117 Iris Waichler

When Iris’ friend was dying of a brain tumor, a group of friends became the caregivers. She was impressed by her friend’s courage of facing death. Iris helped her friend’s brother cope with the transition, to let go, to say goodbye and enabled them to bond. She felt privileged. Iris shares the following nuggets of life wisdom for caregivers:
– strive not to judge
– be open to listen
– be there for them
– accept circumstances that we are given
– family is a subjective word
– recognize that you may be feeling that you are losing the person that you once knew
– get support for yourself as a caregiver
– identify who will be the advocate

Iris Waichler has been a well known patient advocate and licensed clinical social worker for the last 35 years. She began her career working with geriatric patients who experienced catastrophic illness and counseled them and their families about adapting to these medical problems. She helped them understand their medical condition and counseled them about how to cope with the disease and its impact on their lives.

She continued to work on a rehabilitation unit in a large Chicago teaching hospital with patients who had suffered traumatic brain injuries, strokes, cancer, amputations, burns, and neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis and parkinson’s disease. Ms. Waichler also covered the emergency room for 13 years seeing patients of all ages with a variety of medical problems. In addition she worked with kids who had been victims of child abuse.

Her long term hospital work gave her insights into how overwhelming it was for patients and families who suddenly found themselves in a hospital setting feeling helpless and alone. This prompted her to write her first book, Patient Power: How to Have a Say in Your Hospital Stay. She understood that if people knew what questions to ask and where to go for support, it would help empower them and assist them in coping with their medical conditions and the resulting life changes.

She used these insights to supervise social work students, and teach medical students, interns, residents, and nurses about patient rights, ethics, and to help them become more empathetic and effective in their day to day patient and family care.

Ms. Waichler found herself in the role of a patient when she battled infertility for many years. The feelings of loss and helplessness she personally experienced were profound. She promised herself if she was successful in having a child she would do everything she could to help other people fighting infertility.

She authored a second award winning book, Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster: A Guide to Educate and Inspire. This book won 2 best book of the year awards. The response was so great she began doing individual and group counseling with people who had infertility. She volunteered for RESOLVE, a national infertility group, and went on to do a series of radio interviews, magazine articles, workshops, and speeches designed to inform and support men and women with infertility.

In writing her new book, Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging, Ms. Waichler has come full circle. Her experience in caring for her beloved father, who died at age 97, triggered her passion in reaching out to others who suddenly find themselves in a caregiver role and are uncertain about what to do or where to go for help. In this book she shares her father’s inspiring story and her personal and professional experience in assuming the challenges that come with being a caregiver for an aging loved one.

Iris has been doing freelance writing for the last 15 years. The focus of her work has been on health related topics and assisting her readers gain knowledge that helps them feel less alone and empowers them in significant new ways.

Ms. Waichler lives in Chicago with her husband, Steve, and her daughter, Grace. She loves to travel whenever she can and to spend time with friends and family.





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116 Leah Reinhart

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Leah had traumatic experiences, including the loss of her mother. She was seeking acceptance, love and validation. Initially, Leah joined circles, which led her to drugs, alcohol and violence. Then, she started to understand the energies associated with fear and love. Leah surrounded herself with supportive people and realized that she had been empowered all along. This enabled her to become an entrepreneur at a very young age. Leah is now enjoying your new journey as an author. She shares these powerful nuggets of life wisdom:

  • love and acceptance starts from within
  • be mindful of our energy
  • our past does not define us
  • surround yourself with those that lift you up
  • we are responsible for our own happiness
  • express gratitude
  • universe is working for you
  • find the life lesson
  • take responsibility for your life

Leah E. Reinhart is a hair stylist and angel card reader turned author. When the market crashed and business was slow, her hair clients encouraged her to write a memoir after hearing some of her stories about her unusual childhood in Oakland, California. She started writing and a whole new journey began as she began to fall in love with writing and reading. Leah E. Reinhart is a mother of two and a wife, and currently works in her not-so-ordinary salon, Wellness Garden Tool Shed.





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115 Donna ODonnell Figurski

When Donna’s husband experienced a brain injury, everything stopped on a dime. She became his full time caregiver. Whereas, she used to prefer to ‘let things ride’, she realized that as his advocate it was up to her to save his life. Donna didn’t think she had it in her. She challenged the doctors and nurses. In the process, she became empowered. Donna shares these powerful nuggets of life wisdom:
– practice self care
– make time for yourself
– you are more capable than you think







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114 Naomi McDougall Jones

Naomi’s first film didn’t give her the validation and acceptance that she sought. Naomi felt crushed. So for her second film, she set out to be accepted by the “System” and chose to play by their rules. Naomi encountered very powerful ‘gatekeepers’ that feel they define the success and happiness of film makers, such as herself. Once she realized that she had been empowered all along, she took a refreshingly different approach. Naomi recentered with her own value system and courageously decided to distribute her film herself. She rented an RV and embarked on her “Joyful Vampire Tour of America”, which provides screenings, Q&A with the film makers and ends with a fun ball. Naomi looks forward to connect with her end consumers and independent cinema owners. She shares these powerful nuggets of life wisdom:
– your acceptance, validation and happiness is measured by your values, not those of others
– do not chase external recognitions that are, in reality, meaningless
– get centered with your values, what is truly important to you and go after it
– sometimes you just need to challenge the norm
– learn by doing
– listen to your gut

Naomi McDougall Jones is an award-winning actress, writer, producer, and women in film activist. She grew up in Aspen, Colorado and attended Cornell University before graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA). Naomi wrote, produced, and starred in the 2014 indie feature film, Imagine I’m Beautiful, which took home 12 awards on the film festival circuit including 4 Best Pictures and, for Naomi, 3 Best Actress Awards and The Don Award for Best Independently Produced Screenplay of 2014. The film was named as #8 of OscarWorld’s Top 10 Films of 2014 and was distributed theatrically and digitally by Candy Factory Films. The film is now available on AmazonPrime. Naomi’s second feature film, Bite Me, is a subversive romantic comedy about a real-life vampire and the IRS agent who audits her. The film premiered at Cinequest, won Best Feature Film at VTXIFF, and then went on to the innovative, paradigm-shifting Joyful Vampire Tour of America in summer 2019, a 51-screening, 40-city, three-month, RV-fueled eventized tour that involved Joyful Vampire Balls, capes, a docu-series and a whole lot of joy. The film is now available to watch on Seed&Spark, Amazon, GooglePlay, and iTunes. She is currently at work on her third feature screenplay, Hammond Castle, a magical realism film that explores themes of identity, legacy and gender through a modern-day seven-month pregnant woman’s unexpected interaction with the brilliant, eccentric and deceased inventor John Hays Hammond, Jr., for which Naomi received the honor of being the first artist-in-residence at Ernest Hemingway’s final home in Sun Valley, Idaho. Naomi’s first book, The Wrong Kind of Women: Inside Our Revolution to Dismantle the Gods of Hollywood, will be published by Beacon Press on February 4, 2020 and is now available for order on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, IndieBound, and Beacon Press. Naomi has been a vocal advocate for bringing gender parity to film, both on and off screen. She has spoken at film festivals and conferences around the world and written extensively on this subject. Naomi TEDTalk on these issues and what to do about them, “What it’s Like to be a Woman in Hollywood, has been viewed over a million times. She has teamed up with former CFO of the City of Chicago, Lois Scott, to found The 51 Fund, a VC investment fund that will finance films written, directed, and produced by women. Naomi lives in Atlanta with her husband, Stephen.

TEDTalk: go.ted.com/naomimcdougalljones
Podcast: Fear(ful)less: Filmmaking From the Edge

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113 Melissa Agnes

Melissa Agnes Crisis Management Keynote Speaker

Melissa experienced a big pivotal moment twelve years into her marriage, when she realized that she was no longer in love with her husband. She knew there was something off, but did not have clarity initially. Melissa used her skills as a crisis readiness strategist to assess her own relationship. She chose to follow her truth and divorced her husband. Melissa feels that she crisis managed her divorce to a place where they are not romantically linked anymore, but still have respect and admiration for each other. She was able to do it with grace, respect and love. Melissa shares these powerful nuggets of life wisdom:
– understand the whys
– know your truth
– find strength in accepting your truth
– we deserve to live our best lives
– don’t shy away from difficulties
– be kind to yourself

Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks.

As a strategic advisor and keynote speaker, Agnes has worked with NATO, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense, financial firms, technology companies, healthcare organizations, cities and municipalities, law enforcement agencies, global non-profits, and many others, helping them understand risk and build invincible brands that can withstand even the most devastating of events. In 2015, she gave a TEDx talk in Los Angeles where she discussed the secret to successful crisis management in the 21st century.

Agnes is the editor of the Crisis Ready Blog, host of the Invincible Brand Podcast, a contributor to Forbes, and a go-to source for the press, with recent coverage including the Wall Street Journal, VIBE Magazine, USA Today, and many others.

Agnes’s book and Crisis Ready Model continue to be adopted into undergraduate, graduate, and MBA programs around the world, and as a university guest lecturer, Agnes teaches crisis management in university courses around the world, including at NYU and McGill.



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112 Sally Clark


Sally experienced sexual trauma as a teenager. She repressed it, absorbed it and was ashamed of it. Sally felt as if it was her fault. She started on a journey of healing and began to acknowledge what happened. Initially, Sally felt uncomfortable to tell her story publicly. Then she realized … if she couldn’t tell her story, then what message was that sending to others, such as her daughters. Through supportive communities, Sally published her book and became a survivor of sexual trauma. Today, she creates safe, trusted communities, where she empowers women to experience healing. Sally shares these nuggets of life wisdom:
– never underestimate the power of sisterhood
– find a community of women who have your back
– support one another
– practice self love and self care
– as a mother, seek a community to support you in self care, which is also helpful in protecting your daughters
– we can help unload and release pain that others experience
– evaluate pain in safe setting and release it
– honor your body
– practice deeper listening with yourself and others
– consider joining a red tent, which is a women’s tribal community, where people gather, feel safe and can experience healing

Sally Clark is a director, researcher, author and graduate of the Columbia Journalism School. She directed the award-winning documentary Cowgirls and has worked with acclaimed authors and producers, including Naomi Wolf on her book Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood and with Lili Fournier, producer of the Women of Wisdom and Power series. She is also a survivor of sexual assault and has twenty years of experience helping women with similar issues. Her first book, The Way of the Warrior Mama: The guide to Protecting & Raising Strong Daughters, in available now. Sally lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her family.


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111 Joe Bernstein

Joe was diagnosed, as a young child, with learning disabilities and was overweight. He decided to transform his life. Joe changed his beliefs, thoughts, actions and feelings. He also unwired his anxious nervous system. He lost 160 lbs and walked away from a toxic marriage. Joe heard a calling to share his knowledge of transformation with others. He empowers and coaches others to look at mindset/emotions and partners with them, as they enter journeys of transformation. Joe shares these powerful nuggets of life wisdom:
– anything is possible
– humans are malleable
– we have the capacity to change and transform
– we’re never truly stuck
– understand your choices and emotions
– navigate with mindfulness of choice
– get emotionally healthy
– what we think is possible, we create as possible
– view your setbacks as catalysts for change in your life
– work on your mindset and emotions
– find a community for change
– shift your beliefs

Joe Bernstein is a personal and professional growth coach. He works with Leaders, Entrepreneurs, Creatives, High Performers as well as regular dudes and dudettes to create growth, transformation and change in all areas of life. Joe’s clients enjoy explosive growth in confidence, boldness and understanding their own value which result in large increases in income, going from zero to multiple dates per week, transforming their relationships with food and body and of course much more fulfilling relationships with friends, family and romantic partners.

Joe also spends time volunteering with Mankind Project, Vets Journey Home, Alternatives to Violence, Showing Up for Racial Justice and is a co-founder of Return to Base Foundation, a pro-bono coaching program for return US combat Vets.






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