My Women’s History Is Genius:
Celebrating Women in Business & In Life
Written By Joanna Boruch
March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the incredible achievements of women throughout history, to reflect on the progress that has been made, and to look forward to all that’s still achievable. Ask anyone to name some women from history who have broken down barriers or to name some contemporary female icons responsible for shattering ceilings, and there will never be a shortage of names that come to mind.
But it’s not just famous women from the history books and our news feeds that deserve recognition for changing the world. Whether they realize it or not, there are countless everyday unsung female heroes who make a profound impact on the people around them, and here at Congenius, we truly believe that every woman has an amazing story to tell. All throughout the year, we are constantly inspired by so many extraordinary women we are humbled to partner with, and we are absolutely honored to be able to share some of their stories with you this month.
“I am most proud of creating a space where individuals feel safe to create, inspire and enjoy their work but even more proud that the companies I have been a part of are driven by a passion for people be it, colleagues, clients, students and educators.”
Director of Market Development for Kay-Twelve
Carla Cummins serves as Director of Market Development for Kay-Twelve, which helps educational leaders transform their traditional learning environments into innovative and collaborative spaces. Carla was inspired at a young age to focus on educational facilities when she was hired by an architectural firm in Mesa, Arizona and quickly saw the reward in planning and designing facilities for future learners. Once she knew the impact of a school that is planned and designed with a focus on educational delivery methods and a district’s vision, it became a passion of Carla’s to be part of a professional community that designs learning environments that inspire lifelong learners and encourage schools to be the center of a community.
To Carla, the best part of what she gets to do daily is have a positive impact on other people. “Through our companies, we have the ability to be part of a change in education from district leaders to learners. To walk through a school we have had the opportunity to be part of whether in planning, design or through our peer-to-peer organization ELO, there is pride in knowing there will be a significant impact to that educational community and those people who occupy it for years to come.”
When reflecting on her success, Carla notes that she believes that skills, talent, and intellect come second to surrounding yourself with people that drive you to be better both personally and professionally. “I am most proud of creating a space where individuals feel safe to create, inspire and enjoy their work but even more proud that the companies I have been a part of are driven by a passion for people be it, colleagues, clients, students and educators.”
When asked about what women in history have inspired Carla, she understandably couldn’t pick just one. First, she cites Rosa Parks, a catalyst of the Civil Rights Movement and a symbol of dignity and strength amidst racial segregation and inequality. She quotes, “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” Secondly, Carla looks to Malala Yousafzai as an inspiration. “I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls.” This incredible woman overcame an assassination attempt by the Taliban in Pakistan at the age of fifteen to campaign for women’s rights and children’s rights to an education. She has fought life and limb for what she believes in. To Carla, Rosa Parks and Malala are the epitome of how one person can make a profound difference in the lives of so many, and we couldn’t agree more!
“The way in which we can use language to communicate and create out of thin air is magical to me and I enjoy using the power of language in the worlds of academia, business, and the arts. I believe everyone has a story to tell and I enjoy helping that happen, especially stories from members of underrepresented groups or historically silenced groups.”
Congenius Copywriter / Academic / Educator
Jessica Holt joined the Congenius team in 2020, and has been an absolutely invaluable Genius ever since. On every project, Jessica’s talent of being an amazing storyteller is evident, which makes sense with her extensive background in theatre and academia. She recently earned her second Masters Degree, an MFA in Directing from Baylor University, which she earned despite facing serious health challenges, plus she had a scholarly article published in the prestigious Theatre History Studies Journal. But her achievements don’t stop there! Jessica is also an educator, where the successes of her students are always incredibly gratifying.
Jessica credits her love of language to her parents, who always took the time to read to her as a child, and she credits that with a lot of her success and strengths. She has been making up stories since she was a child, and it’s what she loves the most. “The way in which we can use language to communicate and create out of thin air is magical to me and I enjoy using the power of language in the worlds of academia, business, and the arts. I believe everyone has a story to tell and I enjoy helping that happen, especially stories from members of underrepresented groups or historically silenced groups.”
Beyond the arts and the world of academia, the power of language and ability to tell stories translates well into her ability to provide the necessary written content for countless projects. “In freelancing I use a lot of those same skills to help tell their stories- whether that’s the story of their business, their past and professional life, or anything else.” In addition to being able to tell the stories of others, collaborating with others is also one of the best parts of the work she does. Whether she’s collaborating with clients or other artists, she notes that it’s amazing to complete a project in a way that is greater than anyone would be able to achieve as an individual working alone.
Like many women, Jessica has struggled with self-doubt and has a tendency to minimize her own accomplishments and doubting her own abilities. She has to work hard to recognize and enjoy her own accomplishments instead of feeling like her work is never good enough. She tries to balance those mental challenges with embracing the joy of pushing herself to try new things and grow. Jessica cites a couple of women as inspirations, including Audrey Hepburn and her incredible talent, grace, poise, and charitable nature. Additionally, Jessica has always admired the groundbreaking Amelia Earhart, and because of her admiration, Jessica was lucky enough to be able to earn her private pilot certification as a teeanger! Is there anything Jessica can’t do?! We think not! We know with Jessica continuing in her key role as Copywriting Genius, the sky’s the limit!
“I get to empower my patients by creating a whole new awareness and recognition of how to ‘use’ their bodies without pain, and then watching them return to the things they love is absolutely the most rewarding part of my job!”
Dr. Shveta Jones, PT, DPT, COMT
Owner, Strive PT
Shveta Jones, owner of Strive Physical Therapy, comes from a very patriarchal culture as she is Indian, and even spent part of her childhood being raised in India, but has been able to build a very successful physical therapy practice over the years. She earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from NAU in 2004, and then started her business five years ago, helping so many men and women overcome physical challenges.
Many of the patients she sees are people who have been failed by the traditional in-network physical therapy system, and have been discouraged by feeling unheard by their physical therapist. From the very initial appointment, Shveta makes it her mission to actively listen to her patients, and to encourage them and help them set ambitious goals. She says, “I get to empower my patients by creating a whole new awareness and recognition of how to ‘use’ their bodies without pain, and then watching them return to the things they love is absolutely the most rewarding part of my job!”
Being a female Indian business owner has meant sometimes not being taken as seriously if she were a male. She has had to field all sorts of critical remarks from her own family, including “Oh, it’s just a side thing she’s doing,” or “are you sure you want to invest so much in a business? What about your future? Your retirement? You aren’t young anymore you know…” But, for the most part, she feels extremely lucky for the immense support she’s received from her community, patients, friends, and husband who all help her get past any moments of self-doubt and overcome any obstacles in her way. “Obstacles are always something I can absolutely conquer, and that is what drives me everyday to push myself!”
And she’s certainly proving a lot of people wrong! Over the past five years as a business owner, Shveta has hired her first employee, her office manager Janna Smith, and has been lucky to also work alongside an amazing friend/business partner/ confidante in Caleb Greig for the past couple of years, and the team is now looking at upscaling! In addition to needing to hire another part-time physical therapist and another trainer, Shveta is looking at adding other wellness services to her business, including nutrition, pelvic floor physical therapy, active rest and recovery services, and so much more!
Shveta acknowledges that while there are so many inspiring women in history that have brought women’s rights to the forefront in this country, someone who sticks out in her head as an inspiration is Condoleezza Rice. “She embodies everything that I aspire to be- incredibly intelligent, strong, confident, not easily influenced & swayed by public opinion, staunch belief system based on deep morals and principles, compassionate, empathetic, fierce, and just the respect she commanded when she entered a room – I aspire to be like her!” Shveta, it is evident that in your work as a physical therapist, your role as a business owner, and as an all-around amazing human, you are all of those things and more!
“One of the biggest challenges being a woman in business was seeing my male counterparts advance in their careers much faster than I was able to.”
Kristi Morrow CFP®, APMA™, CLTC®, CDFA®
Financial Advisor, In Reach Wealth Advisors
Building a lasting financial legacy is not something that comes easy for many of us, especially if you grew up watching the majority of your hard-working family members live paycheck to paycheck. Kristi Morrow, Financial Advisor with InReach Wealth Advisors, has spent years doing just that, and helping countless others do the same. Witnessing her family’s daily struggles and even some of them staying in situations they otherwise wouldn’t have, Kristi knew she needed to empower herself and become financially savvy to allow for more flexibility and opportunities in her life.
After educating herself on how to create wealth and become financially independent, Kristi has spent the last 20+ years building relationships with both clients and business alliances in her mission to help others achieve their financial goals, and has had so much fun along the way! In her own words, she states, “The best part of what I do is helping clients achieve their goals they never thought were possible. Once they understand the importance of a well thought out plan and taking it one step at a time, there is no goal they cannot achieve!”
Being a woman in business hasn’t always been easy, however. Kristi says, “One of the biggest challenges being a woman in business was seeing my male counterparts advance in their careers much faster than I was able to.” To overcome this frustration, Kristi has had to shift her thinking and stop measuring her success solely by my career achievements but also from my personal/family accomplishments. And she’s had no better example than her own grandmother.
When asked what women in history have inspired her, Kristi cites her grandmother as her biggest inspiration. Her grandmother grew up in Southern California speaking Spanish and knowing very little English, but taught herself English so she could provide herself with more opportunities outside of the home, raising six successful children with very little resources. “She never complained and was always positive and optimistic, no matter what challenges she faced. She was loving and kind to everyone she met. She passed away during COVID and I miss her every day.”
There’s no doubt that there is constant pressure on working moms to do it all seamlessly. So, instead of settling for a perfect 50/50 balance, which is truly impossible to achieve, Kristi has simply learned to prioritize what’s truly important. “For me, learning to properly prioritize and being okay when not everything gets done has been the ultimate key to being happy.” And she certainly wouldn’t trade her journey for anything. Out of everything she’s accomplished, she’s most proud of her two daughters, lovingly boasting of how smart, independent, and self-motivated they both are, all while understanding the importance of being open-minded and truly caring for others. At Congenius, we have no doubt that they’ve learned from the best.
“What also inspires me is the fact that I know I can go far in my singing career and I can’t wait to get there. I see it already and that’s inspiring already at the age I’m at!”
High School Student, Actress, and Singer
At Congenius, we’re lucky to have worked with all the amazing women we’ve profiled so far, but we would be remiss if we didn’t shine a very well-deserved spotlight on Rayla Everson as well. While not a “woman in business,” Rayla’s natural leadership capabilities at such a young age are a wonder to behold!
Rayla has made quite a name for herself onstage in countless productions in her community, most recently starring as Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center. Despite often being one of the youngest members in a cast, she continually shines as a role model and leader to her other castmates and production crew. Rayla also recently competed in California for a musical theatre competition and won First Place as Best Solo Vocalist, receiving a $15,000 scholarship to the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, as well recognition as Outstanding Vocalist with a $500 reward. She loves to sing, and her goal is to become a professional singer and possibly an actress. With her work ethic, hilarious personality, and leadership skills, we have no doubt she’ll get there.
Rayla points to her middle school music teacher, Ms. Potts, as a major source of inspiration. “She really made a huge impact on me believing in myself, singing with joy and purpose and taught me to never doubt myself. She is truly one of my most favorite humans.” While Rayla tries to follow the advice of her beloved mentor, sometimes it is difficult to not carry some self-doubt after a show or performance. The “I could have done better” mentality can be tough to overcome, but she’s continually learning to trust herself and be confident in her skills. “What also inspires me is the fact that I know I can go far in my singing career and I can’t wait to get there. I see it already and that’s inspiring already at the age I’m at!” At Congenius, we speak for many of your fans when we say, we can’t wait to see you continue to trust your instincts, close your eyes, and leap. Everyone deserves the chance to fly, and we know that you’ll continue to defy gravity.
Our Women’s History is Genius
We are honored to be able to share the stories of these amazing women, and feel so inspired in how they’ve all been able to overcome countless obstacles and impact the world around them while pursuing their dreams.
As always, the best part of what we do is connecting with entrepreneurial-spirited and uniquely talented individuals. As a full-scale consultancy in people, process, technology, branding, strategy and product development, our team of consultants can deliver solutions to whatever unique challenges your enterprise is up against. To get connected with Genius, please get in touch with us via our website, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or via phone – 480.900.1850