March 8, 2024

Celebrating International Women’s Day: Stories of Impact and Inspiration

March 8 is International Women’s Day, “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.”

At Weiss, we celebrate our women colleagues every day. We make sure they have challenging assignments, fair pay, and leaders committed to cultivating their career growth. We nurture talent and it shows: 49% of supervisory and managerial roles at Weiss are held by women.

Being a role model is the ultimate way of paying it forward.

We asked the Weiss team to share their thoughts about a woman in their lives who greatly impacted who they are today. Their stories are varied: a beloved parent, a respected mentor, a demanding teacher, and a celebrity journalist. These reflections are thoughtful and powerful testaments about the importance of being an advocate, someone to look up to, or someone who inspires.

Read these stories and get inspired.

Inspired by His Mother’s Tenacity
Max Gomez, a staff accountant in the firm’s tax department, cited his mother, Heather, as the woman he is most thankful for, inspired by, and admires. Max said, “She has a spinal cord injury that has caused her to become disabled. She had never given up despite being faced with many adversities and obstacles. Whenever I feel like quitting, I remind myself of all the sacrifices my mom had to make. She inspires me to never give up and to always work hard. My mom is a woman who I aspire to be like. I do my best every day to make her proud.”

A Work Mentor Pushed Her to Achieve
Lisa Hahm is a Partner in the firm’s tax services department with more than 20 years of experience in public accounting. Early in her career, she worked for a large CPA firm downtown. Back then, Lisa was thrilled to have passed her CPA exam. She was single and had a great job she enjoyed. But an early mentor, Deborah, was emphatic that Lisa should go back to school and get her master’s degree in taxation. She admonished Lisa not to “settle” for “just” being a CPA.

Initially Lisa wasn’t interested in going back to school. Maybe later…or not…she wasn’t thinking about more school then. But then Deborah got serious and laid it on the line for Lisa. Even now, Lisa remembers word-for-word what Deborah said to her.

She said, “Time will go by whether you do something or not. If you invest a few years of your time going to a grad school, you will have MST next to your name along with CPA for the rest of your life. A few years at school is a short time compared to your lifetime. If you don’t do this, you are missing out on a very valuable opportunity, and you will regret it.”

Lisa enrolled in DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business in the taxation degree program. She’s not sure if she enrolled because she was inspired by Deborah, or just wanted Deborah to stop badgering her.

It took Lisa five years to graduate, but she did it. For five years she was in a part-time program attending class at night while working full-time. While she was in graduate school, Lisa became engaged, got married, and had a baby.

Was it all worth it?

“I’m forever grateful to her for not giving up on me easily and all the support she provided along the way,” said Lisa.

An Award-Winning Mathematical Educator
Mike Izatt is a highly credentialed senior manager in Weiss’ tax department, but his first career was as a physicist. The person who influenced the trajectory of Mike’s life is a beloved calculus teacher.

As a high school student, Mike signed up for a 10-week summer calculus course at a local community college. The teacher leading the class was Dr. Eugenia “Jeanne” Fitzgerald. Mike describes her as “a force of nature.” She had an intriguing combination of energy, charisma, confidence, and drive.

Prof. Fitzgerald was demanding of her students; she had high expectations for them. Mike said her syllabus covered calculus, FORTRAN mathematical modeling exercises, and mathematical physics laboratories. It was much more than he expected, and his hopes for an easy summer course were dashed.

Yet it turned out to be a transformational experience for Mike. As a budding scientist, Prof. Fitzgerald showed Mike and his classmates how the math and physics she was teaching were not subjects meant to stymie their ambitions, but rather tools to be mastered. If they push themselves to master the material, their imaginations, and the possibilities of what they could do with this knowledge, would expand exponentially. She opened the door and showed them a glimpse of a future most of them couldn’t even imagine. Would they walk through it?

Mike did and became lifelong friends with Dr. Fitzgerald and, later, her husband Art. Dr. Fitzgerald passed away at the age of 90, but he treasures the experiences he had as her apprentice and student. He is constantly inspired by her zest for life and teaching, and the impact she made in his life.

One Final Note
Kari Thompson, Talent Acquisition and Recruitment Manager at Weiss, is inspired by and admires Katie Couric, a working mom who has had her share of professional and personal success and heartbreak. For Kari, one quote resonates with her as a mother with a career and busy professional life: “Get rid of the guilt. When you’re at one place, don’t feel bad that you’re not at work; when you’re at work, don’t feel bad that you’re not at home.”

The second part of the quote is just as impactful. Couric counsels, “You have to prioritize. And when things are really important and you need to be there, you should make no apologies.”

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