2015 Women Of The Channel: Female Role Models I Admire

WOTC Female Role Models

As part of CRN's Women of the Channel project, we've asked the honorees to tell us about their personal female role models. The answers ranged from family matriarchs to colleagues to entertainers. The following is a sample of these responses to provide a look at the female role models who have helped guide the 2015 Women of the Channel honorees into the IT leaders they are today.

Carol Beering, Intelisys

SVP, Sales Operations

My mother-in-law, Edda (Beering) Matczak. She was a wife and mother of 4, who worked her way up from secretary to an executive position at United Airlines. An advocate for the positive impact women bring to a leadership team, she prioritized her family, her career and herself. She taught me that I could be successful in all areas of my life, without failing to take care of myself too. She recently passed away, and even through this experience she showed dignity and grace. I hope to carry on the positive impact and mentorship she displayed to other women, professionally and personally.

Johnna Bowley, Aerohive Networks

VP, Worldwide Channels, Global Sales Operations

My mother. My mother is the single strongest woman I know -- and has been a critical part of my personal and professional success. She has been the guiding light for me as I've looked to balance my career together with my personal life. And she gave me the single most useful advice I could have ever asked for, which was simply to "believe in yourself." "If you want to do something badly enough, you will find a way to do it." This has been a motto that has held true for me throughout my life, both personally and professionally.

Meredith Caram, AT&T

Executive Director, Strategic Research, AT&T Partner Exchange

Helen Keller most inspires me. She was an amazing woman who redefined the concept of disability. Despite being unable to verbally or visually express how she felt, she was determined to break barriers and improve the lives of others. She graduated from college, authored books, traveled the world and campaigned for what she believed in. Moreover, she refused to blame others for her struggles. Think about everything we could accomplish if we adopted her determination and positive outlook. Her journey taught me the importance of recognizing when you need support and recognizing those that support you.

Rachel Cassidy, Red Hat

VP, Global Partner Enablement

Mother Teresa. Her selflessness and dedication to help the poor and sick is beyond comparison. I strive to always do the right thing and know there is so much more I can and should do. Mother Teresa dedicated her life to helping others, especially those that were neglected from society. Her dedication and love was recognized with a Noble Peace Prize, and I can only strive to follow her example. If we all had a sampling of the respect and love Mother Teresa lived, the world would be a different place.

Leslie Conway, Digium

VP, Global Marketing

Dara Torres is a five-time Olympic swimmer, mother, model, TV personality and motivational speaker. At the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, Dara became the oldest swimmer to compete in the Olympic Games at age 41. Her attempt at the 2012 London Olympic Games inspired many older athletes to consider re-entering competition. Dara inspires audiences from all walks of life with her message of encouraging big dreams, perseverance and healthy living -- and reminds us that age is just a number.

Nancy Czlonka, Tripp Lite

Director, Sales, U.S. Distribution

I admire Joan Rivers because she was never afraid to take a chance, and was a trailblazer in the male-dominated field of stand-up comedy. Rivers was a smart businesswoman who rebuilt her career after being blackballed by the industry when she was at the top of her game. She concentrated on doing what she did best, making people laugh. Rivers lived life to its fullest, maintained strong family values and generously supported her favorite charities. She was known as an excellent boss who cared about her people, brought out the best in them and helped them advance in their careers.

Holly Davis, Ruckus Wireless

Director, U.S. Public Sector Partner Organization

Audrey Hepburn, who not only was a recognized film legend and fashion icon, she also was a dedicated humanitarian. Hepburn believed that anyone who did not believe in miracles is not a realist. Her work with UNICEF to bring water to villages in Africa so that young women could have time to go to school instead of walking miles to get water everyday is inspiring. Audrey taught me that anyone can be successful and give back to the community. Create miracles every day by touching others' lives simply by living your life by example.

Hope Davo, Fonality

Director, Channel Marketing

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. Sandberg has successfully opened up the conversation on gender roles in the workforce by sharing a great deal of insight and expertise gathered from her own experience. As a professional, a mother and a spouse, she's experienced great success in her career, which took a lot of hard work and many sacrifices. She offers great advice for women: "We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves. The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents and interests."

Laurie Evans, VMware

Sr. Director, Solution Provider Leader

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "A woman is like a tea bag -- you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." In many ways, she was a woman before her time and struggled to have her voice heard. Yet when people heard her voice, there was something wise, magical and wonderful in her thinking and curiosity. It strikes me as women in IT today: Our time is now. Our time has arrived. And our voice is being heard.

Lucia Filanti, VMware

Director, Global Partner Marketing, Campaigns Marketing

Rita Levi-Montalcini recently passed away at the age of 103 after dedicating her life to science and medicine. In 1986, jointly with her colleague Stanley Cohen, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology for the discovery of the nerve growth factor, which is key in the study of diseases like dementia and cancer. She was also honored as Senator for life of the Italian Republic. One sentence from her autobiography captured my attention: "It is imperfection -- not perfection -- that is the end result of the program written into that formidably complex engine that is the human brain."

Mary Ellen Grom, Synnex

VP, U.S. Marketing

Ellen DeGeneres. I admire her consistency in standing up for what she believes in no matter what. Her genuine sense of humor, enthusiasm for music and dance, and whole-hearted authenticity are influential. She is a spokesperson for brands that influence the livelihood of women -- CoverGirl, J.C. Penney. She is loyal to her roots and heritage in New Orleans and is a raving fan of her mother. She ends each episode by asking viewers to "be kind to one another."

Reena Gupta, Avankia

President, CEO

Melinda Gates, primarily for her philanthropic work (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for global health and education) and her strong passion for women's education. Melinda Gates expanded the foundation to include worldwide improvements in education and, later, efforts also came to address global poverty and health issues. Her initiatives are aligned with the dedication I have toward these areas -- I continue to participate and support the School Sisters of Notre Dame (for girl's education in rural schools) and the Art of Living Foundation Service Projects.

Julie Haley, Edge Solutions


Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, is not your typical tech executive. She is approachable, results-oriented and focused on the business aspects of IT. I admire Whitman as a seasoned leader who realizes that technology is the driving force of positive change in the way we live and do business. I admire Whitman's investment in public service, especially her audacity to run for governor of California. With no prior political experience, Whitman won the (R) nomination. Although she ultimately lost, it was a tight race. Now Whitman is successfully navigating the turnaround of HP, driving HP and its partners' growth.

Honora Handley, CA Technologies

Sr. Director, Channel Marketing

Myself and my three daughters. This past year, we lost our home in a 3-alarm fire. The range of emotions one experiences after a massive loss is impossible to articulate, but add to that all the work that must done -- itemizing belongings, negotiating with insurance, seeking permits, etc. We were determined to get through it. Despite the nightmares, the mourning of their favorite dolls, and everything else lost, we learned to appreciate health and safety, and the kindness of others. We were able to keep a positive outlook and perspective of what is important in life.

Kristyn Hogan, Cisco

Sr. Manager, Collaboration Sales, Americas Partner Organization

Barbara Bush. In this post-feminist era, she has never lost sight of her role as a mother and leader of her family, yet, simultaneously, is unforgiving in her opinions and beliefs. She is strong, feisty, honest and no-nonsense. "Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps and preside over the White House as the president's spouse. I wish him well." - Barbara Bush

Debbie Hughes, IBM

VP, Global Business Partner Channels, Global Technology Services

I admire Michelle Obama because she is well-educated, very intelligent, strong, family-focused, engaging and committed to caring about and changing the health and welfare of the nation's youth. She has used the power of her office in a nonthreatening way to articulate the urgent need to change the eating and exercise habits of our nation's children. Through innovative ideas and creative message mediums, i.e. videos, celebrity endorsements, the MOVE program, the White House garden, she has encouraged children (and adults) to become vested in their own health through more nutritious eating habits and exercise.

Shannon Lewis, Nimbo

VP, Operations

Martha Stewart is one of my female role models. I love that she built her company based on her own talents from scratch, was able to embrace her femininity while modeling on the side, and though her brand is a creative pursuit her business acumen has proved incredibly sharp. Her career also demonstrates perseverance, as she was able to successfully bounce back from a very public mistake and not only regain foothold but continue to expand.

Sherri Liebo, Cisco

VP, Global Partner Marketing

Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hillary personifies what it means to be successful in the workplace despite the challenges that women face. She has overcome those challenges with strength and resilience and ensured that she has a seat at the table by being an equal to extremely powerful leaders. Her diplomatic grace and skills were unmatched in repairing the U.S. image on the world stage. "Our lives are a mixture of different roles. Most of us are doing the best we can to find whatever the right balance is ... for me, that balance is family, work, and service."

Lisa Matherly, Intel Security

VP, Worldwide Partner Programs, Marketing, Operations

My grandmother is our family matriarch and role model for faith, loyalty and tradition. I admire her courage to thrive regardless of life's obstacles. She is the daughter of a laundry worker who didn't want children and a struggling bartender in Prohibition [era] San Francisco. Devastated by the loss of her brother and caretaker in WWII, she finished high school despite her mother wanting her to work. Later she married my grandfather, and they owned and operated a macaroni factory supplying pastas to Bay Area restaurants. She juggled motherhood, marriage and entrepreneurship until she was widowed in her early 40s.

Cheryl Neal, Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas

VP, Supplier Business Management

Maya Angelou, American autobiographer and poet, is a role model to me for the inspiration she gave to women of all ages. She didn't let the many obstacles in her life dissuade her from pursuing her passion and giving back. Maya Angelou unselfishly shared her learnings with women around the world. Through her words, she continues to provide the lessons and encouragement for achieving our aspirations. I was fortunate to hear Maya Angelou speak in Phoenix many years ago. The passion she had for life was contagious and something to emulate!

April Petty, Synnex

Senior Director, Field Account Executive

Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, the first African-American female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Ursula is a dynamic and strong woman who offers real-world advice to other women in the IT channel.

Lauren Shapiro, PlanetOne Communications


Definitely Golda Meir. Golda was a pillar of strength. She led a country to survival during a very difficult time, without second-guessing. She stood in the face of adversity with the loudest and strongest voice. I greatly admire her strength and, to this day, you can't find a comparable human (male or female) in the world of global politics.

Annie Rooke, CA Technologies

Director, National Channel Partners

Definitely Jane Goodall. I've admired her tremendously since I was a little girl. Jane's work revolves around inspiring action on behalf of endangered species, particularly chimpanzees, and encouraging people to do their part to make the world a better place for people, animals and the environment we all share. The Jane Goodall Institute works to protect the famous chimpanzees of Gombe National Park in Tanzania, but recognizes this can't be accomplished without a comprehensive approach that addresses the needs of local people who are critical to chimpanzee survival. That same comprehensive approach can be applied to business and life.

Laurie Usewicz, Gemalto

VP, Global Channels

Oprah Winfrey. The truly inspiring thing about Oprah isn't her bankroll, but what she does with her time and money. A generous philanthropist and a crusader for human rights, Oprah has used her celebrity to better the lives of millions.

Maryann Von Seggern, Riverbed Technology

VP, Channel Strategy

Madeleine Albright. As the first woman to become the U.S. Secretary of State and highest-ranking woman leader in our country, she was a trailblazer. She is a highly accomplished diplomat, a mother, and an incredible example of a woman breaking through the Washington glass ceiling. She has incredible spirit and is not afraid to speak openly. I love her quote, "There is a special place in Hell for women that do not help other women." This resonates, as I have tried to mentor up-and-coming women and am always supportive of women in the workplace.