Liz A. Bratisax


Bratisax, Liz 305716

Manager of Analytical Services
Research and Development Department
Bimbo Bakeries USA
Greenwich, CT, USA
Industry: Leisure
Field: Ingredient Functionality

Liz A. Bratisax’s passion for food led her to a 30-year career in the food manufacturing industry, where she has worked with prominent food companies such as the General Foods Corporation, Kraft Foods, CPC, UniLever, George Weston Bakeries and Best Foods. For the majority of her career, she has devoted herself to her work for Bimbo Bakeries USA, a food distributor whose mission is “To nourish, delight, and serve America — every meal, every day.” As the manager of analytical services for its Research and Development Department, Mrs. Bratisax is instrumental to the company’s success in achieving this goal. In her current role, she utilizes her expertise in analytical testing and ingredient functionality when testing new ingredients and finished products, writing ingredient specifications, training personnel on testing procedures, and managing front end nutritional information for regulatory groups.

Mrs. Bratisax earned an associate degree from Farmingdale State College and a Bachelor of Science from the Long Island University’s C.W. Post Campus. She speaks at food safety seminars and chairs the annual company Miller’s meeting to ensure that she remains current in the wheat, corn, oat and rye milling industries. An active member of the Institute of Food Technologists and The Association of Official Analytical Chemists (Now AOAC International), she gleans inspiration from the legacies of her heroes Julia Child and Dave Thomas.

Bimbo Bakeries USA’s history in the United States began in 1994, when Grupo Bimbo began exporting and distributing its leading Mexican products into California and Texas. Since then, a diverse number of bread and tortilla bakeries have been acquired and today, this entire legacy has become Bimbo Bakeries USA. Mrs. Bratisax believes that she has been very successful in what is typically a male-dominated industry, and attributes that success to her dedication and strong sense of determination. Continue reading

Ann M. Krause-Hanson, Ph.D.


Krause-Hanson, Ann 1583933

Vice President of Academic Affairs
Mid-State Technical College
Plover, WI, USA
Industry: Education
Field: Educational Leadership and Development

An educator for nearly 40 years, Dr. Ann M. Krause-Hanson has one desire: to provide everyone with opportunities to learn. A lifelong learner herself, she believes that her constant desire to learn has been a key element in her success. She is currently the vice president of academic affairs for Mid-State Technical College located in Marshfield, Wis., where she is charged with overseeing all programs, faculty, institutional research and the library. She also provides marketing services for the school and presides over all workforce development strategies to meet the needs of admissions each year.

Earning a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, with a minor in psychology, from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1974, Dr. Krause-Hanson began her career teaching mathematics at the K-12 level, a position she held for 16 years before transitioning into administrative roles. In 1990, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a Master of Education in Professional Development. Nearly two decades later, she earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a certified instructional supervisor, has a lifetime certification in mathematics, as well as a certification in vocational mathematics.

The field of education is constantly changing and Dr. Krause-Hanson is always looking for new bits of knowledge. In order to stay current, she maintains affiliations with the Wisconsin Association for Career and Technical Education (WACTE), and the Association for Career and Technical Education. She is also the president of Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership. Additionally, she serves as a mentor and facilitator for The Chair Academy, an international academy that conducts leadership training for chairpersons, deans and vice presidents in higher education.

Dr. Krause-Hanson attributes much of her professional success to the mentorship and opportunities given by those around her. In 2012, she was given the President’s Award by WACTE, and in 2008, she was given the Region III Award of Merit by ACTE. As the years progress, she intends to continue working in a leadership position. Continue reading

Maureen M. Klees, MS


Klees, Maureen 906806

Health and Physical Education Teacher
Mountain View High School
Kingsley, PA, USA
Industry: Education
Field: Health and Physical Education

When Maureen M. Klees began in health education nearly three decades ago, she wanted a job that would allow her to be indoors and outdoors and spend time with her children. Unfortunately, some attitudes toward physical education were very discouraging. Teachers would say, “Who needs health classes?” As a health and physical education teacher at Mountain View High School, Ms. Klees believes the subjects should be main components of not only a student’s curriculum, but of their everyday life. “I think that physical education and health complement each other,” she says. The principles taught in these classes contribute to a lifestyle and habits that can improve one’s quality of life through adulthood.

Obesity in both children and adults has skyrocketed in the past 20 years. According to the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), “an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are obese.” This alarming statistic has made Ms. Klees’ job that much more significant as she is charged with teaching the impact of proper nutrition and exercise to her students. She stresses to seventh-, ninth- and 11th-graders that the effects of poor practices can be endless, and that practicing good nutrition habits while they are still young will preserve their physical fitness. With nearly 30 years of experience in education, she is sometimes tempted by the thought of retirement, but the youthfulness her job provides is reason enough to return to work each day. However many obstacles she is faced with, she can always get through them by turning to her faith in God. She also attributes her success to her willingness and ability to recognize opportunity, and the support she receives from her parents.

Ms. Klees earned a master’s degree in health science from East Stroudsburg University. She has kept herself motivated in her field through holding memberships with the Mountain View Education Association; The Pennsylvania State Education Association; the National Education Association; the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; and the American Public Health Association. She is also affiliated with the 20-20 Leadership Foundation, the American Red Cross, and the American Heart Association. An entertainer at heart, she has a passion for music and loves to sing. Some of her fondest memories include being a part of a traveling choir. Continue reading

Marilyn J. Branham


Branham, Marilyn 795080

Office Supervisor
State of Michigan
Industry: Government/Public Service
Field: Public Services

Marilyn J. Branham longed for a career that would enable her to serve others. As an office supervisor for the state of Michigan, she serves as the primary contact for customers in the accounts receivable unit and makes it her first priority to ensure customer satisfaction. Although dealing with members of the public, especially those who are frustrated, can be trying, she strives to understand her client’s needs, thus leading her to assess the situation and resolve their issues. When helping those who are less fortunate, to her it is a moral and social responsibility, not just a job.

Growing up, Ms. Branham was greatly inspired by her parents, who made many sacrifices to educate her and her sister and instill strong values in them. Being a young single parent, she cultivated in herself the determination and drive to provide for her own son. She feels that her experiences in raising a child alone made her a stronger person than she would have been otherwise. In addition to her parents, she gives credit to three of her teachers who always provided encouragement and expected excellence.

A certified social work technician, Ms. Branham has been working for the state for more than 37 years. Her responsibilities include assisting with the collection of monies owed to the department of state, which can be taxing. However, her greatest career achievement and source of gratification was helping clients to become self-sufficient. In fact, a former client of hers was interviewed on television for her accomplishments in a sheltered workshop. Ms. Branham has been recognized as an outstanding individual in public service with several awards. She has been bestowed a certificate of merit for her part with the Grand Idea Program, and an award for 35 years of service, both from the state of Michigan, in addition to being a four-time recipient of a certificate of appreciation from the Michigan Department of State.

A freelance musician since 1969, Ms. Branham teaches private lessons and performs at several venues. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 1971 from Western Michigan University. In order to perfect her craft, she holds memberships with the Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians and the American Federation of Musicians. She also is a volunteer for Saint James Church. In the future, she intends to continue performing, teaching, and serving the public. Continue reading

Edward J. McQuail III


McQuail, Edward 1438151

1) Educator (Retired), McDowell County Public Schools
2) Library Information Specialist (Retired), Tazewell County Public Schools
Bluefield, WV, USA
Industry: Education
Field: Library Information

When Edward J. McQuail III graduated from Beaver High School in 1957, he didn’t know what career path was ahead of him. Enthralled with the history of Bluefield, W.Va., where he was born and raised, it only seemed fitting to enter into the field of education. Nevertheless, he started work as a salesman at his father’s company. Mr. McQuail always had his heart set on being in education, however, and was not going to settle for being a non-college-graduate. More than 10 years after his high school graduation, he entered Concord University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Education in December 1970. He states that receiving his college degree was a dream come true, and he didn’t stop there; he also earned two master’s degrees: one in library science education from Marshall University, and the other in library sciences from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Through his passion to work with young people, Mr. McQuail became a library information specialist for the Tazewell County Public Schools and an educator for the McDowell County Public Schools. He enjoyed being there for the students and listening to any problems they wanted to share with him, whether personal or school-related. Now retired from these posts, he is dedicating more time to his hobby of collecting high school yearbooks, and hopes to expand his yearbook collection in the future. He has a constant desire to learn information about where he grew up and the people who live there. Since 2007, he has also served as the Bluefield High School historian and archivist, where he can put his skills to good use.

Mr. McQuail is a member of the West Virginia Secondary School Association and the American Library Association, the oldest and largest library association in the world. From 1983 to 2010, he also served as a volunteer at the Bluefield Regional Medical Center. Continue reading

Alan C. Reid


Reid, Alan 1269939

Senior Information Systems Analyst
A2Z, Inc., Logistics Services
Industry: Technology
Field: Information Technology Management

A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Alan C. Reid relies upon the field training he gained in the military in his position as senior information systems analyst for A2Z, Inc., Logistics Services. The information systems logistics and support company’s motto is, “The only things that count are those ships and the people who man them.” Providing information systems services and support for government contracts, logistics, management and consulting, the company has stood behind this philosophy for more than a decade.

Mr. Reid’s 30 years in the military prepared him well for his present career. In 2002, for example, he was charged with the planning, coordination, and successful deployment of 3rd Marine Air Wing information systems and support to Iraq in execution of the global war on terrorism. In the scope of three months, he set up three disparate locations to support 27 aviation units and two support ships comprising 216 aircraft and more than 5,000 personnel working with local computer systems and satellite communications. For his dedication to serving his country, Mr. Reid was given several awards, including the Meritorious Service Award, two National Defense Service Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. He was also commended with no fewer than seven Sea Service Deployment Ribbons and 10 Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals.

Upon his recent retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps as an E-9 master gunnery sergeant, Mr. Reid joined A2Z.  In his current capacity, he handles training, backup services, troubleshooting and long-distance support, offers naval logistics information systems support for all vessels, and restores databases. Additionally, he teaches system administration classes to sailors. To enhance the knowledge he gained in the military, Mr. Reid earned a bachelor’s degree in information technology management in 2004 from National University, followed three years later with an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Most recently he earned certification from CompTIA, Inc., and certification in security leadership and global information assurance.

Mr. Reid volunteers for local blood drives and supports the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and Habitat for Humanity International. When he finds a moment to himself, he enjoys photography, traveling, and physical fitness. Continue reading

Dale West


West, Dale 485145

True Essence Aura & Chakra Photography, LLC
Green Bay, WI, USA
Industry: Holistic Health Care
Field: Aura and Chakra Interpretation

There are several chakra spots in the body, but as the owner of True Essence Aura & Chakra Photography, LLC, Dale West focuses on the main seven that run from the head to the hip. Opening its doors in 2004, this therapy center provides several forms of alternative medicine, including preprogrammed sessions to balance the body, mind and spirit, such as dry thermal heat, vibratory and oxygenation massage, and aroma, sound and LED light therapy. Those interested in balancing the body, mind and spirit are very much intrigued by what the chakras of the body are doing. “We are able to show them their full body aura, interpret the colors of their aura and determine whether or not the chakras are balanced and in harmony with each other,” says Mr. West.

Mr. West and his wife, Margaret, have been believers in chakra interpretation for quite some time, and are frequent customers of “aura photography.” They have had their photos taken at fairs and other venues, and realized that the description of the colors in their auras was amazingly accurate. After a friend showed them a brochure introducing a new way of doing aura and chakra photography, they decided to venture out on their own, forming True Essence Aura & Chakra Photography. For the past eight years, Mr. and Mrs. West have been assisting clients improve their lives and states of mind by reading auras and providing healing through chakra spots on the body. They constantly attend wellness seminars and participate in shows to keep their own minds fresh.

Over the years, Mr. West has certainly discovered those who do not believe that this type of alternative medicine works or who even acknowledge its existence. However, his main piece of advice is to not shoot it down. “Being open and listening are the ways to find out about yourself,” he explains. As the years progress, he plans to expand his business. Continue reading

Jean R. Musselman


Musselman, Jean 858569

Tax Preparer, Senior Tax Advisor Level V
H&R Block
Industry: Finance
Field: State and Business Tax Preparation

Jean R. Musselman has been doing her own taxes since she graduated college, so becoming a full-time tax preparer fit perfectly as her career choice. Although she earned a bachelor’s degree in botany and a master’s degree in plant pathology from Utah State University, after years as a stay-at-home mom, she was in need of a job and went through a 13-week training program with H&R Block. She has served as a tax preparer for the past 28 years, and as a senior tax advisor level V for H&R Block for the past 10 years.

Over the years, Ms. Musselman has become proficient in state and business tax preparation, and Canadian taxes. In her current role, she assists new and prospective clients, and teaches advanced programs in business schedules, farm schedules, schedules C’s, and international schedules at the company. She herself attends annual CBT computer classes, as well as advanced instructor training courses. She enjoys the variety in her job as there is always something new or different. “You never get the same return twice in a row,” she says. Named the Most Valuable Professional by H&R Block, she credits her successful career to her ability to listen and work well with her clients.

Ms. Musselman originally planned to pursue a career in botany, and in 1961, she discovered a new species called the penstemon flowersii. Looking ahead, she hopes continue in the same profession and become more involved with the Utah Plant Society. Continue reading

Vin DeFina


DeFina, Vin 1551940

Senior Vice President, Counsel, Head of Energy
Chicago Title Insurance Company
New York City, NY, USA
Industry: Law
Field: Title Insurance

While attending Brooklyn Law School, and later while attending NYU School of Law, Vin DeFina maintained an interest in the field of real estate, and now, with nearly 30 years of experience, he serves as a senior vice president, counsel and Head of Energy in the New York City office of the Chicago Title Insurance Company. He has expertise in title insurance underwriting, claims and sales on all commercial asset types of property, including and specializing in energy assets such as wind farms, solar farms, hydro, fossil fuel plants, and geothermal energy. Utilizing his skills, Mr. DeFina oversees transactions from beginning to end to make sure title closes timely and smoothly. He also provides marketing for the business. Serving as the chief energy officer in the New York City National Office, he also takes many trips nationally to meet with clients and attend conferences.

Mr. DeFina earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Queens College of the City University of New York, a JD from Brooklyn Law School in 1973 and a Master of Laws from The New York University School of Law in 1980. He passed the bar exam in three different states: New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. In addition to his role with Chicago Title Insurance Company, Mr. DeFina has been heavily involved in contributing time to his community in Greenwich Connecticut such as in the drafting of the Greenwich Emergency Medical Service contract between the Town of Greenwich and the GEMS Ambulance Service. He has also been a member of the Greenwich Board of Health for 16 years, serving as chairman for two years, and served on the advisory board of St. Catherine’s of Sienna Parish as president.

Mr. DeFina attributes his successful career to hard work, perseverance, his ability to get along with people and family support. He oftentimes serves as a guest lecturer for the NYU Real Estate Institute, Pace Law School, and the University of Connecticut MBA Program. Continue reading