Lynn Ballou CFP

Certified Financial Planner

Lynn Ballou is a Certified Financial Planner and entrepreneur with EP Wealth Advisors, LLC. Lynn says she loves being able to guide clients through the financial complexities of life transitions. She feels she has a magic wand to make people’s lives better.

Photograph of Lynn Ballou, CFP
Lynn Ballou, CFP

Lynn began her career as an enrolled agent preparing taxes. The brand new field of CFP® was beginning to emerge and she took the certification course and follow-on study groups building her knowledge. The first female firm launched January 1, 1998, and on January 19, 2016, they joined forces with EP Wealth Advisors. When Lynn began she says the female professionals only amounted to about 5% of financial planners, now that number has grown to 23%. Plenty of room for more women she says!


Starting out, building a business, Lynn knew she had to save in order to grow to a point where her business would sustain her. She has reached that point. She says those who want to be an entrepreneur need to be able to hear ‘no’, to be truthful to themselves and be capable of pivoting.

Find your passion! Become your best authentic self!

Her advice for young women interested in becoming certified financial planners would be to shadow or intern with a financial professional. She says you cannot be what you cannot see. Even more than shadowing a CFP®, Lynn says to find a professional who lives in that profession, who really understands the nitty-gritty so they can give you the most comprehensive view of the career.


Lynn advocates for financial literacy for everyone – man, woman, child. She says we should be requiring financial literacy courses in order to graduate high school. Not simply how to buy and sell stocks; more practical money applications. How to budget, how to save, how to spend and invest and grow your wealth.

We can all get started on our financial journeys with some education ourselves. Lynn recommends perusing the CFP® board website at On this site one can find a local CFP®, or a mentor in the financial planning realm, and even learn a plethora of topics ranging from budgeting to growing your nest egg thru to retirement.

You can also get a hold of Lynn and she’ll guide you! Email her at


Lynn has made it a focus of EP Wealth Advisors to invest in their client’s charities. She also manages EP Wealth and Women Initiative wherein they support the careers of fellow femme financial pros.

Lynn also supports the YWCA Berkley Oakland Chapter and Girls Inc of Alameda in Oakland.

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Elizabeth Jacome Executive Director Elementary Curriculum Instruction

Executive Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction

Elizabeth Jacome is the Executive Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction for Rio Rancho Public Schools. She says a normal workday consists of teaching, planning, being flexible to the needs of her students and teachers, and always being available for them.

She says that people who are passionate about teaching, passionate about learning, and capable of imparting their knowledge thrive in the education environment. Elizabeth does say that she feels no educator is appropriately financially compensated for the work they do; it’s rarely why teachers are teachers.

Elizabeth says you should be flexible, reflective, a great listener and be willing to learn and embrace change.

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Adrienne Quintana 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.


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.


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

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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What is it Like to be a Firefighter

To fully grasp the lifestyle of a firefighter, you have to think of the occupation on a level that you might be more familiar with. Last September, my students and I delivered breakfast items to a local fire station where we were able to visit with and express our appreciation of some of the heroes working close to home. They were so thankful and willingly showed their gratitude by giving my students a tour of their station as well as some of the equipment, and of course, the fire trucks. I couldn’t have wiped the smiles off my 7th graders’ faces even if I wanted to! They were so intrigued by all the equipment and the daily routine of people who save lives for their career.

The work schedule was one of the benefits that the firefighters seemed to like best. As a firefighter, you would stay a certain number of nights in your fire station with your fellow firefighters, waiting and preparing for calls of varied natures to respond to. Then, they spend a number of days off where they get to rest at home and spend time with family and friends.

If you ask any firefighter, they would be very likely to tell you that the life of a firefighter is never put “on hold” just because you have days off. However, they would also tell you without hesitation that they wouldn’t want days off from a career that is so fulfilling.

To become a firefighter is already one of the most courageous careers an individual can pursue, but it is also comparable to joining a big family. A family solely focused on putting others first, and running in when everyone else is trying to run out.

Daily Work as a Firefighter

The job of a firefighter is defined by the ability to fight and deplete fires in homes, businesses, and environments of varied sorts. Also, if disaster strikes, firefighters are there to make sure that everyone involved is safe, and provide additional medical attention that might be needed.

Firefighters are also expected to not only protect lives, but to also protect property and avoid damages involving either. As a firefighter, you would also participate, enforce, and evaluate preventive activities and practices within your fire house, as well as for different families, businesses, and communities. Maintaining the cleanliness and efficiency of your designated fire station to ensure timely proficiency is something that firefighters work together to achieve, because it can be difficult to respond to emergencies quickly if it is a challenge to leave the station in a timely manner.

Another aspect of this occupation is that you get to participate in the development of public education, including information on fire safety and handling procedures for situations where a firefighter is needed. Going into schools and businesses, or speaking at public events, you are able to interact with students, parents, and employees about how to stay safe when the unexpected happens.

Not only are you a selfless hero of epic proportions, but you are passing on the knowledge you have to those in the community around you, making them better with every lesson.

Working Conditions for a Firefighter

  • Works both indoors and outdoors depending on circumstances
  • Exposure to extreme temperatures, depending on assigned tasks during emergency situations
  • Extreme noise levels and stimulations (sirens, lights, etc.)
  • Exposed to some hazards such as driving hazards, rescue attempts and difficult terrain. The possibility of hazardous material spills. Firefighters might be exposed to exhaust fumes, heat, smoke, water, dusts, fire retardant chemicals, and toxic fumes

This list shouldn’t scare you because you get trained on how to mitigate accidents as well as how to handle them if they were to unavoidably occur.

Physical Performance – Strength, Endurance, and Speed

As we’ve discussed so far, the daily work of a firefighter is nothing shy of extraordinary. And where there is “extraordinary”, hard work, discipline, and sacrifice stand behind it. From a daily career like this, it is impossible for a working woman like you to be absent from feeling empowered beyond your wildest dreams. Women one hundred years ago would have jumped for an opportunity such as this, and here it is, within our reach.

Job Requirements for Firefighters

Effective communication skills will take you far in whichever dream you decide to chase. Along with that, having the ability to be an effective, helpful, and encouraging team player in all circumstances is priceless, especially those where stress and adrenaline have a tendency to take control.

Whichever state you decide to work in as a firefighter, you must be at least 18 years of age and have a valid driver’s license. Most of the time, firefighters beginning their careers won’t exceed the ages of anywhere from 28 to 35. Not to say that those limits can’t be broken, but it’s the average age of firefighters because the physical requirements of the job as well as the fundamental need for physical excellence.

Being a firefighter requires at the very minimum a high school diploma or GED, and highly encourages EMT certification as well as a secondary degree in fire science. Upon being hired as a firefighter, all applicants are required to pass a physical ability test that includes tasks such as the stair climb, hose drag, equipment carry, ladder raise and extension, forcible entry, search, rescue, ceiling breach and pull.

Part of being a visible hero in a community is holding yourself accountable to the tremendously honorable position that you hold. Most fire station jobs will monitor things that you post on social media, as well as things like your credit score to ensure that they are hiring a wise and responsible citizen. Fire stations, as well as any number of employers, will respect individuals that take ownership of any mistakes they have ever made as long as they also commit to being a better version of themselves.

Men and women striving to be firefighters must also pass the written exam that is included in the hiring process. Thankfully, there are a lot of test taking practices and exercises available to help you feel more comfortable and prepared for success.

If you are an even-tempered and emotionally intelligent person, being a firefighter is a fulfilling career where you will be tested, but the rewards are more than could ever be expressed in one blog post. Being the hero to someone in need might not be a cakewalk, but someone out there needs the heart that you have. Also, if you or someone who knows you well would characterize you as a fast-learner, this is the perfect career for you.

Above all else, the heart and attitude of a firefighter is the number one thing that stations are looking for. When you’re in the business of saving lives, there can’t be any exceptions within that area.

Resources/Benefits of Field Experience

As we have mentioned countless times here on Career Talk with Working Women, and will continue to mention for all of our posts and podcasts to come, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to VOLUNTEER.

One thing about firefighting is that they encourage and accept any form of volunteering as “experience”. Work in any area within your community, whether it’s fire related or not, and fire stations appreciate all of it. As I also mentioned earlier, look into taking extra credits/ classes that will contain useful and practical information that will prove beneficial to you as you dive further into the pool of fire safety.

Licensing Required for Firefighters

  • High school diploma or GED
  • EMT certification
  • Additional education in related field
  • Pass written exam
  • Pass physical ability exam

Make sure to research the fire station you want to work at and the state you want to be employed in. Sometimes the requirements and licensing are different or have more that they request.

Salary and Employment Outlook for Firefighters

As it is with any career choice, it’s always wise to not only consider the lifestyle and the job requirements, but it is also prudent to research the information regarding salary and employment.

When I took my students to the fire station, the first question they all wanted to ask was how much the firefighters make. There isn’t anything wrong with wanting this information– the only logical way to make an educated decision is through genuine inquiries such as these.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary average for firefighters is $50,520 with a mean average wage of over $24 an hour. The highest employment rates of firefighters are found within local governments, followed by support services, and then with the Federal Executive Branch.

This is notable because that means you can potentially work under a variety of employers and you can serve a number of purposes within those communities. At the top of the employment averages in the United States are California, Texas, with Florida in third. And if you are like me, then it might not come across as much of a surprise to know that there are higher percentages of employed firefighters in metropolitan areas as opposed to non-metropolitan areas.

How to Get Hired as a Firefighter

One of the first steps that should be taken when pursuing the road to fighting fires and saving lives should be to speak with a local firefighter.

Here on Career Talk with Working Women, we have provided firsthand information from a working woman who fights fires for a living, and that will pose as an excellent resource for real information from a real hero. You can listen to the episode where we interview Michelle Vasquez-Herrera here.

Also, don’t be afraid to go out into your local fire stations or departments and ask to speak with and interview firefighters working in your community. Most firefighters are more than willing to speak with people, especially those aspiring to the career. Also, be aware of the fact that each state and firehouse could have different criteria expected from their applicants, so professionals say that speaking with the fire station you want to work for is the optimum thing to do for qualifications and certifications.

Lastly, it is crucial to prepare yourself for the interview. Interviews are pivotal for all career paths, but it is imperative that you contemplate the different questions in order to present genuine and thoughtful responses for this specific career. Sites such as Fire Rescue 1 and Fire Science provide resources for ground work such as this.

Don’t forget to listen to the weekly podcast to hear directly from working women on their careers, work-life balance, and advice for young women. Listen to an interview with Firefighter Engineer Michelle Vasquez-Herrera who is a certified Firefighter. Subscribe to the podcast, and share it with your friends.

Michelle Vasquez-Herrera Firefighter

Firefighter Engineer

Michelle Vasquez-Herrera is a career firefighter engineer with more than 16 years under her belt.

She says you must be willing to work hard, be physically fit, and react at a moment’s notice. Michelle says more of their calls are for medical emergencies than for fires themselves so they are all EMT certified in addition to their firefighting training.

Michelle has some great advice for young women, and for us all really:

Draw a map of your life, but do it in pencil.

Wise words from a woman who has crafted a life and career that works for her, her firefighting husband, and their two daughters.


Michelle has donated her time and resources to the Girl Scouts as a troop leader, Fill the Boot for MDA and Firefighter Random Acts.

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Liz Foott Safety Consultant

Safety Consultant

Liz Foott helps maintain the utmost safety for employees and customers while crafting her own work-life balance.

Liz Foott is a Safety Consultant who works with a variety of businesses on all aspects of safety. She enjoys being able to interact with hospitals, orchards, and trucking companies. She says you need to be self-motivated, be an excellent communicator, and a very good listener in order to perform well in this line of work. Liz earned the Associate Safety Professional certification in addition to undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as a plethora of on the job experience.

Liz advises young women to volunteer in all sorts of careers in order to get a good idea of the environment. She also says we can all be safety consultants by simply looking around our schools and homes for potential hazards and mitigate those risks.

Resources for Safety

Learning more about safety is an easy, safe thing to do! Visit the following websites for tips and ideas.


Liz donates her time and resources to the Oregon Habitat for Humanity as well as A Home to Share and Central Oregon Veterans Ranch.

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