Top Women: 13 high-achievers hardly looked back


By Suzanne Fulton. Thirteen successful women from Lake Norman to Cabarrus, from bankers to politicians, have been elected to Business Today’s Top Women Leaders, Class of 2015, by a jury of their new peers: Winners from 10 prior years.

The 11th annual tribute to women in the Golden Crescent recognizes those who have established a successful organization, excelled in their field and devoted considerable energy to civic roles.

They deserve recognition for their extraordinary accomplishments and adept leadership. They’re role models.

“The women nominated this year were ‘off the charts’ on their passion, accomplishments and leadership skills, which did make for a very difficult judging process,” says Diane Honeycutt, chairman of the judges.

“What I heard over and over again from the judges was what a tough job this was, how qualified all of the nominees were,” Honeycutt said.

This year’s winners are self-employed, owners of small businesses, run nonprofits, or are leaders in mid-size corporations and banks as well as local and county governments. Six are founders of their organization or enterprise.

They have amazing stories to tell. Asked if they could call a do-over on some aspect of their lives, most said they wouldn’t.

Some of our Top Women in Business finalists, Sheri Bistreich being one, grew their company amongst men. “I learned very quickly how male-dominated the industry was and how difficult it was to fight uphill battles in such a homogenous professional landscape,” she says.

Maybe because women face so many hurdles, they achieve so much. But it goes  deeper than that.

“Neuroscientists say that men and women are wired differently,” says winner Colleen Lloyd-Roberts. “Women come hard wired for nurturing. Coupled with our analytic and strong reasoning abilities, this gives us the great proficiency to be exceptional leaders. I also think that leadership is not a title that’s bestowed upon you, but a way of life. It’s a decision to have passion in what you do and to care genuinely about people and inspire and encourage every chance you get. It’s every day replacing Average with Awesome and putting the Extra in Ordinary.”

JanBeattyJan Beatty

Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo Bank, Concord

Community/Civic Service – Rotary International-Paul Harris Fellow, Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce Board, as well as boards of community organizations focusing on education and special needs

If I had it to do over again, I would – not change very much… I have learned that everything happens for a reason, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The mistakes and regrets have a way of making you stronger. The successes and triumphs reemphasize that hard work, being persistent, and not giving up on yourself or your dreams really do pay off.

SheriBistrerichSheri Bistreich

Owner, Sheri Bistreich and Associates, Statesville

Community/Civic Service – Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce, Theatre! Statesville boards

If I had it to do over again, I would – When I started as a financial advisor in 1985, I learned very quickly how male-dominated the industry was and how difficult it was to fight uphill battles in such a homogenous professional landscape. If I had to do it over again, I would have realized how essential it is to have strong female role models and a network of professional women to support and encourage one another much sooner. Throughout my career, most of the support I’ve been lucky to receive has been from my brilliant female advisor colleagues.

AngieBrownAngie Brown

General Manager, Great Wolf Lodge, Concord

Community/Civic Service –  Cabarrus County, Convention & Visitors Bureau and Cabarrus Arts Council boards, 2015 Ambassador for the Red Cross All American Gala, Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer, Team Captain for Ronald McDonald House-Charlotte event,  organizer of “Day of Fun” for families of Fort Bragg Survivor Outreach Services

If I had it to do over again, I would – not change anything. There have been some sacrifices with all of the work and the moves but it was worth it and part of my journey for me to end up in this community that I adore.

JulianneColvinDr. Julianne Colvin

Co-owner, Crawford & Colvin Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, Huntersville

Community/Civic Service – Free dental care to the less fortunate. Visits schools to educate children on nutrition and dental hygiene, church pianist

If I had to do it over again, I would – smile through the challenges and disappointments, as I have come to realize that my life is in greater Hands than my own. I’ve grown as a listener, more aware of God’s presence, direction, and hand in my life. I am humbled each day, realizing that disappointments and failures are His way of reminding me that I cannot do it all on my own.

April C - 12April Cook

Co-founder and Executive Director, Lake Norman Community Health Clinic, Huntersville

Community/Civic Service – Unpaid executive director at LN Community Health Clinic for 13 years, NC Association of Free Clinics board officer, Med Assist, MedLink, Lake Norman Rotary, medical mission team to Guatemala and Haiti, PTA leader

If I had to do it over again, I would –  not change a thing. The past five years have taken me on a journey that showed me every triumph and every mistake taught valuable lessons.

Pam DuboisPamela DuBois

Senior Deputy County Manager, Cabarrus County, Concord

Community/Civic Service – Board of Directors of Hospice and YMCA. Chamber of Commerce, Partnership for Children, Senior Games, Special Olympics, church and Helping Hands volunteer

If I had it to do over again, I would – not change a thing. I am the person I am today because of all the experiences that I have lived through.

MargiKyleMargi Kyle

Owner, Interior Designer, Designing Doctor, Cornelius

Community/Civic Service – Founder of Little Smiles, NC; Interior Design Society president, Women in the Home Furnishing Industry Today president, North Meck Chamber of Commerce ambassador, Window Coverings Association of America vice president, El Centro (Texas) and The Art Institute of Charlotte advisory committees, church advisory board and building committee.

If I had it to do over again, I would – not change one thing. Life is a gift and we are here to live out our gifts. I have loved the journey and have learned one thing – do what you love and the money will follow. I also know that when I became founder of Little Smiles in NC, it changed my life.

ColleenLloyd-RobertsColleen Lloyd-Roberts

Co-founder and VP Marketing and Sales, Brandgarden Mobile Solutions

Founder, Top Notch Nail Files, Mooresville

Community/Civic Service – Lake Norman Chamber, LKN small Business Group, Vigilante Truth, Give Back Boutique.

If I had it to do over again, I would –have read Think and Grow Rich in my teens. I would tell myself to not only dream big but set goals and write action steps. …I would have signed up for Toastmasters and harnessed the power of public speaking at a younger age. I would have thanked God triple the amount … for the parents and family I was blessed with.

LaurieMoore-FischerLauren Moore-Fischer

Director of Nursing, Inspiration for Aspirations, Mooresville

Community/Civic Service – Established Mooresville Towns Keepers Program, Vice-Chair Mayor’s Council for Individuals with Disabilities, Little Smiles treasurer, Beautification Committee board, Promise Mooresville, Point In Time Mooresville

If I had it to do over again, I would – Every day I see a billion ways I am truly blessed by and thankful for the people around me who have fought for me, and I constantly make it a point to reevaluate how I can join the fight to best represent those who are unable to fight for themselves. …I am proud of the impact I have been able to make on so many lives.

JenniferParsleyJennifer H. Parsley

Chief Executive Officer, AIM Tours; City of Concord Councilmember – District 6

Community/Civic Service – NC League of Municipalities, chairman Cabarrus County Tourism Authority; boards of United Way, Academic Learning Center and Laurel Park Homeowners Association. Member, Rotary Club and Cooperative Christian Ministry.

If I had it to do over again, I would – To change actual things and events is not something I would do. I believe these paths and events have truly shaped who I am today. One choice, even the wrong choices, gave way to the next one and the next one. Experience is a great teacher–if you listen. If I had it to do over again, I would take a deep breath, sit, and enjoy the moment. They pass so quickly.

MichelleRileyMichelle Riley

Vice President, Aquesta Bank, Concord

Community/Civic Service – Cabarrus County Chamber, chairman for the Women’s Conference. Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Cabarrus County board. Concord Rotary, United Way annual campaign. President of The Cabarrus Business Network; former chair Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Children’s Ministry at church

If I had it to do over again, I would – If I had a mentor early in my career, I feel they would have coached me and helped me realize that the way to lead and manage a team is not with an iron fist but by learning what motivates each individual and coaching the individuals to those triggers to work together as a team.

SusanTillisSusan Tillis

Community leader, former sales manager, Allen Tate, Cornelius

Community/Civic Service –  Girl Scout leader, Sunday school teacher, PTA board, United Way Board, softball/baseball team Mother; Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Lake Norman Hospice, The Peninsula Community Foundation, Industry of the Blind board, NC Heroes Fund, co-chair USO annual Salute to Freedom Gala. Hosted first annual Baby Bundle Shower to benefit Ft. Bragg’s new mothers.

If I had to do it over again, I would – not change a thing. I don’t believe in looking back but always looking forward. It has not always been easy, but it is through those life lessons that you learn what is most important and how one individual can make a difference. In my early married life, I had two children under two, a husband who traveled five days a week who also attended college part time. We sometimes struggled to make ends meet but we persevered and did what we had to do.  I have had success in my professional career but it is through my volunteer efforts that I have gotten the most joy.

SandiViznerSandi Vizner

Owner and Financial Advisor, Lapis Financial Strategies, Huntersville

Community/Civic Service – president North Mecklenburg Rotary club 2012-13. Two-time Rotarian of the Year. Lake Norman Chamber, Lake Norman Executive Women, officer of LakeNet.

If I had it to do over again, I would – not change a thing. If I had not listened to my inner voice and found the confidence in myself to leave the security of a corporate job and start my own business, I would have missed out on three of the most important aspects of my life. First, I met the love of my life during my going away party and later that year we married. Secondly, five years into running my business I had the opportunity to bring my mother in as a partner and utilize her insurance expertise. …Without having the guts to start my own business, I don’t know that we would have had that time to get to know one another on such an intimate level. Finally, not many people can say they truly love what they do, but I can! I just celebrated 20 years in business.


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