Professional Women's Roundtable

The PoWeR of Connections

Speakers Share Stories of Strength, Growth at PWR’s Overcoming Obstacles Event

Friday, May 12, 2017 9:00 AM | Jamie Kloss

Six of Philadelphia’s most dynamic leaders gathered at the Pennovation Center to share powerful stories during PWR’s Overcoming Obstacles event on Tuesday, May 9.

Moderator Kristen Bakalar, who specializes in inclusive leadership training at athenahealth, asked each of the speakers to discuss one word they associate with “obstacle."


Mary Dougherty owns and operates both Nicole Miller Philadelphia boutiques in addition to a fashion consulting firm, and has been named one of Philadelphia’s "Top 50 Women to Watch" by Business Philadelphia Magazine.  Mary discussed the challenge of overcoming adversity in a male-dominated industry and the importance of communicating with authenticity while tailoring your message to your audience. 


Tiffany Tavarez administers corporate contributions and corporate citizenship programs for PECO.  Among the numerous leadership awards she’s received, she was named one of the 30 Over 30 of Philadelphia’s Most Inspiring Women by online magazine Femme & Fortune.  Tiffany shared her experience with realizing the benefits of having the audacity to speak up for herself and not allowing others stifle her creativity.


Nora Cothren is an educator and ice hockey coach dedicated to creating safe sporting environments.  She is an Academic Coordinator with the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, a non-profit committed to teaching children important life lessons through an emphasis on life skills and character development. Nora spoke of perseverance and the mantra she borrows from Dory of Finding Nemo for times when life gets really tough: “Just Keep Swimming.”


Yasmine Mustafa is a tech entrepreneur and CEO of ROAR for Good, a self-defense wearable technology company aimed at diminishing attacks against women.  She and her family were living in Kuwait when it was invaded during the Persian Gulf War.  Her story of fleeing the country, settling in Philadelphia, and the grueling path to U.S. citizenship and entrepreneurship exemplifies the concept of turning obstacle into opportunity.


Dixieanne James is VP of Strategic Planning and Business Development with Einstein HealthCare Network with 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry.  She advocates positive self-talk and finding an effective sponsor to support career and personal growth.


Our moderator Kristen Bakalar develops custom solutions for leadership and diversity trainings. Since achieving objectives often requires finding an alternative route, she remembers the importance of being nimble: honing the ability to think on your feet and change direction quickly.  She advises those starting out their careers to seek a coach, mentor, or a sponsor.  She distinguishes between them:  “A Coach talks to you.  A Mentor talks with you.  A Sponsor talks about you.”
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