Showing Up

“Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen.”
– Brené Brown

By: Nicole Keeny

Jennifer Hacker lives her life in vulnerable spaces. As a life coach and grief specialist, Jennifer walks hand in hand with those who need to be seen—in their grief, in their challenges, in their darkest moments. Because if anyone knows the landscape of grief, has seen the darkness of it deeply, has felt its sharp edges with her fingers, it is Jennifer herself.

As the owner and founder of her own private coaching company and the founder of a nonprofit organization, Jennifer spends her time immersed in coaching individuals who are dealing with some of the toughest parts of their lives, not only because she cares deeply for her clients but also because she herself has been there. “I help people in grief heal and transform their lives after loss—to let go of their pain without letting go of their connection to their loved one. And I know a lot of people in grief kind of push back on that because they don’t think that’s possible. But I know from experience that it is,” Jennifer says.

Jennifer has not always worked in this arena. “I was a CEO and CFO of a construction company, so I basically ran the whole place except for the crew. While I worked for that company, that was when my son passed away in 2003,” she says. “Life was just totally different. There’s the before and there’s the after, and I had to go figure out how to live in the after.”

In the wake of losing her three-month-old son, Jennifer came face to face with a realization. “My business job was not going to satisfy me or my new passion or my new interests, so that’s what set me off on this path,” she says. She admits that her initial approach to her nonprofit and her business may have been a bit unconventional. “First, I actually started a nonprofit organization, which is totally backwards because you’d think the coaching would come first. But I was just so called to help women going through all of the most difficult things alone. So, I started a nonprofit organization because I was like, ‘I’m going to help these ladies. I just don’t know how.’ And then I figured out the how. I went to get my certification to be a life coach, and that was what made me go, ‘This is what I was born to do and now I know how,’” Jennifer says.


2023-03-20T21:18:55-04:00January 1st, 2023|CEO Highlight, PowerTips e-newsletter|


PILLAR: Supporting Military Families, One Deployment at a Time

By: Julie Clark

We’re excited to feature the founders of PILLAR in this month’s newsletter. As an organization dedicated to supporting military families, PILLAR is near and dear to many at Powerhouse Planning because we are comprised of veterans, military spouses, retired military spouses, and super fans of military families. PILLAR’s next digital retreat is coming up soon, and our very own Jessica Bertsch will be speaking once again this year. Needless to say, it’s the perfect time to talk with PILLAR founders Joanna Guldin-Noll and Becky Hoy.

PH: As far as leadership, do you feel you both were natural-born leaders, or did you fall into this role and find it suited you to lead, inspire, and support others?

PILLAR: We stepped into our roles to support military families (Joanna with Jo, My Gosh! and Becky with Brave Crate) to fill specific needs we saw in the community. We came together to work on PILLAR for the same reasons.


2023-03-20T21:25:03-04:00October 1st, 2022|CEO Highlight, PowerTips e-newsletter|


Good Things Happen Over Coffee: How Two Entrepreneurs Brewed Success

By: Nicole Keeny

Strong. Bold. Energizing. The words we often use to describe coffee also happen to define the cofounders and co-owners of Alpha Coffee, Carl and Lori Churchill. This entrepreneurial husband-wife team represents what you get when you brew passion with discipline and dedication.

As a 21-year U.S. Army combat veteran, Carl sat down with his wife Lori over a cup of delicious craft coffee roasted by a family member to discuss their future, brainstorm business ideas, and determine what to do next. “In mid-2010, we found ourselves deep into the Great Recession, and the startup I worked for had just gone bankrupt,” Carl says. “Lori had a corporate massage business that also got crushed by the Great Recession. After no luck finding a ‘normal job’ due to hiring freezes and deepening unemployment across the country, we realized we were caught in a financial ambush and were going to bleed out unless we did something bold.” (more…)

2022-07-07T11:20:24-04:00July 1st, 2022|CEO Highlight, PowerTips e-newsletter|


The Bautista Project: A Conversation with Co-Founder and CEO Marla Bautista

By: Meredith Flory

Marla Bautista is a successful military spouse. As an author, blogger, speaker, and co-founder and CEO of the nonprofit The Bautista Project Inc., she’s been decorated with awards such as Armed Force Insurance 2018 and 2019 Military Spouse of the Year Base Winner, and her family was named a 2020 General H Norman Schwarzkopf Military Family of the Year from the Central Florida USO and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While extremely accomplished, Bautista is also eager to give encouragement and advice to other military spouses and is honest about her earlier struggles. Throughout our interview, she discussed her journey to be an author, her passion for making an impact on homelessness, and how to make event facilitation a success. Of course, she also had specific advice about writing and other military spouses working to pursue their passions.

Bautista has been telling stories and writing since she was a little girl. She recalled, “I used to sit in my closet, I had a little walk-in closet, and I would read books and write short stories and poetry.” Much of her childhood and young adulthood was challenging and traumatic with facing the death of her parents, abuse, and homelessness. Writing was a way to “imagine words that were safe and fun and inviting,” she says.


2022-03-01T10:31:29-05:00March 31st, 2022|CEO Highlight, PowerTips e-newsletter|


Thinking Bigger Allowed One Small Business Owner to Achieve Her Dream

By: Meredith Flory

Part of healthy leadership is being healthy in other areas of your life. Setting boundaries and reasonable expectations, creating a healthy work environment, and fostering other important aspects of leadership are easier to model when you are taking care of your own well-being outside of work.

Christy Miu is the owner of Healing Hippies at Creekside in McMinn County, Tennessee, where she not only practices healthy leadership as the head of a small business but also helps her customers find their best wellness practices. Miu is a licensed massage therapist, Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) 500 and meditation teacher, Reiki master and teacher, Warrior Goddess Facilitator, and personal wellness coach. She is also a mother, grandmother, and member of the community where her business is based. After she had started her own yoga journey to help herself, she shares, “I saw the need in the community for what I had to offer.”

She explains that while there are many places to do yoga as an exercise, “There is more than stretching our muscles. We need to learn to breathe correctly and how to come out of our toxic headspace.” As she looked to start her business, she was not sure a yoga studio would survive on its own in her location, so she started brainstorming what other services she could offer that paired well with yoga. She says, “I had wanted to be a massage therapist when I was younger, and I thought they would work well together.”


2022-01-04T15:39:44-05:00December 28th, 2021|CEO Highlight, PowerTips e-newsletter|

When Passion and Career Goals Coincide

By: Heatherlynn Akins

Mona Dexter believes passionately in helping military members, veterans, and military family members realize their career employment dreams. As a longtime military spouse herself, she’s experienced firsthand the challenges and struggles this segment of the workforce faces. Their skills and abilities don’t always translate easily to the civilian sector, but they are valuable assets for civilian employers. That’s why she joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) program in January 2018 as a special projects manager with the military spouse team. Today, Dexter serves as HOH Chief of Staff and Vice President of Operations and Communications.

Dexter’s journey to HOH was roundabout, typical of many military spouses. Her initial career was in higher education student affairs administration, primarily in career services and adult learning and development, and with programs focused on underserved populations. As she moved around, however, she began to find her passion for assisting those in military life with finding their career fits. She transferred her attentions first to the Army Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program, a program designed to help those transitioning from active-duty service to life after the Army. As a result, Dexter found her perfect fit with HOH, where she can help the organization provide 360-degree career development training and education through internships and hiring events. HOH’s unique mission to “educate civilian employers on the value of military-connected talent in diversifying and thus strengthening their workforces” is critical to Dexter’s way of thinking. That’s the missing link she couldn’t find with her previous position. Having lived the military life but working in the civilian sector, Dexter is singularly qualified to be a part of the bridge that effects understanding between those in the military and civilian worlds.

HOH is also authorized to operate on military installations, allowing its programs and services to be brought directly to its targeted clientele. HOH’s holistic approach to establishing hiring events along with internship opportunities and digital communities designed for networking and support purposes has been effective and successful. In 2012, HOH identified a possibly more alarming statistic: the drastically high rate of military spouse unemployment. When Dexter started with HOH in 2018, the unemployment rate for military-connected personnel was down considerably and the focus on military spouses was well underway. (more…)

2021-10-08T13:33:01-04:00September 27th, 2021|CEO Highlight, PowerTips e-newsletter|


The Art and Science of Marketing, Possibly According to an Actual Superhero

By: Julie Kirchner


If Spandex-clad, masked vigilantes just sprang to mind, you’re not alone. But do modern-day superheroes actually exist?

We contend that they do. Because we’ve met one.

Enter this trailblazer in the marketing arena. She is someone Powerhouse has been privileged to partner with over the last few years, and after witnessing her skills and mindset at work, we put Batman on warning.

“If I could be a superhero, I’d love to be Connector Woman. I love bringing interesting people together to see what magic we can create,” says Rissa Reddan, Marketing Leader for Demand Generation at Equifax. There couldn’t possibly be a more exquisite interpretation for marketing than “bringing interesting people together.”

Reddan recently stepped into her new role as Demand Generation Leader for the U.S. Information Services business at Equifax, which is a one-billion-dollar-plus business. “My goal is to communicate how we help customers solve for growing business challenges,” Reddan says. For the past two years, she served as Senior Vice President of Marketing for the Commercial Business at Equifax, and prior to that, Senior Vice President of Marketing for PayNet until its acquisition by Equifax in 2019.

Reddan says, “I am thrilled to be a part of Equifax’s transformation. At Equifax, our goal is to help small businesses access capital. We know that when the small business economy thrives, so, too, the U.S. economy.”

And she’s right. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, small businesses account for 99.9% of businesses in the United States and provide nearly half of all jobs in its private workforce. (more…)

2021-07-02T14:53:22-04:00July 1st, 2021|CEO Highlight, PowerTips e-newsletter|


Merging Career and Health: Bringing a Healthy Balance to Work and Medicine

By: Heatherlynn Akins

Here at Powerhouse Planning, we are all about being healthy. If you’ve been following us or reading PowerTips for a while now, you know we’re big on finding a healthy work/life balance. For 2021, we’re taking it even further by challenging all of us to identify the unhealthy practices in our lives and make steps toward changing and improving them. That’s why we’re thrilled to feature HelloHealth founder Dr. Carmen Mohan this quarter.

Dr. Mohan spent three years as a clinical fellow at Harvard Medical School before joining the faculty at Emory University Department of Medicine. While at Emory, she started a priority access health clinic for employees and staff of Grady Memorial Hospital, a level-one trauma center in Atlanta, Georgia. Given that she was treating mostly mission-driven, dedicated personnel who were committed to serving Atlanta’s underserved populations, Mohan quickly realized that she was leveraging her skills as a healer and not just a physician. She could address healthy living practices and offer consultations that helped her patients stay not just healthy, but well.

During her residency and first years as a doctor, Mohan started her family and eventually shifted her professional focus to becoming a hospitalist. It was while she worked as a hospitalist that she truly came to appreciate the fact that hard-working, career-driven professionals were being admitted to the hospital with severe issues when a bit of preventative medicine could have eliminated them. She recalls a particular woman who came in and died of a heart attack in the emergency room while she tried to save her: “She was the kind of woman who would have kept my young children from crossing the street when cars were coming by, and I felt the undeniable feeling that I could have saved her if I had been her doctor five years before the night we met.” That feeling stayed with Mohan and opened her eyes to just how many patients, particularly professional women, were suffering from preventable medical issues. She searched for months for a job that would allow her to bring her healing talents together with her medical skills to treat patients holistically. A chance meeting with five like-minded women in the medical field prompted her to launch a concierge medical practice “focused on women in leadership.” With those five women 100% on board, HelloHealth opened in 2018. (more…)

2021-03-29T21:06:56-04:00March 29th, 2021|CEO Highlight, PowerTips e-newsletter|


From Army Officer to Entrepreneur

By: Meghan Traynor

Kirby Atwell always knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur, but he also felt called to serve in the military just as his father, grandparents, and great-grandparents had done. While Kirby knew he didn’t want to make the military a career, he knew for certain he wanted to serve. After attending West Point for four years and serving six years as an officer in the U.S. Army, Kirby got out of the military and immediately started his real estate business.

Ready to start something of his own, Kirby launched Green Vet Homes, a “real estate business that buys, rehabs, and rents properties with a mission of supporting veterans.” Green Vet Homes supports veterans by either renting their rehab properties to homeless veterans or by donating 10% of profits to a veteran-related cause. After successfully running Green Vet Homes for four years, Kirby decided to launch his second business, Living Off Rentals, to teach others how they can generate enough income to comfortably live off their rental properties. Since launching his second business in January, Kirby has seen great success in such a short amount of time that we just had to know his secrets!

Most importantly, Kirby’s advice for other small business owners, or those who are thinking of starting a small business, is to “keep things as simple as possible.” How, you ask? Avoid scaling. Kirby learned firsthand from a previous business he had that scaling is not the key to success. His previous business scaled too quickly, and he wished he had paid more attention to turning a profit instead of just getting bigger. In his current businesses Kirby intentionally keeps things smaller, all his staff is contracted, and things are running a lot more smoothly! But wait. How can you grow your business and keep things small? (more…)

2020-12-31T16:50:03-05:00December 31st, 2020|CEO Highlight, PowerTips e-newsletter|