GWTK Visionary | Sr. Financial Advisor and Vice President
Susan’s residency: Andover
As a mother involved with her daughters’ educations serving on Pike School’s Parents Association board and as a financial advisor to women in transition , Susan Wilson has come to know a lot of great women. During a January ’07 walk with neighbor and friend Margaret Hamilton, Susan shared a multi-dimensional vision that had been percolating. “I had been searching for a way to connect all the great women whom I knew and respected. I had visions of this exciting talent pool as a place for personal and professional growth, not to mention fun. I also wanted to have a greater purpose that went beyond the members, so successful women helping young girls in need seemed to be a perfect mission. Esperanza was a new school and they were open to so many of our ideas like Shadow Day [editor’s letter],” Susan reflected one year later. Margaret, sharing Susan’s vision, quickly created an image campaign to brand it. “Naming it was easy; it just had to be Great Women to Know,” said the independent graphic designer and GWTK c founder. “One year later Great Women To Know is a 501 (c) (6) corporation, with a full schedule of social events, relevant speakers, and hands-on opportunities for volunteering, including skills sharing and mentoring with the Esperanza girls,” Margaret said. “And we’re still looking for a few great women of different backgrounds and professions.”
WTK Visionary | Certified Divorce Financial Analyst | Merrill Lynch | Burlington | Amy’s residency: Wenham
How did your professional life influence your founding vision for GWTK?
My business partner Amy Moore and I are advocates for women in transition, such as retirement, divorce and widowhood. We have found that by creating a team with specialists in different areas, such as legal and tax professionals, we can help our clients make sound decisions and achieve their financial and personal goals.
How important is it for you to influence the financial education of young girls?
I am passionate about the topic of teaching personal finance to the next generation. As a parent and as a professional, I am very concerned with kids’ attitudes about money. They need to learn the basics of budgeting, banking and goal setting at a young age. When they go off to college they are being bombarded with offers for credit cards and can get themselves into serious trouble.
Has Merrill Lynch been supportive of your efforts this past year?
Yes, Merrill Lynch provided the seed money to finance the early stages of GWTK, and has also donated generously to Esperanza Academy. How has your family been involved with this project? My husband and two daughters, Audrey and Marie, have been very supportive of my efforts this past year with GWTK. They have shared their ideas with me, helped out at the school and a few of our events. My daughters are benefiting so much just by observing these great women in action and seeing what we can accomplish together. They are inspired by all of this.
How has your family been involved with this project?
My husband and two daughters, Audrey and Marie, have been very supportive of my efforts this past year with GWTK. They have shared their ideas with me, helped out at the school and a few of our events. My daughters are benefiting so much just by observing these great women in action and seeing what we can accomplish together. They are inspired by all of this.
Graphic Designer, Cofounder, GWTK |
You aren’t originally from the North Shore, we can tellÂ…
I was born in Scotland and went to college in Edinburgh, where I met my husband, who was from Ireland. After college, we moved to England, then to the U.S. in 1995 with our then family of three children.
You’ve been volunteering at Esperanza since its inception. What attracted you to the school?
It’s my belief that, besides health, education is the best gift that a child can receive. Esperanza provides opportunities for girls at all educational levels the opportunity to learn in a safe environment. There are no academic requirements to be accepted.
You are one of the founders of Great Women to Know. How does it feel one year later?
It’s been lots of fun, and it’s been more work than I ever imagined! Learning from each other and working as a group in GWTK we have been able to accomplish much more for the girls and the school than we would have individually!
Director of Sales and Marketing, Software Firm |
Why is it so important for women to socialize and “network” with each other?
For me, connecting with other women is as important as oxygen. It has led to many breakthrough opportunities for me, like helping to start GWTK. Other women have always boosted my confidence, enabled me to test new directions, and try new skills. Having a built-in support system like GWTK counteracts the isolation of working from home.
What is special about GWTK for you?
I’m about to become an “Empty Nester” and am thinking a lot about what that transition means to me. GWTK is great sounding board for testing ideas for my “Act III.” The Esperanza girls are wonderful and a beacon of hope. My daughter and I will be teaching them to play cribbage this spring, a game I taught my own kids to reinforce their math skills.
So, what’s next for you?
I just completed a post- MBA program for women at the Tuck School at Dartmouth. Going back to school was very energizing! I’m a very creative problem solver, and I love to write. I wish there was aÂ ob title that captured the essence of those skills… “Director of Articulated Problem Resolution?” Small niche, I might have to go more mainstreamÂ…
Home Manager (and former Commercial Real Estate Attorney)
What led to your transition to being home based?
I worked for many years as a commercial real estate lawyer, first at a large Boston law firm, then at Staples’ corporate office. It was difficult to juggle the needs of work and children, and I felt it was important to be there for the after-school “debrief” with the kids. It’s become even more important as they get older! You have three boys.
Why mentor girls?
Yes, even my dog is male! I find it particularly worthwhile to mentor girls as a way to share some of my life experiences as a girl and a woman. Education is very important to me and I am very impressed by the level of commitment and success achieved at Esperanza.
What about the networking?
It is wonderful to share the bonds of being women in the workplace and the home. Regardless of whether they work or not, women still bear a larger part of the responsibility for home management. I enjoy learning how other women launched or re-launched their careers and how they manage all the other aspects of their busy lives.
Andrea Carlin VP/Portfolio Manager | Citizen’s Bank | Boston
I was compelled by the disparate world the girls of Esperanza live in as compared to my community, and wanted to help these girls have a quality education. Every time I meet with the vibrant Esperanza girls, they are truly embracing the opportunities they have been given, and that reinforces my enthusiasm.
Has Citizens Bank been supportive of your efforts?
Citizens Bank is dedicated to giving back to our local communities. The Bank not only supports, but encourages my volunteer efforts and in particular, my role as GWTK fundraising committee chair for Esperanza Academy. Moreover, Citizens Bank has financially supported Esperanza as a “Champion in Action.” This initiative rewards non-profit organizations that work to champion change in our communities.
Why create something new when there are so many women’s networking groups out there?
GWTK is special because of the planned diversity of its membership and its singular service mission to The Esperanza Academy. Besides, what women wouldn’t wantÂ to be a “Great Woman to Know?”
Denice Clark Ware
(“D.C.”) Director, Human Resources Business Partner- New England Regional Operations | Verizon Communications |
My path to human resources is paved with an inherent passion for all aspects of people management. Since people are the lifeblood of organizations, my work offers me the opportunity to influence corporate culture.
Is Verizon supportive of your community involvement?
Verizon not only encourages employees to volunteer, we have a foundation program that rewards the non-profit organizations in which we volunteer over 50 hours per year.
Who are you outside of “what you do for work?”
I am an avid traveler. I believe that in exploring diverse cultures, one gains humanity. There is never a moment when a new adventure isn’t planned from my own “1.000 places to see” listing.
Owner, B Sporty, Promotional Logo Apparel and Products
Why did you join Great Women to Know?
As my children grew, I found my former career as a mental health counselor to be isolating, and decided that I was up for the new challenge of becoming an entrepreneur. Networking is an important part of starting and growing a business. Great Women to Know provides that network with the added benefit of helping the girls at Esperanza.
What has the transition between your two careers been like?
Transitioning from a career in mental health to being a small business owner has been both challenging and rewarding. I’ve been able to use many of the same skills to grow a private therapy practice and my promotional apparel and product business.
Celeste Niarchos, Esq.
Family Law Attorney |
What is the most satisfying element of your career?
I co-founded HAWC, Help for Abused Women and Children in 1978. Fortunately there has been a profound change in our culture, from one in which domestic violence was accepted or trivialized, to one in which domestic violence is not tolerated.
What drew you to GWTK and Esperanza?
I am a graduate of an all girls’ high school. This experience shaped my identity and made me realize how important it is for young girls to have a single sex education, where their voices are heard consistently. When the opportunity came up for me to become involved, I was delighted.
Why is it important for women to mentor girls?
Shadow Day was such a rewarding experience-for the mentors and the girls. We were able to show the girls how rewarding a career as a lawyer can be and how we became lawyers through the help and encouragement of other lawyers. Planting an idea “seed” in the mind of a young girl is extremely powerful!
Amy T. Sollins
Domestic Relations Attorney |
How has the experience of mentoring Esperanza girls enriched your life?
The energy of the Esperanza girls is infectious. They recharge my batteries. It is powerful to think that the Esperanza girls want to emulate what I have become. If I am to be a role model, then I want to be good one!
Why is it important for women to mentor girls?
We are proof of the possibilities that lie ahead for them.
What did you get out of Shadow Day?
It made me want to be a better lawyer. As a family lawyer, I often advise people in delicate visitation and custody situations, but I rarely meet the children that my work impacts. Working with the Esperanza girls reminds me of how impressionable and vulnerable girls are and how carefully adults must treat the decisions that impact their lives.