Mentoring with Brenda Brody

Brenda Brody. Photo by Clinton B. Photography

Brenda Brody’s passion is mentoring young women – some seek her counsel, other are referred; some she meets through professional channels, some she encounters through work.

Brody, a 54-year-old business executive, wants to help younger women develop professionally and personally by learning from her generation. She advises them to build a supportive community that, like hers, keeps expanding. The importance of being part of a network of women, sharing experiences and expertise, can’t be overstated, she says.

The Gaithersburg resident is senior vice president of strategy and account services at Pine Rock, a global communications agency, and founded her own production company, BellaRose, which has become part of Pine Rock. Her expertise is what’s known as experiential marketing. It draws on the former performer’s theater and business talents and education.

When she started her business career, there were few women executives. She sought them as mentors, along with men executives. “Most CEOs were men,” Brody recalls.

“Because of that, I have an extraordinary passion for advocating for and being a champion and a mentor to the next generation of women,” she says.

“Younger women have an opportunity to have a shortcut, to learn from like-minded individuals. I was a single working mom in male-dominated corporate America.”

Brody urges experienced women executives, especially moms, to find time to help up-and-coming women.

First-time parents — not only the women — “are trying to figure out the juggle” of work and home.

“I learned from a friend of mine, a CEO, that there is never a balance. You do the best you can,” Brody says. Feeling guilty is not productive. Resolving challenges is.

While the #MeToo movement has led to more discussion among women of sexual harassment and assault, and how to deal with such situations, Brody said it leads to this question: “Are we making sure we are sharing with the next generation? It is so important to share those experiences so we make sure we don’t go back there.”

Divorced when her daughter was 3 years old, Brody devised a plan that put her daughter’s nanny’s family in her school district: “We raised our kids together. My nanny and her husband and kids, they moved in whenever I traveled,” she recalls.

“You have to be resourceful when you work.”

As her daughter grew, “I surrounded myself with working moms, and that is what I encourage them to do: You build your network with people who are going through the same thing,” she says.

Later, when she or two other single mother executives traveled for business, their children stayed at each other’s homes.

“You’ve got to find your village in every area.”

A village rallied to take care of Brody and her 11-year-old daughter when breast cancer struck Brody. Among the family and friends were chemo buddies, a cousin and a friend who previously had cancer helping her cope emotionally, and “I had a producer friend take over my business,” allowing her to work as she was able. Brody and her daughter were together from after dinner until a mother in the neighborhood took the child to school in the morning.

Ever since, she’s been helping women with cancer and their families, and raising funds in the oncology sphere.

“Look at the needs of the family. … See what everybody’s not getting.” That’s what she recently did for a friend. “Meals were extraordinarily helpful for the family.” Years earlier, her need was for drivers for herself and her daughter.

She assists other nonprofit organizations, including Jewish ones; she’s done events for some, sat on boards of some and supports others.

Raised in the Conservative movement, she says traditions are important, as are Jewish values and being part of a community. “Jewish values have always meant family and friends first,” she says.

She is among Jewish Women International’s 2019 Women to Watch honorees at the organization’s annual event on Dec. 16 in Washington.

“I think the younger generation hides behind iPhones and iPads and technology a lot more than we do,” Brody says. “The one message I have is to build their communities and get out there and grow. And learn from the older generation — and from each other.”

Andrea F. Siegel is a Washington-area writer.



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