International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the incredible achievements of women, promote equality, and raise awareness.

To honor and celebrate the inspiring women within Morrison Living, we hosted a Q&A Session with our female leaders.

Barbara Conn, CEO:

Raising my son as a single mom while balancing the demands of a career.  I subscribed to the notion that it takes a village.  I built a support network that I relied on for help.  It worked!  My son is a wonderful man with a family of his own now. 

Christina Bondanza, Regional Executive Chef:

Honestly, one of my biggest obstacles is not having the stereotypical “burly armed, tattooed” persona of an “Executive Chef”; even as we know that the old-school, temper tantrum throwing kitchen autocrat is or should be a thing of the past.

Andrea Woods, Regional Vice President:

Not being heard and feeling invisible. Literally sitting in a meeting and providing input and being told my idea wasn’t good enough. Then, a male says the same thing and it’s a great idea. You just learn not to let it defeat you. Continue to bring ideas and those instances become the exception; not the rule.

Christina Bondanza, Regional Executive Chef:

I have many people who inspire me:  Malala Yousafzai; winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and advocate of the education of girls worldwide:  Julia Bringloe; a flight medic in the US Army who received the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery while rescuing injured soldiers during a firefight: and Julia Child; who inspires me daily with her quote, “Find something you are passionate about and stay tremendously interested in it.” But I do believe that Chef Dominique Crenn says it best:  After being named, “Best Female Chef” by World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2016 for winning three Michelin stars, she later criticized it for being gender-specific, saying: “It’s stupid. A chef is a chef.” Exactly.

Catherine Cape, VP – Purpose and Engagement:

A woman who influenced my life was my aunt, Billie Jean (B.J.) Cape.  B.J. was my dad’s older sister and was an unassuming pioneer for academic and professional women during the 1950s and 1960s.  After graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in music, B.J. moved to Oklahoma City and attended Oklahoma City University College of Law at night, while working full time.  She graduated top of her class.  She was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar and was employed as a Law Clerk for Stephen Chandler, Chief Judge of the United States District Court in Oklahoma City.     

She went on to receive a Master’s degree in Comparative Law from New York University School of Law and study law at the University of Rennes, Frances. She returned to the US and in 1969, became Assistant Counsel and Assistant Secretary of the New York State Atomic and Space Development Authority.

B.J. was the first woman in a professional career I knew growing up, other than my teachers at school.  It opened my eyes and expanded my perceptions about what I could choose to do with my life.  Throughout my life and career, I often have thought about the women like my aunt blazing the trail for my generation.  Fortunately, I had the opportunity to tell my aunt how much she meant to me and to thank her before she passed away in 2020.  

Regan Medzhibzher, VP – Marketing and Communications:

My grandmother Gigi (stands for Grandmother Gladys… you wouldn’t dare call her Grandma) has been the most influential woman in my life. She knew how to balance prim and proper with party. She taught us proper etiquette, how to set the table, write handwritten notes and how to boogie down to Motown. We started a tradition on her 80th birthday to take a trip each year. I saw so many great places thanks to her – Italy, Charleston, Boston, Memphis…

Christine Willis, Division President:

Be bold and raise your hand to be involved in as many initiatives or projects as possible to learn from multiple individuals and departments, but also be humble to ask for help and learn from others.  Even today, I am the first to share a different perspective at times but also committed to leverage those around me and their knowledge and experience to help us get to the best outcome.  You’re in a position to contribute more than you think…Raise your hand!

Elly Kosteck, Regional Vice President:

The best advice I can give a young woman starting her career is to seek knowledge, teach someone something every opportunity you get-when you teach, you learn. Treat everyone you encounter as if they are the most important person; be fearless; be humble, step out of your comfort zone, ask questions and have fun!

Traci Miller, Senior Director of Nutrition and Wellness:

Go for the challenging positions, not the easy ones – how else will you grow? Ask for stretch assignments. If none are available, find it through volunteering in your community. Network, network, network – often it is more who you know, versus what you know. It does not have to be in your field, because we are all interconnected and someone will refer you when you make a great impression on that committee you volunteered for….. You can do the job, but you have to get the interview first! If you start scheduling time to take care of yourself early in your career, it will become a non-negotiable habit. Exercise is important, but so is: spending time with friends and family outside of work and making time for your hobbies, volunteer work, etc.  Last, but not least, if you are starting a family while working, and have a partner to share duties with, strive for one to have a more flexible position whenever possible throughout the school-age years.

Maggie Fisher, Senior Vice President of Experience and Strategy:

Well, one win from 2020 is that my morning routine is well, a bit more routine! I typically wake up between 6 and 6:30, hope that my husband has already made the coffee, and join him in our study to read the newspaper. Yes, an actual paper! If I have time, I follow that up with my favorite online daily newsletters from the New York Times, The Skimm, and industry publications. I am an afternoon exercise person, so that quiet time in the AM has become my indulgent time to gear up for a great day.    

Traci Miller, Senior Director of Nutrition and Wellness:

During the workweek, it starts with a good night’s sleep. I used to be able to make it on 5-6 hours, but now 7 is the best. I set an alarm for 5:20 am so I can drink a cup of coffee while reading a devotional. At 6 am, I exercise for at least an hour – cardio and core 5-6 days per week, strength 2-3 days per week. Next, I eat a protein-focused breakfast and drink more coffee! I try to keep up exercise routine while traveling, too. On the weekend, I don’t set an alarm…. although I still wake up at 5:20, but I’m getting better at falling back asleep. Once awake, I drink coffee (my favorite part of weekend mornings), and still try to move at least one of the weekend days. 

Andrea Woods, Regional Vice President:

Coffee and 10 minutes of meditation.  Review my goals for the day and reconcile my productivity when the day is done.  Love the feeling of getting things done.

Maggie Fisher, Senior Vice President of Experience and Strategy:

I’ve been in the food business my whole career, but working for Morrison Living is unique because what we provide is so much more than JUST delicious food and excellent service. We have the privilege of serving customers in their homes and with that comes incredible responsibility. Your home is your sacred spot, where you should always feel welcome, cared for, comfortable, and loved. Our amazing team ensures those resident experiences are all that and more. It’s helped me put a whole new lens on the power of food and hospitality – we just have the best culture and I’m proud to be part of the team!    

Christine Willis, Division President:

Compass is an incredible organization with such diverse sectors that truly lends any individual the opportunity to stretch their skill set and leadership within the organization.  I am honored to lead the West Division for Morrison Living and so thankful for the other sectors we have leaned on during times of crisis to ensure our clients and residents are supported.  I hope to return the favor one day. 

Elly Kosteck, Regional Vice President:

My favorite thing about working for Morrison Living/Compass Group first and foremost is our people.  In my 31 years with the company, I have met the most amazing and inspiring people-at every level and in every sector.  I also appreciate the diversity within the company and the opportunities for growth and development.  I am very grateful for those who have chosen to join our team and who truly are the engine that drives the train out of the gate every day and who makes the magic happen.

Barbara Conn, CEO:

I love to read, cook and make forts with my grandson.  I look forward to hot yoga when it’s safe to go back. 

Catherine Cape, VP – Purpose and Engagement:

There was a time I am not sure I would have said I enjoy it, but I’ve come to appreciate running and walking as my main form of exercise.  During the pandemic, I was able to continue this activity because I run and walk outdoors.  There’s something about being outdoors, experiencing the changing seasons, that not only is good for my physical wellbeing but also my mental and emotional wellbeing.  What I haven’t been able to do during the pandemic is participate in half-marathons.  Over the years, I’ve participated in many 5ks, 10ks, and half-marathons. I feel confident that I will be able to participate in one or two races later in 2021.

Regan Medzhibzher, VP – Marketing and Communications:

In my spare time, I enjoy family time. We enjoy RV’ing, roller skating, soccer games, GA football games, the Braves, puzzles, Uno, Sequence, and anything outdoors.