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Photos by David Michael Howarth

Our popular Women’s Empowerment Series continued with a panel of SJ leaders – and moms – who shared their personal experiences and hard-earned wisdom. The topic was “Finding Balance Without Falling Over,” and the discussion was interesting and inspiring (and definitely relatable).

 

Panelists:

Bonnie Clark
Vice President of Communications, The Phillies

Nydia Han
Consumer Investigative Reporter, 6ABC

Pam Jenoff
N.Y. Times Bestselling Author/Clinical Professor, Rutgers Law School

Sarah Sivon
Vice-President of Operations, Virtua Medical Group

Sherrill Little, MD
Co-Director of Women’s Imaging, SJRA

 

 

Moderator

Marianne Aleardi
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, SJ Magazine

 

 

 

On feeling like you’re failing the whole working-mom thing…

This morning there was a war in my house over a bagel, and I did not handle it well.

Pam Jenoff

 

My daughter had a field trip to the zoo and it was pouring rain. As we were walking to the bus stop, I realized she was wearing tennis shoes and not rain boots. And she didn’t have a jacket that was heavy enough for the weather. So yes, every day is something.

Nydia Han

 

Two days in a row, I got a text message from our nanny and she said Colin had a bloody nose. I was like, “He’s 1!” I thought it would be nice if I could be there, and it felt a little wrong that I wasn’t. But at night I put him to bed and kissed him goodnight, and it warms me to know that he’s fine all day and he’s loved. So the next day I feel a little bit better seeing him off.

Sarah Sivon

 

On mom guilt…

I constantly feel that guilt, even though I have an incredibly flexible schedule. You have to use a lot of mantras for yourself and use what’s going to get you through the day. I’m going to have a 22-city tour in the first quarter of next year, and I’m going to feel that guilt every day. 

Pam Jenoff

 

Some days are easier than others. I’m a new mom, and the first couple months back to work you are on the verge of tears all day. Some days you struggle, other days you know he’s stronger because I’m not there and other people are helping.

Sarah Sivon

 

On how their mother’s life differs from theirs…

When I was in second grade, girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school. We had to wear dresses. My mom was like, “Why can’t the girls wear pants? It’s cold out.” She went to the school board, and she pushed for girls to be able to wear pants to school. So I modeled myself after my mom, not just as a working mom but also as the first female vice president of the Phillies. I always look back and think she was that woman who pushed the envelope.

Bonnie Clark

 

My mom was home with us when we were younger, but then she put herself through nursing school. Watching her struggle to manage our large family and have the drive to go back to school motivated me.   

Sarah Sivon

 

My mother never worked until I was in college, so I didn’t have that role model. But you watch others and you learn as you go – you figure out what’s going to work for you and what isn’t.

Sherrill Little

 

On work-life balance…

I don’t think there is work-life balance. Every day is a different day. Some days, my son had two good naps, he ate all of his food, and I got home on time. Other days we have early morning meetings and we have nightly events, and I don’t get to see him. You just make the best of every day. 

Sarah Sivon

 

 

I always say if I hit Powerball, I would still write, I would still teach, and I would still mom. I would just do them a tiny bit slower.

Pam Jenoff

 

I’ll be in the middle of responding to an email, and my daughter will say “Mom, you didn’t hear anything I said.” I’ll say, “Yes, I did. You told me homecoming is this weekend, you get out of school at 1:30, and your haircut is on Friday.” She’ll say, “Oh, you did listen.” 

Bonnie Clark

 

On a moment that changed their life…

I started practicing law in Philadelphia on September 4, 2001, exactly one week before 9/11. I had this lifelong dream of being a writer, but I had never gotten started. When 9/11 happened, I said, “Oh my goodness, I don’t want to die at the law firm.” I thought being a lawyer was wonderful, but I really wanted to be a writer. I took a course at Temple night school called, “Write Your Novel This Year.” 

Pam Jenoff

 

Early in my career, I was an HR manager. I was recruiting for this one position.” I walked into the medical director and said, “Listen, I’m interested in this position. Would you be willing to give me a shot?” I showed him I was dedicated. I said flat out, “I’m not going to fail,” and I got that job. It was a risk that I’m glad I took.

Sarah Sivon

 

I went from working at QVC to a job working for the Phillies. I knew baseball peripherally, but I was not a hard-core fan, and I think that’s one of the reasons they hired me. It was a scary transition for me. I planned on retiring from QVC, but then they called me back for another interview.  Finally, I said if they offer me this job, it’s happening for a reason and I need to take it and step off the ledge. Sure enough, they offered me the job and I stepped off the ledge, and we won the World Series. 

Bonnie Clark

 

I was walking across the street when a driver almost hit me. As she drove away, she yelled, “This is America.” I took that to mean she didn’t believe a face that looks like mine could belong in America. I responded by going live on Facebook, and three million people watched it, 64,000 people reacted to it, 16,000 people commented on it. I produced my first documentary based on the responses to that viral video. I wanted to have a conversation with people who wrote negative comments to understand what has formed their view. I found out where they lived and just showed up at their home to spend the day with them. It was such a transformative experience for them and for me. 

Nydia Han

 

On bringing store-bought items to the bake sale…

A bakery near me had this coffee cake that truly looked like it was homemade, because they put too much powdered sugar on it. I used to put tin foil on the top and take it, because it really didn’t look like it came from a store. I would have only felt guilty if I showed up empty-handed. 

Bonnie Clark

 

There’s a certain comfort in knowing your skill set. I don’t bake. I don’t cook. When I am room mom, I say to the other mom, “You do the crafts, because a glue gun will make me break out in hives.” But I have a super weapon: my husband can bake anything. 

Pam Jenoff

 

 

On missing work because you have a sick child…

As a single working mom, I’m probably the most sympathetic to that situation. If anybody in my department has to call out, I can relate, because I know – I’ve been there, done that.

Bonnie Clark

 

The only time I called out sick was when I had appendicitis. Fortunately, my husband was more flexible. But you feel horrible when you walk out that door. I would cry halfway to work, but I would get regular updates from home throughout the day.

Sherrill Little

 

On saying “no”…

I’ve learned people will take as much of your time as you’re willing to give. So you have to protect that. You have to be a little bit selfish with your time.

Pam Jenoff

 

I feel bad when I do say no, but I say it a lot. I always ask myself, “What is the worth? What is the value of this?” And I weigh that against the value of my being home with my family. 

Nydia Han

 

On a book they recommend…

“Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. It’s about what women face and how they persevere and come through triumphant.

Sherrill Little

 

In terms of life goals and priority, “Awaken the Giant” by Tony Robbins. On the creative side, “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg. 

Pam Jenoff

 

An older book called, “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” by Lois P. Frankel. It’s just little one-pagers of quick tips that, unfortunately as women, we need to get ahead.

Bonnie Clark

 

“Taming Your Inner Gremlin” by Rick Carson. It’s about silencing that voice in your head that tells you, you can’t do it.

Sarah Sivon

 

“Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. It talks about how you can use vulnerability to your advantage.

Nydia Han

February 2019
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