By Bernadette Verzosa honors all mothers. There are moms who choose to temporarily opt-out of their careers while their children are young, as I did. There are moms who choose to stay on course with their jobs after maternity leave. But many moms, for financial reasons, simply do not have the luxury of choice.


For working mothers, there are support organizations like the Greater Houston Women's Chamber of Commerce (GHWCC). The GHWCC empowers women by providing life enhancement programs, and a network of professional women, business leaders and mentors. The GHWCC also awards scholarships and grants to help young girls and young women realize their aspirations. had the privilege of producing the GHWCC 2012 Breakthrough Women video presentation. Four of the Breakthrough Women revealed how they manage to be fully committed to their top jobs and their family.


Here are excerpts from my interviews with:

LISA TRAPANI SHUMATE, Executive Director & General Manager, Houston Public Media 

SHAUNA CLARK, Partner-in-Charge, Fulbright & Jaworski

GINA LUNA, Chairman, JP Morgan Chase, Houston Region    

BRANDI McDONALD, Managing Principal, Newmark Knight Frank




Executive Director & General Manager, Houston Public Media


"One of the great things about being a woman now, is that it's pretty much your course to chart.  So if that means for you that you need to take a little time out after your child is born, to be with your child, no one's going to judge you for that.  You need to do that and not look back. Or if you are able to juggle it and find the right team, if you will, to support you while you work full-time and advance in a career, great. It's a time where you have a lot of options and no one should judge the way you handle your life and raise your family.  That is totally for you to determine and for you to bear the fruits of later."


"If I go back in time to when my son was born and I was 24 and was working full-time, I realized at that moment how easy my mother made motherhood look and it is not.  And she had four children and a job and cooked every day. I still tell her you made it look too easy.  At the time, for me, I was very overwhelmed and the only option for me was to take some time out.  At the moment, I have to say, I didn't have any regrets.  I wasn't torn.  It was very clear.  I wanted to be home.  And I just figured that I'd figure it out for getting back in.  And fortunately, I was able to do that.  By the time I had my second child, I was older, I was more mature.  I saw that I could juggle it and I didn't take a break and I've been working ever since. And I would say to any woman who feels torn, follow your instincts.  You can always reengage in work."




Partner-In-Charge, Fulbright & Jaworski

"I attribute the success that I have in balancing my family life with my firm life to support.  I'm married to a wonderful husband, and in our family we made a decision, at the very beginning, that it would be God first, and then family and then work."


"At the firm, I've been blessed to have mentors and partners who allowed me significant flexibility, well before it was popular. Before we had remote access, before we could all work from our laptops, I worked with a group of people who allowed me to put my family first, when I need to, because they knew and respected the fact that I would put the client first, when need be."


"But, I'll tell you, it's not all been one sided.  At home, my children know and respect that there are times when work will encroach upon home. And so there may be Sunday afternoons when Mommy has to take a call and they appreciate that and they respect it because they know the following Monday, if there is an event at eleven o'clock A.M., mommy will be at that event.  So I allowed and we've created an atmosphere that work necessarily spills over into family and family necessarily spills over into work. I allowed that situation to be fluid."



Chairman, JP Morgan Chase, Houston Region    


"With work and with family, I don't want to miss anything.  And, so, I'm just always trying to prioritize, I often use the five-year rule and ask myself ‘If I'm not there, who will remember in five years or who will care?'  And, you know, 8 times out of 10, the answer's probably your kids might remember that you weren't at whatever the event is, professionally, maybe not so much."


"I think it's just about being equally committed. There are certainly tough decisions, but I haven't found too many where I felt like I made the wrong decision. It's always challenging, juggling all the things that are going on in life.  But I think it's about your perspective, and I tend to view it as how fortunate I am to have such a full life with a great career that I love, and family that I want to spend time with, and community activities that I feel passionate about.  So, while stretched, and certainly busy, I think it's great. And I would love to have two more hours every day to just get more of it. I think as it relates to juggling, having great help around you, being organized and willing to delegate is useful.  I am fortunate that I don't have to sleep a lot, so that helps as well."



Managing Principal, Newmark Knight Frank


"I have two young daughters and they are my toughest clients.  I adore them. I work hard for them just like I do my business clients to make them feel like they're my only client.  And that's probably the biggest challenge of being a working mom, is to serve your clients at work and at the same time have your ear open to the needs of your children throughout your work day. If something comes up, being able to balance and juggle those needs." 


"It's a gift to have children. It's a challenge to be able to meet all of their needs. But just as we do with our corporate clients, it's important for working moms to listen to the needs of your children, and serve those needs individually because they are such unique people." 


"As a working mom, I've had those moments where I've had to decide that I can't be the best at absolutely everything I do. But if I can be a good mom, and be there for my kids, that's a measure of success.  That's sustainable.  I expect so much from myself.  I'm hard on myself.  And, I expect excellence in all areas of life; and being a mom will help you understand very quickly that you can't be perfect in all areas.  You just do the best that you can do and you accept that and you move on to meet the next demand, and the next demand and the next demand. But I had to lighten up on myself." 


Houston family news links

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