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Photography by David Michael Howarth at The Mansion

We ended our popular Women’s Empowerment Series with lively and candid discussions of “A new kind of girl power.” A super-impressive panel of SJ leaders gave their take on the topic before a sold-out crowd. Celebrating women’s success and contribution was an amazing way to wrap up this fabulous series. We can’t wait to start up again in the fall.

 

 

On a new kind of girl power…

The times I feel most powerful are those one-on-one moments with members on my staff when we’re telling stories, and we’re talking about goals and what’s important to us.
Jill Snodgrass

When I give away money, it isn’t about the dollar amount. It’s about how we’re going to change people’s lives, and that makes me feel really powerful.
Shelley Sylva

 

On what others see in you…

I was interviewing for a CFO position at a hospital. The guy I interviewed with didn’t hire me, but he said, “Someday you’re going to be a CEO.” I didn’t even know what a CEO does. He saw something in me that I clearly didn’t, and now I’m a CEO.
Toni Pergolin

At times when I definitely thought I was right, I had to listen to my mentors to understand how to see something from a different angle.
Jill Snodgrass

 

On their jobs…

When I tell people what my job is, I get: “Oh, that’s so nice. It’s a non-profit. You don’t even have to make money.”
Toni Pergolin

I tell people my job is to make the world a better place. I get to give away a lot of money, and I get to impact the communities in which we operate.
Shelley Sylva

The question I get the most is: “How does my child get into medical school?”
Annette Reboli

I get: “Can I get free tickets?”
Jill Snodgrass

A lot of people ask if I get nervous. Occasionally I do, but not when you might think.
Shaina Humphries

 

On negotiating…

I’ve never really asked for a raise, but over the course of my career, what I have asked for on three separate occasions was parity in salary with male colleagues. With the first one, the person wrote a check that day to make it up. I think they were concerned there could be a lawsuit.
Annette Reboli

I practice before having tough conversations, whether they’re with employees or with my kids. I think about what I’m going to say and how I’m going to respond to their responses. I also come in with data, because data and numbers don’t lie.
Shelley Sylva

 

On social media…

I felt like people shouldn’t care what I’m doing all the time. And I used to resent the fact that it’s become such a big part of what I do. But just this past year I decided to make it work for me.
Shaina Humphries

If you post something, are you willing to stand up and stand by what you just posted? If not, you probably shouldn’t post it.
Shelley Sylva

 

On taking risks…

When it was announced we were starting a new medical school, Cooper’s CEO said I had been recommended to work on the project. I wondered why, because I really didn’t have that background. He gave me a stack of papers and said read this over the weekend, then we’ll meet on Monday. I brought it all home, read through it and decided I could do this. The risk was if we didn’t get accreditation we would grind to a halt and the school might not come to fruition. But I think taking risks is great, and it’s been a great journey.
Annette Reboli

I left a very stable company to come to one that was not stable. Making the decision that we could do this on our own was probably the biggest decision I had to make. Every week I wondered if it was the wrong decision. But I sit here today because it was the right decision.
Toni Pergolin

I had no reason to think I deserved a chance to be an anchor, but I decided I would ask. To my surprise my boss gave me a try. And like anything, the more I did it, the better I became. Eventually, it became a new career path for me.
Shaina Humphries

I had to ask myself if I was in love with the practice of law, or if I was in love with being called a lawyer. It’s not about your title, it’s about the skills and strengths and abilities you bring to your position.
Shelley Sylva

 

On making tough decisions…

There were times when everything looked great on the outside, and I would go home at night and be like “Oh, my God, what am I going to do?” I had a lot of plan Bs, and I had to make some really, really hard decisions to get things to turn around.
Toni Pergolin

It’s pretty nerve-wracking to tell your CEO you don’t want the promotion he just offered you. But I had written down some goals that were my “non-negotiables.” That promotion didn’t fit with those goals, and I was willing to go someplace else to find it. Two weeks later they came back asking if I wanted to stay there and if I just wanted a different role. I said yes, and they were like, “Awesome, you’re in.” They took a risk with me, but I had to raise my hand and ask for it.
Jill Snodgrass

 

On starting the day off right…

I get to the office rather early, and I’m usually the only person in there. I turn the music up and jam.
Jill Snodgrass

Before I get off the elevator, I try to set my mindset: This is what I’m going to get done today, this is the mood I am going to be in – even if that’s not the mood I got into the elevator with. Once I set that intention, I’m ready to walk in.
Shaina Humphries

I spend the first hour not looking at email, and I read or write and look at my needs for the day. Once you’re in email, you’re down for the day.
Toni Pergolin

I print my calendar, which is so old school. To me, it makes it feel that my day has actually started.
Shelly Sylva

 

 

On Sexism…

I think about the choices we women make on a daily basis to sometimes quiet pieces of ourselves to prevent sexism. Like when you have to leave early because your son is in a school show. But a meeting is starting and if you don’t get into your car now, you won’t make it. You have to silence that part of you because you don’t want to be viewed as the mom.
Shelley Sylva

It’s a conversation that women in my industry have much more than men: our appearance. You’re picked apart. You’re criticized. That’s in all walks of life, though. Women are held to a different standard than men. I think on some level I’m just sort of used to it.
Shaina Humphries

When I started medical school, less than 20% of my class were women. We were denied opportunities, absolutely. There were certain fields that women just didn’t choose. But now we have a larger number of female faculty, and so things are changing.
Annette Reboli

 


Save the date for our 2020 Women’s Empowerment Series at The Merion: Sept. 15, Oct. 13, Nov. 10 & Dec. 8.

March 2020
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