Words of Gratitude: The Women of SFG

Emma Fox

March 2, 2021

Women’s History Month is a time for us all to appreciate the women who have made today possible. We look back and commend the work of women who fought for our freedoms regardless of consequence, and we look at those in our present day lives who provide support, strength, and a smile on a bad day.

During this time of reflection and admiration, we asked the women of Skylight: What female figure in your life inspires you to be your best self?

Jenn Hill, Chief Agency Supervisory Officer, Cleveland

The woman who has been the most inspirational to me is my mom and best friend, Diane. She raised five children as a single, working mom and taught me the value of hard work, perseverance, and balancing work/home life. She taught me and all my sisters to be independent, work hard, do what makes us happy and to be the best version of ourselves. She also encourages us to do spontaneous, sometimes ‘crazy’ things like running through a random corn field or sled riding at night to keep life fun and interesting. She demonstrated that no matter our circumstances, we should always be generous to those less fortunate. I am doing my best to continue her legacy and try to make her proud every day.  

Phylicia Prince, Executive Assistant, Cleveland

I am inspired by numerous women who have shaped my life positively both in and out of the workplace. I feel like I am a mosaic made up of pieces of truly great women such as teachers, family, friends, co-workers, and more! My biggest inspiration is my mother, Joyce Riley. She inspires me to always be my best self. The sacrifice and hard work that she has dedicated to her loved ones inspires me to give my best at home and at work.

Mary Gensler, Operations Coordinator, Toledo

My daily inspiration is my team of extraordinary people that I have the pleasure of working with every day.  We work hard together, have fun together and we are all there for each other.  From the left: Joe Johnson, our ASO and resident mood lifter; Susan Vitas, our newest great addition; Deb Horvath, our gatekeeper and my rock; Austin Ott, our longest standing scanner; Katy Aldrich, no longer our newest addition, multitasker and a close second to Joe as comic relief; and Crystal Leach, our Queen of scanning and another one of my rocks.  Missing are: Sandy Fowler, New Business Coordinator who keeps me grounded; Erin Kilburn, my daughter, scanner and one who always is there for me; Angie Barney, my longtime friend and conscience; and Mark Greenblatt, who is the first one who says, “do you need help?” Chris Ghaffarian is our IT guy extraordinaire, always there when we need him, even though he is working remotely now.  These people inspire me every day to be my best self and make my life fun, easier, and whole.

Trisha Rutherford, Chief Operations Officer, Cincinnati

My mom has been the BIGGEST inspiration in my life by far. She was very young when I was born, so we had the opportunity to kind of grow up together. Her and my dad were married at the young age of 16 and 18 and have been together almost 39 years, exuding a strong example of what love and dedication to each other should look like. My mom didn’t have the option to chase her dreams, but she continues to push me to chase mine. She has shown me how to be an amazing mother, wife, and person. She pushes me to keep going on the tough days, celebrates the good days and when I’m in a rut or going through something she is always by my side. Knowing I have her cheering me on every step of the way truly inspires me to be my best self. Not only do I have an amazing role model, cheerleader, and mentor, I have a best friend.

Candace Gildea, Client Services Associate, Toledo

I am inspired by my mother, Teruko Ostrom. She was born in Tokyo, came to the United States with my father (a U.S. Navy career enlisted man) before I was born, and became a US citizen just days after my birth. We each celebrated ’60 years’ in April 2019!

My mother survived a war when she was just a child. Her hut was bombed more than once, forcing her family to sleep in a nearby cave at nights. She was on a ship that sank after being torpedoed by a US submarine and was in a small lifeboat on open water until they were rescued the next day. At 5 years old she was responsible for finding food for her family and caring for her newborn sister who was strapped to her back because her mother, conscripted by the Japanese Army, was forced to work in the fields all day. Yet despite that, the hardships after the war, and now battling breast cancer for the second time, she is a positive, loving, sweet woman who loves life and adventures. Before COVID if you called her up and said, ‘do you want to go to….’ (pick any place on earth), she was ready in an hour with her passport and suitcase.

Advice for young women, especially my daughters – it’s a big world out there. Live big, love big, and don’t ever let anyone stop you from being who you want to be. There is always someone who can do ‘things’ better than you, but no one can be the best you but yourself.

Michelle Taylor, Accountability Director, Cleveland

The woman who inspires me to be my best self is my sister Melissa.  Although she is younger than me, we have always pushed each other to be at our best potential, as mothers, daughters, in our careers, and life.  She knows me like no other person on this earth!

Thanks for sharing, ladies!