Meet the Women Who Inspire Us
As of 2022, more than half of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont executive team is composed of women. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we spoke with Vice President of Consumer Services Catherine Hamilton, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dawn Schneiderman, and General Counsel and Compliance Officer Rebecca Heintz about their journeys, inspirations, and advice for the next generation.
We’ve seen a lot of progress where gender equality is concerned, but Catherine, Dawn, and Rebecca can each remember a time when they were the only women working in a room full of men. Additionally, Rebecca recalls that when she first started litigating, there were judges that wouldn’t allow her to appear in the courtroom if she dared to wear pants, instead of a skirt or dress!
Inspired by Other Women
These leaders have been greatly inspired to persevere by other women.
“Women who inspire me the most have overcome challenges and obstacles and persisted nonetheless with grace,” says Catherine, who cites Oprah Winfrey as a wonderful example of someone who has overcome a lot. “I am grateful for the energy that she brings to the world,” she says.
Rebecca agrees that there are many famous women that inspire her, but feels that she is pursuing her career in homage to her grandmothers who were “limited in their options and left potential untapped.”
Dawn also notes that she is lucky to have a long line of inspiring women in her family tree, but ultimately draws strength from all those “who have conviction and are willing to speak up for what they believe in.”
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
We believe in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“Diversity is the spice of life,” Catherine says. “It makes work life more interesting and frankly more fun. And so, I'm pleased to say that our organization, over the course of time that I have been here… sees a much more diverse workforce as an asset and as a great strength.”
The leaders say that working at Blue Cross has impacted their lives positively as they are grateful for the culture, work-life balance, access to exceptional health insurance, and above all: the opportunity to help their friends and neighbors across Vermont.
“Working for a company that truly values its customers is very rewarding. It’s satisfying to feel like I am doing something good in the world and my employer supports and promotes those efforts,” says Rebecca.
Advice for the Next Generation
With their professional experiences in mind, our leaders share their advice for the next generation…
“The outside world is constantly trying to convince us that we are not enough. Believe in yourself. Turn down the volume on your inner critic and turn up the volume on your inner advocate,” says Catherine.
“It’s important to know what’s important to you. Not being afraid to speak up… I’ve found that when I’ve done that, people are receptive,” says Dawn. “If you guide yourself in that way, ultimately you will be fulfilled. And that is success to me -- being happy and fulfilled in life. Don’t be afraid to make a choice that will lead you there.”
“If you can, find work you love that makes time fly. Almost every workday, I find myself shocked that the day is over already,” says Rebecca. “And for the young working mothers out there, being a working mom can mean feeling guilty about both work and parenting. But as someone whose kids are grown, when you look back, you’ll find that you were doing both of those things a lot better than you thought at the time. Be kind to yourself.”
Making Time for Self-Care
While their advice for achieving professional and personal success is invaluable, it is arguably even more important to take time to care for yourself.
- Catherine chooses to care for herself by getting outside and staying physically active, even in the darkest and coldest of winters.
- Dawn puts her phone down whenever she can and encourages others in her life to be present in the moment.
- Rebecca unwinds and recharges by spending time at home, cooking healthy meals, and watching her favorite television shows.
“Self-care is a habit,” Catherine says. “Like any habit, it takes practice.” If our leaders can find the time, we’re hoping you can too!
Here are just a few resources we offer to support women’s health and wellness.
- Wellness Revolution
- A six-week program we created for women who want to make bicycling part of their wellness journey. No matter how long it's been since you've ridden, Wellness Revolution can help build cycling into your life.
- Maternal Health – Better Beginnings
- Having a baby is an exciting time, but it can also be hectic as you prepare for the new addition to your family. We’re here to help. Enrolling in our free Better Beginnings program is a great way to make sure you and your baby are getting all the care you need.
- Girls on the Run Vermont
- We’re the statewide sponsor of Girls on the Run Vermont, a nonprofit organization promoting self-esteem and healthy activity for young women.
- Women’s Health
- Learn more about some of the most common women’s health concerns.