Listee Features — May 2021

Terri Gemas


Terri Gemas is the owner-broker at Coast & Country Real Estate, where she has specialized in listing and selling horse farm properties in the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands since 1998. Ms. Gemas earned a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the Pennsylvania State University in 1985, and immediately relocated to St. John after graduating. While living in the Caribbean she worked as a house painter, and took an initial interest in real estate brokerage after seeing a realtor show a condominium that she was in the middle of decorating. Shortly after, Ms. Gemas entered the real estate industry, obtaining a sales license and moving up to a full real estate brokerage license by 1986. Ms. Gemas

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Susan Jean Smith is a licensed insurance agent and educator currently working as a remote, in-home tutor for K-10 students through Educational Tutorial Services. A graduate of Ball State University, Ms. Smith holds an Associate of Arts in arts and humanities and earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education in 2005. Committed to becoming the best educator she can be, she has completed extensive graduate-level coursework in differentiated instruction, curriculum design, and STEM integration through Indiana Wesleyan University, and hopes to attend Grace College or Purdue University’s postgraduate instructional design program in the coming years. A versatile educator, Ms. Smith has been a full-time tutor and long-term substitute teacher in all major subjects since 2014, with assignments including teaching

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Polly Forcier


Mary Hill “Polly” Forcier is a teacher, artist, and historical preservationist who has dedicated the last four decades to promoting the historical art of wall stencil painting. She is the founder of MB Historic Decor, a company offering more than 700 historically-accurate reproduction wall stencils recorded from original wall paintings in addition to paints, brushes, and other supplies. Her passion for early American decorative arts was sparked in part by her mother, a talented tinware artist, and Ms. Forcier recalls watching her mother work as a young child and “falling in love with the smell of turpentine” as she learned to paint as well. Ms. Forcier began nursing coursework at Simmons University before leaving school to marry and start a

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Sandra Kannan


Knowing that she wanted to be a teacher from a young age, Sandra J. Kannan was inspired to a career in education due to her love of reading and history, as well as the encouragement of her parents. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Suffolk University in Boston in 1967 and embarked on her career as a teacher in the Derry Cooperative School District in New Hampshire that same year. In 1970, she became a teaching assistant principal in the Lawrence Public Schools in Massachusetts. Continually motivated throughout the years by her great love of learning, she continued her own studies alongside her career, which culminated with a Master of Education from Massachusetts University in 1996. She retired from

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Mary Giordano


Dr. Mary D. Giordano is a nationally-certified school psychiatrist, administrator, and educator celebrating more than 50 years of service to the students and community of the Providence Public School District. Initially training to become a nurse, Dr. Giordano was recruited to work in the Providence Public School District by a principal who helped convince her of the value of providing a high-quality and forward-looking education to all students. She began teaching in the district in 1967 while continuing her education, graduating from Amherst College with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and social science in 1968 and a Master of Education from Providence College in 1975. Promoted to assistant principal of Nathanael Greene Elementary School in 1976, she earned a

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Kristine Finklea


Kristine Nash Finklea celebrates more than 35 years of personal and innovative work as an interior designer and the owner of Kristi Finklea Interiors. Her passion for art and design began at a young age, and Ms. Finklea credits her success to having the confidence to recognize and develop her talent early in life. A graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, she holds both a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Arts in painting and art education. She financed her education by selling original drawings and paintings, and began her career as a public school art teacher. While working as an educator, Ms. Finklea started exploring her interest in interior design and antiques. After inheriting her father’s

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Rita M. McDonald is a certified child development associate, early childhood educator, and the director of Smart from the Start Child Care. Ms. McDonald celebrates more than three decades in the field of childcare, both as an administrator and as a provider. She joined Smart from the Start in 2008 as a teacher, quickly rising to her current role as director of the facility. As director, she is responsible for ensuring that the center continues to provide the highest-quality child care and oversees administrative duties from hiring to payroll. Ms. McDonald credits her success to her ability to connect with both parents and children, and foster strong school communities that help foster student development. She is passionate about providing a

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Carolyn Northcutt


Carolyn Northcutt celebrates 25 years as a realtor and luxury home specialist with Century 21 serving clients in the Kerrville, Texas, area. Ms. Northcutt graduated from Massey Business College in 1976 with an Associate of Arts and an executive secretary designation, and began her career as a paralegal. She spent the next 22 years in the legal field providing administrative and paralegal services to area firms including Rolston Hauslet and Krist Gunn Weller & Neumann. After more than two decades in the field, Ms. Northcutt was beginning to approach what she described as “the burnout stage” of her paralegal career. Feeling that she had learned all that the job had to offer and seeking a career that would empower her

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Jessica Elliott


Jessica Elliott is an experienced nonprofit administrator bringing her natural leadership skills and financial expertise to the role of executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the Lehigh Valley since 2018. Ms. Elliott has been with Habitat for Humanity in various capacities for nearly a decade, beginning in 2013 as director of community relations before moving up into her current role. As executive director, Ms. Elliott is responsible for carrying out Habitat for Humanity’s mission to help provide housing and resources to all in the area while supervising the board of directors, an administrative staff of 25, and an annual operating budget of more than 1.7 million dollars. Ms. Elliott holds a Bachelor of Arts in human rights from Lafayette

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Samone Stroman


Samone Lynn Stroman is an educator and school administrator celebrating nearly 15 years in her current role as the parent and labor relations coordinator for Brooklyn Public Schools PS328, the Phyllis Wheatley School. A graduate of Kingsborough Community College, Ms. Stroman holds an associate’s degree and later continued her education at Cornell University, where she completed a certificate in labor relations. Passionate about engaging families in schools, she is dedicated to helping create space for parents, guardians, and the community to have a stake in the educational process. She first joined the New York City Department of Education in 1996 as a paraprofessional, providing instructional support and student services at the school level before transitioning into teaching. Ms. Stroman spent

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