"We Can Do Hard Things" An Interview With Keri Hoehne
Keri Hoehne is a One Woman Makes a Difference 2016 Honoree! Keri Hoehne is the Executive Assistant to the President, United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 371. Join us on Tuesday, October 4th to celebrate all our honorees for making a difference in the lives of women, girls and families in Connecticut.
Who is your biggest inspiration as a woman and why?
My mom. While she probably chose her job out of financial need, she did the same work for nearly forty years, always treating her coworkers and customers with kindness and her job with seriousness and commitment. Her real story, however, is her commitment to my dad and my brother and I, and now to my young family. My mom has been there for me always- helping my brownie troop, attending baton twirling competitions and high school plays, and paying to have my hometown newspaper mailed to me daily when I was homesick in college. Now, she helps me to realize when it is right to fight for something at work, and when it is best to drop it (I would fight every time). These days, she drops everything to help care for my three daughters every single time. She always reminds me that while she is so proud of the work I do to help so many other moms every day, I can never lose sight of the real reason I do it all- to provide for my daughters. In my field, sometimes I meet some people who make really bad choices, and I am tempted to be frustrated with them. My mom always reminds me that everyone is fighting their own battle, and I need to stop, take a deep breath, and view the world through their eyes.
If you could sum up your life philosophy is one sentence, what would it be?
We can do hard things.
What Women's issue is most important to you?
Family friendly scheduling. When we talk about work/family balance, we often are referring to parents working in careers, where they have some control over their own schedules. However, more and more workers in America are employed in retail and service jobs. These types of jobs typically do not allow employees to assert much control over their schedules. I was raised in a dual earner family, where my mom worked in a supermarket and my father in a factory. As a result of their union contracts, they were allowed to take time off to care for my brother and I when we were sick, and to attend school events and meetings. Additionally, my mom in particular was allowed to change her work availability when our schedules necessitated it. This is, in my opinion, the only way we can succeed as a community full of dual income families. Even with quality child care, we need to be able to ensure our kids are doing their homework, allowed to participate in afterschool activities, and are generally staying out of trouble. The reduction in full time work in many industries has led more and more workers to be forced to find multiple part time jobs. This makes the work life balance even more precarious, and union contracts and legislation that enforce advanced scheduling and eliminate on call and last minute scheduling can relieve some of the stress on working families.
What has been your biggest professional hurdle as a woman and how did you overcome it?
As a working mom, I value preparation and efficiency over pretty much all else. However, my job often means that things get thrown at me at the last minute, or someone wants to discuss an issue just a little bit longer than I have budgeted in my google calendar.
I have worked hard to prove to my (mostly male) coworkers that I can get the work done and done well on my own timetable. I always have to be clear about them about time constraints placed on me.
In order to allow time for unexpected issues, and still be available when my kids need me, I try as often as possible to wake up early and put in a couple of hours of work writing documents or answering emails before anyone else in the house is awake. Then, after our daughters are in bed, I put in a few more hours doing the same thing. This means that I can sneak home to see my kids get off the bus and have dinner with them, or ensure I can make it to their dance competitions on the weekend. Also, when planning for family events (throwing parties is my most favorite hobby), I have been known to make goodie bags a month ahead of time and hang decorations 10 days before a party, because those are the free moments that I know I have available.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t reflect on Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s career advice to women - "The most important career choice you'll make is who you marry.” About four years ago, my husband made the choice, after much discussion, to quit a job he loved to stay home and care for our daughters. That means two important things: I can focus solely on my work when that is what is required, and that when I do have time that I can be home, I can spend it purely on our girls and their needs, and not on shopping, cooking, or carpooling. During those late nights while I’m getting in a few extra hours of work, he is right next to me, folding clothes.
What is your favorite quote as a woman?
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
We hope you'll join us on October 4th to show your support of CWEALF and this year's honorees. This annual event supports CWEALF's mission to empower women, girls and their families to achieve equal opportunities in their personal and professional lives. Purchase your tickets today!
By CWEALF at 6 Sep 2016, 16:11 PM
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