Occasionally, we ask one of our Top 100 Women or Leading Women winners to name five women who have influenced her, personally and professionally. Do you know a Top 100 Woman or Leading Woman who should be featured here? Email Special Publications Editor Patrick Brannan at PBrannan@TheDailyRecord.com.
I have been blessed to have a large number of women in my life who have shaped the person I am today. Fortunately for me, it was difficult to answer this question because there have been so many wonderful women in my world.
I can’t name five women without mentioning my two beautiful daughters, Cady and Brittany, pictured with me above. I have wonderful aunts, Deenie and Gert, who are two of the triumvirate of devoted sisters that included my mother, Loretta Barrett. They have helped fill the space since I lost my mom in 2015 but were always there for me over the years. A big Irish family of aunts and female cousins was sustaining while growing up. I must include my dear friends Liz Rhode, Kim Clark and Claudia Meyers because they fill hard-to-reach places in my heart. The nuns at Mercy High School taught me grace and surprising liberalism. And not to be left out are my female team members who worked with me for years at Clapp Communications. But if I really must narrow it down, these five women have played a foundational role in my joy, resilience and growth. Because of them, I always believed that I could accomplish anything I decided I wanted to do.
In writing about these women, I realized the commonality is that they are all beautifully feminine, strong, able to persevere and face challenging times with grace. I work every day to bring their resilience and strength to my own life and work as well as share these values in my interactions with my daughters, their friends, and those with whom I work and play
She lived 90 brilliant years and never really slowed down until blood cancer took her life in a quick three months. She was still living independently, driving her car and acting as a source of encouragement and support for people. The thing about her was that she was tough as nails. Never ever feel sorry for yourself. Loretta had no patience with that. Her favorite sayings were “everything happens for a reason” and “one door closes and another one opens.” She raised my brother and me by herself while building a stellar career in real estate. She was ahead of her time as a woman in business. The first female manager in her company, she ran the highest-grossing and highest profit office. She didn’t suffer fools but had a huge soft spot for her granddaughters. One of the things I really admire about her is that there wasn’t a prejudiced bone in her body, which was unusual for her generation She was so proud of my accomplishments.
A dear friend of my mother’s, she was also a neighbor and became a family member to me. She taught me a lot about creating beauty in one’s life. She had a wonderful aesthetic. As a single working mother, she was short on cash but could turn anything into an item of beauty with some paint, fabric or glue. Her home was lovely. She could have been one of today’s top bloggers. She baked, sewed and designed. At the same time, she was tough, strong and irreverent. She always supported my love of design and making beautiful things.
My dear friend for 45 years. Meeting at Mercy High School, I like to remind Sharon that she was a year ahead of me. We knew one another at school but really got close when we lived and worked in Ocean City in the summers. Sharon worked a lot of jobs like me, to help put herself through school. Wicked smart, she graduated from law school at Boston College with honors and law review while waitressing almost full time. She has taken that determination to her career and is a respected partner at Venable Inc. She manages huge corporate transactions that boggle my mind. What really defines her for me though is her sense of contentment with life, her interest in sports, travel and music and her devotion to the ones she loves. My maid of honor and my girls’ godmother, she is so dear to us. She literally makes me laugh until I cry.
Meeting at Mercy High School our first week, Katie quickly became the best friend I had. The first 14 years of my life were very difficult. Katie helped me to recover by just being Katie. She was smart and also hysterically funny. Coming from a rollicking family of four children, she never took things too seriously. I had only had sad and serious in my life and she taught me how to laugh and have fun. As fun as she was, she also was super smart. She took academics seriously and worked hard. I am a first-generation graduate because of her encouragement to apply to college. We were inseparable for eight years when I got a call before dawn that Katie’s home had caught fire, her brother had died and she was at shock trauma. She died just short of six months after we graduated from college.
Blazed a trail for women in business. She was one of the most respected and influential women in Baltimore business and civic affairs. I worked three jobs while in high school and college to help put myself through school, one of which was answering phones at the real estate company where my mom worked. They hired Phyllis to handle their advertising and marketing and I watched her from afar as she did her work. She was a force to be reckoned with. I thought to myself, “I am going to be like her one day.” I kept an eye on her career and in later years admired that she sold her company, ran political campaigns and was the first woman to be Chairman of the Board of the Center Club. Coincidently, my daughter became friends with Phyllis’ granddaughters and Phyllis was as dynamic at being a mother and grandmother as she was a businesswoman
|This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Women Who Lead: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Women Who Lead (formerly Path to Excellence) magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Women Who Lead.|