Issue VI

Winter 2015

Inside this Issue

Presidents Corner

EPWNG In Bloom 4.23.15

Getting Organized Now

Meet Board Member Pamela Mitchell Belyn

Giving Thanks




By Wendy Baum

As I was creating my 2015 goals, I was hit with a couple of interesting realizations. My first discovery was how many ways I can use EPWNG this year to help me achieve both professional and personal growth. My goals encompass nutritional education, physical fitness, business marketing, wardrobe updates, estate planning, college admissions help, and making more business owner introductions, among others. Of course, I’ve always known that EPWNG provides this unbelievable network to achieve so many goals, but I did not fully realize how close this group comes to having EVERY resource that I need. 

Additionally, the intangible benefits of EPWNG are even more valuable. While I was crafting my 2015 work goals, I anticipated a few “difficult” roadblocks that could prevent me from achieving them. I turned back to my notes from the recent PSOE Event on “Having Difficult Conversations.” The lessons learned from this one EPWNG event prompted me to discuss a few potential roadblocks with colleagues, and helped me to proactively develop solutions to avoid pitfalls. By spending the time to attend that one PSOE event, and apply a couple of powerful tools that were taught that day, I had the ability (and confidence) to confront several difficult issues. More importantly, instead of waiting until the problems surfaced, I addressed my concerns well in advance. Now, I approach 2015 with a sense of freedom, excitement and energy, all thanks to EPWNG!  I wish the same for you and your family – Happy New Year!


By Maureen Larson and Debbie Tucker

Several of EPWNG’s Committees are partnering to create an empowering evening entitled “EPWNG in Bloom, Dedicated to the Growth of Women." This event will be held on Thursday, April 23, 2015 at the newly-renovated Ivy Room, located at 12 E. Ohio St. Fabulous hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be provided by Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants, a Partner in The Ivy Room and adjacent Artisan Kitchen at Tree Studios. Two EPWNG Social Committee members, Maureen Larson and Debbie Tucker, are spearheading the planning, with the additional involvement of Social Committee member Lee Dickson and Board Member Judy Elowe, on behalf of the Recruiting Committee.  

The format of this newly created (and hopefully annual) event will be a cocktail party and vendor fair, showcasing many of our women-owned businesses. There will naturally be valuable networking opportunities for members and their invited guests as well. While all EPWNG members will be given the opportunity to sponsor display tables, there will be a limited number of tables available, which will be filled on a first-come first-served basis.

Highlighting the evening’s program will be Keynote Speaker Melissa Isaacson, a 31-year veteran sportswriter. Melissa was the principal beat writer covering the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls during their championship years, as well as covering the Chicago Bears. She has covered virtually every major sporting event including the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. Melissa is a powerful speaker who will engage guests with her journey as a female in a male-driven industry, providing her entertaining stories and insights along the way.

We strongly encourage EPWNG members to attend and invite guests, as our goals for the evening include hitting record attendance at an EPWNG event, showcasing our members’ businesses, and growing our membership.

This is sure to be an evening you won’t want to miss. Details and registration information will follow soon!


By Vicki Gerson

If you haven’t attended a meeting at the Chicago branch of EPWNG, you may not have met Pamela Mitchell Belyn. Pamela is an attorney with Boodell & Domanskis, LLC, in Chicago, focusing on corporate law, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, commercial finance and employment. An EPWNG member since 2009, Pamela is a Rules Committee Board Member. She will be joining the newly formed Social Media Committee in 2015.

“I joined EPWNG because I am a firm believer that women should patronize one another’s businesses and develop their own ‘old girls’ network. Women network differently than men,” she says “so instead of trying to fit into the traditional mold of networking, EPWNG was a chance to shape our own version, which selfishly, I think has been an unqualified success.”

Pamela has extensive experience counseling clients on all aspects of legal operations, including corporate transactions, litigation, contract administration, real estate and risk management. She also has experience providing unique insights into a variety of business, operational and regulatory compliance matters. In addition, Pamela routinely serves as outside general counsel to several middle market businesses in various industries, including food service, consulting, distribution, health care and manufacturing. Besides assisting clients in the development of contracts, operating policies and procedural improvements, she develops sophisticated strategies to guard against a myriad of legal risks in today’s highly competitive business environment.

Pamela has extensive experience counseling entrepreneurs, privately held companies, women and minority-owned businesses. She also has experience in assisting clients in obtaining certification as a Women Owned Business Enterprise or a Minority Owned Business Enterprise.

Pamela loves to cook and would have become a caterer if she didn’t have a career in law. “Until the cold snap,” she says, “I was obsessed with my gas grill making espresso-rubbed rib eye and cedar plank salmon. In the winter, I use my big slow cooker to make a variety of my family’s winter favorites, like lasagna soup and chicken chili.” In her spare time, Pamela likes to read spy thrillers and watch disaster movies. She thinks her fascination with disaster movies allows her to help her clients plan for those crazy scenarios that no one ever thinks will happen but somehow always occur.

Pamela and her husband Stephen have two children, ages 11 and 4. Pamela gives her time to the University of Iowa, Tipple College of Business. She is an active alumni spouse and works to help the school recruit women and minorities into the accounting program.

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
. [email protected]

By Tina Tranfaglia

Q:  I am a new member of EPWNG.  What should I do now?

A:  There are several things you can do right away to ensure you are an integral part of EPWNG. This same advice applies to existing members too! 
  • Set up your profile on, including a profile picture. This will allow members to find you and to confirm that you are the person they are seeking. Even a selfie or a snapshot will do the trick.
  • Join the LinkedIn group for EPWNG.  This will allow you to participate in exchanges where members ask for recommendations, post interesting articles, or announce upcoming events.
  • Respond promptly to monthly meeting invites sent by email. And, of course, attend meetings and make connections with fellow members. You might meet a future client, someone who can help you run/grow your business, or someone you can refer to a friend in need of her service.      
  • Invite a member for coffee to share information about your businesses. Perhaps you will even find an opportunity to partner on a venture.
  • Invite guests to meetings to help EPWNG grow and expand your network further.
  • Keep reading this newsletter for advice on getting the most out of EPWNG.

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. 



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, essays, applications, and more.  [email protected]




By Leslie Berkowitz

After the busy holidays and year-end activities, you finally have the time to take stock of your business and set goals for the New Year. It always feels so good to start the year off fresh, which may mean different things to different people. From cleaning out your office files and de-cluttering your space, to setting goals and growth strategies, an organized office and business can make you more productive. If you’re like me, it can be hard to carve out the time to do this. However, starting the year feeling more organized can put you in the right frame of mind to tackle whatever goals you set for yourself this year.

That’s exactly where our fellow EPWNG members can really be an asset. To help you find someone who can help you start the yearoff organized and ready to grow, go to our website, and click on the Member Directory within the Member Center. Once there, do an Advanced Search for the occupational classifications that can help you.  For example:

Computer Consultant
Recycle Business
Bookkeeper or CPA
Coaches—you can look for Executive Coaches, Life Coaches, Personal Trainers, and more

If your 2015 goals include formalizing the legal structure of your business or finally doing that estate plan, search through the attorney listings. You’ll find many fellow members who can help you reach your goals by either performing the service outright or coaching you through the task. So now is the time to get some help cleaning out your files, getting your computer and emails under control, recycling your old equipment, organizing your financials, setting personal and professional goals, and even getting in shape so you have more energy and confidence. Here’s hoping you have a happy, organized 2015!

Leslie has owned and operated her personalized gift business, Kidoodles Inc. and More, for 13+ years. Kidoodles not only offers a wide variety of unique gifts for every occasion, but also truly personal service. Visit to learn more. 


By Cathy Schager

Thanksgiving may be long over, but if you’re building a good, strong network, giving thanks never ends! You’ve spent hours at events and meetings to build your network and now you’re reaping the benefits with a full pipeline of referral business. “Lucky” you! (Though we all know it’s a lot more than luck that got you to this point.) Now what? It’s time to thank those who have referred business to you, whether it’s a one-time referral or someone who continually sends qualified leads your way. How do you do that? There are as many ways as you can imagine, but these ideas might help you on your way to thoughtfully expressing your gratitude to those helping you build your business.

  1. Keep it simple – sometimes the simplest gestures are the most welcome. A thoughtfully written thank-you card is a lovely way to convey gratitude. Use good-quality stationery, either branded or plain. Notice that I didn’t say emails. A mailed note is far more gracious than a quick email. Even if the referral didn’t turn into business, a hand-written note is appreciated.

  2. Small gifts – gift cards for coffee, breakfast or lunch are always welcome. Just be sure they’re delivered in person or arrive along with that hand-written note.

  3. Remember the holidays – they don’t have to be the major ones, either. Think about sending some “love” on Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day (We’re lucky to know you!), Thanksgiving or other holidays.  Doing something out of the ordinary to continue to say thanks throughout the year is appreciated.

If you need help with gift ideas, Leslie Berkowitz of Kidoodles Inc. and Initial It Gifts, and Holly Kahan of Holly Barry House are two EPWNG members who can offer great gifts for personal, thoughtful ways of thanking your network. 

Also, don’t forget to give your fellow EPWNG members a shout-out and thank you for referrals and business at your next meeting!

And now I’m asking for YOUR help. We’d like to feature an article on EPWNG connections in our next newsletter. If you have a great story about connecting three or more EPWNG women to the same client or project, or an unusual EPWNG connection story, please email it to me at: [email protected] .  Thank you!

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.


By T-Ann Pierce

When things run smoothly, it is easy to overlook the commitment involved to make it appear seamless. Cases in point are the five, well run North Shore EPWNG meetings and the two Chicago meetings held each month. It is no accident EPWNG meetings are efficient. There are two committees, one on the North Shore and one in Chicago, dedicated to facilitating the most engaging, interesting and inspiring meetings possible, in order to optimize our networking opportunities.

MAC or Meeting Administration Committee is responsible for all aspects of our meetings. Not only do the committee members greet us and perform check-in to make us all feel welcome, they also lead the meetings, make announcements, keep us on time and on topic, and incorporate fun, engaging elements beyond the typical elevator speeches. They handle administrative matters before, during, and after the meeting. Because they make it a point to speak with all the guests and provide feedback to the board on each meeting, they play an important role in new membership as well.

The MAC committee meets periodically to share ideas, review input, plan new and improved elements, and hear what has been happening on the board that impacts its efforts. They also meet annually with the board to dialog about ideas relevant to leading the meetings. The committee members thoroughly enjoy collaborating with one another and are dedicated to EPWNG’s growth. Questions, comments or words of thanks can be directed to the MAC’s committee members.  For 2014 the members were:

North Shore:                                                              

  • Bonnie Shay (fearless leader)
  • Ashley Delaney-Blankenstein
  • Debbie Feldman
  • Jennifer Baratta
  • Ruthe Schwartz
  • Amy Antonacci
  • Merle Kalisky
  • Susan Wagner
  • Sheri Warsh (board liaison)


  • Annika Mitchell (fearless leader)
  • Sheryl Jaffee Halpern
  • Susan Mowder

T-Ann Pierce is a life coach and the owner of TAP Into Purpose, where she inspires successful young people, twenty-somethings and women to cultivate lives of purpose and clarity. Through her coaching sessions, clients are able to free themselves of confusion, navigate the minefield of transitions and effectively reach new goals.