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Inspired By Women

Each May, we showcase extraordinary women who’ve made an impact in our community. Here are this year’s chosen four.

Whether it’s being a leader in the category of CEO or mom — the women on these pages are driven to give their absolute all. They give to their own communities and the world’s communities. But there is one belief they all have in common — an active belief in women building up other women.

And it’s the rest of us who benefit.

DR. MOLLY O’SHEA

The founder of Birmingham Pediatric + Wellness Center, Dr. Molly O’Shea is a sought-after expert and speaker on topics such as leading change, burn-out prevention and recovery, work-life balance and raising resilient children. The Beverly Hills-based wife and mom to a big blended family has a passion for helping communities and families, and was the longtime “Ask the Pediatrician” columnist for the Detroit News.

BCL What is your philosophy as a female leader? 

MO Leading with authenticity and transparency allows others to show their whole selves. By showing my emotions, flaws and joys, I allow for those in my colleagues. Doing the work to understand how to say what you really think is hard but necessary to finding peace.

BCL What is your greatest accomplishment? 

MO Finding my own resilience after my son died. His death by suicide in 2019 at age 17 caused me to rethink everything — digging deep, facing my own fears, sadness and guilt — and allowed me to move forward with a profound understanding of how to help others face difficulties with courage and grace.

BCL How are you involved with your community?

MO I support and visit numerous organizations through the Village Club, participating in the foundation grants committee, through which we give close to $300,000 to local nonprofits each year. 

BCL What advice would you give the next generation of female influencers? 

MO Support each other! Women are stronger together. Even if you are competitors, collaboration will serve you better than competing separately.

BCL What is your greatest accomplishment as a leader?

MO Envisioning a new model of pediatric care and implementing it in 2008: couches in exam rooms, direct access to the doctors, home visits for newborns — it worked!

BCL What motivated you to step up and become a leader in your field? 

MO I realized I could help others understand the deeper 'why' behind their actions, through which change was easier to achieve. Helping others find that on a larger scale through corporate consulting, speaking and starting Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center on this model allowed me to make that happen.

BCL What are the most important qualities of a successful leader? 

MO Being authentically yourself, being an enthusiastic member of the team, leading with clear expectations and coaching others when needed, having hard conversations, going to bat for your teammates and listening rather than reacting when issues arise.

BCL What are the biggest challenges facing female leaders today? MO Burn out! Women are experiencing burn out at the highest rates in history. Understanding what the specific underlying issues are, whether for an organization or an individual, are key to stemming the tide. 

LACEY FOON

Following a 2022 breast-cancer diagnosis at age 32, Lacey Foon teamed with JFamily Detroit, a Jewish community organization, to create JScreen Detroit, providing affordable genetic and cancer testing.

Always entrepreneurial- and community-minded and fueled by a passion for early-childhood education (plus an MBA from University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business), the Bloomfield Hills wife and mom launched Birmingham’s Fascination Factory just this past April. The kid-powered play-based learning space fills a gap in the community for families while supporting women from the bottom up — Foon contracted an all-female professionals to get the Factory up and running. 

BCL What is your greatest accomplishment?

LF Getting married, becoming a twin mom, surviving a global pandemic, overcoming breast cancer, starting a philanthropic initiative and starting a business — all within five years.

BCL Who inspires you?

LF Any women who build other women up.

BCL What is your philosophy as a female leader?

LF To break barriers whenever possible. If something is male-dominated, it motivates me to break in and work even harder to prove that women are just as capable and belong.

BCL What is an important lesson learned as a woman in business?

LF I find that it’s important to be emotionally prepared to not be taken seriously. The moment you feel disappointed by this unfortunate behavior is the moment the people who don’t take you seriously win. Prove them wrong.

BCL How do you give back to your community?

LF During the three to four years I ‘stopped working’ after my daughters were born, I considered myself a ‘career volunteer.’ Even now that I am working full-time again, I dedicate much of my free time to organizations and initiatives that I am passionate about. To be a true leader is to also give back.

BCL What advice would you give the next generation of female influencers?

LF The best female leaders that I have encountered are the ones who build up and encourage other women. Make this a priority.

JUDGE SHALINA KUMAR

In Dec. 2021, the Hon. Shalina D. Kumar was sworn in as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan — becoming the first person of South Asian descent to be nominated for a federal judgeship in

Michigan. The Birmingham resident, whose father was born in India, began her career as a civil litigator in private practice; today, she is based at the U.S. Courthouse in Flint. 

BCL Who inspires you?

SK My grandmother was a special inspiration for me. She was born in the early 1900s and was fiercely independent for the time. She believed in the importance of a woman having her own identity and independence. She was a ‘Rosey the Riveter’ during World War II, and as the oldest of nine children, helped raise all of her siblings. She went on to have her own family but was widowed relatively young and lived her own independent life well into her 80s.

BCL What is your philosophy as a female leader?

SK As a leader and a woman, I think it is so important to be authentic and genuine. True leadership begets cooperation and when you stay true to who you are and are confident in your values, you will find it easier to bring people together to accomplish common goals.

BCL Do you find importance in giving back to/involvement with your community?

SK I am a big believer in paying it forward. I enjoy doing whatever I can to help people, especially women, achieve their life goals. It’s vital to provide mentorship opportunities for young women and to teach them the importance of self-worth, confidence and self-respect.

BCL What is your personal definition of success?

SK I feel truly successful when I enjoy what I do every day and I’m in a position where I can help others.

BCL What are the most important qualities of a successful leader? 

SK I think good communication is the number-one most important quality of a successful leader, as well as a willingness to listen to other people’s thoughts and ideas. It can be difficult to manage many people with differing perspectives, and it takes a great deal of patience and understanding to be successful in helping everyone reach their potential.

BCL What are the biggest challenges facing women today? 

SK It can be especially difficult for women to voice their opinions and advocate for themselves, which is why it is important for women to support and encourage each other professionally and personally. Without that encouragement, it can be very easy to listen to those outside voices and doubt your abilities. Empowering women is something I strive to do every day. 

SHANNON MURPHY

Shannon Murphy studied journalism and PR in Indiana before launching her career in radio at stations around the country. Returning to her native Metro Detroit, she’s been co-host on the Mojo in the Morning Show on Channel 955 since 2009. Murphy is about to blend families with her fiance (they each have two kids plus a poodle), dedicating her free time to organizations including Covenant House Michigan, Vista Maria, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and more — while still managing to start each day at 3:30 am.

BCL What is your greatest accomplishment?

SM Oh my gosh, being a mom! I am so appreciative of everything my mom and dad (and step-mom, too) did to help mold me into the person — but furthermore, into the mom — that I am today. My kids have taught me so much about myself, and have really challenged me in my faith, values, perspective, how much weight I put into home vs. career — and the list goes on. I am by no means a perfect mom, but I am incredibly proud of the fact that I work full-time, I mom full-time, and while I have a great ex-husband who co-parents with me, on the days that I have the kids, it's me doing it all. There's definitely a feeling of accomplishment on those days. And definitely a feeling of fatigue, too. 

BCL What is an important lesson learned as a woman in business?

SM To me, I'm just a girl on the radio. But the entertainment world can definitely be cut-throat at times, and while it can be scary working contract to contract, crossing your fingers that your show's ratings are solid and you're delivering customers to your advertisers, I have learned that there is room for everyone. Instead of looking at other individuals (particularly women) in my field as a threat, I try very hard to remember that we're all on the same team. We're all bringing something unique to the table, and it works far better for everyone to create space rather than to create walls. 

BCL How does your position influence your leadership and role in the community?

SM I feel so lucky to have been given the platform that I have on a daily basis. I have the attention of millions of people through the live radio show, the iHeart Radio app that delivers our content 24/7 and social media. I strive to use that platform to impact the community I call home in a positive way, shining light on organizations that might not otherwise get a lot of attention. 

BCL What is your personal definition of success?

SM To be proud of the woman looking back at me in the mirror every day. Did I make myself proud? My children proud? My partner proud? The people I care about and who care about me? Did I honor God? Was I respectful and respected in my boundaries? And did I collect joyful moments throughout my day? That is it for me.

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