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Vicki  Mastronardi




Member Profile:

Vicki Mastronardi

Job Title: Sr. Branch Manager

Employer: Mid-Hudson Valley Credit Union, a local credit union – serves 7 counties

What Brought Her to WPN:

“I was new to Dutchess County. I lived in Orange County since high school. I wanted to broaden my network. Then I found the Women’s Professional Network. It was unique, different from other networking groups, not just because it focused on bringing women together but there was an educational component and a focus on empowering women. It was a group of women helping women. The comradery and uniqueness were evident from the first event I attended.”

First Impressions of WPN:

“I wasn’t new to networking groups or member organizations. The female education and empowerment programs were intriguing. I thought I’d give it a try, but I wasn’t sure it was what I was looking for. I was leery of women’s groups. They’re not always the supportive organizations that they’re marketed as.


But WPN was very different. We bring in women speakers to talk about women’s issues. The women in the group are close-knit and welcoming. They don’t put on airs. Everyone is very authentic. I love the comradery and helping on committees. It isn’t just a networking group. It is an organization of phenomenal women who are there to support each other and lift each other up.”


WPN Connects Women of All Backgrounds and Experience Levels

“There’s a variety of people and industries. You have bankers, health and wellness professionals, insurance people, holistic professions, and so much more. It’s not the same people. Different industries are represented.


I also love the way Lea runs the WPN. She always has incorporated an educational component with fantastic guest speakers that speak to women’s issues and helps us enhance our abilities. So many fun events have been had – power circles, speed networking, and ice cream socials, just to name a few. There’s also a variety of life experiences in the group with younger and more seasoned women and everyone in between. It gives you a refreshing perspective being around women of all stages in their careers and development.”


Women’s Professional Network Is Positively Inspiring

“The thing that sticks in my mind about the group is that it’s about positivity and lifting people up into the world. The group is inspiring.  It’s different from what I’ve seen with other networking and women’s groups. A lot of others are focused around “passing your business card” and the elevator pitch.


WPN promotes and helps women to form real relationships with other women leaders in the community. We don’t want negativity, so we bring positive experiences. We build business and personal connections supporting one another in every way. Women I’ve met through WPN call me for non-work-related questions or to run things by me and I love it.


If people come (to a WPN event) they’ll be surprised how much fun and how different it is from other networking groups. If you have the opportunity to join the WPN, DO IT! You will not regret it. It is so worth it. “


Yvonne  Kasper

Member Profile:

Yvonne Kaspar

Self Employed, Owner/Founder of Get Results YK

Personal Training and Cancer Exercise Specialist


What Brought Yvonne to WPN:

“When I first became a personal trainer, I missed having a family of people I could bounce things off of. When I went out of my own, I felt very isolated and alone. I had to make all the decisions and I felt like I needed someone else to ask besides these Facebook groups. I'm a people person so and I need a name to a face. I need to look at things.


There are so many (groups) out there. Lea was inviting and helpful. I felt very at home with the group. I didn't feel inferior. They're just like a family of women entrepreneurs who really want to help each other. There's no, ‘You have to come to my business for me to be a customer at yours.’ It's just refreshing to know that there's no judgment. This is a no judgment zone.”

First Impressions of WPN:

“I've been in a couple of groups, and they weren’t all a good fit for me. Some I just I didn't find any value in. Maybe it was because I didn't have a building or I just I couldn't find my spot there. I went to several meetings, and I tried to be part of them, but it just didn't really work for me. So I kept searching.


I went to one of WPN’s programs—International Women's Day. I was so impressed by the presenter and the group that I joined. I committed myself.”

WPN Gives Women a Knowledge Community

“It's hard for me to work at my business, not in my business. I needed somebody to push me into networking. It's so easy for me to go ‘Oh no. I don't need to do it.’ But I needed to structure my day. I had to put so much time into the business part (like marketing, sales, etc.), not just the working in the business. As somebody who’s used to working for somebody else, this is a lot different. You need a lot of discipline. WPN helped me see that and structure accordingly.


I am a people person but I'm shy around people I don't know. It’s hard to get out of my comfort zone. These networking events push me and I’m glad to have that.


The first time I went to WPN, I invited people and then I felt like I'm not meeting that person over there. So, I branched out from my comfort zone. Lea came over to me and introduced me. The WPN women really are amazing. Some people reached out to me afterwards and said, ‘I didn't realize you were there. I missed seeing you.’ So, I'm like, ‘OK next time.’ I felt a part of things.


When people ask me about WPN I tell them it's a really great group of women. I love their monthly meetings.


There were two things that I was looking: education in business and a supportive community. I wanted someone to bounce ideas off of. If there’s something I don't know anything about, I want someone who can steer me in the right direction. When I was exhausted using too many social media outlets, a person in the group helped me explaining that there’s no reason for me to be on Snapchat. My clients are 50 years old and cancer survivors. They’re not there.


The group (and its members) is a good resource. If I go to Lea and ask, ‘who do I talk to about this?’ She would tell me or I could use the member directory and look at their bio. When I reached out to a member for the first time I wondered if they’d call me back. And she did. Now I know everyone's going to call me back in this group. They will whether they can help me or not. If they can’t, they’ll tell me who can.”

Women’s Professional Network Helps Members Feel Less Alone in Business

“As a solopreneur, some days I feel alone. Every business has ups and downs. I have to prepare myself for that but it's hard. When I go to a WPN meeting I feel better again because I don't feel so alone. I realize everybody goes through this. Everybody has a business cycle.


From the first meeting I was completely inspired by the speaker, by Lea, and by the women I was sitting with. And that’s a great feeling.”


Cynthia  James



Member Profile:

Cynthia James

Founder/CEO of Comfort Children Ministry International


What Brought Cynthia to WPN:

“I met Lea about four years ago and I always say it was divine intervention.


I saw an ad for the International Women’s Day event promoting a black woman keynote speaker. The ad beautiful and showcased the speaker’s humble beginnings and impressive career. I was drawn to it.  I

as fascinated to know more about the group behind this event. The event exceeded my expectations and introduced me to WPN.”


First Impressions of WPN:

“Lea’s style of leadership was so attractive. She’s a beautiful soul. With WPN, diversity is a strength. The women come from different backgrounds with different experiences and yet they are so supportive of

one another.”

WPN Gives Back

“Because of the supportive and educational atmosphere, I’ve learned new things and branched out. I used to be shy on social media. But with encouragement and education from the group, I left my comfort zone and took hold of my nonprofit’s Facebook page. I began posting things that were more in keeping with my personality. I shared myself. I wouldn’t have done that before WPN.  


I’ve met so many wonderful women through WPN. The group has even helped me find volunteers for Comfort Children Ministry. I’ve met women who I now consider my sisters. They’re more than just professional acquaintances to me. One of these wonderful people even became a board member to my nonprofit. She believes in my mission and wants to help. WPN women are supportive. They’ve assisted me in getting the word out about what I’m doing.


We are a family, an army of helpers for one another. When Lea calls and asks if I can attend a ribbon cutting, I do it. When another member needs volunteers or someone to attend something they’re hosting, we’re there for one another. But there’s no expected reciprocation. We just do it because we believe in—and enjoy—supporting one another. That is special and something I haven’t seen with other women’s groups.”

Women’s Professional Network Educates, Engages, and Inspires

“The education is amazing not only because of what I learn but the programming also attracts great women. I still remember the message of the first WPN speaker I heard. She didn’t let her struggles define her; she didn’t let those struggles stop her from getting what she wanted. I think of that often, especially in time of adversity. What a wonderfully supportive message and it is really an undercurrent of everything WPN stands for. Don’t let hardships define who you are. Go for your goals. Be bold.


WPN gives members the support needed to pursue their dreams. Every woman in the Hudson Valley should join.”

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Michele  Foriska



Member Profile:

Michele Foriska

VP of HR for mid-sized company


What Brought Michele to WPN:

As the only female vice president in her organization, Michelle belongs to other networking groups but was looking for something different. She joined the group to be part of the community. Networking within the community with women.


“I didn’t know anyone ahead of time. I came to International Women’s Day. Lea spoke to a colleague and personally invited her to be part of the celebration. When I went, I met lots of good community people.


I’m not an avid networker. I wanted to be better at it. Networking is exhausting for me it’s not natural, but this group is a welcoming group.”

First Impressions of WPN:

“It’s a group of inviting women. The people here want to be connected with other people and share things. It’s a warm, terrific experience. It’s comprised of a mixture of businesses and business professionals including nonprofits, smaller businesses, and entrepreneurs.


I’ve connected outside the group too. I’ll advertise what members are trying to do, and we push things within (my company) because it’s great for the community. The company/community spirit is a wonderful part of WPN.


I had no hesitation about joining. I didn't know anyone but I knew what the group was about after reading and talking to Lea so I just figured that would be a good fit.


I'm a vice president of human resources and we have 420 people. I know every single person. I do networking because I have to do it but I don't love it. It's exhausting for me. Who wants to go to a group of strangers and say all the things? I'm not saying I dislike it. It's just not natural for me. Then I found the Women's Professional Network. It’s a welcoming organization. I shouldn't say that that's just because it's women. But maybe it’s something to do with the fact that (the group) is a lot of inviting and welcoming women.


We do different events where we're at tables and just mix and match together and sponsors activities. It's a great group of welcoming people who want to be connected with other people and share things. It's very inviting and a warm terrific experience.


Mostly it's comprised of smaller businesses and entrepreneurial women and even nonprofits…the nonprofits my company has advertised internally when the nonprofits are doing things like looking for volunteers…We push that from within because we believe that's great for the community and we're able to help them…The community spirit is a wonderful thing with that group.”

WPN Is Inspiring

“I’m inspired by what these other women have accomplished. The women are doing tremendous things. They’re innovative. They don’t have a lot of resources, but they have stories of doing incredible things with those resources. I learn from the other women, and we engage and learn together.”

Women’s Professional Network Addresses Topics Women Care About

“We do activities together and we share a lot of ideas. When we have an event, we all come away with things that we’ve learned. There’s a lot of great discussion and everyone helps each other.”

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