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Women’s History Month: Cumberland Valley Profiles, Part 4

As Women’s History Month 2023 comes to a conclusion, let us not forget the importance of learning from each other. There is power in sharing stories – the power to inspire, to challenge, to educate, to transform, to uplift.  The final three women come from very different backgrounds and industries, but they share similar wisdom on the importance of courage, continuous development, and connection with others.

Aliya Constant has been the Director of Sales for three years. She oversees three hotel properties managed by Hospitality Asset Management Company – Comfort Suites Downtown Carlisle, Comfort Inn PA Turnpike I-81 Carlisle and Comfort Suites Camp Hill-Harrisburg West. Her responsibilities include booking business for 304 guestrooms and 5662 square feet of banquet space.

JoLynn Weist has been the owner of Weist Hardware in New Cumberland for about 12 years. Her mother, Audrey, purchased the building and began operations in 1992. JoLynn agreed to help her mom temporarily in 2003 and has been there ever since. She began by cleaning shelves and running the register and the rest is history. Now that JoLynn’s youngest daughter is also working there, three generations of Weist women have ensured the success of the family hardware store.

Amey Sgrignoli is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Belco Community Credit Union. She has been in her position since January 2014 – just over nine years – but has been with Belco since 2004. Amey serves on several non-profit boards including CAEDC’s Board of Directors and was recently named One of the Most Powerful Women in Credit Unions 2022.

What qualities make a great leader?

Aliya: 5 qualities come to mind – organization, confidence, adaptability, tenacity, and strength.

JoLynn: I think females make great leaders because they can multi-task, and they listen well.

Amey: Sincerity, professionalism, confidence, consistency, courage, and resolve to do the right thing even when it may not be popular.

What do you wish you had known early in your career?

Aliya: To speak up – because your opinion does matter, or it can make a difference to the organization you represent. Do not be afraid to voice your opinion!

JoLynn: If I would have known that I would have ended up in retail, I would have gotten some jobs in retail.

Amey: The power of networking. Having a professional network is critical to success; it’s very important to know other professionals in your industry, in your region, and even across the country that you can call on when you need professional insight or to tap a subject matter expert. Surrounding yourself with smart, capable, competent people is one of the single most important pieces of career advice that I wish I had recognized sooner.

What female public figure, past or present, inspires you and why?

Aliya: Michelle Obama is an inspiration to me. She is a powerful leader, compassionate advocate for women and youth, and is graceful under pressure regardless of the scrutiny she faces.

Amey: Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing Former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speak and share her lifetime of accomplishments. I found her story, career, and body of work to be so impressive. She grew up in the South at the time of segregation and came from humble beginnings as the daughter of educators. Her family placed a high degree of importance on education. Ms. Rice was the National Security Advisor on 9/11, and she exhibited incredible grace under fire as the disaster unfolded. She was leading and advising during the crisis from Washington while the President was sequestered in an undisclosed, secure area. Her diplomacy as Secretary of State is renowned, and her gravitas has earned her a seat at global negotiating tables with presidents, premiers, queens, chancellors, princes, and dictators. She is gracious and composed no matter the situation. Her caring, pragmatic, and practical approach are all traits I deeply admire and aspire to possess.

What piece of advice would you give to young women and girls?

Aliya: Go for any and all opportunities that come your way! Build a relationship with someone who can serve as your mentor. Sign up for all the trainings that are available to you. Get involved in an organization that gives back to the local community. It will give you a sense of gratitude.

JoLynn: Always continue to learn. Take classes on leadership, communications, anything that could help in the field you are working in. There are businesses that pay for their employees to get training. Ask if they have that benefit.

Amey: Be confident! Be a continuous learner, and be willing to move around the “jungle gym” or workplace to get experience and exposure that will enable you to climb the proverbial career ladder. Your voice matters, your opinion counts, and sometimes thinking differently is the best way to solve a problem and the best way to be a leader among the group.

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