March 2, 2021

Employee Spotlight

Woodmark Recognizes Women Leaders

We are proud to recognize just a few of the women leaders at American Woodmark. Check out their stories below.

Meet Catrena Reid, Director of Internal Audit. When asked, what advice she'd give to the next generation of women, she stated: "Be yourself, focus on what you want to achieve, work relentlessly to achieve it, learn from failure and success, stay committed to your values and whatever you do – don’t stop until you get what YOU want."

Teresa Edwards and Bernadette Locke-Mattox were both great influences in my early life and their lessons have stuck with me to this day. They each are respectively outstanding women in their personal accomplishments and have spent decades demonstrating self and team leadership. As a youth, I grew up having the privilege of knowing these two women and really hung onto every word they both said. The lessons they taught then are still used in my everyday life, they are foundational pillars of my personal leadership style.

Teresa is the greatest woman’s basketball player and Olympian to step on the court. I very vividly remember Teresa teaching me how to shoot a basketball, and to perfect my form. She directed me to stand as if I were in a telephone booth and to shoot in that confined space. It helped my game tremendously as the arch increase on my shot prevented defense opponents from blocking the ball as it left my hands. However, the real lesson for me was in the way that she explained what she wanted me to do, rather than speaking in a technical manner and repeating corrective actions, she made the experience easy to process and memorable by associating my action with something relatable. Her communication style inspired me to tell stories and help my audience visualize messages, this enabled easy communication interactions with people. In addition, she always reminded me “You must work for what you want," she would further follow that with, "someone is always working harder than you are, how bad do you want it?” She knew how to motivate the competitive spirit in me and in those around her. She was also living proof that work was a requirement to success and complacency was not an option. She never took her skills for granted and continued to always improve, even when she was literally the best at her game. Teresa’s commitment to excellence is the reason why she was the youngest and the oldest women's basketball player to receive a gold medal in the Olympics, as she played in five consecutive Olympic Games for the United States.

Bernadette was a trailblazer in breaking the glass ceiling for women on multiple levels. She was only allowed to play three-on-three in high school because women were not allowed to play full-court at that time. She chose a community college to attend that was newly allowing five-on-five full-court basketball for women. She transferred from a junior college to the University of Georgia where she played competitively in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). She was the University of Georgia’s first female athlete to earn All-American and Academic All-American honors. Upon graduating she entered the coaching field as assistant coach for the women’s basketball program at the University of Georgia. In 1990, she was asked by Rick Pitino to join as assistant coach of the Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball team, becoming the second female assistant coach in NCAA history for a men’s team and the first African American woman to coach a men’s team. She later became the first African American women’s basketball coach at the University of Kentucky and the first in the SEC, turning the program around to one of its winningest stretches. After a successful career at Kentucky, she continued her coaching career as an assistant coach in the WNBA.

I knew Bernadette when she was an Assistant Coach at the University of Georgia, where I spent summers at camps and had the good fortune of getting to know her. She of course reiterated hard work is a must for success, but most of all she preached “To achieve, you must believe." She taught me how to feel belief in what I wanted in order to manifest it into reality. She taught me the importance of self-confidence and self-destination, and I learned how to believe in myself and my own ability. I learned how to persevere through failures and to find solutions. What I appreciated most about her though was she was always so approachable and genuine. She would control a room when she spoke, but she did not take the path of intimidation, rather she relied on tapping into your own inspiration to create motivation. She helped the people around her feel and embrace their own power. This was the foundations of faith I needed to drive towards success in my own life. It also inspires my leadership style in wanting people to strive for greatness because they have greatness in them, not because someone else demands it. She brought her dreams to fruition, she is living proof anything is possible.

It has been my mission to bring forward the lessons taught to me and to share them. There are countless others who have contributed many lessons and left impressions on me, but when I think about the foundation of my leadership, I owe a lot to these two outstanding examples of women leaders. I hope I am able to inspire others to commit to their own greatness and to strive for excellence in all that they do.

Meet Audry Mason, Senior Customer Care Manager. I’ve been with American Woodmark for five years in June and am so happy to be part of such an amazing work family!

The advice I would give to future leaders is that the more you’re able to lean into your authenticity and your own brand of leadership, the more enjoyable and impactful your journey will be. In my opinion, good leadership comes from a space of being human and caring deeply about the people you’re leading – by showing up in love and service for your team, working from a space of purpose and passion, and being honest when you get things wrong, you are better able to guide and support your team while also showing them an example of humility and servant leadership.

Simon Sinek has a great quote that really embodies this type of leadership and it’s something that has always stuck with me. He said, “Leadership is not about being in charge, it is about taking care of those in your charge.”

I am really inspired by people who have been through difficult times and come out stronger, and those who have chosen a path that veers from the status quo. I have so many incredible examples of this in my life, from friends and family to peers and team members. I love watching people choose to rise up and create something amazing from challenging moments and seeing people make the most of unexpected turns in their life; it’s so inspiring to me and makes for an even more amazing team, community, and world.

Meet Tessa Plummer, Regional Sales Manager for the Lowe’s Mid-Atlantic team. I’ve been with the company for seven years and began as a sales representative (Lowe’s) in Kentucky. I hold an MBA and am passionate about leadership, entrepreneurship and social justice. I have a three-year-old daughter who is the love of my life and my greatest joy. I strive to exemplify strength, compassion and gratitude as I raise her to be a strong, independent female who knows her worth and blessings. She and I reside in Louisville, Kentucky with our two dogs and five fish.

My advice for the next generation of women leaders is to be your own advocate. Know what you want and make it known. Negotiate and do not undervalue your worth or contributions. Regularly and unapologetically practice self-care. Ask for help and allow others to support you in your journey. Use your power to remove barriers, create greater opportunity, and champion others to thrive and succeed.

I draw inspiration from a village of diverse women who have overcome adversity, contributed to and transformed our society over the years. From Mary, the Mother of Christ, for her faith, unwavering bravery, and influence; to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a lifelong women’s rights advocate, who successfully fought against gender discrimination as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court; to Tarana Burke, founder of the Me Too Movement, for giving a platform and a voice to those silenced and victimized by sexual assault and abuse.

Though each of these women is different, they are pioneers in their own right and demonstrate the power that women have to create, influence and propel the world to a brighter future. I too hope to make an impact and help others do the same along the way.

Meet Laura Kiley, process engineer. I have been with the Dallas Plant for almost three years. My current role is as a process engineer, and I am also a secretary of the American Woodmark Foundation. I'm a huge animal lover with three dogs, I also enjoy nature and love hiking - I try to go to new trails as often as possible. Friends and family are my priority number one.

To the next generation of leaders, I recommend never stop finding new ways to learn about what you are passionate about, recognize and appreciate everyone's work, be enthusiastic and have fun!

My father is the one who inspires me the most. He has shown me that no matter how big the challenge may be, there is always a way to overcome difficulties. He taught me to understand the true value of leadership, the value of the people I work with, and how important it is to have a good attitude. He has always been a great leader, but also a great father, where work and family were always balanced.

Meet Jenny Darling, Regional Sales Manager for Dealer/Distributor channel in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic. I've been with the company for 15 years. I currently reside in Charlotte, NC.

To the next generation of women leaders, I encourage you to embrace every opportunity to learn something new. Even if you feel a meeting is irrelevant, go with an open mind. There is always something worth taking away with you.

My parents have always been my biggest inspiration. Life wasn’t always easy for them, but they were raised with a good work ethic that they instilled in me. They taught me to never give up and to always make every day count. My dad always said, “you get out what you put in.”

Meet Sonia Aguero, HR Manager. I’ve been with American Woodmark a little under four years as the Anaheim HR Manager. At this point in my life, I have been in HR for over 15 years and have dabbled in every aspect of HR. My favorite part has been getting to know our employees, helping them have a voice when they can’t speak up for themselves.

When I first started my career as a single mom of two young boys working my hardest and trying to figure out how to become a role model for them. I decided to go back to school to continue my education, all while being a single mom and working a full-time job. After 4 years of sleep-deprived nights and early morning drop-offs at school, I received my BSBA from the University of Phoenix. The best part of going back to school as a mom was that I had the best cheering squad a mom could ask for at graduation, a then six-year-old and an eight-year-old. I remember walking up to get my degree, looking over to the section where my boys, mom and family were sitting, and seeing my boys jumping out of their seat cheering for me, it was such an emotional moment for me. Thinking about it now and writing it brings tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat because I vividly remember that day like it was yesterday.

After I graduated, I thought, now what, what do I do with my degree and where do I go from here…Well, the “now what” was an easy answer - keep pushing for those little guys at home. As I was working in my field fresh out of graduation, I began to realize that Accounting wasn’t for me and that I needed a purpose for what I was doing. I didn’t want to have a relationship with a spreadsheet for my entire career, I wanted to build relationships and that is when the “where do I go from here” question was answered. I was given the opportunity to go back into HR and after a year of working in HR, I realized that’s where I needed to be. The fact that I get to build relationships, be the voice and the difference in an employee’s life is what kept me motivated. Throughout my career, I have learned that being upfront and honest with people is the key to building relationships no matter how hard it is to hear the truth at times. If I had the opportunity to go back and give my younger self some advice it would be to not let anyone change your idea of what you want to do with your career. Don’t let others choose your destiny, be of strong mind and stick to your passion. If I would have done that as an eager young mom, I would have received a degree in Human Resources but I allowed school and others to influence what I truly wanted to do with my career.

We all have influencers in our lives, I would like to tell you a famous name of someone that has influenced me, but if I told you the name of Candelaria Lozano, it would mean nothing to you but everything to me. Candelaria is my mom and my main influence, she is a strong hard working woman who came to the United States without speaking any English. Her entrepreneur mentality has pushed her to start her own successful business, buy a home and land in several parts of California and Mexico. She has taught me to strive for more, never settle and that it is never ok to become complacent.

I am now a mom of three, I remarried after being a single mom for many years; my husband and I now have a sweet little two-year-old named Delilah. Once again, I am planning to return to school to get my MBA, but I will not let anyone influence my educational path this time around as I am gazelle focused and I know where I am heading.

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