06/10/2019 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

Female Focus: CS&A Boston Office

Kim Garner, Beth McArdle, Donisha Thaxton Stay connected with CS&A

It's a very special week here at Carney, Sandoe & Associates: we're getting ready to host our third Women's Institute this Friday in Boston!

Our event team has been planning for months, from deciding this year's theme of “Sound the Alarm,” to structuring the day's activities, inviting keynote speakers, brainstorming session ideas, and building mentor groups with registered attendees.

As we head into the home stretch of preparations, we chatted with some of CS&A's Boston office staff members about the Institute, their role models, and more.

Kim Garner smiling in officeKim Garner, Director of Conferences and Operations

What do you think is the biggest challenge faced by women in the workplace?

There are many challenges facing working women today — work-life imbalance, inadequate support from supervisors, fear of failure, the list goes on. I think one of the biggest challenges facing working women is race and gender bias. Specifically, working women of color. Women of color continue to face challenges that intersect across race/ethnicity, gender, and culture. The rise of women does not equal the fall of men.

What about the Institute are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about the small group work we will get to do. We were able to host a similar session during our inaugural event, and it was incredibly powerful to have women from many different stages of careers and life. It’s a time to listen as well as be heard.

Why would you recommend a colleague or friend attend our Women’s Institute?

I know I’m a bit biased, but CS&A’s Women’s Institute is an incredible opportunity for learning, networking, building unity, and personal refreshment. After a long school year, it’s a nice way to step back and reflect over the last several months.

I love that this event is for women from all walks of their careers in education. So often events like this solely focus on people who are in leadership or looking to advance in to leadership positions. In establishing this institute it was important for our roots to be in lateral leadership, meaning you can learn from anyone despite “title.”

What are some of your favorite quotes from women?

“The woman who does not require validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.” -Mohadesa Najumi

“The worst thing that we can do as women is not stand up for each other, and this is something we can practice every day, no matter where we are and what we do — women sticking up for other women.” -Amal Clooney

“It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for. It takes years to find your voice and your real estate.” -Amy Poehler


Headshot of Beth McArdleBeth McArdle, Placement Associate for Mathematics

Who is your female role model?

Dolly Parton is an inspiration. She is a superbly talented singer and songwriter, philanthropist (her Imagination Library has gifted almost 120 million books), and shining ray of light. But this story is one that I think of often: When she and Elvis Presley were at the height of their careers in the early 70s, Elvis had taken interest in recording one of her songs. However, he was demanding half of her sole publishing rights. She noted that it was an incredibly hard business decision to make, as she would have loved for Elvis to sing her song, but she ultimately declined. The song was I Will Always Love You, which, over 20 years later thanks to Whitney Houston, would become one of the best-selling singles of all time. Great foresight and gumption, Ms. Parton!

Who was your favorite teacher in school?

Mr. Brian Welsh, who was my teacher for 9th grade world history and 12th grade I.P.L.E. (Introduction to the Political and Legal Experience). Mr. Welsh was extremely passionate and unconventional. Ahead of his time, he embraced project-based learning decades ago. The I.P.L.E. class was held in a common lobby area of the school and Mr. Welsh would engage walkers-by in the middle of class, which was always entertaining. He was hilarious, motivational, and legendary.

Why would you recommend a colleague or friend attend our Women’s Institute?

In its third year, the Women’s Institute is a terrific opportunity for professional development, networking, and self-reflection. With inspiring keynote speakers and collaborative sessions, our hope is that it is a personally valuable and professionally productive experience for all attendees.

BONUS: Beth's favorite Dolly quotes:

“If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one.”
“It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.”


Donisha ThaxtonDonisha Thaxton, Senior Associate, Placement and Conference Teams

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

I’m not sure if this counts as advice, but it’s certainly stuck with me: I subscribe to a daily affirmation text service, and one day it challenged subscribers to be communication-oriented, as opposed to performance-oriented when speaking up in meetings, emails, or anytime. To be communication-oriented is to reduce anxiety and negative self-talk in focusing on the message you need to get across, rather than concerning yourself with impressing those you are speaking with. I think about groups whose voices have been continually silenced and the only way to be heard is to be incredibly polished so as to be a “credit” to their group. This shift in my thinking has helped me rebuke that notion of compulsive respectability in my day-to-day work.

What are some of your favorite quotes from women?

One of my favorite quotes is by Toni Morrison: “As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.” It’s also incredibly relevant to our Women’s Institute, as we push each other to imagine new ways to lead and encourage each other, instead of trying to mold ourselves into what we think independent school leaders look, think, and speak like.

Why do you think it’s important we host a Women’s Institute?

Solidarity and support are not only comforting and empowering, they are necessary. There is such a need for this event, as it provides a space to vent, share, and also mobilize. It will be helpful to brainstorm next steps with a group that gets it. Together, we can figure out how to change the statistics we are seeing about the small number of women in leadership in independent schools. Together, we can uplift each other and make a difference.


We cannot wait to join female educators from across the country this Friday for what is sure to be an inspirational, motivational, and empowering event!

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