Issue IV

Summer 2014

Inside this Issue

Presidents Corner


Top Ten Tips For Networking

Meet the Social Committee

EPWNG's 5th Anniversary Party

Thank You!

Meet Member Stephanie Hofman


By Wendy Baum

We recently celebrated EPWNG’s 5th Anniversary. At the Anniversary Event on May 28th, I was inspired in so many ways:  our beautiful member models, our generous feature host Maria Pinto, our passionate committee members, our terrific Board leadership team, and all of the incredibly caring women who were in attendance. Looking back, if I had to pick one word to characterize EPWNG’s past five years, I would say it is GROWTH. We came together and formed a nonprofit to collaborate, inspire and grow. We challenged each other with new ideas and added hundreds of women to this close circle of founding members. 

Looking forward, my one word for the next five years is COURAGE. I want us to continue this wonderful journey with kindness, support, and sisterly love. While we cheer each other on to new levels, professionally and personally, I want us to all work outside of our comfort zones. I want us to have the courage and strength to face the challenges ahead of us and treasure each day together. We are SO lucky to have one another. There is no other organization out there like ours. Let's work hard to use this organization to have the courage to attract, challenge, and grow. Let’s challenge each other to make some mistakes, fall a few times, and help each other up, while celebrating our successes, together. If we use a little courage to take some calculated risks, the rewards could take us to levels we never imagined!

Until next time…


By Tina Tranfaglia

Welcome to our new recurring column where we will address frequently asked questions about EPWNG. Our hope is that you will learn more about our fabulous group and how to get the most out of your member benefits. If you are curious about something related to EPWNG, send your question to Tina at [email protected] and we will try to answer it in the next column.  

Q:  Is it possible to attend more than one EPWNG meeting in a given month?

A:  Yes, you may attend more than one meeting; however, the two meetings must be at different branches, in order to ensure that others in your occupational classification also have a chance to attend a meeting (keeping in mind the limit of two from the same occupation at a given meeting). You will be required to pay the $25 fee for each meeting (or if you are a Premium member, you will have to pay the fee for your second meeting). If you wish to schedule attendance at a second meeting, check the meeting calendar on for dates and then email [email protected] to inquire about the space/occupation availability for attending the second meeting of choice.

Q:  Do I need to be present at the same meeting as my invited guest?  

A:  No, you may invite a guest to attend a meeting at a different branch than you attend, or at your regular branch on a different date than you attend. However, as a courtesy, be sure to prep your guest on how our meetings work, so she will know what to expect when she attends a meeting unaccompanied.

Q:  How do I search for members who are in a certain occupation without having to browse all the members on the website? I see that some people post on the LinkedIn group asking for recommendations.

A:  You can get this information quickly and easily in the Member Directory on The secret lies just a few clicks beyond the landing page for the Member Directory, which contains an alphabetical listing of members. At the top of the page is a clickable link labeled “Advanced Search.” Once you click on that, you can sort the database by any number of criteria. For example, you can find all members whose occupation equals Attorney/Estate Planning, or you can find all members whose home branch equals Chicago. This is a great tool for finding a member profile when you can only recall some of the critical information about her. For those times when you may need a referral to someone outside of EPWNG, the LinkedIn group is the perfect place to post your need.

Q:  Is it okay to automatically add members to my newsletter distribution list?  

A:  With 260+ members and 100+ guests per year, you can imagine how crowded all our inboxes would get if we each added everyone to our business mailing lists. If you have something to announce about your business, posting in the LinkedIn group is a great way to reach the majority of members. If you honestly feel that specific members might benefit from receiving your e-newsletter, it is not strictly forbidden. However, that email must contain an option for the member to “opt out” of receiving future, unsolicited emails from your company. In short, proceed with caution and the utmost consideration for all members.

Q:  What happens if I invite a guest who works in a “closed” occupation?

A:  Your guest may attend a meeting, but she will not have an opportunity to join EPWNG until a spot opens up in that profession. You should check the closed professions by using the link on the front page of before inviting your guest. If her profession is closed, make sure you explain what this means before she attends as a guest. Since our goal in inviting guests is to expand our network and our membership, it would be ideal to invite members in new, or at least open, professions.

Tina is the owner of College Knowledge Admissions Consulting. She helps parents and students navigate all aspects of the complex, competitive, and ever-changing world of college admissions through customized one-on-one coaching on college lists, applications, essays, and more.  [email protected]


By T-Ann Pierce

Three cheers for EPWNG’s Social Committee!

Via conference calls every 5-6 weeks, the Social Committee brainstorms lively and diverse activities for EPWNG members. As committee members generate and flesh out ideas, one member takes ownership of a concept, allowing her to plan the event from conception to execution. These informal outings are always designed to be relaxing and fun with a social twist. Through various events such as jewelry making, spa night or even a boxing class, the Social Committee invites EPWNG members to meet and socialize outside of the more formal monthly meetings and other structured events. This is networking at its finest.

Whether it is a large-scale event such as EPWNG’s 5th Anniversary party at the East Bank Club or a small group of members going to dinner and the theater, the philosophy of the Social Committee remains the same: to offer enjoyable, relaxed experiences that connect EPWNG members, furthering networking resources.

Keep an eye out for details on late summer and early fall events, such as after-work drinks at City Winery spearheaded by Mary Beth Velzy, an early morning walk through The Glen organized by Debbie Tucker, and a fall painting evening being planned by member Julie Shechtman.

A big shout out to all the Social Committee members for their commitment to fun, creativity and organization! EPWNG board members Ellen Feldman and Andrea Muchin oversee the Social Committee, which includes Lara Chaimson, Lee Dickson, Lisa Fishbein, Melissa Huitnik, Holly Kahan, Movenda Knapp, Maureen Larson, Sheryl Rosenfeld, Julie Shechtman, Debbie Tucker, Mary Beth Velzy and Sue Zeiler.

T-Ann Pierce is a personal well-being coach and the owner of TAP Into Purpose, where she inspires busy women to cultivate lives filled with confidence and purpose. Through her workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions, women rediscover who they are beyond the roles they play. Become a participant in your own life!



By Vicki Gerson


Stephanie Hofman has been an EPWNG member for four years, and she loves connecting with like-minded, professional women who are smart and motivated. Stephanie enjoys sharing ideas, gaining new insights and developing strategic relationships with other members.

A residential real estate broker with Coldwell Banker in Highland Park, Stephanie originally joined EPWNG to grow her business. However, she soon realized that she was growing in ways that go beyond receiving referrals.

As a real estate broker, Stephanie buys, sells and rents properties around the North Shore. However, she sees herself as more than a sales person because she prides herself on being her clients’ advocate, guide and educator throughout the entire home sale or purchase. Stephanie has furthered her own real estate education by becoming certified in two specific areas. As a certified Real Estate Divorce Specialist, she helps divorcing home sellers with their unique needs, and as a certified Senior Real Estate Specialist, she helps the fifty plus market with their specific home buying/selling needs.

Having grown up in Highland Park and now a resident of the community, Stephanie also goes beyond being a sales person by bringing her experience purchasing and selling her own homes to each client relationship. “I’m someone who my clients can count on to walk them through the process and demystify it,” she says. “My help goes beyond closing; my clients know they can reach out to me at any time for advice or guidance.”

On a personal note, Stephanie has a Master’s Degree from Northwestern University in Integrated Marketing Communications and spent more than ten years in the fields of advertising/sales promotions and pharmaceutical sales. Always interested in real estate, she changed careers six years ago and enjoys her new career tremendously. Although she became a realtor when the market was at its all-time low point, she refused to change what she had been planning to do for years. Stephanie believed that once the market rebounded, she’d be in a good position to help people buy and sell homes.

Besides being married for 17 years and caring for her two children, Stephanie is a runner and a voracious reader always on the lookout for a good book. She also spends time at the park and beach with her family and their two dogs.

Vicki Gerson, president of Vicki Gerson & Associates, Inc., is a web/print writer and public relations consultant. She writes ghost blogs, websites, press releases and much more to get her clients the visibility they need for their business. w[email protected]



By Catherine Schager

As we head into what some might consider the “Summer Doldrums”- the time when everyone seems to go on vacation and networking events become more sparsely attended, I thought it would be helpful to have a few quick tips to keep in mind. Summer doesn’t mean you should back off on your networking. In fact, if you follow these tips throughout the events and meetings that you attend, you’ll have a pipeline that’s ready to keep you busy throughout the rest of the year. These “pearls” have been cultivated from people whose networking skills are highly polished and whose businesses are well-sustained by their network.  Try a few and see the results.

10.  Be open to being inspired by the people you meet…not just for networking meetings, but be open to networking wherever you are.

9.  Be a giver. Give business and referrals to those in your network. Keep their businesses top of mind when you have a need that they can fill. I promise that when they have a need, you will be the first one they turn to.

8.  Smile and introduce yourself to someone new. I find the easiest way to do this is pretend it’s a party in your home and someone has brought a guest you don’t know.

7.  When crafting your “elevator speech,” don’t lead off with your name and your business. Lead off with the solutions that you provide to your clients, then add your name and company name.

6.  In a one-on-one conversation, allow the other person the opportunity to speak first. Listen and ask questions pertinent to their business and their clientele.

5.  After meeting for coffee, offer to connect on LinkedIn, and ask the other person to take a look at your connections and let you know if there is someone they’d like to meet that you can connect them to. Of course, this assumes that you know all of your LinkedIn connections!  Chances are, they’ll offer the same opportunity.  

4. Determine who your ideal clients are and share that information with your network. The best way for others to make a great connection is to understand who your target market is.  

3.  Make a great first impression- with your hand shake. Firm but not bone-crushing, and be sure to look the other person in the eye.  

2.  Smile.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  People who smile are far more attractive to others than those who don’t. Make it a genuine smile, not a forced, fake one.  

1.  Show up consistently! There’s no better way to be known and to get to know others.

So, there you have it—my top 10 cultivated responses to keep your summer a productive one. And to further encourage your networking this summer, we have a fun contest where the winner will be profiled in our next edition. Simply have a coffee date to network with another EPWNG member and email me at [email protected] to tell me about it. One member will be randomly selected from all responses received by September 1, 2014.  

Catherine is the owner of Catherine Schager Designs, which offers residential interior design services, specializing in Kitchen and Bath renovations. Let us help you discover the comforts of home.

Photo by Julie Kaplan


By Leslie Berkowitz

On the evening of May 28th, approximately 80 members gathered at the East Bank Club to celebrate EPWNG’s five year anniversary. Members from all three of our chapters were able to meet one another and network, while enjoying delicious food and cocktails. The highlight of the evening was the speaker, Chicago fashion designer Maria Pinto. She relayed the story of how her business has ebbed and flowed over the years, and also shared some inspirations that she uses to design and develop her different lines each season. It was exciting to learn about her new business called M2057, a name inspired by the year in which she will turn one hundred. She started M2057 on Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website for creative projects of all types.  

Rachel Rosenberg, Pamela Belyn, Sheri Warsh, Susan Shulman, Elizabeth Lisk, Julie Maeir and Ashley Blankstein-Delaney modeled Maria’s new clothing line. We are so thankful to Elise Brill for donating her make-up services and to Julie Kaplan, who took photos of the night. After the fashion show, everyone was invited to try on the clothes and make purchases. EPWNG gave away a $300 gift certificate, which was beautifully designed by Ari Krzyzek and won by Jill Levy.  

EPWNG has grown so much over the last five years and we have so much to be proud of. This event was a wonderful way to celebrate all that we have become. If you have not yet had a chance to join us for special events such as this, or one of the many speaker events or social events, please make time to join us in the future. They serve as a way to meet more members from all branches in a different environment than the typical meeting format.

Leslie has owned and operated her personalized gift business, Kidoodles Inc. and More, for 12+ years. Kidoodles not only offers a wide variety of unique gifts for every occasion, but also truly personal service. Visit to learn more.


By Tina Tranfaglia

How do you thank a fellow EPWNG member when they make a referral to help your business or personal life? Earlier this year, a new system was implemented for submitting written acknowledgements of thanks at each meeting. You simply fill out a pre-printed slip with the information about whom you wish to thank. Ever since that process was initiated, we have been tallying those “thank you” slips and are pleased to announce the first recipients of the most thanks.  

Sari Klein, owner of Acrobat Recruiting and a member of the Chicago branch, was thanked the most for making business referrals. When asked how she is able to be so helpful, she said, “I love that we let people know ‘our needs’ at each meeting. The trick is to really listen to those needs, make notes, and then take the time to make connections. I set aside 30 minutes a day to follow through with those referrals; otherwise, I walk around aggravated at myself that I am not accomplishing what I offered to do.”

Elise Brill is the owner of Northbrook-based Leesi B Cosmetics and she was thanked the most for helping fellow members make personal connections. Elise explains her philosophy as follows:  “For me, life, both personal and professional, is all about connecting. I enjoy helping others make those connections that enhance their lives. Just when you think you are stuck, there is someone out there who can help you move forward and grow. That is the amazing power of EPWNG.”

In each issue, we will highlight the winners who received the most thank you slips in each of the categories for the preceding quarter.  Even though it won’t count in the tally, there are several other excellent ways you can acknowledge a kind act or referral by a fellow EPWNG member:  

1.    Give them a “shout out” at the meeting you attend, even if they aren’t there. Then follow it up by filling out the “thank you” slip. If you forget to fill out a slip at one meeting, it is never too late. Simply submit it at your next meeting.  

2.    Post on our EPWNG Linked In group so that all members can see how helpful this person is to fellow members.

3.    And of course, thank them personally, whether in person, by email, or with an unexpected thank you card. 

EPWNG is full of amazing resources that can help your business and your personal lives, so keep networking, forming deep connections, and referring!

Tina is the owner of College Knowledge Admissions Consulting. She helps parents and students navigate all aspects of the complex, competitive, and ever-changing world of college admissions through customized one-on-one coaching on college lists, applications, essays, and more.  [email protected]