Level The Playing Field in Honduras


“I need you to look as unattractive as possible.” Those were the words that Ron Hicks, Executive Director of Lunches for Learning spoke as I landed in the Tegucigalpa Airport in Honduras. Ron had visited my Rotary club, Roswell Rotary, a few months earlier to speak about his Lunches for Learning program. A program operated in rural Honduras with a focus to break the lifecycle of poverty through feeding children that stay in school.  When he spoke, I was immediately invested with my checkbook but wanted to see the operation with my own eyes several months later. I was lucky that my friends Kay Love and Lisa Carlisle were equally invested, but unlucky in the sense that we are all blonde hair, blue eyed women that stick out amongst the brown eyed, brown haired Hondurans. Ron was intent on keeping us safe as well as engaging us in the work he had been pioneering for almost 6 years. At the time I had no idea how much this trip would expand my horizons and connect me to the most amazing women on the planet.Photo Nov 18, 4 11 10 PM


Lunches for Learning began during a vacation for now retired Executive Director, Ron Hicks. As he drove his motorcycle across Central America, he came to the border of Honduras and El Salvador on Central American Highway 1. While trying to cross the border a little, “street urchin” as he referred to her, was begging him for coins. He wondered why she wasn’t in school and handed her some coins and she ran off. After he returned to Montgomery, Alabama from his month-long trip, he couldn’t erase the little girls face from his memory. He got back on a plane, flew into Tegucigalpa and drove 3 hours to the border town of Amatillo, Honduras. He found the girl, the school she was supposed to attend and the principal of the school, Roxana Gonzales. Ms. Gonzales came


Coila Gonzales the community matriarch and former Principal

from a long line of educators as her mother, Coila Gonzales was the former Principal. The Gonzales women informed Ron of the desperate situation in Honduras of starvation and that children at the age of 5 had to choose between feeding their stomachs or their minds. From there, Lunches for Learning began, and Ron and Roxana Gonzales built a model in the first Lunches for Learning School in Amatillo.

Food insecurity is an understatement for those living in extreme poverty in Honduras – starvation is the more appropriate term to describe the situation. Lunches for Learning keeps children in school by providing lunch thus erasing the issue of feeding their minds or feeding their tummies. The communities that this program serves in the Valle District rallies around it. Every member plays a role with keeping their children in school by serving in the kitchen and being active in the education process. Families stay intact and kids can become literate, which enables them to have a better job than scouring the landfills or begging for money in the border towns that dot the Valle District.


Kids from the Amatillo School.

While my friends and I remained invested both emotionally and financially in Lunches for Learning, we started to think beyond food. People in the region of Valle, located in the dry corridor, die from starvation or water born diseases.  Kay is sophisticated with navigating complex processes as she had spent the duration of her career in government. I have a knack for fundraising, and with Rotary International’s ability to leverage funds and their international network, we knew it could be accomplished. We just had to find a Rotary Club in Honduras that would be our co-sponsor.

Our first attempt at finding a partner didn’t go so well. We visited a Rotary Club on the outskirts of Valle in Choluteca, Honduras. They were 20 minutes away from the project but wouldn’t work with us because the project was being led by women. They did not work with women. I later found out that this club, along with another were the only two in Honduras that did not have women as members.

We ended up meeting through Lunches for Learning connections of another Rotary Club,


Wendy on the left and Myriam on the right joined by Armando and J.J. all Rotary members.

three hours away in the capital of Honduras, The Villa Real Rotary of Tegucigalpa. A club with women leading up front and invest in both business and community. Our first connections to the females in the club were through Myriam Osorio McCormick and Wendy Ayestas, sisters in law and real-life superheroes. Later they were joined by another female superstar, Sonia Rameriz and the rest of their club.

I am not a details person but thank God Wendy and Kay have that covered. There were some long years put into the initial water project. Multiple government entities and detailed requirements for the application of funding and then, of course, the initial fundraising, which was the easy part (and my responsibility). It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done. And our final product of water to 1900 people was so good that it’s about to be replicated in several communities in the region.

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Myself, Kay Love, Wendy Ayestas, Sonia Rameriz

As we are in the season of giving thanks, I must hand it to these incredible women. They go above and beyond for other women and children. They can literally say they are carrying a region in the poorest country area in the western hemisphere that nobody noticed, even their own government, a decade ago. Thank you, Kay and Lisa, for taking that initial leap of faith and boarding a plane. Thank you to Wendy, Myriam, and Sonia for joining in with us and Rotary International for giving us a greater platform to serve. I must give equal thanks to Roxana Gonzales and Ron Hicks, for being the spark that lit the fire. These women (and Ron) save lives. And thank you to those of you who have followed along in our footsteps to donate their time, treasure and talent to strangers in a desolate and otherwise insignificant place. You’ve made your mark without a drop of makeup on too. But nothing is more beautiful than to give to others.




Taking a trip to Honduras may be out of reach for most, but it’s easy to be invested here as well. We have our annual fundraiser coming up in February in Atlanta. So as we line up to give thanks with our families and have our tables full of food, consider passing it along to some very deserving children. Or better yet, come to join us on the dance floor as we celebrate the success of others. www.roswellhforh.com  Ron would say it’s acceptable to be attractive at this event as well.

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Don’t Let Poor Body Language Speak for You.


While we love a woman who is articulate, sharp and assertive, we hate to see them fall victim to poor body language. Whether you are the Head Honcho or trying to land that first career defining role, what you say is just as important as what you DON’T say. Below are a few pointers to keep in mind when trying to become an employee, or trying to manage a team of them.

Positioning Yourself in a Conversation While Standing:

It is important to let your audience know you are interested in what they have to say. Squaring your feet, torso and chest with a supervisor or person in charge is a great way to non-verbally assign respect to that person’s position. Make sure to keep your feet close together as a wider stance could signal a desire for domination or automatically jumping on “offense”.

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Crossing Your Arms:

If you pay attention throughout the day of how you stand or sit, you may find that you cross your arms simply because it’s comfortable. While this may be an easy way to give your shoulders a break, it can be a sign of a “standoff-ish” attitude and make you seem unapproachable. As a leader, you want your team to be comfortable engaging with you. This increases company morale, and can lead to some excellent team conversations.

You might think you’re presenting confidently like this:

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But most people are going to see or feel this:

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Opening your hands during a conversation:

Many of us speak with our hands. It is important to be mindful of how aggressively you are using your hands when speaking to or presenting to an audience. Keeping your hands between waist and chest height is a good rule of thumb to begin. Next, extend your arms with palms up and fingers open to show a sign of welcomed input and engagement. Closed fists and flailing arms can be intimidating and distracting.

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Present with Pride:

While many of us are able to identify the obvious “do’s and don’t’s” (chewing gum, tapping fingers, shaking legs etc), we often fall short on how we present when we think people are not watching. Standing in a room full of people, it is often easy to let our posture relax. This can be one of the worst mistakes you make in theses social situations. Whether you like it or not, someone is always watching. So if you’re the CEO or the new hire, make sure you present with shoulders back, a level chin and confident presence. Make the middle point in a room your lowest point of vision. If no one is engaging with you, start to move around the room; do not stand and start to sway as this will make you look like you are lacking confidence or you are anxious. Simply put, present like the boss is watching. You got this!

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Power Hair



Hair – Much to do About something.

While presenting about being presentable at last month’s Women Who Count Conference, I was approached by an impeccably dressed woman with an equally


She looks like this every day.

impressive head of long hair. Her name is Nicole and she is in business development for Polston Tax.  She asked me, “What do you think about long hair?” I spat out some statistics to her 84% of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women have short hair, while being mesmerized by her perfectly coifed long locks. I believe I also mentioned that excessively curly hair or long hair gives the impression of being high maintenance. Protocol says to keep it above shoulder length or tied back. Please mind that I deal in the business of perception, not actuality.

Nicole really had me thinking though, and as I went back through my mental digest of


Natasha flaunts her hair to those without

people I knew with long-hair or big-haired professionals, one woman came to mind, Natasha Cary. Natasha speaks her mind and when she’s not busy telling you how it is, she’s telling someone else how it is. She’s a recovering chef/event planner that is now running a marketing business, FlavorEXP. Natasha has long curly hair, and the bigger it gets, the more confident she becomes. I told her about Nicole when I came back from the conference, and she said, “You know, I used to hate my hair growing up, but now it’s really my brand and I love it.”

She’s right, it really is her brand. So much her brand that while attending a charity event of culinary professionals that Natasha helped organized, the hair took front and center on the stage. Natasha is a part of a global organization of baller culinary women, Les Dames d’Escoffier International. The Atlanta chapter of 130 women hosted an amazing event, An Afternoon in the Country, for 1200 people last Sunday. Natasha, along with the Les Dames International President, the Atlanta Chapter President, and two other women, who all had short and tidy doo’s, took to the stage for a check presentation. As they were lining up, The President blurted over the microphone to 1200 people, “man, we sure got a lot of hair going on up here.” Natasha’s hair took center stage and she was owning it!


“Natasha’s hair eclipses all others”

This event draws a good deal of culinary fans all for the betterment of women in the culinary industry. They provide educational scholarships for women. Because Les Dames is internationally known for throwing the best parties on the planet, it has a regional draw. I ran into some friends from another social circle and they asked who I was there with for the event. I said, “Natasha”, and they looked blankly at me and then I followed while motioning my arms around my head, “you know my friend with the hair”, and then it clicked. They knew who Natasha was immediately by the description of her notorious brand, her hair.




Nicole and Natasha represent the 16% that Fortune magazine long hair category. They own it and it’s part of their identity. As a short and tidy bob woman, I have absolute hair envy, but know that it could never work for me and would not work for most. Unless you are naturally gifted with awesome hair, tie it up or cut it off. And if you see a woman rocking the flowing long locks or curly kinky hair and still calling the shots, give her a high-five and maybe a bourbon on the rocks.


Cheers to Nicole and Natasha!



Style notes: Everything I wore to Afternoon in the Country minus the boots and handbag were under $40 for each piece. Skirt is Zara, Top is Banana Republic, Jacket is two seasons old from H&M, Hat is Nordstrom Rack (best hats in the world there).

Women Who Crush It Wednesday



We usually reserve this titling on our social media outlets to describe one woman, but this week we have a deserving group of power players both inside the office and inside their industry.  The Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA) has existed since 1938 and has heavily aided the professional growth of women in the accounting and finance field. Their values of empowerment, integrity, leadership, and passion are naturally embodied by their members.44982864_2242722399083226_1476114387721781248_n

I attended their annual conference this week and was greeted with smiles, easy conversations, and plenty of libations. They make an industry outsider feel welcome. I taught a class on how to appropriately present yourself and the importance of business protocol. I was surprised by the level of engagement and energy in the session. These remarkable women that are paid to have the right answer in numbers were extremely interested in obtaining the soft skills necessary to propel their careers into hypergrowth.

AFWA’s annual conference had a certain buzz about it. A positive, genuine, and social atmosphere where women can share stories freely about where they struggle, how they accelerate, and when to pause.45057820_2244176372271162_7815593177267568640_n

AFWA’s commitment doesn’t stop with their compelling blend of professional growth and technical refreshing seminars, they also give back to other women through scholarships. This year we heard from one of their scholarship recipients that is a non-traditional late bloomer. She went back to school and at the age of 48, passed the CPA, all because the AFWA believed she could. The best part was when she was called to the stage, her Uncle was in the audience beaming with pride and blurted out her childhood nickname. Seemed like she had a fan-base at home too.

Any woman in the accounting and finance arena stands to gain something from the benefits of AFWA. The resounding theme from the membership that I heard from was that they’ve gained so much professional development and personal growth by their association with the organization.

I’d urge all women regardless of career stage, to join an organization of women. As women continue to close the gender gap and accelerate their careers, we see civil rights issues hitting the front page of every paper. It’s a confusing time. One thing that we can all agree on is that women are undeniably popular, thanks to organizations like the AFWA, making the ladies of AFWA our Women Who Crush It Wednesday list!


#PSA, while at the national conference we hit up the Banana Republic Friends and Family Sale happening today through Friday. That’s 50% off for card members and 40% for everyone else. Kristen is a big fan of simple, polished dresses. She’s wearing the Ponte Flutter Sleeve Dress . Keeping with the red theme, I am wearing the Belted Pencil Skirt with the Plaid High Low Curved Hem Top. If you are in the market for a new coat, BR’s last a decade, really. It’s worth the investment. I’m wearing the Italian Melton Wool-Blend Military Coat.



The Right Way to do (P)Leather

Work Wear

Fall is a great time to start getting out the sweaters, boots and heavy coats. It’s also a great time to start incorporating other fabrics into your wardrobe. Leather (or pleather if you prefer) can be a tricky one, especially in the context of office wear.

During our shopping trip to Ann Taylor, we found two pieces that incorporate “pleather” in this case, without being over the top or trashy looking. The first piece is a shift dress with a wide block of pleather across the neckline, creating flared sleeves on either side. The rest of the dress is a flat black. This is a great mix of both fabrics without being too loud or in your face. (P)Leather is best when it’s not clinging to your skin, rather, a little looser and free moving.

The singular color leaves a lot of room for a patterned heel or earring, but be sure to keep it toned down and “calm” for the office.

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If this much (p)leather is too much for you, try incorporating it as an accent fabric. Below, this Ann Taylor grey 3/4 sleeve shift dress uses leather around the neckline and pockets. This is a great way to add some flare to an otherwise pretty basic shift dress. A pair of black (p)leather pumps finish off the look and tie in the trim on the dress perfectly; making for a simple to put together look for fall.