Celebrating Women's History Month

Here at Holistic, we all agree that we would not be where we are today if it weren’t for the women in our lives. Thanks to many wonder women in our lives, we’ve achieved some of our proudest moments. In celebration of National Women’s History Month, the Holistic team is proud to highlight those women in our lives. Here is what our team had to say about those very important women who have shaped us, helped us, and continue to support us.


Describe a time in your life when you felt empowered by another woman.

She wanted to empower everyone that worked for her to use their talents in benefit of our clients, the company and ourselves. -Bryce Huguenin

Ava Calanog: A year or so into my job, I had a performance review with my supervisor where we discussed my future plans with the company. Upper management advised her to offer me a position that she knew I would reject even though it came with a raise. She informed them that she saw me going in a different direction and after talking more, she encouraged me to pursue higher education and offered to connect me with her friends who graduated with public policy degrees. After making the decision to apply to graduate school, I turned to her for guidance with my applications. Time and time again, she reviewed my personal statements and provided me with feedback to ensure that I did not short-sell myself. She also wrote me a very compelling recommendation letter that to this day, makes me a little uneasy but grateful for her recognition of my work and her ability to empower me. 

Lauren Lochocki: Graduate school is when I stopped viewing other women as my competition and started viewing them as my teammates. I am very lucky to be a part of an amazing network of supportive women who lift me up. We weren’t born into the good ol’ boys club, so we made our own!

Nicole Schafer: I've been extremely lucky to have surrounded myself with beyond amazing and empowering women. From my mom always knowing I deserve better when I doubt myself, a previous boss who was only looking for what’s best, teaching, and growing my career, to my best friends who push me to be more me.

Suzanne Reicher: Fortunately, so many instances. If I have to pick one, I'd say a mentor who encouraged me to leave a position in which I was exceptionally comfortable, but knew that I didn't have my interests or long-term potential. She had known me for years, but started working with me closely and quickly assessed my skills and passions. She could see that I wasn't in a position where either would be tapped and pushed me by literally telling me that it was time to move on and that I deserved better. I cried. I was scared. But I was incredibly grateful for the honesty and the care that she took making it something that I could digest in a safe space. The next day, I hit the ground running and found my new challenge within a couple of weeks. She helped me recognize that I need to trust my gut, believe in myself, and make myself uncomfortable. 

Natalie Callegari: A time in my life when I felt empowered by another woman has been for as long as I can remember. I have always been surrounded by strong hard working women. As I got older and went to college and started working, seeing women in the related industry I’m working in really made me feel empowered by working with other successful women. Even at school, I met some really talented cool girls that are good at what they do and have a lot of potential. And of course, in my friend group, we surround ourselves with positivity and empowerment in our circle. We always encourage each other to do more and work harder.

Elda Baez: There have been several instances in my life when I have felt empowered by the women in my life; however, one that stands out comes from my mom. From a very young age, she would not allow me to come to her saying, “I can’t!” No matter how hard a task was, my mom encouraged me to try time and time again. That lesson taught me to persevere, be independent, and believe in my strength.

Bryce Huguenin: When the Great Recession hit, I became unemployed. Marketing and communications budgets were slashed and jobs were difficult to find. I was depressed and scared of what the future would hold. Then in 2009, I met a woman by the name of Patricia "Pat" Pulido Sanchez. She hired me to do some small freelance projects. A few weeks in, there was a miscommunication on my part and I screwed up a project. I was on the fragile mental ground thinking that any mistake would mean I would go back to the unpleasant job market. However, Pat never raised her voice or got angry. She said this was an opportunity for her to appreciate MY MISTAKE because she got to see my writing and thinking in a different way (despite it not being useful for the project at hand). She also told me examples of mistakes she had made in her career. She turned this around and empowered me to fix the mistake and use my talents to drive even harder. Over the course of my 3 years working for Pat, she was regularly happy with letting me create and manage what I needed to. My preconceived notion was her background working in rather staunch corporate environments would have her checking every piece of work I did. But no, it was quite the opposite. She wanted to empower everyone that worked for her to use their talents in benefit of our clients, the company and ourselves. She uplifted me and build professional confidence that I continue to touch on every day, thanks to her.

Tom Alexander: So many. So, so many. I'm eternally grateful to countless women for really giving me an opportunity, inspiration, guidance, etc. One person that I've been thinking of a lot recently is a woman named Pat Colander, who, sadly, actually just passed away. She was the managing editor at the Times newspaper in Northwest Indiana; I got sort of a glorified internship there when I was in college and she helped me parlay it into a real gig as a newspaper reporter. Time and again she entrusted me with responsibility, gave me new and exciting things to work on, asked my opinion, treated me like a colleague -- she really almost singlehandedly set my career in motion, and I'm really indebted. One of the things that I've thought about so many times is how little there was for her in the equation. She didn't stand to gain much, and there was a lot of disincentives for her to go out on a limb for me, to create space and opportunity for me, etc. And yet. She stepped up for me time and again and my life is unequivocally better for her efforts and kindness.

What challenges have you faced as a woman that you have been able to overcome?

The biggest challenge I have been able to overcome is not feeling worthy enough. -Lauren Lochocki

AC: I previously worked at a criminal justice organization that collaborated with probation officers to assist the formerly incarcerated in their re-entry process. As a young female professional, I found myself in the middle of a predominantly male field where both the clients I was helping and my colleagues were mainly men. It was a different culture that I was not accustomed to and while the men tried to be overbearing in many situations, I learned to stand and speak up with the help of my female supervisor. Initially, colleagues thought I was shy and quiet, but with her support, I felt more confident and later had the reputation of being sassy and one to not mess with. While some may say that being called sassy is a negative, I saw it as a strength in refusing to be complacent where changes clearly needed to be made. It was challenging the status quo in our workplace and offering solutions to the problems we encountered. 

LL: The biggest challenge I have been able to overcome is not feeling worthy enough (i.e. imposter syndrome). I still have moments of self-doubt but with hard work and a little phrase called “fake it till you make it”—I have slowly been overcoming this challenge.

NS: Not feeling guilty for having or not having emotions and not abiding by standards pushed upon by someone else.

SR: They have come at different points in my life, but I often reflect on one of my first. As a young girl, I was discouraged from being my authentic self. I will never forget being told as a 12-year old that I was a bitch. I was opinionated and loud. I didn't back down from a fight. If I felt something, I said it and didn't regret it. I distinctly remember that after being called a bitch that I started to tell myself to quiet down, lay low, not to stand out. It wasn't until college that I found that voice again and really, it wasn't until my late 20s that I felt a complete turnaround and stopped telling myself to quiet down. I firmly believe that this affected the choices I made as a young adult and made me question myself constantly.

NC: I’ve had minor challenges I believe that I solved by just find different solutions for them. If you keep on doing the same thing and it’s just not working for you anymore, it’s time to think outside of the box and do something else. As a creative, I get burnt out or creative block very often. Finding different ways to keep my creativity flowing has been a journey, but doesn’t use the same formula every time.

EB: I grew up around toxic masculinity. Unfortunately, lots of people in my culture view women only as housewives and stay-at-home moms. With the help of many (especially my husband’s!), I have been able to break the norm. I am currently a working mom and share household and parenting responsibilities with my husband.

What challenges have you noticed women around you face and how can you help/be an ally for them to overcome these challenges?

BH: Not being listened to. For most of my career, I have worked in female-majority workplaces. I was hired by females for my first three jobs. In a role with a large team, I was the only male in the leadership circle. However, when it came to being in larger, interdepartmental meetings, women were often not listened to or dismissed by the small group of men. I even could see this within my groups of female friends. Regardless of your gender, not being listened to brings down your confidence and reduces engagement. Over time, you make fewer recommendations and become less interested in the business. You stop trying. What is shocking about this for examples where females were the majority of the workforce, there were instances where women wouldn't listen to other women. They would cut them down or drown them out of conversations. These led to unengaged employees. When there was a chance to be heard and the idea or solution wasn't taken as a whole, then individuals felt hurt again. I saw man instances where those individuals would then take that frustration out on other colleagues. In particular, any colleagues that had less seniority than them. Truly listening is something that I had to remind myself of every day. It can be difficult in the face of personalities around you and the self-confidence within you. 

TA: I just wrote a piece about this. This is a really important concept and there's not just one answer, there are a lot of answers. One that I really like is to be vocal about it. To own and be very public about the fact that you are an ally and an advocate for women in the workplace. If you are only willing to step up behind closed doors, in private, on your terms, etc ... that's not really stepping up. So you gotta really be vocal and present and consistent. That's the only way that change will happen.

What advice would you give to women encountering challenges in the workplace and life in general?

Just because something is challenging you doesn’t mean it’s not meant to be or that you’re not good enough. -Natalie Callegari

AC: I think it's so important to have a mentor in the workplace so if you have the opportunity to have one, I would jump at it -- even if it's an informal mentorship. If not a mentor, meet with other colleagues that may be going through the same experiences as you. My job was mentally and emotionally draining but my co-workers became my support system/family as only we understood the struggles and joys that our clients and partner organizations brought upon us. 

LL: I would tell them that they are not alone. Unfortunately, most women in the workplace have a story to tell and they should feel empowered to share it. I would also tell other women to be more assertive and advocate for themselves and others.

NS: Speak the fuck up. And on the flip side- know when silence/actions speak louder.

SR: A few things: 1. Find a safe space to process. Space may be a physical location, a person to talk to, or a medium (writing, drawing, running, etc.). You have to work it out in a healthy way. 2. Be true to yourself. Don't compromise what you truly believe is best. 3. Trust your gut. You'll never let yourself down. 4. If you're wrong, you'll learn something. 

NC: Keep pushing through and follow your instincts but don’t give up too easily. If you want something really bad you’re going to have to find different solutions if Plan A didn’t work. Just because something is challenging you doesn’t mean it’s not meant to be or that you’re not good enough. The way you handle what gets thrown at you says a lot about your character.

EB: Be confident. You have a voice for a reason. Don’t be afraid to speak up and stand up for what you believe in and are passionate about.

BH: Come with your ideas. Everyone has to be engaged and ready to help solve multiple problems in a day. Backing down because you "don't want to come off bossy or pushy" has been one of many reasons for females to back down from males in the workplace. STOP THAT. Welcome to 2019. Females and males are colleagues. You're all here to do a job. Standing up for problem-solving and your role is something I will always endorse. 

TA: We see you; we appreciate you; you matter. One of the things that I've seen time and again in workplaces is women saying (or expressing) that they basically felt invisible, ignored, passed over, etc. This is horrible. If everyone committed to listening more -- listening; not just hearing sounds, but listening -- then the world would be better instantaneously.

Who is a woman you admire and why?

The amazing women around me every day - colleagues, friends, family. -Suzanne Reicher

AC: I admire so many women but my grandmother was a woman that greatly helped shape who I am today. She stood at a little under five feet but her influence on her nine children and 21 grandchildren was immense. Due to my grandfather's early passing, my grandmother became the matriarch at an early age. As a single parent, she instilled the importance of family, education, and a strong Catholic faith in my mother's siblings and mother. Even in her 80s, my grandmother attended French classes at a local community college and only stopped after being mugged coming home from the train station. As a young child, I remember finding out after seeing her black eye and the angry reaction my family had. She tried to hide what happened and later refused to file a police report stating that whoever mugged her must have needed the money more than she did. As frustrating as this was, I saw her willingness to forgive and her resiliency after still wanting to continue attending classes and taking public transportation. She saw the good in humanity even when our own faith was shaken. 

LL: I admire Senior Chief Theresa Kachindamoto, a tribal ruler of the Dedza District in Malawi, who is intent on ending child marriage and the detrimental consequences of it. When I first went to Malawi, I could hardly believe that 1 in 2 girls are married before age 18—causing them to drop out of school and be left out of the economy. Thankfully, Kachindamoto rules over 1 million people and has terminated the marriages of at least 2,600 child brides over the last 14 years (she declares them married to the classroom instead!). I admire all fearless women who challenge the status quo and invest in younger generations.

SR: The amazing women around me every day - colleagues, friends, family. I am given a different perspective on life, work, love every day and it is incredible.

NC: I feel like everyone wants to say their mom is the woman they most admire, but I have to say, my mom! She has a crazy ridiculous work ethic. She has supported my family through thick and thin and would do anything for us. She is one of those people who are naturally smart and has very good morals. She is a very fast learner and she also speaks like four languages (I’m not joking).

EB: I admire women from Serena Williams, Sydney Leroux, Alyssa Quilala, to all the women I share my life with. The women in my family all have incredible stories of overcoming life’s challenges and they’ve done it so gracefully. Most importantly, I admire women who fight silent battles, women who face deep struggles but still manage to put on a smile and wear a spirit of bravery no matter what.

BH: My sister, Jennifer. Jennifer is the oldest sibling in our family and like many older siblings, she was instilled with the sense of drive and achievement. We were raised in a neighborhood with a lot of married, well-to-do happy families yet we came from a divorced, rather poor home. She graduated high school early. She went away for college away against tremendous scrutiny by my family. She didn't go to ivy league or get internships thanks to our parents business connections. She saved every dime for a rattletrap car that she couldn't have been more proud of. She put one foot in front of the other every day and navigated the modern workforce. She got on endless amounts of early morning flights because she knew that showing up and participating is everything. Today Jennifer is a highly respected executive leader for her teams and within her professional circles. Ultimately, I admire her because she overcame headwinds on multiple accounts with herself being the only engine driving her forward. Headwinds from within her own family, from industries that are ladened with males, from ivy leaguers and those that looked to cut her down to take her position(s). But she came with her ideas and stood her ground. She looks to empower others in every conversation she has. Personally, she also showed me that when I was so lost in what seemed like endless college courses, coming out as gay, serving tables and taking care of family and all the hopelessness....that it all comes together and you're stronger than the headwinds. 

TA: I'm doing three -- I'm no idiot. For each of them, too many reasons to list, so I'll keep it to one sentence. (Listed in order of how long I’ve known them).

My mom. From a very early age, she taught our entire family that inclusion is everything and that creating an open, warm, welcoming environment is one of life's great treasures. I really admire how she always instilled in all of us a sense that the world had a lot of people who didn't have the same good fortune that we did, and that we should spend our time and energy and talents helping others as much (or more) than we help ourselves. 

My wife. Do you know how hard it is to be an awesome wife? Do you know how hard it is to be an awesome mom? Do you know how hard it is to be an awesome friend? Do you know how hard it is to be awesome at work? Do you know anyone who can do all four? I do. I really admire how people from all walks of Tiff's life think of her as a role model for how they want to be when they're in that situation. But I'm one of the only people who get to witness her relationships in all of those different areas. And the fact that she's slaying across the board -- more and more so even as we've added kids and complexity and responsibility and so much more -- is completely remarkable.

My daughter. She's just a badass in every way. Hilarious and intelligent and full of optimism and joy. She's my buddy and my partner in crime and my chef partner and so much more, and I really admire how freely she lives in the world and how emotionally available and present she is, always. Kids -- even four-year-olds -- deal with tremendous amounts of stress. (The things they stress about are dumb, maybe, but they feel as much or more stress than adults do). Lyla handles it all with grace and aplomb; I can only hope this continues.

If you could meet any woman, past or present, who would it be and why?

There are people who have endured unimaginable hardships, and not only survived, but come out with more passion and purpose to right the inequities of the world than you could ever dream of. To me, that's everything. -Tom Alexander

AC: I would have wanted to meet Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Ever since I was a young child, I always admired her style and the way she carried herself during JFK's presidency and after his assassination. I also think it's fascinating that she was the only American journalist to cover Queen Elizabeth's coronation in London! 

LL: Michelle Obama. We would both show up to lunch wearing our favorite boots (hers: Balenciaga, mine: cowboy) and talk about the myth of needing to lean in.

SR: Taylor Swift or Reese Witherspoon -Yep, I'm a Swifty. Both of these women have recognized their own privilege and advocate for populations that completely unlike themselves. It speaks to me as someone who is often asked why a hetero, cis, white woman is so interested in diversity, equality, and inclusion.   

NC: I’m not sure about this one. There are so many I would want to meet. But just to narrow it down to one, for now, would have to be Paula Scher. She is a female graphic designer who has been in the industry for so long and has created a lot of iconic work. She seems like she has a lot of great insights and wisdom on working in the field and life in general.

EB: Ellen DeGeneres! I love her genuine kind soul and hilarious sense of humor. Also, Hope Solo for standing up for equal pay even if it meant it cost her the end to her contract with FIFA.

BH: Dr. Linda Laubenstein - She was one of the first doctors to research and tackle the AIDS crisis in New York. She was bullish with other doctors and medical facilities about this epidemic sweeping and killing 1000s of gay men in the 1980s. She created awareness and was a vocal supporter of this unknown disease that was widely ignored in its early stages. This was especially uplifting and inspiring when no other doctors or medical facilities wanted to treat gay men because of the social stigma around homosexuality.

TA: For me, I think maybe Harriet Tubman. I love that she devoted her whole life to helping others get what she had. There are people who have endured unimaginable hardships, and not only survived but come out with more passion and purpose to right the inequities of the world than you could ever dream of. To me, that's everything.

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