Networking for Nerds: 11 Tips to Help Reluctant Networkers Make Connections That Pay Off

By Alaina G. Levine
Networking for Nerds

Does your idea of “networking” involve nursing a drink in the corner while your more gregarious colleagues mix, mingle, wheel, and deal?

You aren’t alone!

We all know people who can walk into a room full of total strangers and walk back out with a group of new best friends. They’re the kings and queens of conferences and mixers. At every networking event, they make small talk and introductions look easy … while you stand behind a potted plant and limit your conversations to people you already know. (Frankly, you’d rather visit the dentist or file your taxes than approach a total stranger to promote yourself and your brand!)

Networking is a part of professional life. In today’s connected world, the ability to collaborate and innovate with others isn’t a nice skill to have — it’s a must-have. “No matter how experienced or talented you may be, you’ll never be able to fully leverage your technical expertise if you are unable or unwilling to make mutually beneficial connections with other professionals.

Whether you consider yourself an introvert, socially awkward, or just a networking newbie, fear not. Follow the 11 tips below from my “Networking for Nerds” book to help you connect more confidently and take your career to the next level.

  1. Look for positive partnerships. Don’t think of networking as schmoozing or something slightly sleazy (like selling a used car). Successful networking is about crafting win-win partnerships that bring value to both parties — it is never about trying to extract something from someone. So approach networking with the fundamental idea that you are seeking to find out what people need or what problems they have that you can help them with, Right off the bat, this will help you shed your reluctance to approach others with your projects and ideas.
  2. Look at networking through a new lens. For many people, networking has a place on the “dreaded chore” list right up there with cleaning out the gutters. Others erroneously think that networking takes time away from the outputs associated with success in your profession. But it’s important to see connecting with others as a positive activity that advances your success and that’s even (gasp!) enjoyable. Think of it this way: It is always a privilege and an honor to have the opportunity to discuss topics that you and the other party are passionate about. So take pleasure in the gift of meeting new people and seeing what can come from the new exchange.
  3. Keep the conversation positive. When you are networking and you meet someone for the first time, discuss only positive topics and steer clear of potentially controversial topics like politics and religion. You want to make a good impression and ensure that your new contact equates you with happy thoughts.
  4. RSVP to professional events with a “yes.” You might not always feel like attending mixers, receptions, and conferences. (Let’s face it: Sometimes, your Netflix queue and a bowl of popcorn seem much more enticing.) But unless you have a compelling excuse to stay home, go to these professional events anyway. Don’t limit yourself to industry events, either. Be on the lookout for get-togethers hosted by your alumni association or regional chapter, local charities, or other organizations for which you volunteer. And don’t stress about having an opening line when meeting new people. Just walk up to someone and introduce yourself. The more you do this, the easier it gets — I promise!
  5. Keep some business cards in your wallet at all times. Why? You never know who you might meet at your friend’s birthday party, the neighborhood potluck, or your cousin’s wedding. For that matter, you never know who you might sit next to on your next flight! While the focus of social events and everyday interactions isn’t usually on business, it’s always wise to be prepared in case the conversation does veer in that direction. And on a similar note, do carefully consider the way you dress and behave when you’re off the clock, as people are always watching and making decisions about your brand. Perception equals truth in the minds of the public.
  6. Don’t be afraid to make fellow networkers come to you. If you’re really feeling adventurous, be entrepreneurial and throw a “meetup” for people in your industry. Use and LinkedIn to promote the gathering. You’ll get a chance to make new contacts and hone your skills in event planning and marketing. In addition, people will truly appreciate your initiative to bring everyone together and will take note of your expertise.
  7. Enjoy yourself — to a point. Yes, there’s a reason why alcohol has a reputation as a “social lubricant.” It can help take the edge off your nerves, which often comes as a welcome relief at networking events. Just watch your intake—limit yourself to one small drink, or only a few sips. Remember your ultimate purpose. You are there to network, not to get drunk.
  8. Find a fun new group — and keep your eyes peeled for opportunities. Are you feeling a bit bored by your regular routine? Consider joining new clubs or taking classes in subjects that interest you. Any aggregation of people presents an opportunity to make new friends and to network. And since you are all engaged in an activity that you enjoy, everyone will be in a good mood and more open to making and solidifying connections.
  9. Use social media to be social … and to network. In between posting pictures of your family’s activities and sharing interesting articles, don’t forget to keep up your networking momentum by contributing value to professional conversations on social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Explore these sites in depth and unlock their hidden potential. For example, take a tour of the underused ‘Find Alumni’ feature on LinkedIn. You might be surprised by how many alumni are in your region or industry. Sharing an alma mater will likely make these individuals more willing to connect with you.
  10. Be open to connecting with friends of friends … and their friends, too! As you network, be open to connecting with people who are not in your industry or who seemingly don’t have anything in common with you. Remember, the six degrees of separation theory says that we are connected to every other person on the planet by no more than six degrees — and it’s surprising how often it’s proven to be true! So, for instance, there’s a very large chance that you know someone who knows someone who knows the head of HR at a company in which you’re interested. Additionally, you never know what information you are going to learn until you engage someone in conversation. By networking, chances are you will leave with ideas and inspiration to solve your problems or navigate your career in novel ways. This has happened to me many times!
  11. Give yourself a goal. If the very thought of networking makes you want to crawl under a rock and stay there (hello, introverts!), make it your goal to reach out to just 5 or 10 people a month with whom you would like to build a partnership. Whether you’re reaching out via email, LinkedIn, or in person at an event, introduce yourself and ask for an ‘informal discussion. Let them know why you want to meet with them — namely, that you are interested in exploring the opportunity to collaborate and contribute to their team. That’s all you have to do—and you’ll be amazed at your success!”

Hidden, game-changing career opportunities are everywhere, but they won’t magically reveal themselves. The only way to access these clandestine gems is via networking. Most people feel that they lack the confidence to network, which gives you a distinct advantage if you do. And trust me — making fruitful connections really does get easier with practice.

About Alaina G. Levine

Alaina Levine is the author of “Networking for Nerds: Find, Access and Land Hidden Game-Changing Career Opportunities Everywhere (Wiley, July 2015, ISBN: 978-1-118-66358-5, $29.95))”: as well as a celebrated and internationally known speaker, comedian, career consultant, writer, and entrepreneur. She is president of Quantum Success Solutions, an enterprise dedicated to advancing the professional expertise of both nerds and non-nerds alike.

To learn more, visit

Oct. 17: Illumination Nation: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Light The Night®” Walk to Cure Blood Cancers

By Megan Schowengerdt
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Carytown in Richmond, VA will become a sea of light on the evening of Saturday, October 17th as more than 1500 walkers join together to walk with illuminated lanterns in support of blood cancer cures at the Richmond Light The Night Walk® to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).

“Light The Night” is a powerful and unique fundraising campaign bringing families and businesses together to honor blood cancer survivors and those lost to the disease. The event shines a light on the importance of finding cures and providing access to treatments for blood cancer patients.

Walkers who raise $100 or more receive a Light The Night t-shirt, dinner, and an illuminated lantern that is symbolic of why they are walking—red for supporters, white for survivors, or gold in memory of those lost to cancer. Together, we form a community in support of cures for blood cancers and hope for victims and their families.

The Richmond Light The Night® walk goal is $385,000 this year—funds which will support the LLS mission to cure blood cancers and improve the quality of life for patients. Registration opens at 5:00 p.m. at The Virginia Historical Society with children’s activities including a moon bounce and face painting, as well as entertainment and a Remembrance Ceremony at 6:00 p.m. The 2-mile walk through Carytown starts at 7:00 p.m.

Thank you to Dan Weekley from Dominion for serving as the 2015 Richmond Light The Night® Corporate Walk Chair and to Dominion, our Presenting Sponsor. Thanks also to other top sponsors VCU Health, Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Network, Virginia Cancer Institute and Union Bank & Trust for their support.

Blood cancers are the third leading cause of cancer deaths. More than one million Americans are fighting leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease or various other types of blood cancers. Blood cancer cannot be prevented or detected early, which is why LLS is focused on researching for cures and providing information and support to patients and their families.

Since its foundation, LLS has invested over $1 billion dollars in research to advance treatments and save lives. Survival rates for blood cancer patients have doubled, tripled, and in some cases quadrupled as a result of LLS funded research. Many LLS funded drugs that were originally developed to treat blood cancers are now being used to treat other types of cancer.

To learn more about The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society please visit or reach out to Virginia Chapter staff at (804) 673-5690. For more information about Light The Night®, visit

About the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

It’s about Community: Coming together for a common goal, friends, families and co-workers form fundraising walk teams. Millions of consumers also help by donating at retail outlets. Culminating in inspirational and memorable evening walks every fall, participants in nearly 200 communities across North America join together carrying illuminated lanterns to take steps to end cancer.

It’s about Funding Research: Nationally, Light The Night participants raise an average of $250. Raise $1,000 or more to become a member of our Bright Lights Club. Together, Bright Lights Club members raised more than $18.8 million last year in support of our mission. Join the club that is funding cures today and you will receive special recognition! Click on the incentives link to see the exclusive Light The Night recognition items.

Why Walk? It’s inspirational and fun. And you’ll make a real impact on the lives of blood cancer patients.

Walkers raise funds in honor of patients like Joseph. Click here to find out more about Joseph’s inspirational story.

Since it was founded in 1949, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has worked to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients. Breakthroughs like targeted therapies that zero in on cancer cells, and kill them and immunotherapy drugs that use a patient’s own immune system to kill cancer are examples of LLS-supported advancements that have been saving thousands of lives.

Light The Night Walk is a community celebration of music, entertainment and camaraderie among friends, family and co-workers gathering to celebrate their fundraising success and demonstrate their support in the fight against blood cancers.

Join us and raise funds. Take steps to save lives. Click here to register now.

Where: Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA
When: Saturday October 17, 2015
Time: 5:00 PM EST

For more information, send an email to, and visit

Meet the Women of Richmond's Sassiest Networking Group — N.E.W.

The Network of Enterprising Women (NEW) was born in 1988, founded by Shirley Wagner and Debbie Johnston, two professional businesswomen seeking to build a women’s networking group by meeting each month to laugh, network, and build relationships.

Soon, they were joined by hundreds of others, and NEW became a nonprofit, with a board of directors and an active philanthropic initiative.

“The main goal of NEW is to assist and encourage women who desire to become established in business, and to promote and foster the exchange of knowledge and understanding of methods for success in establishing and maintaining a business,” says Dee Dee Schurman, the incoming 2015 president.

What does she have planned for the coming year? And what’s on the horizon for this growing networking group? Scroll down for our Q&A with Dee Dee Shurman.

Click here to listen to our podcast interview on the Truly Amazing Women Show on the Inkandescent Radio Network.


Be Inkandescent: Tell us about your organization. What is your mission?

Dee Dee Schurman: (pictured right) NEW is a sassy nonprofit organization of women who come together to support and promote each other in business and give back to the community through our scholarship and grant programs. Our mission is to create and provide a supportive environment for all members, which will foster and enhance their productivity, effectiveness, creativity, self-expression, and accomplishment in their respective fields.

We also tap into the talent, knowledge, and skills of the membership and, through action, make a difference in the community through group projects and valuable contributions. And, we strive to build the name and reputation of NEW and its members as respected business organizations enhancing both the community and the quality of life in the Greater Richmond area.

Be Inkandescent: Who are your members, and what do you offer them?

Dee Dee Schurman: We have a professionally diverse membership. Our enterprising women include financial types, such as bankers, financial advisers, and accountants, as well as professional types such as realtors, web designers, and business consultants. We also include business owners, shop owners, innkeepers, caterers, art gallery curators, photographers, dentists, and many more! We offer our members a fun, resourceful, and supportive environment in which to grow their business.

Be Inkandescent: What are some of the programs you offer, and how have they been received by members?

Dee Dee Schurman: We offer a monthly networking luncheon that highlights the promotion of our individual businesses. Our luncheons are open to guests, but you may only attend as a guest twice within a year. We also have an online directory available only to the membership. I use that a lot. If I need a product or service, I always look there first.

Most every month, at the luncheon we spotlight one member in our “Who kNEW” segment. That member will address the membership and speak for two minutes and tell us about themselves. It’s sort of a two-minute “This is my life” story and an opportunity for us to get to know each other as girlfriends. We want to know about you, what your hobbies are, where you grew up, what inspires you.

We also feature NEW Nite Out. Once a month, a member or two will host a networking gathering at their place of business. NEW Nite Out is also open to guests and offers an opportunity to the hosting member to tell us more about themselves and their business in a social setting, which makes it easy for members to get to know each other better.

NEW is philanthropic. One of the programs that sets NEW apart from other networking groups is our commitment to give back to the community through our grant program and to support future generations of enterprising women through our scholarship program. We have several fundraising events that fund these programs, which our membership is very passionate about, and very generous in their support of them.

Our signature event is Woman 2 Woman, a speed networking event that hosts vendors and some of the most enterprising women in Richmond. Our Woman 2 Woman event will be held this month on Sept. 22 at the Jefferson Lakeside Country Club. If you are lucky, you may still secure your seat at the networking table.

All of these programs have been very well received by the membership. The “Who kNEW” is probably the hardest to promote — these women are sassy, but shy!

Be Inkandescent: You are the incoming president — what are your goals for 2015-2016?

Dee Dee Schurman: My #1 goal is to grow the membership. I want more sassy women to know about NEW. They say a woman can never be too rich or too thin. She can never be too successful or have too many girlfriends either! Other goals include creating more of a presence in social media and enhancing the newsletter to make it more informative and interesting to the membership.

Be Inkandescent: What made you want to join this group? And what are some of your favorite aspects of it?

Dee Dee Schurman: I joined NEW at the invitation of a friend. I had just been downsized as the result of the declining economy, and I was about to turn 50. Good grief! At NEW I found help, inspiration, motivation, and friendship. I did reinvent myself and have a hundred new girlfriends who helped me do it. My favorite aspect of NEW is the social aspect; we really do have a lot of fun. At the luncheons we laugh, a lot!

Be Inkandescent: Why do you think it is important for people to join networking groups like this one?

Dee Dee Schurman: I believe there is something special about sharing ideas among girlfriends. In the company of women, I am less inhibited and more confident. I’m more comfortable failing here. That is, if I try something new, but stupid, my girlfriends are going to tell me it’s stupid and still be my friend. They aren’t a client who won’t ever call me again. I value the perspective of the women of NEW.

Be Inkandescent: What is your most favorite, and least favorite, aspect of networking?

Dee Dee Schurman: Most favorite is the social aspect. I love getting together over a glass of wine and learning about other people. I’m a people person. Some folks don’t like crowds. I feel energized by them. My least favorite part about networking is the hard-sell aspect. It’s inevitable that when networking you will meet a rookie networker who just wants to sell you something. I’m a good listener. I smile when I’m listening to someone’s “pitch” because I know that I am one of their “practice sessions.” It’s like going to an interview and you know you stunk but you needed the practice. That’s how I look at the “pitchers.” Perspective. It’s also my opportunity to practice politely ending the conversation and moving on.

Be Inkandescent: When it comes to networking well, what are your top tips for others?

Dee Dee Schurman: Networking is about connecting with each other and connecting with each other is what life is all about!

So here are my top three:
1. Be patient, courteous, and listen attentively.
2. Network often. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.
3. Let networking be intuitive. You probably already have a network of friends. Even your family is a network.

For more information, visit the Network of Enterprising Women (NEW)

Is "Average" Over in America? Futurist Michael Vidikan explains

By Michael Vidikan
Founder and President
Future In Focus

Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University and popular economics blogger, made waves with his bestseller Average Is Over, a controversial and compelling forecast that maintains that the modern world is on the cusp of a sea change, brought on largely by the rise of artificial intelligence (AI).

“The basic look of our lives … hasn’t been revolutionized all that much in 40 to 50 years,” Cowen writes. “That’s about to change.”

Why? According to Cowen, the inexorable trend toward automation of work and daily life will be the key force in a massive societal disruption that is only now beginning to be felt. Looking ahead 20 to 30 years, Cowen contends that machine intelligence will kill most middle-class jobs, as well as the broad prosperity that has characterized America and other advanced economies since the 1950s. Instead, the future will belong to a minority of people who have the talent and discipline to work effectively with smart machines.

The key questions will be: Are you good at working with intelligent machines or not? Do your skills complement the computer’s skills, or does the computer do better without you? Worst of all, are you competing against the computer? “Ever more people are starting to fall on one side of this divide or the other,” he avers.

Building on this central insight, Cowen evokes a wide-ranging vision of a sharply divided world in which most people either thrive at the top of the ladder or subsist on the lower rungs. In work, wealth, education, residential geography, intimate relationships, and virtually every other aspect of life, the world will be increasingly divided into winners and losers, abundance and lack, haves and have-nots.

Middle classes — along with tolerance for mediocrity, mistakes, and general muddling through — will largely disappear, as people either push their way to the top or fall permanently behind. America sits at the leading edge of this change, but the paradigm will expand to other developed societies and will upset the developing world as well. Soon, he says, average will be over.


  • Machine intelligence is poised to disrupt practically every aspect of modern society, ultimately giving rise to a “hyper-meritocracy.”
  • Societies will split into three tiers — a wealthy elite, a lower-middle class of well-educated but underemployed people, and the poor — divided by individuals’ ability to work with computers.
  • The hyper-meritocratic future could be mitigated by social networking, targeted policy reforms, or other countertrends.


In a world in which human/machine teams have become the most effective way to solve problems and create value, workers will receive the highest rewards for certain kinds of talents and skills:

  • Math and analytic skills for designing, programming, and teaming with intelligent machines
  • Ability to complement machine intelligence with real-world context and problem-solving
  • Consumer insight, especially an understanding of how consumers want to interact with smart systems


Cowen’s vision in “Average Is Over” has frequently been called “compelling” due to its plausibility, detail, and strong supporting evidence. Many of its forecasts could bear out. Businesses might consider outlining the book and using its key insights to inform robust strategies that can stand up to the sea changes that probably lie ahead. Most obviously, of course, automation and AI will become increasingly central to the world of work, and businesses will need to reframe hiring and training around the requisite skills.

Given current trends, the forecast that an expanded tier of super-wealthy elites will become the key consumer group looks plausible. Companies and most workers will succeed by catering to the needs of this tier.

Many aspects of Cowen’s future look positive for employers, even if they make workers’ lives more difficult. AI-enabled metrics will allow companies to measure and maximize productivity and profits with unprecedented precision. Managers and executives will have extremely accurate views of the strengths and weaknesses of their enterprises (and their individual employees), and they will be able to quickly reject anything that isn’t serving their success — from a strategic direction to a front-line employee.

What are the benefits of a meritocratic world? What are the drivers? And how will women and men behave in the new world of work?

Click here to subscribe, and gain access to this entire brief.

July 25: Lucy the Elephant Plays Host to "Sherri’s Walk by the Water" to Support Ovarian Cancer Research

Margate, NJ; July 15, 2015 — The first annual “Sherri’s Walk by the Water” will be held on Saturday, July 25, to raise funds for the Sherri S. Gendelman Fund for Ovarian Cancer Research at Abington Hospital – Jefferson Health.

The event will start at 8:30 AM in front of Margate’s famous Lucy the Elephant, (9200 Atlantic Avenue, Margate, NJ) and includes a 2 mile stroll on the beach or a beginner’s boot camp! Everyone is welcome to participate in this fun and meaningful event to raise much-needed funds to tackle ovarian cancer through important ovarian cancer initiatives (event details below).

Sherri Gendelman was a Philadelphia-area native who also lived in and loved Margate. A mother and wife, Sherri lost her 17-month battle in November to ovarian cancer after participating in three clinical trials, having two major surgeries and enduring 42 rounds of chemotherapy.

Sherri’s dream was to help fund new research for this tragic disease in a meaningful way, and be part of offering more hope for ovarian cancer patients, their families and close friends.

  • One of Sherri’s research nurses, Jennifer Cacciatore, explains: “Sherri was an incredible woman. The Fund was set up in Sherri’s honor to support her passion for research, research and more research. Sherri wanted to contribute something, even knowing that it might not benefit her, but that it might have an important impact on other people down the line. We hope that this inaugural ‘Sherri’s Walk by the Water’ will help other women, just as Sherri had always wanted to do.”
  • Sherri’s oncologist, Dr. Mark Shahin, Director of Hanjani Institute for Gynecologic Oncology at Abington Hospital—Jefferson Health, adds, “Sherri had a particular enthusiasm about novel and new approaches that were happening in ovarian cancer since she knew we certainly are not where we need to be. I think the idea of raising money for ovarian cancer allows Sherri’s wishes to remain alive. There isn’t a day that goes by that I do not think of Sherri’s smile, energy, enthusiasm, and her wanting to give back.”
  • Dr. Shahin also notes, “Supporting the Sherri S. Gendelman Fund is meaningful since, at any given time, the Hanjani Institute at Abington has roughly 30 to 50 ongoing open gynecological clinical trials. All of those take a tremendous amount of time, attention, and care. In particular, we are very proud that there are dedicated nurse navigators and research nurses who, day-to-day, spend many hours supporting the patients while they’re receiving the care.”

WE INVITE YOU TO JOIN US for “Sherri’s Walk by the Water”

*When:* Saturday, July 25, 2015, rain or shine.

  • Registration at 7:30AM
  • 2 Mile Walk at 8:30 AM
  • Natasha’s Beginners’ Boot camp at 9:00 AM.

Where: Lucy the Elephant, on the beach, 9200 Atlantic Avenue, Margate, NJ —


  • $40 per person; free t-shirt on first-come, first-serve basis with online registration
  • Show event wristband on the day of the event and get special discount when you visit Lucy the Elephant.
  • Additional donations to Sherri S. Gendelman Fund for Ovarian Cancer Research greatly appreciated.


  • Breakfast and coffee from L’s (Lucy) Restaurant available for purchase throughout the event with 20% of all proceeds donated to Fund.
  • Brace URself to sell its “Teal Collection,” the color representing ovarian cancer; 20% of all proceeds will be donated to Fund.
  • 50/50 Raffle

About Ovarian Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015, about 21,290 women in the U.S. will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer while about 14,180 U.S. women will die from ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 75. Her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 100. (These statistics don’t count low malignant potential ovarian tumors.)

For more information: Contact Barbara Tarlow Radler at the Sherri S Gendelman Fund • 215-783-3337 •

Truly Amazing Woman and Author Elizabeth Kostova

Who she is: Author, The Historian

What she does: Writes historical novels. Her first one, “The Historian,” reaches from the present day into the medieval past of Vlad the Impaler, Wallachia’s barbarous 15th century ruler whose gruesome deeds gave rise to the legend of Dracula. It earned her international acclaim when it was published in 2005.

Her latest book: In January 2010 Elizabeth published “The Swan Thieves.” This one is about psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe who has a perfectly ordered life — solitary, perhaps, but full of devotion to his profession and the painting hobby he loves. This order is destroyed when renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient. (More on that later.)

By Hope Katz Gibbs

You may want to tuck a few bulbs of garlic into your pockets when you read Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel, “The Historian.”

This novel about the life-and afterlife-of Vlad III of Wallachia (1431-1476) is wonderfully creepy—especially when read late at night. Even before its release, The Historian was predicted to be as popular as Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. And that is what the book’s publisher, Time Warner’s Little, Brown, is banking on.

After a heated auction last summer, Little, Brown paid Kostova $2 million to publish her 656-page book.

The windfall came as a welcome surprise to the author, a Yale grad and literature professor. Kostova worked late into many nights typing her manuscript, and admits writing about the diabolical Dracula at 2 a.m. did make her reach to close the curtains.

But then, she was equally spooked in the daytime when the idea for the novel first popped into her head.

“I suddenly remembered the Dracula tales my professor father told me when I was a little girl and we were traveling in Europe, and I thought this might be a good beginning for a novel,” she shares. “Then I thought, ‘What if it turned out Dracula himself was listening to each story?”’

The more she thought about it, the more the hair stood up on the back of her neck. She knew she was on to something.

About midway through the writing process, Kostova needed a little creative mentoring and entered the University of Michigan’s masters of fine arts program.

“It was the best thing I could have done,” Kostova says, noting her supportive professors encouraged her to enter the novel-in-progress in the school’s prestigious Hopwood Award competition. She won that prize in 2004.

It is easy to see why. Not only is “The Historian” a completely captivating tale, but Kostova’s prose is sophisticated and elegant, her character development rich and deep, and her images vivid.

The detailing of European cities is as interesting as a travelogue, and her descriptions of foreign fare are so delectable that reading the book on an empty stomach is sure to have you longing for a bowl of steaming gulyas or a goblet of palinka.

To give readers the feeling they are traveling to foreign lands, Kostova knew it was imperative she romp through many of the European cities in which the novel is set. “How else would I have known the sound of the screams that seagulls make as they soar over Istanbul?” she asks.

Luckily a trip to Bulgaria wasn’t too difficult, for Kostova’s husband is a native. In fact, the couple met there in the mid-‘80s, while she was on a foreign exchange program, and married when she was 25.

“Although none of the Bulgarian characters is specifically based on my in-laws,” she says, “I was able to observe them intimately and that helped me include wonderful details about their beautiful faces and particular mannerisms.”

The quantity of research exhausted her, though, and Kostova vowed that she’d never again undertake such an arduous project. Now that she’s rested a bit, however, the 40-year-old has begun another historic novel—but refuses to hint at the topic.

For the next year, Kostova will be working to promote The Historian. As to whether she believes Dracula still walks the earth, the author simply chuckles, “I don’t think I should answer that question. But suffice it to say that I am a very rational person. Usually.”

Read more about Kostova and other Truly Amazing Women here.

Happy Father's Day! The Next Generation: Stay-At-Home Dads —

By Michael Vidikan, Futurist
Future In Focus

The past decade has seen the emergence of a new twist on the traditional nuclear family: mothers who work full-time (like their fathers did), while fathers stay at home and take care of the day-to-day responsibilities of parenting.

And although the Great Recession may have accelerated this trend, studies have shown that the majority of men who engage in full-time parenting have not been forced to do so by difficult economic circumstances, but, rather, have chosen to do so.


Although still relatively small (compared to the number of stay- at-home moms), the share of men who are full-time at-home fathers is rapidly growing.

High male unemployment may have accelerated this trend, but shifting gender roles are playing a greater role in driving this shift.

While a more robust employment market may slightly reduce the number of stay-at-home dads, the numbers are not likely to return to pre-recession levels.


US Census figures show that in just the last decade, the number of American men who have left the workforce entirely in order to raise children has more than doubled, from 81,000 in 2001 to 176,000 in 2012.

The census, however, relies on a strict definition of stay-at-home dads that includes only those who have working mates and who have been out of the workforce themselves for more than a year—excluding the significant number of men who work freelance or part-time jobs while serving as their children’s primary childcare providers.

Using this broader definition, most estimates place the number of stay-at-home fathers at more than 2 million—a number that has quadrupled since 1986. While this number is still less than half of the number of stay-at-home mothers (5.6 million), it is growing rapidly.

Indeed, some researchers suggest that households consisting of one or more children and both parents, one of whom is a stay-at-home dad, is now the fastest-growing family type in the US.

A variety of factors are driving the rise in the number of stay-at- home fathers, including changes in the workplace as well as changes in American society as a whole.

1. Women’s rise: The rise in women’s achievements and status over the last four decades has made the possibility of stay-at-home fatherhood more feasible, more palatable, and, for many, more practical.

2. Economic drivers: As women have steadily risen in educational achievement and in the workplace, other economic factors have come into play that are helping to increase the number of men who are staying at home to care for their children.

3. Societal drivers: In addition to economic drivers, a number of societal shifts—many of which have gone hand-in-hand with the rise of women—are also driving the increase in the number of stay-at-home dads.


Although still in their infancy, the profusion of online social networks, thousands of fathering blogs, and online forums by and for at-home dads suggests that these consumers may welcome companies that facilitate contact and sharing that is specifically oriented toward the unique circumstances of their situation.

Engaging on social networks for stay-at-home fathers may provide opportunities to both market products and build brand loyalty.

As gender roles shift and active fathering becomes more prominent, it will be critical to understand how patterns within the home are affected.

Will some aspects of childrearing (e.g., decisions about healthcare) remain the purview of mothers even in families with stay-at-home dads? What household management duties will women breadwinners want to hold on to even if their husbands are willing to do them? Understanding the answers to these kinds of questions will give brands attractive touchpoints they can use to connect with women who may have been key customers in the past—but now have stay-at- home spouses.

Regardless of whether they consciously choose to become stay- at-home dads or resort to this strategy due to layoffs or prolonged unemployment, fathers who become their children’s primary caretaker are investing in domestic skills associated with motherhood that have traditionally been undervalued.

Companies—especially those that offer products and services directed to parents of young children—that demonstrate that they value parenting regardless of gender will likely find a large group of consumers who appreciate this message.

About Michael Vidikan’s Future in Focus

Future in Focus is a strategic foresight and consulting firm that offers custom and subscription-based research to help companies see years or even decades into the future to make better long-term decisions today.

Founded in 2014 by futurist Michael Vidikan, the firm continues the work previously done by Social Technologies, which was founded in 2000 by futurist Tom Conger. It was sold in 2009 to Innovaro, a company focused on software and innovation solutions.

Today, there are more than 1,400 briefs in Vidikan’s database that focus on the future of everything, from cyber-security and home furnishings to robotics and food preferences, including demographic and generational trends, country and regional profiles around the world, and emerging business models. Learn more about subscribing here.

Hera Hub Opens Its Doors: June 10, 2015

Date: June 10, 2015

Time: 6-8 pm

Location: 5028 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Suite 100, Washington DC

Hera Hub is celebrating:

  • Our founding members
  • Our first gallery show — featuring artist Diana Ludet
  • Our strategic partners — Springboard Enterprises, Career 2.0, NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners), and NAWMBA (National Association of Women MBAs)
  • Our community partner — Crunch Fitness
  • Our giving partners — HOCHA Foundation (Helping Our Communities Honor Aging) and NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship). Our giving partners are very important to us! Please consider bringing a donation to the event to support their programs.
  • We’re excited to host Hera Hub’s founder, Felena Hanson.

About Hera Hub: Hera Hub is a shared, flexible coworking and meeting space where entrepreneurial women can create and collaborate in a professional, productive, spa-like environment. It provides members with connections to other business experts, access to educational workshops, and visibility within the community, thus giving them the support they need to be prosperous. Hera Hub offers cost-effective monthly membership options that are suited to freelancers, independent consultants, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and authors. Learn more at

Scroll down to learn more!


The first franchise location for San Diego-founded coworking space Hera Hub, will open on June 10, 2015, in Friendship Heights. This opening marks the first of the company’s extensive plans to franchise in order to support 20,000 women who are working to grow their businesses over the next five years. Hera Hub currently has three locations in San Diego County: Carlsbad, Mission Valley, and Sorrento Valley.

Expanding to the East Coast, specifically DC, was a strategic decision made by Hera Hub founder Felena Hanson as, according to a study done by personal finance website Nerd Wallet, Building Front DC ranks number one in female entrepreneurs, with nearly 35 percent of its businesses owned by women. Hanson selected Washington, DC, franchise owner Julia Westfall because of her experience with education and her own entrepreneurial ventures, which have included work in finance, human resources, marketing, and sales.

Hanson says: “I’m elated to have Julia join the Hera Hub team. Her passion for supporting women, coupled with her natural ability to connect and create community, gave me the confidence to grant her the first franchise location.”

“We are thrilled to be taking this final step and officially opening the doors of Hera Hub DC” says Westfall. “It’s been an exciting year. Not only will we have a space to serve as a platform for the incredible community of women business owners in the DC Metro area to collaborate with each other, but we will continue to build strategic alliances with other organizations and resources to support them in achieving their business goals.”

When designing the DC workspace, Westfall aimed to create a professional space where women can relax and be their most productive and creative. Before the opening the space, Westfall successfully built a founding membership base while working out of a temporary location. With the goal of having 50 members by the summer, the DC Hera Hub location will create a unique community that will bring women’s passions and experience together.

Ahead of the grand opening, Hera Hub DC has already appeared in Washingtonian magazine and garnered an honorable mention in Bisnow’s “9 Hot DC Co-Working Spaces.” Westfall is confident that the DC market will be receptive to the standout aesthetic that Hera Hub offers.

Find details here.

Celebrate Earth Day by Donating to the NO MORE BULL Crowdfunding Campaign


Washington, DC, April 20, 2015 — In celebration of Earth Day 2015, the nonprofit organization Chomping Climate Change is launching a No More Bull campaign today.

Designed to slow climate change — before it’s irreversible — No More Bull includes a crowdfunding component created in partnership with the nonprofit organization A Well-Fed World.

The goal is to raise a minimum of $500,000 to develop activities that inspire people through music to accompany events including Live Earth 2015 on June 18 — created by Al Gore, Kevin Wall, and Pharrell Williams. If enough funds are raised, No More Bull will also help develop activities for this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

Plus: Signed copies of the “Meat Free Monday Cookbook” by Paul, Mary, and Stella McCartney will go to the two people who donate the most money to the “No More Bull” crowd funding campaign. (Scroll down to learn more!)

Inspiring Leaders: Taking the Initiative to Reverse Climate Change

Since politicians first promised to reduce harmful emissions causing climate change more than 20 years ago, greenhouse gas emissions have actually increased by 61 percent.

That reality inspired the late Robert Goodland to research possible solutions. In 2009 Goodland — the World Bank’s first full-time ecologist, who went on to become its lead environmental adviser — wrote what the UN Environment Program called the “51 percent assessment,” with his World Bank colleague Jeff Anhang.

In the assessment, they count anthropogenic emissions attributable to the life cycle and supply chain emissions of domesticated animals raised for food. They conclude that greenhouse gases from the lifecycle and supply chain of animals raised for food account for over half (at least 51 percent) of annual emissions caused by humans.

Their findings achieved international acclaim following publication in the award-winning magazine World Watch in November/December 2009, in an article, entitled: Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are … cows, pigs, and chickens?

And in 2011 Goodland and Anhang co-founded, to promote their analysis of how to slow climate change through food and forestry.

Soon after:

Understanding the Facts: Why It’s Time to Say “No More Bull”

Anhang and Goodland have continued to focus on food and climate change, and in recent years have expanded their original assessment:

“Today’s worldwide concentration of atmospheric carbon is the highest in recorded history, and is considered by experts to be unsafe — yet it is rising steadily. As long as today’s broad international disagreement continues on the required large-scale steps for reducing usage of fossil fuels, it seems clear that substantial reductions in GHG emissions in most sectors will be difficult to achieve.”

They explain that the livestock sector is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions not attributable to usage of fossil fuels.

As a result, “The goal of climate treaty negotiations should be to eliminate one quarter of livestock consumption, which would allow forests to regenerate on the vast areas of land now set aside for cattle grazing and feed production,” they suggest.

Regeneration of forests is the only known way to create new large-scale capacity to sequester today’s atmospheric carbon,” they insist. “Our case may be the only pragmatic way to significantly address climate change before it becomes catastrophic.”

Take Action: Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

Environmental agencies warn that if we don’t significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, there may be no way to reverse the trend.

That’s why Paul McCartney’s Meat Free Monday campaign makes so much sense. Since 2008, he has been talking about the impact of livestock production on climate change and what can be done about it. He spoke about climate change most recently at the March 2015 Bloomberg Philanthropies event, Road to Paris.

By supporting the No More Bull crowdfunding campaign, you will:

  • Advance an effective campaign, inspired by environmental specialists who have made a pragmatic case for reversing climate change in a research-based, practical manner.
  • Engage with millions of other like-minded people around the world.
  • Join more than 11,000 fans who “like” Chomping Climate Change on Facebook.
  • Have a chance to win a copy of the Meat Free Monday Cookbook — signed by Paul McCartney.
  • Have the opportunity to improve your diet by replacing a substantial amount of today’s livestock products with great-tasting alternatives. The McCartneys’ cookbook offers hundreds of options.
  • Have fun! Eat well, be well — and help the earth be well, by adding your voice to the message that Live Earth 2015 is sending to world leaders on June 18: Take Action Now.

There are two ways to donate now to No More Bull:

For more information, contact: Hope Katz Gibbs, founder
Inkandescent Public Relations,
cell: 703-346–6975

About Chomping Climate Change

Chomping Climate Change addresses the failure of politicians for more than 20 years to implement international policies on climate change. As a result, many people don’t trust politicians on climate change. Chomping Climate Change provides a unique, widely cited analysis of how to address climate change through food and forestry, based on environmental assessment performed by two World Bank Group environmental specialists — Jeff Anhang and the late Robert Goodland. The World Bank Group is the part of the United Nations system that’s focused on improving people’s lives through international development. Learn more about this No More Bull video.

About A Well-Fed World

A Well-Fed World is a hunger relief and animal protection organization founded in 2009. In addition to its advocacy, it works through a partnership network to distribute vegan food to people in need, build food gardens in low-income countries, and strengthen farm animal care and rescue. Learn more at


Celebrate Spring with "The Language of Flowers"

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Be Inkandescent magazine

Acadia means secret love, aloe means grief, basil indicates hate, and mistletoe says: I surmount all obstacles. Give a lover a planter of lavender and you are saying that you don’t trust them. However, a bouquet of jasmine says it is attachment you desire.

That’s but a pinch of what you’ll learn about the meaning of flowers in Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s breakout novel, “The Language of Flowers,” the tragic coming-of-age tale of orphan Victoria Jones, a child whose emotional scars are exacerbated by the foster care system that can’t find a way to help her.

From page 1 of the first section, “Common Thistle,” it’s easy to see why Victoria’s saga has inspired romantics, enchanted book clubs, and galvanized a legion of people who are determined to help teens newly emancipated from foster care at 18.

“Like Victoria, who ended up living in the woods after she left the system, these teens often have few resources, little support, and limited prospects for a happy future,” explains Diffenbaugh, who was 23 when she got a taste of the troubles plaguing foster kids.

She and PK, her then-boyfriend (now husband) had been mentoring kids whose mom was a drug addict. Eventually the state put them into foster care, where they were split up. Two were sent to live with a family that didn’t speak English.

“It taught us a lot about was wrong with the system, and what we wanted to someday fix,” she says.

After the couple was married, and their first daughter was 6 months old, they turned desire into action and adopted Tre’von, 15, from the school where PK was teaching. He moved in on Valentine’s Day 2007, and that week Diffenbaugh learned she was pregnant. Soon after, they adopted another teen.

It was during that time that “The Language of Flowers” began to take root. It took six months to write the story of the misunderstood orphan who uses the meaning of flowers as a tool to communicate.

“I have always loved the language of flowers,” says Diffenbaugh, who at 15 discovered Kate Greenaway’s textbook, “Language of Flowers,” based on the Victorian-era science of floriography. “When I dreamed up Victoria, it seemed only logical that a young woman who had trouble connecting with others would communicate through a forgotten language that no one understands.”

Diffenbaugh’s book also points a spotlight on the difficulty of raising strong, healthy children in the relationship she pens between Victoria and her 32nd foster mother, Elizabeth—the woman who teaches her the language of flowers.

“Our standards for motherhood are so high that many of us harbor intense, secret guilt for every harsh word we speak to our children, every negative thought that enters our minds,” Diffenbaugh admits. “The pressure is so powerful that many of us never speak aloud of our challenges.”

Diffenbaugh hopes to bring those secrets to the surface.

“It is my belief that we could prevent much child abuse and neglect if we, as a society, recognized the intense challenge of motherhood and offered more support for mothers who desperately want to love and care for their children.”

Diffenbaugh also hopes to make an impact on the millions of foster children who are aging out of the system through the, a nonprofit she co-founded with her college friend from Stanford, Iris Dallis Keigwin, formerly a VP at the world’s leading advertising and PR firms.

“Camellia Network is named after this flower to emphasize our belief in the interconnectedness of humanity,” Diffenbaugh shares. “It’s a reminder that the success or failure of these young people is directly tied to our own.”

Hawthorn (which means Hope) Katz Gibbs is a journalist, publicist, and entrepreneur who founded The Inkandescent Group LLC in 2008 to promote, educate, and inspire entrepreneurs. In addition to publishing Be Inkandescent magazine, Gibbs hosts a radio show on Inkandescent Radio, and in her spare time she has launched a speakers bureau, Inkandescent Speakers, and a networking site: Inkandescent Networking. Newly armed with Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s dictionary of flower meanings, available at the end of “The Language of Flowers,” loved ones, clients, and colleagues can expect to receive meaningful bouquets. This article was originally printed in the March 2013 issue of The Costco Connection.

Dolley’s Diplomacy: Inspiring Women’s Leadership – March 28-29, 2015

The Montpelier Foundation Hosts Women’s Leadership Conference in Honor of Dolley Madison’s Legacy

Orange, VA — The Montpelier Foundation’s first-ever women’s leadership conference presents an exciting opportunity for young women to learn and enhance the dialogue on women’s leadership in media, education, government, law, and business environments with attention paid to the overlap and important similarities within these arenas.

Sponsored by the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier, Running Start, Network of enlightened Women (NeW), and the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia, the program’s esteemed speakers and panelists will provide high-quality educational and networking opportunities to the 100 female college leaders in attendance.

The program will include a discussion with the audience about Dolley Madison’s leadership role in the early American republic. Dolley, a political force at a time when women were excluded from government and the full privileges of citizenship, pushed the boundaries of her circumscribed life. She became a master of navigating social networks and shaping opinions through her relationships with political leaders and their families.

As a political partner to President James Madison and an influencer in her own right, earning her the title “America’s 1st First Lady,” Dolley’s life helped set the stage for women’s leadership in the centuries to follow. Dolley’s Diplomacy explores the ways in which women continue to push boundaries, shatter glass ceilings, and exert power in all spheres.

“We are delighted to host Dolley’s Diplomacy at Montpelier and advance the discussion on women’s leadership,” said Kat Imhoff, President and CEO of The Montpelier Foundation. “It is fitting to inspire minds and to promote active citizenship with young women leaders at the very place where the U.S. Constitution was imagined.”

More information about the conference, including an up-to-date list of conference speakers and panelists, can be found at Follow the conference on Twitter using the hashtag #GoDolley.

About The Montpelier Foundation

Montpelier is the lifelong home of James Madison, Father of the Constitution, Architect of the Bill of Rights, and fourth president of the United States and Dolley Madison, regarded as America’s 1st First Lady. Montpelier is administered by The Montpelier Foundation, which seeks to inspire continuing public engagement with American constitutional self-government by bringing to life the home and contributions of James and Dolley Madison. The historic home and grounds are open to visitors and student groups throughout the year, and through Montpelier’s Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution, the Foundation provides world-class residential and online educational programs. Montpelier is a National Trust Historic Site.

About the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution

Montpelier’s Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution is America’s premier constitutional training center inspiring the public to be stewards of James Madison’s legacy of self-government through world-class on-site and Web-enabled educational programming. The Montpelier Foundation established the Center in 2002 as a national academy to provide seminars for teachers and educators on the U.S. Constitution. With similar success, the Center has begun training those who have a responsibility to implement and protect the Constitution, such as judges, legislators, and police officers. In its next phase, the Center will expand its on-site seminars and conferences and accelerate its online educational programming.

CONTACT: Caroline Godfrey, Communications Associate, The Montpelier Foundation, 540.308.2077,

Dolley’s Diplomacy: Inspiring Women’s Leadership – March 28-29, 2015

The Montpelier Foundation Hosts Women’s Leadership Conference in Honor of Dolley Madison’s Legacy

Orange, VA — The Montpelier Foundation’s first-ever women’s leadership conference presents an exciting opportunity for young women to learn and enhance the dialogue on women’s leadership in media, education, government, law, and business environments with attention paid to the overlap and important similarities within these arenas.

Sponsored by the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier, Running Start, Network of enlightened Women (NeW), and the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia, the program’s esteemed speakers and panelists will provide high-quality educational and networking opportunities to the 100 female college leaders in attendance.

The program will include a discussion with the audience about Dolley Madison’s leadership role in the early American republic. Dolley, a political force at a time when women were excluded from government and the full privileges of citizenship, pushed the boundaries of her circumscribed life. She became a master of navigating social networks and shaping opinions through her relationships with political leaders and their families.

As a political partner to President James Madison and an influencer in her own right, earning her the title “America’s 1st First Lady,” Dolley’s life helped set the stage for women’s leadership in the centuries to follow. Dolley’s Diplomacy explores the ways in which women continue to push boundaries, shatter glass ceilings, and exert power in all spheres.

“We are delighted to host Dolley’s Diplomacy at Montpelier and advance the discussion on women’s leadership,” said Kat Imhoff, President and CEO of The Montpelier Foundation. “It is fitting to inspire minds and to promote active citizenship with young women leaders at the very place where the U.S. Constitution was imagined.”

More information about the conference, including an up-to-date list of conference speakers and panelists, can be found at Follow the conference on Twitter using the hashtag #GoDolley.

About The Montpelier Foundation

Montpelier is the lifelong home of James Madison, Father of the Constitution, Architect of the Bill of Rights, and fourth president of the United States and Dolley Madison, regarded as America’s 1st First Lady. Montpelier is administered by The Montpelier Foundation, which seeks to inspire continuing public engagement with American constitutional self-government by bringing to life the home and contributions of James and Dolley Madison. The historic home and grounds are open to visitors and student groups throughout the year, and through Montpelier’s Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution, the Foundation provides world-class residential and online educational programs. Montpelier is a National Trust Historic Site.

About the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution

Montpelier’s Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution is America’s premier constitutional training center inspiring the public to be stewards of James Madison’s legacy of self-government through world-class on-site and Web-enabled educational programming. The Montpelier Foundation established the Center in 2002 as a national academy to provide seminars for teachers and educators on the U.S. Constitution. With similar success, the Center has begun training those who have a responsibility to implement and protect the Constitution, such as judges, legislators, and police officers. In its next phase, the Center will expand its on-site seminars and conferences and accelerate its online educational programming.

CONTACT: Caroline Godfrey, Communications Associate, The Montpelier Foundation, 540.308.2077,

Campowerment: Weekend Oceanview Retreat, Malibu, CA — March 6-9

What: Campowerment Weekend Oceanview Retreat

When: Friday, March 6, 2015 at 2:00 PM – Monday, March 9, 2015 at 1:00 PM (PST)

Gindling Hilltop Camp
11495 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265

What the heck is Campowerment? Campowerment is an experience engine designed to re-ignite your life. It combines the magic of childhood summer camp with empowering, interactive workshops led by experts in health, wellness, love, spirituality, parenting and business empowerment, where brand new friends turn into lifelong camp buddies.

What’s a Campowerment weekend camp? It’s a hilariously transformational sleepaway camp retreat for grown-up women. Yep, it’s the weekend girlfriend getaway you’ve talked about and know you need, but never found the time to take.

Join us for an awesome three days of fun & games, and the wisdom & space you need to kick-start the beginning of the rest of your life. Do it. Learn more:


  • Are there ID requirements or an age limit to enter the event? Campers must be 21+ years old.
  • Where can I contact the organizer with any questions? Shoot us an email! We’re Give us a call! Our Goodwill Ambassador, Joan, is happy to help: 305.965.7561
  • What is the refund policy? Is my registration/ticket transferrable?
    Conditions of cancellation policy accepted upon registration. Details here.

Are you ready to change your life? Click here to register.

Networking Wisdom From Women in Technology President Kellye Sheehan

As the 2014-2015 president of the popular DC networking group Women in Technology (WIT), Kellye Sheehan is determined to introduce more professional business women to the 20-year-old organization that isn’t just for the tech-savvy.

An experienced senior manager, Sheehan currently leads the Program Management Office (PMO) for a $1.06B segment of Hewlett-Packard’s US Public Sector Enterprise Services organization.

She has 34 years of experience in the Systems Engineering and Information Technology sectors. Her assignments have included serving as program manager, program director, division director, and vice president for large and medium-size companies, leading teams in solution delivery, product management, and business development.

Sheehan studied computer science and electrical engineering (digital systems design) at Texas A&M University’s College of Engineering, and later she studied artificial intelligence at the University of Texas at Austin.

Scroll down to learn more about WIT, and discover Sheehan’s top networking tip.

Women in Technology: Taking Networking to the Next Level

Inkandescent Networking: Tell us about Women in Technology and how it has grown in the last few years.

Kellye Sheehan: WIT just celebrated its 20th anniversary, and I’m proud to say that we have worked hard to stay on top of the changing needs of our 800+ members. What initially started as a speaker program, with one sales and marketing special interest group, has become an organization with several dozen missions and program areas.

  • For instance, we are working with younger women with the goal of taking them from the classroom to the boardroom. So we offer mentoring for girls at the junior high and high school level who are thinking about pursuing STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] careers. In fact, when WIT decided to encourage STEM programs for girls, the organization founded the Women in Technology Education Foundation (WITEF), as a fund-raising charity to fund scholarships and educational programs.
  • We also offer adult mentoring for women who have been in a STEM industry for fives years or more and pair them with an experienced senior woman. This Adult Mentor-Protégé program is probably our signature program.
  • We also provide workshops in Workforce Development, Job Fairs, and Meet the Company sessions with area employers who are looking to hire qualified women.
  • For more experienced business professionals, we offer Board Service Training and certification, which helps women who would like to serve on corporate boards.
  • And, of course, our regular Leadership Lunches in Maryland and Virginia provide women with opportunities to network during their busy day so they have time to leave work, travel to lunch, and get back to the office.

Inkandescent Networking: What was the major crossroads in building this organization? How did the leadership handle it?

Kellye Sheehan: Time is always an issue. We have a small number of paid staff to manage our administrative office, and the majority of our programs are planned and executed by professional women in technology or STEM-related careers who volunteer. And that is always a challenge.

I also believe that a major crossroads came when we were trying to figure out how to structure our board, which provides leadership and governance, and the various committees that plan and execute our programs. We tried several models before evolving to something approximating our current model.

Another crossroads was how to make women in technology-related careers aware of what we offer, how they can benefit, and what the volunteer opportunities are where they can serve. We now have a communications committee, a social media manager, and regular communications that go out twice monthly from our wonderfully talented office staff. All that has helped tremendously.

A continuing challenge is finding those experienced, dynamic women to lead our programs and committees, and to serve on our WIT board of directors. So it’s back to the time issue. Since many of these women are also busy in their demanding jobs, WIT remains a place where we work out how to juggle and balance all the opportunities at our disposal.

Inkandescent Networking: You host regular networking events, which are really fabulous. What makes them work? And what do you think is the secret to networking success?

Kellye Sheehan: Most people come directly from work, so we offer food at the beginning of our events. We try to plan interesting topics and interesting speakers, with a goal in mind. Then we leave an open segment of time either before or after, which encourages conversation and interaction. You can either “work the room” or stand in one place, and you’ll still come across interesting people and interesting conversations.

Inkandescent Networking: What do you believe is most important about networking?

Kellye Sheehan: If you network regularly, you’ll meet an amazing number of people with similar interests, relevant experience, something to offer, and something they need. Networking fosters making new connections, so we’re not restricted to just the people in our company or work group.

Inkandescent Networking: What are your top three secrets to networking well?

Kellye Sheehan: In order of importance, I’d say:

1. Decide before you go what you’d like to get out of it.

2. Go prepared to do that.

3. Be open to “serendipity.” After all, you never know whom you will meet. Nice surprises often occur.

Inkandescent Networking: What advice do you have for the women in your network about being successful in business?

Kellye Sheehan: Pay your dues. Work hard. Develop skills. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or negotiate for what you want.

Inkandescent Networking: Tell us a little more about your business, and your top leadership lesson for other women? Do you live by that lesson?

Kellye Sheehan: I’ve always been in the engineering industry, working as a leader or executive. I help build complex solutions for customers with very hard problems. I’ve often been aware of navigating new territory by being a woman in a very male-dominated industry.

But, the reality is that I’ve had many men serve as mentors and positive advocates for me over the years. So I would say, look for those who will help you learn, help you develop, and enable you to achieve amazing things.

Take advantage of those opportunities, and just step around any discouraging or thorny people or situations. Show what you can do. Get good advice. Be willing to tell the story of your successes. Negotiate well.

Inkandescent Networking: Looking back, what advice would you have for the founders of Women in Technology?

Kellye Sheehan: When looking to create a new organization or a new program, you may not see the benefit in the same year as when you start. But keep after it, take a good concept and refine it, and eventually a good result comes forward. And so the rest of us are now benefiting from their earlier vision.

Inkandescent Networking: What are your big dreams and goals for Women in Technology in 2015 and beyond?

Kellye Sheehan: I would love to provide services and programs to an ever-larger number of women and girls, and to start successful chapters in other locations around the country. Ideally, our members will also include more women in senior executive and board member roles for technology-related organizations.

For more information about Women in Technology, visit

The Business of Gratitude

By Emma Seppälä, PhD

Associate Director, Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education

Stanford University School of Medicine

Founder, and Editor-in-Chief, Fulfillment Daily

If we have a roof above our head, a couple of meals a day, are educated enough to read this article, and have access to a computer and the Internet, we have received more opportunities, material goods, and education than the majority of the world’s population.

In fact, research suggests that, in general, we actually have three times more positive experiences than negative ones. However, burdened with the problems that we inevitably face in life, we often fail to remember the blessings and give too much importance to the problems in our life.

Psychologists have found two reasons for this habit:

1. The Negativity Bias—or Why We Focus on What’s Wrong

Research suggests our perspective is biased toward the negative and that, to our minds, bad is stronger than good. We are more likely to pay attention to and remember negative situations, criticism, or losses than to remember positive events, praise, or gains. Sometimes just hearing one word from someone can spoil our whole day, which may have started out perfectly fine.

Psychologists believe that this tendency to give more weight to the negative may have helped our species survive by highlighting potential dangers to avoid. However, in our current time, our negativity bias is often no longer appropriate and may lead to increased stress and a skewed vision of reality.

2. Habituation—or Why We Forget What’s Right

According to research on the “hedonic treadmill,” we receive an increased boost of happiness when wonderful new events happen (like entering a new relationship, buying a new car, or receiving a promotion) but that, over time, these events lose their ability to bring us renewed joy because we get accustomed to them.

As a consequence, we often fail to appreciate what we have.

We tend to be grateful for what we have only once it is gone: It often takes getting sick to gain a greater appreciation for our health, losing heat in our homes (such as after a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy) to fully realize how blessed we are to have radiators, or feeling lonely after moving to a new town to value the family and friends we may have taken for granted previously.

So how can we overcome these tendencies? The secret is gratitude. And recent research shows that gratitude has tremendous benefits for our health and happiness.

The Power of Gratitude

Recall a moment when you were feeling grateful. You may have received help from someone, been overwhelmed by the love in your life, or simply been touched by the beauty and warmth of a summer day.

When we feel grateful, the negativity bias automatically releases its grip. Rather than focusing on all the things that are going wrong in our lives, we remember the many blessings that surround us.

Similarly, gratitude counters habituation: When we feel grateful for someone (for example, our mother or spouse for the care they have provided), we experience renewed love and joy at their presence in our lives.

Research has even shown that gratitude is linked to decreased envy and materialism, which makes sense: Once we begin to appreciate what we have in our lives, we are less insecure about what we don’t have and may have less of a need to grasp for more.

In a number of studies, psychologists have shown that in children and adults, gratitude has incredible benefits:

  • Gratitude increases social connection—which studies show is essential for health and well-being
  • Gratitude increases altruism—which is a strong predictor of happiness
  • Gratitude decreases depression and improves optimism and positive emotions—which in turn increase well-being, boost creativity, benefit relationships, and impact longevity
  • Gratitude improves health and well-being for people suffering from physical ailments

When the negativity bias occurs, closing our eyes and counting our blessings can help give us a reality check. If we are alive, chances are a great many things are working in our favor. Similarly, remembering to reflect on our lucky stars may help counter habituation so we can keep celebrating all of the ways in which we are blessed.

Sure, there will always be difficult situations in our lives and plenty to grump about. However, we can either let these situations control the state of our mind and spoil our day, or take charge of our own well-being by remembering to smile at all that’s right. The situations may not change, but we will.

Four Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

Though Thanksgiving day only comes around once a year, cultivating gratitude can be of tremendous benefit.

The following two exercises do not take much time, but can lead to tremendous results, according to a number of research studies.

  1. Make daily gratitude lists and count your blessings: Whether you do so by writing lists, writing in a journal, or reflecting on your way home from work, bring to mind all of the people, things, achievements, and environments that you are grateful for.
  2. Notice all of the things that happen, each day, to support you: From the bus driver to the janitor at your place of work, the cash register attendant to your best friend, each person, in some way, is helping you.
  3. Express your gratitude to those around you: We often forget to tell the people closest to us how much we appreciate their support, help, and affection.
  4. Take a few minutes out of each day to express your gratitude: Write a letter to an old teacher or mentor, send your mom flowers, or write your colleague a recommendation on LinkedIn.

About Emma Seppälä, PhD

Emma Seppälä, is associate director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. To stay up to date on the science of happiness, health, and social connection, visit Fulfillment Daily, or

Mark Your Calendar: Head on out to Montpelier's Annual Hunt Race November 1, 2014

We’re Off to the Races

Don’t miss the annual Hunt Race on Nov. 1 at James and Dolley Madison’s Montpelier in Orange, VA.

The Montpelier Races are a premier event on the National Steeplechase Association’s circuit, and is always held on the first Saturday in November.

Where: 11407 Constitution Highway, Montpelier Station, VA 22957


  • Gates Open: 9:00 AM
  • Terrier Races: 10:30 AM
  • First Post time: 12:30 PM
  • Last Post Time: approximately 4:30 PM

History of the Race

In 1901, William duPont purchased the Montpelier estate, located four miles west of the Town of Orange, in Virginia’s Piedmont Region. It had been the lifelong home of James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, and his wife Dolley. William duPont and his wife Annie duPont made substantial changes to the house, enlarging it, renovating the formal garden, and adding many outbuildings and stables.

Mr. duPont’s daughter, Marion duPont Scott, an accomplished horsewoman, inherited the property from her parents and resided at Montpelier until her death in 1983, at which time the duPont family transferred the property to the National Trust For Historic Preservation.

Marion Scott—with the help of her brother, William duPont, Jr.—transformed Montpelier into a first-class Thoroughbred breeding and racing facility, building a state-of-the-art steeplechase course and a flat training track. In 1929, she inaugurated the Montpelier Races and opened them to the public.

As an owner, Mrs. Scott bred a series of winners from excellent Thoroughbred bloodlines. In 1932, her horse Trouble Maker won the Maryland Hunt Cup, regarded as America’s most challenging timber race, and in 1938, her horse Battleship, a son of Man o’ War, became the first American-bred and American-owned horse to win the British Grand National Steeplechase. Other winners that campaigned under her French blue, old rose, and silver colors were Mongo, Accra, and Annapolis, another son of Man o’ War.

Regarded by many as America’s First Lady of Racing, Marion duPont Scott generously supported the equine industry throughout her life. She donated funds to construct Virginia’s leading equine medical center in Leesburg, which is named in her honor. Her legacy continues with the running of the Montpelier Races, a premier event on the National Steeplechase Association’s circuit, which is always held on the first Saturday in November.

For more information about attending the 2014 Montpelier Races, visit the FAQ page for the Montelier Races.

Bring Animals and Magic to Life With Author Kate DiCamillo

Beloved Children’s Book Author Kate DiCamillo Brings Animals—and Magic—to Life

Flora Belle Buckman is 10 years old and hates romance. She prides herself on being a natural-born cynic, and while she wants to believe in superheroes, she just can’t make herself buy into the premise.

At least, that’s how she feels during the summer after 5th grade when she’s reading, “The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto!”

With the whoosh of a vacuum cleaner, that all changes. Flora’s neighbor, Mrs. Tickham, while using her new Ulysses Super-Suction, Multi-Terrain 2000X—on the lawn—sucks up an unassuming squirrel, and the incident magically gives him superpowers. From then on, the squirrel is known as (what else?) Ulysses.

“Holy bagumba!” shouts Flora, witnessing the scene from her bedroom window.

Holy bagumba, indeed.

Magical realism abounds in the 240 pages of Kate DiCamillo’s “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures.” After his encounter with the 2000X, Ulysses is born anew with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry. Their friendship helps Flora discover the power of having an open heart.

Themes of hope and belief amid impossible circumstances are the hallmark of DiCamillo’s wildly popular novels. Her 12 New York Times best-selling titles have sold nearly 20 million copies and have been translated into 39 languages.

Adding to the appeal of this latest tome are illustrations by former Hollywood interior designer Keith Gordon Campbell, whose genre-bending approach blends graphic and comic-style in the artwork.

It is no surprise that “Flora & Ulysses” is the 2014 Newbery Medal-winner—another honor for DiCamillo to add to her collection, which includes the National Book Award (2001), the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (2006), and the (Theodor Seuss) Geisel Award (2007, 2011).

She is also the 2014-2015 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature—which means this celebrity author will be making the rounds to meet kids across the country. Yet, the modest DiCamillo says she’s stunned that any of her books have even made it into print, much less onto the silver screen.

“This almost sounds disingenuous, but there’s a large part of me that is still hoping I will simply get published,” DiCamillo admits. “I wrote for six years and got a lot of rejection letters before I sold anything.”

In fact, DiCamillo didn’t consider a career as a writer until one of her professors at the University of Florida told her she had “a certain facility for words.”

“Because I was 20 years old, I thought he was telling me I was wildly talented. So I ditched the idea of grad school and bought a bunch of black turtlenecks and sat around telling everyone that I was a writer—for the next 10 years. I wasn’t writing anything, mind you, just telling everybody that I was a writer.”

To make a living, she traded the turtlenecks for a light-blue polyester jumpsuit and worked as a guide at several Florida theme parks, including Circus World and Disney’s EPCOT.

“My job was basically to tell people, ‘Watch your step,’” she shares. At 30, all that changed. She moved to Minneapolis and made writing her priority.

Holy unanticipated occurrences! Her 2000 breakout book, “Because of Winn-Dixie,” won critical acclaim and became a feature film in 2005. Like the sensationally scrappy Flora, this book’s star is another 10-year-old. This girl, named India Opal, rescues a scruffy dog that was wreaking havoc in the Winn-Dixie supermarket, and of course, adventures ensue.

DiCamillo’s 2003 mega hit, “The Tale of Despereaux,” became an animated movie in 2008. This fantasy follows Despereaux Tilling, a mouse with giant ears, who sets out on a quest to rescue a beautiful human princess named Pea.

Why do animals have starring roles in her books?

“It’s not a conscious thing,” admits DiCamillo, now 49. “Sometimes I sit there and think, ‘Oh boy, I’ve got to make sure there isn’t an animal in this one.’ But as readers, we’re inclined to open our hearts to an animal. Once we do, we give the rest of ourselves over to the story. And that’s when the magic happens.”

Don’t stop now! Click here to read Kate DiCamillo’s thoughts on being the 2014-2015 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in our September Tips for Entrepreneurs. Click here to listen to our Q&A on the Inkandescent Radio Network.

Also be sure to read our Q&A with “Flora & Ulysses” illustrator Keith Gordon Campbell.

SeriousFun, A Chance To "Kick Back and Raise a Little Hell"

When it came to having serious fun, actor Paul Newman did it with style. A prankster known for his sly sense of humor, Newman famously said of his blockbuster hit company, Newman’s Own:

“It has all been a bad joke that just ran out of control. I got into food for fun, but the business got a mind of its own. Now—my good Lord—look where it has gotten me. My products are on supermarket shelves, in cinemas, in the theater. And they say show business is odd.”

Having generated more than $400 million since it was founded in 1982, the company gives 100 percent of after-tax profits from the sale of its products to the Newman’s Own Foundation, whose motto is: “Give it all away.” True to the cause, it annually gives away millions to nonprofit groups.

One of those beneficiaries is the SeriousFun Children’s Network, also founded by Paul Newman, where his daughter Clea is currently the senior director and spokesperson. “Our global community of 30 camps and programs offers residential camp and outreach experiences for children with serious illness and their families,” she explains. “My father would be so proud.” What is it like carrying on her dad’s legacy? We traveled to SeriousFun HQ in Westport, CT, to find out. Scroll down for our Q&A with Clea.

Indeed, “Paying It Forward” is our goal this month. The May issue of Be Inkandescent magazine begins an eight-month tribute to companies, authors, artists, organizations, and entrepreneurs who embody the essence of our “8 Steps to PR Success,” the core of our book, PR Rules: The Playbook.

We know from experience that supersizing your small business starts at the end. Meaning you have to know what your end goal is, and then work backwards to create the map that will get you there—often a vision board, but always a strong strategy that you can follow methodically to work toward and achieve your long-term goals.

So we start at the end with Step 8: Pay It Forward.

We hope you’ll be open to the possibilities and be inspired by the 20 articles in this issue, which are guaranteed to give you the grins, including:

  • Crayons Rock! Or they did until the day a boy named Duncan wanted to draw, and his crayons went on strike. In our May Book of the Month, you’ll find a sweet reprieve from the serious side of life, courtesy of Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers’ clever book: The Day the Crayons Quit.
  • Ever wonder what the country’s founders were really like? For an up-close and personal look, don’t miss our Q&A with prolific history author Thomas Fleming, who shines a light on The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers.
  • What do handstands and marketing have in common? Take a deep cleansing breath and check out Andrea Allen’s yoga-inspired, business-savvy ideas as she explains how to Yogify Your Business. Marketing also rules for BizQuiz expert Tara Palacios, who explains why Location, Location, Location is yesterday’s news.

Did you know that playing with your friends, laughing, and feeling better about yourself are good for you? Of course it is! And now there’s proof, thanks to a study SeriousFun commissioned from the Yale Child Study Center, which showed that resilience indicators—such as possessing positive coping strategies, reducing illness-related stress, and making kids feel happy—all significantly improved following camp.

So take a page from Paul Newman’s Playbook: “Kick back, have fun, and raise a little hell.”

Now go out there and play it forward. — Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Be InkandescentAuthor, PR Rules: The Playbook

Ana Dutra, a Women of Pure Success in the Business World

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Be Inkandescent

When long-time corporate exec Ana Dutra retired last year on the brink of turning 50, she was ready for a new adventure.

For six years, she had been the CEO of Korn Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting, where she created a $300 million global business using a combination of organic growth, multiple acquisitions, innovative go-to-market approaches, and incorporation of technology and digitization of products and services.

Prior to that, the Brazilian native—who holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, a Master in Economics from Pontificia Universidade do Rio de Janeiro, and a Juris Doctor from Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, all summa cum laude—spent decades as an executive, consultant, and business leader in industries such as technology, manufacturing, and professional services.

“I had accomplished everything I’d ever dreamed of in the corporate world,” she explains. “Then one day, I looked at my life and knew that I needed a change.”

In 2013, she launched Mandala Global Advisors, and also became a senior global advisor for Humantelligence, a technology solutions company.

And that’s not all. A book deal is in the offing, as are other investments and ideas that Dutra hopes to pursue. “The problem with having a lot of options open to you is that it can be hard to know which one to choose,” she admits.

Dutra knows she’s not alone. In fact, she coined the crossroads as “The Second Act Dilemma.”

What does she mean by that? And what can business leaders do to gracefully find their way to the next phase of their career?

Scroll down for our Q&A with Dutra from her home in Chicago.

And click here to listen to our entire podcast interview on Inkandescent Radio: The Voice of Entrepreneurs.

Be Inkandescent: You have had tremendous success in the business world, so before we launch into what’s happening in your present life—let’s look back at the last few decades. Tell us about your career.

Ana Dutra: I was brought up in a very global family. We spent our summers in different countries, and that made me want to be a diplomat. So I studied law and economics. And I shadowed a couple of people who are diplomats in Brazil at the time that IBM was starting to recruit. I got the job! Then, one day I was in my office and a colleague of mine walked in and said he was coming to say good-bye because he was heading to the US to get his MBA. I thought, what a great idea. I got into five schools, and chose Kellogg because I had a background in economics and knew the school’s program was based on collaboration and teamwork, and was also strong in marketing. I came to the US with my husband with the goal of staying for two years. And 21 years, three children, and five jobs later, we’re still going strong.

Be Inkandescent: Let’s talk about what led you to coin the phrase, “The Second Act Dilemma.”

Ana Dutra: This was born from not just my own self-reflection but from conversations with others who have finished up one big career, but refuse to say that they are “retired.” When you have the energy and the drive to keep working, being 50 (or 60, or 70) means nothing. More importantly, we are asking ourselves what is next. Believe me, everyone I’ve talked to about this knows that they are in a privileged position. But still, there is a challenge because you know that the Second Act might bring so much more ambiguity into your life. The other issue we all seem to be wrestling with is what defines ourselves as individuals and as leaders. I am hoping to figure out what my purpose is in life. That’s not easy, but to me it’s essential.

Be Inkandescent: Why do you think so many successful people are struggling with this phase?

Ana Dutra: I believe it’s because most people are taught what success should look like. It could be messages from family, parents, bosses, teachers, and mentors—or what they see in business or society. This recipe for success is usually based on achievements, promotions, and status. But I’ve come across way too many people who, despite all those achievements, tell me that they are miserable. That’s when they start to ask if “success” was worth the time and energy and sacrifice.

Be Inkandescent: Do you see a way around the dilemma?

Ana Dutra: In my new role with Mandala Global Advisors, I meet a lot of CEOs and I ask them: When you are gone from this world, what do you want the people who cared most about you to remember about you? Most people pause, not knowing how to answer. They think about it, and while the answers differ slightly, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I want them to remember that I was the best operator in my company,” or “I made more money than the other guy.” Rather, they want their kids, spouse, and best friends to remember that they were inspiring, caring, and devoted. The good news is that it’s never too late. The key is to create behaviors that match the legacy you want to leave behind. This Second Act is your chance to be who you want to be.

Be Inkandescent: Give us some insight into what’s next for you in your Second Act?

Ana Dutra: As soon as I cut the umbilical cord to my traditional career path, I enrolled in a yoga teacher training—not because I wanted to be a yoga teacher, because I’m not good enough at it, but I thought I’d get into the wellness business. And, to the horror of my children, I bought an electric guitar and took lessons. Then I started assessing my options. It turns out the list of things I do not want to do is pretty clear. I’m a very competitive person and since I no longer have the day-to-day responsibility to increase marketshare, I look for personal challenges. It helps me keep an open mind, and in doing so I have met fascinating people. I’m very comfortable with ambiguity, and I’m excited to see what’s next.

Don’t stop now! Click here to read Dutra’s Second-Act Tips for Entrepreneurs. And click here to download our podcast interview on the Inkandescent Radio Network.

Montplelier's Foundation President, Kat Imhoff Gives An Inside Look Of The Lives Of James And Dolley Madison

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Publisher Be Inkandescent

If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit the Virginia home of James and Dolley Madison, be sure to put it on your to-do list.

After Madison’s presidency, Montpelier became the family plantation that the couple retired to in 1817. They entertained hundreds of visitors and jointly edited Madison’s significant political papers—including his notes on the Constitutional Convention.

“Madison predeceased Dolley by 13 years, after which she traveled back and forth between Montpelier and Washington, DC, before permanently settling in the nation’s capital in 1844,” explains Kat Imhoff, who has been president of The Montpelier Foundation since January 2013.

Interviewing Imhoff for the July episode of The Grateful American™ TV Show was a pleasure. In addition to being an expert on the Madisons, she formerly was chief operating officer and vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, heading special initiatives and leading the team that created the new Visitors Center.

Imhoff also served as the state director for The Nature Conservancy in Montana, where she led the organization’s Montana Legacy Project—the purchase of more than 300,000 acres of land in the Northern Rockies bordering Glacier National Park. This land now completes a corridor of environmental protection extending across Montana from Wyoming.

Before we dive into our Q&A with Kat Imhoff, here’s a brief primer on James Madison.

Often considered the most cerebral of the Founding Fathers, Madison had one of the most effective and influential careers in the history of American politics.

“Even as a young child, Madison was bright, erudite, analytical, and thirsty for knowledge,” Imhoff explains. “Madison was literate in seven languages, curious about the latest technological advances, and obtained his degree from the College of New Jersey, which today is Princeton.”

He was considered tenacious, perhaps a bit scrappy, and a defender of rights for all Americans. He was a skillful legislator, serving in the Virginia Assembly, the Continental Congress, and the first four Congresses of the United States. He also served as secretary of state for Thomas Jefferson, and then as two-term president of the United States, from 1809-1817.

Imhoff says Madison is best known for his role as Father of the Constitution, in recognition of his leadership, scholarship, and dedication in shaping the values that characterize our nation and resulted in the first and longest-standing representative government on earth.

As for his love life: On Sept. 15, 1794, the 43-year-old, never-married Congressman James Madison married 26-year-old widow Dolley Payne Todd. Throughout their 42-year-long marriage, Dolley was an indispensable aid to her husband’s career and is responsible for many notable accomplishments in her own right.

“Dolley was known to be fond of feminine frippery, and for using her social savvy as a means of political diplomacy,” Imhoff notes. “She implemented unprecedented standards in the nation’s new capital in Washington, DC, creating traditions that are still followed to this day.”

Are you ready to learn from the past? Click here to read our entire Q&A with Imhoff. And click here to learn five things you can discuss about James and Dolley Madison at dinner tonight.

Also be sure to listen to watch this Grateful American TV episode on InkandescentTV. And listen to our podcast interview on Inkandescent Radio.

For more insights, click here for 10 Leadership Lessons from JMU President Jon Alger.

Futurist Chris Carbone Provides Insight Into Jobs: 2020 and Beyond

By Chris Carbone
Futurist, Director
Innovaro, Inc.

Where will you work in 2020? That’s the million-dollar question. In fact, the future of work is one of the hottest trends I am studying. Like the economy, it is one of the big mysteries that keeps us all up at night.

As a futurist, my job is to track international business and consumer trends by reading and analyzing just about anything I can get my hands on. The goal is to determine what the world might look like five, 10, and 20 years down the pike, and by tracking what’s going on today, my colleagues and I are able to forecast what life might look like around the bend.

In fact, my research shows that work will look much different in 2020, whether judged by the types of computing devices we use on the job, where we work, or the way we collaborate with our coworkers. Following are some of the trends that I am seeing.

For starters, the types of jobs that people hold will change.

Indeed, there will be careers that don’t even exist today—just as there were no “social media strategists” or “mobile app developers” a few short years ago.

That said, a great many of the jobs that will be held in 2020 are here today—and there’s a simple way to learn what they are by tapping into the wonderful world of government statistics.

Now, this may not sound like the most thrilling thing to do on a Friday night, and to save you the trouble, we’ve combed through the most recent employment projections for 2010-2020 developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The BLS creates these long-term projections to help educators, counselors, and policymakers plan for the needs of the future workforce. These projections can also offer insight to parents, students, career-changers, and anyone who—like me—knows that there’s a pretty solid chance that come 2020, they’re 1) not going to be independently wealthy, and 2) are still going to want and need to be working.

So what can we say about the careers of 2020 by looking at the most recent BLS data?

1. Let’s start with the good news: There will be millions of jobs to be had.

The BLS projects that there will be nearly 55 million job openings during the decade from 2010-2020. About 34 million of these jobs will come from the need to replace workers who retire or leave their job for another job or to return to school, etc., and nearly 21 million will come from new jobs that will be created during the decade.

(These projections assume a “full employment” economy in 2020 with unemployment of 5.2 percent, a welcome change from the current 6.1 percent in June, and a big improvement over the 10.0 percent rate in October 2009, according to the BLS.)

2. To find the jobs, follow our changing society, and the economy.

The jobs that will be plentiful in 2020 reflect some of the basic changes underway in US society and the economy, such as the aging of the population (especially the huge wave of Baby Boomers), a continued shift toward services and knowledge work, the increasingly important role that science and technology play in our lives, and the continued recovery of construction and other sectors that were hit hard by the Great Recession.

Research from the business community suggests a similar future. Researchers at McKinsey & Company, for example, forecast that six sectors will account for up to 85 percent of the new jobs created through 2020. They are health care, business services, leisure and hospitality, construction, retail, and certain types of manufacturing jobs.

3. Business jobs will remain attractive.

There will be some 5.1 million job openings in management, business, and finance through 2020 due to growth and replacement needs. Think of jobs such as company executives and managers, operations and HR managers, financial analysts, accountants and auditors, and advertising positions.

As a whole, this class of jobs will grow more slowly (11.5%) than total employment (14.3%) between 2010-2020, but with the median annual salaries for many of these jobs ranging into the $70,000s, $80,000s, and well beyond into six figures, this will continue to be an attractive category of jobs.

Some jobs will grow much faster than the management, business, and finance category’s 11.5 percent. This includes market research analysts and marketing specialists (42%), personal financial advisors (32%), social service managers (27%), and managers of health services (22%).

One real surprise in the data is that the number of meeting, convention, and event planners was projected to rise by nearly 44 percent by 2020, resulting in 31,000 new jobs and 45,000 total job openings.

While not huge numbers, the growth rate makes it the fastest growing job in management, business, and finance in the coming years. Clearly, face-to-face still matters, even as social networking and our “digital lives” become more important.

4. Find your future with STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Science and technology will continue to have dramatic impacts on our economy and society in the coming decade—and as we increasingly rely more on complex systems, and digital and genetic technologies of all types, the prospect for computer, engineering, and science jobs will be strong.

This class of jobs will grow by 17 percent through 2020, faster than the job market overall (14.3%). There will be 2.8 million job openings in this category due to growth and replacement needs through 2020. This will include many high-paying positions such as software developers and programmers ($85K median wage), statisticians ($73K median wage), chemical engineers ($90K median wage), psychologists ($68K median wage), and urban planners ($63K median wage).

Which occupation in this category will offer the most jobs? Given the importance of information technology in our work and personal lives, it should come as no surprise that it’s software developers and programmers.

There will be some 494,000 job openings for software developers and programmers through 2020 (about 314,000 new jobs and 180,000 jobs from replacement needs). For perspective, consider how this compares to one of the classic, go-to professional jobs of the past couple decades: attorneys.

In raw numbers, there will be more than two times as many job openings for software developers and programmers (494,000) as there are for lawyers (212,000) this decade. And in terms of percent growth, the number of new jobs for lawyers will grow more slowly than total employment (10% vs. 14.3%, respectively), while the number of computer jobs grows by 22 percent through 2020.

Which of the STEM jobs does the BLS see as growing the fastest this decade? The number of positions for biomedical engineers will rise from 15,700 to 25,400 by between 2010 and 2020, a jump of 62 percent. While not a huge raw number, the percent change is telling. For example, consider that the growth rate for chemical engineers will only be 6 percent during these same years. If I were a young student with a general interest in a STEM job, I know one career that I’d be looking into seriously. …

5. Teach and train the next generation.

There will be some 3.4 million education, training, and library job openings due to growth and replacement through 2020. This will be driven by a variety of trends including the maturing of the 80+ million Millennials, the largest living American generation. As more of the Millennials enter their 30s and start having children, it will drive the need for teachers and other education-related positions in the next decade and beyond. As a category, these jobs have a mean annual wage of $46,000. But remember, this means that half of the people with these jobs earn more than $46,000 and half earn less, and some positions in teacher-friendly states can lead to total compensation of salary and benefits close to $100,000.

6. Health-and-wellness jobs will boom.

Driven by trends such as the aging of the population and the increasing focus people are putting on health and wellness, there will be 3.6 million job openings for healthcare practitioners and technicians due to growth and replacement through 2020. These occupations include doctors and surgeons ($166K median salary), pharmacists ($112K median), physical therapists ($76K median), radiology techs ($54K), athletic trainers ($42K median), and even veterinarians ($82K median).

The clear standout opportunity in this area is for registered nurses (RNs), which should have the most job growth of all occupations through 2020, with a projected 712,000 new jobs. Between these new positions, and ones opening up due to replacement needs, there will be 1.2 million total job openings for RNs through 2020. And nursing is increasingly becoming a job for both men and women. In 2011, men made up about 6 percent of all nurses, but it’s estimated that by 2020 they could make up 25 percent of all nurses in the United States.

There will also be some 2 million more jobs in healthcare support careers. These positions require lower levels of education than the practitioner and technician careers and include jobs like orderlies in hospitals and physical therapy assistants. Of these healthcare support careers, the fastest growing will be for home health aides. The number of home health aides will explode by some 70 percent over the next decade, leading to some 706,000 new jobs. This is evidence of the deep desire of Americans to “age in place” and remain independent and at home for as long as possible.

What does all of this information mean for your future?

The analysis above is just a quick overview of some of the occupations that should yield solid opportunities for students, young professionals, and career-changers in coming years.

If you’re a parent, projections like this can help you as you guide your children to think about their education and their future. Let them explore, try lots of things, but seed your conversations with them with projections like these, and bring a dose of reality to the discussion by showing them which occupations will be abundant and which may be more difficult to break into.

If their passion is in a sector or occupation that isn’t expected to see rapid job growth in the next decade, that’s okay. Encourage them to pursue their goals, but with data like this they can do it from a more informed perspective. For example, a teen interested in healthcare who is strong in the sciences will benefit from knowing that there are going to be roughly 35 times as many job openings for registered nurses as for veterinarians through 2020.

Encourage them to be a vet if that’s what they really want, and armed with this kind of data they’ll know the kind of competition they’re up against, which can be a strong motivator and spur them on to achieve this goal.

What are other ways this information will be useful for yourself and your kids?

  • Look for occupations that are going to add a lot of jobs in terms of raw numbers. This ensures you’re focused on big targets.
  • Look for areas that have high growth-rates. Focusing in on these fast-growing industries and occupations can help future-proof your (or your children’s) career and keep it in step with the changing 21st century economy.
  • Triangulate. Look at the raw numbers and growth rates, but don’t forget the personal angle. If you’re thinking of a career change, where does your passion lie … and what do you enjoy doing? Use the data to help guide and explore, but don’t force yourself (or your kids) into a career just because there are a lot of jobs to be had.
  • Explore the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) yourself, and learn about job prospects, earnings, and what people actually do day-to-day in hundreds of careers. The 2014-15 edition was released in January 2014 and can be found at

Sources: C. Brett Lockard and Michael Wolf, “Occupational Employment Projections to 2020,” Monthly Labor Review, January 2012,; Table 1.7, Employment Projections Program, US Department of Labor, US Bureau of Labor Statistics; Male Nursing Statistics; “An Economy that Works: Job Creation and America’s Future,” McKinsey & Co.

About Chris Carbone

Chris Carbone has worked in trend and foresight consulting for more than a decade, serving clients from Fortune 500 corporations and foreign and US government agencies. During this time he has researched and authored dozens of reports and scenarios on wide-ranging topics, from the future of leisure and play, to the future of urban mobility, to emerging consumer lifestyles in China.

He has been quoted in numerous publications including The Miami Herald, The Washington Post Express, and Fast Company, and appeared on “The CBS Early Show.” He currently oversees Innovaro’s two multi-client research projects—Global Lifestyles and Technology Foresight—and contributes to the firm’s custom engagements.

Carbone has an MBA from Johns Hopkins University with a concentration in marketing, and received his undergraduate degree in history from Gettysburg College. For more information, contact him by email.

In Celebration of July 4 — David Bruce Smith Launches Grateful American™ Foundation Website

In what ways do you consider yourself to be a Grateful American?

That’s the question that author and publisher David Bruce Smith is investigating in his new Foundation through The Grateful American™ Series.

With the goal of restoring enthusiasm in American history for kids, and adults, Smith’s new website, which launched July 3, is a portal for parents to learn more about the nation’s Founding Fathers, and its presidential and historic homes.

“Quite simply, our mission is to make it fun to learn about American history,” says Smith, who borrowed the title for The Grateful American™ Series from his father, developer and philanthropist Robert H. Smith. “My father always referred to himself as a grateful American. He realized that the community and this country have been good to our family, and he wanted to give back. The Grateful American™ Foundation is my way of doing the same.”

A history buff himself, Smith says he’s excited to share his interest with others.

“Educators know history is critical to students learning how to become better citizens by understanding how the country’s political and cultural systems work,” says Smith. “Students need not only recognize leaders like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, but really understand why they were important to the development of the country. That’s where the great stories are. And that’s how we plan to engage them—by telling the great stories of the real people who built America.”

From the veranda along the Potomac River of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, to James and Dolley Madison’s home, Montpelier, and dozens more—Smith’s Grateful American™ Series features interviews with the directors of the nation’s most popular historical sites. The website will also feature interviews with historians, authors, and educators whose gift is to bring history to life. Be sure to check it out:

Now, we’d love for you to play with us!

  • We are starting out with 13 responses (in celebration of the original 13 Colonies); scroll down for the responses.
  • Our next goal is to get 76 responses—with the ultimate target of 1776 responses that we’ll turn into an eBook and share with the White House.
  • To participate, simply send an email telling why you’re a Grateful American along with your photo here. We look forward to hearing from you! — Hope Katz Gibbs, founder of and executive director of The Grateful American™ Foundation

How Are You a Grateful American?

Hilary Blair, founder and CEO, ARTiculate Real & Clear
“I have always been grateful to be an American, but when I look at my international friends who made the choice and effort to immigrate here that I am reminded how truly fortunate I am. I am awed by the creative vision that our founders set in motion more than two centuries ago. When I talk with those friends, I am reminded how many freedoms I enjoy as an American and as the owner of ARTiculate Real & Clear: freedom of speech, the right to work where and how I choose, and the right to vote. Back in the late 1770s, these rights were but a dream — especially for a woman. Today, they are my reality, and I don’t take any of it for granted.”

Nadene Bradburn, president, Blackwell Associates, Inc.
“I am grateful to live in a nation where we are empowered to build our lives into what we choose, regardless of the circumstances into which we were born. Some of us, no doubt, have bigger barriers than others, but the potential is always there somewhere to live beyond other people’s expectation. There are people in this country of whom expectations are low but who become the first in their families to go to college. There are people who seize opportunities and take risks and people who work tirelessly every day to increase the opportunities of their children and their neighbors. Which leads me to a related object of my gratitude: That so many people are committed to the creation of safety nets and outreach and programs that remove barriers for those who are eager to build something. I’m grateful for the American sense of responsibility to our neighbors that comes from the pride of self-fulfillment, the ‘giving back.’ This is a nation of people who see in each other an unlimited capacity to do amazing things.”

Rita Cheng, CEO, Blue Ocean Global Wealth, author, Wealth Management Rules,
“As we celebrate the freedom we enjoy as Americans on July 4, I am grateful for my career as a Certified Financial Planner Professional. It is abundant with opportunities for personal and professional growth. As an Asian-American, I know that my opportunities would be much different if I had been born in another country. In fact, I am not sure I would have been able to launch my own firm in 2013 if I weren’t living in America. I have long lived by the sage advice imparted by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius from his Meditations on Stoic philosophy: Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.

Tom Fleming, historian, novelist, author, The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers
“I am a grateful American because I have a sense of history. I acquired the beginnings of this invaluable spiritual gift very early. I realized my grandparents, David and Mary Fleming, could not read or write. They had been born in awful poverty in Ireland. They came here hoping for a better life, and instilled the same desire in their four children. My father was a war hero in World War I and afterward a successful local politician. He taught me one of the crucial things about being grateful—you give back. I saw him help hundreds of people find jobs in the Great Depression. He made sure they had decent food to eat on Thanksgiving and Christmas. He was a caring man. As I grew older, I realized this tradition of caring was an essential part of my American heritage. I will never forget the day I first read George Washington’s wonderful words, “To see this country happy is so much the wish of my soul, nothing else can compare to it this side of Elysium. This desire to widen the circle of happiness to include everyone has made America a great and enduring country. It has also made me deeply grateful for this heritage.”

Hope Katz Gibbs, executive director, The Grateful American™ Foundation / founder and president,
“As a journalist, author, and publisher, I am most grateful for my First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech. Of course, the Bill of Rights was originally proposed as a measure to assuage anti-Federalist opposition to ratifying the Constitution, and the First Amendment applied only to laws enacted by the Congress. Many of its provisions are interpreted differently today—especially the Free Press Clause, which protects publication of information and opinions, and applies to a wide variety of media. I am also grateful for the many opportunities I enjoy as an entrepreneur here in America. Where else would a nice Jewish girl from Philadelphia have the chance to create a small media empire that helps small-business owners everywhere realize their dreams? Only in America!”

Kat Imhoff, president and CEO Montpelier Foundation
“Until now, no one ever asked me to write down thoughts of why I am a grateful for being an American.* … My first thought was to say thank you for the natural wonders I have seen in travelling and living from California to Maine, and places in between. But, there are so many beautiful and grand natural wonders elsewhere in the world that natural wonders do not set us apart; but we do stand apart in terms of our holding firm to the American idea of the illimitable freedom of the human mind, a Founding Fathers’ concept that pervades our public institutions and our laws. In America, I can practice, or not, my religion. As a woman I am keenly aware there are no religious proscriptions on where I can travel, what I can wear, and how I can act or speak. When Jefferson and Madison were successful in passing the first governmental act establishing religious freedom, Madison wrote to Jefferson: “I flatter myself [that we] have in this country extinguished forever the ambitious hope of making laws for the human mind.” Today in 2014, the fight to protect freedom for the human mind goes on—as it must go on, even in a democracy—and especially so in these times when we see so much human misery and chaos in lands where civil society first developed.”

Hilary Malson, marketing and membership coordinator, President Lincoln’s Cottage — a Site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation
“As an American, I am deeply grateful for our legal system. It enables ordinary citizens to change the world in extraordinary ways. African-American families like my own understand the historic legacy of discrimination all too well, but by challenging discriminatory laws, breaking segregation barriers in public education, and organizing activists on a grassroots level, African-Americans have been able to use the American justice system to allow more citizens to live with dignity. The American activist heritage is alive and well at President Lincoln’s Cottage, where the Students Opposing Slavery program empowers young people from across the world to continue Lincoln’s fight for freedom. Each summer, teenagers convene at the very site where Lincoln developed the Emancipation Proclamation and commit themselves to fighting human trafficking by raising awareness of this crisis in their own communities and joining the global fight. With our protections of free speech and national legacy of activism, it is fitting that the students unite here in the U.S., and I am grateful that our nation has been and continues to be dedicated to making the world a better, safer place for all.”

Erin Carlson Mast, executive director, President Lincoln’s Cottage
“I’m grateful that as an American I have the opportunity and the duty to be engaged civically, environmentally, and culturally. Every day I look out over a landscape that is a true oasis in the city. This is a place that has been home to thousands of people who served their country. This is a place where President Lincoln developed his Emancipation Proclamation and struggled to maintain the only constitutional democracy that existed in his time while living here. It is a place where thousands more come each year to gain understanding, inspiration, and resources because they too want to make our world a better place. To me, being a grateful American isn’t just about learning our history, it’s about understanding and acknowledging that what we do today is inextricably linked to our past. What we do today will be part of our shared history.”

Kathleen McCarthy senior vice president,
“Every Thanksgiving, my parents rent a big house on the Florida panhandle, and my parents, siblings, and our families all spend a week at the beach together. Since the house we stay in is a rental, it’s both no one’s and everyone’s. We all come from other places to be together, and yet for a week, that place is home to all of us. That’s how I think of being an American, too. Except for Native Americans, the rest of us are all from somewhere else in either the recent or distant past, and lucky to be here together. When I was 24, I traveled to what was then the Soviet Union as a chaperone for a group of Washington, DC, high-school kids on a trip led by their history teacher. During the visit, a few of us met in secret with some ‘refuseniks’ (Russian Jews who were scientists and had been refused permission to leave Russia). One of these scientists asked if I would take a letter to his scientific counterpart in the United States. It was jarring to realize that he couldn’t do his work openly and had to rely on strangers to convey even the most banal communication. I remember encoding his letter into my trip journal and standing with my heart in my throat as I went through airport security before returning home. More than 30 years later, when I try to articulate what makes me grateful to be an American, what comes to mind is freedom to come and freedom to go. Freedom to be alone and freedom to congregate. Freedom to have my own thoughts and freedom to express them. Or not.

Barbara Mitchell, author, The Big Book of HR and The Essential HR Handbook
“I am grateful for the Americans who came before me to make this a country that I love! As we approach the 4th of July and celebrate, I remember my mother who came to America from Scotland as a child and became an American citizen. She was a proud American and sincerely appreciated all this country offered to her. She particularly loved to sing “God Bless America, Land that I love …” I am grateful for my father who served in the army in World War II, and my uncles who served in WWII and Korea. I love to travel to other countries and learn about other cultures but am always glad to be home in the USA. I am a proud and Grateful American!”

Tony Reichhardt, senior editor, Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine
As a child I lived overseas, and I remember what it feels like to be an American when most people around you are not—to feel the stirring of pride and superiority (for that’s the way it felt in the 1960s) when the “Star-Spangled Banner” was played. I now think of that kind of patriotism as childish, and mere tribalism: My group is better than yours. American exceptionalism is a delusion, and seems particularly silly in a time of rapid globalization. Still … the American Constitution, with its protection of basic freedoms of speech, the press, and religion (including the right to have no religion, or to make up your own) is one of civilization’s greatest achievements, and I’m grateful to live under those protections. History shows that those freedoms were—and still are—routinely violated, ignored, or subject to widely different interpretations. Southerners in the Civil War fought for “freedom,” including the freedom to enslave other people. Some see the influence of money on our political system as “free speech,” while others see it as a tool by which the rich hold power over the rest. The debate goes on. It’s possible that most people don’t even want to be “free,” if it means being different from everyone else. But I’m grateful that in America, freedom is still an ideal, if not always a reality.

Alec Rosenberg, partner, Arent Fox law firm, Washington, DC
“For me, being a grateful American involves stopping to reflect on the truly exceptional characteristics of our society that most of us take for granted as we go about our daily lives. The list is enormous, but consider a few examples. If you disagree with something our government has done, you can stand directly in front of the White House or on Capitol Hill and make your position heard loud, clear, and even obnoxiously, and you can publish your views to the world without censorship. Artists in the U.S. can express themselves however they want, even if virtually everyone else finds the message or expression offensive. Even after the closest, most hard-fought elections, we have peaceful transfers of power. As a people, our creative energies, and our ability to transform and create entirely new industries, are unparalleled. And, in each generation, many of those who have personally benefited most from our free markets and capitalism have also given back to society enormous portions of their wealth through philanthropy. We can worship according to our own faith, or we can choose not to worship at all. These are just some of the threads that form the basic fabric of our society, and the remarkable thing is that they are so deeply established that we rarely even think about them. I try to do that from time to time—for example, on the Fourth of July, when many others are likewise thinking about them—and I try to discuss with my young children why these societal hallmarks are special and worthy of admiration. The fact that our collective ethos is so ingrained is remarkable and wonderful, but we should never let ourselves forget that it can easily erode. Even as we disagree vehemently about politics, religion, and myriad other things—disagreement being perhaps the most ‘American’ of all of our traits—we should pause from time to time to celebrate the things on which we agree.”

Angela Sontheimer, managing director, Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg
“I am grateful for my foremothers. Not only my biological mom and grandmothers, whom I’m also grateful for—but for all the women, well-known and unknown, who have worked to make today’s society one where women like myself are equal players to any man. So many women spring to mind, including pioneers such as Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Jane Adams, Amelia Earhart, Betty Friedan, Maya Angelou, Sally Ride—and all the others who broke down barriers and helped to create a country where as women can do or be anything we choose. Of course, there is still much work to be done. But as the mother of two strong, smart and independent young women (now 15 and 18), I am grateful for the all who have paved the way and demonstrated how we can all work toward a society of freedom and equality.”

June 21: Civil War Veterans Post Celebrates Reopening

Saturday, June 21, 9am to 5pm: Don’t miss the reopening of the Charles Sumner Post #25, Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) established in Chestertown, Maryland in 1882.

Tour the newly renovated educational center, museum and performance space and celebrate all day long with music, food, games, and Civil War re-enactors.

“The newly restored building is one of only two such posts to remain standing in the United States today,” explains Leslie Prince Raimond, who has been the executive director of Kent County Arts Council since 1991.

“The building was erected by U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) Veterans that returned or settled in Kent County at the end of the Civil War,” Raimond shares. “The building was erected in 1909 and for well over half a century served as a community center for Kent County’s African American residents; hosting lectures and social events, and attracting an array of nationally acclaimed entertainers including Ella Fitzgerald and The Sweet Hearts of Rhythm, while providing area residents with a site for developing actions for the betterment of race relations in Kent County.”

The local Decoration Day Ceremony was an example of the G.A.R. motto, “Fraternity, Loyalty, Charity” demonstrating a determined steadfastness of the nation’s founding principles, Raimond adds. “The founders’ display of respect for all was accomplished with such grace that the G.A.R. ceremony became the local standard for Memorial Day ceremonies.”

Founded by USCT Veterans and members of the Women’s Relief Corp, the Charles Sumner Post #25 has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2003. It now will resume its function as a vital Kent County historic site and a center for inclusive and unifying community activities.

One G.A.R. board member said, “This reopening is a strong demonstration of the area’s commitment to a diverse, forward looking community grounded in a mutual history of self determination.”

Join us on Saturday, June 21!

9:00am – Buffalo Soldiers hold their quarterly meeting in the Building

9:30am – Buffalo Soldiers ride

10:00am – Festival Opens with children’s games and May Pole


10:20am – Sensational Stars

10:40am – Souls of Faith

11:00am – Burke Family Singers

11:20am – Frederick Douglas – reenactor Maryland Humanities Council’s Bill Grimmett

11:40am – Mass. 54th reenactors

12:00 pm noon – Ceremonial Wreath Laying for USCT (Colored Troops)
Led by Mass 54th soldiers, and the Kent County Middle School drum corps, followed by the festival attendees March to the Memorial Park on High Street in front of the Court House. A prayer by Rev. Clarence Hawkins.


1:00pm – The New Gospelites

1:20pm – Peter Heck & Mary Simmons

1:40pm – God’s Wealth with Sunny Fassett

2:00pm – Pam Ortiz Band

2:20pm – Pilgrim Travelers

3:00pm – Tribute to the elders of our community

3:15pm – Poetry by Robert Earl Price and introduction of speaker

3:25pm – Dr. Clara Small, Keynote speech

4:00pm – Ribbon Cutting at Charles Sumner Post, plus Star Spangled Banner


5:00pm – The Vaughn Bratcher Project

6:00pm – 100 Voice Choir

Learn more at

Contact: Leslie Prince Raimond, Executive Director
phone: 410-778-1149

Photo: The image (top) is of William Carney, a USCT Veteran and recipient of a Medal of Honor. One of the 20,000 African Americans who fought for the Union in the Civil War, William Carney served with the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry as a Sergeant. He took part in the July 18, 1863, assault on Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina — as depicted in the movie Glory.) He received the Medal of Honor for saving the American flag and planting it on the parapet despite being wounded several times.

June 14: "Women Leading the Future" 2014 Conference Hosted by Ladies America

Ladies America is hosting its fourth annual “Women Leading the Future” women’s conference on June 14, 2014.

“This conference brings some of the most powerful women (and some men too!) in America together to discuss major issues and topics that are important to women today,” says Lindsay Mask, founder and executive director of Ladies America.

“Focusing on women making a difference in the world, the conference discussions will deal with where women are today and how they can become stronger, more effective leaders and why their leadership is critical as we head into the future,” Mask concludes.

Click here to register.

The Agenda

9am-11am: Morning Sessions

  • 9am-10am: Registration and Networking
  • 10:00am-10:15am: Welcome by Founder, Lindsey Mask and Music by Capital Harmonia, a community women’s chorus that is dedicated to bringing the music written for women’s voices to local organizations and events, particularly those which support and promote the concerns of women.
  • 10:15-10:45am: Morning Keynote by Susan McPherson on “Leading with Impact.” In this high-energy presentation, laced with personal stories, these two women will illustrate how the philanthropy world has been turned upside down & how all of us can be philanthropists.
  • 10:45-11:00: Break: Yoga/Music/Move partitions with Georgia Gerstein

11:00am-Noon: Breakout Sessions

Pitching and Advocacy: Combining business and non-profit interests to illustrate the need and skills necessary to pitch your business or advocate for your cause. Learn how similar the two are, why an “elevator pitch” is important in all areas, and steps you can follow to boost your confidence in engaging stakeholders in your efforts.

  • Nancy Bocskor, Advocacy Professor
  • Cleve Mesidor, Haiti non-profit
  • Christina Sochacki, health care advocacy
  • Pending: Caroline Cunningham; President, National Mall Trust;

Financial Planning: In this breakout, Kim, national representative from New York Life Insurance and NYC resident, will walk attendees through (1.) Preparing financially for transition, i.e. how much should you save before launching a new business or switching careers; (2.) How to recover your finances after hurting your credit; and (3.) Planning for retirement and the future.

  • Kim Fisher, New York Life (NYC)

Women and Politics: With a focus on the fervor of seeing more women in politics, particularly with suggestions of a possible female president, even in the next election, we will hear from some of the young women from both sides of the leading the charge to enlist women to run.

  • Brittany Thune; Founder, RightNowWomen; daughter to U.S. Senator John Thune
  • Kate Farrar; President, Women Under Forty PAC
  • Rachel Schneider, Ready for Hillary [Clinton]

Noon-12:15pm: Break/Pick up lunch

12:15pm-1:15pm: All-Conference Panel — Bumps Along the Way Managing Life’s Transitions Like a Champ! Sometimes you don’t want to hear, “You’ll be fine,” when it feels like everything is falling apart. Hear directly from women who faced personal and professional challenges, learn what they were thinking through the process, and how they turned “failures” into success.

  • Joanna Hoffschneider; Vice President, Business Development, Grimm & Parker
  • Tabatha Turman, President & CEO, IFAS; Veteran
  • Moderator: Sonya Gavankar; On-air personality, ABC7; Newseum

1:20pm-2:20pm: All-Conference Panel — Mentorship vs. Sponsorship
Discover the differences between sponsorship and mentorship, plus why and when both are important. We will delve in a bit to the Ladies DC Mentorship pilot program developed by Yanire Brana and her team in Madrid, Spain and learn of their success scaling the program to women across Latin America.

  • Shelley Reese; Sponsorship Expert
  • Yanire Brana; Mentorship expert; Founder of MET; Consultant, World Bank
  • Possible Special Guest from India: Sarika Gupta Bhattacharyya, BizDivasIndia
  • Moderator: Megan Caldwell, Ladies America Board of Directors or ABC News Personality

2:20pm-2:30pm: Break: Yoga/Music/move partitions

2:30pm-3:30pm: Breakout Session B

Women & Media: In this panel, we will hear from leading media and branding experts discussing the larger picture of how women are portrayed in the media, the lack of representation of women in the media on major issues, and how to align yourself for media placement & interviews.

  • Simon Dixon; CEO, IdeaEngineering (Santa Barbara & DC)
  • Kristina Krawchuk; President, Women in Media

Fundraising/Negotiation: Moving again to combine the elements of business and non-profit to focus on the core values of raising money and confidently and effectively negotiating for the investment funds, corporate sponsorships, or salary you need for success and deserve based on what entities or career you have diligently developed.

  • Rachel Braun Scherl, Serial Entrepreneur (NYC)
  • David Goldsmith; CEO, Speaker, Author; Paid to Think (CA)
  • Pending: Gina – Odell


  • Alison Beshai, Stylist
  • Arti Anand, Numari co-founder, custom suits

3:30pm-3:40pm: Yoga/Music/Networking

3:40pm-3:55pm: Pre-Keynote Address by David Goldsmith, Paid to Think

4:00pm-4:30pm: Afternoon Keynote Major General Marcia Anderson, Deputy Chief of the Army Reserve; first African American woman to hold position

4:30pm-5:30pm: Reception and Networking

For more information visit

May 12: Executive Women in Government's 11th Annual Leadership Summit

Join Executive Women in Government for the most powerful and memorable event of the year as EWG celebrates its 40th year.

When: May 12, 2014

Where: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

What: An interactive day of dynamic speakers, engaging dialogue, building relationships and an opportunity to move your career forward that you won’t want to miss!!


  • $125 members early bird
  • $175 non-members
  • $900 table
  • $199 Corporate rate

Click here to register.

Special: Register now to receive Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire’s inspiring book The Board Game: How Smart Women Become Corporate Directors.

This event is an acknowledged training opportunity for GS -13 and above.