Honorable Mention Chapter Award
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Honorable Mention Chapter Award



Ask the Board - Who is an influential woman in your life and what impact did she have on you?

20-21 board

By: MPIGNY | Apr 9, 2021

In the spirit of this month’s theme, “Women in Leadership,” we asked the members of the MPIGNY board of directors to tell us about an influential woman in their life and the impact she had on them. The answers include both the personal and professional, but all are heartfelt. Cheers to the special ladies who raise us all up!

Michelle Marie Adams

This is a tough question as there are so many amazing, talented and inspirational women that I have had the pleasure to know during my life. How can I choose just one? My mother taught me to love unconditionally and to always be kind; my grandmothers taught me that women are strong and to stand up for what you believe in; my sister taught me about perseverance and how you should never ever give up; my college professor taught me to stand tall and be confident in your own shoes; my high school drama teacher taught me to always be true to myself (even when portraying a character) and never lose ‘you’; my former boss and longtime friend taught me to be fearless in business and encouraged me to take risks; my best friend taught me to be silly and that it’s OK to laugh at yourself once in a while because no one is perfect.

They say it takes a village, and in this case it is true. All of these women have greatly influenced my life and have helped to shape who I am today; and for that I am profoundly grateful because all of these women rock!

Patrick Colomer

I have been fortunate to work with several influential women over my career in hospitality, but the one person who always stands out to me is Cindi Napier. Cindi is the director of group sales at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Following my move from Florida to The Greenbrier, Cindi really took me under her wing to help me understand the intricacies of what it truly means to be a hospitality professional. I had just started my career, and she would always take the time to help me understand revenue management, forecasting and how to effectively respond to an RFP. 

Cindi is a consummate professional, but an even better human being. She is someone from whom I learned many things early in my career, and her professionalism and warmth are something that I have tried to pass along to others as I continue in my own career. I think it is vitally important to never forget where you came from while helping others accomplish their professional goals. Cindi embodies that and more. She is someone for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect and feel fortunate to still call a good friend.

David Hughes

Before I made the leap to hospitality sales in 1998, I had taken a hiatus from corporate America and was working as a bartender in Cincinnati, Ohio. Carol Sherman Jones was the proprietor of Carol’s Corner I. From Carol, I learned the value of evaluating potential contribution to team chemistry in the hiring process and the unlimited opportunity presented by assembling a diverse mix of creative, dynamic talent to run all aspects of a business. Many of my most enduring friendships and lasting memories date back to this period in my professional development. Thanks, Carol!

Colleen Jasinski

As I thought about this question, the one person who kept coming to mind was a woman I was fortunate to work for while a graduate student at the University of Illinois. Suzi MacDonald was the associate director of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and I worked in her office on an assistantship. Suzi was a tall, yet unassuming woman who filled every room she was in with her large personality and infectious laughter. When I first met her, she intimidated the heck out of me, but then I got to know her and realized how lucky I was. She became more than a boss; she was my confidante, adviser and second mother in many ways. It was the first time I had moved any great distance away from home, and Suzi filled that gap. Her guidance and advice helped me through many a rough patch during my three-year graduate program, and she stood proudly next to me as I received my diploma on graduation day. Sadly, Suzi died of a rare brain tumor in the fall of 2003. I was moving back to New York that summer, driving cross-country from San Francisco, and I planned my trip so that I could stop to see her in Illinois and say good-bye one last time. She was a special lady with a heart of gold, and I am so glad she is up there keeping an eye on me.

Elaine Morena

My mom is one of my heroes. She is a ‘Tiger Mom,’ and I credit her with my being a high achiever. My father transitioned after a long illness 12 years ago. My mom was his primary caregiver, and as a registered nurse, she took incredible care of him and showed an abundance of love, compassion and grace during his illness and after he died. I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose your life partner, and that is one of the things I fear most. She has shown such courage and created a rich life through church, volunteering and her many friends. It is funny how we children – my brothers and I – have become the parents to our mom because we cannot keep track of her. She has a busier social life than we do, and we are so happy. She loves to text, and she often sends me pictures of the flowers in her garden and of Emily, her Chihuahua-Terrier mix, telling me how much they love me.

Geri Richlin

I count myself extremely lucky that I have had a large number of incredible women to look up to over the years – from a mother who modeled what it could mean to be a strong and independent woman without apology or compromise to feminist scholars, teachers, professors and leaders who have provided inspiration and examples of navigating the world with power and femininity. I recently looked back over my history and realized I have been privileged to report directly to seven incredible women over my short time in the industry, but my current area sales leader, Rachel Pedone, stands out as a mentor and example of great leadership skills based in empathy, passion and a true understanding of the outside elements that can make or break a day. As a single mother herself, she deeply understands the importance of balancing work and life while still pushing herself harder than anyone I know to give everything and more to the hotels she supports (all with an enviable flair). Rachel has been an absolute role model when I think about my professional future and how I want to inspire others as a leader in the future.

Carly Roncaglio-Marotta

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by so many strong women – both personally and professionally – but without a doubt, my mom has been the most influential. She celebrated every success, no matter the size, and is my biggest cheerleader. She helped me learn from so many mistakes and has taught me countless life lessons. She always pushed me to be the best version of myself I could be.

Jennifer Rondinelli

My mom is an influential woman in my life. Since a young age she has always supported me in all my endeavors, and I would not be where I am today had it not been for her love and support. My first career before working for Estee Lauder Companies and being a meeting professional was as a ballet dancer. While studying ballet seven days a week, my mom was always there, driving me to classes or after school taking the train with me from Long Island to New York City four days a week while working full time in the school system and ensuring that dinner was still served to the family when we got home in the evening. She made many sacrifices through the years for me. Many life lessons I have learned from her, and I would say that the most important ones are these: 

  1. Always believe in yourself.

  2. Always make your bed.

  3. Always wear makeup (not a lot) more of a natural look – look presentable.

  4. Have a voice, an opinion and stand up for yourself.

  5. Be a good friend to others and be good to yourself.

  6. Have a sense of humor.

  7. Don’t get hung up on nonsense or pettiness with people. She says, “File it under G” (which means file it under garbage) LOL. (This is a hard one for me, but I am getting better.)

She continues to inspire me, make me laugh, love and support me. Because of her, I can strive to be the best version of myself.

Kathie Stapleton

After her father died tragically, my mother was raised mostly in Ireland by her grandparents. She learned early to become self-sufficient and to take care of her brothers. As an adult, she developed a strong moral and ethical code. I like to think that I have some of those same qualities.

Sarah Thomas

My mother, Christine! She was a special education teacher for nine years, which requires someone who is inspirational, tough and patient all at the same time. In the ‘90s, she started her own accounting company simply because she was curious about the new world of technology. Mind you, she had three kids under the age of six at the time. Now, she's a prominent business figure in her field and along the way still managed to make time for us kids, be a loving wife and give back to her church community. Every day she still teaches me to break through my own mental barriers and take risks. I wouldn't have the strength and tenacity that I do now without her influence and example. Love you, mom!




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