Women in Business 2017
Meet 36 individuals who are changing Delaware's workforce for the better.
Principal-Owner, A.Kreiner Company
Among her greatest professional successes, Kreiner counts her role in moving the state’s energy office out of the Department of Administrative Services to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control while she worked in the governor’s office under Ruth Ann Minner. That division now helps residents, institutions and businesses save money and improve profitability by reducing their energy use—much like Kreiner’s 12-year-old consulting firm, which advises businesses, governments, institutions and nonprofit organizations on sustainability issues related to energy use, climate change, green building, waste management, land use, agriculture and other areas. “We just began offering new sustainability opportunity assessments for mid-sized to large office operations to identify opportunities to reduce costs while reducing its environmental footprint,” Kreiner says. “Improving a business’ environmental footprint is often thought of as a cost item for the business. However, becoming more sustainable often involves cost savings in areas such as procurement, waste disposal and energy consumption. My goal is to grow this part of the business to help Delaware businesses to become both more cost competitive and sustainable.” Key to work-life balance: “Keeping perspective on what has time flexibility and what only happens once. Early in my career, I was in an evening meeting and a man I highly respected excused himself to attend his child’s school concert. He returned to the meeting after his child’s performance. I was very impressed by this. Then I read the line, ‘No one has ever gone to his deathbed saying, “Gosh darn, I should have spent more time at work.”’ These two things had a great impact on me. As a result, I put my all into my work when I am doing it, but my family is the priority.”
Stephanie F. Adams
Marketing and Development Manager, Biggs Museum of American Art
Next up for Adams: Planning a year-long celebration of the museum’s 25th anniversary in 2018. Already responsible for managing the Biggs’ marketing, public relations, membership and major fundraising events such as the annual gala each May, Adams is working on ambitious new fundraising goals for the anniversary campaign. She is on the right track: In her five years at the museum, she has doubled both membership and revenue from the gala, all while helping with marketing for the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce and several Downtown Dover groups. “My proudest career moments were working for former U.S. Congressman Mike Castle from 2007 to 2010,” Adams says. “However, I have experienced my greatest professional achievements and growth at the Biggs Museum.” If she could do any other work: “I have always dreamed of opening my own small business, like a coffee shop or restaurant. Maybe someday…”
Pamela J. Bakerian
Executive Director, Delaware Farm Bureau and Delaware Farm Bureau Foundation
Since 2010, Bakerian has managed the bureau, which promotes and protects Delaware agriculture through education and advocacy in order to ensure a good quality of life for farmers and their consumers. Almost five years ago, she helped establish the foundation, which has since raised $190,000 for organizations such as the Ministry of Caring, the Neighborhood House in Middletown, Food Bank of Delaware and Boys & Girls Clubs summer camps, and has launched a mobile agriculture education lab program for local students. Now it’s time to create a five-year strategic plan to ensure the sustainability of both organizations. A former state representative, Bakerian believes leadership is about understanding the importance of creating opportunities for herself, others and the organization, and that success results from solving problems creatively and empowering others. Among her many honors, Bakerian has been recognized for distinguished service to agriculture by the state Legislature, Kent County Levy Court and New Castle County. Greatest personal success: Helping others achieve their goals.
Director of Operations, Adesis Inc.
Baylis-Powell’s greatest professional success so far? Implementing a corporate structure that allowed Adesis and a prior iteration to grow more than 300 percent over her 16-plus years there. Adesis is a contract research organization that supports the pharmaceutical, chemical, biomaterials and catalysts industries through expertise in custom synthesis, research and development, and specialty manufacturing. The company was 20-people large when Baylis-Powell joined in 2001. She subsequently took on bigger challenges, including preparing for the company’s sale to Universal Display Corporation last year. “With that acquisition successfully completed, the next item on my career agenda—several years away—will be transitioning to part-time and then retirement,” Baylis-Powell says. And then? “Jokingly—or maybe not—I would love to work for the Apple Store when I retire. I love technology and people. What a great place to find both.”
Precious D. Benson
Co-Founder, Benson Development Group LLC
Benson Development Group offers consulting and financial services to communities across Delmarva. A state-certified Minority Business Enterprise, Veteran Owned Business Enterprise and a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, its mission is to provide access to services many people in low-income communities don’t know exist. “We wanted to educate people on insurance, entrepreneurship and financial literacy,” Benson says. “So far my greatest professional success is opening our first insurance brokerage, One Direction Insurance. I hope to purchase existing books of business from other insurance agencies and continue to build our brand,” while helping low-income clients. If she could do anything else: “I’d counsel children who were raised in a household with parents that suffer from addiction. Most children have vivid memories of their parents getting high or stumbling in the house drunk. I’d like to be able to share my personal story with them. I’d like to encourage them and remind them that they don’t have to be a product of their environment.”
Elaine B. Bittner
Senior Vice President of Strategic Development, Chesapeake Utilities Corp.
Dover-based Chesapeake Utilities is engaged in natural gas distribution, transmission, gathering, processing and marketing; electricity generation and distribution; and propane gas distribution and marketing in six states. In her 20 years there, Bittner has done it all: from utility, pipeline and environmental engineering to managing and directing environmental affairs to regulatory compliance to overseeing the company’s strategic planning, human resources, corporate communications, project management, mergers and acquisitions, and business development. On top of that, she chairs Chesapeake’s engagement initiatives such as the Aspiring Scholars and Aspiring Mentors. It’s no wonder she was given a Stevie Award as Female Executive of the Year for Women in Business in 2016 and named one of the Top 50 Powerful Women in Oil and Gas by the National Diversity Council in 2017. “One of the joys and satisfactions of the positions I have held and continue to hold is bringing teams together to innovate and create new ways of doing things, whether it’s running the business, serving our customers or participating in our communities. I believe that employees are the core of any company, and they will always remain the most important aspect of my horizon,” Bittner says. “My next goal is to take the experience and knowledge I’ve gleaned through my roles and continue to serve others—giving back to our communities, developing our next generation of leaders, and mentoring and developing young women.” Her key to success: “Maintaining a high level of positivity and engagement each and every day.”
Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli
Secretary, Delaware Department of Transportation
You know DelDOT. It builds and maintains the transportation infrastructure in Delaware, provides motor vehicle services, runs transit services and, when it comes to government, seems to be the general public’s favorite target of frustration. Enter Cohan, who considers her greatest professional success to be “turning the DMV from a venomously hated agency to the best DMV in the country,” one with a rating of good to excellent by 98 percent of its surveyed users. In addition to managing a department of more than 2,500 employees, 13,700 road lane miles, 917,000 registered vehicles, 712,000 licensed drivers and a $1 billion budget, Cohan aims to continue improving customer service. “For example, we recently finished the state’s first diverging diamond interchange at Routes 1 and 72. It was the first of its kind in Delaware. We were able to get the same results with this new, innovative design as we would a traditional clover-leaf interchange”—but far quicker and less expensively: one year and $7 million instead of three years and $25 million-$30 million. Accelerated construction methods are delivering projects more efficiently and with less disruption to the traveling public up and down the state. “Increasing customer service levels is also a huge priority for me,” Cohan says. If she could do any other work: “I would love to drive the monorail at Disney World all day.”
Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli
Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Having worked in healthcare administration for many years, including a time as director of finance at global pharmaceutical firm Novartis, Bo decided she wanted to work in pediatrics. “As soon as I stepped foot into Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, I knew I wanted to work here,” she says. “There is such a strong sense of mission and purpose.” For the past three years, she has managed strategies and development processes in support of new growth and integration for both the hospital and practice in the Delaware Valley. The result: The new Nemours duPont Pediatrics in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, which houses sports medicine, therapy and urgent care; Nemours duPont Pediatrics in Deptford, New Jersey, which provides care in 23 specialties; and strong relationships with all local hospitals, which bolsters pediatric care across the state. Look for a specialty center in Milford in 2019. Bo has been honored by Becker’s Hospital Review twice as one of the top 130 women hospital and health system leaders to know. Key to success: “My parents came to the U.S., starting from the bottom and working their way up. Their steely resolve has helped define who I am today as an Asian-American female professional.”
Fayetta M. Blake
Executive Director, Pathways to Success Inc.
After becoming the first African-American executive at Allfirst Financial, Blake co-founded Pathways to Success in 2006. The nonprofit provides in-school programs to prepare at-risk and low-income high school youth in Sussex County for successful lives. Ninety-eight percent of its 200 students have graduated on time, and 96 percent have gone on to college or the military or have found full-time jobs. As director since 2014, Blake has been responsible for the organization’s budgeting, grant writing, daily operations and strategic direction. Pathways currently operates in three Sussex high schools and is working to expand into the others. It will also launch the Student Training and Entrepreneurial Program (STEP), an experience that will include building a business from the very start while teaching fundamental skills. Blake’s work earned her a Jefferson Award for public service in 2015. What makes a great leader? Vision, judgment, strategic thinking, commitment and inspirational communication.
Alisha Wayman Bryson
Vice President, Wayman Fire Protection Services
Working in a family business is especially sweet when the work of that business is saving lives. Wayman, which Bryson has run with her brother for the past five years, designs, installs, services and inspects fire protection systems for industrial, commercial, medical and educational spaces. Wayman was working in film production 21 years ago when her father called to ask if she wanted to start a customer satisfaction department in his company. Since then she has worked jobs from reception to managing accounts for DuPont, Philadelphia International Airport, PECO Energy and Conectiv Energy—all while having finished 19 marathons. As vice president for the past six years, she supports daily operations (business development, safety, human resources and more) and works with the executive team on strategic goals. “However, my favorite part of the job includes hosting employee luncheons, baby showers, sending job-well-done letters and handing out gifts at our annual holiday party,” she says. Next big thing: “My major focus is on looking forward to our future skilled workforce. Whether working on career committees with trade associations, in the classroom with ACE Mentoring or with DelTech Community College’s leadership, it’s important to keep today’s students interested in construction trades and to properly prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow.”
President, Ellen Cheever & Associates
“Impactful design is all about thinking, not doing,” says kitchen and bathroom designer Cheever-Giorgi. “That’s what I like thinking about. Design is not about the picture over the sofa. It is about enhancing the family’s quality of life.” Cheever-Giorgi has thought about that a great deal over the past four decades. As a young professional, she found limited training in her design specialty, so in the mid-1970s, she started writing a monthly column for a national trade publication, which gave her the confidence to privately fund and write a major textbook on kitchen design—the first of 20. Her firm offers design and business training, exhibit creation, and product development services to major kitchen and bath industry manufacturers and to design associations around the world, but at home in Wilmington, she also collaborates with her husband, Pietro A. Giorgi Sr., and the Giorgi Kitchens & Designs team on local residential projects. For her work, Cheever-Giorgi was inducted into the National Kitchen & Bath Association Hall of Fame in the early 1990s, and she was recognized earlier this year as one of the 50 most influential individuals in the kitchen and bathroom design and business industry. When Kitchen & Bath Design News chose her as a Top 50 Innovator Award recipient, it wrote in the October issue, “Ellen Cheever is the very embodiment of a Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer, having forged a matchless legacy across four-plus decades as a designer, author, business leader, consultant, educator and mentor to literally thousands of homeowners and design professionals.” Greatest personal success: “Managing my life so I will be able to retire with my husband, in good health and with our lives in order so we can face the future with excitement and happiness.”
Tynetta T. Brown
Director, Community Impact Division, United Way of Delaware
Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli
The mission of the United Way of Delaware is to maximize community resources for the benefit of all Delawareans, especially in three core areas: ensuring that all youth are reading on grade level by third grade, college and career readiness for teens, and economic stability and financial empowerment. For Brown, that means learning more about how member agencies work and finding better ways for the United Way to support them. “I consider myself to be very supportive of any colleague I’ve had—a big cheerleader, an encourager,” Brown says.” I’m always willing to listen and help find solutions if asked, or just be that listening ear. I believe in openly recognizing and rewarding talent, giving people room for fully utilizing talents and skills, and being open to new ideas and approaches, recognizing that different is not deficient.” Brown has been recognized by the Association of Black Cardiologists for commitment to diversity and the elimination of disparities in healthcare, and she received the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition’s Leadership Award for 2017. If she could do any other work: “That’s easy. I have a bachelor’s of fine arts degree in interior design, so I would be a commercial interior designer focusing on the design of healthcare and educational-learning environments.”
President-Owner, First State Elevator Inc.
Connell was working for another elevator company, a union shop, “when I saw the writing on the wall. I thought to myself, Hey, I can do this and make it a successful company.” So six years ago she did. Now Connell, the 2016 New Castle County Business Woman of the Year, handles everything except elevator repairs—though she is working toward a mechanic’s license. “It is different when you are building your own company instead of working for someone else,” Connell says. “Are there days when I think I am crazy for doing this? Yes, but, fortunately, the good days outweigh the bad. It has been a learning experience from the beginning, and I am showing my kids that you can do anything. I also hope that I inspire others to go after their goals and achieve them.” Her big goal for now is to build enough customers—commercial and residential—to form designated crews for service and maintenance in each area, and for installations. Her key to work-life balance: “I am great at multitasking so I usually don’t have a problem juggling everything. I do have to remind myself sometimes that what is on my desk can wait till tomorrow and to go enjoy myself.”
Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli
Megan McNamara Williams
Co-founder and Vice President, Mispillion River Brewing
Founding member, Brick Works Brewing & Eats
“I learned to brew at a young age, helping my father, an early and avid home brewer,” Williams says. But never did she expect to make brewing a living. “But in 2011, my husband, Eric, brewing enthusiast and craft beer lover, proclaimed he wanted to open our own brewery here in our hometown of Milford.” Two years later, Mispillion River Brewing was born. The Williamses followed the success of their production brewery with the opening of the Brick Works brewpub in Smyrna in 2015. Williams’ duties often change by the day. They include everything from drafting contracts to helping with events to canning. She enjoys the variety, the challenge and the unpredictability of the work, as well as the relationships Mispillion and Brick Works have made. “We not only wanted to open a craft brewery, but aimed to open the best craft brewery—a place the community could be proud to call their own,” Williams says. “We truly feel honored that Mispillion has become Milford’s craft brewery and are astonished every day at the collaborations and the impact we have been able to have on our local community.” Now it’s time for the team to expand in Milford by opening a full brewery and restaurant. If she could do any other work: “Greater community involvement, foster positive growth in Milford and Smyrna. We view brewing as an art, just like sculpting or painting or writing a song, and we are driven by our desire to create and serve the highest-quality craft beers to our local community.”
Director of Advanced Services, Trinity Logistics Inc.
Seaford-based Trinity Logistics, operating in several states, specializes in freight arrangement and supply-chain solutions. In 2010, Foreman took a part-time temporary position there, and has excelled ever since, working up from logistics specialist to account manager to team leader. Last year she joined the new advanced services team and focused on its expansion and growth. “Advocating for the team is what great leaders do,” Foreman says. “I listen to my team’s needs and do everything I can to make their jobs easier and help them succeed. Removing obstacles and providing team members with tools to succeed is my top priority. I also strongly believe in open and honest communication, as well as team involvement in decision making. I don’t micromanage. I empower my team to make daily decisions and to take risks so they can accomplish their goals and continue to learn.” During her time off, Foreman focuses on growing her young Trabeona Travels agency. “I am extremely passionate about immersing into new cultures, history and landscapes,” she says. “Traveling has so many benefits, and we all deserve to escape the routine.” She will graduate from the Leadership Delaware training program this month. Her key to success: “Passion, determination, collaboration, continuous improvement and willingness to take risks. Getting out of the comfort zone and going after the ideas you are passionate about is key.”
Mary P. Fox
Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware
Big Brothers Big Sisters is well known for providing children who face adversity with strong, enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring that helps them become successful adults. For 30 of its 53 years in Delaware, Fox has worked for BBBS. Her focus as director of the chapter since 2011 has been to expand services for youth in Wilmington by embedding mentor coordinators in five public schools—a model unique among the BBBS chapters across the country. The result: 300 new youth served by BBBS, youth who are better prepared to avoid negative or delinquent behaviors and less likely to be involved in violent behaviors. “The strong partnerships that our team has developed with community leaders, school administrators, corporate funders, private and public employers, faith organizations and community groups is yielding real, measurable benefits for our city’s youth,” Fox says. “With all of the challenges that children and families in Wilmington are facing day to day, I am inspired by the hundreds of individuals who have stepped up to be part of the solution. When our mentors change the life of one kid, the entire community benefits.” Greatest personal success: “My kids, of course. Balancing work and family is something that many women struggle with, and I have been extremely fortunate to be in a field and an organization that values the importance of family. As a parent, I of course want my sons to have opportunities for success. But as an advocate for children and families, I want these same opportunities for every child, and that drives my work.”
Associate Director, The Committee of 100
Founder, Inspiring Women in STEM
Inspiring Women in STEM creates and delivers high-quality conferences and forums designed to encourage, support and inspire women in science, technology, engineering and math-oriented careers, as well as leaders in science and technology-based companies. Kmiec founded the organization in late 2013, and as its leader, she develops the conferences and forums with partners in Delaware and New Jersey, including managing the committee that plans the conferences and forums, recruits speakers, and manages marketing and logistics. “I’m very proud of the impact of the Inspiring Women in STEM conferences,” Kmiec says. “The positive feedback from attendees on the quality of the programs, opportunities for growth and connections they’ve made is extremely rewarding.” Her next goal is to expand Inspiring Women in STEM to include other states in the Mid-Atlantic and beyond. Kmiec also handles member engagement, event planning and operations support for the education and scholarship committee of The Committee of 100, a nonprofit, nonpartisan association of Delaware business leaders whose mission is to promote responsible economic development. Her key to success: “Hard work, persistence and being passionate about what you do.”
Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli
Founder, Ayuvia LLC
CEO, Integrative Wellness Center
“Volunteering for SCORE to close a vast gender gap in capitalization and growth of women-owned business led me through an amazing path of social entrepreneurship,” Dutta says. After becoming the first woman of color to lead the Delaware chapter in its 50 years, she co-founded WeTHINK with Ellyn Herbert of the Small Business Association to serve and strengthen the women-owned business community. Dutta drew on vast experience in business. Having served in various leadership positions for firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, JPMorgan Chase and Deloitte Consulting, she and her husband in 2005 cofounded Four Quad Inc., which provides management consulting for Fortune 500 companies in financial services and healthcare. Clients include Blue Cross Blue Shield, Freddie Mac and Barclays. In 2011 Dutta started Ayuvia, a natural healing center, which opened in the Crozer-Keystone healthcare complex in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, three years ago. Ayuvia merges the best of Eastern and Western medicine in managing chronic diseases and other ailments via alternative therapies and natural healers who are in constant contact with physicians in conventional care. “Every team member shares in our vision and goal of aligning protocols to produce optimal health outcomes,” Dutta says. She oversees overall operations of both businesses. Next big thing: With proof of concept from the Crozer-Keystone location, Dutta is capitalizing on the national rollout of Ayuvia Centers.
Owner, jules k.
What do actresses Natalie Portman, Octavia Spencer, Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep have in common with Jimmy Kimmel? Each one—in fact, all 25 nominees in the top categories of this year’s Academy Awards and its host—owns one of Kypreos’ handbags. Here’s the official story of jules k.: “A little girl falls in love with anteaters. That same girl grows into a woman who loves handbags. After leaving a career making polymers to stay home with her two young children, she decided to embark on a very different path.” The unofficial story of the handbags and the Oscars: In the summer of 2016, Kypreos stumbled onto the promotion Everyone Wins by entertainment marketing firm Distinctive Assets, which has supplied bags with $100,000 in items and services to the top 25 Academy Award nominees for the past 15 years. Kypreos’ bags made the cut, then made it onto the “Today Show” after the big night. Kypreos designed the anteater logo, fabric and handbags, and she manages aspects of her startup, from managing production and quality control to sales and marketing to fulfillment and customer relations. Everything is done in the United States. Kypreos is passing her experience on by working with students in the textile program at Cape Henlopen High School to make the Cape Zipper Pouch. All profits from the sales will be returned to the program. “It’s been a great experience for all of us,” Kypreos says. “They are learning what it takes to start a business, all the hidden costs involved, and to see something they make being sold and enjoyed by happy customers.” Next big thing: “To have fabric woven with thread from recycled plastic and make handbags using the fabric.”
Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli
Executive Vice President, Human Resources Incyte Corporation
When Swain joined the brand new Incyte as its third employee in 2002, the biopharmaceutical company leased space in the DuPont Experimental Station to house its 60 employees. A few years later, it had grown large enough to rent the long-vacant John Wanamaker department store on Augustine Cut-Off in Wilmington. It was a perfect space for a science company and its laboratories—open floors, high ceilings—so Incyte eventually bought the building and property. Soon, the company outgrew the building, so in July 2016, Incyte broke ground on an adjacent 154,000-square-foot space to house offices and labs for its 700 employees in Delaware. (There are 400 more around the world.) Swain and her director of facilities oversaw 18 months of construction by up to 220 people at a time—builders, engineers, landscapers and others—to deliver the building on time and on budget. Building a gleaming new facility is one thing, Swain says. It is quite another to build a campus that reinforces the company culture and adds value to the state in terms of employment, tax revenue and area property values while—most important, Swain says—being a good neighbor. Next big thing: As chair and secretary of the Incyte Charitable Giving Foundation, she is helping to expand the Incyte Involved community service program, which includes the Incyte Cancer Care Assistance Fund for Delaware. The fund has pledged $100,000 a year for the next five years to the cancer support community to help patients pay expenses related to their treatment and care. “It’s not all about the buildings,” Swain says.
Sarah A. Long
President and CEO, Delaware Bankers Association and Delaware Financial Education Alliance
First, the numbers: In 1982, there were 4,500 bank employees in the state. Now there are almost 38,000. In 1982, Delaware banks paid about $2 million in franchise taxes. Bank franchise taxes now total more than $92 million. That makes Long’s job especially important. As the DBA works to keep the financial services industry strong in Delaware, she works to strengthen the 100-year-old DBA. “My primary responsibility is to lead and grow the association strategically and operationally by bringing new and creative ideas to the table while balancing the traditions of the past,” Long says. Among those ideas is building a talent pipeline to meet the changing needs of banks. To wit: a new partnership with the Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics at the University of Delaware which, as of this semester, offered the nation’s first minor in trust management. The minor provides knowledge, skills and a mentor in the trust field for each student, who is required to complete an internship with a financial institution. DBA actively participates in legislative and regulatory affairs to benefit banking and trust businesses in Delaware, and it partners with other state bankers associations and the American Bankers Association to monitor federal legislation and advocate on behalf of members. DBA’s sister association, the Delaware Financial Education Alliance, works to improve financial well-being for all through financial education. Greatest professional success: “What makes me the most proud is the opportunity to have been a mentor to various individuals. Everyone is on a journey. It’s truly special when you can support and nurture someone else’s.”
President, Masley Enterprises
When her husband, a three-time Olympian, was starting Masley Enterprises in the basement of their Fairfax home in 2000, Masley worked weekends as a nurse at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for eight years to help support the family, which included three young children. But from the start she was a strategic partner in the business, which employs people with challenged backgrounds—backgrounds that make them unemployable in the eyes of many—to manufacture gloves for military personnel. “We believe in giving everyone a second chance,” Masley says. When Frank was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma, he began mentoring her to run the business so he could focus on his cancer treatments. When he passed in September 2016, Masley took over the company. “The Masley glove team and I are now carrying on Frank’s legacy in producing quality technical handwear for our war fighters,” she says. “Our horizon is comfortably full and successful. We are manufacturing gloves as a government contractor, with several successful contracts. Our goals are to maintain these contracts for years. And we are always looking for other handwear opportunities that fit our goals of manufacturing in the United States of America.” Giving back: Masley helped to create the Delaware APEX program, which helps clients through the pardons and expungement process, which earned her recognition as a White House Champion of Change in 2014. And she still works a few hours a week at CHOP to fulfill her passion for nursing.
Executive Director, Riverfront Development Corporation of Delaware
“In my 20 years at the RDC, I have held almost every job there is to have here,” McGlinchey says. “From answering phones to setting up tables and chairs to planning events and picking up trash afterward, I’ve done it.” So after founding director Mike Purzycki left after his election as mayor of Wilmington in 2016, McGlinchey, then acting director, was the natural choice to lead the organization. RDC’s purpose is to create economic vitality along the Christina and the Brandywine while enhancing the environment, encouraging historic preservation and promoting public access. Having transformed the old brownfields into a work-live-play hub for the city, RDC, under McGlinchey, is developing a master plan for the South Market Street side of the riverfront, “which would guide our development efforts for the next 20 to 30 years,” she says. “I am extremely excited to lead this next phase of our organization.” She also chairs the Governor’s Tourism Advisory Board and Delaware Zoological Society and serves on the boards of the Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau, Kalmar Nyckel Foundation and March of Dimes. Greatest professional success: “I am really proud of the creation of the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge and the DuPont Environmental Education Center. It was the first major development project which I worked on and saw through to completion. Former Gov. Russ Peterson had long envisioned reclaiming the marsh on the Christina, and it was extremely rewarding to me to play a part in making his dream a reality.”
Manager, Business Development, EDiS Company
McGuigan had no intention of entering the building business. She was happy and fulfilled as the executive director of KINfolk, a nonprofit that provides laptop computers to medically fragile children. So when a friend suggested she would be a great fit for an open position in an area construction company, “I told him that I was wholly uninterested, but he persisted, telling me that I would be foolish to not at least talk to the company,” McGuigan says. “I try not to be foolish, so I agreed to a blind meeting.” She took the job. “I realized that I was pretty comfortable in my then-current position, and that’s no way to grow. It was the right decision.” McGuigan now looks for new opportunities for Wilmington-based EDiS, a family-owned provider of construction management and general contracting services in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. “As such, I work with engineers, architects and clients to first build relationships,” she says, “and then projects.” Next big thing: “Success in my job, in my company, is definitely a team effort, so my goal is to be acknowledged as part of a successful team. That being said, specifically, I’d love to see about six more cranes dotting the Delaware skyline with EDiS trucks parked under them.”
Julia D. MacWilliams
Founder, Springboard Careers Inc.
After leaving her corporate job to raise her children, MacWilliams met many women who had also decided to leave their jobs to raise their children. “I quickly realized many of these well-qualified, well-educated women were concerned and intimidated about re-entering the workforce,” she says. She started Springboard Careers in 2009 to prepare them and make the re-entry process less intimidating after an employment gap or to transition into new careers. Springboard specializes in résumé development in addition to many other professional writing services, professional branding through LinkedIn profiles, job seeker assistance, interviewing skills training and career coaching. Springboard also works with local employers and recruiters to help find well-qualified candidates to fit specific job roles. “We speak with each client individually to determine their specific needs and develop a plan so they may thoroughly prepare themselves to re-enter the workforce,” MacWilliams says. “We also work with local employers to share their job opportunities with Springboard’s client database.” Her next goal is to make Springboard a resource for larger regional companies. Key to work-life balance: “Being organized and prioritizing.”
Director of Customer Service, CSC
Meisinger-Petit had worked 14 years in financial services when CSC approached through a message that piqued her curiosity: “Hi Faith, we want to tell you about the best kept secret in Delaware.” She was instantly drawn to its values, family culture and customer focus. During her interview, “I realized that everyone I met with was actually living the values I admired—it wasn’t just recruiting speak—and was passionate about serving customers. I knew I was in the right place.” Delaware-born and -based CSC is a leading provider of business, legal, tax and digital brand services to companies around the world. In her four years there, Meisinger-Petit has led four teams, from business licenses to litigation management to, now, customer service. She is responsible for process improvement, ensuring the delivery of world-class customer support, employee engagement and employee development. Key to great leadership: “One of my first leadership positions was as a volunteer for the Junior League of Wilmington, where I am still a member. If you can lead volunteers, you can lead anyone. It was this early leadership experience that taught me the importance of building relationships, listening and showing gratitude.”
Branch Manager II, Discover Bank
Discover Financial Services is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in the country. Since its inception in 1986, it has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. Monahan joined the company two years later as a chargeback specialist, then began her rise through the ranks: manager of bank office operations at Discover’s retail branch in 2002, retail bank operations manager in 2006, then branch manager in 2012. Monahan now oversees a staff of 15 to ensure that Discover—the pioneer in cash rewards—remains compliant with all regulations and regulatory updates. “I regularly work with our legal team, Discover’s headquarter office and our local team to ensure smooth system changes, updates on procedures, and make sure we deliver the best customer experience,” she says. Monahan also works with the director of community reinvestment. In addition to issuing the Discover card, the company offers various types of loans, checking and savings accounts, and certificates of deposit through its direct banking business and the retail branch in Greenwood. “Next, I really want to focus on educating the next generation on the importance of banking,” Monahan says. “It is shocking to learn that many do not understand the fundamentals of banking. I think it is important for them to understand the role banks have in the community. Greatest personal successes: “My wonderful son and beating breast cancer.”
Senior Vice President, Compensation and Benefits, M&T Bank Corporation
“I have found a wonderful career that energizes me every day and has allowed me to go further than I ever would have anticipated,” Pichler says. Her job in a nutshell: “I like to say that it is my job to think a little differently about how to approach compensation and benefits in a growing firm within a rapidly changing industry, and to approach it in such a way that it resonates with our employees and supports the critical work we do across the bank in terms of attracting strong talent, developing that talent and, obviously, rewarding that talent.” M&T Bank Corporation is a regional financial services company with more than $120 billion in assets and 17,000 employees. Pichler left a similar position at a company to join M&T last year. “The banking industry has seen a significant amount of change in the last decade as it relates to talent and rewarding that talent,” Pichler says. “I am thrilled to be part of our effort to refocus attention on our employee value proposition.” Her keys to success include hard work over time, continuous process improvement—“forever striving to go from good to great”—a sense of humility and humor, and a team of smart people around her. Key to work-life balance: “Once I started thinking about this in terms of work-life integration, it became easier. I might start work much earlier to leave for a school event in the afternoon, and then work after dinner.”
Founder-Head Trainer, Art Fitness
When two male co-workers at the bank where Rose once worked as a global investment manager noticed her shoulder muscles one day, they asked if she had ever considered working as a personal trainer. Rose scoffed at first—she was compelled to work out by negative body image and low self-esteem—but the idea took root. She started working in local gyms part-time, then after 25 years in the corporate world, 10 of them as a trainer in her off hours, she decided to open her own, a place where she could train people who struggled with health and fitness the way she knew they needed to be trained. On Sept. 18, 2011—the fifth anniversary of her health-minded mother’s death from an aneurysm—the boutique Art Fitness studio opened its doors. Rose’s mission is to help her clients “realize their greatness through exercise and nutrition so they can live stronger, longer lives.” From a client base of zero six years ago, Art Fitness, with the help of two other trainers, now maintains a clientele of 25 to 32. “We focus on keeping the clients we have instead of finding new ones,” she says. “We mentally build them up, get them to see themselves in a different light—you’re going to age, things are going to happen—so this is about staying healthy, and it is a lifelong journey. That is what I got from my mom.” Rose is currently working to master her system so it can be replicated across the state—she hopes to open the first of four more studios by the end of 2018—and to create a nonprofit that helps young entrepreneurs realize their dreams. Her key to success: “Do for others, be an impact to others’ lives, and the rest will fall into place as it should.”
Chief Commercial Officer, Dover Federal Credit Union
Dover Federal provides financial services and financial literacy training to a wide variety of clients. Schaefer built the commercial department from scratch starting in January 2011. “I oversee the commercial and collections departments,” Schaefer says. “We call them ‘business services’ and ‘member solutions.’ As part of the executive team, we are all about culture, community and financial literacy, so we wear many hats.” In May she graduated from The CEO Institute, which allowed her to attend three outstanding business schools—Wharton, Johnson and Darden—and learn to be an even better leader. To Schaefer, that means setting the example and rewarding successes. “Now I hope to coach and promote my teammates to the next level,” she says. “I love to see people succeed and if we can promote them internally, I believe that is a true investment for us as an employer and our employee.” Greatest professional success: “A text message from a direct report that read, ‘Thank you for being a great boss and trusting me.’ It means the world to me.”
Owner, Designer Consigner Inc.
“My mother always shopped consignment, and we always had the best outfits without blowing the family budget,” says Scott-Costa, so owning a consignment shop became her dream. After being downsized out of a corporate job in 2008, she made that dream a reality, opening Designer Consigner in Hockessin the next year. “In the middle of a recession, and as a single mom, I took a serious leap of faith, and without borrowing any money,” she says. “I put everything I had into a small business and dream. And with only one employee—my dearly departed mother—we made my business into a fun, profitable and exciting venture that continues to grow each day.” Designer Consigner is an upscale resale boutique for women—and as of earlier this year—men, where customers and consigners can make money and save money by buying and consigning gently used designer fashions and accessories. “As the owner, I am ultimately responsible for everything, but mostly responsible for my consigners and customers,” Scott-Costa says. “My main priority is customer/consigner satisfaction.” That’s not to mention planning a way to franchise nationally. Key to work-life balance: “Life is short, so I try to find the silver lining in everything and everyone. Each day is a new day. That’s why it’s called the present—a gift to make it your own, whatever that may be. I treat my customers and employees like family and treat work like a fun vacation.”
Donna A. Smits
Vice President, Delaware State AFL-CIO
Union Representative, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 27
Smits gives “organization” a different meaning in the workplace. She was the first woman elected to vice president of the 60-year-old Delaware State AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations)—the union of American and international trade unions and other workers’ groups—which works to achieve industrial, economic, political and social reforms, and to affirm the rights of all workers. UFCW represents working men and women in retail, processing plants and healthcare for bargaining wages, benefits and working conditions. After volunteering on numerous organizing campaigns and serving on the executive board of Local 27, a staff position opened. Now Smits spends her days helping members, negotiating contracts and managing legislative activities. Her work earned her seats on the Budget & Workforce Committee for Gov. John Carney’s transition team and to the advisory panel for the Delaware Economic Financial Advisory Council, which predicts state revenue. The next big thing on her horizon is a personal goal: a trip to South Africa. This traveler has already climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia. Key to leadership: “Never forgetting where you came from and always listening. Every voice has a value.”
President and CEO, Delaware BioScience Association
Stimson had been running a $500 million global business operation for Agilent Technologies when she decided to start “a new chapter.” The Delaware BioScience Association, whose board she had served on while at Agilent, was a perfect fit. The nonprofit group works to catalyze and grow the biosciences in Delaware and to help member businesses. “I work with my team to provide personalized attention to my members, helping to make connections for them,” Stimson says. That means making scientific connections, business consulting and, for one member company, finding a CEO. She has helped shape the bioscience program curriculum for DelTech, supported the strategy efforts of the UD biomedical engineering team as chair of its advisory board, collaborated with Select Greater Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Congress, Global Delaware and other organizations to promote bioscience regionally, and more. Having taken over in February, Stimson’s big goal so far is “to continue to expand the value the organization brings to our members.” Key to work-life balance: “I think balance is a misnomer. It’s really integration. You have to decide what’s really important and figure out how to integrate it into your day.”
Mary W. Tilley
Global Enterprise Services Leader, W.L. Gore & Associates Inc.
Tenacity is one of the qualities Tilley believes shapes great leaders. “Business is complicated and ever-changing,” she says. “The right path is not always easy to find or to implement.” So adaptability is also key. And she should know. Over her 30 years with homegrown multinational Gore, she has filled many business and operational roles, each with a successively broader scope. Now, as part of the enterprise leadership team, Tilley works with CEO Terri L. Kelly and two other key leaders to ensure the overall health and success of the company, which manufactures a variety of high-performance products, from medical devices to industrial filters to the famous Gore-Tex. “My individual responsibility is successful delivery of enterprise services such as finance, human resources, security and legal to the diverse businesses across the globe,” she says. She considers being named to the team her greatest professional success. “This was a vote of confidence and support that was very humbling.“ As part of an overall business process and digital transformation, Tilley is helping to implement integrated systems and processes across what have historically been independent businesses, each with their own unique solutions. The next goals include harmonizing procurement and payment processes and improving customer engagement capability. “Be ready to change or shift,” Tilley says. “Even the technically right solution may not work or the world around may change before you’re finished and you have to change again.” Greatest personal success: “Earning my engineering degree and my MBA while working and managing a family.”
Anne M. Bilderback
Acting President, Enterprise Flasher Company Inc.
When Vattilana’s husband passed away unexpectedly two years ago, there was no succession plan for his company, so she took over to preserve the employment of its highway safety workers until the business could be sold—and to honor his memory. “It took me six months to call myself president comfortably,” Vattilana says. “Two years later here it is.” Her workdays include opening the mail, depositing checks, organizing the office, checking the fleet, approving payroll, marketing and advertising, and being there for the crews when they clock in and out. A year after her husband’s death, Vattilana’s prayers were answered. “Jeff Roehm was awarded the Hall of Fame Pioneer Award by the American Society of Professional Engineers,” she says. Vattilana attended the ceremony with her daughter Courtney Roehm, who had become CEO and vice president of the company and accepted the award in her father’s honor. And, as it turned out, Vattilana sat next to the gentleman who would become her next husband. Greatest personal success: In addition to going back to college at age 55, “seeing Courtney making decisions that affected the future of Enterprise Flasher Company Inc. at a time when she was still grieving the loss of her father.”
Director of Conference & Event Services, University of Delaware
Weir wears three hats as an employee of three departments at the University of Delaware. She teaches fitness classes for faculty and staff for the department of health and well-being, and as an adjunct professor in the hospitality business management program, she has taught marketing, lodging and executive presentations. But her main responsibility is as director of conference and event services.
She oversees operations at three conference centers in Wilmington, Newark and Lewes, and she manages sales and marketing for the department, which provides professional event planning services to local businesses, associations, social groups and the university community. During a national search more than 20 years ago, Weir won over the hiring committee through her experience in business and the local hotel market. “At the time, I was working as a director of sales and marketing at a local full-service hotel, as well as doing training for the hotel chain nationally,” she says. “Previously, I was a general manager of a small luxury boutique hotel and the owner, with my husband, of Body Tech fitness center.” She is proud of what she has built at the university since then. In addition to her day job, Weir chairs the Wilmington Planning Commission and serves as an adviser to the marketing committee at the Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau. Key to success: “Trying new things and giving of yourself as best you can. Leading by example, yet knowing when to ask for help, has served me well.”
Know an achiever who should be featured? Please send 2018 nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.