In celebration of Women’s History Month, women in leadership roles at Benco Dental, the nation’s largest independently-owned dental supplier, discuss the people who positively inspire their lives and careers. They explain how they, in turn, find ways to channel their talent and expertise as a force for good in the world.
More than a decade ago, Benco Dental established The Lucy Hobbs Project® in tribute to one such hero, the first woman to earn a degree in dentistry in the U.S. Since that time, Benco has celebrated incredible women in dentistry annually with The Lucy Hobbs Project Awards. To learn more, and nominate a woman changing the face of dentistry, click HERE.
Benco puts a priority on giving back to the communities and families it serves, and associates at the company put this philosophy into action every day.
Meet a few women in leadership at Benco Dental who give back to their communities and world. Find out who inspires them on their path.
During Women’s History Month and every day, Amelia Earhart’s fearless drive inspires Benco Dental Director of Customer & Associate Engagement.
Joanne Stitzer, the Benco Dental Director of Customer & Associate Engagement, says that Amelia Earhart inspires her to chase goals without letting fear of failure stop her.
“Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others” is a quote by Amelia Earhart that inspires me. To this day, I still remember learning about her in history class. She was a leader who consistently worked to break boundaries and promote equal opportunities, regardless of gender. While all her ventures may not have been successful, she had the courage to try. In the workforce, I’ve carried with me this from Amelia…’the most effective way to do it, is to do it”.Joanne Stitzer, Benco Dental Director of Customer and Associate Engagement
Where does Benco Dental Director of Customer & Associate Engagement Joanne Stitzer share her time and talents in support of young students?
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with quite a few local charities focused on the community’s youth and this was only enhanced through experiences with Leadership Wilkes-Barre. I enjoy volunteering time at local elementary schools where students are in need of basic supplies and assistance to help them grow and learn, mentoring middle and high school students on career opportunities, participating in Read Across America, and donating to programs such as Dress for Success.”Joanne Stitzer, Benco Dental Director of Customer and Associate Engagement
During Women’s History Month, Benco Dental Director of Design Melissa Sprau reflects on Ray Eames’ trailblazing work in the New York art scene.
Benco Dental Director of Design Melissa Sprau describes her idols within her field of work and how the works of the past continue to inspire her today.
I’m continuously inspired by the work of American artist and designer Ray Eames (1912-1988), who worked alongside her architect/designer husband Charles Eames. The two are most noted for mid-century modern furniture designs that remain ubiquitous today. Ray was a trailblazer in the 1930’s New York art scene and grew to work as a painter, filmmaker, textile and furniture designer. Her bold, forward-thinking style cultivated a type modernism that has never gone out of style! As a designer, this sort of timelessness is so admirable.”Melissa Sprau, Benco Dental Director of Design
How does Benco Dental Director of Design Melissa Sprau help others feel present and encourage them to support causes that matter?
I’m a mental health and wellness advocate, which has driven me to train to become a yoga teacher. The yoga community is such an awesome intersection of self-care and service to others. I’m working on a series of pop-up community yoga classes with proceeds benefitting local charitable organizations. I’m so excited to help others feel good about themselves by moving their bodies and feeling present – while simultaneously raising money for causes that matter in our community.”Melissa Sprau, Benco Dental Director of Design
Which woman has influenced Wendy K. Miller’s career and life?
Benco Dental Director of Consumables Wendy K. Miller reflects on her mother’s business acumen and perseverance. TheBenco Dental Director of Consumables Merchandising explains how that influence and example guides her today.
“Though I could list many well-known women, I choose my Mother. Before working outside the home became the norm for many women, my Mom was a business woman. She, along with my Dad, ran a business and after he died in 1983 she continued to run her own business until she retired in her late 70s. She taught me strength, humility, perseverance – and – before it was all the ‘vogue,’ that ‘Leaders eat last.’ She worked hard, and she worked smart. Her influence and example have continues to inspire me and offers a reminder that each day I have an opportunity to make a difference as an individual and a leader.”Wendy K. Miller, Benco Dental Director of Consumables Merchandising
How does Benco Dental Director of Consumables Merchandising Wendy Miller inspire leadership, and a respect for nature, in her community?
“I have served as a member of the Executive committee in my Penn Wood Community at Lake Wallenpaupack for over 10 years; in the role of President for the last 6. My parents introduced me to this community and in fact, my Dad served on the executive committee in the early 1970s. When my husband Ron and I purchased our home, I found this opportunity for me to help shape a community of neighbors who support and respect each other. We work together to maintain a safe and fun community for our families, while respecting and enjoying the beauty of the environment that we have the privilege of sharing with nature.
I am currently in my third year as a Leadership Lackawanna Board Member, in an effort to give back to an organization that develops leaders in our local communities and provides leadership educational opportunities starting at the high school level.
A passion of my late husband, Ron, was to participate physically and financially in honoring our veterans. One of our annual functions has been to support Wreaths Across America, whose mission is to Remember, Honor and Teach. One of the ways they do this is by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies across the country every December. I am humbled I was able to continue this tradition in 2021 after Ron’s death. My commitment to him and to our veterans will continue, with more of my family and friends joining us each year.”Wendy K. Miller, Benco Dental Director of Consumables Merchandising
Who does Benco Dental Director of Customer Operations Lisa Fuller turn to during challenging times when she is in need of guidance?
For Lisa Fuller,Benco Dental Directory of Customer Operations, the most trustworthy source of advice in life is her mother.
“My mother. Simply put, my mother has and always will be my greatest inspiration. She owned her own business becoming a successful leader in the medical billing arena locally in Northeast Pennsylvania. She led a company of all women employees, while assisting my father in his family-owned business during key months. My mother is one of the kindest, smartest, most compassionate, caring and hardest working person I know. She raised my sisters and I to believe in our dreams, follow our hearts and always do the right thing. I talk with my mother daily and she continues to be the voice I turn to in good and challenging times.”Lisa Fuller, Benco Dental Director of Customer Operations
How does Benco Dental Director of Customer Operations Lisa Fuller celebrate her passion for giving back in the communities where she lives and works?
“I believe you give back in ways your heart tells you to follow. One of the greatest joys for me is to help others. I have twin boys who left for college four years ago and are off to start their own lives soon. When this happened I found a great deal of time on my hands. No more soccer or lacrosse games, no PTO meetings or homework helping. This is where my volunteer work really took off!Lisa Fuller, Benco Dental Director of Customer Operations
I love animals, including my six rescued dogs. Currently, my passion for helping is with Blue Chip Farm Animal Rescue where I assist with raffles, gathering donations and pet adoptions. My husband and I truly love to help senior dogs find love and comfort in their golden years.
I volunteer with my church, Prince of Peace in Dallas, The Adopt a Single Mom Project, and Fork Over Love, which purchases dinners from local restaurants and distributes them Free in nearby neighborhoods. I also regularly donate blood at the Red Cross. I am blessed with many things in life and the ability to help our community is definitely one of them!”
During Women’s History Month, Benco Dental CFO Karen Friar discusses a woman in business who leads with confidence.
Thankfully, female leadership in the workplace is more widespread, and Benco Dental Chief Financial Officer Karen Friar highlights one CEO in particular who inspires her to be a better leader.
“Sara Blakely, CEO and founder of Spanx is a testament of failing, picking yourself back up and continuing to work hard and evolve until you achieve the goals you set out to accomplish. She leads with confidence and has a deep passion for her brand, her employees and the community she serves.”Karen Friar, Benco Dental Chief Financial Officer
How does Benco Dental CFO Karen Friar channel her talents into the local community?
“I am passionate about building future leaders in my community and doing my part to give opportunities to the next generation. I sit on both the Leadership Northeast Board and Wilkes University Business School Advisory Board, and through these positions strengthen the relationship between local universities, businesses, and our top youth talent.Karen Friar, Benco Dental Chief Financial Officer
Cancer has had a deep impact across my family. Through that, I became actively involved in helping nonprofits get the funding they need to advance medical treatments and increase the prognosis of extended life.”
Classically admirable, Eleanor Roosevelt continues to inspire women.
Beth Hastie, Vice President of Distribution Operations with Benco Dental, reflects on the leadership qualities of Eleanor Roosevelt and how that example of strength inspires Hastie every day.
“Eleanor Roosevelt is single-handedly responsible for changing the role of the First Lady in the White House. She wasn’t afraid to speak up for what she believed in and fought hard to protect the underprivileged and underserved. It is not always easy to stand up for your convictions or to initiate change. I admire her drive, courage, strength, and most of all her compassion. To accomplish all that she did, along with being a wife and mother to six children, shows that anything is possible if you are passionate about it.”Beth Hastie, Benco Dental Vice President of Distribution Operations
Benco Dental Vice President of Distribution Operations Beth Hastie supports those with disabilities through her volunteer efforts.
“As a Mom of a child with autism, I am passionate about any organizations that support children and families with all disabilities. Locally, I have volunteered for Earthly Angels, Abilities 21, and Brighter Journeys. I have volunteered for events such as Easter Egg hunts, breakfast with Santa, and helped raise money through different events they sponsor, such as 5Ks, as well.”Beth Hastie, Benco Dental Vice President of Distribution Operations
A long line of strong, driven women inspire Benco Dental Director of Talent Becky Clouse-Mickey.
At a young age, Benco Dental Director of Talent Becky Clouse-Mickey witnessed female leadership close to home; it encouraged her that it’s possible to “do it all”.
“While there are many inspirational women in history, I am most inspired by the incredible women in my family. My grandmothers were both loving working moms and leaders within their families. I was encouraged from an early age to be whomever I wanted to be, that you can ‘do it all’, and that runs deep into the family tree for me.”Becky Clouse-Mickey, Benco Dental Director of Talent
Becky Clouse-Mickey continues the legacy of the women in her family by teaching her children firsthand to support those in need.
“I spend a lot of time volunteering with local youth sports that my children are involved in, parent/teacher organizations, and with my church. Recently, my daughter’s dance studio fundraiser involved spreading kindness, and we collected donations for our local food bank and local animal shelters. I’m passionate about donating time and money to support those initiatives.”Becky Clouse-Mickey, Benco Dental Director of Talent
Benco Dental Director of Accounting and Tax Diane Spears respects the courage and conviction of Rosa Parks.
“Rosa Parks has always inspired me for her contributions to the resistance of racial segregation. She demonstrated courage, conviction, strength and persistence, even under threat of death and persecution. At the time, she was fired from her job as a seamstress at a local department store and received death threats. The international icon of resistance did not stop there, but continued to contribute to the Black Power movement and the support of political prisoners in the U.S. To have that amount of courage to stand up for your beliefs, in a hostile environment, is uplifting.”Diane Spears, Benco Dental Director of Accounting and Tax
Diane Spears dedicates resources to assist children and support efforts to train foster parents.
“My heart is drawn to helping children. I sponsor a child in Romania monthly, which is an amazing and rewarding experience. I am also involved with Door of Hope Ministry, which raises money for foster children in Florida. There are thousands of foster children sleeping on floors in community centers here in our county alone, which astounds me. Their stories bring tears to my eyes. Door of Hope provides funding to increase the number of foster parents in the system, and train and support them as they provide homes for children. The amount of people who go above and beyond to help offers encouragement.”Diane Spears, Benco Dental Director of Tax and Accounting
Benco Dental Director of Business Development Julie Radzyminski says she is fueled by the incredible perseverance of women in sports.
“When I was growing up in the late 70s, early 80s there weren’t a lot of opportunities for girls in sports. I was, and continue to be obsessed with athletics, and at that time many of my heroes were women who excelled in predominantly male sports. Pat Summitt, former coach of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team, went on to win eight NCAA championships. Mia Hamm played on ’91 and ’99 World Cup-winning teams. Martina Navratilova won 167 singles tournaments, 177 doubles events, and 2,189 matches — the most wins any player, male or female, has earned since the Open Era in tennis began in 1968. These are just a few who made an impact on me and others. They were successful, yet humble. They didn’t settle, instead always strived to be better and help make others around them better. They showed me that hard work creates opportunities to drive change.”Julie Radzyminski, Benco Dental Director of Business Development
Through her passion for athletics, Julie Radzyminski supports programs that help young women gain confidence and learn team dynamics.
“I love that Benco gives back to its communities. I work closely with our regional food bank, because I believe strongly that no one should go hungry. My entire family volunteers to box food and deliver to families and people in need. It’s humbling and rewarding and at the same time because it reminds us how lucky we are.
Locally, I coach or donate to town teams to keep children engaged in sports and exercise. I think it’s especially important for young women to be involved in sports, which teach confidence, positive body image, goal setting and team development and dynamics. Through sports, I’ve learned so much that I apply to my career.”Julie Radzyminski, Benco Dental Director of Business Development
Looking for ways to celebrate women in American history this month? Research, discuss, and nominate a woman in dentistry for a Lucy Hobbs Project Award.
The Lucy Hobbs Project, powered by Benco Dental for more than a decade, empowers women in the profession to drive change and deliver results through networking, innovation and giving back. The Project is named in tribute to the first woman in the U.S. to earn a dental degree.
HOW TO NOMINATE:
- Visit this link: https://goben.co/LHPWomensHistory
- Nominate in one of these six award categories:
Woman to Watch: An up-and-coming leader who utilizes her position to create positive change in the industry.
Industry Icon: A trailblazer who is consistently recognized and admired for her work in the dental industry.
Mentor: An advisor who recognizes the importance of supporting, educating and encouraging others.
Innovator: A groundbreaker who demonstrates a willingness to implement new technologies and business processes without fear of potential failure.
Humanitarian: An altruist who works tirelessly for a charity or cause that benefits the well-being of others.
Clinical Expert: A skillful practitioner who embraces advancements and adeptly integrates them into patient care.
Learn more about inspirational women in history during Women’s History Month
Each year, organizations nationwide unite to commemorate, encourage the study of and celebrate “the vital role of women in American history.” During Women’s History Month, they create a calendar of events, exhibits, roundtable discussions and a resource guide to help highlight the stories of women who inspire.
Find out more HERE.