The first job: I started my professional life as a high-school civics teacher, but my first job in communications was when I was in my teens, in Franklin Borough, New Jersey, advancing a semipro football team.
Working with men: At times I’ve been the only woman in a group of accomplished men. I learned that I knew at least as much as the others in the room. Always take advantage of the power of being underestimated.
The turning point: When I started APCO, I sometimes felt I wasn’t up to the challenge. One day, I was helping my son with his homework and came across a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I realized my hesitation was about me, not anyone else. From then on, I decided to rely on my instincts and knowledge.
The setback: In 2010, my daughter-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer, her two-year-old daughter was near death with encephalitis, and my father moved in with me after my stepmother died. What was important was working together, with the support of the people who loved us, as my granddaughter learned to walk, talk, and eat all over again.
Best advice: Don’t have your life so planned that you can’t take opportunities that come along. Don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know what you can do.
This article appears in the October 2014 issue of Washingtonian.