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Inspiring Women

Five Women Making an Impact in the Community Offer their Best Advice

Article by Stephanie Hasbrouck

Photography by Hannah Ratcliff, Illustrative Depictions Photography, Jake Dean

Originally published in Cross Timbers Lifestyle

Amy Ferdinando

Director of Development, Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County

As Director of Development of the Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County, Amy Ferdinando fights on behalf of children throughout the county. “My role is to offer the community the opportunity to make significant changes in the life of a child,” she says.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“You can never be overdressed, but you can always be underdressed. My mother’s friend, Barbara Ashley told me that when I was 8 years old, and I will never forget it.”

If you could go back and offer a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

“I would tell myself to let things play out more. I ask my staff all the time, ‘Do you want to die on this hill?’ when we are faced with a tough situation to get them to think if this is something we want to charge forward on or let play out for a minute and see what happens.”

What advice would you offer young women of today?

“You deserve a seat at the table. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Donna Hernandez

Attorney, Law Office of Donna Hernandez

Donna Hernandez moved to Flower Mound in 1993 – before there was even a grocery store in town – and opened her law practice.  “After 35 years in the legal profession, I’ve learned a lot about people and what is important in life,” she says.

Donna has served on several local nonprofit boards and currently is on the Cloud 9 Charities Board and is incoming president of the Cross Timbers Rotary Club.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“When I was a young lawyer, I had a managing partner tell me to do what I know, not what I don’t know. It has served me well and constantly reminds me that we should all play up our strengths, admit what we don’t know and not try to be everything to everyone or have all the answers.”

If you could go back and offer a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

“I would tell my younger self to think less about how other people see you. Instead, be the person you want to be, not who others expect you to be. Judge less and be judged less.”

What advice would you offer young women of today?

“Open your mind to new ways of thinking and to new experiences. Live life boldly and joyfully because life is too short to live in fear or regret.”

Sharn Barbarin

Chief Executive Officer, Medical City Lewisville

As CEO of Medical City Lewisville, Sharn Barbarin is responsible for the hospital’s overall operations and carrying out its mission of caring for and improving human life. She serves on several community and healthcare boards and is a charter member of the Cross Timbers Rotary Club.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Growth and comfort never coexist. So be prepared to accept every career opportunity and challenge presented to you, and if an opportunity doesn’t exist, have the courage to create your own growth opportunity.”

If you could go back and offer a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

“Be fearless and leverage your authenticity as your differentiator and strategic advantage.”

What advice would you offer to young women of today?

“Own the power of your voice. Fully step into your strength as a female, and once you’re successful, seize every opportunity to support young female colleagues.”

Kristi Hassett

Freelance Grant Writer and Founder of 100 Women Who Care- North Texas

Kristi Hassett serves on several educational boards locally and recently began the powerful new group 100 Women Who Care - North Texas. The group gathers three times a year to learn about local charities. Each woman donates $100 to a mutually chosen charity.

“This combined donation of $10,000 makes a real impact in our community,” she says.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Don’t use the words ‘never’ and ‘always,’ as they are rarely true. We often use these words when we are exaggerating something or defending ourselves.”

If you could go back and offer a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

“I would love to tell my younger self that life isn’t supposed to be scripted. If you don’t try to find joy in the moment, the moment could be gone.”

What advice would you offer to young women of today?

“Don’t be afraid of failure and don’t compare yourself to others.”

Kathy O’Keefe

Executive Director, WTF-Winning the Fight!

After losing her 18-year-old son, Brett, to an accidental drug overdose in 2010, Kathy O’Keefe turned her grief into action.

“That changed my life, and God changed my career to help other families learn, understand and heal from the damage that substance use has on the family,” she says

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“The best advice I have ever received was to slow down. However, I did not understand how much that meant until we lost Brett. Now, I am much more present. When I am somewhere, I try to be there 100%. I am not always successful, but I try.”

If you could go back and offer a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

“It would be the same: ‘Slow down and focus on important things.' We tend to make our family more flexible so we can accomplish other obligations. We all have to have a better understanding of the word 'no.' That two-letter word empowers people like nothing else can.”

What advice would you offer young women of today?

“Learn to love and appreciate you.  Look in the mirror and smile at the beauty that is reflected back.  When you do, everything else falls in place. You are important, you are special and you are enough. It is not just about saying it, it is about believing it as well.” 

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