Women's Showcase

Empowering Women of Color to Break Through & Create Success, Confidence & Financial Prosperity

Article by: Phyliss Francis
Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” We often understate the impact our mindset has on the way things will play out, professionally or personally. All actions start with thoughts, and thoughts will eventually become actions. So when you implement strategies that take into account both thoughts and actions, miracles can happen.
When I coach my clients, I don’t just teach them about business. I show them how to up-level their mindset and take inspired action steps. I guide them through the process of cleaning up their thoughts and raising their energetic vibration. I lay out the appropriate action steps they need to take. I make sure their actions, thoughts, and goals are all in alignment. This is how you create success and prosperity beyond where you currently are.
For the most part, when businesses are struggling, it isn’t that they’re lacking the perfect marketing strategy. That has its place, sure, but it’s most likely that their goals aren’t aligning with how they’re feeling or what they’re doing. This can manifest itself in many ways: inconsistent branding, wishy-washy sales tactics, scattered web presence. What the business owner is lacking is a toolkit chock full of exercises and techniques to keep their goals, work, and beliefs in line with each other.
If this sounds like you—if you’re struggling to advance in your business because of your negative feelings, because you aren’t doing the things you need to go, because your goals aren’t in line with the trajectory you’re on—I have two simple pieces of advice.
Change your habits. Partake in daily activities that nurture your mind, body, and soul. Do you eat healthy food, drink enough water, exercise every week? Are you spending quality time with your friends or family, laughing, or taking time for rest and relaxation? Take time to do something that you enjoy today. You’ll feel invigorated, refreshed, and ready to take on the universe.
Change your attitude. The entire world shifts around you when you look at it differently. If you stop thinking life is happening to you, you will start to see how it is happening for you. As Mike Dooly said, “if the universe was out to get you, it would have gotten you by now.”


Phyliss Francis, MA CLC PCC

When I was not yet 10 years old, my father decided to have a very special heart-to-heart with his daughters.

He said, “You girls have to be the best at everything you do to succeed in this world because you have two strikes against you: you are Black and you are women.”

In that moment, I bought into this belief: In order for me to transcend my race and gender “strikes,” I need to excel in everything if I want to be on an equal playing field with the general population.

I was compelled to prove that I was “good enough” to assimilate into the mainstream.

However, this insatiable quest to belong made it difficult for me to recognize my natural gifts and talents because I was too busy trying to fit in and excel. So, I tried to fit in socially and professionally everywhere, by being perfect so that everyone would know my true value surpassed being the token black woman who was only chosen to fulfill a diversity quota. Consequently, after playing Division I sports in college, earning two degrees, acquiring multiple certifications, promotions and awards, I became exhausted and unsatisfied because my insatiable appetite to achieve was fueled by underlying feelings of unworthiness and dissatisfaction.

I knew something had to change.

I started my coaching and consulting business after spending years in Corporate America and the nonprofit sector, as a coach, instructor and mental health professional. Now, I was ready to control my professional and financial destiny, express my creativity, and step into my leadership role. I was ready to make money and add three more hours to my day, so I could travel and do more of what I love.

So, I became an entrepreneur on a quest for success and fulfillment.

This meant I worked with dozens of business coaches, consultants, and spiritual leaders, and spent thousands of dollars in certifications, trainings, seminars, workshops and classes. I read hundreds of books, watched videos and listened to hours of motivational audios. Not only did I feel the need to learn every aspect of entrepreneurship, I knew I had to “skill up” to grow a successful 6-figure business.

However, while I was creating a successful business and achieving wealth, I discovered that something deeper and more profound was at play in this life. Yes, we can make more money and change our environments, but real transformation happens from the inside out. 

Fortunately, I discovered the power of Spiritual Principles and Universal Law and explored how consciousness can transcend race and class.

After a failed engagement, I moved to Honolulu. I changed my mindset to focus from what is wrong to what is working, and continued expanding my coaching toolbox, and natural gifts and talents. Suddenly, I felt my perception shift from self-judgment to self-acknowledgement and realized that life is not happening “to me”, it is happening “for me”. In Hawaii, I met my husband, Joseph, my step-daughter, Yasmin, and had my beautiful daughter, Autumn. Currently, my family and I live in Los Angeles.

Now I effortlessly express my Authentic Self in everything I do.

I continue to attract diverse professional and personal projects that utilize my natural gifts and talents. Today, I am experiencing more joy and fulfillment than ever before. My hope is that by working with me, you will be able to experience more success, freedom and joy in your life too!

Community Connections


Rocky’s Ace Hardware, a family-owned business with neighborhood-based stores in seven states, is recognizing October as national Fire Safety Month with special events at all of their locations, which will include participation by local fire departments. The free events will be held on Saturday, October 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will also feature grilling demonstrations.

“We love the opportunity to host community events at our neighborhood stores, and this one will provide both education and entertainment,” said Rocky’s Ace Hardware President and CEO Rocco Falcone. “We have First Alert® fire safety items on sale, including fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, so attendees can leave with the information and tools they need to enhance their home fire safety efforts.”

Each Rocky’s Ace Hardware location will have local firefighters on hand to provide information and instructions about fire safety, including fire extinguisher demonstrations and the opportunity to check out their fire engines and equipment.

“Although summer has ended, grilling season is still going strong, so we’ll also offer grilling demonstrations, safety tips and specials,” said Falcone. “We’ll help everyone let their inner grill master shine all year long.”


Executive Lifestyles

One Unique Way Women-Owned Business Can Grow This National Women’s Small Business Month


October is National Women’s Small Business Month. As such, it’s a time to celebrate the progress women have made in entrepreneurship and business. In 1972 there were only 402,000 women-owned businesses in the U.S. Last year that number grew to 12.3 million! Women are forging ahead by making themselves a prominent part of the business world today and continue to fight for equality in pay and opportunity.

While it’s anything but easy for someone to start a business, it can be especially hard for minority-owned businesses, with women-owned businesses falling into this category. Opportunities for growth are often hard to find but they are available, and it’s important to make sure you are looking EVERYWHERE!

One growth prospect some businesses do not know about is in working with local government. Local and state government agencies have a goal to award five percent of business to women-owned businesses. Governments want more and more businesses to be aware of job postings so they have a wider selection to choose from and are able to award the right business with the right job, ultimately giving the best to their communities and at the right price.

Many business owners think their business is not a fit for this type of work, but the opportunities range to cover all types of work. Landscaping, architecture, construction and engineering often come to mind when thinking about government work, but there are plenty of other opportunities for nearly every type of business, like holiday lights, finance, catering, flowers, and even eggs for egg hunts or teddy bears used by the police departments to give to kids in emergency situations.

How do women find these opportunities? They must first be certified as a women-owned business through the Small Business Association’s website. Government agencies post opportunities to their websites, but it can be time consuming for busy owners to sort through various websites and opportunities. Fortunately, there are websites, , that will automatically send business owners relevant job opportunities.

Once notified of an opportunity, businesses bid on the project. This can also be time-consuming, but with websites this process is streamlined so businesses can submit e-bids that are competitive and successful.

With the support of governments through opportunities, women can continue to grow their impact in business. The opportunities are there, we as women simply need to know where to look.


Robin Conner is DemandStar’s Vice President of Marketing, responsible for defining, creating and implementing the company’s go-to-market strategy. Prior to joining DemandStar, Robin was Director of Marketing at Avalara where she was responsible for defining and executing the go-to-market strategy for small business. Robin studied entrepreneurship/business at Boise State University and holds a certification in marketing strategy from Cornell.

Women's Community Calendar



Women to Watch Western Mass Chapter will hold its monthly luncheon on Wed., October 23, 2019, from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm at Center Square Grill in East Longmeadow.

Each month we host a luncheon with an inspiring speaker, a raffle benefiting our scholarship program, and great networking and connections.
About this Event

This month we are excited to have heart-centered entrepreneur Brenda Edwards as our luncheon speaker. For more than 35-years, Brenda has owned spiritual based businesses in Western Mass, including Quantum Life Management Center in East Longmeadow.

As a messenger of spiritual principles, truth, and transformation, she assists people on their path of discovery and unfoldment. Over the past 20-years, Brenda has guided her clients as a Spiritual Life Coach trained in many different modalities in the intuitive and healing arts. Her work led her to discover her current passions, leading retreats to sacred sites all over the world, helping people to build their dreams, and living their best life yet.

Seating is limited, so tickets must be ordered by October 18, 2019.

Display tables are available for an additional $10.00 for businesses interested in providing marketing or promotional material to the group.

Women to Watch will hold a raffle during the lunch in support of their scholarship program for non-traditional female students. If you would like to donate a raffle item from your company or have additional questions about the luncheon, please contact Wendy Woloshchuck Women to Watch Hospitality Chairman at details-interiors@hotmail.com

Speaking of Women

Barbara Curto Marketing Exec Blazes a Trail as “Women of FIRE” Honoree


The community-focused mission of Chelsea Groton Bank ignited an enthusiasm for the financial industry in Marketing Manager Barbara Curto four years ago.

Her commitment to excellence has earned her recognition as a Women of FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) by Banking New England and American Business Media. Curto was selected for the prestigious award based on her success as an effective and results-driven leader who motivates employees by encouraging professional and personal growth.


“Barbara inspires her team every day with her commitment and creativity in promoting the bank’s initiatives,” said Lori Dufficy, EVP, Director of Sales & Service of Chelsea Groton Bank. “We are thrilled that her efforts in our industry are being celebrated.”


Banking New England and American Business Media created the award to honor the women who are making a difference in their profession. The FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) sector has emerged as a keystone of the New England economy, transforming the knowledge, wealth and dreams of the world’s most ambitious visionaries into reality. As more and more women rise to the top of businesses and institutions in this sector, there is a growing need to shine a light on their achievements to inspire others.


Banking New England identifies the most talented, the most ambitious, the most innovative and the most philanthropic female leaders. Recipients are chosen through a very selective process. The winners were featured in the September/October issue of Banking New England and will be honored at an awards luncheon taking place October 11, 2019 at The Verve Crowne Plaza in Natick, MA.


As she is new to the banking industry, Curto was selected for and enthusiastically agreed to enroll in the two-year program offered by the Connecticut School of Finance and Management that provides insight into all facets of banking and leadership. Curto has enjoyed the challenge of responding to a constantly changing economy, banking regulations and how people do their banking.


“Working for a company that focuses on helping individuals, families and businesses get their start, plan for their future and find success is extremely gratifying,” explains Curto. “I am driven to share the bank’s contributions to the community through donations, employee volunteerism and financial education.”


Women Entrepreneur

How women can help close the gender pay gap in their respective fields.

Article by:  Divya Parekh

Women make up approximately 50% of the U.S. population. As in many other countries,
both employed and non-employed women in the U.S. are the primary caregivers, home
economists, and make the majority of household decisions. Even though half of the
population is comprised of women, they remain underrepresented in vital areas like
finance, business, and government.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. institutions awarded
57% of the bachelor’s degrees to women. Thus, women have outpaced men in earning
college degrees. Studies show that women tend to understand the co-relation of a
college degree and earnings in later life. Moreover, studies show there are pay
inequities between male and female employees in the same or similar positions. Even
though women in professional fields make up the majority of the workforce, men occupy
most of the leadership positions. The State of the Gender Pay Gap 2019 studies
researched the median salary for men and women irrespective of type or level of the
job. The findings show that women earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. It is
essential to answer the questions about pay and leadership disparity between genders,
and what can women do about the issue?
Women need to ask questions, evaluate and analyze the situation mindfully, identify the
gap, set goals, strategize action plan, implement the right strategy, assess what works
well and what does not work well and adjust the course as needed.

It is important to consider questions like:

 Is the organizational culture conducive to women’s growth?
 Is there a lack of opportunity for advancement for all women in the organization?
 Is there a gender disparity in salary, bonuses, overtime opportunities, and stock
 Do men get promoted faster than women for the same position?
 Do women wait for an extended period to ask for promotions?
 Do the performance reviews involve subjective or objective criteria?
 Do women negotiate raises and starting salaries as often as men?
 Do women get relegated to pink-collar jobs?
 Do women experience setbacks due to caring for children and family?
Some helpful tips for closing the gap:
 Determine what you need and want to learn and where you want to be in one,
two, three, and five years.
 Set goals for your career advancement and identify barriers for goal achievement
 Create a roadmap to achieve your goals.
 Network within and outside the organization.
 Building robust relationships with key influencers such that they champion for you
even when you are not present in the room.
 Research various networking groups geared for women at different
organizational levels (management, I.T., administration, entry.)

 Take the initiative to join or start a relevant women’s peer networking group.  Networking groups can be:

o a valuable resource for support and development
o provide training on how to negotiate salary and non-salary compensations
as well as how to reconcile maternity and career goals
o be the playground to connect with a mentor or women who have already
achieved the goals you want to accomplish

 Keep a record of emails, texts, and notes received from peers, boss, and
colleagues for a job well done.
 Research women-centered websites like Fairy Godboss and Ladies if you are
planning to apply for a new position or getting ready to ask for a raise. Such sites
will help you determine the competitive wages for a comparable job.
 Before going for negotiations, define your agreement criteria:
 Desired figure that you would happily agree to.
 Compromise figure is a lowered figure along with non-salary
compensations like bonus, stock options, vacations, or something else.
 Walk away figure where you are ready to take action like walking away
from the job or take other action.


Meet the Author:
Divya Parekh is an Influence Architect, Business Leadership Coach, and international
speaker. She has coached thousands across 90 countries to brave their perfectly
imperfect individualism and marry it with collectivism for the greater good. Divya is a
passionate human being who believes there is an influencer in everyone. She is
committed to helping people move through the transformational journey of an expert to
authority to becoming a Leading Influencer for the rest of their lives! At the junction of
the shifting tides of gender equality and the availability of unprecedented opportunities,
Divya will share how to be in alignment with your true self as you embrace and influence
the world with grace, audacity, and humility.

Community Connections


The Sacred Heart Academic Music Program will host a two-day Guitar Festival featuring concerts with the Joshua Breakstone Duo and the Diálogos Duo.


WHO: On day one, the Joshua Breakstone duo will perform the songs of jazz drummer Art Blakey. Breakstone is touring in support of his October CD release, Children of Art, a tribute to Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Joining him for this concert will be bassist David Kingsnorth.


On day two, the Diálogos Duo, guitarist Richard Boukas and clarinetist Louis Arques, will perform songs from Homages to Brazilian Masters. These works present a panorama of traditional Brazilian genres melded with contemporary classical and jazz.


WHERE: Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Ave., Fairfield


WHEN: Day 1: Thursday, October 17, at 7 p.m.

Day 2: Friday, October 18, at 7 p.m.


SPONSOR: Sacred Heart University’s Academic Music Program


TICKETS: Free admission