October 29, 2018
Focus on outstanding women in business

Outstanding Women in Business: 2017 Alumnae

AiVi Nguyen
Angela Bovill
Peggy Briggs
Karen Duffy
Jill Green Lebow
Cheryl A. W. Eidinger-Taylor

AiVi Nguyen

2017 & now: Partner at Worcester law firm Bowditch & Dewey

"I like the reading, the analysis, the crafting of arguments. I like being able to solve people's problems by reading and interpreting the laws," said AiVi Nguyen. "I know it's nerdy, but that part of the law is what I like."

And that hasn't changed in the last year, since Nguyen won an Outstanding Women in Business award.

Born in the U.S. and raised in Worcester public housing, her parents are Vietnamese refugees who didn't speak English, initially. Nguyen said they do speak some now, but rely on her for help with things like financial paperwork.

When she was 31, Nguyen was voted by the 16 equity partners as the youngest law partner at Bowditch in a century. This is after earning two bachelor's degrees simultaneously at the University of Pennsylvania, and then a law degree from Boston College.

Over the past year, she's gained more business-litigation case experience and moved up from being a board member of United Way of Central Mass. to its board chair, the youngest to hold that seat. That's in addition to her community work with diversity groups for both the city and the firm, and work with the arts group POW! WOW! Worcester.

She says a year later, people still approach her with a cautious optimism, which more than likely wouldn't be the case with a white male attorney.

"It's a double-edged sword," she said. "I'm young and a woman of color … I'm acutely aware that burdens aren't so heavy on anyone else who might be in my shoes."

But Nguyen wants to be a role model and make the idea of a young Vietnamese woman as a partner as a law firm less of a rarity.

"It's attainable," she said. "People find it very refreshing."

Angela Bovill

2017 & now: President and CEO of Ascentria in Worcester

What have been your career highlights since being a 2017 honoree? Sold two businesses, starting a new social enterprise, and acquiring another company this year.

How about your personal highlights? Two grandbabies born

How has the professional world changed since 2017? Increased tension from a tough external environment and low unemployment creates increased challenges in business.

Peggy Briggs

2017 & now: Managing principal at Epsilon Associates, Inc. in Maynard

What have been your career highlights since being a 2017 honoree? Winning the environmental permitting work for the new ballfield and commercial development in Worcester, representing the city and developer.

How about your personal highlights? Recovering from a bad ski accident.

Has the professional world changed since 2017? No

Karen E. Duffy

2017 & now: President and CEO of Worcester Credit Union

What have been your career highlights since being a 2017 honoree? I was honored to have been asked and served on the Worcester city manager's corporate engagement committee for the effort to attract the Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester, as well as for being elected to the board of the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus.

How about your personal highlights? Taking two of my grandsons for a falconry lesson; exploring new interests including hiking and motorcycle riding; participating in a sailboat race on Manchester Bay; and rowing with my quad to a silver medal in a regatta this fall.

How has the professional world changed since 2017? There has not been a significant change for women professionally, yet. However, I see and hear many more women than ever before who are interested, motivated, engaged and committed to improving women's access to positions of power and influence in business, politics and the community. I include myself in that number.

Jill Green Lebow

2017 & now: Senior vice president & chief human resources officer for Fallon Health in Worcester

What have been your career highlights since being a 2017 honoree? Employee engagement continues to increase at Fallon Health with an 87-percent sustainable employee engagement score. Fallon's executive leadership team (direct reports to the CEO) is 50-percent women. We also have a cultural competency program showing results in terms of diversity of our employees and the tailored service they provide to our members.

How about your personal highlights? My daughter continues to grow up happy, healthy and confident.

How has the professional world changed since 2017? The light shining on sexual harassment and continuing inequality in the workplace will hopefully bring about change for those organizations who haven't quite got it right yet.

Cheryl A.W. Eidinger-Taylor

2017 & now: President & COO of ERA Key Realty Services in Whitinsville

What have been your career highlights since being a 2017 honoree? Strategically planned and executed on a merger with Hunt ERA from New York in February.

How about your personal highlights? Not sure, it's still pretty soon since last year. Merger is going to enable me to take more time for vacations and time off.

How has the professional world changed since 2017? It really has not changed much yet. This was just last year. It is possible I am seeing a little more recognition of women in the workforce.

Read more about the 2018 Outstanding Women in Business:

Kate Sharry, president of Group Benefits Strategies

Carla McCall, CPA, CGMA, co-managing partner of AAFCPAs

Laurie Masiello, president of Masy Bioservices

Jennifer Luisa, vice president of marketing and communications at The Hanover Insurance Group

Marianne Lancaster, president of Lancaster Packaging Inc.

Sandra Brock, PE, vice president and chief engineer at Nitsch Engineering

Read about this year's judges

Read about the nine previous years of Outstanding Women in Business award winners:

2017 alumnae

2016 alumnae

2015 alumnae

2014 alumnae

2013 alumnae

2012 alumnae

2011 alumnae

2010 alumnae

2009 alumnae

Check out a column from this year's Innovative Business Leader of the Year on the importance of women business leaders in the Central Mass. community

Successful women shape our community

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