Lorraine Avery


Avery, LorraineStrategic Director of Bank Operations
Associated Banc-Corp
Stevens Point, WI, USA
Industry: Finance
Field: Customer Service

Having led such a notable career within the financial and customer service industries, it can be said that Lorraine Avery has done it all. Not only does she serve as the senior vice president and director of customer service contact center operations at Associated Bank, but she also serves on the board of numerous organizations, including the Portage County Business Council, Inc.; Humane Society of Portage County, WI; and SOCAP International. Truly active within her industry and her community, she also serves as a co-chair of the Customer Experience Council. Additionally, she serves on the boards of the Woodland Girl Scout Council and the International Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals. She is sincerely passionate about and drawn to the nonprofit sector, as she is currently a chairwoman of the United Way of Portage County’s Governance Committee and on the board of Junior Achievement. When Ms. Avery is not dynamically serving these organizations, she’s also consistently engaging at public speaking events. She has spoken many times on the effects that customer service has on each industry and how important those effects are.

With Associated Bank, Ms. Avery works across various business lines with key executives, as well as business leaders. She is also responsible for examining internal and external ways to improve customer service, as well as overseeing support in business banking, wealth and trust services, sales, mobile banking, and customer service delivery. Proficient in all facets of customer service management, Ms. Avery takes pride in remaining abreast of industry trends, as well as doing whatever is needed to provide the highest quality of service to every customer.

A renowned and highly-acclaimed professional within various industries, including customer service and not-for-profit, Ms. Avery has been consistently recognized for her hard work and dedication throughout the years. In 2013, she was named Woman of Courage, Confidence and Character by the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes. In recognition of her professional excellence, she was named Woman of the Year by both the National Association of Professional Women and the WLA. In 2000, she was the recipient of the Best and Brightest Award from the University of Wisconsin. She was appointed by Governor Tommy Thompson to the Governor’s Task Force on University of Wisconsin Accountability Measure, and was also named America’s Best and Brightest Businesswoman by Dollars & Sense in 1993. Having always attributed her success to her personal passion for helping others, Ms. Avery aspires to utilize her expertise to consult and mentor others with similar passions in the coming years. Continue reading

Kevin S. Carr


Carr, KevinRichmond, VA, United States
Industry: Manufacturing
Field: Industrial Mechanics

Starting his career in 1977 as a mechanic’s helper, Kevin S. Carr has worked his way through the industrial trade industry. He has always loved mechanics and through the help of a friend, he was brought into the field of automation. He has also briefly worked for himself. He currently works for a manufacturing company that provides cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. He enjoys the challenge of working with equipment and machines that require a high amount of detail and finesse. Serving as an industrial mechanic, Mr. Carr is always looking at a problem in order to find the solution.

Mr. Carr has studied mechanical engineering at the Richmond Technical Center and has received Reliability Green Belt Training at Honeywell International Inc. Certified in Roto line and Opti line laser alignment, he has also completed reliability maintenance training. As an industrial mechanic with his current company, he handles production support, and works with machines that package cigarettes, analyzing and correcting any machine issues. He is also entrusted with handling the maintenance of the equipment.

Mr. Carr currently has two patents pending: one for a steerable trailer and the other for a stop stick that will work behind a moving cruiser. He attributes his success to his parents’ support, and those he has worked with, who have recognized and made use of his abilities. Looking ahead, he intends to continue working and advancing in the industry. He would also like to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors and work on his own designs. Continue reading

Linda Turner


Senior Project Manager, President
LT Consulting
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Industry: Business Services
Field: IT and Business Analysis Consulting

Linda Turner has spent the past 15 years as a consultant in the field of information technology. During that time, she has gained a wealth of experience from her mentors and employers, as well as her clients. Most recently, she established LT Consulting, for which she serves as a senior project manager and president. In this role, she is not only responsible for lending her experience to clients, but also for managing daily business operations. This adds significant challenges to her workload, but it allows her the freedom of being her own boss, as well as the pride that comes from owning one’s own business.

Currently, Ms. Turner manages a staff that varies in size at any given time from 10 to 30 system professionals. She also manages team project planning and budgeting initiatives, and controls the company’s resources, ensuring that they are distributed evenly across the company’s client base. Adept at speaking with all levels of employees and administrators, Ms. Turner is also responsible for working with and providing status updates and advice to senior executives, the state government, deputy administrators, and executive directors. She believes that organization, and the ability to multitask, implement initiatives, and manage issues effectively are among the key components to running any successful business. She works to develop and nurture these qualities within her employees.

Agnes Kempker-Cloyd


Kempker-Cloyd, Aggie

Assistant U.S. Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Industry: Government/Public Service
Field: Civil Litigation

“We don’t represent just anybody, we represent the United States,” says Agnes Kempker-Cloyd, assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Attorneys’ Office of the U.S. Department of Justice. “If you are going to govern, you have to govern fairly.” For the past 35 years, Ms. Kempker-Cloyd has held fast to this philosophy, always searching for a resolution that best meets the needs of both parties. When it comes to litigations and settlements, you should “try to build a bridge instead of creating more tension,” she says.

Throughout her career in law, Ms. Kempker-Cloyd has gained experience in many different areas of the field, including criminal law, which is where she spent her first decade, and cases regarding bankruptcy — she is one of only two or three individuals who have experience in this area in her office. Although she has more than three decades of experience and has become skilled in civil litigation, it was no easy task for her to go into the field of law. When she first entered law school, women were given a hard time because it was not a common field for them to pursue a career in. However, she was persistent in obtaining her law degree and graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law with a JD.

A seasoned professional, Ms. Kempker-Cloyd understands that when working with her clients, it takes time, experience and maturity to be able to make a reasonable offer. “You have to try to remember that even though you may think that the case is small, to the person involved, it’s a big deal.” The most gratifying aspect of her career is when she is able to litigate a case successfully. In order to keep herself fresh, she is an avider reader of the Michigan Bar Journal. She also supports many charitable organizations, including Circle Theater, Home Repair Services, Senior Neighbors, the Fair Housing Center of Greater Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Sierra Club.

Ms. Kempker-Cloyd originally wanted to pursue a career as a buyer and maintains her hobby of fashion design. When she needs a break, she is able to bring out her creative side, working as an independent fashion consultant for Jockey Person to Person. Continue reading

Darryl R. Wilson

Architecture & Construction

Wilson, Darryl

Itracit Project Solutions Inc.
Onoway, Alberta, Canada
Industry: Architecture/Construction
Field: Turnaround Project Management

The youngest Canron Construction site manager in Western Canada, Darryl R. Wilson has dedicated nearly four decades to the construction industry. He began his career working as a boilermaker, and after gaining substantial experience in his field, Mr. Wilson assumed a position as a senior planner and scheduler for Alstom Power, followed by a position as senior planner and scheduler for Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR, Inc.). He enjoys project management and the implementation of business planning and currently serves as the president of Itracit Project Solutions Inc.

Mr. Wilson is skilled in turnaround project management for clients in the power generation, pulp and paper, oil and gas, process and chemical industries. Drawing on his educational background, which includes a Microsoft certified professional designation and a certification as a Microsoft System engineer, he has become an expert in consulting and leadership. In his current role, he plans multi-contractor and trade resource loaded and fully integrated schedules for turnaround execution teams, including level six detail schedules that utilize critical path methodology. He credits his successful career to his 35 years of field experience and 29 years in a managerial or supervisory role with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths Forgers and Helpers.

Mr. Wilson holds the record for the quickest erection of an EEC precipitator — 90 days from material onsite to commissioning. He also names being responsible for the rigging procedures and rigging crews for the field erection of the first supercritical boiler in Canada as one of the highlights of his profession. Looking toward the future, he plans to retire and take time for himself. He is considering mentoring young people entering the planning and scheduling field. Continue reading

Rose M. Rivera, CMA, C.Ph.


Rivera, Rose

1) Adjunct Faculty, Lorain County Community College
2) Certified Medical Assistant, Phlebotomist, Erie Coast Chest Physicians
Elyria, OH, USA
Industry: Health Care
Field: Medical Support Services

“Preventive care is important,” stresses health care professional Rose M. Rivera. “In order to have a good and long life, [people need] to take calculated steps to care for themselves.” In 2009, Ms. Rivera was provided with a rude awakening as to just how important this advice truly is, as she went in to have open-heart surgery. Many individuals hear that it is vital to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes need a good push in the right direction. Through her own experience and knowledge in the field of health care, Ms. Rivera is an active advocate for living a healthy life.

Ms. Rivera did not initially begin her career in the health care field. She worked in a variety of positions, including as a cashier, computer operator, stockroom and inventory control coordinator, and bank associate. After 32 years, she decided to venture on a new path, with the support of her husband Santiago and mentor Cindy Watkins. She currently uses her skills in medical assistance and coding in her role as a certified medical assistant and phlebotomist for Erie Coast Chest Physicians, where she prepares medical charts for patients.

In addition to serving Erie Coast Chest Physicians, Ms. Rivera is also an adjunct faculty for Lorain County Community College. She never considered teaching as a full-time profession until Ms. Watkins, her instructor at the time, talked her into working with a grant program. “I never realized how much I did like it,” she says, and ever since then she has enjoyed teaching. She coordinates with students in the medical laboratory, and assists them in taking vital signs and performing blood tests. In the future, she hopes to become more involved as an instructor in pharmacology, medical coding or medical assisting studies.

Ms. Rivera is the recipient of an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Administration and an Associate of Applied Science with a concentration in medical assistance and clinical studies from Lorain County Community College. She also earned an Associate of Arts in Business from the same institution in 1981. For the past 34 years, she has umpired baseball for youths aged nine to 18 years old. She is also a volunteer with the local fire department and police department, and a supporter of the American Heart Association. Continue reading

Suzanne Gorman Messina, M.Ed.


Goman Messina, Suzanne

Business Teacher
Core Team Leader, Business Education Programs
Broome-Tioga County BOCES Alternative Sites
Broome-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services
Binghamton, NY, USA
Industry: Education
Field: Business Education

“I am always looking for a better way to share information with students, a better way to teach,” says Suzanne Gorman Messina, who has served as an educator for the past three decades. This philosophy, along with her patience, drive and zeal for the profession has made her successful. “I want everyone to feel good about what they are learning.” For the last 20 years, Ms. Gorman Messina has been a valuable asset to the Broome-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services, where she teaches students who have transferred from other districts because they need more one-on-one instruction or need to work in smaller groups. It is in this vocational alternative school environment where she is able to make them feel comfortable, thus giving them a better chance to learn.

In addition to her stint as a business teacher, Ms. Gorman Messina serves as a team leader for business education programs for Broome-Tioga County BOCES Alternative Sites. On a daily basis, she is charged with teaching employability and professional skills to ninth- and 10th-grade students, preparing them for a successful entry into the world of work. She also oversees the career cluster program, career and financial management, career skills, and job preparation and procedures. Although her primary concern is seeing her students thrive, she states, “education isn’t just about teaching students, it’s about helping other teachers learn what we can use to relate more to the technology-oriented student in today’s society.”

Ms. Gorman Messina doesn’t plan to stop learning and believes that 85 percent of what is taught to the learner is retained by the instructor. A graduate of The Citadel School of Education with a Master of Education in Counselor Education, she also holds certification in guidance counseling and business education. She is a former member of the Broome County Legislature, and is the secretary of the Broome County Democratic Executive Committee, and the vice president of the Broome County Ladies’ Ancient Order of Hibernians. She also serves as a Broome County Medical Reserve Corps volunteer.

In addition to her time spent educating the next generation, she has been active in the Democratic Party for more than 20 years and is very involved within her community. As an educator for 33 years and a former Broome County legislator, she credits her successful career to the support she received from her husband, her parents, and in particular, to the inspiration she receives from her mother, a lifelong politician. In the coming years, she aims to experience continued growth within the employability program and remain active with the local government. Continue reading

Dorothea E. de Zafra-Atwell, MPIA


de Zafra-Atwell, DorotheaDirector of Science Education, Senior Program Analyst (Retired)
United States Department of Health and Human Services
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Silver Spring, MD, USA
Industry: Government
Field: Policy and Program Development

Dorothea E. de Zafra-Atwell went into the federal government civil service in 1969 with a strong conviction to make a positive difference in the world. She chose to work with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, where she saw an opportunity to improve the nation’s quality of life. Although unable to view the direct impact her work had on people because it was several levels removed, she nevertheless felt that helping to shape federal policies and programs was really worthwhile. Furthermore, her involvement in a field that was traditionally considered to be male-dominated distinguished her as a pioneering female who capitalized on opportunities and excelled in her positions. Her ability to adapt to various environments was an invaluable asset as she progressed through the ranks of analytical and program management positions in health agencies and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health.

In 1963 she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Non-Western Civilizations from the University of Rochester, which was followed by a Master of Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh in 1965 and a diploma from the Advanced Management Program in Information Resources from the National Defense University in 1994.

After four years in the field of international education, Ms. de Zafra-Atwell took the civil service entrance exam and came into the federal government in 1969 as a management intern. After subsequent positions in legislative and management analysis, she entered the then-new field of information law, holding policy and oversight positions as privacy act officer and information systems security program manager covering all agencies of the United States Public Health Service. Then, in her position as the director of science education for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism from 1995 to 2002, she managed all aspects of the contracting process for the development and field testing of science education curriculum supplements and publications for health professionals related to alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Concurrently, she serviced as senior program analyst there.

In addition to her work for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Ms. de Zafra-Atwell has contributed to the publication of several works as a project officer and editor of “Identification of At-Risk Drinking and Intervention with Women of Child-bearing Age: A Guide for Primary Care Providers,” “Identification and Care of Fetal Alcohol-Exposed Children: A Guide for Primary Care Providers,” and “Personal Steps to a Healthy Choice: A Woman’s Guide.” She also authored “A Management Model for the Implementation of Omnibus Legislation: A Case Study from the U.S. Public Health Service,” which was published in the American Society for Public Administration’s May/June 1978 issue of Public Administration Review.

Since her retirement in 2002, Ms. de Zafra-Atwell has married, taken on eldercare responsibilities, and been active in her church and graduate school alumni association. She is still very interested in her field and keeps up-to-date with current events via her membership in the Council of Former Federal Executives and Associates. She is currently an advocate for higher quality eldercare in the United States based on her personal caregiving experience and history as a former employee of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In the near future, she would like to consult on a senior level with a nonprofit organization. Continue reading

Ellie A. Blair


Blair, Ellary

Ellie Pots Inc.
Lawrence, KS, USA
Industry: Arts
Field: Crystalline Pottery

Every day, after her morning coffee, Ellary Ann Blair makes her way to her studio, where she is able to let her creativity run wild. “My time is my own, I can do what I want, and I can experiment and invent all on my own,” she says. As the owner of Ellie Pots Inc., Ms. Blair has made a career out of her lifelong passion, something most people only fantasize about. She has always wanted to start her own business, and with nearly 50 years of experience, she has made this a reality.

With such fervor for the arts, specifically pottery, it comes as a surprise that Ms. Blair didn’t start out in the field initially. She began her career in the nursery business, running five greenhouses. A plant propagator for 30 years, she would grow her own plants, cutting from every bush in order to grow new plants. After three decades, she retired from the nursery business, having accumulated 85 greenhouses. She playfully describes becoming the owner of a pottery studio as having “traded working in one kind of mud for another.” For nearly a decade, Ms. Blair has been creating hand-crafted pottery, using different types of crystalline glazes. In 2002, she supplemented her God-given talent for art by earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design from The University of Kansas.

Ms. Blair is a member of The American Ceramic Society, The Potters Guild, and a local artists and potters guild. Recognized as an Upcoming New Artist by the Lattice Structures Symposium in 2005, she is working toward having her first solo exhibition at the Lawrence Art Center in Lawrence, Kan. She would like to be remembered by her peers as an energetic woman who loved to have her hands in the mud, and looking ahead, she hopes to increase the recognition she receives for her work. Continue reading

Tessa M. Szwagierczak


Szwagierczak, Tessa

Sole Practitioner
Tessa Szwagierczak Professional Corporation
Lacombe, Alberta, Canada
Industry: Finance
Field: General Accounting

Tessa M. Szwagierczak has always had a passion for small businesses, as she feels that they are oftentimes forgotten, and not given the time they need or deserve to really develop. This inspired her to establish her own accounting practice, Tessa Szwagierczak Professional Corporation, which she serves as the sole practitioner. She has nearly three decades of accounting experience, which she calls upon to manage a base of more than 450 clients for whom she handles accounting needs such as bookkeeping, corporate reporting, payroll, and tax preparation.

Ms. Szwagierczak treats all of her clients equally, regardless of the size of their company. Employing an open-door policy, she actually takes the time to listen to what her clients say and feel, and encourages them to take the time to understand what their company is doing, including its accomplishments from year to year, so that they can determine what needs to be done in order to foster business growth.

A certified general accountant, Ms. Szwagierczak is currently continuing her education at SAIT Polytechnic. She is a member of the Certified General Accountants Association of Alberta and the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada. She considers the most gratifying aspect of her career to be having the ability to help so many individuals achieve their professional dreams. With each passing year, she feels fortunate to have the opportunity to assist new and struggling companies become successful.

Moving forward, Ms. Szwagierczak intends to hire two senior accountants, and two to three bookkeepers and accounting technicians for her new office in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.