Women of Influence 2021

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Saratoga County’s


Influence 2021 Complimentary

Brought to you by:



Saratoga County’s Women of Influence

through the years 2008

Marianne Barker Julie Bonacio Kari Cushing Marie Glotzbach Susan Halstead Terry Lee Margie Rotchford Dee Sarno Linda Toohey Dottie Nixon


Elizabeth Alexander Susan Dake Karen Deandrea Krystle Nowhitney Benita Zahn


Karen Dake Francine Dingman Sandy Foster Barbara Glaser Natalie Sillery




Michelle Larkin Sara Mannix Rabbi Motzkin Cindy Munter Mary C. Powers Jamie Williams

Colleen Carlson

Karen Flewelling Kathleen Fyfe Jessica Patriccione Heather Straughter Amy Sutton

Lisa Breen Robin Dalton Teddy Foster Karen Heggen Jane Kromm Lynette Whaley




Sue Commanda Stephanie Ferradino Mary Gavin Valeri Muratori Melissa Ward Melissa Zeiker

Paula Fidalgo Kim Klopstock Tara Pleat Amy Raimo Patty Riggi Nancy Trimbur

Angela Amedio Laura DiRado Patty Laudicina Michele Madigan Cindy Phillips Dora Lee Stanley




Joanne DiMarco Cynthia Hollowood Meg Kelly Michele Riggi Holly Schwarz-Lawton Theresa Skaine Robin Solomon


Rev. Kate Forer June MacClelland Molly McMaster Morgoslepov Kathy McNeice Lisa Moser Shelby Schneider

Shelly Amato Libby Coreno Gayle Lasalle Jane Mastaitis Laura Obrien Miyo Reed Christianne Smith

Maggie Fronk Bo Goliber Dr. Renee Goodemote Megan Harris-Pero Elizabeth Sobol


Lisa Avila Catherine Hover Dr. Katrin Ramsey Elizabeth Schlegel Mary Solomons Kate Towne



Congratulations TO SARATOGA COUNTY’S


Influence 2021 & Thank You to Our Sponsor:


Influence 2020 Brought to you by

Publisher/Editor Chad Beatty General Manager Robin Mitchell Marketing Director Chris Bushee Advertising Jim Daley Cindy Durfey

PUBLISHER OF: Simply Saratoga • Saratoga Bride Saratoga Family • Welcome Home Equicurean • Saratoga Christmas and of course... Saratoga TODAY Newspaper 2254 Route 50 South Saratoga Springs, New York 12866 Phone: 518-581-2480 Fax: 518-581-2487 saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com

Distribution Kim Beatty Carolina Mitchell Graphic Design Kacie Cotter-Sacala Advertising Design Kelsey Sherman Articles Written By Megin Potter Photography Super Source Media

Local news never looked this good!

The Harris Company Meghan Aldridge

Lisa Avila pg. 4

Catherine Hover pg. 10

Dr. Katrin Ramsey pg. 16

Elizabeth Schlegel pg. 22

Mary Solomons pg. 28

Kate Towne pg. 34



Lisa Avila



Looking Forward How visualizing facts leads to understanding and innovation

Lisa Avila is a woman with vision who helps people see what the numbers are telling them. Engineering the Future Lisa Avila spent her whole childhood wanting to be just like her dad. As an engineer, there seemed to be no project he couldn't tackle (and he never hired someone else to do something he could do - which was pretty much anything).

Perhaps things would’ve turned out differently if he’d had a son instead of two girls, Lisa and her younger sister, but since he didn’t, he showed his daughters how to do things that young ladies weren’t often taught at that time. The fact that he’d worked on the lunar landing guidance system inspired awe in his daughter, as well as the feeling that she was learning something special when he gave her jobs to do around the house. He encouraged her to help with a multitude of household repairs and construction projects; taught her how to run a radial arm saw and a cement mixer. She learned how to splice wires and solder baseboard heating.




"The world was a different place back then. Guidance counselors would say computer science is not a career for women, that it was a lot of work, and that they’d have to give it up when they have kids...”

Breaking Down Barriers

A Matter of Perception

This was just the beginning of the ways Lisa Avila would come to knock down walls and built something new.

Because it was still such a brand-new field, the stereotypes that her own daughters, now ages 17, 21, and 23, have encountered since then weren’t formed yet.

She said of those early educational opportunities with her father, “I know now that it left me with a definite ‘I can do anything’ view of the world.” Computer science wasn’t even a major or career option that existed when Lisa’s dad went to school, so he teased her that she was only interested in the “soft sciences” because she couldn’t hack it in physics.

All things, including running a family, are a matter of perception. “There’s science in computer science, but there’s a bit of art in there, as well. It’s all about your perception,” said Lisa.

But software was the future, and Lisa saw it.

She and Rick, her husband of 24 years (who she met while they were both graduate students at Stony Brook) have figured out a system to block off time at home with their other responsibilities, including traveling for work.

“There’s so much impact you can have in computer science. It’s so much a part of what we do these days. Everything is software,” she said.

“It’s more difficult for a man to say he can’t do something because of family obligations. It’s just not seen as a valid excuse for a man,” said Lisa.

Always supportive of her interests, when Lisa was in high school her dad took out a loan to buy the family’s first at-home computer (for more money than it cost to buy a car at the time). “The world was a different place back then. Guidance counselors would say computer science is not a career for women, that it was a lot of work, and that they’d have to give it up when they have kids,” said Lisa.

Using Reason to Advance Freedom In the early 1990’s, while still in graduate school at SUNY Stony Brook, Lisa and Rick developed VolVis, volume visualization opensource software that anyone could use and modify to organize data. “Open-source software allows you to have a really great impact because once you’ve created it, you can give it to anyone for free,” beamed Lisa.





Lisa with her husband Rick and daughters Jennifer, and Elizabeth (daughter Stephanie not pictured).

Video chat with Lisa's mom, Marie Sobierajski.


"Open-source software allows you to have a really great impact because once you’ve created it, you can give it to anyone for free,” beamed Lisa.

Now the CEO of Kitware, a software research and development company founded in 1998, Lisa continues to lead the way towards innovation. Kitware is 100 percent employee-owned, and works hard to remove the barriers women face working in a male-dominated field. “Their 180 U.S. employees research algorithms and develop software to analyze, visualize and gain new insights from the huge amounts of information gathered in all sorts of ways.” For instance, their medical team helps clinicians and radiologists use the data from CT and MRI scanners to better understand disease progression, research treatment options, and plan surgeries. “We tease apart information and find the relationships that exist within it.” During the last few years, Lisa’s dad made sure to tell her how proud he was of her achievements. Before he died from cancer in January 2020, he reaffirmed the unconditional support that helped shaped his daughter’s vision of the world – one that helps so many others see new possibilities like never before. v




Photo by The Harris Company




Photo by The Harris Company

Anything Can Happen If You Let It An entrepreneur who gives women the blank canvas and the place to paint their visions for the future – together

“Everything is Possible, Even the Impossible” In the classic Disney movie, Mary Poppins is a kind, good-natured woman who arrives with the wind to show the Banks family how to become better versions of themselves – which includes having a bit of fun! Of all the characters that Disney has brought to life, Mary Poppins is Catherine Hover’s absolute favorite. Like Poppins, Hover has a special kind of magic.

“In Every Job That Must Be Done, There is an Element of Fun”

Catherine Hover is the owner of the popular Paint & Sip Studios in Saratoga, Latham and Burlington, VT, as well as Saratoga and Schenectady’s Palette Cafes and Communities. Her job description however, is “Founder and Purveyor of Fun.” After graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi, Catherine, who was raised in New Orleans, thought working in fashion merchandizing seemed like a fun job, and that New York City was just the place to do it. While interning at Marie Claire, she’d visit the upstate area on weekends with her then fiancé, Mark, who was working on the Hudson River dredging project. In 2011, the couple decided to move to Saratoga.



"I want everyone to do what they’re called to do...I want us to figure out how to kick the ball up the field together.”

Photos by Lindsey Fish, Super Source Media

“I put my career and my ambitions on hold. I’m from the South, so I was raised to take the lead from my husband. I always wanted financial independence and financial security, but it never occurred to me to do it on my own. I didn’t even think I was giving up anything. I didn’t see it as choosing his career over mine. It was just the right move at the time. It was definitely organic,” she said. Catherine saw the move as an opportunity to do something entirely different. The following year, the Saratoga Paint & Sip Studio opened. “I just thought it was a cute, trendy, fun thing to do. It was not part of our long-term plan but it totally blew up. It became so popular.” “A Spoonful of Sugar…” While the concept of painting with friends (while enjoying a drink or two) was taking off, Catherine was experiencing the challenges that come with being a working mom. “It all seems so easy until you do it and then it’s like, ‘Oh, my God! How am I going to do this?’” Now the mother of three daughters, ages 6, 3, and 18 months, Catherine said she is an ambitious workaholic and that Mark is the PCP (Primary Care Parent) of the family. “It’s been incredibly hard to shift the cultural norms and it took getting used to.” Catherine continued, “I’m all gas and no brakes at work. I’m very grateful to have been able to keep moving forward.”

After a decade of being married, Mark is a solid partner on the home front. Every weekend he takes the kids out so Catherine can slice off some “me-time” and watch CBS Sunday Morning in silence. Catherine’s real secret? She has a whole network of support. “We are all hustling. I hire really good people and am surrounded by support all along the way. That’s the reason for my success – all of it.” "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" Although she loves Disney, Catherine doesn’t buy-into the princess fairytale. “I certainly prefer the more recent stuff that’s not about being a damsel-in-distress who depends on a man to come around and save the day.” With the launch of Palette Café and Community, women found a place where they could work and gather, while Catherine found herself in the position of advocating for women’s rights. “Palette is a vessel for them to continue what they’re working on. I want everyone to do what they’re called to do – for myself, my daughters, everyone walking the earth. I’m doing what I’m called to do and what I feel is right. I advocate for others who don’t have the strength to speak for themselves. I want us to figure out how to kick the ball up the field together.”





Photo by Meghan Aldridge | Catherine with her husband Mark and their three children, Posey, Ruby, and Zia.

Photo by Lindsey Fish, Super Source Media

WOMEN OF INFLUENCE 2021 Photo by Lindsey Fish, SuperSource Media

“The fact that two million women left the workforce last year is a clear demonstration that we don’t support working mothers. When it came down to it, women did exactly what women do – they fell in line and stayed home with the kids. We all expected it to change and evolve but it didn’t.” Yet, she remains hopeful. “Although there have been disappointments, there have been so many triumphs and that should give us the confidence to challenge the status quo. I don’t want to continue to see a lack of evolution and change. I’m very excited – thrilled – for next year.” v

"This is one of those moments in history when you need to speak up, show up, and lift other women up," said Catherine.

“Well Begun is Half Done” With the help of “resident unicorns” hosting virtual events, Catherine was able to keep her businesses open during the last year (and to open the Schenectady Palette Café and Community in September 2020). “Staying and working at home is not safe – it’s a recipe for disaster – and not just if you’re in a s--- marriage. Even in a perfect household, it’s not sustainable.” "This is one of those moments in history when you need to speak up, show up, and lift other women up," said Catherine.




Dr. Katrin Ramsey




Katrin at Russell Sage College during her physical therapy lab with students.

The Science of Healing When you care for women, you care for the world

Before she became entrenched in integrative medicine, Katrin Ramsey, PT, DSc, CLT, CAAP-OB, was a pre-med student gathering information about the possible career/life paths she could take.

“They told me that I couldn’t have it all. The therapists had an easier time balancing work/life than the female physicians, although there was more autonomy for the physicians,” said Katrin.

Seeking experienced advice, she interviewed 10 female physicians and physical therapists about their experiences creating a work/life balance.

Through the years, Katrin maintained a thriving career, and today, both children have gone on to pursue their own interests in the fields of finance (Derek) and medicine (Kesley).

She married her husband, Greg, in 1984, and earned her Master of Science degree in Physical Therapy from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons the following year. By 1987, the couple’s first child, Derek, was born and his sister Kesley arrived two years later.



The path was hard for me and I want to make it easier for them (women)... I’m teaching women – to be patient and kind to themselves while holding their own space open for opportunity & growth.”

A Superwoman in Bloom Like a lotus flower that blooms from the mud, Katrin cuts through the challenges that have come her way to reach for the light. “In the early 1980’s, there were limited opportunities for women to be in a position of leadership, so it was difficult to find mentors. The sense of being part of a vibrant community of empowered women was lacking in the decades that I was forging my path.” Her firm, yet gentle approach stems from 36 years of experience as a physical therapist, of which more than two decades was spent running her own private practice. As a therapist, Katrin flew in and out of people’s lives like a superwoman and honed her core competencies of holistic wellness, patient advocacy and lifetime continuum rehabilitation care. Katrin secured a Doctor of Science degree in Orthopedic Physical Therapy from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in 2007. She has extensive experience providing multidisciplinary teamwork-based sports medicine rehabilitation and cancer survivorship care. Katrin is a certified yoga instructor, Reiki Master, and an end-of-life doula volunteer.

She additionally has a particular interest in the multiple facets of women’s healthcare and is currently focused upon improving the prenatal and post-natal health of mothers in the region through her grant-funded Rubin Community Fellows Program collaborative project with the Commission on Economic Opportunity’s Babiesin-Waiting organization. Learning How to Hold Space For the past two years, Katrin has been an Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy at Russell Sage College. “Russell Sage is a wonderful place to collaborate with enthusiastic peers intent upon fostering the next generation of compassionate caregivers. The college’s THRIVE initiative promotes student wellbeing and is integrative, inclusive and empowering.” Katrin’s holistic knowledge is strengthened by her deep compassion and understanding. “I keep getting called by the Universe to help women grow. The path was hard for me and I want to make it easier for them. I learned from a wonderful guru about developing the ability to hold space open and that’s what I’m teaching women – to be patient and kind to themselves while holding their own space open for opportunity and growth,” said Katrin.





Katrin with her family Greg Ramsey (spouse), Kelsey (daughter), Benjamin Meller and their dog Zosimos.

WOMEN OF INFLUENCE 2021 Photo provided.

Listening is Seeing Helen Keller said, "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope or confidence." Katrin is a woman who is comfortable in her own skin. That confidence radiates from within her to influence the wellbeing of others. It is rejuvenated through Katrin’s personal practices, which include yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Her family wonders if she will ever slow down. They surround her with love, support and laughter, as does her Black Lab, Zosimos Aurora. Katrin also enjoys singing and feels uplifted when out in nature. When she is outdoors, she looks for reassurance in the symbolic messages brought by totem animals, like the hawk, who represents having a broad vision and the ability to soar. Letting Intuition be her Guide Tuning into her intuition also helps guide Katrin during difficult times. She graduated from the Leadership Program in Integrative Healthcare at Duke University in 2019, and in March this year, taught a NYPTA course entitled, “Wayfinding Back from the Pandemic” to help physical therapists combine the wisdom of integrative leadership philosophies within their clinical practices to holistically serve a world recovering from the pandemic. “The Universe calls to me and I usually say, ‘I’m not ready’ and it responds back, ‘Oh, yes, you are’. Following your intuition is about being open and looking at your gifts. It’s about combining the seen and the unseen things and listening with your heart. After that, it is about effectively taking action!” In the whirlpool of stress that the pandemic has caused, people struggle to fit a square peg in a round hole, said Katrin, which tanks their immune system. Patients don’t just have a physical problem, their mind, body, and spirit need to reconnect through transformative thinking and holistic health practice. To her patients and her students, Katrin’s kind ear, extensive experience, and proven techniques help to bring forth healing in a myriad of ways. “I have been gifted with the ability to morph into whatever is needed when necessary. It is a blessing to be able to reach out to and connect with anyone needing support. Many people today are in so much pain and are in a constant state of distress that negatively impacts their physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. Integrative medicine leaders with a broad background in health promotion and illness prevention know that the best approach to the practice of good medicine combines both art and science. I’ve seen an uptick in people’s need to find their way back to themselves. We do that through conversations and by being present in the moment. I really am just a mirror that serves to reflect back the innate great potential of all human beings." v

"Following your intuition is about being open and looking at your gifts... After that, it is about effectively taking action!”






Devil’s Advocate Sharpening focus through the value of contrast

When everyone agrees, there’s only one choice. See what you don’t want, however, and you’ll know more clearly what you do want. Elizabeth “Lizzie” Schlegel uses numbers and facts to inspire. She challenges the status quo and provokes people to find solutions to the tough questions.

“As the lead of the Saratoga Philanthropy Committee at Fingerpaint, I help guide the committee towards making impactful financial decisions. Whenever there is an opportunity to present a grant, you have to ask, ‘What impact are we making?’ I play devil’s advocate and have people build on their opinions. In leadership, the goal is to inspire people and to achieve the most that we can together.” Even when you don’t realize that your vision is a bit fuzzy, she’s the lens that makes it come into focus.




"...In leadership, the goal is to inspire people and to achieve the most that we can together.”

Numbers Speak Volumes Lizzie always knew she wanted to go into business. She grew up in Stillwater before earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science in Accounting from Siena College. Since 2013, she’s been an integral part of the finance team at Fingerpaint. “Fingerpaint afforded me many opportunities to get involved in our community because of how philanthropic the company is,” said Lizzie. At Fingerpaint, Lizzie met her mentor and biggest cheerleader, Bo Goliber. Bo spent a decade working with the Franklin Community Center before her eight years as the Head of Philanthropy at Fingerpaint. She was recognized as a 2019 Woman of Influence by Saratoga TODAY and is now the Chief Development and Communications Officer for AIM Services. Hope Rising “I love to volunteer. It’s my passion,” said Lizzie. Fresh out of college, Lizzie was getting involved in the American Cancer Society. She liked the opportunity to connect with new people and found it fulfilling to help out the community. She was particularly drawn to the hopeful, welcoming environment within the American Cancer Society’s HopeClub, which offers free support services to anyone (family, friends, coworkers) touched by cancer.

Lizzie said the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program, which provides people with cancer transportation to and from their treatments, is also great because it delivers tangible help right when it’s needed. She’s also the president of the American Cancer Society’s Associate Board of Ambassadors (ABOA) in the Capital Region, a group of like-minded young professionals who are passionate about the mission – to free the world from cancer. The ABOA puts on various events throughout the year, the largest of which is the Red, White & Blue Party, which is on August 19 of this year. Lizzie Hunter, Director of Capital Region American Cancer Society, is one of the people she’s met through the group. “We became fast friends. Lizzie’s passion for the American Cancer Society’s mission is contagious, and I picked up on that immediately. She leads from the front and supports the Board in every way possible. We bounce ideas off each other to get people involved, raise money, and most importantly, we laugh a lot while doing so.” Bringing the Comfort of Food Lizzie works right in downtown Saratoga but she also lives there, too (with her boyfriend of five years, Travis Wilson, and their two cats; a five-year-old tuxedo named Shadow, and Milo, who is two, and all-black). Everyday, she sees people in need.





Elizabeth with coworker and with friend Lizzie and boyfriend Travis.



“I would love to see food insecurity and homelessness end...to see more people getting access to the resources they need..."

“I would love to see food insecurity and homelessness end. I would love to see more people getting access to the resources they need and less people living on the streets. We’ll get there,” she said. It’s clear to her all that Franklin Community Center does to help, so she started volunteering there, as well, and now serves on their board. “Franklin Community Center does so many great things for our community. From the food pantry, to the free store, to providing school supplies and Christmas gifts, I love everything Franklin does,” said Lizzie. Knowing how comforting a home-cooked meal can be, Lizzie also volunteers to cook for the non-profit group, Lasagna Love. No matter their situation, when someone requests a meal on the Lasagna Love website, a volunteer like Lizzie, known as a “Lasagna Mama,” makes and delivers it. “It can be daunting to ask for help, but there are so many resources out there to get the support that you need.” Cheering On Between work and volunteering, Lizzie still somehow finds time to stay fit and to cheer on others. Since they opened in 2017, Lizzie has done workouts at Metabolic Saratoga. Their efficient, targeted fitness classes keep her motivated and challenged, she said.

Since 2015, she’s also been the assistant coach for the Siena College Cheerleading team. Lizzie cheered while attending school there, but now gets to see the other side of the sport. “It’s been really fun. As a student, you see one side, but as a coach you see another. You have to think about things like managing the budget and doing administrative tasks. What I really love about it though, is getting to know the studentathletes. Not only do you coach them to be great cheerleaders on the court, but you support them in their academics and help set them up for success after Siena.” Lizzie cheers them on just the way you might expect. “What I encourage the students to do, is to get involved in their communities,” she said. v






Philanthropic Matchmaker Extraordinaire Creating that soul connection

Hooking up with a charitable cause is a lot like dating – you hope it will be the beginning of something beautiful.

Of all the Fish in the Sea

In the world of philanthropy, feeling that spark of connection is no accident. It comes when dedicated people like Mary Solomons match a donor with the giving opportunity they’ve been dreaming of.

Mary’s curiosity led her into the world of fundraising, a place where making the right connections is the only way to make things happen.

Mary Solomons makes connections. By asking questions and getting to know people, she finds out what they care about. “My mother would say I started my career in preschool – I’d talk to everyone,” she said.



“It's a great feeling when you match a donor with a funding need, and they realize what a difference they've made.”

She’s spent more than 30 years raising funds, first for her alma mater Wellesley College, then for Skidmore College, before working with the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Services. Since 2020, she’s been the Executive Director of the Saratoga Hospital Foundation. It’s easy to drown in the sea of organizations, causes, and institutions relying on charitable dollars, which is why Mary gets to know what people are passionate about. She helps everyone avoid the awkwardness of a donation blind date. “People give to people. People have a choice where their dollars go, and sometimes people decide not to give because the person they met with turned them off,” said Mary. Hitting it Off Mary creates chemistry by speaking the truth of her own experiences. “I was really close to my grandmother whose family escaped the pogroms in Europe with little but what they could carry. She’d say that education is something you can always take with you.

I was brought up to really value education and access to education without finances being a barrier,” she said. Her thoughtful connections between students and alumni made everyone in the giving relationship feel fantastic. With almost half of the students at Skidmore on financial aid, Mary has a lot of stories about the matches she’s made, yet certain ones continue to stand out. She remembers the teenage mother who hitchhiked 30 miles from the shelter she was living in to her college financial aid interview. Then there was the student who had an absolutely phenomenal internship opportunity at NASA but the application required proof of institutional support dollars. The same donor that made that opportunity a reality later told Mary, “I've never had so much fun spending $10,000!" “It's a great feeling when you match a donor with a funding need, and they realize what a difference they've made,” Mary said.





Mary with her son, Nick Turner and Ovidio Rojas, her significant other.


Going Steady When people are flirting with the idea of getting together, it’s all excitement, but staying involved takes work. For three decades, thousands of development professionals have learned from Mary’s pro-bono seminar speeches, webinars, and mentoring. Her advice has been utilized to shape countless successful events and to cultivate the next generation of philanthropists. She’s served two terms on the board of the Association of Donor Relations Professionals (she was recognized as the 2012 Volunteer of the Year) and has been part of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, Academic Impressions, and the Donor Relations Guru Group. Her blog post, "How Being a Fundraising Professional Set Me Up for Dating" on DonorRelationsGuru.com has been viewed more than 10,000 times. “Raising money is not like speed dating! I've seen too many connections between a donor and an institution sour because instead of being made to feel special, they were treated like a human ATM — I had a former donor use those words when telling me why they stopped giving. I still maintain relationships with donors at all my former institutions because they became friends,” said Mary. In it for the Long Term Maintaining her enthusiasm for fundraising has followed Mary’s work in the world of medicine. In 2019, when her mother, at the age of 86, was paralyzed after a fall, Mary saw first-hand the impact that quality healthcare can have. “I came to realize that for all the education she had, it was really because of the lifesaving care that she got that she’s alive today.” A Saratoga Springs resident since 1995, Mary witnessed Saratoga Hospital’s growth physically and in reputation – especially during the last year. The heart-warming ways people stepped up to help (with handsewn masks, food, and monetary donations) was a testament to the transformational impact the Hospital has on the community.

“...education is something you can always take with you. I was brought up to really value education and access to education without finances being a barrier.”

“I’m blessed to represent the hospital and to share stories of how philanthropy makes lives better,” she said. Hugs All Around As much as Mary enjoys what she does now, it wasn’t her first love. In her free time, she indulges her other passions – art and architecture. At age 13, she fell in love with the game Masterpiece. She graduated from Wellesley College in Massachusetts with an Art History degree and ate Ramen noodles for two months to afford her first significant piece. She wrote her college thesis on the philosophy of decorative artist William Morris and believes that people need to be surrounded by things that give pleasure to the maker and the user. If something is made with joy, you use it with joy, she said.

Previously, she indulged her love of home improvement through a number of renovation projects and serving on the board of the Preservation Foundation. Since the pandemic, Mary has exchanged workouts at the hot yoga studio for rides on her Peloton bike to stay fit, but there’s one thing that she’s missed more than anything else this past year. “I’m looking forward to when the pandemic is over. I didn’t realize how much of a hugger I was until COVID.” v




Kate Towne



Ahead of the Curve A mom of seven helps others by sharing her experience with humility and grace

Last year, more than two million women (one-in-four) left the workforce. Many to became stay-athome moms. Scores of others began working remotely so they could also care for their children. Kate Towne made the transition years ago.

Planting the Seed The seeds of Kate Towne’s life today were planted long ago. “My two youngest sisters were born when I was nine and eleven. Having those babies in the house and taking care of them with my mother was planting the seed of what I wanted to do later in my life,” she said. Kate was the oldest of six kids. “Mom leaned on me for a lot of help... I never saw it as anything but fun,” said Kate.




Keeping a family functioning and healthy, like many other important jobs, isn’t a paid position when mom does it. "Mom-hood feels invisible sometimes, even when you’re doing so much...” Kate with her husband Steve on the same bench that he proposed to her in Spa Park.

Living the “Yes, I Can” Life Kate’s parents set the example for how she would come to live her life as a mom, writer, and volunteer who leads by example. Kate and her husband, Stephen, have been married for more than 18 years and have seven boys ages 16, 14, 12, 11, 9, 7, and 2. The world today is a very different place, however than it was when her parents were raising Kate and her siblings. In 2021, being the matriarch of such a large family is rare. The modern family unit is much smaller, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 11 percent of households have five or more members. Being part of the minority didn’t deter Kate. “When I was growing up, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I always had it in my mind that if I could stay at home, I would. I loved that experience with my mom and wanted that with my own family,” she said. A Modern Understanding of Traditional Values The romantic vision of motherhood quickly meets up with the repetitive reality of years of sleeplessness and diaper duty. “My mom was always so joyful about it all. It seemed like a sunny day every day, and that sun was coming through nice clean curtains.”

“My boys do not care at all about nice and clean,” laughed Kate. “I’m not very good at housekeeping, doing the dishes and the laundry, so I guess I’m lucky the boys don’t care.” She’s abandoned doing things, like picking up throw pillows, in favor of keeping her sanity – two hours every afternoon are designated “quiet time,” during which she tries to catch a nap. “Sleep is the thing I want more than anything else in life. If I don’t get enough sleep, everyone suffers,” she said. Coming Back to Self Keeping a family functioning and healthy, like many other important jobs, isn’t a paid position when mom does it. “Mom-hood feels invisible sometimes, even when you’re doing so much,” said Kate. “It’s nice for moms to have other things they enjoy doing – writing has always been something I love to do.” Kate earned a Bachelor’s degree from Siena, and then her Master’s at Skidmore College. She’s been writing a family column for Saratoga TODAY since 2008. Other mothers recognize parts of themselves in her humorous and relatable stories, encouraging and inspiring them when they face similar challenges in their own lives.





Knowing that one day, her sons will become husbands, fathers, and community members, Kate focuses on raising a family that demonstrates respect and empathy for others.


Kate has also been writing article for CatholicMom.com since 2015. Her first book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018) is a useful and informative guide for families. “I was in the Skidmore library for 8 to 10 hours at a time researching and writing that book. I’d never taken that big a chunk of time away from the kids, but I didn’t have any nursing babies at that point, and my husband encouraged me to take the time I needed. It was really so great to be able to focus and get a lot done, and I’d get lunch for myself too, which was fun.” Normally, writing gets done in between continuous interruptions. “I jot notes on napkins, post-its, or have the computer out with me and the toddler in the playroom. I just do it as I can,” she said. The Faith to Encourage and Uplift The effects of a happy home reverberate into the rest of the community through its members. Knowing that one day, her sons will become husbands, fathers, and community members, Kate focuses on raising a family that demonstrates respect and empathy for others. She volunteers at St. Clements and encourages her family to, as well. “Between school and church, we’re there quite a bit, and we’ve been able to find ways to contribute in ways that are manageable for our family.” Among her other roles, Kate has served on the school board for more than a decade. Five of her children are altar boys at mass. She credits her mom as a particular “woman of influence” in her own life. “Learning at my mother’s knee is exactly how I felt with my mom. She would share her thoughts on life through the filter of faith and defined faith to me. Knowing what the Church teaches and why, the 2,000 years of thought, prayers, decisions, and conclusions it comes to is important to me and has helped me understand better about God, his son as our Savior, the gospels, and that service is one of the ways we live our faith – we love God by loving our neighbor.” Never one to say she has all the answers, Kate does have faith that her experience will be of service to others. “I spent most of the last seventeen years pregnant or nursing and with babies in my arms and small children at my feet, and I’ve loved every minute of it. But my youngest is going to school in the fall and my oldest will be going to college the year after that — I feel very much it’s a time of transition. It’s not easy to grapple with change. There is excitement as I look forward to the future and the opportunities that are coming for my kids and our family and me. I’d like to do more mentoring, teaching, writing. I have a lot of knowledge and experience that I hope will be helpful to other women.” v