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Power Women: Meet the Hudson Valley’s 2020 Women in Business

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From left: Gina D’Angelo-Mullen, Megan Garmers, Satara Brow, and Michelle Babcock

Presenting 17 of the most influential executives, entrepreneurs, and non-profit leaders in the Hudson Valley.

By Kathryn Walsh
With Samantha Garbarini, Sierra Guardiola, Meredith Phillips, and Sabrina Sucato
Photography by John Halpern

Gina D’Angelo-MullenLaudelina MartinezDorian Wislow
Tamara MurrayPaige FloriTambra Dillon
Sage Marie CarterBecky ThorntonSatara Brown
Ann ArmaterMegan GarmersSuzanna Hermans
Michele BabcockShelley BorisKimball Gell
Laura PutnamMary Ann Liebert


Gina D’Angelo-Mullen

Director of Marketing & Communications
CareMount Medical
Chappaqua

Ask Gina D’Angelo-Mullen what achievements she is most proud of and the answers revolve around family. A strong work ethic, which she credits to time spent at her family’s 98-year-old Italian pastry shop in New Haven; and her daughters, whose laughter and singing bring her pride and joy. Resilience is also a word that comes up. It is an attribute that has served her well, first in her right-out-of-college job at Windows on the World Wine School, where she was employed on 9/11, and now, working for the largest independent multispecialty medical group in New York State during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since joining CareMount Medical in 2017, D’Angelo-Mullen has built an entirely new marketing department and has elevated marketing and communications both internally for CareMount’s 3,000 employees, and externally for its more than 665,000 patients. She has played a pivotal role leading the organization’s COVID-19 marketing efforts to help inform patients and staff about testing, new office procedures, and much more, and finds it rewarding to know that “something as simple as a social media post or e-blast can prompt a patient to take action and improve their health.” Other key group initiatives that Gina spearheads include the annual marketing campaign for Medicare Education.

A leader in the healthcare communications field for more than 15 years, D’Angelo-Mullen was honored in 2019 as a finalist at the PRNEWS Top Women in Healthcare Awards gala. And under her leadership, CareMount Medical’s marketing department received a 2019 Bulldog PR Award.

What challenges did you face when leading CareMount Medical’s COVID-19 marketing efforts?

The short-term challenge was the adjustment of how all of this was going to work. Remote teams set against the backdrop of a major shift to virtual visits was intense. We needed to synthesize and make information public very rapidly. It was a moment in time where we truly understood what questions our patients would have, because we all had the same questions for ourselves and our families.

Laudelina Martinez

Owner and Director
Martinez Gallery
Troy

Laudelina Martinez’ lifelong involvement in the arts began in her formative years. Growing up in Puerto Rico, she studied ballet, Spanish/flamenco dancing, and the piano with serious professionals all before she was 8 years old. Although it was tempting for her to consider these as career possibilities during adolescence, she wanted a career apart from performance. And so, at age 18, she moved to the United States to earn a B.A. from The College of New Rochelle, followed by an M.A. in Renaissance English Literature from Fordham University, and doctoral studies in Composition and Rhetoric at the University at Albany.

After a career in teaching and academic administration in higher education, Martinez returned to the arts and, in 2001, opened Martinez Gallery, a contemporary art gallery. In nearly 20 years, she has curated more than 100 exhibitions for the gallery and other venues while conducting an ongoing public education program for arts and culture. Her curatorial focus has been in presenting and advancing established and emerging artists, with an emphasis on Latino artists, who have come from near and far and who have also been part of collections at the Metropolitan Museum, the Corcoran, and more.

Martinez’s commitment to the arts and her heritage goes beyond her business. She has collaborated on cultural events and exhibitions, including helping to build the two-year-old organization, Capital District Latinos, in Albany. Nominated by the Governor’s Office and approved by the NYS Senate, she is a member of New York State’s Council on the Arts. She has served as president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), where she advocated for campuses with high Hispanic enrollment to be recognized as Hispanic-serving institutions and receive federal funding. She is a founding board member of 100 Hispanic Women of the Capital Region, and is currently president of the NYS Capital Region Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

What drives your level of civic involvement?

My mother modelled for me the notion of service to society, and from her I learned to be of assistance to the communities I’m connected to. This, in addition to a desire to find solutions to problems and be of use to others, is probably what drives my involvement.

Dorian Winslow

President
Womanswork
Pawling

When Dorian Winslow — a New York advertising executive with clients like Nabisco and AT&T — reached the level of VP at her firm, she decided she’d had enough. So she quit her job and hit the garden, launching her own company, The Garden Group, Inc. After a successful couple of years selling garden planning products, she was looking to grow. So, she reached out to the owner of Womanswork, a garden glove company whose logo she was drawn to — “Strong Women Building A Gentle World”—  and offered to buy her company. It took a year to happen, but in May 2000, Winslow took ownership.

Today, the company makes and markets many more products, such as beautiful and functional hats, gloves, and other gear, and has lowered the price point on many items to make them more accessible to a wider socioeconomic audience.

Combining a strong eye for design and a personal love of gardening with business savvy and marketing acumen, Winslow has invested a lot of time, energy, and passion in promoting the empowerment side of the brand’s promise. In addition to selling to the women farmers, gardeners, firefighters, volunteers, and beekeepers who inspired the brand, Womanswork also has heavy-hitting wholesale clientele, such as Amazon, HomeGoods, and Williams Sonoma.

A natural connector, Winslow recently forged a partnership between the Garden Club of America, of which she is a member, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy — part of which runs right through Pawling.  And ever the businesswoman, she developed private label gloves for the latter. When she’s not at work, Winslow spends time with her over 90-year-old mother, whom she calls her “inspiration” — perhaps because Mom still works a few hours every week at Womanwork!

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I love the creative side of my work. I like working with my team to develop new products and choose colors and merchandising themes. I like to interview the women we’re featuring and write their stories.

Tamara Murray

Marketing and Sales Director
Emerson Resort & Spa
Mount Tremper

Born and raised in Southern California, the last thing Tamara Murray probably expected to be when she grew up was the marketing and sales director for one of the premier resorts in the Catskills. In fact, she wanted to be a teacher, “I remember as a child asking for a chalkboard for Christmas so I could give my brothers assignments in my makeshift classroom!” she laughs.

Those delegation skills have served her well. Today, as marketing and sales director of Emerson Resort & Spa, she is responsible for managing the internal marketing team and digital marketing partner, creating on-property events and activities, curating community outreach programs, developing local business partnerships in Ulster County, and much more.

When she started in this position in 2016, she led the rebrand of the property. Combined with a just-completed $6 million renovation, Murray and her team completely overhauled the branding of Emerson, ensuring the message was consistent with its themes of nature, reconnecting, and wellness. She hired one of the top public relations firms in NYC, and developed a multi-pronged marketing strategy (print, radio, digital and social media outreach). The results were enormous, including press coverage in Town & Country, NYT.com, WSJ.com, USA Today, BuzzFeed, Global Traveler and many others — and a 100 percent increase in occupancy and 250 percent increase in corporate and wedding events.

More recently, she has created a new hospitality reality that makes travelers feel comfortable during the pandemic, which required another major branding overhaul. Following endless research and patience with ever-changing direction from local and state officials, Murray created the Emerson’s Stay Safe Pledge, a detailed system of protocols and branding which has effectively addressed guest concerns and led to surpassing post-shutdown occupancy goals.

What advice do you wish you’d received earlier in your career?

Don’t be easily intimidated by people you “imagine” are smarter than you. You have something to say… and what you have to say is important.

Paige Flori

Owner
Boutique Wines, Spirits and Cider
Fishkill

Though she was surrounded by fine Italian wines and spirits, Paige Flori couldn’t stop thinking about cider. While working for a small Italian importer from 2004 to 2012 selling to stores and restaurants in the Hudson Valley, Flori noticed these businesses stocked few, if any, hard ciders. So, she set out to learn as much as she could about the industry.

By 2017, she was ready to teach the rest of the Hudson Valley about it. Partnering with her bartender brother and her Culinary Institute of America alum husband, Flori opened Boutique Wines, Spirits and Cider in Fishkill, where customers could both learn and experience hard cider — as well as wines, spirits, mead, and sake.  Since then, the trailblazing business has seen sales more than quadruple (to $1 million), and now has more than 210 ciders in bottles and cans, and 13 on tap for growler fills. In 2020, the shop was named the Best Hard Cider Retailer on the East Coast by the American Cider Association and Best Cider Selection by Hudson Valley. Customers include both locals and those coming from as far away as Maine and South Carolina. 

And it’s not just her business that has reaped the rewards of the Mount Saint Mary College graduate’s hard work. In 2019, Flori partnered with a coalition of business owners to successfully lobby for extended hours for liquor sales in Dutchess County, arguing that the 7 p.m. closing time, established in 1983, was having a negative impact on local sellers, not allowing them to compete on a level playing field with their peers in surrounding counties. Since the law was changed in May 2019, to a 9 p.m. closing time, Flori has seen a significant increase in business, especially from businesspeople and tourists who stay at the nearby hotels in Fishkill.

What is the importance of cultural diversity in your industry?

I think as a more diverse population enters the culinary field we will begin to see that diversity percolate into the manufacturing of alcoholic beverages of all types. Cultural diversity in wine, spirits, and cider is important because it deals with the overall culinary experience and how diverse flavors are with different cultures. Exposing different cultures to the less traditional categories of the adult beverage industry should encourage them to consider entering the manufacturing field. I would love to see new and interesting takes on hard cider!

Tambra Dillon

Sage Marie Carter

Executive Director, General Manager, respectively
Hudson Hall
Hudson

The dynamic duo that is Tambra Dillon and Sage Marie Carter has been operating Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House together since 2015. Dillon was hired as co-director of Hudson Hall in 2013, after a long and distinguished career working in the arts in NYC, including positions with Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and the Cunningham Dance Foundation, working on the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s Legacy Plan. She was later promoted in 2017 to executive director, a role she currently holds. Carter officially joined the Hudson Hall team in 2015 as general manager after spending many years as a projection designer for Broadway and off-Broadway shows as well as opera, dance, sporting events, stand-up comedy, rock concerts and more. In 2017, following an $8.5 million restoration, Dillon and Carter ushered Hudson Hall into a new era of high caliber artistic and community programming.

When the pandemic hit, they both sprang into action to remain committed to the organization’s mission of supporting the arts and playing a pivotal role in the economic advancement of the community. Sourcing PPE in bulk for local businesses and nonprofits to purchase was just the beginning of their efforts to keep the City of Hudson thriving during these unprecedented times. Like other small businesses in the area, Hudson Hall was seeing the hard-hitting effects of COVID-19. By collaborating with the City of Hudson, FUTURE HUDSON, and Design for Six Feet, the Hudson Shared Streets program was born, allowing businesses to expand operations onto Warren Street. Dillon and Carter also helped establish a 10-week Workforce Development Program, which employed 14 young people.

Because Hudson Hall is a small venue, with a tight budget, “we are always working on 10 things at once,” says Carter. As executive director, Dillon’s responsibility is to work with the board and staff to advance the overall strategic goals to ensure Hudson Hall’s financial stability and programmatic goals (i.e. their mission) are realized. “I focus a lot on fundraising, marketing, bookkeeping,” she says. As general manager, Carter is in charge of building operations, production, and liaises with a number of community partners. In addition, she is the acting production manager, stage manager, and company manager for incoming events, as well as the resident lighting and projection designer, “and I also manage venue rentals,” she says.

Their teamwork and passion for the arts is what helps to make it accessible to everyone in the diverse community of Hudson. As Dillon says, knowing that you were a part of making something good happen is what brings her joy. “If I can help Hudson Hall and our City survive this pandemic, I will be proud of that.”

What do you consider your first big break?

Professionally, I would have to say BAM. I moved to New York City in 1983, working first at SoHo Charcuterie and then as a private chef. I was fortunate to work for a family with friends in the arts world. That led me to a part-time job as an assistant in BAM’s special events office. BAM changed my life, opened my mind to so many things, and exposed me to performances that literally changed my life. Personally, being selected as an AFS exchange student in high school. Everyone should have that experience.

What attracted you to the Hudson Valley?

My family moved to the area 20 years ago, and, when our son was born, we wanted to be nearer to family. We moved to Hudson 12 years ago, and I continued to work as a freelance projection designer, taking the train to NYC or flying to Chicago and other locations to design shows.

Becky Thornton

President
Dutchess Land Conservancy
Millbrook

Although Becky Thornton is not from Dutchess County, she has appreciated its splendor since she travelled here from Connecticut as a child to visit family. And now, as president of Dutchess Land Conservancy, she is responsible for preserving the county’s scenic, agricultural, and environmental resources for current and future generations.

During her 30+ years at the DLC, Thornton has worked with hundreds of landowners to plan for and preserve their land; negotiated hundreds of conservation easements; and worked with various partners, including Dutchess County government, to raise millions of dollars to save local farms. When she started with DLC, 2,500 acres were under conservancy; today, she could brag that she’s had a hand in conserving more than 42,500 more.

As president, she is responsible for the successful leadership, oversight, and management of DLC’s operations. According to colleagues, her leadership model is a unique blend of confidence, diplomacy, expertise, and trust in the process, and she inspires her largely female staff in all aspects of their work and life.

Over the years Thornton has served on numerous national, state, regional, and local boards and committees, including Land Trust Alliance (LTA) New York Advisory Board, of which she is a is a member and past chairman and vice chairman. She was appointed by the Commissioner of NYS’s Department of Environmental Conservation to serve on its Region 3 Open Space Committee, and by Dutchess County’s Executive to serve on the County’s Agricultural Advisory Committee, for which she is vice chairman.

Have you ever been the only “woman at the table?”

In my first job out of college, I was the only woman employed in an office of architects and landscape architects. Luckily, all of the guys I worked with were extremely respectful and treated me as not only a colleague but as a friend. I learned a lot from them.

Satara Brown

Founder
Rebuilding Our Children and Community Inc.
Poughkeepsie

Community is everything for Poughkeepsie resident Satara Brown. During the day, the youth worker employs her skills in the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department’s juvenile division. Yet her drive to empower and improve the Hudson Valley extends far beyond her day job and into the underserved communities of the region.

In 2015, Brown founded Rebuilding Our Children and Community, Inc. (ROCC) to meet the needs of low-income families in Dutchess County through summer and after-school programming for children. With a focus on academic and skill building, some of the services ROCC has provided include a collaboration with the Poughkeepsie City School District to provide free makeup, hairstyles, and prom dresses to graduating seniors of the middle school and high school, and free haircuts and dress clothes to homeless individuals so that they are able to go on job interviews. The organization has also provided employment opportunities for more than 30 individuals.

Brown also serves as the Director of Communications and Community Engagement for Day One Early Learning Community in Poughkeepsie (which is scheduled to open in 2021) and as a board member of the Poughkeepsie Schools Foundation. Through her work with these initiatives, she’s forged meaningful relationships with local government and school officials to further promote her vision for a better Dutchess County.

Brown may have her hands busy with a full-time job and intensive non-profit work, but she makes a point to never stop learning. In 2019, she earned an executive certificate in non-profit leadership from the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University. The following year, she participated in Dutchess County Chamber Foundation’s Executive Leadership Program. Today, she continues her education as a master’s student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

How does she fit it all in? Planning. If it’s not on her schedule, it doesn’t exist. And from the sounds of it, it’s an agenda where every hour of the week is filled with work, board and committee meetings, classes, and homework. Plus time with kids, of course, whether it’s with her two young nephews or at ROCC’s programs during non-pandemic times.

What does it take to be a good leader?

Empathy. You have to be able to empathize…so that you have a better understanding of what others are going through. Once you’re able to see things from different perspectives, you’ll be able to lead more effectively. Growing up, my father always stressed how important it was to have empathy. I now know why. You also have to be passionate in whatever it is you’re doing. Anyone can have qualities of a leader but if you are not passionate, you cannot be a good leader.

Ann Armater

Senior Vice President, Development
Foundation for Vassar Brothers Medical Center
Poughkeepsie

Tell Ann Armater that she is considered by some to be “the doyenne of development in the Hudson Valley” and she laughs and refutes the title saying “no one in this field can be successful without the support of a great team. If I have been successful as the chief fundraiser for Vassar Brothers Medical Center, it has everything to do with the people who have supported my efforts.”

When it comes to Armater’s success, there is no “if” about it. Since she founded the Foundation for Vassar Brothers Medical Center in 1986, she has generated approximately $100 million in gifts, including the recently concluded $30 million campaign for the Medical Center’s new patient pavilion.

Armater’s career in fundraising started at United Way in Manhattan, where she worked as an account executive after she received her MSW from Fordham University. It was there that she was introduced to the world of development. This laid the groundwork for her advancement in other organizations, including New York University, the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center Fund, and then, finally, “to the place that has been my home for the last nearly 35 years — Vassar Brothers Medical Center.” Since 1999, Armater has also served as Senior Vice President, Development for Nuvance Health (formerly Health Quest), where, in addition to the Foundation for Vassar Brothers Medical Center, she is also responsible for the oversight of Northern Dutchess Hospital Foundation and Putnam Hospital Center Foundation. Armater lives in Poughkeepsie with her husband, Ray. They are the parents of three grown daughters and grandparents to their first grandchild.

How do you create opportunities that empower and elevate women to succeed?

Believing in your team and giving people the latitude to try new ideas — and celebrating successes — are important ways to empower and elevate members of the team. Quite honestly, when the situation calls for creativity or a new way of looking at things, the best ideas come from the people around me. Very often, our greatest successes have resulted from a teammate’s lead. I have learned that letting your team change your mind on something is very often a good thing.

Megan Garmers

Founder and Director
MG Hair and Makeup
Founder, Business Coach, and Strategist
The Bridal Masterclass
Wappingers Falls

It’s quite an achievement to be the founder and director of the oldest and largest on-location hair and makeup agency in the United States. Yet for Megan Garmers, launching her fashion- and wedding-based beauty business in 2002 was just the beginning. For the past 20 years, she’s made a name for herself and her brand through features in publications like The Knot, Cosmo UK, and New York Magazine, not to mention on television programs like Entertainment Tonight, Good Morning America, and TODAY.

More than a makeup artist, Garmers is an educator who has taught on global stages, as well as in courses through The Bridal Masterclass, an online platform and community that offers business insights for wedding professionals who want to level up their enterprises. Because of her expertise and leadership in the industry, she’s been honored every year since 2011 as an “Educator” for The Knot, which also dubbed her one of its “Top 100 Most Influential Wedding Pros.”

A true leader in the beauty and wedding scene, Garmers also serves as a business coach and strategist for small businesses that want to strengthen their social media, marketing, and sales presences. Elsewhere in the community, she and MG Hair and Makeup give back through organizations like Covenant House, Desai Foundation, Bowery Women’s Mission, Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine, and more. 

Tell us about your passion for diversity, representation, and inclusion in your business.

I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and adopted at 3 months old. I grew up in Minnesota. As one of very few minorities in my area, I experienced both racism and privilege. I didn’t see people who looked like me in positions of power, in magazines or TV, or even just everyday. To be seen as “good enough” I had to be 10 times better than the average white student in school. Luckily, because I had [the privilege of] being in a white family, my education and opportunities made my experience as a minority an atypical one that “ended well.” When it comes to diversity, representation and inclusion, I know first-hand how important it is for BIPOC children to see others who look like them achieving amazing things.

Suzanna Hermans

Co-Owner
Oblong Books & Music
Rhinebeck and Millerton

There’s nothing more rewarding for Suzanna Hermans than connecting a reader to their new favorite title or author. As the co-owner of Oblong Books & Music, she has been doing this every day since she came back to her father’s bookstore after deciding a career in acting (she was a theater major in college) wasn’t the right path for her. 

Hermans is a past president of the New England Independent Booksellers Association, and has served on the American Booksellers Association’s Advisory Council, as well as their Children’s Advisory Council and New Voices Committee. She considers being chosen as a judge for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2017, “one of my greatest honors.”

The Red Hook resident is committed to placing books in the hands of the next generation of readers, and works diligently with schools to bring books to students. Initiatives include holding an annual, in-person presentation to middle and high school English teachers that highlights new books for their curriculum and classroom libraries, many of which are by authors of color and LGBTQ+ authors.

While Hermans had to temporarily close Oblong’s doors during the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, she quickly and effectively pivoted to an online model and was able to keep all staff on board (after receiving a PPP loan). All this while still remaining available to listen to the fears, needs, and wishes of her staff and customers.

What led you to pursue positions within national booksellers organizations?

The independent bookselling community is extraordinarily collaborative, which is something I’ve always loved. Even though we’re technically competitors, we’re always ready to help each other out and share our ideas. Being a part of groups that support our industry has been a great way to give back.

Michele Babcock

Managing Partner
Jacobowitz and Gubits, LLP
Walden

Michele Babcock is a portrait of efficiency. She has to be: A lawyer at a young age, she made partner eight years after joining Jacobowitz and Gubits, LLP, the Hudson Valley’s largest full-service law firm; was named managing partner four years later; and, through it all, also became a mother to three young children. Babcock runs the operations of the 45+ person law firm and primarily practices Municipal, Land Use and Environmental Law, historically a male-dominated field. She creates and implements policies for the firm, and has also represented local governments and private applicants in zoning, land use, environmental permitting, and litigation.

The New Windsor resident has built a climate in which women can thrive if they are also raising families: There is a wellness room at the office for mothers who are lactating, or others who might just need a place for a moment or quiet rest. When she was elected partner in 2011, she was the only female out of 13 partners. Currently, four of the 10 partners at the firm are women. In addition, Babcock volunteers her time to numerous organizations, all of which seek to enhance the lives of women and children.

While at Hofstra University School of Law, Babcock studied for a time at France’s Faculte de Droit de I’Universite de Nice. There, she had the honor of studying comparative constitutional law under the Hon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which she describes as “an amazing experience.” Perhaps it was this experience that led Babcock to later ensure that all female attorneys working with her have a regular source of mentorship and guidance. “I hope I can inspire and motivate other young women, especially my daughter, to excel without any boundaries. I strive every day to support the women I work with and to be a strong voice for making change to provide for the advancement of women.”

In 2019, Babcock was recognized as an Outstanding Women in Law by Hofstra University, which recognizes and celebrates women who have made meaningful and inspiring contributions to the legal community.

How do you balance work and personal time?

Every day is a new adventure when you are raising three small children and running a law firm. I enjoy the challenges and the rewards of doing both jobs. It is important for me to stay organized and prioritize. I could not do what I do without the support of my family, including my husband, and my mom and dad.

Shelley Boris

Kimball Gell

Co-Owners
Fresh Company
Dolly’s
Garrision

It took two, diverse, winding career paths to bring Shelley Boris and Kimball Gell to Garrison. Boris cut her teeth at NYC’s just-opened Dean & DeLuca in the ’80s, worked as a chef and private caterer, and published recipes in Food & Wine and The New York Times before relocating to the Hudson Valley. Gell, a Hudson Valley native, graduated from SUNY Albany with a degree in economics and spent more than a decade on Wall Street before switching careers to manage the Swedish Institute College of Health and Sciences in Manhattan.

The women were friends first — through their children, who went to school together — and became business partners in 2004, when they launched Fresh Company, which provides food service and off-premises catering for a wide range of events and clients. And while their client roster includes big names, such as MoMa, Anthropologie, L.L. Bean, and even the Dalai Lama, keeping things local is a key component of the business. Clients include Boscobel House & Garden, Manitoga, and Scenic Hudson; and Fresh Company is the official caterer for Storm King Art Center and The Garrison Institute. Since its launch, when the farm-to-table movement had yet to peak, Boris and Gell have emphasized sourcing from Hudson Valley farms, market, and producers. In July 2018, they launched Dolly’s, a full-service restaurant in Garrison, focused on the same principles.

Despite busy schedules, both Boris and Gell find time to give back to their local communities. Boris collaborates on the annual fundraiser for the Cold Spring Farmers’ Market, and published her first cookbook, Fresh Cooking: A Year of Recipes from the Garrison Institute, in 2014. Gell is an active member of the Bethany Arts Community, a non-profit residency and arts organization based in Ossining.

What is your advice to the next generation of women leaders?

Shelley Boris: Stay in a job as long as you are learning and/or your work is meaningful to others in a satisfying, important way. When neither of those things are true, try, in a professional way, to move on so you don’t grow weary, resentful, and overly critical. Keep pivoting and problem solving, and while learning from the past, try not to get caught up in regrets.

How did you go from finance to food service?

Kimball Gell: Mainly they are connected by business management practices. My finance experience gave me experience with financial analysis, and, as a business owner, I lean heavily on those skills. I did have to learn about a new industry, but business knowledge is transferable.

Laura Putnam

Founder & Co-Owner
Finding Home Farms, LLC
Middletown

Laura Putnam never imagined that the home décor blog she launched in 2010 would grow to see 400,000 page views a month and morph into the million-dollar business that it is today. Yet that’s exactly what happened when the former interior decorator created Finding Home Farms in Middletown with her husband, Dana. Since hitting the ground running in 2015, her Hudson Valley lifestyle brand, which fuses traditional crafting with modern comfort, expanded from maple syrup in Orange County to more than 100 products sold by more than 1,200 retailers nationwide. It’s best known for its soy candles (cinnamon pinecone, anyone?) and maple syrups, which have garnered praise everywhere from Oprah Magazine’s “O List” to Good Food Mercantile, which recognized it with a Good Food Award for its Rye Barrel Aged Maple Syrup in 2020.

Although Finding Home Farms reaches markets as far away as Atlanta and Dallas, Putnam maintains a local presence both through her Middletown sugarhouse and as a driving force behind OCNYwest, the community and agricultural business network in Orange County that produces OCNYwest Winterfest in December. Within her own company, she serves as a mentor for other women and her two college-aged daughters, both of whom plan to follow her footsteps to become part-owners like their mother.

Have you ever been the only “woman at the table?”

Yes, many times I have been the only woman at the table. When I was younger, I felt the need to talk more and louder. Now, I think I have a much better sense of “reading the room.” I must admit that there are still times that we struggle with a vendor or a business contact, and I know it is because I am a woman.

Mary Ann Liebert

Founder, President, & CEO
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
New Rochelle

Like so many female entrepreneurs, Mary Ann Liebert launched what would become her legacy from her kitchen table. These days, her eponymous empire, based in New Rochelle, publishes nearly 100 peer-reviewed biomedical journals which tout scientific advances and new therapeutic applications.

Available free-of-charge in 108 developing countries, the journals cover topics that are wide-ranging and timely. Her first publication, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) swiftly became the most widely read and authoritative source around the globe, and, 40 years later, it still is. She was the first to launch critical journals about AIDS and HIV back in 1980. The magazine Telemedicine and e-Health, whose readership has exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic, is something she began 30 years ago. And today, her authors, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Robert Redfield, are important voices in helping to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Other journal topics include LGBT health, transgender health, and environmental justice, among many more.

Liebert, who employs 100 staff on-site, is described by colleagues as smart, strategic, hard-nosed, and visionary. As president and CEO, she stays up-to-date on everything, including current fiscal status and long-term projections. The Westchester resident is also  a committed supporter of the New Rochelle community.

Liebert has founded a nonprofit to support and showcase the careers of eminent women in science — the Rosalind Franklin Society. The publishing company is proud that during the 2020 health crisis, it has not reduced time or benefits for its employees or freelancers. Leadership, commitment, and caring are values that have carried Liebert from the kitchen table 40 years into the future, and she’s not done yet.

What led to the creation of the Rosalind Franklin Society?

For way too many years, women in science did not have enough tenure track positions and did not receive nominations and prizes for which they were well qualified. Women scientists were underpaid, underappreciated, and not given leadership positions in academic institutions.

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