More women than ever are CFOs
 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
View as webpage, click here.
DECEMBER 12, 2022
Good morning and happy Monday! There’s a lot of quick things to highlight before we get on with the newsletter:

First, there’s still time to take our survey and help us learn how to serve you better – and doing so puts you in the running to win a free lunch with the team behind Fearless! (Though there is also an option to remain anonymous.)

Second, the Business Record is seeking nominations for its 24th annual Forty under 40 awards, which are given to local business leaders for their career achievements and community involvement. Nominations are due by Friday, Jan. 6.

Finally, the Business Record is also asking readers to submit a response describing a trend they see coming to their industry or the community in 2023 for future coverage. Share your thoughts with us!

Have a great week.

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

More women than ever are chief financial officers
From left: Jamie Bussell, Karla Jones-Weber, Erin Kuhl, Ying Sa.
What do Microsoft, Estée Lauder, JPMorgan Chase and General Motors all have in common? No, it’s not their industry or customer base. One feature these Fortune 500 companies share is that they all have female chief financial officers.

For much of my career, there have been few women in the C-suites of organizations large or small. But today, female chief financial officers are on the rise. According to recent research by executive search firm Crist Kolder Associates, 15% of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company CFO positions in 2021 were held by women, a record number for female representation in this role.

Given that women make up half the workforce, you may be echoing my thoughts that 15% seems low, but the trend is headed in the right direction. The Crist Kolder data shows that as of the middle of 2022, 36% of new CFO hires at Fortune 500 and other major companies were women. What’s more, 19% of CFO hires in these organizations have been women of color.

What’s behind this increase? A recent Fortune article suggests that more women are being hired into CFO roles because there has been a robust pipeline and companies have invested in training and development opportunities for women. In other words, when there is a strong bench of qualified female candidates, women enter the consideration set for top roles.

Another reason women may be seeing advancement in the CFO role may simply be positive performance. Recent research by New York University, Bucknell University and Prudential Financial specifically says that women deliver the straight talk especially valuable in this role. A Bloomberg article summarizes that study, saying: "Female chief financial officers are more likely to give concise responses, backed by numbers, while their male counterparts tend to be overly optimistic, use more euphemisms and cliches, and are wordier."

Whatever the reason, it’s promising to see women breaking some glass in the CFO role. It is equally heartening that Iowa has an impressive number of female CFOs, as well as women chief executive officers and chief administrative officers who perform the CFO function as part of their job.

I turned to some of these women leaders to learn more about their paths to this position and what advice they have for aspiring CFOs.

Jamie Bussell, chief administrative officer, Ellipsis: I always knew that I wanted to help people and financial concepts came easily to me, so it made sense to start out in the nonprofit sector, first as an office manager and then a staff accountant. While I was going to school for my Master of Public Administration, I saw a path to apply these skills to the health care field to help organizations manage their resources to provide the highest benefit for their constituents. This eventually led me to a nonprofit CFO role. Over the years, I have gained additional experience and expertise in strategy, facilities, IT and human resources, and now use all those skills in a chief administrative officer role for Ellipsis, a provider of youth and family support services.

Karla Jones-Weber, chief financial and administrative officer, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines: Early in my career, I worked on very limited aspects of accounting. I quickly learned the big picture interested me the most, so I began making decisions to change the trajectory of my career. The CFO role has evolved into a very strategic, relational position that is about so much more than numbers. At the Community Foundation, I enjoy brainstorming, collaborating, projecting and translating the impact of business decisions to our board and team. I support every person within our organization along with all those we serve to fulfill our mission to simply be #BetterTogether.

Erin Kuhl, chief financial officer, Krause Group: I have a strong passion for always improving and maturing things – a business, a team, a process. In my role as CFO, I can influence change, drive improvements and develop talent while ultimately growing the value of our Krause Group businesses. I also really enjoy being in a role where I can impact strategy and the broader direction of our organization.

Ying Sa, CEO, CommunityCPA: There is a Chinese saying: "Leaders are created by the given circumstance," meaning whatever we think has made us so. Early in my career, I was a controller and a CFO, which prepared me to be both the CEO and CFO of the company I started. There were times I felt these titles were too big for me and I wanted to shrink back into a manager role. But clients, staff and business affiliates saw me as a leader. So, with a great deal of fear and self-doubt, I began the journey. Twenty-five years later, I can now introduce myself as the CEO of Community CPA with confidence. My world made me the way I am and I give thanks to all of my staff, clients and others who believed in me.

A Closer Look: Melissa Walker
Founder, Soulful Healing Yoga
A Groupon got Melissa Walker hooked on yoga.

Walker had two young children. She was under a lot of work- and personal-related stress and was experiencing mobility issues. She saw the Groupon for a yoga studio opening and decided to check out the exercise that often helps people become more flexible and relaxed.

"I immediately fell in love with [yoga]," said Walker, a former journalist who operates MW Media Consultants LLC. Yoga "brought back these elements of empowerment and resiliency that helped me combat stress. … I found that I had more flexibility and mobility. The old aches and pains went away.

"I was feeling really, genuinely happy, and felt great from it."

That was about 10 years ago.

Since then, Walker has been an avid yoga practitioner; about eight years ago, she began teaching yoga. She’s accumulated hundreds of hours of yoga specialty training, including for yin, restorative and trauma-informed yoga. She’s learned how yoga can positively affect the lymphatic system, the human body’s first line of defense against diseases.

"I’ve always believed in being a student of learning, whether it’s a student of life, yoga, the world," Walker said.

About seven years ago, Walker was hired to write profiles of women who were breast cancer survivors. During the interviews, the women asked Walker what she did and she told them about teaching yoga classes. Most told Walker that while they would like to do yoga, they didn’t feel there was a class to meet their particular needs, Walker said.

"That’s when the seed was planted," she said.

In the past year, the idea reemerged and Walker decided to start Soulful Healing Yoga, a nonprofit that offers free yoga classes to women who have had or have breast cancer. The classes, which began Dec. 1, are held at Yoga & Co. studio, 2326 University Ave. in Des Moines.

"As yoga instructors, we’re told that yoga is for every body – every type of body, every person," Walker said. "In yoga, part of our journey is finding your purpose, finding your mission. … I’ve kept learning and now I’m at the point where I can start these classes for this particular population of people."

We recently caught up with Walker.

Why offer yoga to women who have had or have breast cancer?

We all know at least one person in our lives who has been affected by breast cancer. Roughly 22,000 women a day in this country alone are diagnosed with breast cancer.

What types of responses did you get from women when you told them what you planned on doing?

They were very supportive of the idea. … There’s so much emphasis on the physical part of breast cancer – going through the treatment, the radiation, the surgery. There’s other parts that are forgotten, the women told me: [their] mind, heart, soul. They said that when their body was being cared for that they wished there was some place they could have gone to do yoga that was appropriate for them. Studio classes are great but the physical demands are not welcoming to someone [going through breast cancer treatments].

What did you learn from the women you’ve talked with that you hadn’t thought of before?

Not only is [having breast cancer] a physical experience, but there’s also emotional and spiritual and mental aspects of it. Having breast cancer touches on every aspect of a woman’s life – their sexuality, their finances. … Just hearing their stories was even more empowering to me – this is something I have to make happen because it’s needed for people.
In the headlines
WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released from Russian detention in a swap for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Griner had been in Russian custody since her arrest earlier this year, when she was accused of entering the country with illegal vape cartridges.

Professional athletes Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird have launched a new production company that centers the stories of people who "move culture forward." A Touch More aims to bring "more understanding, connection, entertainment, and conversation to the evolving media landscape" by amplifying narratives around identity, activism and underrepresented communities, including LGBTQ people, people of color and women.

Former Rep. Abby Finkenauer has been appointed as a State Department envoy in the Biden administration. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Finkenauer's appointment as a special envoy for global youth issues.

A collaboration among Johnson County, Iowa City and businesses will increase wages by $2 an hour for eligible child care workers. The program will be funded by $1.5 million in pandemic relief dollars from the two local governments, along with additional investment from area businesses.

Grinnell College honored 108-year-old Edith Renfrow Smith, its first Black female student, by naming its new Civic Engagement Quad after her. "I think it's the most wonderful and most exciting thing that could happen to anybody from Grinnell," Renfrow Smith said in a Des Moines Register story. "Usually when they name something for someone, the person has been dead. But look, I'm still alive, and I can enjoy what's going to happen."

Democrats in the Iowa House elected its first all-women legislative leadership team last week. The team consists of Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, Minority Whip Lindsay James and assistant leaders Sue Cahill, Amy Nielsen, Heather Matson and Sharon Steckman.

Worth checking out
Who says women’s sports aren’t exciting to watch? (Twitter). White women must do more to confront racism (Time). 16 former PepsiCo executives are now Fortune 500 CEOs. Here’s how the food and beverage giant became an incubator for leaders (Fortune). The world’s 100 most powerful women (Forbes). Time’s heroes of the year: Women of Iran (Time). You found out your co-worker makes more. Can you ask for a raise? (Wall Street Journal).
We want your feedback!
Two years ago, the Business Record launched Fearless with a mission to help empower Iowa women to succeed in work and life. From the start, we knew we didn’t want to keep our coverage on gender issues separate from the other business stories that our staff covers, so we periodically publish Fearless content in the Business Record’s weekly print edition. We’ve also hosted more than a dozen in-person and virtual events for our readers to connect with each other.  

That being said, Fearless’ flagship product is our free e-newsletter that arrives in subscribers’ inboxes every Monday morning. You can see a full archive of the newsletters we’ve sent out on our website.

You likely spend a lot of time opening and answering emails, so we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to make the Fearless newsletter valuable to you and worth your time.

Please take a moment to answer the following questions so we can learn how to best serve you.

You have the option to remain confidential, but those who include their name will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a free lunch with the team behind Fearless, including Emily Kestel, Emily Barske, Suzanna de Baca and Connie Wimer.

Thanks in advance for your honest feedback!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor, and Emily Barske, Business Record editor

Learning to love – or tolerate – winter
Persuading yourself to spend time outside this time of year can be tough. This article from Cup of Jo features a great list of crowd-sourced ideas of how they’re getting outdoors this winter.

In reading the article, I thought of a passage from "Wintering" by Katherine May, which reads: "Plants and animals don’t fight the winter, they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer."

For me personally, I find reasons to look forward to winter every year, which makes the season all the more enjoyable. Some of these reasons include:
  • Winter sunrises and sunsets feel more magical and vibrant.
  • The air feels crisp and fresh, rather than heavy and muggy.
  • I love wearing clothes that feel like I’m being wrapped up in a hug.
Like this newsletter? Please forward to a friend!
Did someone share this newsletter with you? Sign up here.

Business Publications Corporation Inc.

515.288.3336  |

Contact the group publisher of BPC:
Contact Fearless editor:
Submit press release:
Advertising info:
Membership info:

Copyright © BPC 2022, All rights reserved.
Reproduction or use without permission of editorial or graphic content in any manner is strictly prohibited.

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign