Meet the Member: Sabrina McTopy

Welcome to our latest installment in our “Meet the Member” series, where we will feature a WFE member. This quarter meet Sabrina McTopy!

Read on to learn more about Sabrina:

How did you get involved with WFE and how long have you been a member?

I joined at Margaret Ceconi’s suggestion. I think it was 1996.

What is your favorite thing about WFE?

I love the feeling of community I experience in WFE.  And I always love the fashion show.

10 Quick Questions:

1. What was your first job?

Working in a snowball stand at 13 with my best friend, whose Dad owned the stand. I was paid mostly in snowballs.

2. What do you like most about your current job?

The freedom it offers in terms of which clients and lawyers I work with at the firm.  I have always felt stifled by a lot of hard and fast rules.

3. What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Save your money in the early part of your career so you can spend it in the later part.

4. Who is your role model?

My grandmother who raised me. She was a teller at a community bank three blocks from her house for over 20 years and thoroughly loved seeing her customers. She knew their families, visited them when they were sick as well as cooked and baked for them. And they in turn loved her; many days I opened the back door to find a bushel of some vegetable left on the porch in thanksgiving, with no note. Though she often had reasons not to be joyful, she suffused my life with hope, understanding of what community means and how we must take care of each other.

When she learned a new male co-worker she was training began with a higher salary than hers after 20 years, she asked her new boss for a raise and was instead fired.  I’ll never forget living through her heartache as she applied for jobs at other banks in the area and realized she had been blackballed throughout the parish. Seeing her treated so unfairly lit a fire in me.  I got a job processing claims at the unemployment office, where I worked for the next 5 years, handing most of my paycheck to my grandmother. And promised her that one day, money would no longer be a worry.

In 2000, we bought her the house of her dreams. We enjoyed 13 more wonderful years with her in which we did the things she had always dreamed of.  Her 90th birthday party started at noon, involved a parade and ended around 1 am.  I think of her and the blessing she was in my life every day.  I can still hear the sound of her laughing and saying che dolce (sweet), che bella (beautiful), luce dei miei occhi (light of my eyes).

5. If you weren’t working at Jackson Walker, what would you be doing?

Doing (or trying to do) some kind of competitive dancing. I took ballet and jazz for 9 years and was on dance team all during high school and college.

Taking continuing studies courses – preferably in person – at Rice’s Glassock School of Continuing Studies.

Going to Italy for a month each year.

6. Do you have any pets?

Yes, our yorkie Maggie May. I must always have at least one pet. There is no other way in life to experience such unconditional love.

7. What are you currently reading?

The Beautiful Fall, about the professional rivalry of the fashion houses of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves St. Laurent in the 1970’s and beyond

Gods & Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano

Wine & War: The French, the Nazis & the Battle for the France’s Greatest Treasure

The Future of Feeling: Building Empathy in a Tech-Obsessed Work

How to Be Well: The 6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life, Frank Lipman, MD

8. How do you handle stress?

Since I tend to have insomnia, I have a panoply of coping behaviors, particularly of late: 

getting some sunlight exposure in the morning each day to keep my circadian rhythm on track, exercising 4 x a week – both cardio and weights –  going to bed and rising at about the same time every day, bubble baths with Epsom salts, time in the Zero Gravity massage chair, stretching on the Spry gym mat, using the Normatec compression Pulse 2.0 recovery boots, using the Vielight 810 infrared light therapy device intranasal device that delivers energy to blood vessels in your head, and using the Hypervolt for muscle soreness.

Before the pandemic, I did only 3-4 of these things on a consistent basis – and never the morning sunlight exposure – but now do most of them each day.

9. What do you make time for no matter what?

No matter how much Veuve Rose has been enjoyed: my nighttime ritual of serums and creams and daily physical block sunscreen.

10. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I grew up with 5 generations of women.

Bonus Question!
11. What “lesson from mom” do you still live by today?

From my grandmother:  Giving is loving.

Meet the Members: Laura and Ellen Freudenberger

Welcome to our latest installment in our “Meet the Member” series, where we will feature a WFE member. This quarter we are featuring our favorite mother-daughter duo, Laura and Ellen Freudenberger. Both ladies are active WFE members, we thought it would be fun to do a joint interview with them!

Read on to learn more about Laura and Ellen:

How did you get involved with WFE and how long have you been a member?

Ellen: My mom would make me come down from College Station to attend the duck hunt, I have been a member for 4 years

Laura: I think around 15 years

What is your favorite thing about WFE?

Ellen: The relationships that are formed and the support we have for one another

Laura: The awesome ladies

10 Quick Questions:

1. What was your first job?
Ellen: Pre-college, my first job was a lifeguard at the Houston Jewish Community Center; Post-college, my first job was an audit staff at Deloitte in Houston

Laura: Pre-college, my first job was working in a Jewish deli in Cleavland, Ohio; Post-college, my first job was a staff auditor for a national CPA firm

2. What do you like most about your current job?
Ellen: Currently moving to being a recruiter, so get back to me in a few weeks

Laura: I love my clients. There is something new everyday that I am learning, ALWAYS. It is always interested and full of change.

3. What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Ellen: Perception is reality

Laura: First impressions stay with you forever

4. Who is your role model?
Ellen: My mom (Laura rolls her eyes) – I mean, you’ve met her, she’s amazing

Laura: My husband and to some degree my daughter, too

Ellen: Thanks mom!

5. If you weren’t [a recruiter for Ellen and Audit Shareholder for Laura] what would you be doing?
Ellen: I just switched from being an auditor, to a recruiter, so I am doing that! Fun wise, I would love to be a personal shopper.

Laura: Something in art, I have always been interested in art.

6. Do you have any pets?
Ellen: Two dogs – Bailey, a Chocolate Lab/Australian Shepherd mix and Jackson, a German Shepherd mix

Laura: Leon – a White Lab mix

7. What are you currently reading?
Ellen: Crazy Rich Asians

Laura: The Outlander Series

8. How do you handle stress?
Ellen: Eat – Want to go to lunch?

Laura: Try and work harder

9. What do you make time for no matter what?
Ellen and Laura: Sleep and Family

10. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Ellen: I used to Ice Skate

Laura: I have an identical twin – that is not an accountant

Bonus Question!
11. What “lesson from mom” do you still live by today?
Ellen: “I love you no matter what”

Laura: “You are responsible for your own happiness”

Meet the Member: Rebekah Bezerra

Welcome to our latest installment in our “Meet the Member” series, where we will feature a WFE member. This quarter meet Rebekah Bezerra!

Read on to learn more about Rebekah:

How did you get involved with WFE and how long have you been a member?

I first heard of WFE from Laurie-Leigh, but it took me a little over a year to finally attend a WFE luncheon with my boss, Carmen Eggleston. I have been a WFE member for 2 years.

What is your favorite thing about WFE?

Meeting and networking with other professional women. It is really uplifting to meet and be encouraged by other women who are going through or have been through the journey.

10 Quick Questions:

1. What was your first job?
Summer Intern at Project Grad Houston, a Houston based non-profit that helps students in low-income communities achieve their college goals. I was a Project Grad Scholar myself.

2. What do you like most about your current job?
The range and diversity of cases – every case has its own unique set of facts and challenges.

3. What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

4. Who is your role model?
My mom – she left everything she knew behind to move to this country with my dad so that her children could have all the opportunities that she wasn’t afforded in her home country. Despite not having a formal education or understanding the English language, my mom made sure we received the best education possible within her power and reach. She made sure that we never took for granted the opportunities we are blessed to have in this country.

5. If you weren’t [Senior Associate – Litigation Consulting] what would you be doing?
Teaching

6. Do you have any pets?
I have two dogs – a miniature schnauzer and a bichon. I would own more dogs, but we have a rule in our family that the number of dogs cannot exceed the number of humans in the house.

7. What are you currently reading?
No Ego by Cy Wakeman

8. How do you handle stress?
I go for a run or drive down to Galveston and paddle board.

9. What do you make time for no matter what?
Family, friends, church, and the beach.

10. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I was a marksman and was on a precision rifle team throughout high school.

Bonus Question!
11. What “lesson from mom” do you still live by today?
Always do your best. My mom sewed a lot of my dresses growing up and I loved watching her cut and sew the fabric, but if anything was off in the process, she would take the dress apart and start again until it was perfect. The same translated to my homework, after school activities, and work. My mom is a perfectionist at heart and passed down the trait.

Meet The Member: Faith Allen

Welcome to our latest installment in our “Meet the Member” series, where we will feature a WFE member. This quarter meet our 2018 President, Faith Allen!

Read on to learn more about Faith:

How did you get involved with WFE and how long have you been a member?

I became involved over 15 years ago as a member, then served 2 years as Treasurer and 1 year as Pres. Elect.

What is your favorite thing about WFE?

Meeting really amazing, strong and smart women each month while learning from solid programs.

10 Quick Questions:

1. What was your first job?
My first office job was as a teller for a Savings and Loan in my hometown.  We worked the drive through as well as the lobby and handled all transactions almost manually.

2. What do you like most about your current job?
Building relationships with the key decision makers from different industries and companies to help them achieve their goals.

3. What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
“The Ball is Always in Your Court” which is helpful for sales oriented roles, but also all types of roles we have in our careers.  If you’re not getting paid enough, ask for a raise.  Being treated unfairly, have a crucial conversation or a new job.  Bored, find an interesting job.  Change is inevitable, and sometimes we don’t like the change, but remember the Ball is Always in Your [personal] Court.

4. Who is your role model?
Over my life, it has to be my maternal grandmother.  She was a single mom when my mom was 16 and managed through WWII working at a sandwich shop and playing piano like a saloon player in the Baptist Church.  She worked for over 30 years at the Post Office in our small town and knew everyone because she was gregarious, smart with names, could count money, and a hard worker.  We played rummy together after school, worked on spelling words, and she taught me about saving money and being there for family.  Friendly, Nurturing and Tough, all rolled into one.

5. If you weren’t [A Commercial Banker] what would you be doing?
I would plan projects and events that help women or children, which would warm my heart too. 🙂

6. Do you have any pets?
Not at this time. We lost our dog about 2 years ago and just can’t face getting a new one.

7. What are you currently reading?
Honestly—the LL Bean catalog—I want everything in there. Also “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown (U of H professor) and The “Art of Tidying Up”.

8. How do you handle stress?
A walk usually. Sometimes I also write with a pen and real paper in cursive all my thoughts around the stress, then make a decision tree.

9. What do you make time for no matter what?
I could say exercise every other day, but……there are days that is not true. However, no matter what, if a family member, friend, or child need help or a talk, I am always there.

10. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I am a member of The University of Texas Longhorn Alumni Band, because I’ve been a band nerd on the sexy saxophone since 5th grade.

Bonus Question!
11. What “lesson from mom” do you still live by today?
When my mother passed away we found a book in her house titled “How to do Everything Right”, and my sisters and I cracked up laughing–yes that was Mom. This also came from her mother, our grandmother, but in her words it was “If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well” as I raked leaves or washed her car.  I still live by this lesson.

Meet the Member: Lisa Chandler

Welcome to our latest installment in our “Meet the Member” series, where we will feature a WFE member. This month meet our 2017 President, Lisa Chandler!

Read on to learn more about Lisa:

How did you get involved with WFE and how long have you been a member?

Since 2004. Trina Painter introduced me to the group.

What is your favorite thing about WFE?

The many great relationships I’ve made with ladies of the group. WFE has introduced me to many professional women who have been a great support. I learned a lot from several of the women. I enjoy being a resource to the group.

10 Quick Questions:

1. What was your first job?
Sales person at a boutique shop in Houston – El Girasol. It featured Mexican art and trinkets in the Town and Country Mall – which is no longer…

2. What do you like most about your current job?
Relationships with my clients – getting to know my clients and watching them become very successful in their businesses. I enjoy being there for them by providing tax advice to get them through the different transactions and business cycles.

3. What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Treat everyone with the utmost respect

4. Who is your role model?
My paternal grandfather. I admired his values. He was very disciplined, he treated people well, and he worked hard.

5. If you weren’t [A CPA] what would you be doing?
Helicopter pilot – I love the feeling I get when I fly through the air

6. Do you have any pets?
Not currently, but I’ve been mommy to several canines

7. What are you currently reading?
Nothing interesting right now, unfortunately!

8. How do you handle stress?
Long walks, pulling weeds, and bubble baths

9. What do you make time for no matter what?
Time with friends

10. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I played the oboe in junior high school. Yes, I was a band nerd – but just for a little while!

Bonus Question!
11. What “lesson from mom” do you still live by today?
Keep a clean kitchen

Meet the Member: Jillian Nel

Welcome to our latest installment in our “Meet the Member” series, where we will feature a WFE member. This month meet our newest member, Jillian Nel!

Read on to learn more about Jillian:

How did you get involved in the WFE and how long have you been a member?
Lisa Chandler introduced me to the group – been a member just a few months.

What is your favorite thing about WFE?
Meeting & getting to know fabulous women

10 Quick Questions:

1. What was your first job?
I worked fitting point shoes at Leapin’ Leotards in the village when I was 15. I was a dancer growing up so doing this was an easy fit. Plus, I got discounted leotards & tights!

2. What do you like most about your current job?
The relationship part. Financial Planning is so much more than the technique of money management, it is really about listening, learning about others, empathizing and then making plans & setting goals together for the future. When you set up a plan this way you move beyond trusted advisor to a friend and confidant. When the relationships grow to this level, you aren’t just advising them through the bad times and scary markets – you get to enjoy the triumphs and joys of their lives too.

3. What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Suck it up, honey.

4. If you weren’t a Financial Planner, what would you be doing?
Probably taxes…

5. Do you have any pets?
Yes, a cat & a 200Lb pot belly pig, wanna see a picture?

6. What are you currently reading?
Mitch Albom’s latest, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

7. How do you handle stress?
Massage Envy & Pinot Noir

8. What do you make time for no matter what?
Massage Envy & Pinot Noir

9. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
The aforementioned sow, Miss Piggy Sue

10. Who is your role model?
Mom for sure. She is the lady that when everyone meets her, says how lucky I am she’s mine. I adore the effect she has on people and especially the way she makes people feel.

Bonus Question!
11. What “lesson from mom” do you still live by today?
Make good choices, go to church & read the bible. Although its spoken like this:
“Make good choy – sez, go ta chuch, and read ur bye – bull”