Hi everyone! Super excited to share my conversation with Dr. Kathleen Burke PhD, RN, CENP, FAAN. Her daughter, Katie, is one of my good friends from Penn, so I have only known Dr. Burke as Mrs. Burke (and that is what I will call her out of respect)!

Anyhow, Mrs. Burke has had an outstanding career in the nursing profession over the past 40 years – she has climbed the corporate ladder and now holds several executive positions at the University of Pennsylvania Health System (Corporate Director of the Nursing Professional Development and Innovation, Co-Director of the Continuing Interprofessional Education, Advanced Senior Lecturer at the School of Nursing at Penn, and a Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics). She has a tremendous amount of wisdom and advice on how to navigate not only the business world but life in general. Mrs. Burke also tells us the humbling story of when she lost her husband in 2005 to cancer and through this adversity, she is able to offer a profound amount of inspiration, insight, and advice on how to handle losing a loved one. I really loved Mrs. Burke’s story and I hope you do too!

Books Mentioned:

Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Hi everyone! Welcome to High Five Success Stories. I’m very grateful to all of you who have decided to tune in!

My podcast began by focusing on the success and inspirational stories of women, but over the last few weeks, I decided it was time to evolve the podcast by having guest male appearances from time to time!

My very first male guest appearance is my friend Eddie DiDonato! Eddie is from Blue Bell, PA. He went to LaSalle High School and then Villanova for college, where he was a standout lacrosse player and captain both junior and senior year! After college, he settled in Philadelphia and landed a job in the insurance industry, living a very normal post-college grad life.

On January 17, 2010, he had a couple college friends in town—it was actually the weekend of the Villanova vs. Georgetown basketball game. Eddie and his friends went out for a normal night in Philadelphia. They had a lot of fun catching up and hanging out. That normal night suddenly took a drastic turn and Eddie found himself getting shot six times: one shot in the hand, one in the shoulder and four in the abdomen. Throughout our conversation, Eddie tells us about life prior to being shot, the story of being shot, the recovery stage, and what life is like today. Although this is a heavy story, Eddie does a great job keeping the conversation light-hearted.  He is incredibly positive, hard-working, and humble. He has an amazing perspective on life that will do nothing short but inspire you to become the best version of yourself and to always, always, always be grateful for each and every day. Eddie is currently living his best life in Philadelphia. He is a teacher at Prep Charter School where he not only teaches history but also lends a listening ear to his students to help them through life’s struggles. Hope you enjoy Eddie’s story as much as I did!



The Magic: 28 Days of Gratitude by Rhonda Byrne
Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins
Rise like the Phoenix by Thomas Connelly


Important Links:

Head Strong Lacrosse
Behati Life
Magee Rehabilitation Hospital

Hi everyone! I am excited to post my interview with my friend, Ann Schwarz! Ann lives in Gladwyne, PA, is married, has two grown sons in their late 30s, and has a handful of super cute grandchildren. Ann is one of the most humble and wonderful human beings. She is retired now, but was a teacher for 50 years–40 of which were spent at the Gladwyne Montessori school, making her quite the legend in Gladwyne!

Throughout our conversation, Ann talks about her 50 rewarding and gratifying years of teaching. She has a tremendous amount of wisdom, allowing her to offer valuable pieces of advice on how to live a fulfilling life. Ann stresses the importance of faith, volunteering, and paying things forward.  My favorite quotes from her are “less is more” and “this life is not a dress rehearsal” and “the best gift you can give a child is time.” She also talks about life’s hurdles, such as when she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer 25 years ago, but by the grace of God, Ann was cured and got a 2nd chance at life! Lastly, Ann frequently refers to two of my past interviews: “Dealing with Adversity with Martie Gillin” and “Overcoming Addiction with Caroline Fenkel.” If you have a chance, definitely tune into Martie’s and Caroline’s interviews!

Hi everybody! I am super excited to share my conversation with Jill Cohen. Jill is married and has two daughters – Maggie (30) and Lizzie (26).  She has had a tremendously impressive and successful career in the book publishing industry, where she focuses on illustrated books for lifestyle design, architecture, fashion and pop culture. Any bet you have some of Jill’s beautiful masterpieces in your home or you have seen some of them in homes you have visited!

Jill has worked at several of the most prestigious publishing houses, holding some of the highest executive titles such as: President at Random House Direct Marketing, President at Conde Naste Books, VP of Business Development at QVC and President at Time Warner Book Group. In 2006, Jill took a leap of faith and started her very own publishing company called Jill Cohen Associates. Throughout our conversation, Jill not only takes us on her 30-year journey in the publishing industry, but also provides us with countless and valuable tactics and skills on how to be successful in the business world. I even told her a couple times that she should write a book on the secrets to success! I hope you enjoy my conversation with Jill as much as I did!

For more information on Jill, check out her website!

Hi everybody! I’m very excited to share my interview with my friend Pam McGonigle. Pam is in her late 40s and living in Ardmore with her husband and son. She is a development manager at The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration. Pam is a very genuine, honest person, and she has more grit than anyone I have ever met. Pam was born with albinism and, as a result, she has suffered from vision defects throughout her life. She is legally blind. However, that never stopped Pam from achieving anything extraordinary.

In our conversation, Pam talks about how she went to the 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 Paralympic Games for track. She tells us the story of the unfortunate setback she encountered in the 1500M race (just shy of 1 mile) in the 1992 Barcelona games, as well as how she courageously found grit and persevered in order to strike gold in the 3000M (2 mile) and bronze in the 800M (half mile). She tells us all about the concept of guide runners and dog guide runners as well – it is so cool!

Pam also tells us about how she sometimes sees her disability as a gift – when she encounters setbacks or failures, she is able to bounce back quickly because she is already wired to navigate challenging situations due to her disability. We also talk about her son JT, who she and her husband adopted from China when he was four years old. JT also has albinism, but just like mom, he doesn’t let that stop him – he is also a runner!  I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did!

Hi Everybody! I’m very excited to share my interview with my friend Lisi Lerch. Lisi is in her mid-40s, married with three children and living in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Lisi tells us the story of how she started her very own successful jewelry company called Lisi Lerch back in 2001 at the age of 30. Throughout our conversation, we touch on many different topics, including some of the rejections Lisi experienced in the early years, how the business evolved from hats to jewelry, and how she waited to grow and take the company national until her youngest was in kindergarten. Lisi also shared some of the exciting and cool moments along the way, like when she is watching television and spots famous people from Good Morning America, The Today Show and other well-known television shows sporting the Lisi Lerch jewelry line.

We also talk about maintaining a positive mindset even when life throws you curveballs, as in when her oldest was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of two. Lisi and her family are super involved in the JDRF Diabetes Association, given that both her husband and daughter have Type 1 diabetes. Lisi is chairing the 2018 JDRF One Promise Gala honoring Bill McNabb (chairman and CEO of The Vanguard Group) which will be held on April 21, 2018 at The Loews Philadelphia Hotel. To learn more about how to donate to help find a cure for diabetes or on the event, please visit www.jdrf.org/ – help us turn Type 1 diabetes into Type None!

I’m very excited to share my interview with my friend, Caroline Fenkel.

Caroline is 29 years old, married and a rock star in the alcohol and substance abuse recovery industry in the greater Philadelphia area. Caroline has been ten years sober since August 9th, 2007 – Go Caroline!

In this interview, Caroline tells her story of how she became sober and clean. I appreciate Caroline’s honesty as she provides us with several “rock bottom moments” that finally led her to go to rehab in August 2007. Caroline then tells us her amazing ten-year journey of not only being clean and sober but also becoming extremely successful in the recovery industry while simultaneously attending Bryn Mawr College and the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, Caroline is working at Newport Academy, where she is the Director of the Center for Families in Malvern, PA.

We also discuss the complexity of the opioid epidemic in America, as well as how parents and grownups can help children entering middle school and high school from going off the grid and abusing substances by modeling healthy choices in their own lives. Quick statistics – in 1999, 4,000 people died from drug overdoses compared to 62,000 deaths in 2016. I learned SO much from Caroline in our interview, and I hope you do too!


Show Notes:

O2:06 Welcome Caroline

02:28 Hitting rock bottom

06:09 Ten years sober

06:23 What did the first year of recovery look like?

08:45 “Rat Park” Study

12:20 What happened when she returned from therapy?

15:32 How her career developed

17:47 Newport Academy

21:00 Starting the Center for Families

25:51 Family Background

26:35 Looking at and treating addiction as a disease

31:32 The Opioid Epidemic

40:50 How can you help kids from going off the grid and model healthy choices?

47:34 What would you tell your 25-year-old self?

48:52 When you think of success, who do you think of?

50:06 Learn more about the Center for Families

I am very excited to post my conversation with Jane Winchester Paradis!

I loved listening to Janie’s story – she is 44, married, living in Wayne, PA with her two children and three step children (all in their teens!).

Janie has a long history in the fashion industry.

She started in NYC after college and worked at Adrienne Vittadini, Calvin Klein and Barneys. In 1998, she started her own handbag line called Buzz by Jane Fox – it was a huge hit and was sold in lots of boutiques and major department stores, such as Neimans and Bergdorf Goodman.

Then in 2006, Lilly Pulitzer called and asked her to head up the accessories line so she moved to Philadelphia and had tons of success at Lilly for 11 years.

Just this past May, Janie decided to take a leap of faith and she left Lilly to start her own jewelry line called Jane Winchester – it launches next month!!

Take a look at her Instagram account to learn more (@jane_winchester_paradis).

So not only do we talk about Janie’s career journey from NYC to Philadelphia but we also cover a lot of topics including taking risks and seizing opportunities, climbing the corporate ladder, how to manage and deal with people in the workforce, finding a job you are passionate about, and so much more! I hope you guys enjoy!!



Show notes:

0:35 Family Background

10:50 9 years at Buzz with Jane Fox

18:48 What drove her?

22:18 How did she manage work with kids?

27:27 Thoughts on managing people

31:53 How she came up with the name

35:29 Launching on Black Friday

38:14 How to remain happy

40:45 Being grateful and appreciative

43:32 How to overcome failure

46:37 Implementing “grit” in life

50:39 Advice to your 30 year old self

Hi everybody!

This week I’m interviewing Martie Gillin!

Martie Gillin and her late husband, Bob Gillin, had 10 children, 27 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.  Happy early birthday to Martie – she turns 81 on October 19th! Martie is one of my favorite people – she has humbly touched so many people’s lives in profound ways. In this interview, Martie covers a range of topics, including her top priorities – the 4Fs – Faith, family, friends and forgiveness. I especially love her advice on raising children and how listening is the most important quality to practice. We also touch on when Martie lost her late son, Bobby Gillin, to Aids in 1992 – he was just 30 years old but in those 30 years she talks about how he made such a difference in every single life he came across. Bobby asked Martie to help break the silence of a whispered disease, so she began doing HIV/AIDS awareness talks in schools. These talks then inspired Martie to start a nonprofit organization called SpeakUp which is a powerful movement that promotes open, honest communication about the challenges facing today’s youth. She partnered with schools all over the mainline and greater Philadelphia area to bring their youth, educators and parents together for courageous conversations where the young people could be themselves and be honest about the reality of their lives and find guidance and support.

Awards include but are not limited to: University of Notre Dame “Women of Distinction” Award, Magee Rehabilitation Hospital Humanitarian, St. Francis Country House Award, Maynooth College-Ireland Award, The Catherine McAuley Award, Philadelphia Eagles “Fly for Leukemia Award,” The Holy Child Cornelia Connelly Award, The Visiting Nurses Caring Huntington’s Disease Society of America Award, Catholic Youth Organization Award.


Show notes

0:44 Early life

6:08 How she applied ‘grit’ to life

10:17 How to step out of your comfort zone?

14:09 Dealing with the naysayers

15:58 How to deal with competition with siblings?

20:10 Dealing with someone new joining the family

22:36 Taking interest in others

24:50 Advice for new parents

28:35 Dealing with Loss of a child

34:00 Comforting after a loss

42:30 A higher power gives you hope

45:08 How to get over a bad day?

46:51 Gratitude practice for every night

49:11 Speak Up! – turning personal tragedy into a business

55:46 Border story

58:42 What is success?

Welcome to another episode of High Five Success Stories!

This week I’m interviewing my friend Katie Foote (Dr. Catherine Foote), the owner of Foote Orthodontics. She has locations in Bryn Mawr, PA and Wayne, PA. Katie has built a strong clientele from all over the mainline and greater Philadelphia area. She has been recognized by her peers for her proficiency in orthodontics. She has been recognized in Philadelphia Magazine’s “Top Dentist” issue every year since 2010. She has also been voted Top Dentist by Main Line Today annually from 2010-2017!  

Katie is 39 and married with three adorable children (she just had her 3rd baby this past June!). She is also the oldest of 7 children. What I absolutely love about Katie is that she’s full of positive energy and practices gratefulness every single day, even when times are tough! Listen closely and you’ll hear she uses “grateful” several times throughout the interview.

In this interview, she tells us about the challenges she faced after graduating from Penn, and how she eventually figured things out and opened her first location at the age of thirty. She also goes into the story of how she lost her father the year she opened her practice, and how she didn’t get married to her husband until the age of thirty-five. My biggest takeaway after talking to Katie is to always play the long game in life.  You have to muscle through the challenges in life before you see the rewards. And if you really want something, opportunities WILL appear. You just have to be open to them!

Show notes

3:05 How was grad school for doctors?

6:48 Wanted to open her own practice by 27

12:17 When did you meet your husband?

16:56 How she handled the business with a second child

18:16 Worked half-days

19:39 Nobody can do it alone

21:04 What was the best advice she received?

26:17 Never settle

30:12 Everyone has their own path

31:42 Being ok with failing

32:57 How old were you when your father passed away?

40:32 Applying grit to life

41:13 Her favorite failure?

47:42 Don’t compete with others

48:06 Who do you think of when you think of success

52:45 What advice would you give your 30 year old self?