sheCenter(FOLD) – Dr. Chitra Dorai

Former IBM Fellow, Master Inventor, VP, CTO Cognitive Services, IBM Services, Member of IBM Industry Academy & Academy of Technology

Dr. Chitra Dorai

Dr. Chitra Dorai, a Former IBM Fellow and expert in AI and Cognitive Sciences, takes NAWRB along the journey of her life. A precocious child in Chennai, India, who dreamed of becoming a brain scientist, she traveled to the United States to realize her aspirations, ultimately earning IBM’s highest honor and helping thousands of homeowners during the financial crisis. From her obsession with popular culture trivia to her experience being a mother, this influential woman is taking on the computer. 


NAWRB: Where did you grow up, and what was your childhood like?

Dr. Chitra Dorai: I grew up in a sunny South Indian city called Chennai, previously known as Madras, located on the south eastern coast of India. Chennai is one of the largest cosmopolitan cities in India and is well known as an economic, cultural, and educational hub in South India. In fact, it is often called the “Detroit” of India because many of the automobile manufacturers have their Indian operations there. It is also technology-centric. A lot of multinational companies, including IBM, have their IT service delivery centers in Chennai. At the same time, it is a city of contrasts. It continues to be traditional and conventional in certain ways, culturally-rich and conservative, compared to other major cities in India. It is famous for its soaring temples, luxurious silk, and centuries-old musical traditions.

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sheCenter(FOLD) – Gina Diez Barroso

President and CEO, Grupo Diarq; Founder, Fundación Pro-Educación Centro and Fundación Diarq; and Chariman, Dalia Empower

Gina Diez Barroso

Gina Diez Barroso, founder of the first university in Mexico City focused on creative studies, and the only Mexican belonging to the C200, never takes no for answer. In an exclusive interview with NAWRB, Diez Barroso takes us through her childhood in Mexico and her journey to becoming a resilient entrepreneur. Diez Barroso shares how she helps women leave abusive relationships and reach their full potential by teaching them to own their power.


NAWRB:What obstacles did you face while developing Centro, the first university in Mexico City that specializes in creative studies? How did you overcome them?

Gina Diez Barroso: The first obstacle was they didn’t believe that we needed a new university, and they didn’t believe creativity was important. We spoke from authorities and business people, to everybody involved in this. I had to get together a diverse group of people— creative thinkers, business people, academics—who were working not for me but for my vision and my passion. They were working with me. We also hired market analysts to do a study, and the study predicted that it wasn’t going to work and that I shouldn’t do it. When I was young, I never took no for an answer. I used to think this was a bad thing, but now I take it as a compliment.

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sheCENTER(FOLD) Edie Fraser

Chairman and Founder, STEMconnector®/Million Women Mentors® (MWM)

Edie Fraser

Edie Fraser has spent her life in the service of equality with a passionate vision for a better tomorrow. Having led national poverty programs and worked to advance women’s gender equality for decades, she has a precise understanding of women’s progress. Discussing her life, Fraser alternates seamlessly between lessons learned in childhood and her biggest professional challenges, detailing her storied career and how the future is developing for women in America. 

NAWRB: In your opinion, what is the most important success women have had in the last 50 years?

Edie Fraser: Successes have been achieved and we celebrate them, and yes, we want parity. Studies show that it could take as long as 117 years to reach parity in the private sector. Let’s advocate for parity within every government institution, business, profession, organization, and in higher education.

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sheCENTER(FOLD) Tami Bonnell

CEO of EXIT Realty Corp. International

Tami Bonnell

Tami Bonnell is the embodiment of leading by example. Always recognizing the value in people and staying true to her word, she has crafted a 30-year career and made it her mission to help as many people succeed as possible. In this conversation with NAWRB, Bonnell relates corporate leadership lessons alongside parenting tips and provides a look at the life of one of the most important women in real estate.

NAWRB: Who has inspired you most throughout your life?

Tami Bonnell: The first person is my mother. She died very young, in her forties. I’m one of six kids and the number one thing that she said to all of us is, “Never say, ‘I wish I had.’” You get to a certain point in your life, and if you haven’t experienced things that you really wanted to that are on your bucket list, you may reach a point when you can’t. My dad always said, “Your standard is the lowest level you’re willing to accept.” I always thought that was such a smart line because if you didn’t give your best today, whatever you gave the worst of was your best. That’s the reflection of you. Anytime he said it I’d go in and inspire people.
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sheCenter(fold) – Danielle DiMartino Booth

Founder & President of Money Strong, LLC, and author of Fed Up: An Insider’s Take on Why The Federal Reserve is Bad for America

Danielle DiMartino Booth

Danielle DiMartino Booth exemplifies the passion and unique perspective powerful women bring to the table. Chronicling life milestones—such as having college dreams pulled out from under her at the last minute and the process of writing her pioneering book on the Federal Reserve—the mother of four shares sage guidance with women and consumers, providing abundant food for thought about the future of our industry and country.

Interview by Desirée Patno

NAWRB: You have attended the University of Texas at San Antonio and at Austin and Columbia University in New York. Which of these educational institutions and/or cities do you hold most dear?

Danielle DiMartino Booth: San Antonio College. I was accepted into the scholar’s program at New York University; I was one of 15 individuals who were admitted to their journalism program who was then admitted to their really elite group of high school seniors in America. We were to go to one different country every year as part of the program; Russia would have been that first year.

They were going to pay for half of my education in New York; this was my life dream come true. As soon as I received my acceptance letter my father informed me that he hadn’t been paying his taxes for several years and that I wasn’t going to any university, my parents were going to be getting a divorce and I might want to consider community college.

It was one of those formative moments in my life and I was forced to go off to community college. I was working probably 80 hours a week at the time, even as a high school senior, to make my way and help my mom. I entered community college as bitter as you can imagine.

I emerged two years later with the ability to start at the University of Texas at San Antonio with a great degree of respect for kids who have nothing and are forced to start in community colleges and keep going. That’s where I started and I kept going.
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SheCenter(FOLD): Marcia Davies

NAWRB: What is your favorite characteristic of Washington, D.C.? What sets the nation’s capital apart from other cities in which you’ve lived?

Marcia Davies: Washington is a beautiful city, with all of its historic landmarks and rich culture. We who live there sometimes don’t stop and really appreciate when we see a monument or the cherry blossoms in bloom, that it is unique and beautiful.

I think what really separates it is you definitely feel the political energy when you work in Washington. Sometimes it’s subtle and other times, like most recently with the inauguration, you feel it in everything, whether it’s your commute or how hard it is to get into a restaurant or make reservation. There is a real political vibe and energy. We know when Congress is in and when it’s going out. I really think that it makes it a dynamic place to live and work.

I have been privileged on several occasions to be in the White House, and not just see it during the holidays when the beautiful Christmas decorations are up. I’ve attended meetings in the Roosevelt Room and as I’m leaving I always stop before I get on the other side of the gate to take it in for a moment, thinking, “Wow, I was just in the White House.” Then in 10 minutes you’re back in your office. For a lot of people, that’s not a normal day. I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve been able to do that on more than one occasion.

I can honestly say that when I was growing up I never thought I would be in a meeting, let alone more than one meeting, in the White House. And it happened.
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sheCenterfold Rebecca Steele

CEO and President of Sigma Associates, LLC

Rebecca Steele

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Rebecca Steele, an incredible courageous woman and mother, reveals her valuable lessons as a senior

executive woman leader. From playing junior Olympics basketball to her excitement in advancing women’s

inclusion, Steele shares her unique journey and what the future holds for her life and career.

NAWRB: What have been the proudest moments in your life, professionally and personally?

Rebecca Steele: Well, I have a lot of proud moments. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career, but mostly ups. My proudest moments are when I could build successful organizations and was given the opportunity to lead, motivate and execute. A perfect example was the challenge to build, grow and integrate Countrywide and Bank of America’s retail sales platforms. That was huge!

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Carla Harris

Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley Appointed by President Barack Obama Chair of the National Women’s Business Council

Carla Harris

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From Wall Street powerhouse to selling out Carnegie Hall five times, critically-acclaimed author and speaker Carla Harris is a Renaissance woman. She details her journey through the competitive professional environment and her experience as a new mother, sharing the importance of family in her life and delineating the way a person can steer their career through dedication and perception.

NAWRB: Who has inspired you most throughout your life? How important do you believe having a mentor or supporter is to women professionals?

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Desiree Patno

NAWRB Founder and CEO

Desiree Patno

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Desirée Patno, NAWRB founder and CEO, is a leading advocate for women in the housing ecosystem with over 25 years of experience. A trailblazer in several aspects of her life, Patno has always fought for a seat at the table and the right to compete and work alongside men. We showcase her, from her passion as the only girl in an all-male water polo league to her travels around the nation conquering her fears.

NAWRB: How did you get involved in the real estate industry? To what do you attribute your professional success?

Desirée Patno: Growing up, my parents were always designing and adding to their mini Hearst Castle. Most children do normal chores. Mine were helping my mother build her legacy. She started out with a 1,700 square foot home, yet  before it burned down it measured over 14,000 square feet. It was an incredible undertaking lasting more than three decades! The majority of their windows and skylights were all hand beveled and beautiful pieces of art. They put a dollar down payment on the home and after living in it for a full year, they purchased it for $30,000. Times were tough back in 1960. Multiple times their home was featured in local newspapers for a variety of reasons. My mother had hot pink satin couches completely wrapped in clear plastic and she painted several murals on the walls of Roman Revival architecture. It was not your typical home, it was my mother’s miniature showpiece carved out of the side of a mountain. 

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Helen Hanna Casey

President & Chief Executive Officer of Real Estate Brokerage Howard Hanna Real Estate Services

Helen Hanna Casey 

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Helen Hanna Casey details her life as a leading woman in business, from her dedication to her family, agents and employees to producing Broadway plays. She chronicles the process of growing a business and delineates what to do, and what not to do, as the member of a family business and a woman entrepreneur.

NAWRB: What does family mean to you and what is your advice to entrepreneurs thinking of going into business with their families?

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