Insights, News & Perspectives from Aspire Ascend

    Summer Newsletter

    07/10/2017 8:17 PM | Anonymous

    Happy summer and welcome to Aspire Ascend’s newsletter, Aspirations.

    As the weather gets warmer, we close out a very exciting season of Aspire Ascend events and activities, highlighted by our 4 speaking and networking events. Held in the fabulous National Restaurant Association (NRA) headquarters in Washington, DC, all of these events – Remarkable Woman and Wine, Women and Knowledge Series – were completely sold-out. Thank you National Restaurant Association for your continuing support of Aspire Ascend and for promoting women’s leadership.

    We are currently promoting our Fall programs which will begin in September 20, 2017 with our Remarkable Woman lunch series.   Cathy Merrill Williams, President and Publisher of Washingtonian Media will be our featured interview.  Aspire Ascend events are open to both members and non-members. Members, of course, receive a significant registration discount.  In June, Aspire Ascend celebrates the first anniversary of its newly designed website.

    We are also happy to let you know that our membership rolls are growing significantly and that means a broader network for all members.   We are increasing our partnerships with individual coaches, enhancing our relationships with complimentary organizations to provide our members with the best career development guidance, resources and inspiration available, and providing on-site leadership training to organizations.
    Aspirations is designed to support members’ networking efforts, offer guidance from our coaches, and share the Aspire Ascend vision: to increase the confidence and guide the success of women who are currently in leadership positions. We offer career advancement advice,  “Women to Know,” and links to blogs, webinars and other resources to provide the tools and inspiration executive women need to move their careers forward.
    I invite you to visit Aspire Ascend’s website and sign up for the newsletter. When you visit the website, please review our member benefits and check out our upcoming programs. You can also find photos of our Remarkable Woman andWine, Women and Knowledge events. We expect another successful year for these events in 2017. You can register for them here. All executive-level women are welcome at these events and Aspire Ascend members enjoy reduced registration fees.

    I look forward to seeing you at future events and welcoming you into the Aspire Ascend community. 
     - Jan

    Here is what women executives are saying about Aspire Ascend

    Did you know? 

    "One crucial difference between how women and men manage their careers is how they form professional networks."

    Read more about the New Rules of Networking...

    Member Spotlight:
    An interview with Caroline Blakely,
    President & CEO, Rebuilding Together

    You became the President & CEO of Rebuilding Together in January 2016.    What motivated you to take the role of CEO with a nonprofit after 30 years as an attorney and finance expert?
     After a long career in banking and law, I decided that it was time to use what I had learned about business to “do good.”   It was suggested that I run a national non-profit with affiliates across the country that was having some struggles.  I felt that the difficulties the organization was facing could be solved with energy, enthusiasm and diplomacy, skills and talents that I felt I could offer.  After just 12 months, the organization is financially sound with an increased capacity and desire to continue its mission.
    What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career? 
    In developing my career, one of the most important lessons learned was to surround myself with smart, talented and funny women, in and outside of my chosen career.  I relied on these women to give me candid advice, help me think through problems and hone my relationship skills.
    What do women do differently from men as they move forward in an executive career? Is that good or bad?
    I think men and women behave differently as we try to achieve success.  In my experience, women tend to lean on and depend on teamwork to get things done in order to shine.  Men tend to pursue opportunities that require more solo performance.  I also think that men are much better about articulating their own professional strengths as women are about their challenges.
    What is the best and most challenging decision you’ve ever made?
    The best decision I ever made was the most financially risky one as well.  I decided to leave the practice of law and pursue banking, a field to which I was new.  I took a large base salary cut and bet on getting most of my compensation from a yearend merit based bonus.   It was my best year in terms of compensation ever!  It also was my most challenging – I had to learn quickly on the job.  I made mistakes, but I had a great mentor/teacher/coach/boss (a woman, of course) who made it all possible.  After twenty years in the same industry, I count her as one of my closest advisors. 

    What advice do you have for women aiming for a senior leadership position?
    I would advise women who are striving for leadership positions to take steps outside of the workplace to learn about leadership.  I encourage women to join organizations, nonprofits, and speaking groups and PARTICIPATE.  Take the time to shine in these alternative settings because it is possible to gain confidence, build skills and learn about the politics of an organization in environments that are not directly related to the career path.  Self-confidence, backed by “trying on” the skills of leading a project, a board, a meeting, is the key to success.  
    Why did you decide to join Aspire Ascend and the Executive Edge?  How does Aspire Ascend support your career and/or personal goals?
    I decided to join Aspire Ascend to continue learning from other successful and talented women.   I hope to expand my network and continue to receive and give good counsel and advice as I grow into my new nonprofit leadership career.  I signed up for the Executive Edge membership in order to prepare for corporate board service.  I like the idea of a one-on-one mentor to help me identify what I have to bring to a corporate board and then how to best package my message.  

    Women to Know!

    Role models are important in developing a career path.  In this section we present women who have achieved high levels of success and influence in their career and personal life.  They are committed to women's leadership issues and helping others through mentoring and sponsorships and are truly great role models.


    Kristina Bouweiri
    President & CEO
    Reston Limousine Service, Inc

    Kristina Bouweiri is the owner of Reston Limousine, the Washington DC metropolitan area’s largest luxury transportation provider. Over the last two decades, her innovative business strategies have positioned Reston Limousine and Travel Service, Inc. for continued success and growth.

    "When I first started out as a woman entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry, I had some amazing women mentors who helped me make connections in the business community. In turn, I’ve supported other women professionals and executives through individual mentoring and participating in panels and presentations for women in business. In 2008 I established a monthly networking program called Sterling Women and co-founded the annual Virginia Women’s Business Conference, both of which are flourishing!" 

    Kimberly Churches
     Chief Executive Officer


    Kimberly Churches became the new Chief Executive officer on June 1, 2017 and comes to AAUW from the Brookings Institution as their Managing Director.  Her career includes extensive experience at the university level at the University of Denver and the University of North Florida.  She also has deep credentials working collaboratively on education (K–12 and higher education) as well as capacity building among grassroots groups and national and international nonprofits.

    "The mission of AAUW is very personal to me.  In my household growing up, neither of my parents were able to graduate from college, but they instilled in me that I could be and do anything I wanted to in life.  I know all of us agree education is a terrific tool towards eliminating inequality, but as we’ve seen from AAUW research and other studies, the path to career success, and equity in general, is still not an easy one. I’m excited to join AAUW at this moment, because of the opportunity to help shape our world. The time to find practical solutions to gender equity in our nation is right now."

    AAUW has been a Major sponsor of the Wine, Women, & Knowledge Program 2016 and helped Aspire Ascend celebrate National Women's History Day March 2017.


     Dawn Sweeney

    President & CEO
    The National Restaurant Association

    Dawn Sweeney took the helm of The National Restaurant Association in late 2007 and has led them in a wide-range of policy issues, while offering services and products that promote the industry and help individual operators and large multi-unit companies succeed.

    "Advancing leaders, and particularly elevating women leaders, is a heartfelt mission for me -- and always has been. So many of the role models in my life have been, and are, strong, impactful, effective and successful women. Supporting each other to authentically grow, lead, listen and learn continues to be a highlight of my evolving career."  

    The National Restaurant Association has been supporting the mission of Aspire Ascend since 2016 by providing space for our events.


    Coaching Corner

    Our experienced coaching team focuses on helping executive women increase their effectiveness, identify their strengths and development needs, build confidence and support to make bold moves and set and achieve challenging goals.

    Mary Beth Parks

    Mary Beth Parks is an executive coach with more than 35 years of experience in leadership, performance and talent development, team-building, organizational transformation, change-management, coaching and mentoring in the corporate world. She provides leadership development and peak performance coaching for executives seeking to polish their leadership skills, excel through leadership and team transitions, and create high-performing teams.

    We asked Mary Beth to share with us a few insights on where she’s seen executives, and especially women executives, get stuck in their career journeys:
    "I’ve seen many highly-competent, talented women wake one day in utter frustration to the realization that years of devotion to getting the job done well is simply not enough to get them to that next career level.  It’s an epiphany that often comes about after they’ve been in a Director or even VP-level role for some time, they’ve had solid performance reviews, but they find themselves being overlooked for the next new opportunity or advancement they desire.
    The plus side to the frustration is that it can be a clear call to action to begin the process of what I call becoming the captain of your own ship
    When you see yourself as the captain, suddenly you not only have permission…you have an imperative to take charge of your career.  The steps below are simple in concept, but they require you to change the way you think and the actions you take on your own behalf:
    • Stop thinking—falsely—that your boss or another senior leader in your organization will simply put you forward for the role you want in recognition of your track record
    • Decide what it is you actually want nextan essential first step to charting your course
    • Discover what you need to get there
      • What are you known for now?  What do you need to be known for, and by whom, to move to that next level of leadership?
      • Who are your advocates?  Are there well-positioned people in your network who will actively campaign for your next career opportunity?
      • Who are your detractors?  What’s holding you back with the
    • Build yourself an Action Plan:
      • Be your own advocate & build relationships with others who will advocate for you
      • Invest in your own development
      • Create and manage your boundaries—schedule time to think strategically, to recharge, and to assess your progress
      • Identify a trusted partner or engage a coach to help keep you accountable as you work your plan
    In short, while stepping into your role as captain will not prevent you from encountering stormy seas, it will give you the power to choose how to navigate those seas while keeping your sights on your destination." 

    Contribute Your Expertise….

    in the following ways:

    • Recommend a member who qualifies for membership
    • Arrange for your company to sponsor an Aspire Ascend event
    • Assist at Aspire Ascend events
    • Provide articles, blogs, videos, case studies, research etc. as a featured expert on women's leadership, leadership development, women on boards on all of our media platforms.
    • If you are a professional speaker OR and an organization that promotes women leadership, you can provide a complimentary webinar, podcast, or video and be a featured speaker at one of our Aspire Ascend programs and events.

    Remarkable Woman events:


    September 20, 2017 - 12:00 pm-2:00 pm EST

     Catherine Merrill Williams
    President & Publisher
    Washingtonian Media

    Catherine Merrill Williams is President and Publisher of Washingtonian Media, a media conglomerate that includes the flagship 50-year-old magazine, Washingtonian.

    Meet this savvy women media executive who grew a media enterprise out of guts, and determination.

    The National Restaurant Association
    2055 L St. NW, Washington, DC

    Seating is limited, Register here.

    Share Our Vision? 

    Aspire Ascend has a vision to increase the confidence and success of women in leadership positions.  To do this we need to partner with organizations who share our mission

    Partners of ASPIRE ASCEND work together to promote each others initiatives. If you would like more information on becoming a partner, contact: 


    Sponsor support helps us continue to increase our reach and provide critical benefits and services for our network of executive women and women board members.

    Go to Aspire Ascend’ sponsorship opportunities to learn more.


    Jan Molino
    Aspire Ascend
    Advancing Women’s Achievement
    E-mail me: Jan@aspire-ascend.com

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