Celebrating Women at Capstone – 2021 International Women’s Day

Capstone WomenThe month of March marks Women’s History month and specifically organizations around the world celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th. At Capstone, we are thankful for the women both in our workplace and all around the world, and this year International Women’s Day made for the perfect opportunity to celebrate the women of our company, industry and lives. To commemorate our corporate reflection of this day and month, we have a month-long interactive setup in our Birmingham and Denver office commons spaces which flows from Women in History to Women in the Workplace to Women at Capstone. While our entire office is engaging with these resources, the women of Capstone themselves shared their reflections in writing. 

Reflections on the Meaning of International Women’s History Day and Women’s History Month

“It means that women are recognized in many facets of workplace.  Also, women are celebrated and awareness is raised about the equality of women.” – Jeanie Johnson, Paralegal

“It means we are moving in the right direction and that we need to continue to shine a light on issues women face in their careers and work. There is still a gender wage gap, and for many women, unequal burden to balance parenting and work.” – Kristy Burd, Portfolio Manager (Capstone Management Partners)

“While we should celebrate women and their accomplishments every day, I think it is so valuable to observe International Women’s Day/ Women’s History Month because there is still so much work to be done and awareness that needs to be brought to women’s rights and equality in our society and in the workplace. Raising a daughter makes this recognition especially meaningful to me and I try to surround myself with women (and men) who have a healthy influence on myself and my daughter.  I am very fortunate to be a part of a company that includes so many independent, supportive and intelligent women and it is so exciting to see the female presence in the company growing quickly in the 3 years that I have been with CDP. I have always been impressed that my colleagues at CDP genuinely build up one another and promote their growth and development, irrespective of gender.” – Marichal Moranda, Project Coordinator

“It’s a time to reflect. While we have a lot of work still to do, awareness is key. I appreciate learning about what women in our history have done to pave the way for us and what freedoms we are still wishing to achieve.” – Jana Faro, VP Operations (Capstone Management Partners)

“To me, International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month are a crucial time to show us how far we have come as women but how much further we have to go. It is a time to step back and recognize all of the women who have come before us, and all that they have done to pave the way for women today. It is also a time to bring to light many of the issues that we still face as women, not only in the workforce but in society as a whole. I am lucky to have grown up with women in my life who have worked hard for what they have and were not afraid to fight for what they believe in. I am also lucky to have men in my life who have recognized the power, passion, and dedication of these women and have been there to support them along the way. I believe that for women to truly make progress, we need the support of everyone, men and women alike. We need everyone to understand and recognize that women should be equal and that we still have a long way to go to get to that point. I look forward to the day where March is a month where we spend more time looking back on how far we have come and less time on how far we have to go, because we will already be there.” – Chrissy Zilly, Marketing Administrator

“When I think about International Women’s Day, or Women’s History Month, I think about recognizing the contributions of women and inspiring women.  After dinner on International Women’s Day this year, my husband and daughter and I talked about which “women in history” we’d like to have dinner with. In this way, we recognized women from history who have contributed to society in a multitude of ways. We talked about so many inspiring women… from Harriet Tubman to Anne Frank to Ada Lovelace, who was writing computer programs almost one hundred years before technology would catch up and be able to utilize codes like those she wrote.  We talked about women whose accomplishments weren’t recognized and women whose work and accomplishments were attributed to others.  We talked of pioneering women like Amelia Earhart and historical icons like Jackie Onassis Kennedy.  We talked of scientists, novelists, poets, rock stars and country music legends (here’s looking at you Dolly!).  We never narrowed down our list to identify 3 women in history we’d most want to have dinner with, but each of us learned something which we didn’t know before that discussion.  We learned things about women from history who have brought about change in both big and small ways – and we also learned about each other as we discussed which women from history each of us found most admirable or inspiring.  The conversation centered on recognizing women from history but my hope, and prayer, is that the conversation was also inspiring my daughter to believe in her own strength and capabilities and future.  It certainly inspired me.” –  Tonia Christensen, VP Legal Affairs and General Counsel

“I think that it’s great that there is a designated month to recognize women in history and present an opportunity for workplaces to pause and celebrate women and reflect on female leaders. Bringing the opportunity for reflection in a work place and having organizations reflect on topics such as “Are we giving women equal opportunity?”, “Can we promote female employees more so that their male counter parts recognize the strength they bring to our company” is a positive effort. It is an effort that I hope continues every day, month, and through the years for all companies and one that is not forgotten when times get busy. To think that just over 100 years ago women won the right to vote and 60 years ago women won the right to open a bank account – that was not that long ago and while we have come a long way in the women’s rights movement we have not yet achieved equality. But I know that the women before us are celebrating with us as we finally have our first female U.S. Vice President. Let’s keep going! “ – Nicole Ivanovich, Marketing Director

Reflections on Women Who Have Made an Impact on One’s Life

“My first memory of being inspired by a woman in history is of my third-grade self, choosing Amelia Earhart for a biography report. I was drawn to her adventurous, courageous, entrepreneurial spirit; and especially her determination to pursue a career in aviation, an unconventional career for women at the time. And on “Biography Day” when I dressed up like Amelia that day in 3rd grade, I wasn’t aware at the time of how meaningful it was to learn about record-breaking, determined, passion-chasing women. I see now a continuous thread of people, alive and passed, who have convinced me that being a female and pursuing my interests are not mutually exclusive. From Amelia Earhart to my parents to professors to mentors in Commercial Real Estate, thank you!” – Abigail Robertson, Development Associate

“My mom.  She believed that women should obtain their college degrees so they could be independent if the need arose.  She was always pushing education, education, education.” – Jeanie Johnson, Paralegal

“I am inspired by my mother who raised 4 children and graduated college in her 50s and my grandmother who went to college during a time when it was uncommon and looked down upon. They inspire me to seek education continuously and despite odds or age. Kamala Harris is also obviously a vital example to young women and a glimpse into what it looks like when the glass ceiling is shattered in a male-dominated sphere.” – Kristy Burd, Portfolio Manager

“I have been fortunate to have many strong and accomplished women in my life.  Early on in my career with a big eight public accounting firm I enjoyed auditing different companies in a variety of industries. I found it fascinating to see leaders, work environments, cultures and what contributed to making them positive or negative. When I left public accounting, I went to work for one of my favorite clients, an international non-profit where I became their Finance Director. I loved the mission, people, culture, opportunity to travel and work. The organization, and more importantly the EVP I worked for, made the biggest impact on who I am as a professional and in many ways as a person. I am forever grateful for her strong leadership and mentoring and her focus on building positive work culture. She was accomplished… she knew heads of state, supreme court justices and world leaders. She once lived in a developing country as a single parent raising two sons. She held many important leadership positions and was on the board of impressive organizations. She was smart, patient, hardworking, empathetic, and cared deeply about the organization and the people it touched but she was not the least bit intimidating. She put me in positions I did not think I was capable of but she trusted me more than I trusted myself and that was empowering. I had the good fortune to work with her for twelve years and over those years I took good mental notes and have worked to emulate the type of leader she was because I admired her so much.  I still recognize things I do or say or decide that are a direct result of her. I often find myself thinking after all of these years when faced with a situation, “I wonder what Gail would do?’” – Wendy McKee, Vice President of Accounting

“Kamala Harris. Although I had expected it to be sooner, I am excited to have a woman within the highest political office in our country. I think she is a great reminder that anything is possible, and with some hard work, you can prove any naysayers wrong.” – Jana Faro, VP Operations (Capstone Management Partners)

“I am lucky to be surrounded by many women in my life who are positive role models, including my mom, grandmother, many aunts, cousins, friends and colleagues. I don’t think I can pick just one female who has made an impact on me. I think the ‘sum of its parts is really greater than the whole’ and they’ve all had various impacts on me and have shaped me into the woman that I am today. From my mother who taught me that you are never too old to pursue your dreams and to be independent and to female friends who are that support group when faced with challenges – socially and personally, I am surrounded by truly great women.” – Nicole Ivanovich, Marketing Director

Reflections on Being a Woman in Your Career Field and Any Perceived or Actual Barriers You Faced while Deciding Your Career Path

“When I decided to study as a paralegal at Samford, it was in the middle of my sophomore year.  At Samford they offered an AS and a BS in Paralegal Studies.  This was a “new” field of study and the trends in this career were on the rise. That was the reason I became a paralegal.  As the field was so new, the only barrier I perceived was the attorney accepting paralegals and learning how to utilize them efficiently.” – Jeanie Johnson, Paralegal

“I fell into my career, but my father was a developer and owned many rentals as well as owning a mortgage company, so I think growing up watching him and listening to him made me decide I could work in this field and that I would be interested in managing with care and culture, so when the opportunity presented itself, I assumed that I could be capable of succeeding. Seeing an example of success is important. My sister also has a successful, self-made career in a male- dominated field, and I think watching her has made me understand that you can succeed if you don’t allow doubtful thinking.” – Kristy Burd, Portfolio Manager

“On the development side and in the higher levels of operations, it is mostly men. It has been a challenge to be one of the few women at the table, but an important one: the way we approach our work, solve problems, etc. is an important perspective. Sometimes you have to be persistent about speaking up for what is needed or what is right. I am excited to have recruited more women amongst our ranks and the future is bright!” – Jana Faro, VP Operations (Capstone Management Partners)

Reflections On Working at CDP and Embracing Diversity

“I have experienced nothing but whole-hearted acceptance into this work environment. Capstone has created a culture in which every employee, no matter what their objective demographic characteristics happen to be, is met with the same expectations to bring their unique set of experiences/perspective and full effort every day to work. Females are included in this workplace just like anyone else. This work environment operates much like a symbiotic family unit in which “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” ­– Abigail Robertson, Development Associate

“I started at CDP only a little over a month ago, but it is great to see women in so many aspects of the business. There are women in positions in Accounting, Administration, Legal, Management, Marketing, Interiors, etc.  This demonstrates that CDP is supporting its core principle of ‘embracing diversity’.” – Jeanie Johnson, Paralegal

“There has been one thing we have learned to be able to count on in this past year and that is change.  Our nation has faced challenges to which words cannot describe – a global pandemic, national political disruption, and social tension that only divided our country even further… but only temporarily.  From these dark times, we have also seen extraordinary things happen.  One of the most notable being founded in human connection.  Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion is once again at top of mind for leaders, business owners, and executives in our great country.  Our workforce is coming together to face this challenge in a unified fashion, to promote change, connect people across boundaries, and go deeper on identify.  I have never been more proud to be working as an HR professional than during this time of change.  When I reflect on all of this, I am often reminded of a favorite quote from Christine Caine, “Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted.”  This period in our history is truly a testament to that.  Before a beautiful flower can grow, the seed must be buried in a dark place, left for a time there, and tended to by a system of elements that come together to bring the flower to life and light.  As with a flower, we as a nation are coming together in humanity to plant seeds of change in this dark time.  These seeds will continue to grow until once again coming out of the darkness and into light. Celebrating International Women’s Day and National Women’s History Month is of great significance to the beauty and process of life that we are all experiencing in this time.  It’s a testament to the social change we’re seeing and, in our ability, to unify, grow, and once again reach the light.  I have the honor to work alongside incredible women at Capstone who inspire and motivate me each day.  I am thankful for this opportunity to recognize them, and to acknowledge this special time in history.  We have much to look forward to in this time of growth and change.  That is one thing to which I’m certain.” – Samantha Olejniczak, Director of Human Resources

Join us in taking the month of March to pause and reflect on what International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month mean to you as individuals, families, and a society at large. We’re already looking forward to next year!