Photography by David Michael Howarth


Don’t miss our 2017 Women’s Empowerment Series! Click here to find out more about this year’s panelists and take advantage of early bird pricing.


Eight days before the last night of our Women’s Empowerment Series, tickets were sold out. And with good reason. The popularity of the series skyrocketed; all three panels reached a level of success none of us at SJ Magazine could have imagined. We quickly discovered there were two factors contributing to that success: the incredible women who openly shared their stories, and the countless other women who so graciously listened and absorbed the messages offered. Three incredible nights brought inspiration and empowerment to many. We can’t wait to do this again in 2016!



Pat Ciarrocchi
News Anchor

Wendy Martinez, MD
Founder, Advocare The Women’s Group OB/GYN

Ginny Marino
CEO, Girl Scouts of Central & Southern New Jersey

Jodina Hicks
Executive Director, UrbanPromise

Phoebe Haddon
Chancellor, Rutgers University-Camden

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


_DSC5899On mentoring…

I feel a responsibility to open doors. Since I work in a nonprofit, it’s really about the mission, not my particular career, so I want to make sure somebody is behind me to continue that work. There’s no better way to do that than to mentor young women who are emerging in their careers. –Ginny Marino

I know so many young women who don’t respond to the offer for mentoring in a way that enables them to really take advantage of it, or they think a mentor is for life. A mentor can be just for the moment, really. It’s someone who connects with you and is able to give you some good information. –Phoebe Haddon

If someone says to me, “My daughter is thinking of a career in medicine,” I’ll say, “Do you want her to come to the office?” We give her a little jacket, and she can come see if this is something she’ll like. That’s one of the best things you can do for a young girl, because a lot of them think, “Wow, I never really thought of becoming a doctor,” or “I never thought of becoming a nurse or an assistant.” They come to my office, and they see all the different jobs they could do.–Wendy Martinez


On sexism in the workplace…

_DSC5904At my interview for medical school, the male interviewer said, “Why are you bothering even going to medical school? You’re a pretty girl. You’re just here to find a husband, and you’re taking up a spot here.” I said, “Well, that’s your opinion. That’s not my opinion. I plan on becoming a physician. I always wanted to be one, and I’m going to become a doctor.”

He went on and on and again hits me with the same type of thing. I finished the interview, walked outside and said to the secretary, “Can you pull my application?” She said, “Excuse me?” I said, “Yes, pull my application and tear it up. I wouldn’t come to your school if you paid me.” –Wendy Martinez

I worked in a pretty male-dominated environment in corrections and politics for about 10 years. I found that for every one man who would treat me in a very sexist way, there were five who were great. –Jodina Hicks

When my first husband was struggling with lymphoma, I had to really balance and juggle my schedule. When it came time for my performance evaluation, I had used all of my family medical leave and sick time in order to care for him, and that was noted on my review and lowered my salary increase. What made it worse was I worked for a woman, which was kind of heart-wrenching. I remember thinking, “When I get to a position where I can control how things will work for others, I will never allow that to happen again.” It was so unfair. I was really doing my job. –Ginny Marino

The first summer I was working in a law practice, I was writing a memo and I was totally involved. I went to get a book, and one of the senior partners saw me and said, “Could you sharpen my pencils?” I was so preoccupied that at first I didn’t understand. I said, “I don’t know where the pencil sharpener is.” I think all of us get one or two of those kind of experiences that really shock you and give you a different perspective.  –Phoebe Haddon

Going through medical school, there were about 120 men in my class and only 60 women. And let me tell you, they looked at us with a fine-toothed comb. You just felt like they were observing you more so than the men.

One time, I was in the operating room and the surgeon was closing. I’m left-handed, and the doctor was right-handed. He says to me, “OK, finish suturing.” I said, “I’m left-handed.” And he just gave me a look over his mask. So I tried to do it right-handed, and I was flim-flamming. He says to the male student next to me, “Can you finish this?” And he says, “Of course.” Of course, he’s right-handed! After I finished, I asked the nurse if she could give me some sutures and a hemostat.

I went to the store, and I bought a bunch of plums and oranges. The whole night I practiced trying to suture right-handed, because he embarrassed me. So today I will tell you I cut people open with my left hand, but I still suture right-handed – and very professionally. –Wendy Martinez

_DSC5963It wasn’t always about how you look, it was more about how you think and how you present. Even though you have to look nice on TV, when I started out you didn’t have to be so glamorous. Now there’s a lot of emphasis on being a size 0 and having your hair blown out and wearing false eyelashes. I find sometimes that is diminishing to the work, it really is. And the fact that women feel they have to do that upsets me even more. –Pat Ciarrocchi



On behaviors in the workplace…

You can be emotional, absolutely – if it’s appropriate. What you can’t be is dramatic. You can’t have the drama, and the other issue is you can’t gossip. You’ve got to be really careful about who is in your circle at work. –Pat Ciarrocchi

You have to be tough-minded, because people will try to get at you. They’ll try to use whatever vulnerability you have, and there are some people who just have radar – they seem to know exactly the one thing that gets you. You need a better understanding of your own mind and yourself, so you can stay tough-minded with what it is you ultimately want to accomplish. –Wendy Martinez


On what can hold women back in their careers…

_DSC5742If you’re always talking about your personal life in the work environment and revealing things you shouldn’t be talking about, it can really damage you. It is also not how you want to be known. If you want to advance in your career, you need to be balanced and professional in your manner, and that doesn’t mean talking about things like the guy who left you at the bar two nights ago. –Pat Ciarrocchi

What I see holding women back is their tendency to be self-critical. Women are very hard on them-selves. When there are opportunities to move forward and take on leadership roles, they don’t believe they’re ready for it. On the other hand, men tend to be really confident and clueless – if they’re getting negative feedback, they take it as a compliment. So however we can, we must invest in women and girls to build up their confidence so they can be goal-oriented and shine in their work and not rip everything they do to pieces. –Jodina Hicks


_DSC6039On the power of language…

I don’t like to use the word “soft” to describe women I work with; there are other words that have more meaning. Soft connotes some sort of weakness, and that’s not the same as someone who has understanding, who is empathetic. We have to use a vocabulary that is divorced from those gender kinds of thinking. Men are always characterized as strong and assertive. When we’re assertive, we’re characterized as that “b” word.–Phoebe Haddon

There are countless women I have worked with who I have listened very intently to how they respond. I’m very quick to say, “OK, you’ve said, ‘I’m sorry’ 16 times already in this conversation. Let’s reframe. What is it you’re really sorry about? Is there a need for an apology or simply an explanation? Let’s use different language, because that does position you as being a bit weaker.” –Ginny Marino

I think you can be kind and strong at the same time. I think the word that gets me is when women are described as emotional. You may see men screaming at each other in a meeting and then walking away. To me, that’s emotional. –Jodina Hicks


On mommy guilt…

I was actually helped by the wisdom of a 14-and-a-half-year-old boy. I had no children when I met my husband, and he had two boys. By the time we got married, they were 12 and 14. Normally I would get home about 2 in the afternoon, but on this one particular day, I worked an extra show and had an appearance. I knew I didn’t have anything in the refrigerator for dinner, so I stopped at Boston Market and I got all these different things. I came running into the house, and I was breathless. I’m putting things together, and the guys are standing in the kitchen. They’re saying, “Hi Patty, how are you?” And I’m saying, “I’m fine. I’m so sorry, guys. I’m so sorry it’s so late. Look what time it is.” And I’m whipping everything out on the table. And Alex, the 14-year-old who’s now 34 and who I adore, looked at me. He said, “Patty, Patty, Patty, wait a minute.” And I said, “What, honey? What?” And he said, “You don’t have to try so hard. It’s going to be OK.” –Pat Ciarrocchi

_DSC6048I had my son when I was 35. I was already on the executive track in nonprofit, so I knew it was going to truly take a village to raise my child. I was always going to need support around me at every moment in time. I have never second-guessed myself. I honestly haven’t. I think he’s learned to be more independent.

He has relationships that he wouldn’t have if not for my career, which will benefit him in terms of figuring out how to be an adult in this world. So, no mommy guilt here. –Ginny Marino

When I first had my son, I felt very off balance, because I had been working probably 14-hour days forever. I started looking around for someone I thought was a really good mom and really good at what she did. I came upon my friend, Mindy Holman, and asked if she would mentor me. At our first talk, I asked her, “Do you ever feel guilty about work and kids?” She said, “Every day.” So that freed me up to feel guilty. I don’t feel so bad knowing that’s a reality – that someone who has done such an obviously great job feels guilty too. –Jodina Hicks


January 2016
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