The Inspiring Women Behind the People at Mintz + Hoke
To close out Women’s History Month, we look to the inspiring women behind the people at Mintz + Hoke. From legendary grandmothers and super-moms to best friends who built a successful business from the ground up, today's post is about the stories of the strong women who helped shape who we are.
Ron Perine, our Managing Principal and CEO, kicks us off with some background on his mother, Alice Neef Perine.
"My mom will be 98 at the end of April. She is still sharp as a tack (may have lost her filter a bit, but she earned that) and has so much to show for in her 98 years. She graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1947, which means she also recently attended her 75th reunion! She was an English teacher for 14 years at Middlebury Union High School, where she taught College Prep English and Shakespeare. And yes, my siblings and I all had her as a teacher in High School. She finished her career teaching seventh and eighth grade for 12 years, which she often says she may have done backward, apparently saving the tougher challenge for the end.
She took a sabbatical in 1977 (my senior year, I can't thank her enough for that!) to work as the first full-time President of the Vermont Education Association to review student-teacher education in the state. She would travel to different schools that had student teachers to evaluate and critique the curriculum.
She was one of three women asked to sit on the then Blue Shield Board of Vermont, was instrumental in getting the school board to provide medical insurance for teachers in Vermont and protested for women’s salary equity by walking in picket lines. She says it was eye-opening for her to be on the receiving end of nay-sayers. “I now know what it feels like to have hostile people give you the finger!”
She has successfully battled breast cancer on two separate occasions, about ten years apart—now cancer-free for 40 years.
She has always been very community focused. She has done a load of local fundraising in Middlebury for the local hospital, managed care facilities, Middlebury College, and Sheldon Museum, where she also donated her time.
She did ALL this while raising four kids with my dad, who passed in 2002. She lived in our family home until a year and a half ago when she opted to move into an assisted living facility a mile up the street from the homestead. She spends her days reading, doing crosswords, and occasionally watching Hallmark and tennis on TV. To this day, she can’t go anywhere in Middlebury without someone stopping her to say, "Mrs. Perine, you were my favorite teacher!"
Best Mom ever!!"
LouAnn Rusczek, our Billing Manager, tells us about her childhood best friend, Tess Mann.
"My childhood friend of 50 years went from FBI agent to following her childhood dream of becoming a wedding gown designer with her own label. Well, who says dreams do not come true? She is truly an inspiration, and I'm so grateful for our lifetime friendship."
Check out Tess' business: Tess Mann Haute Couture.
Next is another inspirational story of friendship. Content Strategist Angela Martin tells us about her entrepreneurial best friend, Noelle Alix.
"Noelle Alix and I have been friends for as long as we can remember. She inspires me every day with our open, honest conversations and with the good she does in the world as cofounder of BeanZ & Co., an inclusive coffee café employing equal numbers of individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. In the picture above, Noelle is holding one of the café’s order cards. Rather than a number, these cards are a ray of positivity for all—from BeanZ & Co.’s employees to their customers."
Check out Noelle’s inclusive employment mission at work: BeanZ & Co.
We have another iconic mom to celebrate today. Lisa Geissler, Associate Media Director, talks highly about her mother's drive and advocacy.
"My story is about my mother’s influence in my life, personally and professionally. She taught me how to live as a smart and educated female in a male-dominated world.
She had to drop out of Smith College after her freshman year because her dad pulled the funding. He didn't think she needed a college education because she was a girl. He paid for her to go to secretarial school but refused to pay for her to attend a liberal arts college like Smith. Luckily, she met my dad her freshman year when he came down from Williams with a group of guys to go out on a date with the "Smithies." They met on January 13th, 1957, and married on June 12th, 1958, when she was 19. By the time she was 25, she had two children.
My mom struggled with her identity after she married and my brother and I were young. She went back to school part-time and finally got her degree, moving on to work at CBIA in Hartford. She became the Vice-President at CBIA, a role not historically held by women, and later was a technology and education consultant for the state of Connecticut.
My mom was a feminist in the 60s and believed in a woman’s right to an education and birth control without having to get their husband’s permission and working in more than a secretarial role. This strong belief carried over to me, and I grew up knowing I would go to college and always have a job.
She was an incredible role model in many ways, but one of the most seemingly small things is that she also taught me how important dress is in your professional life. To this day, I am usually the most dressed-up person in the room at work or even out with friends. When I started working at my first job, I was filing magazines in a basement, but she still felt strongly I should dress nicely because I could run into the boss as I came up the stairs!
Next, Beth Wik, Media Planner and Buyer, shares the story of her strong-willed grandmother, Marie Raynor.
"There are so many things I could say or stories I could tell about my grandma, but a few big things come to mind. She was the oldest of five children, the mother of seven children, and endlessly proud of her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was married to the love of her life for over 60 years—with whom she fancied having a 7 & 7 every day at 5 o'clock sharp. She was truly as smart as a whip, which is also how she described all her grandchildren. She loved to cook for her family and would sing (loudly and proudly) while doing it. She had a big love for Apple products well before the iPhone was even a concept. She was one of the first women to join the US Navy's corps of female members, WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), and was incredibly proud of her time spent there. Oh, and of course, she could slam back clams on the half shell with the best of them."
Michelle Ormsby, Account Director, tells us about her good friend, Tara.
"My friend Tara lives in Los Angeles and owns a very successful entertainment marketing company—matching celebrities with products. Last year she went through a big cancer battle, but after many surgeries, she's on the mend. She is incredible!!"
Check out Tara’s empire: Poppy Bright Entertainment
Lastly, Kara Mitchell, Principal, Client Service, gives us a glimpse into her unstoppable grandmother's life.
"My grandmother (YiaYia) is a pioneer in so many ways. At 101 years old, she has broken many barriers. She attended Columbia when young women weren’t encouraged to get an education. She was a working mom when that was frowned upon and a public health nurse serving many pandemics throughout her lifetime. It’s no surprise she’s my biggest role model and inspiration. I hope to accomplish half of what she has in her lifetime."
Who are the inspiring women behind you?