Amanda Huffman Civil Engineer Mom

Air Force Civil Engineer to Stay at Home Mom

Amanda Huffman served in the Air Force for 6 years as a Civil Engineer Officer. She then retired in order to raise her family and support her husband in his continued military career.

Photograph of Amanda Huffman, Air Force Civil Engineer, Stay at Home Mom
Amanda Huffman, Air Force Civil Engineer, Stay at Home Mom

Amanda has begun blogging at AirmanToMom.com about being a female veteran, a military spouse, and a mother. One of her goals is to help amplify the voices of female veterans whom she says are often lost in the shuffle as they are such a small percent of our nations’ service members.

Amanda enjoys the daily challenges and rhythm of caring for her two sons ages 5 and 2, and speaks fondly of her tenure serving in the Air Force.

Advice

Amanda’s advice is to study as much as you can within the STEM fields. She says to not shy away from math and engineering as the military looks at these disciplines.

She also says the Air Force needs all personality types as each brings something to the table. Amanda also notes that you should have a willingness to meet the mission and go where you are directed.

As for being a mother – a hefty dose of humbleness is either required or learned upon taking on this role. She notes that she has learned to be more ‘in the moment’ with her second son and enjoy the fleeting time she has to watch them grow.

Philanthropy

Amanda is an advocate of changing the world one person at a time. She and her husband have donated financial .resources to Kiva.org for years. They have also sponsored children via organizations like Compassion International and Food for the Hungry. Amanda said their first match was 8 years old when they began supporting her and is about to graduate out of the program at 17 years old.


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Nancy Mellard Executive VP General Counsel

Executive VP & General Counsel

Nancy Mellard is the Executive VP and General Counsel for Benefits and Insurance Services Division of CBIZ, Inc. She is also the national leader of CBIZ Women’s Advantage. Nancy knew from a young age that she wanted to be an independent, professional, career-focused woman and the path to her present position developed from there.

Photograph of Nancy Mellard, Executive VP and General Counsel CBIZ Inc
Nancy Mellard, Executive VP and General Counsel, CBIZ, Inc.

Nancy also defined her personal priorities early in her career. Her desire to integrate her professional goals with her personal goals helped her craft a fulfilling career.

She finds excitement in the daily challenges that are the insurance industry and enjoys being capable of continuously learning.

One of the most exciting days in her three-decades and counting career thus far occurred this past February. She and her fellow Executive Board members of CBIZ Women’s Advantage rang the closing bell on the NYSE. Check out this photo and corresponding post!

photograph of CBIZ Women's Advantage ringin NYSE closing bell
Nancy Mellard and the Executive Board of CBIZ Women’s Advantage ring the closing bell on the NYSE.

Advice

Nancy’s advice for young women is to be open to change, to move in the direction it takes you instead of resisting it.

She also says there are three main personality traits that suit Executive VPs, General Counsels, and professional women. In no particular order, Nancy lists cultivating a strong executive presence, leadership skills and competency as top traits to possess.

Philanthropy

Nancy places her efforts on focus on education. She is an advocate of continued professional education, as well as early educational opportunities within her community. Nancy and her husband also make it a priority to support those in need through various Catholic charities.


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Kelly Vargas Natural Therapeutics

Natural Therapeutics

Kelly Vargas is the owner of Haley Jenae Skincare and Bodywork. In her entrepreneurial practice, she aims to help all those in need using natural therapies. Kelly completed coursework at the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics, has crafted a line of skin care products and devotes much of herself to lifting other women up in their entrepreneurial journeys.

Advice

Kelly Vargas, Owner of Haley Jenae Skincare and Bodywork
Kelly Vargas, Owner of Haley Jenae Skincare and Bodywork

Kelly’s optimistic outlook on life seeps into her daily work and she says that surrounding yourself with the kind of people you want to be helps to bolster that positivity.

She says that if you’re interested in a career in natural healing, to submit to the journey and be open to where it may take you. Kelly also says to find the lessons in the lows of life.

It takes a lot of strength to look at the lows as growth.

She wisely says that her younger self may not listen to the advice she’d give now, but she would tell any young lady that you are enough, you are worth more than you give yourself credit for.

Philanthropy

Kelly donates her time and resources to UNM Children’s Hospital as well as frequents any small and local businesses she can.


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LJ Coleman Executive Director Secondary Curriculum Instruction

Executive Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction

LJ Coleman is the Executive Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction for Rio Rancho Public Schools. She says many educators feel called to the profession and thrive on seeing the spark of comprehension.

LJ says that teaching can be challenging due to a lack of resources, a need to encompass all learning styles and overcome issues students bring with them from outside the classroom.

She says young women and adults alike should identify what they really are passionate about doing, what they feel a sense of fulfillment in, and craft work around that.

Philanthropy

LJ regularly donates resources to various Women’s Advocacy Groups as she sees the value in supporting fellow women.


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Ailesha Ringer Ph.D. Candidate

Ph.D. Candidate in Communication

Ailesha Ringer is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Communications with one year left until she has completed this degree. Ailesha has been pursuing higher education for 12 years and has always known she wanted to obtain a Ph.D.; she just thought it’d be in a different field than Communications.

However, her path to be where she now is, though a bit winding, has shown her how much she thoroughly enjoys parsing the world through the lens of the Communications discipline.

Advice

Ailesha’s advice for anyone interested in pursuing an advanced degree includes taking some time off. She says to finish high school, maybe that first bachelor degree, but then to take a minute and reassess and make sure you are learning what is truly interesting to you and what you can make a career out of. She says a Ph.D. is not for everyone and that it really needs to benefit you in the long-run in order to pursue it in the short-term.

Ailesha says you must be self-disciplined, highly motivated, thick-skinned, and be willing to expand your horizons. She adds that a tenacious curiosity will serve you well.

Philanthropy

Ailesha regularly donates to Planned Parenthood, a community service clinic offering care to people from all walks of life who may not otherwise be able to afford the vast array of medical services the locations provide.

She is also involved in her graduate programs and volunteers when she can, most recently at St. Martin’s Hope Works.

Extended Interview

Special note** I had to edit the interview with Ailesha to fit within the format of the podcast. However, we discussed even more of the ins and outs of the world of academia, feminist theory, tax law, deep work, the value we place on academics, and much more! So as a special treat, I invite you to listen to the full, unedited conversation by clicking here Ailesha, Ph.D. Unedited Interview.


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Adrienne Quintana Publisher

Publisher

Adrienne Quintana is a writer and micro-publisher. In many ways, she is a matchmaker. She introduces authors to illustrators and utilizes her vast network of literary big shots to market works of written art.

Adrienne has loved to read for most of her life and when she wrote and illustrated a children’s book for a friend, found a passion for writing and subsequently publishing.

Advice

READ and then read some more. After that, pick up another book and read. She associates being a writer to being a runner; one step at a time, one mile at a time, one page at a time. Once you’ve become an avid reader, start writing. Write as much as you possibly can she advises.

Adrienne also says you need to develop a thick skin and a love for feedback. She says to look for ways to grow in the feedback being given. To give feedback is to genuinely care about the work and want to help make it the best piece it can be.

See constructive criticism as a big hug!

She also says to leave your options wide open and to continuously move forward.

Philanthropy

Adrienne donates her time, teaching expertise and devotion to her church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

You can find Adrienne online  at https://pinkumbrellapublishing.com/
http://www.readysetwritepodcast.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUIAbuihdn0jHaRTkb8OBGA


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Amber Pechin, Writer and Entrepreneur

Writer & Entrepreneur

Amber Pechin is the co-owner of Amplitude Media, a creative agency that “writes words that sell stuff”. She and her business partner provide branding, content, and strategy for businesses to reach the right audience, with the right story, at the right time, and turn them into customers.

Amber says she has always enjoyed making ideas come to light with words. She’s a storyteller, a creative, and enjoys figuring out other humans. She says that how you tell a story makes a difference and that we should use our powers for good.

Amber touches on some points that are particularly challenging for women. One item of note is that we tend to pick something to do for a career and then feel like we are supposed to continue on that path for eternity. She says that what we want to do at 19-years-old may not be the same as at 35 or even 60.

Advice

Amber says that when we stop having at least some fun with the work we are doing then it is time for a change. She says that if you are interested in becoming a writer or an entrepreneur that you should seek out a mentor in that field and ask them questions. You should also write; every single day. Amber advises you to be open to constructive feedback and develop a thick-skin for both career pursuits.

I would add that a level of curiosity would serve these professions well as would the ability to collaborate and always strive to be a better version of yourself in these roles.

Philanthropy

A pro bono client of the company is Heart Affect. It’s a group started by two mother’s whose children had complications from Congenital Heart Defects.

We believe all children deserve a healthy heart. Heart Effect advocates for children with congenital heart defects by educating communities and funding programs and research for Phoenix Children’s Heart Center and Cardiac 3D Print Lab. -Mission of Heart Effect


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Ashlee Andrews Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Ashlee Andrews is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Eubank Animal Clinic as well as her house call service ABQ Mobile Vet.

She has known since she was 8 years-old that she wanted to become a vet in order to care for animals and their human companions. Dr. Ashlee says that each day is a new adventure and she truly enjoys her career. It’s not without its challenges as she feels she must be capable of performing animal medicine as well as be a people-person and a business-savvy employer.

Philanthropy

Dr. Ashlee chooses to give back to her community through supporting Saranam and the Animal Humane Society of New Mexico.

Are you interested in becoming a veterinarian? What other questions would you like to ask a vet? Leave a comment below. Also, we conducted a video interview with Ashlee, watch it here.


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Sara Garrigan Executive Director of Non-Profit

Executive Director of a Non-Profit

Sara Garrigan has been the Executive Director of the non-profit Watermelon Mountain Ranch Animal Center for more than 5 years. She did not even know this was a possible career growing up but truly appreciates being in the position now.

Sara loves being able to work with animals each day and talk with people. She says you should have compassion, empathy and be a master multitasker to succeed in this type of role. Sara says that she loves making a difference and being able to work from anywhere for some of the tasks required of her. She also mentions that compassion fatigue can be the most challenging aspect of her role.

Volunteer

Sara enjoys being a storyteller and giving voice to those amongst us who cannot speak for themselves. She advises young women to go volunteer at every non-profit they can find in order to see the inner workings and identify if the work is something they want to do and if the cause is one they believe in.

Philanthropy

In addition to her full-time role, Sara has worked hard to support the Relay for Life chapter and is an advocate for the American Cancer Society in addition to the Watermelon Mountian Ranch itself.


(*note, Want to see the dog who accompanied us during the interview? The video interview is posted here. )

Renee Holmes Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical Engineer

Renee Holmes is a mechanical engineer with a passion for math, physics, problem-solving and Belize. She works at Bladewerx in NM and in addition to her role as a mechanical engineer, she is also an operations manager being groomed to take over the company somedayRenee Holmes, Mechanical Engineer

She has also worked for Boeing and had many mentors along the way who have encouraged her to continue pursuing her passion. Her parents were very supportive also.

Renee says she was able to collaborate with many men and women who have continued to support her interest in creating products.

In addition to her career, Renee is Mom to a barely-one-year-old and she says that she is at the right place for her and her family right now. She says you have to enjoy the time at work because that’s time away from her daughter and husband. And she does thoroughly enjoy her work as a mechanical engineer!

A career that stretches you, but doesn’t defeat you, is the right choice.

Philanthropy

Renee has a special passion for Belize. She and 9 friends recently conducted the Great Beans and Rice Giveaway wherein they raised money and created food baskets for women of domestic violence that contained rice, beans, pineapples, and ingredients to make tortillas. She called the project Little Chicken, Big Difference.

She and her husband also got married in Belize and had a service wedding where they all renovated a house for a mother and her children.


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