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Successful women share their stories at BDW event


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NEW PORT RICHEY — Every once in a while, we hear someone’s inspirational story, and it encourages us to work harder and reach for something better. Three women gathered together to show others how they reached success in their own ways.

On Thursday, Jan. 30, a “Successful Women in Business” panel was held in the West Pasco Board of Realtors building in New Port Richey as part of the 2014 Business Development Week, which is put on by the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce.

The seminar featured three women who shared their stories about how they have reached success in their business life. The three women who spoke at the luncheon were Paula O’Neil, Juli Marquez and Kristin DePonte.

The first speaker of the afternoon was Paula O’Neil, who became the Pasco clerk and comptroller in 2009. O’Neil has been battling breast cancer and her presentation circled around the motto “Fight like a girl.” O’Neil spoke out about how she has learned to stay strong through her battle along with the support that she has received from her team and the community.

“I’m going to fight like a girl, and I’m going to win.” O’Neil told her team. “I don’t know what success is. I can tell you I just want to do well. I just know that we can have better things, we can be a better place.”

Juli Marquez, a meteorologist with Bay News 9. Marquez spoke about how her passion for weather began when she was 4, and how she tries to reach out to inspire the younger generation to work hard in any career they choose.

“I like to really encourage young people to really go for it.” Marquez said. “Take the chance because you have to be able to test yourself and your limits.” Marquez spoke about how she has grown in her field through internships, working on holidays and even being a “Tornado Watcher.”

Kristin DePonte, the owner of a sculpture company called “Grass Root Creations,” which specializes in wire bending and handmade beading, spoke about how she always wanted to do something creative as a career.

DePonte, who started Grass Root Creations in 2001, shared her stories about how her business has expanded and how it has become international. They have businesses in several countries across the world including China, Germany and Australia. The name of the company came from her family’s desire to always help people, which the company did by helping to support families in other countries.

“We always want to stay grounded.” DePonte said. “We always want to remember where we came from and what we’re about.”

Linda McFarland, president of the Suncoast business networking group Women In Business, was the program chair for the event. She chose the speakers herself because she thought they were interesting and wanted to hear their inspiring stories.

“I think women can do anything.” McFarland said.

Shirley Pheasant, an agent with Century 21 Realty, attended the seminar because she wanted to learn about the speakers and how they became successful.

“They’re all passionate about what they do, even though their fields are completely different.” Pheasant said. “They are all very determined in their own way.”

About 50 people attended the seminar and there was a question-and-answer segment at the end of the event. The speakers got standing ovations from the attendees.

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