East Valley Tribune: Women In Business

Women In Business

When Sherry Kiyler was a rookie beat cop in the 1970s, she was issued a skirt and a purse — the latter to hold her two-inch revolver and handcuffs (as if there were any other logical reason...).

While Kiyler hung up her badge earlier this summer as the highest-ranking officer (chief of police) in one of the southwest’s most dynamic cities (Chandler), she still serves as the perfect microcosm of how things have changed — and of the opportunities trailblazers like herself have provided for woman today.

Be it in law enforcement or local leadership, politics or the seemingly-still-male-dominated world of sports broadcasting, the days of women sitting as bystanders to leadership and innovation are, without a doubt, nearing their end.

We present this special section, complete with feature stories from our newsroom and sponsored content via our loyal advertisers, as a celebration of women in business of all types, serving all industries.

  • Marcia Kennedy named COUNTRY financial representative

    Marcia Kennedy has been named a financial representative for COUNTRY Financial.Kennedy recently completed the organization’s extensive training about the solutions COUNTRY offers to help clients become financially secure. The training also focuses on guiding clients toward successfully setting and achieving their goals.Kennedy can provide clients with auto, home, life and long term care insurance, annuities, mutual funds and college education funding options. She can also offer investment management, retirement planning and trust services provided by COUNTRY Trust Bank, which is part of COUNTRY Financial.Having earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas in 1977, Kennedy moved to Arizona in June of that same year. After 37 years in the Valley, Marcia considers herself a native Arizonian. Kennedy spends her leisure time in the outdoors, and enjoys hiking, golfing, and snow skiing. She is a member of Calvary Chapel Ahwatukee and also participates in the Ahwatukee Community Choir. Her passion is to educate individuals, young and old, concerning financial matters. Marcia is committed to serving her community by providing honest and ethical information and products that promote Financial Security and Literacy.Kennedy is a regular contributor for the East Valley Tribune and and Ahwatukee Foothills News. She serves clients from her COUNTRY office at 1640 S. Stapley Drive in Mesa. The office phone number is 480-325-1521.

  • Witcher: Whatever your definition of success, getting there is 100 percent in your control

    In today’s constantly evolving workplace, personal career management must be a priority for anyone who wants to achieve success in their career — including women.For women, career success might mean growing as a professional, achieving work life balance, building subject matter expertise, or getting promoted and moving up within their organization.Whatever your definition of success, attaining it is 100 percent in your control. It’s time to stop sitting back and waiting for great things to happen in your career and to start making them happen for yourself. Here are several steps you can take today to begin taking control of your career:Volunteer

  • Quintet of East Valley commerce organizations led by new breed of business woman

    Compared to her counterparts Mesa Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Sally Harrison is willing to admit she’s the new kid on the block.Well, she’s kind of new-ish, to be fair — she landed the full-time leadership role in February after spending the months prior serving in an interim position — and is learning the nuances of the role.One thing she has going for her as she learns more and more about the position and what it entails is the ability to depend on her neighboring chamber presidents.What makes the East Valley’s crop of business leaders particularly notable for Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe and Mesa — not to mention nearby Ahwatukee Foothills — is that, in a business traditionally skewed toward the masculine, all are headed by female leaders.“We work closely, we really do. We have a great synergy,” said Chandler CEO Terri Kimble.Gilbert Chamber president Kathy Tilque said the relationship among the women — including Harrison, Kimble, herself and Tempe CEO Mary Ann Miller — has a spirit of mentorship to it, due in part to the “girl-to-girl” friendship that continues to develop as the four become accustomed to one another. The person who receives much of the mentoring is Harrison, who admits she’s picked up a lot from spending time with her counterparts, particularly Tilque and Miller. “For me, I learn from the others,” Harrison said. “I feel like the newbie in the room.”

  • Miller: Like all else, feminism has evolved — it should be applauded

    I am a feminist.Perhaps it stems from my tomboy roots. While I run and throw “like a girl” with all the negative connotation that stereotype brings, I won every wrestling match with Timmy down the street. Even at a young age, I only wore a dress to church, and my mom immediately changed me into pants when we got home.I graduated from high school before Title IX was implemented and the only sport for girls was softball.As an account manager after college, a trucking rep who had messed up a shipment said, “just calm down, honey.” He later called my boss to see if I actually had the authority to throw him off the dock.In the early 90s I learned not to take a notebook into a meeting so that the men in the room wouldn’t ask me to take minutes.And not so long ago I actually had someone ask me how it would look if the Tempe Chamber had three women consecutively serve as board chairs.

  • Broadcasters Jackson, Brunson forge own paths to Arizona's sports-loving households

    It’s a little simplistic at this point to call sports — the landscape filled with men playing or covering children’s games valued at millions upon millions of dollars, often at the exclusion of women — a boys club, but history has proven that label apt. Go back 46 years to the 1967 Boston Marathon, when Katharine Switzer’s race was nearly interrupted when race official Jock Semple tried to pull her off the course (her boyfriend literally body checked him out of the way).Fall forward another 23 years to the New England Patriots’ locker room, where Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson tried to do her job through ridiculous levels of sexual harassment from players as the team’s owner condoned their actions. Move another 13 years forward to a Monday Night Football game in which ESPN’s Suzy Kolber endured the drunken advances of a lecherous Joe Namath, the former Super Bowl winner, in the middle of a national broadcast.Now shift to 2013 and Sunday afternoons and nights in Arizona or Atlanta or Boston, which belong to the Fox Sports Arizona pregame and postgame broadcasting team of Jody Jackson and Cindy Brunson. They aren’t necessarily groundbreakers, but their role on Sunday nights — and the paths they’ve taken to get there — represent a step in the direction of sports broadcasting parity.Jackson and Brunson earned their way into Diamondbacks’ fans homes through similar means — hard work, talent, conviction — but came together just before the season began in March through different routes. Start with the former, who has worked at Fox Sports Arizona for the last 13 years covering the D-Backs, Coyotes and Cardinals. Before moving to Tempe, Jackson was a sports reporter in Buffalo, N.Y., and worked in a similar capacity in Florida covering teams like the Miami Dolphins and her alma mater, the University of Miami.This is her dream job, the type of position she wanted as a child while watching “The U” rise in prominence under head coach Jimmy Johnson in the late ‘80s, and one that has worked out famously for Jackson.“It’s better than I could have ever imagined,” she said.

  • Reflections on a trail-blazing career: Chandler police chief kicked door open as a 'police woman'

    Chandler Police Chief Sherry Kiyler’s “from the front” leadership the past nine years inspired a police force and helped build collaboration among East Valley safety departments, according to those who have worked with her.As Kiyler prepared to retire in June after 40 years in law enforcement, she said her hope is she’s left a contribution to the community.“I didn’t come here to make it a better place. I came here to hopefully make a contribution. When I came here there were things that had to get done. A lot had to do with the significant growth that had occurred and was still occurring,” she said.The time is right, she said, as she marked her 40-year milestone in January, crime rates are down, the budget is done for the city and the new fiscal year is about to begin. Plus, since her husband retired a few years ago and they’re both in good health, they want to spend more time with their “amazing” children and grandchildren.“You don’t know what life is going to be. It’s time to go and explore those things that we haven’t been able to because we’ve been working, and working a lot of hours,” she said.Kiyler started in the 1970s as a “police woman” with the Phoenix Police Department. Then, the doors were just opening for women. She was issued a skirt with her uniform, along with a purse to carry her 2-inch revolver and handcuffs.

  • Tilque: Success comes to women who work hard, take risks, and build a strong team

    I have never been one to consider my gender to be a factor when it comes to my career. I am a firm believer that my actions and work ethic bear a far greater impact on my success. I’m not saying that being a woman in business doesn’t change the game a bit — especially when it comes to how my actions are perceived — but it certainly has no place in my daily thought process or leadership efforts.As the president and CEO of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce for the past 17 years, I’ve grown right alongside the Chamber and our community. I’ve worked with some incredible individuals, both male and female, and have learned many valuable lessons along the way. If there is one significant variable I have observed between the two sexes, it is the double-standard in communication. When a male leader is bold, frank and opinionated, he is often deemed to be a visionary or strong leader. Conversely, a woman can be considered pushy, aggressive or rude. Have I compensated for this standard over the years? Of course — but I have also never been fearful of this perception.I can tell you that times are changing and these days I see less and less of a gender discrepancy. Maybe it’s the influence of a younger workforce or perhaps it can be attributed to the changing economic and technological times. What I see is a sense of collaboration — leaders coming together to learn best practices and help each other overcome challenges. I see executives of all ages with a willingness and desire to keep up with trends and try new things. I see male leaders seeking a balanced life just as much as their female counterparts. There is a growing expectation that working fathers will be just as involved and hands-on as their partners — especially as moms take on careers. I see employers becoming more understanding of the need for a flexible work environment and supportive of the idea that family should come first.Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have had both male and female mentors. Each of these individuals invested their time in me and my potential. Likewise, my Board of Directors has always been supportive of my professional growth and development and, because of their confidence in my ability, I have been able to take risks and try new ventures. I choose to surround myself with dynamic leaders and professionals and I’m the first to acknowledge the importance of building and empowering a great team.It’s often said that the world belongs to those who show up and I believe that is true. However, those who do show up and truly make a difference are the ones who are willing to take the risks and weather the storm of controversy for the greater good — no matter what gender. I’m proud of what our chamber has accomplished and I salute my chamber peers for the good work they have done for their communities as well.

  • Harrison: Managing change and overcoming obstacles while climbing the career ladder

    A good friend once told me that the only constant is change. There is no truer statement.I believe change is certainly a good thing. But in my own career at the Mesa Chamber of Commerce, moving from the director of programs, to the vice president of business development, to the president and CEO in the span of about five years has been a little bit of a challenge.But what is the proper way to professionally manage change?Managing change, expectations

  • Chandler’s Ellen (city council), Mesnard (state legislature) form mom-son political duo

    Joining the world of politics was not something Chandler Representative Javan “J.D.” Mesnard planned for years in advance.Neither was it an idea floated by his mom, Chandler City Councilwoman Nora Ellen.But the two surprised each other, and now they make up quite possibly the only mom-son/city-state political duo in Arizona.Mesnard took the plunge first, serving on Arizona’s House of Representatives since 2011. Ellen was elected in November to the Chandler City Council, a spot she earned without a run-off election.Of course, Mesnard helped Ellen during the campaign, preparing her for what could come in the form of any personal attacks (which they dealt with), as well as giving advice on getting votes. He knew she already had at least one.Because of where each lives, “I get to vote for her, but she does not get to vote for me. She’s in the small part of Chandler that is not from my district,” Mesnard said during a conference call from Colorado last week, where the two were together on vacation.

'EV Women in Business'

A PDF of the Tribune special section, featuring a mix of sponsored content from our loyal advertisers and newsroom coverage of the East Valley business community.

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