’s Parish.

Congrats Grace McGregor Kramer


We are privileged to have you as part of the leadership team and proud of all of your accomplishments!



top 25 women in business in nepa

JiLL mcaLaRneY

Barnes and Noble and iTunes. A story written in memory of her sister, Lisa, who was killed in the 1981 Mid Valley 8 accident, and her mother. “My goal with writing that book was to inspire others to consider their own lives and what they’re going to do with the time they have been given. I see that so many of us live day to day aimlessly, making poor choices in life, and missing out on true fulfillment because we don’t know how to discover what our purpose is,” she noted. Jill McAlarney lives each day with purpose. “Each As the co-owner of Scott Greens Golf Club with one of us was created with specific gifts and talents. I her husband and WGTF top 100 golf instructor, Scotty continue to explore what my gifts and talents are and McAlarney, the couple decided to embark upon the what good I can do with them,” said the co-owner of business adventure and discovered it was a win-win Scott Greens Golf Club in Scott Township, and a pharfor them both. While her husband holds a business macist at Weis Markets in Honesdale. degree and has a knack for creating trends instead of As a student in pharmacy school she was told by following them, his wife discovered she was capable of one of her professors that pharmacy students had to doing great things in business. She performs administake other courses besides pharmacy-related classes trative assistant duties such as completing documents, so that when they graduated they would be well-roundand she also created the course’s first website for now ed individuals. “Well, I guess you can say that I’m a of which there are three. well-rounded person in my career life because I do She serves on the Valley Community Library not just have one,” she laughs. As a pharmacist with board because she believes books and the information Weis Markets in Honesdale, the young woman aided contained between the library walls are so important in opening the pharmacy in July 2016 as the pharmacy to helping people, adults and children, to become who manager. “That store is growing beyond expectation they want to be. and I believe it is because of the service my pharmacy At Scott Greens Golf Club, three annual scholarpartner and I provide for our patients,” she explained. ships are awarded each year -one in memory of her Prior to that she was employed at Kmart Pharmacy in husband’s father John “Scotty” McAlarney; one in Honesdale and was a member of the Pharmacy Advimemory of her mother, Gilda Mecca, and one in the sory Board. While there she co-authored a pharmacy name of the golf course. “The scholarships are given manual and received the Advisory Board Pharmacist of to students of our “A Swing for Life” Golf Academy the Year award in 2010. who have excelled in both the game of golf as well as McAlarney is also a published author, and her first in their academics and their involvement in the combook, “Legacy of the Purpose Stone” was released munity,” she added. in September 2017 and is available at,


with family and friends who support her and will always be there for her. “They are beyond proud of me, but I am toughest on myself. I want to be the best. I want to fix problems and I listen to what my patients need help with,” she added. Dr. Schoonover is a member of the American Optometric Association, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Optometric Society, the American Academy of Optometry, the Pennsylvania Optometric Association, Beta Sigma Kappa Optometry Honor Society, the Junior League of Scranton and Friends of the Blind for the Lackawanna Blind Association and is a licensed optometrist in Pennsylvania and Florida. ‘‘I am happy to invest in our local community by creating new jobs and keeping business in the valley. I purchased and renovated our new building at 240 Main Street and am transforming it into a modern optical showroom and eye care clinic. This will help us give extraordinary service to our patients and enable us to continue to grow. I am looking forward to our move which is scheduled for this spring. . . My mission is to keep giving back, keep staying active, keep listening to our patients and keep up the good work,” she concluded.


on your Top 25 Women in Business recognition from all of our staff, club members, academy students, instructors and family!!

Golf Club

TS_CNG/NPBJ/PAGES [B24] | 02/28/18

Dr. Rebecca Schoonover works well under pressure and the status quo is never good enough for her because she believes you get what you work for. “I like to focus my attention toward fixing issues and helping people. That makes me happy,” she explained. As the optometrist, not only is she the doctor and owner of Schoonover Eye Care on Main Street in Peckville, she also diagnoses and treats diseases of the eye like glaucoma and macular degeneration. “We specialize in treating complex contact lens issues, ocular diseases and we see patients with a variety of eye emergencies. My practice is more than just glasses and contacts,” explained the doctor. Dr. Schoonover is in charge of all office operations from electronic health record implementation, continuing education staff trainings and patient scheduling, as well as overseeing billing and coding in her many roles as owner, CEO and CFO. While the business is growing and moving into a space four times as large as its present location, the Optometrist is learning to delegate office responsibilities to her staff so she can focus on her role as the doctor. “One thing I do on a daily basis that I love is help my patients choose new glasses. It is the best part of my day when I help a patient select the perfect frame,” she explained. “In our practice we treat patients like family and friends. We are compassionate, friendly and caring. I love helping and getting involved. I enjoy being busy and tackling issues and getting my hands dirty. I am a worker bee. I do this because I have the ability to juggle many tasks at once and see things through to completion,” she noted. Besides a deep passion and desire to always learn and strive for perfection, she surrounds herself with honest, kind and hard working people. She is blessed



RebeCCa sCHoonoVeR o.D.

MARCH 2018

top 25 women in business in nepa

Donna poweLL

Donna Powell likes the NIKE campaign slogan “Just Do It” as her philosophy in life, however, to that she also adds, do the right thing. “Figure it out and just do it. Spend the time evaluating and planning the decision, and then just get started,” said the CEO of Commonwealth Health Physician Network. When she was 12 and her brother 10, the two wanted to re-wallpaper their grandmother’s bedroom and her grandmother agreed. “It wasn’t perfect, but we got it done and it was still up when she sold the house 20 years later. You learn from your mistakes. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Live it now and enjoy the process of getting there,” she added. The businesswoman manages more than 200 physician practices, which encompass more than 750 employees throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wyoming, Susquehanna and Columbia counties. Professionally, Powell has had the privilege to learn from physicians, CEOs and CFOs of the respected health systems for many years. “I continue to learn professionally from the people

I work at Commonwealth Health,” she added. Powell feels that success comes from working well with a strong, well-respected team and has been very lucky to have an energetic, competent group of directors, managers and staff. “Health Care is a demanding business. It is highly regulated and undergoing a dramatic change as consumers and payers move toward valued based purchasing. Honest and open communication with the providers is key,” she adds. Knowing that a strong support system is critical, Powell says her husband has always supported her desire to work because he knew it was important to her to have both a career and be a good mother. She was only working part time while her children were little when she made the commitment to return to full time and to more demanding roles, her husband and four children stepped up to help out. “Without their support, I could not balance both work and family,” she admitted. Powell explains that her greatest reward is to see her children succeed — her son, Patrick, a College of the Holy Cross graduate working in Boston; her daughter, Maura, will graduate from Bucknell this year with a biology major; her son, Ryan, began his first year at Holy Cross; and her youngest daughter, Maggie, is a junior at Scranton Prep contemplating where she will attend college. As Commonwealth Health strongly supports community events, these have included American Heart Association, Coaches vs. Cancer, Blind Association of Luzerne County; and establishing and implementing community outreach programs aimed at Breast Cancer Screening Mammography and diagnostic procedures for Colon Cancer. Powell has also been active with her children’s sporting and school activities which were often numerous.

patRiCia DiCKeRt-nieVes

For Patricia Dickert-Nieves, gratitude always leads her in the right direction. “When I am feeling overwhelmed by fear or doubt, I ask myself, what am I grateful for? That leads me to feel loved and supported. In times of discomfort it is hard to overcome anxiety,” explained the director of operations at Terra Preta Prime, Scranton. While it was a hard lesson to learn recognizing that self-care is not selfish, it may have just saved her life. “So be quick to forgive yourself and let go of shame and guilt that you carry based on your past. Forgive yourself, and the love that was shrouded in shame will find its way to the surface and you will begin to heal emotionally and then heal physically. That’s when your world will change,” added the young woman. Dickert-Nieves is responsible for the everyday operations of a restaurant, which has a lot of moving parts. Her main responsibility is her employees, to make them feel safe, motivated and have all the tools they need to do their job properly. “I am always checking in with my employees, asking them what they need, what we could do to change the work environment, how can we work more efficiently or more impactfully,” she explained. Born and raised in Farmingdale Long Island, N.Y., she moved to Lake Ariel at the young age of 16. She graduated from Marywood University with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a minor in philosophy. That same year in 2005, she fell ill and was eventually diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an auto immune disease that has no cure. At the time she was working as a paralegal and had aspirations to attend law school post-graduation. Dickert-Nieves is a fifth generation restaurateur related to Peter Luger, and the restaurant business is in her blood. Her mentors, her father, was an executive chef by trade and her mother, a natural hostess and event planner. “Together they make a dynamic team

and from a young age I learned about hospitality,” she added. Her father later opened a steakhouse in downtown Scranton and when he had interest in opening another restaurant locally, Dickert-Nieves and her husband brought the idea of a farm to table restaurant to him and in 2014 Terra Preta Restaurant was born. “I celebrate little successes throughout the day. As someone who lives with Multiple Scleroisis, I am very much aware that every day is new and it comes with new challenges and adventures. I love to celebrate, and I try to do that as often as possible. My success in life, love, work and health stems from acknowledging little success throughout that day,” she noted. She is grateful to her parents and three supportive sisters who have encouraged her to follow her dreams and ambitions, and to her husband who is the reason why she is so full of life and has the energy to chase her dreams. Her business supports the local arts and music through collaborations with the Scranton Fringe Festival, First Friday Scranton and the Everhart Museum, the Women’s Resource Center, the Rainbow Alliance of NEPA and refugees that have resettled in the community through a collaborative program with the University of Scranton and Catholic Social Services called Global Tastes of Scranton.

Congratulations to Donna Powell Our “Top Women in Business” Honoree From your friends at



Katie LeonaRD

top 25 women in business in nepa Katie Leonard, president and CEO at Johnson College, works hard, has fun, and above all, is nice to everyone she meets. These are great qualities to have as she leads the strategic direction and oversees all operations of Johnson College. Leonard holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from York College of Pennsylvania; a master of arts degree in organizational leadership from Mansfield University, and is currently pursuing her doctorate of education through Capella University. Before Johnson College, she held multiple positions in York, working with government officials and non-profit organizations. Her last position was as executive director of Downtown Inc., York’s Main Street program. The young executive attributes her success to the sound decisions she has made and the people in which she surrounds herself. “None of us get through life without the love and support of a network of people. Believe that it is our willingness to remain open and ask for and accept help when needed that allows us to be successful. In return, I am always willing to help someone in need,” she noted. She began her tenure at Johnson College in January of 2007 as the college’s coordinator of grants and the annual fund. Her continued success in the areas of fundraising and community outreach led her to even-

tually became the director of development, director of institutional advancement, and then the vice-president of institutional advancement, senior vice-president of college advancement and executive vice-president. She is extremely fortunate to have many mentors and is very relationship-driven, this having begun with her grandfather, Cosmo Casalino who was a skilled salesman who always focused on making every person feel special. Her first boss following college, Gary Sonke, taught her that as leaders, it is okay to love what we do but not to take the whole thing too seriously. Attorney Henry Leader, taught her that sometimes we must simply make the best decisions we can with the information we have in front of us. Dr. Ann Pipinski, president emeritus of Johnson College, has been and continues to be a mentor. “She has helped me understand the value of higher education – for our students, and myself, and is the reason I pushed myself to earn my master’s degree and now my doctorate,” she explained. Her husband, Bill, and daughter, Sophie, inspire her to do great work every single day. As a working mother she believes that it is possible to have a challenging and fulfilling career and a family, as long as there is balance. She depends on her husband for sound advice and honest feedback while her parents have always

been supportive her teaching her to be resilient and to help others in life. “My dad says that as human beings, we always bring out the best in each other,” she noted. Her in-laws, Sandy and Stan Pratt, are also very supportive of all she does and of her family. She is an executive committee member of the board of directors of NeighborWorks of Northeastern Pennsylvania; a member of The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce’s LIFE Board; a past board member of the Lackawanna Home Builders Association; member Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE); Leadership Lackawanna alum; presenter of “Small But Mighty: How Small Fundraising Shops Can Accomplish Big Goals” at CASE District II conference; Northeast Woman in the Scranton Times, February 2013; recipient, 2010 Northeastern Pennsylvania’s 20 Under 40 Award; 2003 Central Pennsylvania’s 40 Under 40 Award; and chosen as one of the Creative 100 for the Memphis Manifesto, a national summit. ”As the leader of Johnson College, I find it important to mention how encouraging it is to see more women considering STEAM and trade related careers. These are very rewarding fields that often lead to career advancement and family sustaining wages,” concluded Leonard.

congratulations to our new president


JOHNSON COLLEGE students have the GUTS to pursue their passion. The GRIT to endure, and feel the GLORY of their accomplishments. animal science | business | construction & design | electronic & industrial | health science | transportation





top 25 women in business in nepa

Leeann perry

she purchased the former St. Cashmir’s Church, and following major renovations, that center also filled. The academy currently has 175 students with a waiting list of approximately nine months to a year. The business owner also believes in giving back to the community, especially those who have also supported her and her centers, and sponsors local sports teams, t-shirt fundraising for the Dunmore Fire Department, ads for program booklets for school plays and local charities. She is on the committee for the Jude Zayac Foundation to raise funds to support SIDS research. The daycare and preschool was awarded The Scranton Times people’s choice award two years in a row. Perry also oversees the corporate portion of the business and the daily operations of both centers. “The finances take a major portion of the day for me, this includes me managing the payroll, quarterly reports, LeeAnn Perry is driven, she has to be as she paying utilities, taxes and insurances. I also maintain oversees a staff of 30 teachers and spends 10 hours a the paperwork needed for my license and making sure day visiting the 14 classrooms at Perry’s Academy of all staff adhere to all regulations,” she explained. Learning Center in Dunmore where she is the owner Her husband, John, is her greatest supporter and and president of the company. She attributes her sucshe says he respects her career and understands her cess to hard work, motivation, dedication and the ability love for the children and what she does. In addition her of realizing her dream. three children — Marla, 30, Dr. Taylor Perry, 27; and Having enrolled in college later in life, at the age of Johnny, 20, and her mother are also great supporters 34, she continued to work full time and raised three and continuously offer their help. children. She attended classes on the weekends and “My staff of 30 dedicated teachers who have the nights when she could not squeeze any more in during most important role of loving, teaching and caring the day, and earned her degree in early childhood eduunconditionally to all of the children we serve, support cation. She also attained her Pennsylvania Directors everything I do. I could not do this without these credential in the past year. exceptional women,” she noted. The young woman left her job after she earned Perry is also currently launching a new business, her degree and began a daycare in her home in 2008, Bellissimo Children’s Hair Salon and Spa, an exclusive with just three children. The effort quickly outgrew the children’s hair salon that will open in the spring offering space and a renovated garage sufficed for a short time. themed barber and pedicure chairs as well as hair and In 2011, Perry bought her first center, formerly St. skin products for children, monogrammed bath robes Cashmir’s rectory. She then filled the building to capacand a few other fun items. ity in less than six months with 52 children. In 2012,

Per ’s General Contracting 151 14 Ea ast Drinker Street, Dunmore, PA A 18512 John y 57 67 PG GC151 @y y h o.


Cynthia mailloux ph.D, Rn, Cne

There is no better day for Dr. Cynthia Mailloux then when she has “helped someone that she knows can never help her.” Pay it forward. As the founding chairperson of the Department of Nursing at King’s College, Mailloux has a real passion for nursing education. “It is very rewarding to mentor students and see how once they graduate they thrive in the profession. I have always tried to empower students and colleagues to become leaders by creating opportunities for their success,” she admitted. The professor tries to understand the health care needs of the community as well as the college and this has contributed to her success and continues to push her to develop innovative courses and programs by harnessing the power of connections. As the chairperson of the department, she has been given the challenge of developing the new RN to BS in Nursing Program and the Innovative 1-2-1 Dual Degrees in Nursing partnership with Luzerne County Community College (LCCC). “To revise and develop nursing programs which offer strong career paths has been my passion,” she notes. Her responsibilities include recruitment, marketing, curriculum development, coordination with stakeholders, advising, and submission of proposals to all accrediting bodies. She lives by the philosophy “do not blow out anyone else’s candle to make yours shine brighter.”

“I could not have done this without my husband and family who have always supported me and encouraged me to aspire to what I wanted to achieve. My mother has always been very supportive and has encouraged me to reach for the stars,” admitted Mailloux. She is also a site visitor for the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) reviewing nursing programs for accreditation, and a member on many national, state and regional committees. She was selected as an American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), Wharton Executive Nurse Leadership Scholar and received the Pauly and Sidney Friedman Excellence in Service Award; Pennsylvania State Nurse Association Research Award; and the Penn State Advisory Board Award for Excellence in Teaching. She is on the American Heart Association Board of Directors, Luzerne County Community College, Erwine’s Home Health and Hospice, and the WilkesBarre Area Career & Technical Center Advisory Boards; member of Circle 200; Executive Leadership Wilkes-Barre, Nursing Volunteer Leadership Council (NVLC) Geisinger System; the Geisinger Research Council; and the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Safety Committee. She has served on the Northeastern Regional Cancer Association (NERCI) Board of Directors, and is a School Director for Crestwood School District.

Personalized PAttention learn from the best le Schedule a visit at NORTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA BUSINESS JOURNAL MARCH 2018 29

TS_CNG/NPBJ/PAGES [B29] | 02/28/18


top 25 women in business in nepa

amY eVeRetts

Amy Everetts is willing to take chances and believes in herself, and that is why she is enjoying great success in her life as a young businesswoman and director of development and marketing at the Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science and Art. She notes, “my success also is very much connected to the many women I have in my life personally and professionally who have provided me with encouragement, guidance and the confidence to be the best version of myself.” As the director, Everetts is responsible for cultivating and overseeing the implementation of marketing strategies for new and existing programs and events. She plans and solicits sponsorships for all large-scale special events, as well as manages all Everhart facility rentals. A large focus of her current position is also public affairs. “By meeting with community and business leaders both one-on-one and at events, I have cultivated strong regional, business and community relationships,” she noted. She also researches, writes and manages all government, foundation and private grants. Previously, Everetts held the position of development manager for the historic Scranton Cultural Center (SCC) at the Masonic Temple, where her

duties entailed soliciting sponsorships, donor relations, grant writing and community outreach. Prior to this position, she was the educational outreach manager at the SCC responsible for coordinating educational details before, during and after events. Managing her department included writing and designing all educational marketing pieces and contacted large groups for group sales. Additionally, at the SCC, she served as the marketing coordinator where she was responsible for initiating and executing the marketing, social media and promotions for all programs, performances and fundraising events. In 2008, she was producer for the news station WNEP-16, and led the production of the weekly 11 p.m. newscast. “I was given the freedom and privilege to determine the format of my show, write on-air copy, and integrated technical and editorial aspects to run an effective airing. I developed and seeded new relationships with community members from all walks of life; elected officials, business owners, charitable organizations, law enforcement officials and private citizens,” she noted. Prior to that she was a news producer for Blue Ridge Cable TV-13 News Pocono Report. Her mentor has been her late mother, Kathy Dickerson, who dedicated her life to her family and helping others. “Now that I am a working mother of two, I admire how easy she made it look. She always maintained this balance of family, friends, work and even found time to volunteer. She taught me the importance of hard-work, staying positive, supporting others, finding joy and to live moment to moment,”she explained. Everetts would not be where she is today without the love and support and her family and friends, she notes. Her life has new meaning and purpose since her son, William, 3, and daughter, Emery, 1, came into her life. She is also a member of First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre.

Congratulations To the Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal’s Top 25 Women In Business Talented Honorees and especially, Amy Everetts, Director of Development & Marketing at the Everhart

mimi DoHeRtY

Marion (Mimi) Doherty believes in taking risks and having the courage to go after her dreams. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat,” is the quote by Theodore Roosevelt that Doherty often refers to. As global marketing and sales effectiveness director at Sanofi Pasteur, she attributes her success to the lessons instilled upon her and her siblings at an early age. Her parents stressed that there was no substitute for hard work and perseverance; if we wanted to accomplish something, we had to go after it, nobody was going to do it for us. She still remembers her mom saying “if it was supposed to be easy, everyone would do it” and her dad’s infamous “Doherty’s don’t quit,” rings in her ears to date. These weren’t just mottos, Mimi was able to constantly look to her two sisters and three brothers, who have been and continue to be her constant role models. Mimi is also the founder of Future Steps, LLC; which provides young adults with the skills needed to build connections between the classroom and the professional world and, in doing so, develop as confident,

courageous and passionate future leaders. Through customized curriculum and hands-on workshops, young adults learn how make the connection between their capabilities, experiences and interests to potential areas of study, industries and jobs. They learn how to effectively communicate and position themselves to be successful as they prepare for college or job interviews. “It is exciting to work with young people and help them see their potential and believe in themselves, they are future leaders and it’s so important they place no limits on themselves or what they can become.” Doherty received her bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross and her MBA from Johns Hopkins University. She is currently pursuing a two-year certification in Organizational Behavior from Harvard University. Having lived in New York City for the past seven years, Doherty moved back to Scranton a year and half ago. During her time in NYC, she was actively involved with Step Up Women’s Network, Big Brother/Big Sister and the Catholic Charities organization. Since returning to Scranton, she has volunteered at St. Paul’s Parish and looks forward to getting more involved in the community. For Mimi, hanging out with her nine nieces and nephews and going for long runs, is the perfect combination for a great day.

Invest in Yourself! Subway Development l t off E Eastern t PA iis G Growing! i ! Fantastic Business Opportunity • Flexible Space Requirements 1000-1600 sf. - End Cap, Freestanding and Inline • Our Healthy eating options work well with Hospitals, Colleges, Universities, B & I, Stadiums, Casinos and Airports

Regional Office Fogelsville, PA Contact Abbie at 610-366-8120 x 29

From the Board, Executive Director and Staff of the Everhart Museum



MARCH 2018

“Like Us on Facebook” at

top 25 women in business in nepa

miCHeLe mcnamaRa

Michele McNamara believes life is an echo – what you send out comes back, what you sow you reap and what you give you get. In 2007, Michele McNamara joined the MiracleEar family and has been providing care for patients in Northeastern Pennsylvania ever since. Her husband, Shawn, brother-in-law, Shane, and she are proud franchise owners of four Miracle-Ear Centers. “I’ve dedicated the last 10 years of my life to serving the hearing impaired and finding the best team of compassionate, knowledgeable and hard-working professionals to assist me. It is our mission to help people reconnect with their family and friends through better hearing – we truly bring light into lives that have been dimmed by hearing loss and we do it well,” noted McNamara. McNamara is a licensed Hearing Instrument Specialist in the states of Pennsylvania and New York. In addition, she is a member of the International Hearing Society and Pennsylvania Hearing Aid Alliance and a proud graduate of the Pennsylvania State University. She has been through extensive training with Miracle-Ear, received her Miracle-Ear Professional certification, and is trained in Live Speech Mapping and Real Ear Measurement. “It has always been my passion to help people, and now my team and I get to do that every day. Any patient under our care will be in good hands for a long time to come,” she noted.

Her father in-law, Thomas “Skipper” McNamara who purchased his first Miracle-Ear franchise in 1983 and still operates a franchise today, has been her mentor. Skipper took the leap of faith to purchase a Miracle-Ear franchise with his business partner, Dr. Albert Shrive. “They had the fortitude and savvy to grow the franchise. Skipper always worked hard and drove sales. He groomed his sons for success, leading by example. We are now able to pay it forward. Working to groom future generations so they may have the same success,” she added. Much of her success also comes from all the strong women in her life who give her the motivation and drive to constantly improve. Networking and aligning with people she wants to be like has always been a great learning experience for her. The businesswoman attributes her success to hard work, team work and a positive outlook on life. “I am not afraid to roll up my sleeves and work side by side with each one of my employees. If you are going to ask someone to do something you need to be prepared to do it as well. I have tried to build consistent habits that help me achieve my goals. And as a wise older business man once said to me ‘The same things happen to all of us, it is how we react to it that set us apart.’ I know my positive outlook has always carried me far,” she added. McNamara feels she is part of the best team with her husband, Shawn, and brother in law. “Our successful practice truly thrives because all three of us contribute our unique talents. I would not be where I am today without the constant love and support of my parents, Ronald and Bernice Mest,” she noted. And lastly, her daughter gives her strength to never quit, but to go on everyday and lead a successful and fulfilling life. McNamara was 2003 Federated Marketing Representative of the Year; Miracle-Ear Platinum Club winners 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013; and twotime 2013 Holland Award recipient.

nannette ReFiCe

and friends, has had a passion for children since her early childhood. “I believe each child is unique and irreplaceable,” she states. “I care for all children as if they were my own. I have a great love for every child I treat,” she noted. Dr. Refice treats children from birth through seventeen years of age. She specializes in treatment and surgery of childhood eye conditions, including misaligned eyes and eye movement disorders, ptosis and other eyelid conditions, tearing and lacrimal problems, refractive errors and the need for glasses, amblyopia Nannette Zale Refice, M.D., believes in treating and decreased vision, tumors in and around the eye, others as she would like to be treated. infantile and childhood cataracts and eye conditions The doctor is the only fellowship-trained, boardas a result of premature birth at her office in Dunmore certified pediatric ophthalmologist in Northeast and performs surgery in local hospitals. Pennsylvania. She is president of her own practice, The Dunmore location also has an optical shop Nanny’s Eye Care for Kids, P.C., currently seeing with many styles of frames, appropriate for infants to patients in her office in Dunmore. Dr. Refice has practeens. Dr. Refice resides in the Green Ridge section ticed Pediatric Ophthalmology for nearly 20 years. of Scranton with her loving and devoted husband, EdSome of her past endeavors include staff die, and their three wonderful children, Annie, Edward pediatric ophthalmologist at A.I. duPont Hospital and Amelia. “My husband has always been a huge for Children in Wilmington, Delaware and at Wills supporter of their family and has been 100 percent Eye Hospital, Philadelphia and was an instructor at behind me when I decided to open my own practice. Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia. He and our three children are the light of my life,” she Dr. Refice was born and raised in Scranton, noted. daughter of Mrs. Ruth Zale and the late Dr. Anthony Also her dad, Anthony Zale, M.D., has been Zale. She is a graduate of Scranton Preparatory very instrumental in her life. He was one of the first School and attained a bachelor of science degree orthopedic surgeons in this area and had a very in nursing from the University of Scranton before successful solo practice for more than 60 years. attending medical school. She earned her medical He worked well into his 90’s and passed away just degree from Jefferson Medical College, Philadelbefore his 99th birthday. “He was my go to for phia, in 1994. She completed a one-year internship anything medical. We shared cases together and at Chestnut Hill Hospital, Philadelphia, a three-year attended local medical meetings together. Because ophthalmology residency at Henry Ford Hospital, he got a serious eye condition is why I went into my Detroit, Michigan and a one-year fellowship in pedispecialty of ophthalmology. He always supported atric ophthalmology at Temple University Children’s me and was so proud when I graduated from his Medical Center, Philadelphia. alma mater Jefferson Medical College 50 years after Nan, or Nanny, as she is called by her family him. We had a very strong bond,” she explained.



1755 North Keyser Avenue Scranton, PA 18507 570-343-1914 16054DMPM



top 25 women in business in nepa

JesiCCa sKoLoDa

Jesicca Skoloda stands up for what she believes in and the rights of other people, even if it is not the popular choice. “The goal is not to be successful. The goal is to be valuable. When you add value to success it will attract itself and you cannot go a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you get to decide what kind of difference you want to make,” she noted. The realtor/real estate investor for Classic Properties, Kingston, has worked hard to achieve the success she has today, and with determination, integrity, fairness and compassion for people. “There is not one single attribute that got me to where I am. I truly care for all of those around me and despite the craziness of my schedule I always take the time to ask how people are or reach out when they are going through a tough time whether or not they are close to me,” she explained. As a realtor she wears many hats. She specializes in listing homes and representing buyers with their real estate goals as she helps them move on to new chapters in their life. She also mentors more than nine realtors in the industry. She has a team of four realtors whom she coaches, shares business with and teams up with to ensure clients who contact her are receiving the care and attention they need with every real estate experience. Skoloda was voted Realtor of the Year by the Times Leader Choice Awards 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017; was featured on the cover of Top Agent Magazine in Pennsyl-

vania; is number one in real estate sales for the Classic Properties in Luzerne County; and ranks in the top 1 percent of sold sales in all of Luzerne County, selling $10 million in 2018 alone. So far in her career she has sold more than 30 million in real estate and represented more than 200 families. Once the young woman graduated from high school, and with very little to her name, she traveled by the public bus system to cross counties to get to work in cell phone sales and had done very well for the company. She saved enough for a $450 car and was recruited to a national jewelry store chain. She then began her college education in business management. “It was not long before I moved right up the ranks and had my own store and was a manager of a million-dollar producing jewelry store. I was great at motivating, building my team and helping them, and that store hit record numbers,” she explained. She loved and cared for her staff and therefore they, in turn, took care of her by helping win rewards in the business. She was only 20-years-old, but she had a vision, passion and a determination to build financial stability. In her mid-20s, Skoloda realized that the demand of the corporate world and working 48-60-hour work weeks was not the best fit for a family, so she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps, as a licensed realtor. After two years getting her feet wet, she entered the world of real estate full time. “In an industry where the average realtor is 55, I was able to bring a new niche to the market by capitalizing on technology and social media to help market myself and provide better service to my clients,” said Skoloda. She belongs to the Junior League and is the founder of the local Young Professional Network of Realtors, where she is chairwoman. Some other community events have included an annual Bowl-a-Thon for a child in need; Habitat for Humanity, Trunk or Treats and hosting a comedy show to raise money for a homeless shelter, among many others.

banKinG anD FinanCe

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: 529 Plans Expanded derstand their state’s rules regarding how K-12 funds will be treated for tax purposes. In addition, account In December 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, owners should check with the 529 plan administraa sweeping $1.5 trillion tax-cut package, became tor to determine whether a K-12 withdrawal request law. College students and their parents dodged a should be made payable to the account owner, the major bullet with the legislation, as initial drafts of the beneficiary, or the K-12 institution. It’s likely that 529 bill included the elimination of Coverdell Education plans will further refine their rules to accommodate Savings Accounts, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the K-12 expansion and communicate these rules to the student loan interest deduction. Also existing account owners. on the table in early drafts of the bill was The expansion of 529 plans to allow the taxation of tuition waivers, which are K-12 expenses will likely impact Coverdell used primarily by graduate students and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). employees of higher-education instituCoverdell ESAs let families save up to tions. In the end, none of these provisions $2,000 per year tax-free for K-12 and made it into the final legislation. What did college expenses. Up until now, they were make the final cut was the expanded use the only game in town for tax-advantaged of 529 plans. K-12 savings. Now the use of Coverdell SHELP Expansion of 529 plans to allow K-12 ESAs may decline as parents are likely to expenses. prefer the much higher lifetime contribuUnder the new law, the definition of a 529 plan tion limits of 529 plans — generally $350,000 and “qualified education expense” has been expanded up — compared to the relatively paltry $2,000 annual to include K-12 expenses. Starting in 2018, annual contribution limit for Coverdell accounts. withdrawals of up to $10,000 per student can be Coverdell ESAs do have one important advantage made from a 529 college savings plan account for over 529 plans, though — investment flexibility. tuition expenses in connection with enrollment at an Coverdell owners have a lot of flexibility in terms of elementary or secondary public, private, or religious what investments they hold in their account, and they school (excluding home schooling). Such withdraw- may generally change investments as often as they als are now tax-free at the federal level. wish. By contrast, 529 account owners can invest At the state level, roughly 20 states and the only in the investment portfolios offered by the plan, District of Columbia automatically update their state and they can exchange their existing plan investlegislation to align with federal 529 legislation, but the ments for new plan investments only twice per year. remaining states will need to take legislative action A list of 529 plans offered, by state, and a comto include K-12 expenses as a qualified education parison tool are available at expense and, if applicable, extend other state tax benefits to K-12 expenses; for example a deduction READ MORE ONLINE AT BIZ570.COM for K-12 contributions. 529 account owners who are interested in making K-12 contributions or withdrawals should un-

by Peter Shelp

Jesicca Skoloda is very honored to be selected as one of the Top 25 Women in Business! With over 30 Million dollars sold in her 7-year career Jesicca Skoloda has been a leading choice for buyers and sellers. Now she announces her team of Trusted Real Estate Advisors. Team Jesicca Skoloda will provide you with a Top Notch Real Estate Experience!

Jesicca Skoloda, Realtor | 329 Wyoming Avenue, Kingston | 570.718.4959 ext 1322 | 34 NORTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA BUSINESS JOURNAL TS_CNG/NPBJ/PAGES [B34] | 02/28/18


MARCH 2018

2018 Top 25 Women in Business  
2018 Top 25 Women in Business