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Favorite leadership interviews of 2017

Take a read at some memorable Women in Leadership interviews and moments in the past year.

I compiled some of my favorites in 2017.  As always, I look for your feedback and working with you in 2018.

Learn from those who opened doors


One of my favorite series of interviews surfaced while researching some of the first midstate women Rotary members. Carolyn Dumaresq, Virginia Roth and Stephanie Acri shared their early moments of Rotary membership 30 years ago. 

Before that time, Rotary clubs only accepted men. Seems archaic now, but it really wasn’t then.

I wrote a follow-up column on the importance of these pioneers. If there is one area that I would impress on young women professionals, know your history and understand that the doors that are wide open today, were almost sealed shut decades ago. 

“It’s critical,” Dumaresq said. “Having young women see you in a leadership role is critical.” Without it, women tend to be stereotyped.

“If they can do it, I can do it,” Dumaresq said. “We saw you do it, we know we can do it.”


No slowing down in retirement


For the May newsletter, I featured Sherry Knowlton and her love of writing. At age 63 she published her first novel and by the time I got to sit down for an interview, she was releasing the third book in her series. 

I loved to listen to Knowlton’s stories, which ranged from her teenage years, through her work in state government and into semi-retirement.

Writing was always a passion and in retirement, she plays on her terms, she said. She compared her younger years — when she freely traveled the country in her boyfriend’s van — to her retirement years when that same freedom returned. 

“When you are young … it gives you freedom that later in life you won’t get to do” she said. “When you are set to retire, you can have that freedom again.”

I ended up also writing about an experience her teen years when she was denied a position solely because of her gender. It’s frustrating to hear about these struggles, but important to learn from them. 

Couldn’t stop smiling

Amy Spangler

In April we launched our roundtable series for CPBJ, with the first one tackling a potpourri of leadership challenges that tend to surface for women in workplace. 

Kathy Anderson-Martin, Amanda Lavis, Jayne Huston and Kathy Prime were a part of our first discussion. 

If you are familiar with any of these women in the midstate, you know that they are leaders: Aggressively smart, kind, assertive and passionate about what they do. They also know how to laugh, which we did, a lot. 

I can’t say that I can pull out one area of conversation to highlight from the roundtable discussion, but their advice is timeless and can be layered into every profession. 

I hope to host more of these discussions in 2018. Please email me if you are interested,

Not really an interview, but the feedback was overwhelming

Amy Spangler

I write columns all the time, but the one I wrote in October regarding my own personal experience with sexual harassment took a turn that I never expected. 

I remember the exact moment that the column launched online. I was in a meeting, my phone on the table in front of me and it started blowing up with notifications: Email, Facebook and text messages. They were sharing my column, commenting on it, thanking me for it.

Women who I have never met told me that they could have written the same piece. Friends from high school were showing the column to their spouses in an effort to explain how pervasive sexual harassment is. The feedback was humbling.

What was acceptable and endured by those who lacked power in the workplace years ago, will have a hard time finding roots after 2017, especially in workplaces where strong policies, personnel training and open communication thrive. 

That’s where we circle back to this month’s WIL newsletter and the sexual harassment roundtable discussion that we held in our office in November. It’s a good read. Smart, local midstate leaders share real-life advice. 


Cathy Hirko
Cathy Hirko is Associate Publisher/Editorial Director for the Central Penn Business Journal and Lehigh Valley Business. Email her at

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