Kate Scott
Play-By-Play Announcer, Sixers

Wanda Hardy
President/CEO, Financial Wellness Institute

Janice Johnston
Executive Producer, ABC’s “20/20”

Janell Simpson
Deputy Chief, Camden County Police

Susan Manzi
Chief Financial Officer, SJRA Moderator

Marianne Aleardi
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief SJ Magazine

 

The final panel of our 2022 Women’s Empowerment Series was the perfect way to end this always informative and inspiring series. Five incredible leaders joined us to share their personal stories – there were many laughs, a few gasps and certainly lots of heads nodding in agreement. All in all, everyone ended the night happy to have celebrated the success of so many South Jersey women.

On having it all…

That feeling is individualized. I might think I have it all. I have a home, I have a great family, I have a great job, I have a 401(k). I’m preparing myself for life. I put money away, my house is almost paid off, I’m almost at that step when I think I have what I need. I’m happy, I’m content.
Janell Simpson

I don’t feel like I have it all because I keep saying what’s next? I’m always waiting for the next thing.
Wanda Hardy

I worked my tail off for 20 years and now I have all the things I thought were going to mean I had made it: big job, house, 401(k), and a wonderful, beautiful spouse that I am so proud of. The conversation I’m now having is: How do you retain happiness when you have all these things?
Kate Scott

On sacrifices they’ve made…

I missed a lot of my daughter’s recitals and going to different events. But they were sacrifices I was willing to make. As a young person, I never had that vision of growing up and getting married and having a family. I’ve had those things, but that was not my vision. My vision was running my own business. I wanted to have a seat at the table with the men so I could make decisions for myself. As a result of that focus, I made a lot of sacrifices.
Wanda Hardy

My job is sacrifice. When you work in the world of sports, we are always playing on nights and weekends and holidays. If you want to get into sports, you’d better be ready to disappoint people, and usually the people you care about the most. Last year I missed my wife’s birthday, our anniversary, Thanksgiving and Christmas. But when we were dating, I let her know it would be difficult to be married to me because this was my dream and it would require some frustrating, difficult choices for us as a couple.
Kate Scott

I don’t really think of it as sacrifices as much as choices along the way. When I worked at “Good Morning America,” I had to work one holiday, so I would always choose New Year’s Eve, so I could be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a choice I made, but I could also have chosen to not work there. There are choices I’ve made to be in the position I’m in.
Janice Johnston

A pivotal moment…

I didn’t get a job at NBC that I really thought I was going to get. I was devastated – like, ride the bus home, crying devastated. But I went to the woman at NBC and said, “What do you think I should do next?” She gave me names of people at ABC who I started talking to. And I’ve now worked at ABC for 25 years.
Janice Johnston

I realized at 40 that I wasn’t tapping into all of the energy inside me. I can still see myself in my living room, standing there and thinking, “Wait a second, you haven’t done this yet, you haven’t done that yet. Keep going.” So I started 3 companies at the same time. I decided I would just go for it.
Wanda Hardy

There’s never been one moment for me. It has been moment after moment after moment. But without all those tiny moments building on top of each other, I wouldn’t be here now calling games for the 76ers.
Kate Scott

People who helped along the way…

I have definitely had people who made a difference in my career. One is my mom, because she taught me to never give up. The second is the CEO at one of my former jobs. He was a wonderful mentor and a wonderful man. He had so much confidence in me. And then the third is Mary Ann Boccolini. I worked with Mary Ann as the CFO for Samaritan for 4 years, and she taught me to live in the moment. She taught me that I had gifts, and I should share those gifts with everyone. They all helped me continue my success path, and I always hear their voices.
Susan Manzi

Ever since I was a sergeant, my current chief and my 2 prior chiefs encouraged me to take tests, stay focused, go to school, keep pushing yourself. They pushed me along the way and taught me everything I needed to know. They were very influential in my career.
Janell Simpson

For each person in my life I learned something from, the key was listening to what they had to say, processing it and then responding. Sometimes we tend to respond before we process or we listen. I feel as though I’m always learning something from someone.
Wanda Hardy

One man, who I had worked for briefly when I was in college, was looking for people to call a package of high school football games in the Bay area, and he called me and said he wanted me to do it. I said, “Paul, you’re f’ing crazy.” And he said, “I know how much you know about football; you know just as much as all the idiot guys I’m going to be asking to do this.” But I didn’t know any women calling sports at that time, so why in the world would I think I could do it? It took a guy in a position of power to tell me to stop being a f’ing idiot, and try. He said all the guys he called, who have never called football before, said, “When do I need to be there?” I could honestly tell you many more stories like that.
Kate Scott

We also don’t think or know the people who said something we’ll never know about – the room you’re not in where someone advocated for you or put in a good word for you. I’m sure everyone in this room has someone who said something nice on their behalf, and you will never know who they are.
Janice Johnston

Working in a male-dominated industry…

I’ve been in a room full of men and I would answer a question, and time goes by and the question gets asked again and the man to my left repeats what I said, and everyone goes, “That is a great idea.” I would say, “Of course it is, because I just said it 5 minutes ago.”
Susan Manzi

Without a shadow of a doubt, I’ve had to work harder. If you took all the NBA broadcasters and looked at their resumes the year they were hired, I highly doubt any of them would have called hundreds of games of college sports, had called at Olympic games, had called a Copa América and a Gold Cup, had called an NHL game, an NBA game, and NFL games. I had to cross off so many boxes just so NBC and the Sixers could say, “Maybe we should consider her.”
Kate Scott

For me, it’s not so much about working harder, it’s about working smarter. That I learned from lessons in life and knowing how to pick issues and battles.
Wanda Hardy

On negative comments on social media…

We have a public Facebook page, and sometimes you think you’re doing something good and then you read the comments. They can be pretty harsh, but you try to overcome it. We stay focused. The public is the people we serve, so we’re always seeing what we can do better. How can we improve?
Janell Simpson

Most of the time, people are not constructive. “You suck.” “I hate your face.” “I hate your voice.” Sometimes I’ll respond, “Thanks for watching,” because that’s really all we care about as a TV station – that you’re watching. Sometimes I’ll say, “Hey, I’m really sorry you felt that way.” And they’ll say, “Oh my gosh, you responded! I’m actually a really huge fan of yours…”
Kate Scott

 

Questions from the audience

How do you take a step back and still feel like you are accomplishing things?

All that matters is happiness, and I know that may sound a little flighty and weird, but my joy is the joy of the people I care about most. So I try to check in on that all the time. Because it’s no longer about making the world proud of me. I’ve already done so much, now it’s ok to pull back a little bit and maybe spend the day watching my dog catch a ball. That’s ok. I don’t have to be conquering the world today.
Kate Scott

I think it’s really hard, but it’s about balance. You should be able to enjoy life, and still be successful and not feel guilty about it. That’s possible if you give yourself a little bit of flexibility and you have champions in your corner. If you don’t have champions in your corner, you can make changes, because there are other jobs that will help you create work/life balance.
Susan Manzi

For Deputy Chief Janell Simpson
I was so proud to hear that the Camden Police Department was a national model. Would you talk about what it’s like to work there?

The whole model is on the sanctity of life, every person – it’s a life. It’s about thinking that everybody you encounter, even though we don’t look alike, they’re a life. So before anything else, you have to try to not use force, to de-escalate. That became a national model, and people who worked with us now teach the use of force and the critical decision-making model nationally. In our community policing, we also do a lot of community events, like having a barbecue in an area where there is violence. We have basketball and open gym in the city every Friday, which gives a safe space for kids. And it’s packed, about 80 boys come every Friday, faithfully, winter, rain, snow – they’re there.
Janell Simpson

January 2023
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