Grit & Grace: Ariana McDonough

“I have always enjoyed working with my hands. Growing up in Hawaii, this manifested itself in sewing, cooking, photography and other “hands on” hobbies. I was involved in 4-H growing up and always curious as to how things worked. For me, being an engineer is an extension of who I am and what I love to do. Engineers essentially create things to help others around the world. For me, this is helping to design, build and test jet and helicopter engines. I heard that every two seconds an aircraft powered by my company’s technology takes off somewhere in the world. It is amazing that I can be a part of that.

It is sometimes hard to be in a “man’s world”. Currently less than 15% of engineers are women. I am almost always the only woman sitting at the table at my work meetings. I am proud to be a woman in my field and to help forge the way for upcoming women engineers. I know I am fortunate to have stepped out of the engineering workforce for 13 years to raise my 4 children (now ages 23, 21, 19 and 16), live overseas and return to a fulfilling, challenging job, and to do be able to do it part-time! I make it a point to share my story with younger women engineers and mentor them to show that they do not necessarily have to follow the traditional career path. They just need to find what fits for them, be creative and forge their own way.

Ultimately, my worth is in who God made me. It is not in what I do. We are not defined by our outward accomplishments but who we are inside and have been created to be.”

Ariana is the Senior Engineer, Engine Systems Design and Integration; Future Affordable Turbine Engine (FATE) Program Lead, Military Technology Programs, GE Aviation

Grit & Grace: Olivia Rugo

“I have been an avid fisherwoman and scuba diver for many years. After receiving my masters’ degree, my first job was helping address the listing of an endangered species (Chinook Salmon) under the Endangered Species Act. It was the first time that a major metropolitan area (Seattle) had to address such a listing, and it was very interesting work that involved a wide variety of stakeholders that ranged from fishermen to farmers, to Native American tribes. I now work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, which is the federal agency that manages commercial and recreational fishing in federal waters (3-200 miles off shore). There, I coordinate communications with the commercial and recreational fishing industries to make sure that they have the most up to date information (where, when, what, how and how much they can harvest throughout the year) to fish in compliance.

This work is important to me because it promotes the protection and sustainability of fish, marine mammals and ocean habitat in our regional waters. I feel good about encouraging marine stewardship while enabling others to provide low fat, high protein seafood to consumers near and far. However, it is challenging to balance the needs of the many users of our sea, who include fishermen, boaters, whale watchers, aquaculturists, shipping industries, and families. For example, in the fall of 2012, the Department of Commerce declared a federal fishery disaster since catch quotas were reduced on nine stocks of cod, haddock, and flounder that were an important part of fishermen’s revenue streams. The cuts were necessary to enable these stocks to reach sustainable levels. It was a difficult time for fishermen, and we took steps, like implementing an increase in quota for healthier stocks such as redfish, white hake, and pollock, to help mitigate impacts and maintain the long-standing culture of fishing in our local communities. Finding ways to support both communities and environmental health often requires hard decisions, but ultimately, we want our kids and future generations to use and enjoy a healthy marine environment.

The ocean is a diverse and beautiful environment and I enjoy learning new things about it that I can share with others. For instance, did you know that an octopus has three hearts, nine brains, and blue blood? Two hearts pump blood to the gills, while a third circulates it to the rest of the body. The nervous system includes a central brain and a small “brain” at the base of each tentacle which control movement. Amazing!”

Olivia Rugo is the Fisheries Outreach Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries

Grit & Grace: Devan Tyack

“I’ve always had a love for animals. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to do something with horses and dogs. I adopted my first horse when I was 18, and after adopting 5 of my own I became a Board Member for Baby Bluebonnet Equine Rescue where I continue to help other equines in need. About a year ago, I became the Director of the Rescue.

My passion in life is saving equines. So many people simply just don’t know that our American horses get slaughtered. Although they may not be slaughtered here in the United States, they are packed on hot trailers with no food or water and sent out of the country. I honestly can’t explain the feeling and relief when you have saved a horse from going to slaughter. I am most motivated by watching their progression, them learning to trust humans, and most importantly knowing that they will never have to be let down again.

My horses and their health and happiness are the most important things to me. Each and everyone of my horses have gone through something horrible in their past; I promised everyone of them that they will always only be shown love and care for the rest of their lives.”

Devan is the owner of Devan’s Canine and Equine Services and Director of Baby Bluebonnet Equine Rescue.

For more information about equine rescue, visit: https://www.babybluebonnetequinerescue.net

For more information about Devan’s Canine and Equine Services, email her at: devantyack@yahoo.com

*Devan Tyack is Alison Standley’s daughter, another Grit & Grace woman

Grit & Grace: Melinda Walsh

“I have always loved food. I think about it a lot... every night before going to bed I think about my morni"ng coffee and what I am going to eat for breakfast. While eating breakfast, I’m usually planning lunch and dinner. I love not only the taste of coffee but also the daily ritual that it adds to my day.

Ever since I met my husband, we have dreamed about opening a coffee shop. The first thing we do when traveling is to locate the coffee shops to visit and take notes on what we like, and what we would do differently. After our son, Finlay, was born, we decided to stop dreaming, share our love of coffee, and live out our passions. We dove deep into the world of coffee to learn everything we could and began the journey by building a coffee cart in our backyard and served our first coffee at the Swampscott Farmers Market. After an amazing summer we were hooked and knew we wanted to continue to share coffee.

At the time, I was struggling at a job I didn’t love. I found myself constantly thinking about and dreading work and this took away from the time that I did have with my family. I knew I wanted to work outside the home, but I just couldn’t justify giving up time with my family to be at a job I did not enjoy. This prompted me to seriously consider our “coffee shop dream” and make it a reality. All of our experiences tasting coffee and visiting coffee shops around the world helped us create our shop that I now get to share with others.

Now, when I leave for work, I am excited for my day. I come feeling content knowing that I am living out my passion, which has made me a better wife and mother. It is so important to me that my children don’t grow up thinking work is something to be dreaded on a daily basis but something to be passionate about and take pride in.

Nothing makes my heart happier than serving friends and family food that makes them smile.

I’m so humbled by the fact that everyday I get to serve people a perfect latte and a warm blueberry muffin, knowing that it is going to put a smile on their face. It definitely makes it worth the craziness of small business ownership!”

Grit & Grace: Katie Vandi

“Being among the plants, flowers, and the earth I feel like I belong to something bigger than myself. It’s home, and it always will be. I someday hope to use agriculture and the farm as a place for healing. I hope that it can be a place for learning, growth (in all forms), and a pillar of hope for younger generations to come.

I have so much pride to be a woman in agriculture! Farming and agriculture historically have been occupations held mostly by men. I’m honored to be in a position to lead by example and show other women and school age kids that you can grow up to be ANYTHING you want, make money, and most importantly be happy all at the same time.

I find worth in being able to feed people good nutritious food and be able to show them where it comes from, and how to grow it! Food connects all of us. I also believe one of the most important things we can do for our children, and humanity in general, is preserve the sanctity of our food system.

All I can truly hope for is to be a light in this world and to teach my kids how to be a light for others and for themselves. You don’t have to be famous or have a ton of money to be able to make an impact, you just have to be kind. As long as you’re doing your job with loving kindness then you will have made a difference...there is no question.”

Katie is a farmer at Meadowbrook Farms in Hamilton, MA. For more information, visit: www.meadowbrookfarmstand.com

Grit & Grace: Nancy Henry

“I love being STRONG. I decided to follow my passion into the dirt work at 50. I practically begged my way into a crew job at a local organic farm. I was insanely happy and wept with pain many nights when I came home. After two years of farming I felt confident and was ready to start my own business helping people maintain or create their own oases of flowers, shrubs, butterflies, berries, and birds. Of course I continue to have a lot to learn... and will for my lifetime.

I love being WILD. To be a woman is to be a creator and nurturer of life on a very elemental, gritty, utterly committed level. The smell, feel, and taste of the soil takes me to a place of oneness with the Earth and of humility and communion with the microbes in the soil, the fungal web that carries messages between the trees for miles and miles, the worms that break down the leaves, the birds that feed on the worms. All I want is to be one of them, to play my part in the continuing, cyclical, profound act of creation that is life on Earth. God is in every atom of this work. It feeds my soul.

I can get stuck in depression and inertia, especially in winter. When I stay very busy, I am better. Hard work, fed by a passion, has saved me from the pit time and again. I need to be outside, experiencing natural forces, even if it’s freezing, soaking, and painful.

Though I can get discouraged, in the long run I can’t seem to stop dreaming. If you have hope and a dream,
you will find that the darkness always dissolves into the light of a new and wiser, more meaningful phase of life. At least that is what I have found.”

Nancy Henry is the Founder and Owner of Garden Nana, and also a pet sitter on Boston’s North Shore.

Grit & Grace: Dr. Fiona Breslin

“It’s an enormous privilege to be allowed into another human’s most personal space within seconds of meeting them. I am blessed on a daily basis to enjoy the sort of beautiful, close human connection which is otherwise a rare phenomenon. I find my worth in knowing that I can make a positive impact on people’s lives pretty much every day. Sometimes, it’s not even the dramatic resuscitations but the hugs that make the biggest difference. It’s most important to me to be useful and I do feel that I am useful.”

Dr. Fiona Breslin is an Emergency Room Physician at Beverly Hospital in Massachusetts.

Grit & Grace: Julie Lopes

“I am a hard worker. Sometimes too hard. I have grown my business from a 3 person operation to a 14 person operation. I love what I do, and can easily put in 60+ hours of work each week. My biggest challenge is delegating responsibilities to other people. I have a huge fear of change, and am afraid if I pass work responsibilities on to others they won’t get them done right, and things will start to crumble. That is by far the biggest challenge I need to overcome.

I am running a growing business and raising 2 kiddos. It is completely exhausting, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love what I do. I just wish there was more time in the day. My kids are my world. The unconditional love and bond I have with them almost feels surreal. Their happiness and joy is what makes my heart sing.

My passion in life is to be the best that I can be. To not be afraid of failure. To know that my personal best may not be as good as someone else’s personal best. To be honest and treat people with respect and dignity.

Be good to others. Treat people the way you like to be treated. Challenge yourself from time to time. Set goals and push to achieve them. And most of all, have fun.”

Julie Lopes is the owner of Shirts Illustrated in Salem, Massachusetts. For more info: www.shirtsillustratedsalem.com/

Grit & Grace: Lauren Kroesser Moran

“The most important thing to me is family and community. That’s why I chose to open Honeycomb in Hamilton, the area in which I grew up. I want to give a little bit back to the North Shore and help pave the way for others to do the same. My family is incredibly supportive and helpful in all ways. My father has even been known to wash dishes at Honeycomb when we are short-staffed! My mother comes by almost every day to help in any way she can and my husband is a co-owner with me. We work together, as our own beehive!

The biggest compliment to me, is seeing people happily enjoying their food/drink, while conversing with others at our cafe. To see the farm table, full of people of all ages, happily enjoying their day is gold to me! I love seeing mothers and children laughing, meetings happening and an older couple reading the newspaper all at the same time. It gives me a sense that people are comfortable here and it means a lot to see everyone chatting and catching up, instead of being buried in their cell phone. It is also so lovely for me to see my employees learn and explore their passions. All of my cooks share my passion for food and I make sure they have the ability to be creative also. It’s that collaboration that keeps everyone excited and learning! They teach me as much as I teach them!

Opening a new business was so much work, literal blood sweat and tears! Now that we’re established, letting go of every decision is difficult, but necessary. I have finally gotten to the point where I can take a day off and trust that Honeycomb is running smoothly. It’s hard, but I need to be better about trusting people and letting others take over a bit too.

As a society, we have been getting back to our roots over the last decade and appreciating the land, the farmers and the makers. I hope that doesn’t get forgotten again, but instead grows more. It’s important to celebrate where we’re from and the bounty of our natural North Shore!”

Lauren is Owner and Chef at Honeycomb Bakery in Hamilton, MA. For more info: https://www.honeycombhamilton.com/

Grit & Grace: Jan Dempsey

“I grew up on a small farm in Vermont where our closest neighbor lived a half mile away. The landscape was extraordinary and Vermont is still my favorite state. I always cherished books, learning and literature, so a trip
to the public or school library was an adventure of discovery for me. I was so excited when I realized that the purpose of the public library was to provide all people with an equal opportunity for literacy and lifelong learning. As a public librarian, I wake up every day knowing that what I do supports the common good and it is a privilege to work in this supportive community.

When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time outside, whether I am hiking or working in my garden. The bird feeder and the bee hives are fascinating to me and plants are incredible. I have fun spending time with my grandchildren and watching their personalities unfold.

At the library, my staff and I value camaraderie and a few laughs during the day. It is not healthy to take ourselves too seriously. For example, I set off the security alarm when I completed a tour of the Library of Congress because I had a Hamilton-Wenham barcoded library book in my purse. My children doubled over in laughter while watching me sputter about my innocence to the security team. Well, doesn’t everyone keep a library book at the ready?

Each day I find so much for which to be grateful and I look to God for direction in my life and try to listen to His counsel. ‘The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.’ Psalm 19:8 “

Jan Dempsey has been the Director of the Hamilton-Wenham Library for fourteen years. She will retire this spring to spend more time with her grandchildren, volunteer work, and protecting our pollinators.