Women2Women Magazine

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Woman2Know: Alvernia President Dr. Glynis Fitzgerald pg. 09 fall2023 themagazine A Program of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance W MEN2WOMEN 2 The WomenBuilding Issue 2023 Evening of Empowerment with Liz Murray pg. 07 Celebrating Women Building Berks pg. 12 Building a Financial Foundation pg. 16

1 Samples, Samples, Samples!: Come sip, snack, nibble and more. With over 30 vendors, you can get a taste of everything. From ice cream to smoothies, soups to sandwiches, seafood to sausages, and so much more, take your tastebuds on a journey though Berks County. Look out for a full list of vendors, coming soon!

2 Support Local: The best way to support your community is to support your local economy! Food vendors will have items for sale, and don’t forget to drop by our Maker’s Market for locally homemade goods.

3 New Location—with Parking!: This year, we’ll be spreading out across our new location—the Berkshire Mall! With lots of parking and some extra elbow room, there will be space to stroll amongst the vendors while you sample and sip.

4 Beer & Wine Garden: Take a sip of locally made beer and wine, and maybe bring a bottle or two home with you. You’ll be a hit at the next holiday gathering!

5 Say Cheese (while you snack on it)!: Stop by the PartyMasterz photobooth for the ultimate souvenir— YOU! Grab your props, your friends and family, and strike a pose. Give yourself a keepsake of this fun experience with your friends and family.

MONDAY, NOV. 20 | 5 P.M.

The Berkshire Mall

Scan code to purchase tickets or visit

tinyurl.com/ TASTEOFBERKS2023

6 Holiday Shopping: Get started on holiday shopping early. Enjoy our holiday guide—curated from all the vendors you’ll see in person at Taste of Berks—AND shop at the Berkshire Mall stores! Don’t forget to stop by the Maker’s Market for unique, local goodies.

7 Santa? I know him!: You heard right—the big man himself will be hanging out with us! Bring your kids and get your photo taken with Santa. Santa photos are separate and purchased through the Berkshire Mall.

(Tickets for Taste of Berks are available for kids (ages 3-11) and kids 2 and under are free!)


Kirsten P. Haas, Managing Editor Rachael Romig, Editor-in-Chief

606 Court Street • Reading, PA 19601 berkswomen2women.com • 610.376.6766

Women2Women Council: Tracy Parmer, Chairwoman Rosa Arroyo, Kristi Bonanno, Michelle Conway, Becky Eshbach, Sara Frassinelli, Laurie Grube, Katie Johnsen, Carissa Johnson, Sarah McDaniel, Tracy Parmer, Jes Prutzman, Alyssa Redding, Donna Reed, Regina Rinehimer, Rachael Romig, Brenda Rosado, Erika Ruelas, Adelle Schade, Alison Snyder, Emma Rose Strohl

Women2Women is Greater Reading Chamber Alliance’s catalyst for developing women leaders and connecting women from diverse backgrounds to learn, share ideas, and mentor each other. W2W offers a forum for women to create connections, gain knowledge, and build strategic alliances to foster their personal potential and career advancement. Joining the network is open to all who support women and Women2Women Magazine is a publication of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance.

To join: W2W@greaterreading.org

Stay connected: BerksWomen2Women.com


Title Sponsors

Penn State Health St. Joseph

UGI Energy Services, LLC

UGI Utilities, Inc.

Wells Fargo

Diamond Sponsors

Penske Truck Leasing | Reading Hospital

Platinum Sponsors

Alvernia University | East Penn Manufacturing Company, Inc.

Gold Sponsors

Berks Community Television

Berks County Living

Customers Bank



First National Bank

Fulton Bank

Herbein + Company, Inc.

Highmark Blue Shield

Women In Business

GAGE Personnel

Iron Roots Salon

MJ Reider Associates

Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys

Masano Bradley

Met Ed/First Energy

Reading Truck Body


Tompkins Community Bank

Univest Financial

VISIONS Federal Credit Union

RC-J Consulting Associates, LLC

Sweet Street

VA Productions

De Mujer a Mujer

HGSK Lawyers | Giant Food Stores

Santander Bank N.A. | Truist

In Every Issue 05 Reflections & Inspiration 09 Woman2Know 27 W2W Around Town
Contents 28 Features 06 Meet the W2Writers! 07 Women2Women: The Evening of Empowerment: From Homeless to Harvard – Empowerment Through Partnership & Eliminating Barriers 11 Building Berks Awards & Trade Expo 14 Designing Women: Internships Built for Growth 16 Building a Financial Foundation for The Now & The Future 19 Count to Five & Just Breathe! 24 Help Save the Butterflies This Fall! 26 ATHENA: Recognizing the Goddess in Women 30 Masks: Do We Still Need Them and Why? 31 Masks: Caution or Courtesy W2W 2023 Upcoming Event Schedule 21 October, November & December Events 23 Speaker Profiles © 2023 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced electronically or in print without the expressed written permission of the publisher. Women2Women Magazine is published quarterly by Hoffmann Publishing Group, Inc. • Reading, PA HoffmannPublishing.com • 610.685.0914
ON THE COVER: Liz Murray, Women2 Women, The Evening to Empowerment Speaker Photo courtesy of Liz Murray Fall 2023
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The opinions expressed in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

YourCreate Comeback

Alvernia offers tuition discounts for Women 2 Women members plus:

• Flexible degree options featuring evening and online courses

• Instruction from leading regional expert faculty members

• Caring and supportive community dedicated to your success

Learn more and register today at Alvernia.edu/Comeback

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The days are slowly getter shorter, the weather is starting to cool down and soon the leaves will change colors before drifting to the ground. You know what that means! YAAAAAS, it’s Pumpkin Spice Season!

Actually, I think that season started a few weeks ago. What I meant to say, is that Fall is upon us. Fall is not typically viewed as a season of building but in this issue of W2W Magazine, we’re turning the season on its head as we bring you stories of women who have built and continue to build their personal legacies as well as their communities:

• Evening of Empowerment keynote speaker, Liz Murray

• Woman2Know, Alvernia University President Glynis Fitzgerald, PhD

• The Women of Building Berks

• And so much more!

Whether building, well, a building or building your own future, W2W strives to share the experiences, resources and stories of women from all over our community so that together, we can uplift each other and build the world we want for ourselves, for our futures!

Kirsten P. Haas

The opinions expressed here by are solely the opinion of the author. They have not been read by nor approved by Girls on the Run® and do not necessarily represent the views nor opinions of Girls on the Run®.

Lay YOUR Foundation

To understand how any of us got to where we are today, we have to acknowledge from whence we came.

Our backgrounds, where we are from, for better or worse lay the foundations for our lives. That’s not to say they pre-determine the outcome of our lives but they serve as the building blocks of the starting point of our respective journeys.

As I started building on my foundation, I constructed a life focused on achievement and success. I strove to see how high I could build and how fast I could build it. I didn’t necessarily pay attention to the quality of the life I built. However, at some point, I recognized that to find happiness in my life, I had to maintain the foundation and so when my building was threatened by outside forces, I made a decision.

Tear it down.

I re-established my foundation and I re-built my life having learned:

• The options presented to us in life are not always of our making but we DO have choices.

• Your tools are YOUR tools even if the workshop belongs to someone else.

• Change is HARD but it can be done.

• Laugh. Every. Single. Day.

My building of life may not be a skyscraper but it is solid, it is fulfilling and it is full of possibilities.

Lay your foundation and build. Build as many times as you need to, build as many times as you want to. BUILD ON!

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Meet the W2Writers!

Meet the W2WMagazine Editorial Committee and Contributing Writers who volunteer their time and talent to bring the W2W Community articles that educate, entertain, inform and inspire. The W2W Editorial Committee members not only lend their writing talents to the magazine but also develop and direct the creation of each W2WMagazine issue.

In This Issue:

SUZANNE CODY, Director of Business Development, MG Architects, Ltd., W2W Magazine Contributing Writer

KATIE JOHNSEN, Event Coordinator, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, W2W Magazine Editorial Committee

MICHELLE CONWAY, MBA, Executive Director of Student and Client Services, Alvernia University’s O’Pake Institute, W2WMagazine Contributing Writer

MARI E. DRISCOLL, RN, CIC, Infection Control & Prevention, Penn State Health St. Joseph’s, W2W Magazine Contributing Writer

AARON GANTZ, MBA, Senior Director Economic Development, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, W2W Magazine Contributing Writer

KIRSTEN HAAS, Executive Director, Girls on the Run of Berks County, W2W Magazine Managing Editor

RACHAEL ROMIG, Senior Director of Events & Special Programs, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, W2W Magazine Editor-In-Chief

6 Women2Women | Fall 2023
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From Homeless to Harvard –Empowerment Through Partnership & Eliminating Barriers

On October 12th, Women2Women, a special program of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, will be hosting keynote speaker Liz Murray who will share her story From Homeless to Harvard, one of the most moving, elegant, and uplifting tales you will ever hear. The event, Women2Women’s Evening of Empowerment, is held annually and features a nationally recognized speaker to connect women and offer inspiration and empowerment.

Liz’s story is so powerful that it was made into a movie in 2003.

Growing up with two drug-addicted parents who she began supporting at age 10, she was soon homeless at age 15. It was the death of her mother that was her wake-up call that made her break free of her circumstances and pursue a different path for her life. While living on the streets of New York, she completed and graduated from high school in just two years. Overcoming horrible odds, she won a full scholarship and was accepted to Harvard University.

2023’s Evening of Empowerment’s theme is “Paying it Forward” and Women2Women is living its mission of developing leaders in Berks County through connecting women from diverse backgrounds to share ideas, mentor, and grow. From Homeless to Harvard proves that one’s station in life does not have to be permanent. By “Paying it Forward,” attendees can purchase a ticket for another woman to join the event for free. Women2Women is working with organizations and schools who assist women coping with homelessness and those in transitional housing to aid in offering opportunities for development both personally and professionally at no cost to them.

By acknowledging the barriers that exist for women to attend the Evening of Empowerment, Women2Women will be offering solutions, with the help of local businesses and community


organizations, to bring women to the event. Barriers such as access to childcare, professional clothing, and beauty products will be eliminated so all women in Berks can attend the event. Looking to the future for all women’s development and growth, information will be made available in regards to adult learning, GED and ESL programs, scholarships available at local colleges, and getting connected with PA Career Link.

Women2Women will also be hosting a professional clothing drive the night of the Evening of Empowerment, later donating these items to the organizations partnering in bringing women to the event.

But the development and connection won’t stop on 10/12 and will continue when Women2Women hosts a moving screening of From Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story following the event. All who attended the Evening of Empowerment will be invited to the screening followed by networking.

Also presenting at the Evening of Empowerment is Traci Costa, President and CEO of ATHENA International. As part of her Enlightenment Tour, Traci is traveling the country to meet with local ATHENA chapters and interview ATHENA award recipients to learn more about their communities. These interviews will be recorded at W2W sponsor organization Berks Community Television (BCTV) and shared on the ATHENA International YouTube channel as well as across Berks Women2Women social media channels.

Additionally, Traci will share information about ATHENA International’s upcoming programs, which “empower everyone to discover and ignite the authentic leader within by amplifying and celebrating girls, women, and allies.”

The 2023 Evening of Empowerment is sure to leave all attendees inspired, and remind everyone that you can overcome any obstacle.

Register for the Evening of Empowerment at greaterreading.org.

October 12, 2023 | 5:30pm-8:00pm

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OCTOBER 12, 2023
5:30 P.M. – 8 P.M.


3049 Pricetown Rd. (Rt.12) Temple, PA (610) 929-5049



W2W Evening of Empowerment

Keynote Speaker

Subject of 3x Emmy-Nominated Lifetime TV movie Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story, Author of the New York Times Bestselling, The Sunday Times Bestselling memoir, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard

The child of drug-addicted parents who routinely ate from dumpsters and sought refuge at allnight subway stations to survive, Liz Murray was homeless at age 15—and fending for her life. Determined not to be defined by her circumstances, she recognized education as the key to a fresh beginning and a whole new way of living. She earned her high school diploma in just two years and won a scholarship to Harvard University that would turn her bleak circumstances into a future filled with limitless possibility. With sincerity, maturity and graciousness, Murray takes audiences along on her personal journey from street smarts to classroom triumphs, instantly becoming an inspiration to both student groups and business audiences alike in need of the motivation to overcome their own obstacles. The subject of Lifetime Television’s Emmy-nominated original film, Homeless to Harvard, Murray graduated from Harvard in 2009, and went on to receive her Masters in the Psychology of Education at Columbia University. Today, as Co-Founder of The Arthur Project, Murray is a passionate advocate for underserved youth, working to end generational poverty through relationship-based learning. 2

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SheLeads:A Woman of Purpose

When W2W Magazine Managing Editor Kirsten Haas asked me to interview Alvernia University’s first female president in over 30 years, Glynis A. Fitzgerald, Ph.D., I admittedly had a fan-girl moment (ahhhhh)! As a representative of Alvernia, a first-generation student and an aspiring leader in higher education, when it was announced earlier this year that Glynis was appointed to serve as our fearless leader, I smiled big.

Glynis shows young women like me that it is possible to break ceilings.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Glynis A Fitzgerald, Ph.D., President of Alvernia University, mother and woman of purpose.

Why is your position unique to women in our community? My answer would have been much different if you had asked this same question five years ago, but thankfully, it’s no longer unusual for women to serve as University Presidents. In Berks County alone, the majority of our colleges are led by strong women.

It’s up to us to positively impact the community through collaboration, embracing healthy competition, and having transparent conversations. Together, we can focus on the student experience and how as partners, we can drive brain gain across the region.

Imagine what it would look like for Berks County if our schools came together and hosted a joint event at the Peanut Bar? Students from all six colleges in one place at one time (wow), enjoying each other’s company and their community. When our students think of Berks County, I want them to think, “This is a place where I want to make a life.”

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Photo courtesy of Heidi Reuter

What led you to your current career path?

Every time I was presented with the opportunity to take a leap of faith or make a difficult decision along my career path, someone reached out and said, “You can do this.” When I was in college, one of my professors, “Doc” Christiansen, handed me a dissertation and said, “You’ve got one of these in you.”

Before I even thought about becoming a provost myself, the provost at my previous institution sent me to the Becoming a Provost Academy. It’s those small but powerful moments that defined my career: Surround yourself with people like that, find your people.

As women, we often times wait for someone to tell us we’re ready. First, let’s stop doing that and believe in ourselves, but also seek out the people who open doors for you and say, “You can do this.”

What words of wisdom would you offer to other women?

Keep having critical conversations. I would tell women, especially women in leadership positions, to unapologetically talk about the challenges that they face in the workplace and find opportunities to support one another. Let’s talk about making workplaces friendlier to working and nursing mothers. Let’s talk about work-life balance, family time, and motherhood. Let’s keep having critical conversations that lead to necessary action. Let’s leave the workplace better than we found it.

What is the most valuable way women can support each other?

By listening. Women in leadership should create spaces where new voices are a part of the conversation. We should be bringing emerging leaders to the table and encouraging them to confidently take the center seat. We should be ensuring that women are heard.

I admire Carolyn Holleran for so many reasons. And I respect her greatly when she says, “It’s no longer my turn, let someone else have it.” We need to pave the way for the next generation of women by making room for them to take on leadership roles.

Is there an “aha” moment or experience that defines who you are?

Every opportunity to which I said “yes” defined me. My “aha” moments often came after I said yes to an opportunity that I was initially hesitant about. I was always very goal-driven, so much so that I graduated early from college, went to graduate school and intended to get my Ph.D. before I turned 25. But instead, when presented with the opportunity to enter corporate America, I said yes. I now use that experience in my role as a university president.

In moments of hesitation, I lean into my faith in God. When I was making a pivotal decision in my career last year, I prayed for God to light a path for me. In turn, the path to Alvernia presented itself. I said yes!

What keeps you grounded?

My friend Ginger Kunkel said something powerful recently that really resonated with me. She said, “It’s okay to rethink what a day looks like.” It’s okay to take an hour for yourself in the afternoon when you won’t have an hour in the evening.

Since I started as President, people have been checking in on how I’m doing and how I’m adjusting to the schedule of a university president. My genuine response is, “I am busy with what I love.”

Ginger’s words were grounding to me, and I want other women to know that it is okay to be busy with what you love and it is okay to rethink what a day looks like.

What’s your mission?

To make higher education attainable and a gateway to a better life for all.

Although I always dreamt of going to a small, private college, when it was actually time to make a decision, the image of going to a Catholic school was so farfetched that I didn’t even schedule a tour. My father was a factory worker, and my mother was a nurse. As a first-generation college student, I thought I had no chance at going to a private Catholic school.

My mission is to open the doors and say, “Come take a look. This is possible for you.” And then to actually make it possible. I look forward to getting out in the community to demystify the college process.

What three things do you recommend that contribute to your success?

1. Say yes.

2. Take the center seat at the table.

3. Every chance you get to connect with someone new, do it.

What is the best advice you have received? Listen – with your ears, but more importantly, listen with your heart.

Why do you believe W2W is important for the community?

W2W is a wonderful forum for rich dialogue. It provides a space for women to uplift and support one another. 2

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Photo courtesy of Dan Z. Johnson

The 2023 Building Berks Awards: A Celebration of Economic Growth

Berks County is on the rise, fueled by innovation, community impact, and positive economic growth. Every two years, the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) hosts the Building Berks Awards & Expo, an event designed to shine a spotlight on the projects and partnerships that are shaping the future of this vibrant community.

The 2023 Building Berks Awards received 30 nominated projects to review across a diverse range of categories, each highlighting a unique aspect of Berks County’s growth story. The nomination categories include:

• Adaptive Reuse

• Agribusiness

• Building Systems

• Commercial

• Education

• Healthcare

• Historic Preservation/ Restoration

• Hospitality

• Industrial

• Infrastructure

• Mixed-Use

• Out-of-the-Box

• Placemaking

• Residential

• Sustainable Development

Why are the Building Berks Awards important?

Celebration of Economic Impact

At its core, the Building Berks Awards & Expo is designed to honor the collaborative efforts of businesses, organizations, professionals and community leaders who work together to fortify the Berks County economy. It is a celebration of those who have played a pivotal role in making the region stronger, more sustainable and more prosperous. Throughout the event, attendees will gain invaluable insights into the projects that have not only driven economic growth but have also enhanced the quality of life for Berks County residents.

The 2023 nominated projects represent an impressive,

• $148 million in investment

• 1.2 million square feet of development

• 2,100 jobs created

Since the first event in 2018, all nominated projects through 2023 represent:

• $849 million in investment

• 7.8 million square feet of development

• 11,325 jobs created

Industry Recognition

Being a part of the Building Berks Awards event means acknowledgement as part of the crème de la crème of industry professionals. The bi-annual event is

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American Crane & Equipment team receiving 2019 award

an opportunity for companies to showcase their involvement in the growth and success of Berks County’s economy. What sets this event apart is the rigorous evaluation process. Each year nominated projects are meticulously reviewed by a diverse panel of esteemed professionals who bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise from various industries. This diversity is a testament to the event’s commitment to recognizing excellence and innovation across a wide spectrum of economic sectors.

The collective expertise of the 2023 panel of judges includes:

• Kirsten Deysher, Manager of Client Engagement, Entech Engineering

• Jodi Gauker, Business Development Extension Educator, Penn State Extension

• Scott O. Graham, President of MG Architects

• David K. Leinbach, President, The Kaiser Martin Group

• James Whitton, Chief Lending Officer, Tompkins Community Bank.

Scheduled for Wednesday, October 25, this year’s event promises to be a remarkable celebration of growth and development across Berks County. It is an opportunity to honor the collaborative efforts of businesses, organizations, professionals and community leaders who are working tirelessly to fortify the region’s economic foundation. This event is not just about structures; it’s a celebration of those who make Berks County even stronger, more sustainable and more prosperous.

To learn more about the 2023 Building Berks Awards, go to https://business.greaterreading.org/ events/details/2023-building-berksawards-trade-expo

Celebrating Women Building Berks

Office with the aim of listing the building on the National Historic Register.

Since the inception of the Building Berks Awards & Expo in 2018, women have played an integral role in the event by contributing their expertise across a diverse range of industries, not only through nominated projects and as award recipients but also as esteemed members of the judging panels throughout the event’s four-year history. These women have been instrumental in shaping the event’s success while also fostering innovation, economic growth, and excellence in Berks County.

Building Berks Awards judging panelists over the years have included:

• Renee Chesler, formerly with Glen-Gery

• Kirsten Deysher, Entech Engineering

• Ann Moll, Gallen Insurance

• Jodi Gauker, Penn State Extension

• Elizabeth A. Magovern, Hartman, Valeriano, Magovern & Lutz, P.C.

• Sarah Phillips, Irish Creek Enterprises

Women-led companies that have been honored with Building Berks Awards: RADIUS | 2021 Adaptive Reuse Building Berks Winner | Saskia Coleman, CEO & President

RADIUS, a forward-thinking ecoconscious oral care enterprise headquartered in Kutztown, achieved recognition in the Adaptive Reuse category during the 2021 Building Berks Awards. The company’s growth prompted the restoration of the historic Kutztown Silk Mill, dating back to 1898. This extensive 45,000-square-foot restoration project was conducted under the guidance of the PA Historic Preservation

Saskia Coleman has emerged as the driving force behind RADIUS’s enduring success, providing visionary leadership that has cultivated a culture of innovation and excellence within the organization. As a certified women-owned and American-made business, RADIUS proudly upholds its commitment to sustainability while consistently delivering premium-quality products.

American Crane & Equipment Corporation | 2019 Manufacturing Building Berks Winner | Karen Norheim, President & CEO

In 2019, American Crane & Equipment Corporation, headquartered in Douglassville, secured the top honor in the Manufacturing category at the Building Berks Awards. Their project involved constructing a new bay designed for final assembly, testing and storage, boasting three cranes capable of lifting 150 tons. The project was designed and engineered in-house.

Under Karen Norheim’s leadership, American Crane has initiated a transformative cultural movement, driven by the mantra “GRIT Matters,” signifying the core values of Perseverance, Heart, and InteGRITy. Notably, American Crane achieved national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) and a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) by the Women’s Business Enterprise Center – East. These designations affirm that their business is at least 51% owned, operated, controlled and managed by women.

These women-led companies exemplify how diverse leadership can drive innovation, growth and excellence. As we eagerly anticipate the 2023 Building Berks Awards & Expo, we take this opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of these women. 2

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Irish Creek Enterprises Team 2021 Building Berks Award Aaron Gantz, Senior Director, Economic Development - GRCA & Host, and David Hunter, Executive Director, Berks County Planning Commission · County of Berks

Designing Women: Internships Built for Growth

Muhlenberg Greene (MG) Architects is the oldest architectural firm in Berks County. Founded in 1920 by Frederick A. Muhlenberg, the century-old design firm has stood the test of time through war, economic downturns, local challenges and changes. The key to success has always been adaptation.

Today, the Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) fields are an integral part of Berks County employment opportunities. However, these fields have a longstanding history of being male dominated. The 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote was granted just four months after MG Architects was established! Since 1920, the role of women in the business has evolved greatly.

The path to licensure for architects takes on average 11 years, during which one must acquire an accredited degree, earn 3,740 hours of experience and pass a series of exams. The demanding time frame lines up all too well with potential personal goals for women including marriage and establishing a family. Thus, women historically had fewer opportunities to advance in and establish a presence in the field.

Suzanne Cody, Director of Business Development at MG Architects, brings oversight in all aspects of nurturing client relationships and identifying new prospects and business trends for the group. She also oversees their internship program that exposes emerging designers to the field of architecture and related career paths.

The internship program includes industry software training, establishing a professional LinkedIn profile presence, site visits to active projects and the opportunity to attend networking events. For female interns, Suzanne takes the additional steps of educating them about current statistics and potential challenges, plus tailored experiences including attendance at women’s networking events including the GRCA’s Women2Women Working Across Generations and Networking Event

Jamie Snitzer is a Design Technician at the firm, currently on the path to licensure. Jamie serves on the Board of Directors for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter and serves on the AIA Pennsylvania Emerging Professionals Committee (EPiC), helping the group identify and recognize Pennsylvania firms who provide assistance to their staff on the path to licensure.

In her role, Jamie also assists the firm’s high school and college interns with the onboarding process, checking in with the students as they go through ArchiCAD tutorials and small projects. She visits her alma mater, Marywood University, as a guest critic to review design student portfolios.

Despite her seven years of architectural design experience with the firm, Jamie is not immune to disrespect from others in the field. She recounts one particular experience on a job site where a colleague refused to shake her hand or acknowledge her presence and value to the project.

Knowing situations like this exist, Jamie developed a one-hour presentation to educate girls interested in architecture about current statistical data on women in architecture, how to pursue a degree in the field, personal stories and fun activities to encourage those interests. Her program gives girls an opportunity to learn about the experiences women can face in the traditionally male-dominated field while inspiring them with the process of becoming an architect. Jamie provides this overview for all the female interns at MG Architects as part of their experience with the firm.

Summer 2023 intern Libby Smith always knew she wanted to work in interior architecture and for her, choosing a school was not a difficult choice. Attracted by the allure of the artistic freedom of being an interior architect, she is now in her third year at Marywood University. While her

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experience at MG Architects was wonderful and her department at Marywood is 87.5% female, Libby also faces challenges in the field. Spectators outside the world of interior architecture, whether that be the work force or male students, tend to look down on the femaledominated profession. Recalling an interaction with a close male friend in which he asked, “Why wouldn’t you just do normal architecture,” brushing off interior architecture as merely decorating when in fact, the role is much more involved.

Citlalli Reyes-Perez, another 2023 MG Architect intern this past summer, grew up in a female-dominated family in which questions of what she could or could not do were limited only by her ambition. Her decision to enter the architectural field is quite similar to many others in the field: she feels passion and intrigue by the many facets it holds and it is an environment in which she can see herself thriving in for many years to come.

Despite the unfair circumstances many women in the field are forced to confront, there is also much growth occurring within the industry. While currently only 17% of licensed architects are women, of those recently registered two in five are women, indicating a generational shift of inclusivity. Out of all the students enrolled in architectural programs within the US, half are female. This growth is a result of years of female perseverance fueled by their passion to pursue careers in architecture.

MG Architects offers paid college internships during summer months and winter breaks to students studying architecture. High school students interested in the field of design can apply for an unpaid internship through their business education department at their high school. Contact Suzanne Cody at MG Architects for more information on the internship program or to schedule Jamie’s presentation focused on young female designers.

For more information about the demographics of architecture visit www.ncarb.org.

For more information about MG Architects, go to http://www.mg-architects.com. 2

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U Please give today at uwberks.org/donate
it starts with


Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves.

It’s a fun thought but a terrible piece of financial advice. A TIAA Institute study on financial literacy and wellness among women found that less than 50% of respondents expressed confidence in their personal finance knowledge1. This lack of confidence is exacerbated by the fact that women already face greater economic challenges than their male counterparts, particularly in the following areas:

• Making ends meet

• Achieving financial goals

• Covering unexpected expenses

• Planning for retirement

Ruthann Woll, CPA and Partner at RKL, moderated the W2W program, “Prep Your Life Panel; Things You Need NOW!” in June. The session featured other local experts in financial planning and estate planning including Amy Strouse, Private Wealth Manager at RKL; Regina Rinehimer, Partner and Wealth Manager at Kingsview Partners; and Sarah Rubright McCahon, attorney in the Trust and Estates Practice Group at Barley Snyder.

“It is important for all women to be able to take care of themselves financially and to understand their financial outlook,” Ruthann Woll explains. “Women tend to outlive their spouses so being able to take care of daily financial tasks is important.”

She points out, “Today, we are having more conversations about this than we did ten years ago. However, I do still encounter many people who do not have an active role in their finances. Generally, in a family, I see that one person will be the primary finance person and the other person will take a passive role. I think it is very important for both people to be at the table. I also believe that the earlier you can have these conversations with children the more progress we can make.”

In other words, acquiring even basic financial knowledge can increase the ability to make smart money decisions and better manage personal finances over the long-term.

Long-term retirement planning is an area in which women are behind. During the pandemic, women accounted for 54% of overall job losses2. Woll says, “When the pandemic struck, many women either had to stop working to be the primary caregiver or lost their jobs. They lost traction in the workforce that they have not been able to recoup. We continue to have a salary gap and the pandemic did not help us close that gap, in fact it worsened it.

1 , 2 https://www.tiaa.org/public/institute/about/news/ financial-literacy-and-wellness-among-us-women

16 Women2Women | Fall 2023

“I feel very strongly about women setting themselves up for future success,” Woll concludes.

Regina Rinehimer describes two retirement savings options (in addition to contributing to a 401k, if available through an employer): a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA. While each account is a savings option that provides future income, each account has different benefits.

For instance, a Roth IRA offers tax-free investments, tax-free withdrawals and no required minimum distributions (RMDs). Additionally, Roth IRA assets may be passed on as non-taxed inheritance. Traditional IRA withdrawals are taxable and impose RMDs based on the age of the account owner.

“Even individuals who are self-employed can set up retirement accounts,” Rinehimer explains. Some possibilities are a Single 401k (for the solo-preneur), a SEP IRA, a Simple IRA or a Keough Plan. Each plan comes with different rules and benefits so it’s worth consulting an expert to select the best fit.

Rinehimer emphasizes that financial literacy is a key element of financial independence. When it comes to finances, ask questions!

Future success not only covers retirement planning but also estate planning (what happens to your financial assets). The common perception is that estate planning is about having a will but it can also involve establishing health care directives and a power of attorney.

“Generally speaking,” says Sarah Rubright McCahon, “a will directs where and to whom your assets will be distributed upon your death. If you do not have a will/estate plan, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has one for you.” She points out, “This plan might not be what you would have decided for your assets/property. I think the number one seller for having a will is control. I would rather control how my assets are distributed than to have some statutes direct what happens to my property upon my passing.”

McCahon also extolls the criticality of having a financial power of attorney (POA). “A POA is a document that ensures that you (as the principal/signer of the document) get to select who will act for you if/when you are unable to do so for yourself. This could be due to incapacity, sickness or unavailability of the principal. A financial POA appoints a person (known as an agent) to act for the principal with respect to financial matters. These matters include, but are not limited to, signing checks, selling assets and paying bills.”

The financial journey to financial independence is one that is never too early to start and it’s never too late!


Continued on page 18

Registered Architect since 1994 Working for 38 Years at Muhlenberg Greene Architects

First Project – I surveyed the entire building of the former Berkshire Hotel because there weren’t any drawings available.

Industry Changes – When I started everything was hand drawn. Our office started using computers in 1996.

Personal Life – My husband Mark and I live in the Oley Valley on an old farmstead with outbuildings dating back to the late 1700s. We have 2 daughters; both are Kutztown University graduates.

Favorite Things – I love animals, especially my two grand dogs, a corgi and a mixed breed.

Visit us – My husband and I have owned The Market at Boyer’s Junction on Pricetown Road since 2012. It has an oldtime country store atmosphere. Stop in and say hello!

berkswomen2women.com 17


(decided at year-end) and not guaranteed annually.

Other types of employer retirement plans include SIMPLE IRA or SEP IRA.

529 Plan

A 529 plan is an investment account for education expenses of a designated beneficiary. The investments grow tax-free if the funds are withdrawn to pay for qualified education expenses. Contributions to a 529 plan are not deductible for Federal income tax purposes, but some states like Pennsylvania allow a deduction for contributions to 529 plans.


A primary beneficiary is the person (or people or organizations) you name to receive your possessions when you pass away. A contingent beneficiary is second in line to receive your assets in case the primary beneficiary passes away. And a residuary beneficiary gets any property that isn’t specifically left to another beneficiary.

Last Will & Testament

A Last Will & Testament is a legal document that outlines your preferences regarding how your assets will be distributed and the care of any minor children upon your death. If you die without a valid will, the state will determine how your estate is settled.

Power of Attorney

A legal Power of Attorney is a document that gives one or more persons the authorization to act on your behalf. The Power of Attorney can provide broad or limited authority to make decisions regarding property, finances, or medical care. The authority granted by a Power of Attorney ceases upon your death. At that point, the person(s) named as executor of your estate would be authorized.

Employer Retirement Accounts

A common employer retirement account is a 401k plan, which allows an employee to contribute a portion of their compensation to their account. A 403b plan is similar and applies when the employer is a school district or certain type of tax-exempt organization.

• Generally, contributions to a 401k or 403b plan are taxdeferred and excluded from the employee’s taxable income. The 401k or 403b plan may allow employees to designate some or all of their elective deferral as after-tax Roth contributions. There is an annual limit on the employee’s deferral ($22,500 for 2023; additional $7,500 if age 50 or above).

• Employers are not required to contribute to the 401k or 403b plan, but they may contribute to the plan on behalf of the employee through matching contributions or profit-sharing contributions. Their contributions may be discretionary

• The maximum employee contribution for a SIMPLE IRA is $15,500 (additional $3,500 if age 50 and above) in 2023. The employer is required to contribute either a matching contribution for participating employees or a 2% nonelective contribution for each eligible employee.

• A SEP IRA is a traditional IRA that an employer may establish for their employees. In this type of retirement plan, only the employer will contribute to the plan. The employer’s contribution cannot exceed 25% of the employee’s compensation, or $66,000 for 2023.

Individual Retirement Accounts

There are two types of Individual Retirement Accounts –Traditional IRA and Roth IRA. These retirement accounts may be utilized to save for retirement if your employer does not offer a retirement plan or in conjunction with most employerprovided retirement accounts.

Traditional IRA

• This is a tax-deferred retirement account. This means that you may get a tax deduction when you contribute to the Traditional IRA (pre-tax contributions). You pay tax on the amount that you withdraw from the Traditional IRA in retirement.

• The maximum contribution amount is $6,500 (additional $1,000 if age 50 or above).

• There is no income limitation for deductible contributions to a Traditional IRA if you (and spouse, if applicable) are not eligible for an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Roth IRA

• This is a tax-free retirement account. There is no tax deduction for contributions to the Roth IRA (after-tax contributions) and withdrawals are not taxed in retirement.

• The maximum contribution amount is $6,500 (additional $1,000 if age 50 or above).

• There is an income limitation for contributions to a Roth IRA. For both types of Individual Retirement Accounts, distributions prior to age 59 ½ may be subject to an early withdrawal penalty.

Social Security

Social Security provides financial protection for our nation’s people, supporting Americans throughout all of life’s journeys. It administers retirement, disability, survivor, and family benefits, and enrolls individuals in Medicare. 2

From the W2W Prep Your Life Panel, June 2023

18 Women2Women | Fall 2023 FEATURE
Here are some basic definitions for a few common financial tools that can help ensure financial security for the present and for the future.

A Journey of Success, Growth & Empowerment

Ican’t believe it’s been five years since I hit the “go live” button on social media sharing that I had started a wedding and event planning business. At the start of my career I coordinated trade shows across the country while supporting marketing & event planning efforts for a global company. A year later my career as a wedding & corporate event planner began and I had the opportunity to meet amazing, beautiful and talented clients. Some knew what they wanted from the start and others needed help forming their ideas into a vision for the big picture. Others just wanted someone there for them during the event so they could fully enjoy all they had planned.

While I love helping individuals, I also LOVE to give back to the community and help local businesses. In tandem with owning Just Breathe., I am also the Senior Director

of Events & Special Programs for the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, your local chamber of commerce + more! I oversee 75 and events of all sizes across many departments. I successfully shifted all events to a virtual platform to ensure we continued helping the business community in 2020-2021. Zoom, Teams, WebEx, Remo, and other fun networking event platforms – I am now a virtual guru!

In the past five years Just Breathe. has:

• Gone from 1 planner to 5;

• Visited 20 venues;

• Helped 74 couples & clients;

• Launched cloud-based planning with an online client portal;

• And rebranded.

At first, it was just wedding planning. Then it became a true brand – a brand that

embodied what I believed because I lived the brand every day. Just Breathe. Weddings & Events provides a personalized and joyful event or wedding planning experience. It’s as simple as that. That’s the mission.

When my career started to grow and evolve in the community, and all of a sudden I had two small children, I had to make a tough decision… stop planning weddings or grow the business and empower others to take the reins. I knew growing the business meant using a lot of my not-free time to make this happen, and while I didn’t really have that time, I didn’t want to lose all I had built. Grow it was, so I made a to-do list!

Continued on page 20

FEATURE berkswomen2women.com 19
Rachael Romig, Owner Kirsten, Planner Caitlin, Planner Sammi, Planner Mackenzie, Planner

Just Breathe. Growth To Do List

1. Find at least 3 rockstars

2. Take all the knowledge in my brain and put it into SOPs

3. Clearly define who and what Just Breathe. is and embodies

4. Empower team through training, unity, and SOPs

5. Strengthen relationships with local venues and vendors

One thing I always tell my clients within and outside of Just Breathe. is that their ideas – their visions & dreams – are what makes the event shine. I am here to help you organize those thoughts, formulate new ideas, bring them to life and be there the day of your event to make sure that you can enjoy all you’ve accomplished.

Remember to take that breath when you’re overwhelmed. Let Just Breathe. help you stay calm, smile, laugh and enjoy the planning process. It was through these feelings that I decided they were our true Core Values. To be a brand, you have to live your brand.


• Exhibit Professionalism

• Fanatical Attention to Detail & Consistency

• Authenticity

• Fun

I never knew what success would look or feel like. In September of 2023, the team executed two weddings on the same day, an hour from each other, and I know, I know, I broke one of my own rules with a 2nd wedding on the same day but it was a special case. At the end of the night, when both weddings were over and our clients raved about our help, I sat down with a glass of wine and reflected on how far I had come in 5 years. It was only then that I truly felt like I owned a real business, and a successful one at that. The proof was there that I HAD DONE IT. Cheers to the future for all side hustles turned successful business in Berks and beyond! 2


20 Women2Women | Fall 2023 FEATURE
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Rachael & Mackenzie at The Farm at Eagles Ridge in Lancaster, PA


Join us for a celebration of empowerment and inspiration! The Evening of Empowerment brings together 200+ individuals and always offers a takeaway to immediately help you develop professionally and personally. Join us to meet Liz Murray, who will share a story of empowerment and inspiration like you’ve never heard before.

Also joining us on the ATHENA Enlightenment Tour is President & CEO of ATHENA International, Traci Costa, who is traveling the country meeting with local ATHENA chapters to interview ATHENA recipients and learn about our communities. She will also be sharing news about ATHENA International’s upcoming programs. The 2023 Evening of Empowerment will also be empowering all women to attend the event, breaking down the barriers preventing them from joining. Consider “Paying It Forward” by purchasing a ticket that will be donated to a woman to attend.


A story so powerful it was made into a movie, Liz Murray shares her fascinating, inspirational story of growing up with two drug-addicted parents who she began supporting at age 10. Homeless at age 15, the death of her mother was the wake-up call that made her break free of her circumstances and pursue a different path for her life. While living on the streets of New York, she completed and graduated from high school in just two years. Overcoming horrible odds, she won a full scholarship and was accepted to Harvard University. Murray offers one of the most moving, elegant and uplifting tales you will ever hear.


Time: 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Venue: Abraham Lincoln – Presidential Ballroom

Price: $60/GRCA Member

$60/Pay it Forward Ticket

$75/Future Member


Women2Women (W2W) is Greater Reading Chamber Alliance’s catalyst for developing women leaders and connecting women from diverse backgrounds to learn, share ideas, and mentor each other through offering a forum for women to create connections, gain knowledge, and build strategic alliances to foster their personal potential and career advancement. Joining the network is open to all who support women.

De Mujer a Mujer, una iniciativa de W2W, continúa conectando a mujeres de diversos orígenes al ofrecer programación especializada en la noche y destacar a oradores de diversos orígenes.


DE MUJER A MUJER: The Key to Creating Confidence

An empowering presentation designed to guide women on a transformative journey towards self-discovery, self-love and selfimprovement through the art of routine-building. Jexsadia Flores, founder of Fierce LeadHerShip LLC: Coaching & Consulting, delves into the profound impact of establishing purposeful routines in our lives, which serve as a foundation for building unshakable confidence, nurturing ourselves, and embracing our well-being.


Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Venue: Abraham Lincoln – Roosevelt Suite

Price: $10/GRCA Member

$15/Future GRCA Member

Continued on page 22

berkswomen2women.com 21
Mujer Mujer


I AM NOT YOUR SUPERWOMAN: Women Don’t Have to Take Care of Everything

Welcoming back Dr. Krista Schenkel, a past Women2Women speaker; Dr. Schenkel will be presenting I Am Not Your Superwoman! Women traditionally are the caregivers, homemakers, schedule setters, holiday planners, and not to mention having professional roles of their own. Dr. Schenkel will be discussing ways you can set boundaries and realize that you don’t have to do it all! Let’s take a moment and reprioritize our days, weeks and months to live better lives with the help of those around us.


Time: 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m

Venue: Holiday Inn Morgantown

Price: $35/GRCA Member

$45/Future GRCA Member


W2W NETWORKING EVENT: Women Across Generational Work

Whether we’re making connections at a networking event, or trying to communicate with our co-workers, we are constantly interacting with people of different generations. Our communication styles are often different, and we almost never have the same background. How are we supposed to forge a lasting connection?

We are asking all who attend to BRING ANOTHER WOMAN to empower and lift up! Consider inviting an up-and-coming leader in your workplace, friend, daughter, or mentee. High school and college women will be attending to expand their networks. We will also be hosting Don Carrick, Studio 413, who will be offering complimentary headshots to update your resumes and LinkedIn profiles!


Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Venue: Abraham Lincoln – Roosevelt Suite

Price: $10/GRCA Member

$15/Future GRCA Member

To register for events & join Women2Women, visit www.berkswomen2women.com.

Stay connected at: Facebook @BerksWomen2Women

LinkedIn @Berks Women2Women Group

Instagram @berks_W2W

Travel with W2W this summer!

Share a pic of you enjoying W2W Magazine & tag us at #W2WMag

Women2Women (W2W) is a special program of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA).

GRCA’s mission is to be Berks County’s leading resource for building a healthy, competitive business community by assisting companies to retain, expand and grow their operations and employment while also attracting new business to Berks County.

Greater Possibilities Start Here. Visit greaterreading.org for resources we can offer your business, or connect with us directly with any questions you may have at info@GreaterReading.org or call 610-376-6766.

22 Women2Women | Fall 2023
3317 Penn Avenue West Lawn ReadingDerm.com


Liz Murray –Evening of Empowerment

With sincerity, maturity and graciousness, Murray takes audiences along on her personal journey from street smarts to classroom triumphs, instantly becoming an inspiration to both student groups and business audiences alike in need of the motivation to overcome their own obstacles. The subject of Lifetime Television’s Emmy-nominated original film, Homeless to Harvard, Murray graduated from Harvard in 2009, and went on to receive her Masters in the Psychology of Education at Columbia University. Today, as Co-Founder of The Arthur Project, Murray is a passionate advocate for underserved youth, working to end generational poverty through relationship-based learning.

Jexsaida Flores –November Mujer a Mujer

Jexsaida Flores is an accomplished Life and Health Coach, specializing in empowering women to embrace holistic well-being and unlock their full potential. She founded her coaching business, Fierce LeadHerShip, providing Life and Health Coaching to help women achieve sustainable lifestyle changes and create a harmonious balance between mind, body and spirit.

Jexsaida guides her clients through unique wellness journeys, addressing various aspects of their lives, including stress management, fitness, nutrition, self-care and personal growth. Her approach ensures each woman receives the support needed to foster a sense of empowerment and self-confidence.

Dr. Krista Schenkel – November W2W

Dr. Krista Schenkel achieved her undergraduate degree at Penn State University, attended Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine for her doctorate, and completed her residency training in family medicine at Penn State Health St. Joseph’s. She currently works as a family medicine doctor in a small rural practice in Strausstown, PA. She is married, has a little boy and girl, and enjoys hiking and traveling with her family.

Dr. Schenkel believes in a pragmatic and holistic approach to medicine. She strives to build positive relationships with her patients throughout their care, while teaching her patients about their individual health. Her passion and connection with patients is one of the main reasons she chose a field in primary care. 2


• Prevention and education programs.

• Recovery support for alumni.

berkswomen2women.com 23
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Offers: •
A range of outpatient group counseling options for teens and adults.
Individual counseling.
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26-29, 2023 9th Annual
Embrace the captivating world of storytelling by sponsoring Berks County’s 9th annual film festival.


Butterflies… They can be symbols of love, freedom, and transformation, or remind us of the spirit of a lost loved one. Butterflies bring joy to our hearts and beautiful colors to our outdoor spaces.

Sadly, many butterflies are endangered because of both urban sprawl and the increased development of the agriculture industry. Monarch butterflies alone lose a shocking 2.2 million acres of habitat land every year because of industrial, commercial, and residential building, and a frightening 90 percent of their habitats in the agricultural landscape.

So, how can you help?

In the past, a flower bed filled with traditional annuals was known to have butterfly visitors, but today, these endangered beauties need even more support to continue to thrive.

Butterfly gardens are specific spots devoted to all the things that encourage the health and breeding of butterflies, and the experts at Anewalt’s Landscape created the perfect example at their Bernville Workspace & Studio.

24 Women2Women | Fall 2023

Anewalt’s certified Monarch Waystation, professionally designed for both beauty and to fit the criteria required for a Waystation certification, does even more than offer commonly helpful milkweed and nectar sources to Monarchs and other butterflies.

Come visit Anewalt’s!

A visit to the Anewalt’s Monarch Waystation will surround and inspire you with types of perennials Monarchs particularly love, like the Agastache “Blue Fortune” or Hyssop, a threefoot-tall beauty with soft, lavender blue flowers, and a minty licorice scent that attracts both Monarchs and other butterfly visitors. Only about a foot tall, Monarda “Balmy Purple” or Bee Balm, sports round purple flowers which fascinate butterflies and their welcome friends, the hummingbirds, and other pollinators. Another lovely addition to the Waystation is Liatris “Kobold” or Blazing Star, a two-foot-tall perennial with spikes of fluffy purple flower heads that seem to float over a leafy stalk.

Bring your family to see the Anewalt’s Monarch Waystation and dream of just the right space to place one at home.

How can Anewalt’s help?

Fall is the perfect time to plant perennials and a great time to plan a butterfly garden with one of our professional landscape designers if you need some guidance and help with creating the ideal garden.

If you enjoy the experience of our Monarch Waystation, stop in to talk with us about designing a beautiful and tranquil spot to support the butterflies in the outdoor living space of your home or even in your business landscape.

Just as a plant needs the right conditions to become healthy and strong, your outdoor projects need the right staff with a passion for quality to ensure that your landscape dreams come true.


We work with you to design the perfect outdoor space you, your family and friends will enjoy! Build.

From pools, patios, walkways and more, we work within your budget to build quality, timeless outdoor spaces. Relax.

We provide year-round premiere landscape maintenance, so you can spend time enjoying your family!

Lifescapes ® DESIGN. BUILD. RELAX.
Come inAlive 1988 2023 Ask us about our exquisite & serene Anewalt’s Butterfly Garden Designs! 610.916.7070 | www.AnewaltsLandscape.com PA#5744

ATHENA: Recognizing the Goddess in Women

Imagine being told to your face that you couldn’t be a leader just because you’re a woman.

That’s exactly what happened to Martha Mayhood Mertz only a little more than 40 years ago. She thought otherwise and made it her mission to find a way to make sure women were recognized for their leadership and to bring a balance to the voices of leadership worldwide. Working in collaboration with the Center for Creative Leadership, research funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation helped develop the ATHENA Leadership Model.

As they started to look for these leaders, she began to discover that they all shared similar traits in common. These traits were dubbed the Eight Principles of Enlightened Leadership

1. Live Authentically

2. Learn Constantly

3. Build Relationships

4. Foster Collaboration

5. Act Courageously

6. Advocate Fiercely

7. Give Back

8. Celebrate

Since then, the ATHENA awards have only grown, recognizing leaders from C-level executives and political leaders to philanthropists, actors and celebrities across 48 states and 11 countries. With nearly 8,000 recipients, ATHENA celebrates the changemakers and trailblazers who open doors of leadership and opportunity for women in communities across the globe. Over the years, the ATHENA Leadership Model has expanded into the comprehensive and enlightened Becoming ATHENA Leadership Program which delivers quantifiable outcomes to girls and women across the globe—from the classroom to the boardroom. But what really makes these awards exciting is that they celebrate not only women who lead on global and national levels, but they also recognize those women who support their communities locally!

Since 1993, Berks Women2Women has been a part of that local movement. For the first decade, we recognized two women each year: one for Small Business/Organization and another for Large Business. Recipients and nominees were recognized at an annual luncheon, which grew into a full-blown Conference in 2007. Now, the ATHENA Award is the capstone of the W2W Annual Conference & Expo, and to date, 39 women have been recognized for their contributions to our community and to other women.

We are proud to host Traci Costa, the current President and CEO of ATHENA International, at the upcoming Evening of Empowerment on October 12. As part of her Enlightenment Tour, Traci is traveling the country to meet with local ATHENA chapters and interview ATHENA award recipients to learn more about their communities. These interviews will be recorded at W2W sponsor organization Berks Community Television (BCTV) and Traci will be asking five Berks Women2Women ATHENA recipients questions like:

• Is there a field or profession that you never pursued, but that you think you probably would have been quite good at?

• You’ve been given the chance to travel into the future to see how the world will change over the next 50 years. What change are you most interested in?

• When was a pivotal moment in your life when you stepped in and advocated on behalf of a cause or person?

The interviews will be shared on the ATHENA International YouTube channel as well as across Berks Women2Women social media channels.

Additionally, Traci will share information about ATHENA International’s upcoming programs, which “empower everyone to discover and ignite the authentic leader within by amplifying and celebrating girls, women, and allies.”

To learn more about ATHENA International, go to https://www.athenainternational.org/. To learn more about ATHENA in Berks, go to https://www.berkswomen2women.com/ the-marketplace/athena-awards. 2

ATHENA Recipients

1993: Jeanette Finkel & Ann Miller

1994: Sandra M. Graffius & Carole Snyder

1995: Charlotte B. Cooper & Mary Ann Chelius Smith

1996: Trish Doll & Ramona D. Turpin

1997: Karen Baxter & Carol L. Kinsey

1998: Bev Cabral & Beth Molets

1999: Deborah L. Moore & Missy Orlando

2000: Jan Heller & Sue Reese

2001: Mary Ann Ulman & Crystal Seitz

2002: Marsha D. Egan & Lillie Foster

2003: Christina (Chris) Talarico

2004: Julia Klein

2005: Cheryl M. Guthier

2007: Marybeth Smialek

2008: Robin Costenbader-Jacobson

2009: Joanne M. Judge

2010: Joni Naugle

2011: CJ Rhodes

2013: Paula K. Barrett

2014: Frances (Franki) Aiken

2015: Andrea J. Funk

2016: P. Sue Perrotty

2017: Annarose Ingarra-Milch

2018: Toni Miller

2019: Alison Snyder

2020: Crystal Gilmore Harris

2021: Virginia Dodge

2022: Christi Terefenko

2023: Adelle Schade

26 Women2Women | Fall 2023
CONNECT GROW LEAD 2 Berks Women Networking W2W AROUND TOWN Solutions for the innovative 484.706.9882 | Temple, PA www.eb-designs.com Solutions for the innovative PRINT DESIGN LOGOS & IDENTITY MENUS ADVERTISING SOCIAL MEDIA WEB DESIGN PROMO GRAPHICS INVITATIONS PAMELA L. VANFOSSEN PVanfossen@MasanoBradley.com Suite 201, 1100 Berkshire Boulevard ◆ Wyomissing, Pa 19610 610.372.7700 ◆ Fax 610.372.4865 A PA Limited Liability Partnership berkswomen2women.com 27 Women2Women is proud to have brought 10 organizations together for networking with over 100 women registered! Thank you to the following organizations for joining us: Junior League of Reading, Berks Women in Motion, American Business Women’s Association / Women Excelling Reading Chapter, League of Women Voters, American Association of University Women: Reading Branch, NAACP of Reading, VOiCEup Berks, Governor Mifflin High School, and Reading Area High School.


W2W AROUND TOWN 28 Women2Women | Fall 2023

The ultimate professional, Lisa is the Top Producing Century 21 Agent in the State of PA, consistently ranked in the Top 100 in the US., but proudest of her premier ranking in Berks County. Lisa cares about the communities she serves, and it shows in her commitment to others.

In these challenging times, Lisa never waivers in her objective to help her clients reach their objective. It

berkswomen2women.com 29
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Do We Still Need Them and Why?

Face masks have become a common personal accessory but also a controversial topic of conversation since the start of the COVID pandemic in early 2020. Facial masking was lauded by health professionals as “source control” and adopted by healthcare facilities, government buildings and public spaces alike as a mandatory method to control the transmission of COVID-19.

But the use of masks to stop the spread of germs did not originate with the COVID pandemic.

In the United States, starting in the early 1900s, the use of cloth masks by physicians became common in operating rooms based on the “germ theory.” Simply explained, infectious organisms such as bacteria and viruses could be spread through respiratory droplets. By donning a mask, respiratory particles could be contained.

In 1918, the Spanish Flu was responsible for global adoption of the use of cloth masks, controlling droplets emitted by coughs and sneezes. As well as trapping released droplets, masks also provide a barrier from exposure to droplets and sprays from others. Today, a variety of masks are available to the public and each offer a different level of protection.

Least protective is the simple cloth face covering. Cloth masks made of multiple layers of tightly woven fabric can provide basic protection when worn over the mouth and nose.

Surgical masks are disposable, loose-fitting devices available in a variety of performance levels, from procedural masks to level three maximum barrier protection masks, and are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Surgical masks block exposure to droplets and splashes as well as contain respiratory secretions.

Unlike surgical masks, respirator masks function to filter out smaller particles, providing the highest level of protection. The most common facepiece is an N-95 mask. N-95s are designed to form a tight seal around the mouth and nose, filtering out at least 95% of airborne particles.

COVID-19 was an emerging respiratory illness, unique in its ability to spread rapidly and cause severe illness in otherwise healthy individuals. Epidemiologic research of the coronavirus revealed the breakdown of the droplet, through forceful coughing or respiratory treatments, into smaller particles or “droplet nuclei,” thus making surgical masks ineffective. Thus, in healthcare settings, N-95s remain the gold standard when caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.

Although masks are no longer mandatory in public settings, healthcare professionals continue to recommend the use of facial coverings based on one’s risk of exposure. Persons with weakened immune systems; persons who have contact with COVIDinfected acquaintances, or persons who experience exposure to large crowds may benefit from the protection afforded by masks.


30 Women2Women | Fall 2023 FEATURE

Caution or Courtesy

Sumimasen (soo-mi-mah-SEN) was one of the first words I learned the second time I lived in Japan (1999-2001). It means “excuse me” in many senses of the word. It’s the “excuse me” of trying to get past someone in a packed train car. It’s the “excuse me” of trying to get the attention of a waiter in a crowded restaurant. It can even be the “excuse me” of wanting to apologize for bumping into someone in a crowd. Of all the words and phrases I learned, sumimasen was the one I used the most.

But this makes sense.

Japanese culture is nothing if not courteous. For a place without public trash cans, I have never seen cleaner streets. Everyone picked up after themselves; it was expected that you would tend to your own trash. School children learn to respect their surroundings from an early age by taking a portion of each day to clean their classrooms, so the schools don’t employ janitors. Even their trains don’t escape this – not only are they clean, but they are nearly silent. No one wants to interrupt the quiet of the passengers around them. Courtesy is just something everyone practices.

Masks are an important part of this courtesy. I remember seeing someone wearing one on the train for the first time. I asked one of my classmates about it, and they explained that it wasn’t some viral outbreak, but a common practice when someone was feeling under the weather. Most surprising to my Western upbringing, it was never advertised as protecting themselves but as a way to protect others – extending that courtesy they learned as children to everyone around them.

When I see masks now, I’m reminded of that time of my life – when I knew that strangers were looking out for me in the smallest of ways. That idea of courtesy and respect is something that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life. 2

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