New York iRelaunch Return to Work Conference Speakers - October 2011

Keynote Speakers

Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin

Featured Speaker

Linda Houston
Managing Director, New England Market Executive - Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Linda Houston began her career at Merrill Lynch 25 years ago as a Client Associate in the Rockefeller Center office in New York. She became a Financial Advisor in 1986 and worked with clients in New York City and Stamford, CT, becoming a member of the Circle of Excellence in 1997 and 1998. She then moved into management, ultimately leading sales teams in Westchester, Connecticut, and Manhattan. For seven years she was named one of the Top Directors/Managing Directors of the firm. In 2009, she became Managing Director of the 5th Avenue office, and in 2010 she was named the Regional Managing Director for the New Jersey Region.

While a Professional Sales Manager from 1995-1998, Linda also coached candidates in the Professional Development Program at the Merrill Lynch Corporate Campus in Princeton, New Jersey. Linda was selected to represent Merrill Lynch's support of the Women's Sports Foundation for the advertorial "Training for Success," featured in the October 1998 issue of Self magazine.

In her home community of Greenwich, Linda was featured in the January 1997 edition of Greenwich Magazine in a lead article entitled, "Women in the Financial Industry." In 2002, Linda attended the Merrill Lynch Women's Leadership Program at Harvard Business School, and she was selected as a participant in the Six Sigma Program.

Linda was a former professional dancer. She also enjoys sports and running. In 1998 and 2000 she participated in the New York City Marathon. She resides in Greenwich, Connecticut with her husband Tom and their two children, Trent (aged 21) and Kristen (aged 17).

Relauncher Panel

Pamela Stone, Moderator
Professor of Sociology - Hunter College; Author, Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home

Pamela Stone is Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She has contributed articles to numerous books and referenced journals including American Sociological Review, Gender & Society, Teaching Sociology, and Journal of Women, Politics and Policy on such topics as gender inequality in employment, occupational classification and measurement, job segregation, pay equity, and the work-family interface. Her research has been supported by a variety of sources including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Sloan Foundation. Former chair of the Department of Sociology at Hunter, Stone was the recipient of a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, where she also served as Associate Director of the Radcliffe Public Policy Institute.

Her recent book, Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home (University of California Press, May 2007), which Business Week called "provocative, superbly researched, and required reading," has been featured on NBC's "Today" and "Weekend Today," "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric," and "ABC World News Tonight," among other TV and radio appearances, and she has been widely quoted in such publications as Time, USA Today, US News & World Report, Newsweek, and More.

An honors graduate of Duke University, Ms. Stone received her PhD in Sociology from Johns Hopkins University. Active in her profession, she was recently elected Vice President of the Eastern Sociological Society for 2009-10. Current research projects include a study of long-term trends in opting out; a cross-national comparison of the utilization of flexible work options; and a follow-up of women who have "opted out" focusing on their re-entry experiences. Married and the mother of two, she lives outside New York City in Larchmont, NY.

Relauncher Panelists

Bethel Desmond
Director, Financial Services - PricewaterhouseCoopers

Bethel began her career as a commodities derivatives trader with Drexel Burnham Lambert. In this capacity she traded all commodity markets including metals, grains, currencies, and energy. Following this, Bethel became a cash commodities trader with French concern Louis Dreyfus Inc., where she spent seven years in all aspects of international commodity trading and marketing. After pioneering the traded electricity market, Bethel returned to Wall Street to work for Bankers Trust Company to trade electricity derivatives. After working closely with clients entering a deregulated marketplace, Bethel began consulting to firms independently in the building of trading and risk management capabilities and eventually went to Accenture in London. There she created a Trading and Risk management Line of Business which grew to service all of Europe. Bethel has a BS in The Political Economy of International Trade from SUNY Albany/University of Copenhagen and a Masters in Clinical Social Work from Fordham University. 

Bethel took 10 years away from the workforce to have four children. During this time she received her Master's in Clinical Social Work from Fordham University graduating with a 3.97 GPA, summa cum laude. This degree in psychology has helped Bethel immensely in listening to and understanding her business associates. While she was preparing to return, she defined her value proposition which is aiding financial services firms with change programs around regulatory reform, which led to her role first at a boutique consulting firm and now at PwC assisting companies with complying with Dodd-Frank regulatory reforms.

Dawna Levenson
Associate Director of Academic Programs - MIT Professional Education

Dawna, who has both a Bachelors of Science '83 and a Master's of Science '84 in Management Science from MIT, previously spent 18 years at Accenture, formerly Andersen Consulting, in their Gas and Electric Utilities practice. Upon leaving Accenture, Dawna spent the next five years doing volunteer work while actively pursuing a job at MIT. As part of her current responsibilities within MIT Professional Education, Dawna manages the Advanced Study Program (ASP), the Career Reengineering Program (CRP), and a custom program with Accenture. Read more about Dawna in her Relaunch Success Story.

Antonia Paterno-Castello
Private Wealth Advisor - Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Antonia joined Merrill Lynch in 2009, building on a lengthy career as a senior banker. She previously was a Managing Director at Lehman Brothers, where she worked in the Debt Capital Markets and Investment Banking divisions. While at Lehman, she was responsible for covering large, active public market borrowers and acting as the senior relationship manager for large retailers.

Antonia began her career in financial services in 1986 at Morgan Stanley, ultimately becoming a Vice President and Product Manager in the Debt Capital Market Services group. These executive tenures provided Antonia with extensive experience in fixed income and liability management; she has worked with a number of senior corporate executives to devise capital markets solutions and execute financing transactions.

Within the Private Banking and Investment Group at Merrill Lynch, Antonia focuses on developing wealth management solutions for affluent individuals, families, foundations, and charitable institutions. Drawing on her Wall Street experience, Antonia addresses the specialized needs of entrepreneurs and senior corporate executives and their spouses, particularly in financial services, including investment banking, private equity, and venture capital.

Antonia holds an M.B.A. in Finance from Columbia Business School, and a B.A. in Art History and Political Science with Distinction, Phi Beta Kappa, from Stanford University. She speaks fluent Italian, and conversational French and Spanish. An active patron of the arts, Antonia is also an accomplished artist. Her work has been recognized by the National Academy Design School of Fine Arts. She is Chair of the Board of the New York Studio School. Antonia is also a member of Stanford Women on Boards, an affiliated group of Stanford University. Antonia, her husband Bill, and their three children live in New York City and Southampton. Antonia took a career break of nine years after her tenure at Lehman Brothers, prior to joining Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton
Principal, Hamilton Law & Mediation, PLLC

Debra started her own firm, Hamilton Law & Mediation, in October 2010. She is a pioneer in the field of alternative dispute resolution as it is applied to animal conflicts. Debra assists her clients in avoiding protracted and costly litigation and exploring the more user-friendly application of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to contract, divorce, special education, landlord tenant, civil, and criminal action involving animal conflicts.

In 1996, Debra resigned from her legal job to become a stay-at-home mom, and was totally involved with her children and their school activities. She held a variety of PTA positions and raised tens of thousands of dollars for these schools in education foundation and annual fund monies.

In 2008, Debra dusted off her law degree and returned to the practice of law. Through research, Debra discovered the Pace University School of Law's New Directions Program, a program for those looking to return to law. She was a member of the New Directions Class of 2009. Upon graduation, Debra focused on mediation and collaborative practice. Although a litigator in her former life, she now wanted to help parties in conflict in a different way.

Debra augmented this ADR training by attending conferences for people returning to the workforce. One of the conferences she attended was the iRelaunch Return to Work Conference in New York in 2010. Being surrounded by colleagues who, like Debra, were relaunching their careers or starting new ones was inspiring. Each speaker gave real life insight into how they relaunched themselves and sustained their relaunch. Debra took advantage of all iRelaunch had to offer.

iRelaunch was instrumental in helping Debra find a supportive peer network. She also joined Entrepreneurial Women's Network, In Good Company and Savor the Success, for a well-rounded networking experience. Debra includes entrepreneurs from all business sectors in her networking bandwidth because it provides her with a better feel for her marketplace. Read more about Debra's relaunch in her Relaunch Success Story.

Employer Panel

Vivian Steir Rabin, Moderator
Co-Founder - iRelaunch

John Ferenchak
Global Recruiting Strategist/Business Partner for Financial Products - Bloomberg

John Ferenchak has been the Global Recruiting Business Partner for Financial Products at Bloomberg since January 2011. He is responsible for aligning executive search strategy and process with business needs for experienced hires. He helped create a proactive sourcing team that led to significant savings for the business. John managed Core Terminal Sales teams covering global banks, broker/dealers, and regional territories from 2002-2010. He also managed and facilitated the internal Core Terminal Sales product training program for Equity Sales and Trading from 2008-2010. Prior to joining Bloomberg, John worked as an Executive Search Recruiter for D. S. Wolf from 1996-2001, supporting global investment banks, commercial banks, and select corporate clients. He began his recruiting career in 1994.

John graduated from Penn State University in 1992. He is married with 2 children and lives in New York City.

Terri McClements
Advisory Partner - PricewaterhouseCoopers

Terri is a Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the US Advisory Practice, in McLean, VA, currently serving as PwC's East Region Advisory Leader and the US Advisory Diversity Leader. She is also a member of the PwC Experience Committee, which is responsible for setting the strategic direction for the experiences and the relationships they create with clients and their people. In her regional leadership role, she is one of the Partners responsible for driving the Quality Program for the Advisory line of service. The Advisory Quality Program is designed to support their engagement teams by identifying potential risks associated with acceptance and delivering their engagements at the earliest possible stage. She also leads the hospitality team in the Washington Metro area.

Terri has served such clients as Marriott, Hilton, The Carlyle Group, MCI Communications, Verizon, Intelsat, Concert Communications (Joint Venture between ATT and British Telecom), Qwest, LCI International, BellSouth, Bell Atlantic, XO Communications. She has spent significant time working with clients to streamline their business processes and to enhance revenue. Terri has also worked extensively with multinational companies and has significant experience working with boards of directors and audit committees. She has become a trusted business advisor to several "C Suite" executives of Fortune 1000 companies.

Terri was elected to the US Board of Partners and Principals effective July 1, 2011.

Marie Schwartz
President & Founder - TeenLife Media, LLC

Marie is a marketing professional who launched TeenLife Media after 20+ years of working in the financial services and publishing industries. She is responsible for leading and growing this multi-media company which is passionate about connecting teens to meaningful programs, services and resources - locally, nationally, and internationally. TeenLife's award-winning website, guides, and events are highly regarded by middle and high school educators and families with college-bound teens. Launched in Boston in 2007, TeenLife is in the process of implementing an aggressive expansion to 10 other major markets nationwide. Marie has a history of employing Relaunchers and welcomes inquiries from Relaunchers who are interested in helping TeenLife to grow in these new communities.

Prior to moving to Boston in 2003 with her husband and two sons, Marie lived in the New York area and worked for American Express, Scudder Stevens & Clark, and Nelson Publications. She has a BSE from Princeton and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Sheri Wright
Senior Vice President, Branch Manager, Financial Advisor – Morgan Stanley Smith Barney

Sheri Wright took a three-year break from the workforce after 15 years in the cosmetics and fragrance industry. Two babies, a divorce, and a few odd jobs forced her to rethink her future for herself and her family. Sheri's chance meeting with a Financial Advisor at a local daycare led her to relaunch at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in their Financial Advisor Training Program.

Sheri spent seven years as a Financial Advisor asking and advising people on this question, "Money is a tool to accomplish the things you want in life. What do you want to accomplish?" Today she translates this skill to other Financial Advisors to help deliver the full resources of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney to their clients, providing objective advice and premier services to help protect, manage, grow, and transfer wealth. After thirteen years with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Sheri is a Senior Vice President of Wealth Management and Branch Manager of the Red Bank, NJ office. She has a BS from Towson University and an MBA from the University of Baltimore.






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