Women of FIRE
Robin Gallagher has a buck-stops-here approach to her career in the banking industry, adopting the attitude that there’s no room for excuses or shortcuts. “I’ve always had the fire in my belly to take tasks one step further,” Gallagher said. “And that goes a long...
After 15 years in commercial real estate, Kristin Geenty credits the training she received in restaurants for laying the foundation of her sales experience. In 1999, Geenty transitioned from the restaurant business, which had helped put her through college, into commercial real estate brokerage. In her first 10 years in the commercial brokerage business she served as the first female president of the New Haven Area Commercial Investment Division of the Greater New Haven Board of Realtors.
Patricia Jatkevicius credits her career to two individuals: A consultant who proved to be a valuable teacher, and a bank president willing to give her a chance. The consultant approached the bank president and recommended Jatkevicius for the job of marketing director. Recognizing her talents, yet acknowledging that she didn’t have vast experience in the area, he suggested a one-year trial.
Cheryl Kebalo, broker/owner of RE/MAX Leading Edge real estate, received over 20 nominations for the Women of FIRE award from her colleagues. Each nomination was different, but nearly all of them talked about how helpful, forward-thinking, kind, charitable, successful and family-oriented she is. Kebalo got involved with real estate through her father-in-law, an immigrant from Ukraine and a carpenter. Her husband and his brother inherited those carpentry skills and developed a 55-plus community in South Windsor. Her involvement in that project led her to her career in real estate.
Shelley Kirschenbaum knew that real estate was the right path for her from the beginning of her career, and since then has spent her days cultivating an office culture that goes above and beyond typical real estate. A mentor to over 80 sales executives, Kirschenbaum leads her Glastonbury team with the blended qualities of a rough-and-tumble business woman and a graceful philanthropist.
Teresa Knox’s expansive 28-year career spans a number of areas in the financial services industry, including community banking and mutual funds administration. It all began at Mechanics Savings Bank, where, following a move back to the Hartford area, she took a branch position as a customer service representative.
Unlike some women in male-dominated fields, when Dawn Landino started working at the New England Financial Group, an office of MetLife, as one of the first women in the firm, she felt comfortable.
Bonnie Smith was surprised when she found out she was named a Woman of FIRE, but the human resources veteran might have been more surprised to know who nominated her: her own husband.
At the tender age of 10, Julie Tétreault caught an early glimpse into her life’s direction. A spring break spent going door-to-door in search of an internship landed her a job at the office of Wallace-Tustin Realty. Tétreault sold multiple homes while still a college student, and by age 24, was Wallace-Tustin’s top salesperson.
Nicole Thomas has been the senior relationship manager for Wells Fargo in the Norwalk area for more than four years. She started in the call center and worked her way up the corporate ladder over the last 14 years. She’s a top performer who has won many awards from her peers and from management; coworkers call her an excellent communicator who thinks outside the box.
Chris Traczyk has a knack for bringing people together. As both community development manager and executive director of Farmington Bank, she is the bridge that connects the bank to nonprofits for the betterment of the community.
Regina “Regi” van der Heyden has been selling real estate in the greater New Canaan area for almost 20 years. In that time, she has sold nearly $500 million worth of property through what she calls “her tireless work ethic and consistent professionalism.”
Diane Whitney got used to being the only woman in the room in the legal world. Only one woman in her college graduating class went on to law school, she recalls. It wasn’t until 15 years, a marriage and two children later, that she set out for the University of Connecticut School of Law, from which she graduated with honors.
The Commercial Record asked its loyal readers to nominate deserving women in the finance, insurance and real estate sectors for our 2014 Women of FIRE awards. From dozens of nominations, our judges narrowed it down to 13 women who stood out from the crowd. They have shown substantial success in their field, they have demonstrated a commitment to professional and personal growth, and their work has enriched and advanced their fields of endeavor.
Deborah Abildsoe took her college year studying abroad a little further than most. After finishing her degree while studying overseas, she was offered a job working for Den norske Creditbank in Oslo, trading fixed-income securities.