40 over 40 project
The idea that turning 40 marks the end of the best of times, that you are passed your prime is FALSE! Across the board these women have agreed that they LOVE this stage of their life. They have rediscovered themselves, reinvented themselves, and heck! Finally have started to make time for themselves!
They are Vibrant, Strong, Intelligent, Kind, and a powerful influence to the world around them. Women aged 40 and older make up 20% of the Billings Population! Without them, each them. our community would be lacking.
Today August 18th 2022 marks the 110th anniversary of the Women's Right to Vote in America! That was not by accident but intentional. We also honor the women who came before them. Without their struggles, we wouldn't have the lives we do today.
Every board meeting attended, meal prepared, or opinion spoken by these women today, builds the future for the women of tomorrow. So scroll below and learn more about the 40 representatives of Billings' finest women.
"Work hard to get where you want to go, don't stay a victim,"
Susan is a phenomenal artist and viewers can feel the emotions and messages that are being expressed in her work.
She understands bad things can happen, even to good people but we still have a power to choose.
She shares a life changing experience that although frightening, has given her a deep sense of gratitude for each day and each life.
"Remembering what I've been through and persevering, how I was given a miracle the day I was hit by a truck, being able to watch my children grow up to be healthy, loving, beautiful adults... means I must've done something right!"
To others she advises to "Be yourself, find faith in God and pray about everything...Listen to your inner voice if it brings peace, then go with it."
"Helping others gives me wings. I feel so empowered and happy when I see another person thrive and be a little bit responsible for building them up."
Akviloina often shares her knowledge about life lessons, mindset, and finance as a speaker and coach.
She is from Lithuania and came here as a college student, graduating with a Marketing/Business degree. She has been the Marketing Executive for 20 years.
She has a great love for people, experiences, traveling, and the arts.
To her 2 lovely daughters and other women of all ages she advises, "Say yes to exploring the world, trying new things, opening your horizons, stepping out of your comfort zone."
"When I'm filled with gratitude, at peace, and smiling that's when I feel the most beautiful!"
Robin is a professional photographer and owns the Camera Shop which supplies the needs of other creative professionals in Billings. She is a hard working single mom of her 2 beautiful daughters and boldly sets an example for them what a woman can be, undefined by others standards.
"If one was to embrace being me, you would have to be brave and courageous! You would have to be spontaneous, ready for adventure at a moment's notice. you would have to be extremely capable, able to back up a trailer, saddle a horse, ride a paddle board down a river, camp in the mountains, chop wood, build a fire, change a tire, run a table saw, shoot a gun, hoo on an airplane to a far off land, laugh and connect with all types of people-daily, work really hard, love so deeply that a it touches the depths of your soul, and love the Lord with al your heart, mind, and strength." And did we mention she plays the guitar?! Truly an incredible force and representative of womanhood.
"Don't waste your pretty. "
Raychel has worked in the Insurance business since 1988 and became the agency owner in 2003.
She knows the true value of life and health after experiencing the loss of her husband. "I have decided that my life is not over and I need to live my best life for him. That is the best way I can honor him. I have watched death and realize that when you have your health anything is possible"
Taking on the burden of being both mother and father to her son has made her who she is today.
She says "I worked very hard every day to get my son the best education while he was in school... I wanted him to know his mom is a strong successful woman who he can count on. "
She is also a woman who knows who she is and what she wants.
"Even though I will always strive for improvement no matter what...embracing me means accepting myself the way that I am."
"We all have a journey and no one person's is more or less important."
Brooke has always wanted to be a nail technician since she was a little girl, she did become one and now owns her own salon and successfully for 17 years! A lot of that success comes naturally because of how she loves to make people feel "amazing and comfortable."
What has really helped her become the woman she is today are hardships.
"Everyone has them! My parents always made me keep at it. You learn more from the things that do not go perfectly or as hoped."
She and her "biggest fan" husband have 2 daughters and love being outdoors and enjoying watersports together.
"Stand up for yourself and what is right, embrace being a woman, and do what makes you happy."
Elizabeth is in the culinary arts industry with an impressive education from the Le Cordon Bleu program at the Western Culinary Institute, Portland OR. She has a combined love for being creative and for serving others. She gets to fulfillment as a proud mother of 3 daughters and through her work.
"I love my wisdom and experience and utter confidence in myself."
If you were wondering who in Billings is a power performer in marketing it is Dana.
Her 30 years experience as a magazine writer and 16 years as an agency owner/principal has put her in the position to not only run things, but run them well.
"I get paid to tell, mainly men who run corporations, how to position the company to be successful. I have won several national awards in the last few years in branding." This makes her feel unique as a woman as it simply isn't as common in her industry.
She loves her work but also can't spend enough time with her husband of 32 years and their 3 sons and 2 daughters in law. About her role as a mom to her boys she says "I'm their biggest fan, and I adore the, and they are incredibly good to me."
She advises women to "be patent with yourself, you get better and better every ay."
"You can be wild: wild in pursuing your dreams."
Penny is a real estate broker who has turned a new chapter in her life. Her girls are all grown up now and she "being carefree and enjoying life."
Her sense of humor, quirky side, and passion for helping people make her unique.
When asked how she has become the woman she is today she says, "I come from an extensive kine of strong genes and unconditional love, In addition to that, I have had wonderful mentors in my real estate career that have shaped me personally and professionally. And friends-the kind of friends that are just so valuable and trustworthy in life have helped along the way."
"The gift for helping someone will be greater than you ever imagined!"
Kaci can speak from experience not only as a surrogacy advocate but as one who has gifted the miracle of children to many families in addition to her own 4 children. To meet her is to experience kindness and positivity. "I always think of myself as the cheerleader friend. I have genuine love and support for the women in my life." She says "Being positive is a daily choice Strength comes from all of our life challenges. I always think about what I've overcome in the past, and it fuels me to be strong. To me, being empowered comes from the amazing connections I have made with women over the years. Their successes and challenges empower me to keep going and never give up!
"The best things in life are people you love, places you’ve seen, and the memories made along the way!!!"
Lisa is the executive director at Family Promise YV, an important non profit organization that helps families in need by guiding them on to a path of independence and a thriving life.
Lisa is described as "fun, honest, open, and caring."
She is right at home wherever she is be it fishing in Costa Rica, on a road trip, camping, hiking, meditating, or simply relaxing.
"Invest in yourself. Trust your intuition and increase your intuitive ability."
Zulia is from Russia and highly educated with a Masters and PHD. She is a PA who, in the last 2 years, has rediscovered herself, taken many adventures, and had first time experiences. She has learned to "be positive, strong, and empowered by [her] own mistakes."
Embracing who she is has meant having "courage and strength to permanently move beyond my comfort zone."
"I love that I 2022 someone in their 40's is still encouraged to learn and grow, to keep dreaming and to have adventures."
Sara has worked in the Insurance business since 1998 and in 2017 became the sole owner of Conver & Winchell Insurance Agency.
She has created a life that balances work and family as she successfully manages her team and also makes it a point to be to all of her 2 amazing children's events and activities. She says, "You don't need to sacrifice one or the other to succeed."
Her advice to other women is "Don't fear success! Be confident in what you know and love. Stand strong and be proud of you."
"TAKE UP SPACE! You have so much to offer the world and the world is eagerly waiting for you to do your own beautiful thing."
Confidence, red lipstick, and great shoes is Marisa's recipe for feeling beautiful.
She is a realtor with Red Truck Real Estate and is also the current president of Junior League of Billings. "Empowering other women is one of the best things about both my career and my non-profit work. In my first full year in real estate, more than half of my transactions were single women buying a home. The year I was born, women couldn't even have a credit card in their own name, so it has been incredibly gratifying to see women do amazing things. Although she works very hard she also makes her boys a high priority in her life and enjoys "pretending life is musical theater," with them.
"Kindness towards others is an expression of my self-love."
To Laura, the world around her is art. She has taken her creative talents and turned them into a successful career in clothing and interior design. She worked for Nike, managed a successful sportswear company and her own business before starting Toadnwillow.
She loves the outdoors and all things art and design related.
Laura has found that she feels beautiful is defined by actions. "I have tried to pledge myself to be a loving, kind person to all people, to me, kindness is the most beautiful thing in the world."
"..beauty is not just on the outside, it is embracing who you are and giving life to the fullest with the people that surround and one you."
Meri first learned what hard work was growing up on a farm and it has paid off as well in her 23 years of banking. She would like to encourage more young ladies and women to consider banking as a career choice since "Women are now shining and being recognized as leaders I this industry and changing the structure of these institutions."
"Cherish the person you were created to be"
Theresa has a BS and MS in Psychology and when things beyond her control changed her world, she reimagined her life and changed with it as an entrepreneur with a successful painting business.
She has always made being a mom to her 7 amazing kids her top priority.
Her superpower is loving people.
Theresa has experienced her share of heartache but it "led me down a path of being shattered and remade into something MUCH MORE vibrant, resilient, and hopeful."
How does she feel about this stage of life?
"I love being in my 40's. I've never felt more alive and moving at the pace of a freight train. I feel unstoppable!"
"You don't have anything to prove BECAUSE you're a girl (or woman,). Stay in your lane, lean into your strengths, be courageous, and crush it!"
Tiffany is a brilliant podcaster, mentor, and business woman. She has reached a high level of success and attributes it to hard work, training, having the right mentors, the support of her husband, and "God's grace and the comfort knowing His perfect will would be done."
Tiffany loves her family including 3 kids, their spouses/partners, and 7 beautiful grandkids!
Being with her family, traveling, and enjoying fine dining are her favorite ways to spend her time out of the office.
"The lessons and hardships that I endured, survived, and overcame have given me a life beyond anything I could have dreamt up for myself."
Chris is a Marriage and Mental Health Counselor who has taken her own difficult life journey and used it as fuel to work hard on herself and then have compassion and insight in helping others find their path to health. Life is beautiful for Chris as she savors every dance, laugh, and precious moments spent with her husband, children, and grandchildren. Her 40's was when she felt she was "truly living life to its fullest" but about the 50's she says "the best is yet to come!"
"We all have hard things but how we overcome them shows who we are."
Glea is a very talented cosmetologist and makeup artist, and digital media content manager. . She loves all things creative, especially when it involves helping empower other women. "I love showing women what's possible for them and that it's ok to want more!"
As a breast cancer survivor she has learned that "I embrace all the things that come with being a mature woman. And I can only hope to continue to have ak these extra years. I will never be ashamed of my age, instead I'll shout it to the roof top! I made it to this age! What a blessing. I don't let the little things become the big things anymore."
Her family brings her the greatest of joy. She has 3 children with her oldest son currently serving in the Navy.
"I feel like women thrive when they are part of a :drive" of other like-minded, driven, and intelligent women."
Melissa is a mom of 3, works as a Dental Hygienist, and is an entrepreneur in the realm of real estate.
She found her empowerment through keeping her "mind sharp, always learning, reading and always striving to get the most out of anything." She does the same thing physically and enjoys running, hiking, swimming and outdoor water sports. She finds happiness in surrounding herself with good people who support her, especially her family. Melissa says that "being happy and healthy is what makes her feel beautiful.
"Laugh a little more, love a little harder, enjoy all of the small things and never put a glass ceiling above your head."
Ashley puts her heart and soul into her cooking and her family. She has worked 35 years in the restaurant business including consulting for luxury hotels, casinos, and fine dining restaurants. She now has her own, Cajun Phattys. She has 2 grown children and 5 grandchildren.
When diagnosed with MS 15 years ago she recalls "overnight I matured into strength and dedication to fill whatever need that I was called to. I have been on a mission to prove every doctor that I have seen wrong! So far I am winning."
She loves how good food and being on the water makes her feel and helps her remember that life is a glass half full.
"I want every woman to realize that they can be independent, and no woman must rely on someone else to help them get through life."
Lisa has worked very hard to have her own independence. "My career has taken off ..I am a manager in my company, and I finally feel like when I have something to say, people are willing to listen."
sets the example for her 2 daughters. "I tell both of my daughters to work hard for what they want. Don't let anything or anyone get in the way. Strong and independent women are needed in the world."
For fun she likes spending time with family, going to concerts, smoking cigars, crochet, and making jewelry.
" I feel most beautiful when I am serving others, be it my family, at work, or in my community."
Kathy is a highly trained nurse and amongst those who bravely took to the front lines battling covid and administering thousands of vaccinations, traveling on assignment. She has many skills in her tool belt from sewing to photography, from baking to nail tech but being a mother is the one she is the most proud of! "Truly the lessons I have learned with my spouse by my side parenting our girls has made me the woman I am today."
"We are responsible for our own happiness."
Iryna is from the Ukraine and embodies the strength and resilience of that heritage.She enjoys Vareniki Marmalade baking, figure skating, and beauty. When you think of a woman with both brains and beauty, think of her since she is both an esthetician and an accountant. Even though she works in the beauty industry, she feels having respect for herself is what makes her feel the most beautiful.
She attributes being the woman she is today to her husband, Together they have 1 daughter and 2 dogs.
She encourages other women by saying, "don't listen to anyone, follow your dreams!"
"For me, there is nothing more beautiful than planting the seeds of activism, and watering the garden by teaching people how to make their voices heard, then watching a movement grow as budding activists bloom into seasoned advocates and organizers who plant their own seeds and grow activism gardens of their own."
Kari is a tenacious woman who has learned the importance of having a voice and the power it can have for good.
Her work background in non profit development and journalism has given her the skills to create WONPR (Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform) which seeks to "challenge the stigmas and halt policies that are harmful to women and their families."
"[Maturity] has nothing to do with your age and everything to do with your journey and learning and passing on what you learned. That's maturity."
Trisha is passionate about health, wellness, and beauty. She encourages others to "feel comfortable in their own skin" and "love themselves where they are at and at evert stage of their life."
When she isn't working, she is found living her life to its fullest with her husband and 3 boys. She really loves spending time with them in the outdoors and on the water.
Heather Thompson Bahm
"It isn't always the loudest in the room that makes the biggest impact You can speak volumes through quiet accomplishments too."
Heather has a Doctorate in Management and finds great joy and fulfillment in her position with the College of Business at MSUB. She has taught at the college for the past 7 years.
She has had to battle some physical struggles in life but her daughters are her driving force, to prove to them what is possible "despite what the world may tell" them or what obstacles they may face.
To all the women who came before she says. "Thank you for not giving up. Thank you for having the courage to stand up to the norm."
"My life is like a zebra. Walking through the white stripes opened my horizon, brought a to of unforgettable bright memories, new fun hobbies, On the other hand, walking through the black stripes made me wiser, stronger, more appreciative to what and whom I have, and not scared to be on my own."
Lili is a vibrant woman who lives a very active lifestyle through activities such as dance, fitness, running, and hiking.
Her resume of job titles is impressive including being a physics teacher and accounting specialist. She raised her son on her own who is now an adult and married.
Her mantra is " I see the good in people, never stop learning, never want to cease exploring, and fill my life with fun and happy events."
"We are all limited editions right?"
It's the perfect phrase spoken by a true lover of the written word. Tari was a Sr. Acquisitions Editor in Science and Medical publishing for over 20 years before deciding to make a career change 3 years ago to Finance.
She has found that confidence comes with time and self acceptance. "I feel more confident the older I am. I hav stronger friendships and a more secure path on where I want to go. Surround yourself with people that love and support you. Find men and women that are your allies and advocates. Find your tribe! I am not for everyone and that is OK."
She has been married to her husband for 17 years and their son just graduated from the Naval Academy as an officer in the Marine Corps.
"I feel beautiful whenever I'm engaged in something that embodies my innate power...For me, beauty comes not through what I look like, but what I do."
Marteann was born and raised to be all that she is. Intellectual, independent, strong, and high achieving. These qualities have served her well in her career in business management and consulting. She is also an accomplished speaker and writer. Her creative side is fueled through her artwork as well as home improvement and remodeling projects. She and her husband of 44 years have instilled in their 2 sons those same principles that Marteann believe has and will continue to serve them well in their own life pursuits.
"...it is OK to not be OK."
Clementine is the most authentic woman you could ever hope to meet. Her life history is rich with diverse knowledge gained through various pursuits. She can succeed at anything she sets her mind to and now is the owner of Limber Tree Yoga studio. "Today I embrace being me by stepping out of my comfort zone, releasing perceptions that don't serve me, and taking time each day to breathe and meditate...Being me no matter what others think has been the biggest hurdle to overcome but it has had the most reward."
She is a champion-level advocate for mental health.
She loves creating a life that is filled with crafting, playing hostess to friends, and spending time with her husband and 3 children (grand baby #1 is on the way!)
"Going to school later in life gave me a confidence in how I think and that I could do anything that I set my mind to if I try."
Marya is an expert in management, leadership development, and communications. Feeling strong makes her feel beautiful. She enjoys weight training and being an Oula instructor. Each time she teaches she can "help women see that they can do anything, and that it doesn't have to look like what the world says it has to look like." Her faith in Jesus Christ empowers her with faith, hope, and perseverance throughout life.
"I am real. What you see is what you get. I don't pretend to be someone I am not...I wish more people were comfortable enough with themselves to just be real."
Dede is no stranger to hard work, in fact she thrives on it! She has been involved in finance starting at the young age of 19 and now has 14 years of experience as a mortgage lender. Having paved her own way to independence and success, she now turns to ways in which she can help educate and inspire other women and younger girls to do the same for themselves.
:"I feel beautiful when I get up every day, walk through my routine, dress up for my profession, and start a mindset that I am worthy of success and no one will ever take that away from me."
Denelle is a high performing Aflac agent here in Billings. The secret to her success is her authenticity, confidence, and genuine care for helping others through her work.
She has embraced being herself by loving who she is and how to speak to people.
Denelle has raised 2 "beautiful girls...that are starting out to be leaders in the careers they have chosen.
"Never underestimate the power of a glass of wine and a good conversation."
Melanie is the Chair Growth and Innovation Officer at Rimrock with over 25 years experience in marketing. You will find her serving in the community and being involved in good causes. Melanie is also an author and about to publish a book.
"I used to shy away from my history and now I embrace and share to help others...accepting my full story. Good and Bad make me more interesting."
She also loves to travel and be with her husband of 21 years and their 3 children.
"It is my God given right to sparkle and shine! When I shine, I actually illuminate the path for others to find their way to shine their light."
Dawn is a rockstar entrepreneur! She Is a certified health/lifestyle coach, podcaster, author of 2 e-books, and an International keynote speaker. Oh and to add a dash of fabulous, she has over 28 years experience as a salon professional.
Inspiring others starts with her setting the example. "I believe with my positive, healthy mindset of maturing, I can change the vision for all ages of women to embrace their wisdom, uniqueness and astral beauty, to ultimately be comfortable in their own skin."
She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 46 years and have raised 2 children and now is "nana" to 5 grandchildren.
"If we are lucky enough to age and make mistakes ...we can look back on our lives and our decisions along the way as lessons. From lessons come wisdom. Wisdom makes us empowered."
Katie is balancing life as a real estate agent and a mom to her 10 year old son.
She acquired her confidence piece by piece by discovering the things in life that bring her joy. Travel, fine dining, being by the water, and the arts are just a few.
One of the great life lessons that maturity as a woman has brought to her life is grace. Giving grace to herself as well as others brings her an inner peace.
"No matter what your age, you are only as old as you feel. Do ALL the fun things!"
Stacey is no stranger to the hustle and hard working life. With a background in banking, Human Resources, and a restaurant owner, Stacked, with her husband she has grit, determination, and excellent management skills. This is all well and good but what makes Stacey unique is "my zest for life, I don't take things too seriously. I enjoy have a good time and living each moment to the fullest. My goal is to continue to have fun every single day until I die"
And have fun she does with shopping, hanging out with her 3 grown children, 5 grandchildren, and 3 dogs, rafting, side by sides, working out at 9rounds, and of course enjoying all kinds of foods!
"I believe confidence should be every woman's story."
Nicole is a leader in the real estate industry with many who respect her. "Teaching others all I know helps me become an expert in my field."
Real estate is hard work, especially in today's economy but she has found her "why" which helps push her towards success.
"My family. They give me the reason to get up each day and do well. "
She is married to her high school sweetheart and together are raising their 3 daughters.
She also loves traveling, DIY home projects, watching bumble bees, and volunteering with the heights optimist club.
"Life is not meant to be easy, its meant to be lived and to learn from."
Pam's work and personal life have a lot of crossover. She loves working out and owns a gym, Plaza Fitness. She also has a great eye and love for fashion and opened a clothing boutique called The White Feather. Pam says, "I feel beautiful when I make others feel beautiful."
One could easily say she is doing what she loves.
She also loves to go camping, travel, of course shopping, and spending time with her sons, son in law, and partner, Bonnie.