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What If....I, Too, Can Be a Leader?

Christiana Belonger, Rockford Chick-fil-A
February 18, 2019 | 11:30 AM CST

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February 2018 RNPW Newsletter Print

President's Message

I was seven years old when I remember organizing the ragamuffin group of kids from the neighborhood to put on a circus event for our parents and friends on the swing set in our backyard. It was not uncommon for me to write plays, cast unsuspecting kids in lead roles, direct the whole thing, and offer lemonade and butter cookies after the performance. These early signs of leadership meant nothing to me at the time, except for the sting when some neighbor boy stomped his foot and shouted, “You’re too bossy!” and marched his little self back home. There was no Sheryl Sandberg in the 1970s telling me my bossiness was a sign of great executive leadership potential.
As a teenager growing up in a Baptist church, I watched as my mother, an exceptional leader and teacher, was told that she could lead and teach children, teenagerss, women, or senior citizens, but she could not teach or lead men. Unless she went to another country as a missionary – then she could, but not in the good ol’ US of A. None of this made sense to me, and I found myself asking questions like, Are children or teenagers or senior citizens or foreigners less than men? If God had given her these gifts, why was she only allowed to use them with certain groups of people? Are we not all created equal? 
These early experiences shaped me. They shaped my choices in choosing a college major and a career. They shaped my thinking and my behavior. They shaped how I chose a spouse and how I raise my daughter and my sons. They shape my choice of church now and my decisions to invest my free time mentoring and empowering women to lean into who they were created to be.
OUR STORIES MATTER. They influence us more than we care to acknowledge. They influence our leadership everyday. And before you say, “Well, I’m not a leader,” remember that a leader is someone who influences others, and I strongly believe that every single one of us does that daily. We are all leaders. And our stories impact our effectiveness as leaders. 
This is the very theme we are exploring at this year’s Professional Development Workshop on April 11. Author and speaker Sharon Swing will help us navigate our own stories and connect them to our current leadership roles in our workplaces, our homes, our churches and our community. We will also host more than 50 young women leaders from the Rockford Public Schools who will sit and learn among us and have the opportunity to connect with you professional business women and even form mentoring relationships if desired. We are so excited about this event and hope you will save the date on your calendar.
In the meantime, we hope to see you at lunch on Monday, February 19 as Judy Gustafson shares her perspective inside RPS 205. Register today!
Leading with you,

Tiffany Staman



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Member News

EIGERlab stories feature 2 RNPW members

Two RNPW members were featured in EIGERlab's January news.  Both Jocelyn Hare and Nicole Sdao have been actively pursuing projects.  See the full article:  EIGERlab News for January.


RNPW Professional Development Day

Please join us on April 11th from 7:30-11:00 at Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Country Club for our 5th Annual Professional Development Day!  The theme this year is “A Leader’s Story Matters and…We Are All Leaders”.   Keynote speaker, Sharon Swing comes to us with a robust background in organizational development, Consulting & Executive Coaching.  This year’s workshop will include more than 50 young high school women - what better way to be a leader than mentoring a young woman?  If interested see Beth Mead or Karen Arce at next month’s meeting or email


Be sure and reserve your spot  today by registering at & don’t forget to invite a friend or two!


If you're interested in being a member sponsor, login to the website as a member and more information will follow.  Or email Beth and/or Karen at

Beth and Karen



African American Art Exhibit at Ethnic Heritage Museum


Each year in honor of Black History Month, the African American Gallery of the

Ethnic Heritage Museum hosts a special exhibit examining various aspects of African American life. On Sunday, February 11, 2018 the African American Gallery will unveil its newest exhibit, “African American Art” showcasing the work of local artists.


Featured in this exhibit is a special collection of prints and a personally signed profile by internationally known artist Ernie Barnes. Barnes was best known for his unique figurative style of painting. His painting titled, "Sugar Shack"; appeared as cover art on a Marvin Gaye album and in the closing credits of the popular television show "Good Times".


Join us on Sunday, February 11 th from 2:00-4:00 for a special reception as the artists will be available to discuss their work and answer questions. Light refreshments will be served compliments of the Rockford Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. - Pi Gamma Omega. This reception is free to the public but donations are appreciated.


For more information visit

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Website Tips and Tricks


How many of RNPW Members are utilizing our fabulous real-time MEMBER DIRECTORY?  Are you unsure of searching or sorting?  You can always email for help.  Here are some other tips: 

To access the Member Directory -- Click the Member Area menu on the left of the screen and enter your member login & password.  Click the Login button.  On the left side of screen there is now all the Member Area menu access is in orange.  Click the "Member Directory" at the top of that list.  All members are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

To look up only certain categories of members (like medical or accounting, etc.), choose the drop-down menu under the "Filter by" from "Member Groups" at the top of the page and click as many categories as you wish.  Then click the "Refresh" button and only the members that are in those "groups" will be listed.

To search for only a certain member by name or company, first clear any other lists that have been chosen or just click the "Alphabetical Listing" button again to bring back the entire member roster.  Then type in any portion of a member's name or company name in the "Search" box and click "Search".  Then click into the member's name and more detailed information will show about that member.

To print the entire directory, go to the bottom of the page and choose the "rows per page" drop-down menu as 200.  Then at the top of the page, there is a printer icon that can be clicked so the entire directory can be printed.



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I’ve always considered myself a team player but was reminded recently about the value of synergy.  Rockford Network is comprised of many women with diverse backgrounds, careers and strengths.  Together we form a united front, dedicated to group goals, events and the universal desire to enrich each other and “make a difference” in the communities we serve. 


In 2017, I was deeply honored to be co-recipient of the Dolores Ford Exceptional Volunteer Award for my work on the RNPW board (shared with Jan Bowman).  I treasure this award and the daily reminder sits beside my other plaque of my ultimate passion (family and home).  Although I keep the physical award, I never lose sight of the team that worked together that year.


As Aristotle said “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”


Also remember that we are "the average of the five people that we spend the most time with".  Surround yourself with the best!  As my favorite philosopher, 3-year old granddaughter Mackenzie says "make good choices, grandma".



 Sue Snyder


Share with RNPW the book that you are reading!  Send to:

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Calendar of Events

Register for the February Meeting:

Perspective....A View From Inside the 205

February 19, 2018
11:30 AM CST - 1:00 PM CST

Forest Hills Country Club
5135 Forest Hills Road
Rockford , IL 61107
Venue website

Judy Gustafson and Chris Magee, College and Career Readiness Academy Coaches at Jefferson and Guilford High Schools.





Professional Development Workshop


Mark your calendars for the morning of April 11, 2018 for the 5th Annual Rockford Network Professional Development Workshop, where speaker and author Sharon Swing will speak on “A Leader’s Story Matters, and… We Are All Leaders.”


Some women may not see themselves as a “leader,” but every single one of us influences someone in our life, which makes us a leader (whether we like that title or not!). Our story influences what we do and how we do it. Where did you learn what leadership looks like? What did your “tribe” hand you in understanding leadership? What have you chosen to keep, and what have you chosen to leave behind? Join us as we hit the pause button of our busy lives and practice the critical skill of self-reflection and listening to better understand your own story, how it shaped you, and how it can truly influence others.


The proceeds from this event provide a generous scholarship for a recipient chosen and awarded by Rockford Network. This “non-traditional” student is a woman who is beginning or continuing her education later in life, while often juggling work, family, volunteer commitments and college classes.


This year, we are also very excited to announce we will be hosting 50 young high school women from nine area school districts at the workshop. Each high school young woman will have the opportunity to learn how their story matters, network with professional women, and continue being mentored throughout the year by an Rockford Network Member.  


We invite you to join us, as a portion of your ticket will strengthen this community and invest in our future!  Register today:  Register for Professional Development Workshop

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