If you missed the 2021 Awards Ceremony,
View the event program here:
If you missed the 2021 Awards Ceremony,
Watch the replay here:
Pittsburgh Professional Women is pleased to announce the 2021 Influential Leadership Awards.
Women from the region have been selected to receive this prestigious recognition because of the courage, leadership, innovation, creativity, and resilience that was modeled in 2020 while living, working, and leading others through a pandemic.
Below is a listing of all the honorees. Plan to celebrate each of these distinguished women at our virtual event happening on Monday, March 8th at 6pm EST. Funds raised from this event will benefit The Artemis Project, a special fund offered by Pittsburgh Professional Women that supports families in financial stress due to job loss or cutbacks as a result of COVID 19.
Amy L. Walsh, Peak Alignment, LLC
Amy Lynn Walsh is a Hypnotherapist, Rapid Transformational Therapist (RTT) and Mindset coach that helps high-achieving professionals overcome their anxiety and self-sabotaging behaviors to achieve the healthy body, genuine relationships and success they desire! Amy is passionate about empowering women to embrace their brilliance, own their authentic beauty and to show up boldly and authentically themselves. Driven by the desire to better serve her community, Amy continues to expand her knowledge, adding a new certification (The Emotion Code™) to her services in 2021. This bio-energetic healing technique frees the body of the trapped emotional baggage keeping them stuck. This transformational shift allows them to live a life free of physical and emotional discomfort and finally feel joy and happiness! Amy’s unique approach to healing both the limiting beliefs of the mind, along with the energetic blocks around the heart is her recipe for true and lasting change.
During the pandemic, Amy transitioned her business to a home office space offering virtual solutions to her clientele. She has served her community through live speaking engagements, virtual workshops, radio, podcasts and as a panel speaker for virtual summits. She is in the process of creating a variety of digital courses focused on healing anxiety, self-sabotage, and overcoming the pressures of perfectionism in todays world. Her and her husbands proudest achievement of 2020 was welcoming their first child, Dax Orion, born on the 4th of July - a shining light in an ‘anything but normal' year!
Anita Buzzy Prentiss, Buzzy Photography
Anita was so inspiring last spring. When all weddings and special events were canceled abruptly, this professional photographer didn't wallow in pity. She got creative! And kept many of us entertained with the photos she took all summer long.
Anita Buzzy Prentiss is a portrait photographer and owner of Buzzy Photography.Normally she is an in-demand photographer for celebrity-status weddings, professional athletes, and dancers. Anita focuses on capturing the essence of her subjects to bring out confident, sincere expressions and the magic of loving relationships. She truly feels that her gift is to see the best in each person.
During the the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine, Anita Buzzy-Prentiss photographed almost 200 “porchraits” – pictures of people on or near their porches all around Pittsburgh. She felt like she was on a mission to spread, love, gratitude, joy and hope.
Later, Anita's work was published in a book titled: PORCHRAITS: Pittsburghers on their Porches During Quarantine – THE BOOK
Arlan Elizabeth Hess, City Books
Arlan Hess is the owner of City Books, Pittsburgh’s oldest existing bookstore founded in 1984. In addition to bookselling and managing an active events series for the bookstore, she hosts Shelf Life, a book show broadcast on PCTV21 about Pittsburgh authors and topics relevant to western Pennsylvania, leads Arts & Literature tours around the old Allegheny West neighborhood, and directs the City Books Writer-in-Residence program for emerging & marginalized writers. Arlan was a true influence in pandemic preparedness and created a pandemic policy from the start. The bookstore had just received certification as a Silver Designated shop in January by Sustainable Pittsburgh in January 2020. Soon after, Arlan pivoted to online sales and partnered with three other women-owned businesses to create a revenue-enhancing Care Package available on Etsy. In June, she launched a virtual storefront through Bookshop.org.
Cindy Rack, Keller Williams Realty
Cindy Rack is a Realtor with Keller Williams. She is a landlord & rehabs homes with her husband Barry. Cindy has a PSA Certification (Pricing Strategist Advisor) which helps her price homes so they have the best chance of appraising. Her SRES Designation (Senior Real Estate Specialist) helps Boomers & Seniors transition smoothly to this new chapter. Buying/Selling a home is very emotional. Her Stephen Ministry Training is an invaluable tool to keep everyone calm on all sides of the transaction. Cindy's clients love her communication & creative negotiation skills, & the fact that she turns into a project manager to make sure everyone is doing their part to ensure a smooth closing.
During the pandemic in 2020, Cindy broke her career sales record surpassing $8.3 million dollars. She handled more than thirty real estate transactions while homeschooling her granddaughter and sharing caregiving duties for her mother, then grieving the loss of her mother, Grace Fascetti, who died in May, 2020.
Coach Monique DeMonaco, Coach Monique
Coach Monique DeMonaco is a multi-certified, internationally trained Change Management Expert who specializes in innovative tools, techniques and strategies to help her clients make long-term sustainable changes. All of her work is based in Emotional Intelligence, Innovation, Brain Science and The Psychology of Happiness. She works with individuals, executives, teams, and family-owned businesses to overcome their obstacles, sharpen their focus, and Unlock Bold Change™ in themselves and their organizations. She is also the author of the book Most People Don’t Need A Therapist, They Just Need A Change: An Easy to Use Guide for Positive Sustainable Change.
During the pandemic, Monique struck the perfect balance of work and life, while pivoting to a home office and a virtual practice. She immediately began to create digital programs to help others deal with depression, anxiety, stress, confidence and relationship issue, offered Mindful Monday online and created an Anxiety Solutions Program to provide tools and techniques for overcoming emotional struggles. The desperately needed program was received by more than 1000 virtual audience members across the country.
Gloria Manchester, IFC-PCC, Leadership Education Action Programs (LEAP)
Gloria Manchester is accredited by the International Coaching Federation, President of Leadership Education Action Programs (LEAP), a lifelong entrepreneur, and an Amazon bestselling author. She’s certified in Conversational Intelligence®, New Money Story® Mentor Coach & a trainer for Color Code® Personality Science.
She is the producer of Create A Thriving Life Story™ platform, recently launching LEAP to Prosperity Coaching Community to inspire, encourage, and support women in elevating their lives by participating in affordable group coaching masterclasses and masterminds. She believes, as we influence more women to create a thriving life story for themselves, we’ll have a greater impact in the world. Gloria is co-founder and President of C A R T E, a 501C3 non-profit organization that produces STARR Life & Leadership Course for high-risk teenage girls who have been sexually exploited.
In 2020 Gloria launched the LEAP to Prosperity Coaching Community for Women including a free five day virtual summit for women. The summit was attended by hundreds of women across several continents. Gloria personally recruited more than 20 professional coaches from four countries to offer workshops to encourage and support women who were struggling to cope with the pandemic.
Heidi Sadecky is a highly trained executive coach who brings over 30 years of combined corporate and coaching experience to leaders and their teams. Heidi wants to help leaders understand why they do what they do and don’t do and help them avoid making the kinds of mistakes she did. She has a passion to help leaders change the trajectory to their leadership and make a greater impact on the world. Her passion for leaders to lead with authenticity, high levels of trust and emotional intelligence to inspire their teams to be all “in” with greater ownership and engagement.
With a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership, International Coach Federation certification, credentialed Townsend Leadership Program Director and a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, Heidi understands both the challenges and opportunities of leadership and understands yours as well. She has the tools to help you strengthen key behaviors and mindset to apply to effective leadership skills.
During the pandemic crisis, Heidi continued to grow her business and helped more people than ever before. She exceeds over 1,000 hours of coaching, launched three new local leadership groups, launched her first ever international virtual group and earned the prestigious Professional Coach Certification with the International Coach Federation.
Hilary L. Link, Ph.D., Allegheny College
Hilary L. Link, Ph.D., is the first female President of Allegheny College — one of the nation’s oldest and most innovative four-year colleges where multidisciplinary learning breaks the conventional mold. In more than 20 years’ experience across a broad range of institutions of higher education, she’s built programs with the faculty and increased resources, while providing students with a cross-disciplinary path to think critically, communicate creatively and question everything. A visionary, dynamic and entrepreneurial leader, she has served as Dean of Temple University Rome as well as Vice Provost at New York City’s Barnard College. Recognized as a multidisciplinary scholar and globalist, President Link earned a B.A. in Art History and Italian from Stanford University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Italian Language and Literature from Yale University.
During her first year as the college’s president, Dr. Link established the on-campus Allegheny College Health Agency to fill the gap in clinical and public health services in Crawford County. She was able to see Allegheny College over the goal to become the first college or university in Pennsylvania to receive the Carbon Neutral Campus Award from Second Nature and one of the first ten higher education institutions in the U.S. to achieve carbon neutrality. She was also appointed to the Climate Leadership Steering Committee of the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments.
By swiftly implementing protocols for testing, face coverings and physical isolation in the first month of welcoming students back to campus, in the fall semester Allegheny College held the COVID-19 infection rate to less than 1 percent at any given time, with an average of less than 0.5 percent of the campus population testing positive most days.
Dr. Link then developed a new academic schedule introducing fresh multidisciplinary learning and teaching opportunities while at the same time reducing risk, to the extent possible, during the peak cold and flu season [mid-November through early February].
Hilerie Klein Rensi, Higher Voice Studio
Classically trained opera singer, musical theater performer and former rock band vocalist, Hilerie Klein Rensi is the creator of the Higher Voice Studio Singing Method. Used by performers and instructors nationwide, her students have been featured on America’s Got Talent, The Tonight Show, Opera News and Oprah. They have routinely earned top spots in National and International competitions and are accepted to the most prestigious music schools in the nation.
Founded by Hilerie in 2011, Higher Voice Studio has quickly become the most sought after music school in the regional Pittsburgh Area. Their award winning building in beautiful downtown Carnegie offers voice, piano and guitar lessons, open-mic nights, a performance venue, classes and workshops for all.
When the shelter-in-place orders were made in Pennsylvania in March, 2020, Hilerie and her team began offering virtual lessons within 24 hours. Later in the summer, the doors were open and in-person lessons were available before any other music school in the area, allowing teachers and students to stay safe while making music.
While music schools across the world canceled competitions, music lessons, and shut down completely, Hilerie did not. She knew it was possible to make music and do it safely. Seeing how traumatized students were as their school musicals and concerts were canceled, Hilerie responded by offering free virtual music classes each week. These gatherings helped keep students stay focused, connected, engaged and gave them a safe, inspired and positive environment, while they continued their musical education.
Many schools and students chose to skip competitions in 2020, but not Hilerie's students. They got creative and competed by video submission. This was even harder than usual but they learned new skills. Eleven Higher Voice Studio students placed regionally in the top 3 positions. The hard work and effort paid off. The school has more students now than in January 2020.
Janette Schafer, Chase Bank
Janette Schafer is a Vice President, branch manager and Certified Women's Business Advocate for Chase Bank. Originally planned for a 2021 opening, the Squirrel Hill Branch located on Forbes Avenue opened earlier than expected on December 1, 2020.
Chase Bank is well known as a tech-trendsetter in banking and Janette is pleased to bring ultra-modern banking and community bank-like customer service to her neighbors in the East End.
The team of managers at Chase have opened 11 branches in Western Pennsylvania in the midst of a pandemic, so far bringing more than 120 new jobs to the region. Five more branch locations are expected by the end of 2022. A Certified Women's Business Advocate, Janette oversaw the opening of the Squirrel Hill branch where she and her team assist clients with credit cards, mortgages, commercial banking, auto loans, investing & retirement planning, checking and business banking. The branch employs a team of ten.
Janette holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Poetry from Chatham University. She is the author of two critically acclaimed poetry collections with a third to be released in 2021. She is also the founder and artistic director of Social Justice Anthologies which publishes books on topics which promote a more just and equitable world. As a poet and playwright, Janette has won the Laurie Mansell Reich Academy of American Poets prize, the Pittsburgh Original Short Play Series, and the Into the Light Award for writing on mental health. Dedicated to the community, Janette received a grant from the Three Rivers Community Foundation in 2020 to continue her publishing and education work on social justice and community engagement. Last year also saw the release of her poetry collection “Something Here Will Grow” published by Main Street Rag, which explores the subjects of familial trauma and Latinx heritage.
Jill N. Yesko, Discover Organizing, Inc.
After leaving behind a career of social work followed by Human Resources management, Jill Yesko created a residential organizing and photo management company in 2003.
She joined NAPO(National Association of Professional Organizers) in 2004, and quickly became involved in volunteer leadership.She became certified as a Professional Organizer in 2007.
Through her many years in business, Jill has added a specialized niche greeting card line (Clearly Noted Cards), move management services for families and seniors, and on-demand bin storage company, which is now franchised.
You may have seen her and her team in 2020 on Episode 2 of A&E’s “Hoarders'' where she was a guest Professional Organizer. Jill will shortly be including “author” to her accomplishments, with 2 industry books that are due to be published in spring of 2021.
During the pandemic crisis of 2020, Jill led her tech team in transforming their Photo Operations Manual into a monetized business kit for entrepreneurs. She began offering online virtual workshops and virtual organizing. Two team members became certified in Photo Management, one in Virtual Organizing. Always innovative and leading the way, Jill's team moved several seniors from unsafe communities to comfortable living communities, many times working virtually with long-distance loved ones and family members to ensure a safe and seamless transition.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer, Bedford County Chamber of Commerce
Kellie Goodman Shaffer is a champion of the business community of the Bedford County region. She is the President/CEO of the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director of the Chamber’s 501-c3 education foundation; and she currently serves as Chair of the Pennsylvania Association of Chamber Professionals.
A journalist at heart, Kellie spent a decade leading an award-winning television sports department in central Pennsylvania. She puts her communications and storytelling skills to use through the Chamber’s many information outlets, including print, video and social media platforms. Kellie is a graduate of Penn State University and the US Chamber’s Institute for Organizational Management. Her Chamber has been recognized as PACP Chamber of the Year, and she was honored with the Bedford County Athena Leadership Award.
If you subscribe to the chamber's newsletter, you already know that Kellie led the efforts at the chamber to provide frequent, timely, helpful and practical support to the business community throughout the pandemic, including vital resources and (virtual) programs & events. Kellie also coordinated a cooperative effort to construct a drive-in movie screen, creating a socially-distant summer movie experience for the entire community. During the holiday season of 2020, Kellie further showcased the Bedford business community by spearheading a drive-through Christmas light display.