Posted by Sierra Otto on


The response from the first week of our Cheers to Strong Women campaign was amazing. We will be giving back to organizations such as, Planned Parenthood, Girls on the Run, and Susan G. Komen. The ladies in the line up this week are awesome and are doing amazing things in their communities. I am excited for you to get to know them in the interviews below. 

Megan Otto

1. Who are you and what do you do? 

Megan Otto (Auntie M). Campus Minister, Pastoral Care for Seniors, and Minister to Young Adults. University United Methodist Church, Austin, Texas. 

2. What does being a strong woman mean to you? 

When I think of a strong women, I think of someone who works to empower those around her. Someone who isn't afraid to stand up for those on the margins and who isn't afraid to share their opinions, goals, and dreams. 

3. What advice would you share with the teenage version of yourself? 

Embrace who you truly are now. Eventually you will find people who appreciate who you are. Don't run from it. Don't try and be something else to please someone else. You are loved exactly as you are right now. Live into it. You'll be happier-trust me. 

4. Name a woman in your life that has inspired you to be the woman you are today?

My mom always told me I could do anything I wanted to. She gave me the confidence to believe it. She also gave me the ability to work through the things that would get in my way. 

5. Tell me a fact, secret, or something weird you do?

I'm a big fan of subversive cross-stitch, Grace and Frankie, and experimental baking!

7. What is one of your favorite organizations that supports and encourages strong women?

She Should Run. Their mission is to expand the talent pool of women running for office in the United States by providing community, resources, and growth opportunities for aspiring political leaders. They believe that women of all political leanings, ethnicities, and backgrounds should have any equal opportunity to lead in elected office and that our democracy will benefit from the varied perspectives and experiences that women bring to leadership. We know that when women run for office they win at the same rates as men. Yet women are not encouraged and recruited at the same rate. 

Angie Herbers

1. What is your name and what do you? 

My name is Angie Herbers; I do business consulting for financial advisory firm owners through my company, I am the founder and teacher at my educational growth company, Beyond U Inc. and I am a columnist and blogger at ThinkAdvisor.comand for Investment Advisor Magazine

2. What does being a strong woman mean to you?

I have worked in many business settings throughout my career. I have found over the years, it is very easy for women to believe they have to be something they are not. They have to live up to standards that are put upon them and standards that they put upon themselves. Being strong to me, is simply showing up exactly how you are. Be brave enough to let people see the true you. Wear what you want to wear; talk the way you want to talk; be kind; be compassionate and say 'I love you.' 

3. What advice would you give the teenage version of yourself? 

Getting to your dream is hard and it hurts. It's hard because it takes a lot of work. It hurts because it takes a lot of time. Have fun along the way, as you cannot work all the time. Everyone needs a break to have a bit of fun!  

4. Name a woman in your life that has inspired you to be the woman you are today? 

There are thousands of women who inspire me. I encourage women to read a lot to gain wisdom in other women and their wisdom. It is really a combination of a lot of women all over the world who have helped me shine. It reminds me of a quote by Marianne Williamson in her book, A Return to Love: 

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves: "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?" Actually, who are you to not be? Your playing small doesn't serve the world. ... And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."  

5. Tell me a fact, secret, or something weird you do? 

I pray nearly all day constantly. Prayer is all sorts of things. It can be breathing, It can be what you say to yourself. It can be the words, 'I love you.' What you say to yourself determines what you become and determines what you say to others. Start with being kind to yourself and believing it. I also pick my nose. Sometimes a Kleenex simply doesn't get rid of what is causing my suffering. :) 


6. What is your favorite piece from Sierra Winter Jewelry? 

The Gypsy Earrings


7. What is one of your favorite organizations that supports and encourages strong women?

If you go to any library and pick up a book written by a woman you will find a wealth of experience and knowledge beyond measure. My favorite organizations that support women are any organizations that publish women authors. 

 Meghomala Chakrabarti

1. What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Meghomala Chakrabarti. I go by Megh or countless other interesting nicknames (including Chocolate Party). I am 30 years old (6 days younger than Sierra), I am a Licensed Social Worker (LMSW) and I'm working on my clinical license. I am a social worker at Truman Medical Centers: an academic, safety-net medical center in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. I spend my days helping people through their most difficult moments, helping patients and families coping with chronic illness, devastating diagnoses, and death. I love every moment of it. I also have a chronic illness myself; I was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia at 2.5 months old and received a liver transplant August 31st, 2015. I intermittently blog about my experience here: I am married to an amazing man, Alex, and have 2 phenomenally cute pups, Penny and Harrison. 




2. What does being a strong woman mean to you? 

Being a strong women means surviving unimaginable obstacles. Women of all sorts accomplish this every day. Being a strong woman to me is everything. As mentioned above, I have spent all of my life living with a life-threatening chronic illness, and much of my journey has been traumatic. At the very least, I felt I was always on the verge of dying, then actually almost dying, and finally receiving a transplant! And spending my waking hours as a social worker?? I'm not sure I believe it myself! 

But being a strong woman allowed me to persevere through these odds. I found a strength in myself that I never thought I'd find, and it allowed me to foster my own resilience. My strength has given me the courage to share my experience in a public arena through my blog and allowed others to see what it is like to live with a chronic illness. It reminds me to reach out to my physicians when I don't feel well or when I don't feel like my treatments are helping. Moreover, it developed a passion within myself to give back and help others, allowing me to use my experiences to become a medical social worker. 

Being strong doesn't always mean putting on a brave face. Being a strong woman means having the courage to experience all of life's emotions and situations to the fullest you can- whether that means you're happy and satisfied, or crying and hopeless. Being a strong woman gives you the hope to wake up another day when you though last night was already too much. 

3. What advice would you give to the teenage version of yourself? 

I think the advice I would give myself is one many women I know would advise to their teenage selves... stop dating assholes! You are more beautiful and worthy than you can ever know and almost every man you meet before 19 is a total jerk. Also, they're not as smart or well read, or poetic as they think they are, and oh yeah, they don't change with they "grow up" either. At 19 you meet your future husband, so chill, yeah? Also, have fun with your friends and enjoy your worry free (BILL FREE) life! As Lester Bangs says in Almost Famous, "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when your uncool." Megh, you were spectacularly uncool in high school.. enjoy your time with your friends in high school because you won't talk to most of them ever again (HA!) And, yes, 16 years later Almost Famous will STILL be your favorite movie.

4. Name a woman in your life that has inspired you to be the women you are today? 

At a most basic level, being "strong" is a learned strategy for survival. Each strong women was able to get strong (hopefully) by modeling demonstrated by a health and lovely women role  models. What is that saying? 

"Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them!"

I gained all my knowledge about being the strongest from my mother, Leena. She was born in India and had lived there her whole life until she married my father, Amit when she was 22 years old. My father left shortly after to complete his PhD in Minneapolis, MN and my parents were apart on and off for two years. 

My mother finished her Master's degree and permanently immigrated a few years later, from Kolkata, India when she was just 24 years old. And there she was, here, in the United States, with out her family or any major support system other than my father, missing her culture, language and food, to say the least. ...And then she got pregnant. And of course, as you know, I ended up being a very sick baby. As you may have started to realize, my mom is the epitome of badass and beautiful. She has always been my biggest advocate, ensuring I got the best treatment, looking up research options with my father, holding my hand while I was crying through IVs and lines, antibiotics, and surgery and approaching nurses or physicians with concerns, if they weren't providing adequate care. My mom taught me the definition of patients rights, but had also had this uniquely smooth and effortless way of making sure her point came across seriously (but also politely). Witnessing her advocacy for me from such a young age created my passion for health care advocacy. It started me on my path to social work, and I use skills I learned from her daily in my social work position, advocating for my patients and clients in a system that easily forgets those without a voice. 

5. Tell me a fact, secret, or something weird you do. 

I sneeze really loudly. I once sneezed in the cafeteria of the hospital I work at, and someone fell off his seat, he was so scared! Also, at the same time, one of my co-workers (at the time), said she peed her pants a little because SHE was so scared. And there was another co-worker whose office was down the hallway from mine, who would call me to say "bless you" every time I sneezed, even though she was a good 100 feet (maybe more) away. What can I say? It's a talent!

6. What is your favorite piece from Sierra Winter Jewelry?

Oh I don't even need to think about this. Hands down the gold vermeil Warrior Earrings. When I think of strong women, I love the adjective warrior. Surviving as a woman in our world can be a fierce battle, and how better to dress the part other than Sierra Winter's Warrior Earrings? Who run the world? Girls. 



7. What is one of your favorite organizations that supports and encourages strong women? 

As you can see from my previous responses, healthcare is a serious passion of mine. So much so that I decided to become a medical social worker and help folks through critical illness daily. I think that one of the most basic human rights is access to healthcare. 

So today, I'd like to talk about my favorite organization, the one I've worked for, for several years now, Truman Medical Center (TCM). TMC serves the urban core in Kansas City, Missouri. What I love about our hospital is that we provide excellent medical care regardless of a patient's ability to pay. Not just basic healthcare, however, patients at Truman Medical Center have access to amazing specialty care, including a Level 1 Trauma Center, a phenomenal ICU (If I do say so myself), Ortho and other surgical specialties and so much more. 

But how does Truman help when it comes to strong women? TMC services women all through the lifecycle. We start our amazing care with specialized labor and delivery services, including excellent labor and delivery services both at our downtown Health Sciences District (formally Hospital Hill) campus and out in Lee's Summit with our Lakewood Birthing Center. The HSD birthplace features a Level III NICU, and we are connected by "The Bridge of Hope" the Children's Mercy Level IV NICU. We have a Meds/Peds clinic that specializes in providing care to both mothers and their babies, as they grow up. Our Trauma and Critical Care services provide dedicated specialty care to women who are victims of violent crime, or women with complicated comorbidities and illnesses. Our TMC-LW nursing facility has a specialized memory care unit just for women with Alzheimer's! And of course, I cant' forget to mention Truman Behavioral Health, which focuses on providing accessible mental health services to all folks in the urban core, women included. It is evident over and over again that Truman Medical Centers focuses on the needs of women of ALL types. 

Is my love for Truman evident? I hope so. Because what we do that is more unique and special of all is provide realistic financial options for ur Kansas City community. We have a Truman Discount program that allows those who financially qualify and live in Jackson County to apply and have their services covered at up to 100% at our downtown and Lakewood hospitals. Not only that, we focus intently on helping out community get access to other insurance options, such as applying qualified patients for Medicaid. Can you imagine? Having the comfort of knowing that your hospital is doing it's absolute best to reduce your financial burden WHILE also providing you amazing medical care?

This is absolutely my dream job. Every day, I get to walk with folks through some of the hardest moments of their lives. I provide them support, and I collaborate with my medical team to develop safe discharge plans. I provide resources and get to be a part of Truman changing lives. I hope you too, can see the importance of this amazing resource in our community.

Jill Minton

1. Who is Jill Minton? 

Jill Minton could barely keep her eyes open in a five-minute car ride. She was in her 20's, "ate right", and worked out regularly. What in the world was wrong? She was an IT Consultant, traveled all the time, had two little kids, so she calked it up to a busy life. Her health continued to deteriorate and she knew something was wrong. Finally after many doctors visits and test later she ended up with a disease diagnosis for herself and members of her family. She was determined to use her diagnosis to change her life and many others. Even if it meant turning their life as they knew it upside down. Her journey back to health prompted her to build her first t.Loft, Health Caféin 2013. t.Lofts are fast causal cafes focused on serving up fresh, all natural food and drinks. She has built her passion into a brand, including five locations (and growing) in the Kansas City area. They continue to have amazing experiences through the brand including feeding the Kansas City Royals and visiting MLB teams for home games, café visits from Selena Gomez, Alex Morgan, Jack Sock, NFL and MLB players, and many more. This journey is a far distance from the IT Consulting world working for Big 4 Public Accounting firms that she grew up in. 


2. What does being a strong woman mean to you? 

It means having the internal dialogue with yourself to get yourself back up off the mat when you've been defeated. It means going, when you don't think you can go anymore. It means understanding how to determine when something should be done for the right reasons even if it isn't the popular choice. Going the high road even when it's lonely. 

3. What advice would you give the teenage version of yourself? 

If I could travel back to those early days, I would tell myself to spend time with myself, listen to those inner voices, and don't be afraid to be yourself. Seek until you find the mentors you connect with and are living the life you want for yourself. Don't be afraid to reach out and learn from those who have succeeded before you. Ask for help and advice daily. 

4. Name a woman in your life that has inspired you to be the woman you are today? 

My mom has always told me I could be and do anything I really wanted to be or do. She is that constant cheerleader and voice that tells me, "if I put my mind to it and I could do anything". She is always the most positive and supportive person. Always willing to do anything for anyone. 

5. Tell me a fact, secret, or something weird you do? 

My favorite toy was a box of office supplies. I could sit and play office for house... as early as I can remember. 


7. What is one of your favorite organizations that supports and encourages strong women? 

I love the community of strong and supportive women at Fusion Fitness. It is an amazing group of women that work crazy hard and support each other to get through whatever is challenging you. No, it's not a not-for-profit or women's organization but its a group of women that come together (for many) nearly DAILY  and work together to help each other get through the tough stuff. They chose to come on their own motivation without any reward other than to get stronger on the inside and out for their families and for their life in general. They are some of the strongest and hardest working women I know and admire. It pure personal motivation to get better at life so we/they can be better to help others. 

Comment below with your favorite organizations that support and encourages strong women and check back next week with to hear from some more bad ass babes. 

Peace and Love, 


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