The Women of Our History

Women's History MonthIt’s Women’s History Month and we at Devaney & Associates have been shaped and influenced by many women throughout our lives.

Here are just a few:

My best friends have had the most influence on me throughout my life. Especially in those critical high school years, when everything revolves around popularity and things that quickly don’t matter at all, we embraced each other for being smart, funny, and ambitious. They were my ‘safe space,’ where getting killer grades was just as important as getting a cute homecoming dress. They made me expect more from myself, and they still do.”

Casey Boccia, creative director

***

Other than my mother, my Aunt Judy was the most influential woman in my life. She was an executive at USFG in the 70’s when there were few female executives. Up to this point in my life, all the women I met were married with kids. That is what I thought you did. But she showed me you can have a career, travel, go to shows, and enjoy life the way that you want to. Your identity doesn’t have to be that of a mother or someone’s wife but you can have your own identity.”

Kolleen Kilduff, senior art director

***

My maternal grandmother has always been a huge inspiration to me. A homemaker for most of her life, she lost her husband unexpectedly when she was in her 50s. Rather than lose herself in her grief, she learned to drive, found work outside her home, and did what she needed to do to continue to take care of her family with no excuses. She turned 93 this year and is still taking care of everyone else in her life. Plus, she’s the toughest, most independent, yet kindest and funniest person I know. I still want to be her when I grow up.”

Lindsay Hebert, public relations director

***

“I cannot think of a woman who has been more influential to me than my mom, Joan D’Orsaneo. The oldest daughter of three, born to Italian immigrants who did not receive formal education past the 5th and 8th grades, she was the first of her generation to go to college. And she did this in the 1950s, when women were often groomed to be wives and mothers. She became a registered dietitian, married my dad, a marine, in 1958 and left her family and everything she knew in the Philadelphia area to move to Wilmington, NC where he was stationed. After my dad left the service they moved back north, and while juggling three kids who were three years apart they moved again to Maryland when my dad got a better job. 13 years later, added a fourth child, and didn’t even blink about having a baby (a very sick one at that) with three teenagers in the house.

I learned so many things from my mom about how to be a good person and having passions/outlets. She taught me how to make a mean baked ziti. To always send thank you notes. To never go to someone’s home without something in hand. To drop everything for a friend. To play sports and stay healthy. To never leave the house looking a mess. I could go on and on… She taught me about the game of football (not my dad, who actually played the game at a D1 school with guys who went on to be very famous pros). She played tournament tennis, the piano, crocheted, volunteered at her kids’ schools (even as a PE teacher!). Probably most importantly, she showed all of her kids how to be strong in the face of adversity.

Even when she became very sick, very suddenly, she never complained and was absolutely selfless to the end. One thing she said to me in her final days always sticks. ‘Sons get married and become committed to their wives, but daughters are always there for you.’ I think that speaks to something truly unique about women: that we can do so many things and still take care of others when they need us. This is not a quality to complain about, but to celebrate. Women are amazing, and often we have our moms to thank for it.”

Lisa D’Orsaneo, account manager

***

“My elementary school art teacher has probably inspired me the most as far as my career. I LOVED her and her class. Art class was my favorite because I always enjoyed doing creative projects. I wanted to be Mrs. McGrath when I grew up. I remember a little poster she made by the sink that had a group of paint brushes saying ‘ouch’ to show us how NOT to wash the brushes. I still think about that when my kids are cleaning up their brushes after a weekend craft project.

As I got older, I realized I didn’t think I could handle being a teacher with class full of kids (I can hardly handle my own), so I had to figure out another career that would fill my creative need. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a graphic designer, and I’ve never regretted that choice. Being creative every day is fantastic, thanks Mrs. McGrath!”

Michele Poet, art director

***

“The most influential and inspiring woman in my life has always been my mother. She left her life in Poland to give my sister and I a better life filled with new opportunities and experiences. Her sacrifices opened the door to all my dreams and endless possibilities for my future. She continues to inspire me every single day and has always been the most supportive and encouraging person in my life.”

Patricia Bienkowski, administrative assistant

***

“My mom has always been the most influential woman in my life for all of the obvious reasons, but also because she’s always been one of the hardest workers I know. She’s the type of person who’s always done anything in her power to make the people around her happy, among family, friends, and at her work. She would do anything for the people she cares about and never brags or expects recognition for her actions. It’s both inspiring and impressive how much that woman can accomplish in a day! I wouldn’t be where I am today without her love, support, hard work, and positive examples.”

Renee Landis, account executive

***

My mother is a lot of things—my confidant, the butt of my jokes, my 5:00 daily phone call, my let’s book roundtrip airfare to Europe and figure the rest out later partner. She is strong enough to have withstood more challenges than many, and even stronger in her ability to not let it show.

She’s kind to all—animals, the planet, future dinner guests she meets at the grocery store, wrong number dialers, questionable homeless men dressed in camouflage…

My mother has taught me not only to believe in myself, but to fight for what I want and take what I deserve. She taught me that you’re never too old or young to say please and thank you, and manners will take you far in life.

She gave me her courage, her fierce ability to love others, and her talent for making friends everywhere she goes and talking to everyone she meets (a talent she without a doubt regrets passing on).

She gave me wings to see the world and she is the home I return to every time.”

Sara Lohse, copywriter

***

“My mom has by far been the most inspiring and influential woman in my life. She came from very humble beginnings as the daughter of a coal miner and cafeteria cook in a depressed area of West Virginia. She was the first and only person in her family of 9 to obtain a 4-year college degree. Working hard during the school year and summers, she put herself through West Liberty University in West Virginia. After graduating, with just one suitcase and a few hundred dollars, she and two girlfriends drove from West Virginia to Maryland to seek a better life and more job opportunities.

She went on to secure a very lucrative job as an auditor for U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.  She selflessly gave up her career to raise my brother and I and she was always our number one advocate, encouraging and supporting us in all our endeavors.  She taught me how to be a strong, independent woman with my own ideas and passions. She taught me not to compare myself to others, but to embrace my strengths, always strive to be better, and always follow my dreams.”

Susan Casey, media director