Meet GINA ROBISON-BILLUPS Founder of The National Association For Moms In Business in Henderson, NV
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally. I am the founder/ceo/mom-in-chief of The National Association For Moms In Business.- the only association representing the interests of entrepreneurial, executive and CEO moms. I am a remarried mother of two teenage girls. I started the organization about six years ago when I had my own business and wanted to do seminars for moms in business. I figured I’d join the organization that represents them. It took me a year and a half to finally admit that there was no such organization. I realized that in all these decades if moms hadn’t come together to do this for themselves, then someone had to step up, and it might as well be me or we may go another 100 years without representation. The tide has changed slowly for moms in business, but there is still a bias inthe workplace towards moms whether it be in getting that executive position or getting a contract for new business. Moms have felt that they sometimes have had to deny having children in order to keep their job, get a job, or advance their careers. I knew it was an uphill challenge when a business owner told me once that what I did sounded like an excuse for women to get together to chat, and because they pass mascara across the table (“sales”) they can call it “business”. That fired me up, and I knew what my mission was…empowering moms to be successful and to break down the misconception that hiring a woman with children is a bad business idea.
I have also started Moms Making a Million – an educational program dedicated to helping one million moms create a plan by 2015 to have a million dollars in personal net worth. It started on the premise that if women were paid equal to men for equal work, then we would reduce poverty by 50% in the U.S alone! I knew that if I wanted to make lasting change, then I would have to start with moms. When you lift one mom up from poverty, she in turn, lifts up generations of young women and her entire community. I may not have the power to affect what women are paid by business, but I do have the power to help them do better with the money they receive.
What do you enjoy most about your profession and why did you choose it in the first place? I enjoy making a difference in women’s lives. Giving them an opportunity to have that “Aha!” moment about the business or career. I also really enjoy making a difference legislatively and being the voice on Capitol Hill for moms in business. I really don’t think I chose this. It chose me. When I realized that no one in all these decades of working mothers had started an association for us, what else was I supposed to do. This is the one time when that classic mom phrase, “If I don’t do it, nobody will”, was a positive thing.
Tell us about the organizations your company supports and why? Through The National Association For Moms In Business, I have had the privelege to support various organizations. We have partnerships with CARE, Women Impacting Public Policy and MomsRising. I have also had the pleasure of raising money and awareness through our Create Your Dreams Awards for The Susan G. Komen Foundation, Shade Tree – Home for Abused Women and Children, and The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. I also volunteer when I can for my children’s schools which is the most rewarding of all. I started a Safety Committee two years ago at my youngest daughter’s school to help protect the children from cars. Nine children had been hit by cars in two years. I volunteered every morning to direct traffic from 7am to 8am – 5 days a week. Not one child was hit that year. That’s my proudest achievement. Nothing starts your day on a more positive note than knowing, that day, you saved a child from being hurt.
What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome? The biggest professional risk was the first Create Your Dreams Awards – it’s the national awards honoring the achievements of working mothers and we give two business grants. With a team of only two other amazing women, I put together my dream of honoring women in only about 8 weeks. It was a $70,000 risk and we didn’t have that in the bank. It was the first gala at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas too! I was terrified.
The biggest obstacle I have had to overcome was being diagnosed with very aggressive breast cancer last year. I have worked through chemo and surgery and chemo again. I went through six weeks of radiation therapy. I am happy to report that I have successfully overcome the cancer! It’s changed my life and how I work. It’s actually been a wonderful gift and blessing for both me and for my work with The National Association For Moms In Business.
From where do you draw inspiration? Who have been your role models, mentors, etc? I draw inspiration from our members – every day women. When they share their successes, it inspires me. Nothing inspires me more than a mom who tells me how something I did helped her business grow. I am also blessed to have some amazing mentors and role models in business too. Barbara Kasoff, CEO and co-founder of Women Impacting Public Policy is one of those many women. She also started an organization from the ground up and knows the challenges.
How is the current economic situation affecting your company/organization? As if the economy wasn’t enough, I also had the issue of breast cancer when the economy was at its worse. I literally didn’t have the strength to hit the pavement and create more business, so I had to make changes internally. Looking at my business practices through another lens was life changing. Our organization has grown substantially, and I am doing it with less work. I was really forced to dig even deeper into the idea of how to be more effective and less busy. In the past years, I was struggling to expand. Now, due to the changes that the economy forced me to make, we are expanding to seven more states by the end of 2009.
What one thing would you like to learn this year? — Just one thing? — How to sell national sponsorships better.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Training someone to take on the day-to-day management of the organization, and learning how to create a clinic to treat children and adults with scoliosis..
What do you do for fun/relaxation/entertainment? golf, hot yoga, walking my dog, dinner with family and friends, traveling.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? There is something good in everything.
For more information, visit: www.MIBN.org