Listee Features — November 2021


Embarking on her career as a supervisor with Northern Quest Resort & Casino in 2016, Victoria R. Shoemaker holds considerable expertise in team management and restaurant management. Working with Northern Quest until 2020, she also spent time as an assistant store manager with Tuesday Morning in Spokane, Washington, from 2019 to 2020. During this time, she pursued coursework at Missouri State University and earned an Associate of Science in accounting and business management from Spokane Falls Community College in 2019. Throughout the early years of her career, Ms. Shoemaker witnessed firsthand the mistreatment of employees at the hands of their higher-ups and she became determined to establish her own business where she could ensure that her employees were taken care

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Coming to the United States at the age of just three months, Imelda Lorena Huerta has achieved considerable success in the hospitality industry due to her passion, care and work ethic. Starting out in food service, she spent time as a sever, banquet lead server, captain and food and beverage assistant for three hotels, the Marriott, the Westin and the Renaissance in California. Once she became the person in charge of events, she realized how difficult it was to obtain specialty linens, having to order them from places as far afield as Texas and New York and then having to pack them all up and send them back after the event. This inspired her to see if she could do

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Maria Finlinson


Born in Guatemala to father Armando and mother Maria, Maria J. Finlinson was inspired to a career in finance by her longstanding love for numbers. She has excelled in mathematics since she was young and notably won three math awards in high school. Concluding her studies in Guatemala, she obtained a Doctor of Jurisprudence and found herself pulled into the finance industry right as she was beginning her career, where she has spent the last 15 years growing and expanding her expertise in financial planning. Drawn to the nonprofit sector, Ms. Finlinson joined The Leonardo in 2020, a museum in Salt Lake City that combines science, technology and art to inspire creativity and innovation, as the director of finance and

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Greatly impacted by the experience of coming home to find her house trashed and robbed as a child, Peggy Z. Huang went on to pursue a career that would allow to her to make a difference and help others. Earning a Bachelor of Science in political science at the University of California Berkeley in 1993, she obtained a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific in 1997. That same year, she embarked on her career as a senate associate with the California State Senate and, between 1998 and 2008, served as staff counsel for Sacramento Child Advocates, the Law Offices of Anne E. Fragasso and the California Department of Social Services. During

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Brenda R. Velazquez was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States in 1987 at the age of 7. It was this background, combined with her desire to support her family and the encouragement of her husband of 20 years, Luis Erik Velazquez Sr., to which she attributes much of her current success. She was further inspired by her father, an engineer, and developed a great love for marketing, business and construction. This led to her establishing Future Sign Co. in 2001, alongside her husband and mother-in-law, while working toward her citizenship, which she achieved in 2004. Today, Ms. Velazquez acts as the chief executive officer of Future Sign Co. and is responsible for conducting meetings to go

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Excelling in the sciences since she was in high school, Lois McCoy Floyd was a high school merit scholar and was recognized as the Most Outstanding Science Student in 1962. Furthermore, she won multiple awards from the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair during her high school years, placing second her first year and fourth the subsequent three. During her final year, she was further recognized for a project on DNA. Following her excellence in high school, she received a full scholarship to attend Colorado State University, where graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1967. After her undergraduate studies, Ms. Floyd received a National Science Foundation scholarship grant and spent a year in graduate school, pursuing further studies.

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Embarking on her professional path at the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi, Vietnam, Quynh-Tram Vu was driven early on to pursue a career in business, due to the career opportunities the field presented, and completed coursework in imports and exports. In 2002, she came to the United States with her family to seek political asylum and earned a scholarship to complete her studies at California State University, Fullerton. During this time, she worked to both support her education and her family, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, cum laude. Her early positions included freelance bridal makeup and hair stylist and freelance reporter for Little Saigon Radio. Going through business school cemented Ms. Vu’s belief that she would have

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Barbara Palmer


Driven to help children and their families, as well as to help people find employment, Barbara A. Palmer has cultivated significant expertise in nonprofit management, leadership development, organization structure and grant writing. She embarked on her career as the head teller for the U.S. Department of Defense at the Pentagon from 1983 to 1986 before earning her Bachelor of Arts in bank finance from the American Institute of Banking in 1989. Subsequently, she served as the international accounts supervisor for Aircargo Communities, Inc. from 1989 to 1998. During this time, she obtained certification in small business management in 1996. In 1998, Ms. Palmer joined the YWCA of Annapolis & Anne Arundel County as the director of programs, a position she

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After 30 years in the corporate world, Lily E. Smernou, PhD, turned her career path toward the arts to pursue her passion for photography, painting and drawing. Her art, which can be found on her website, combines her life-long love for aesthetics and imaginative narratives with the expertise in quantitative psychology that she cultivated throughout her earlier career to create deeply profound pieces that speak to the depths of human behaviors. It was her desire to understand what makes people behave in certain ways that drew her to the field of psychology in the first place, and she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from North College Thessaloniki in Greece. Going on to matriculate at the University of Georgia, Dr.

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Inspired by her father and stepfather, both successful real estate professionals, Julie Longtin has excelled as a realtor for over 30 years. Embarking on her collegiate education, she earned a degree in finance and holds additional certification as a real estate negotiating expert, broker and appraisal professional. She is deeply grateful to all the mentors she has had over the years who provided her with advice and guidance as she grew in skill and knowledge. Today, she is known for her expertise in investment redevelopment, construction design development, best use analysis and reuse properties. Early on, Ms. Longtin worked as a real estate appraiser from 1994 to 1999, before transitioning to work as a broker with RE/MAX, LLC. In honor

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