Shari Olefson built a successful career as CEO of a Fortune 300 joint venture and, later, as a large law firm Partner and “rain maker.”
Over time, Shari learned that some of the very same qualities that made her a successful lawyer and businesswoman also appeared to arouse ire in some of her more traditional male colleagues.
True to her mantra that “everything happens for a reason,” Shari founded WEPN with settlement proceeds from such a situation.
But the number of women who quietly confided about their own experiences led Shari to more fully realize the impact that our broader societal stigma against these women openly sharing their experiences was having on them.
“Countless women have confided in me with their stories, but always with a sense of secrecy, almost shame. The stigma associated with standing up against workplace gender discrimination and lack of transparency is, perhaps, the single biggest obstacle facing pay equality today. I feel a tremendous obligation to help women who can’t afford a lawyer or fear losing their job, know that their story is still being heard and to help bring these stories out into the light of day for everyone else to hear.”
Settlement Agreements typically silence the woman with mandatory confidentiality clauses prohibiting her from ever discussing her case, but fortunately for WEPN, no confidentiality clause could ever stop Shari or any other woman from giving others a voice to tell their workplace discrimination stories.
Shari studied journalism and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, eventually earning a JD and an LLM in Finance, Development and Real Property. She is Bar Certified and licensed to practice in New York, Washington DC and Florida. She has authored multiple books including “Foreclosure Nation: Mortgaging the American Dream” (Prometheus, 2009), “Financial Fresh Start” (AMACOM, 2012) and “Structuring Commercial Real Estate Transactions” (Thompson Reuters, 2010) and is a frequent speaker including for CSPAN, the National Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac, and a variety of financial institutions, as well as a regular contributor for well-know national television news networks. She resides in New York City and South Florida.
“When I stop to think that during all of those years that my mom worked, she was being paid less just because she was a woman, I am reminded just how much this issue affects everybody. Every family will benefit when people’s salaries are truly based on their skills and merits, not their gender.”
Kevin Reid supports WEPN advocacy, and has worked for over 20 years developing and running multi-channel, online advocacy and fundraising campaigns for nonprofits, trade associations and corporations.
Kevin has worked with a wide range of clients including The National Association of REALTORS(R), The National Association of Broadcasters, Earthjustice, TracFone, The United Church of Christ and Verizon Communications. Before becoming a consultant, Kevin was the director of Internet Communications at the U.S. section of Amnesty International and prior to that he managed online services at the National Governors Association.
Kevin has a Bachelor’s Degree from Claremont McKenna College, a Master’s Degree in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University and a Master’s Degree in Journalism and Public Affairs from American University.
Debbie Mason supports WEPN strategic planning. As founder of Strategists, Inc., Debbie Mason’s 30+ years of experience in management of brand, communications, advocacy, and planning skills spans the sectors of agency, corporate, automotive, healthcare and nonprofit experience at local, regional and national levels.
Before forming Strategists, Inc. Debbie created and sold a full service public relations agency, held a senior corporate public relations position in one of the nation’s largest privately held companies, and spent a decade in several senior executive marketing, sales and public relations positions in the healthcare industry in major metro markets across the United States.
Debbie earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations/Journalism from the University of Florida, where she has served as an adjunct professor and twice served as chairman of the Public Relations Advisory Council. She earned a Master’s degree in Communications Management from Syracuse University. A native Floridian, she is an engaged leader in her community.
Krystle Kaufman supports WEPN financial, and has a decade long proven track record, as a second generation financial advisor, helping mid to large sized organizations design, administer and manage successful retirement plans.
Over the course of her career, Krystle has been struck by the huge discrepancy between the amount of money her male clients earn and are able to retire with in comparison to her female clients. “I see pay differences adding up to hundreds of thousands of dollars between my male and female clients. Women either don’t relies or feel powerless. WEPN is changing that by getting these stories out there. It would be irresponsible for me to know this and not do something about it, especially as the mother of two daughters.”
Krystle holds a Bachelor of Science degrees and a Master of Business Administration in Financial Planning, as well as her Series 7, Series 66 and Life, Health & Variable Annuity License. She currently serves as Vice President of Retirement Plans Sales, Southeast, for Chepenik Financial.
“Equality in the workplace is not just a fundamental right for employees, it is a means of establishing and maintaining a qualified and productive workforce for employers with minimal turnover and maximum profit.”
Mr. Goodz supports WEPN legal, and focuses his practice on labor and employment matters. In particular, Mr. Goodz focuses on providing advice as to how to avoid problems workplace issues such as sexual harassment, equal pay, discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge and violence in the workplace. He is experienced in resolving employment conflicts arising under Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Florida Civil Rights Act and the Florida Unemployment Compensation Law.
As part of his focus on avoiding problems in the workplace, Mr. Goodz has given speeches on various employment-related issues including the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and alternative dispute resolution. He also conducts in-house training for management employees.
When these preventive measures do not or cannot obviate the need for litigation, Mr. Goodz also litigates in both state and federal courts, and before administrative agencies. He was quoted in the Daily Labor Report, a national publication, for prevailing in an age discrimination lawsuit and for subsequently being awarded attorney’s fees. He was also involved in another nationally recognized case in New York where the court assessed attorney’s fees.
Mr. Goodz is a 1992 graduate of the University of Florida College of Law. While in law school, he served as a certified legal intern with the Office of the Public Defender, Gainesville, Florida. He obtained a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice in 1989 from the University of Florida, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Following graduation from law school, he practiced with a statewide labor and employment firm based in Coral Gables, Florida, as well as an international full-service firm, where he practiced in the firm’s labor and employment department in Miami.
Kristen Tate supports WEPN publicity, and has spent the past 15 years studying and practicing public relations in the U.S. and Europe. Prior to founding boutique PR firm Kristen Tate Communications in 2007, she worked for the world’s largest independent public relations agency.
Over the course of her career, Kristen has worked with luxury brands, lifestyle consumer products, beauty brands, restaurants, packaged foods, technology companies and artistic institutions. Clients have included Char-Broil, Kraft, Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, Coppertone, Tiffany & Co., Interactive One, BoConcept, VisitDenmark, Roskilde Festival and The National Black Arts Festival.
Kristen splits her time between New York City and Copenhagen, and, through her work with WEPN, hopes to help bring northern Europe’s workplace culture of equality stateside.
Lara Edge supports WEPN communications, and has more than 20 years experience of making content work for business needs. She’s worked as a reporter, designer, and managing editor for daily newspaper. As Vice President Editorial at Scripps Networks, she led the content team for HTVG.com, FoodNetwork.com, DIYNetwork.com, FineLiving.Com, GACTV.com and HGTVPro.com.
As a consultant today, she helps businesses connect with consumers in the digital world. She brings her expertise with language and visuals to WEPN because she’s committed to the cause. As a young journalist, she experienced pay inequity and confronted her supervisor to remedy it. She knows that pay equality is still a myth in many business environments, and is determined to help change the future for young women today.