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Stepping Onto the Stage: Presenter Bios

Updated: Sep 10, 2018

We have a great program planned with topics that should inform and inspire women from every walk of life. Please check out the biographies of our presenters. Women, Health and Self-Image - Dr. Suzanne Tepper & nutritionist Mary Finckenor offer practical advice on living healthier and happier lives.

Mary Finckenor is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Education. She also holds specialty certifications in diabetes and sports nutrition. Mary currently works at the Cardiac Rehab Center at Atlantic Health System in Morristown and is a consultant with Atlantic Sports Health. She also teaches cooking classes and regularly speaks to corporations in the greater metropolitan area.

Dr. Suzanne Tepper, a long-time resident of New Jersey, grew up in West Caldwell. After receiving her medical degree from Temple University and completing her residency in Philadelphia, she returned to New Jersey to continue her career in medicine and raise a family.

Suzanne is a family physician with a special interest in women’s health. Her goals for all her patients are physical and emotional wellbeing. She hopes to inspire them to achieve that through knowledge about their health and bodies.

In her free time, Suzanne enjoys all things related to gardening and baking and, of course, spending time with her husband and two children.

Women and the Workplace - HR professional Karen Finckenor discusses dealing with workplace conflicts in a positive, effective and productive manner.

Karen Finckenor is a warm and impactful leader in Talent Development with 20 years of experience for companies like Google, Publicis, and JWT. Her expertise and forte is keeping employees engaged and growing - curating human-centric Talent and HR practices that encourage engagement, creativity, innovation, and that have a direct impact on the work and the business.

Bringing a strategic point-of-view to all aspects of the employee life-cycle, Karen works directly with Leadership to coach and guide them towards building great teams and working together to build an engaged and diverse culture.

Regarded as a natural coach and mentor, as well as an impactful, energetic and down-to-earth leader, Karen’s approach balances programs and practice - marrying the art and science of working with people. She is inspired by innovation, diversity, evolution and driven by building environments where employees can be at their natural best and find meaning in doing their best work.

Women and Self-Defense - Warrior Workshop leader Christine Hutchinson demonstrates simple but effective self-defense techniques that are easily mastered.

Christine Hutchinson, the mother of 2 daughters, founded Damsel in Defense when her oldest daughter was headed off to college. Wanting to help keep her daughters safe, she was determined to make sure they knew how to defend themselves and had access to items that could help them. For the past 3 1/2 years, Christine has been offering Warrior Workshops designed to help other women do the same. For more information, visit her FB page at .

Women and Stress-Reduction - Certified Yogini Karen Noel demonstrates relaxation through yoga and guided meditation. The practice will be available for everyone from their chairs or standing.

For nearly two decades Karen Noel has been devoted to the sacred science of moving energy through Yoga and Meditation, the healing energy system of Reiki, qi gong, guided imagery and the core strengthening work of Pilates. Energy movement is an ancient healing modality which promotes physical and emotional well-being, igniting peace and harmony from within. What you learn on the mat transfers beautifully into daily bread (if you let it)!

Karen’s experience has brought her into working with school teachers, breast cancer survivors, the visually enabled, the hearing impaired, veterans, elders and special needs children. Over the years Karen has participated in grade school and high school enrichment programs, and corporate stress reduction education. Karen has put together health and wellness programs for hospital employees. While in Maine some years ago, she was instrumental in bringing healing touch therapy to pre-op and post op patients at the Waldo County Hospital, Belfast. She is a proponent of continuing education and presently studying Tai-Chi.

Karen’s instruction focuses heavily on proper alignment and form. Her classes are safely and mindfully conducted. They also include a sprinkle of humor and spirituality!

Women and Finances - Financial services professional Vanessa Levy Douglas discusses the basics of building a strong financial foundation including managing debt, building savings and protecting against risk and unexpected events.

Vanessa Levy Douglas has been involved in both insurance and IT for her whole career. 15 years ago, she started, developed and grew an insurance brokerage in South Africa, operating in the competitive market of high net worth individuals and their related companies.

Always open to adventure, Vanessa found herself with an opportunity to emigrate to the USA a mere 2 years ago and found a happy home with New York Life, one of the top life insurance companies in the country. Armed with excellent training on top of her experience, she is now working with women in all walks of life helping them to make strides towards financial independence.

Vanessa is passionate about uplifting future generations and believes we can all take small steps forward to achieving our dreams. She is married and has 2 lovely daughters. You can learn more on Vanessa via LinkedIn at www.linkedin/in/vanessalevydouglas.

Women and Advocacy - Activist Christine Clarke tells her story of becoming a part of the political solution and offers inspiration to all.

Christine Clarke, environmental activist, is committed to ensuring New Jersey is #StillIn on Paris Agreement standards. She lobbies for renewable energy, progressive climate action, and environmental justice, and has coordinated public education events and done local public speaking toward the same. She organized and co-hosted the Clean Energy Future forum as New Jersey’s contribution to a national climate-focused Day of Action, the NJ 11th For Change Environmental Defense Forum in April 2017 and the collaborative Prioritizing A Clean Energy Future in NJ live stream event in June. Christine was featured in a Huffington Post story highlighting women who attended the Women’s March in D.C. and was a finalist in the Arena Summit ‘Person in the Arena’ video competition, which featured inspiring stories of new activists and candidates across the U.S. in 2017. Her political activism began 10 years ago when she led an independent effort to update New Jersey’s Title 9 statutes to protect more at-risk and abused children from harm.

Christine is a home schooling mother of four who believes in modeling life skills for children, therefore teaches her kids how to stand up for justice, equality and progress by doing so together as a family.

Here are the stories of how our sponsor groups were founded.

Andrea Zeydelis is the founder of Better Together.

Armed with a bachelors in psychology from St. John’s University and a master’s degree from Rutgers University in public administration, Andrea Zeydelis has devoted her career to advocating for the underserved throughout the tri-state area. In 2014 Andrea and her growing family moved to north Jersey in search of open air and new opportunities. Her compassionate nature inspired the creation of Better Together, an organization designed to connect municipalities, non-profits and people with the services and resources they need. Avid volunteer, newly elected Municipal chair for the Denville Democratic committee and proud mom to two wonderful children Andrea makes every effort to make connections, fundraise and unite people from Across NY and NJ.

Andrea Zeydelis and Better Together are honored to be a part of this empowering event.

Read how Women in Unity was created by Jill Cadman and Shahana Anjum.

Women in Unity was founded by two women, Jill Cadman and Shahana Anjum. Jill has been in Rockaway, NJ since she was a girl and still lives there with her husband and teen-aged son. She has had the opportunity to make many wonderful friends in the community, but realized that others might feel excluded, especially Muslims. So, in 2011 when she heard about an event at the Islamic Center of Morris County (ICMC) in Rockaway, she was eager to attend. After that night, she wanted to continue the connection by creating a woman's discussion group that would build bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims.

She reached out to ICMC and was put in contact with Shahana. Shahana grew up in NJ and moved to Morris County with her husband and their daughter over 25 years ago. Since then, they have raised three children who are all in college or doing post-graduate studies. Shahana and her family joined ICMC ten years ago when the mosque opened.

Jill and Shahana first met over ice cream and discovered a shared love of food and making new friends. They went on to form a monthly discussion group that has been meeting ever since, with many of the women who attended the first meeting still coming and new women joining. The group named themselves Women in Unity to represent the sisterhood between all women.

At first the meetings were mostly discussions about traditions and cultures, sharing similarities and appreciating differences. Later it developed into creating programs that can help the community. Women in Unity has worked to feed the hungry, hosted seminars for people to get to know their Muslim neighbors better, supported other local groups, and raised money for projects that benefit the community.  This year, Women in Unity decided to focus on ways to help women of all backgrounds reach their personal goals. The culmination of this decision is Stepping onto the Stage: A Women Empowering Women Seminar.

Over the last seven years, Women in Unity has grown into a good-size group of women from all different backgrounds who have come together to build friendship across cultures, races, and religions. Shahana and Jill hope that the group continues to grow to better advance peace, tolerance, and understanding.

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