FEW Spotlight

FEW Spotlight

M’Lou Rossie – 2018 Treasurer

FEW Member since 2011


Tell us about your position and company, scope of responsibilities, and career path to this point.  What have been the favorite parts of your career and your current position? 

I am currently in a transition between jobs.  I have been working with Chrome River based in Los Angeles, but I have informed them I am leaving as soon as I complete my current projects.  I am joining Chief Growth Officers as a C Level Consultant for local companies.  I work with upper management of companies to help them grow or identify and correct problem areas of their company.  Some of the services include improving accounting technology, restructuring the accounting department and processes, creating reports to help management plan for the future (sales projections, cash flow projections), structuring a company to sell in the future, and providing interim or part-time CFO services.  I am able to draw on my many years of experience in accounting and technology (I have spent the last 7 years with software companies working with developers in creating and implementing financial products.)

My favorite company that I worked with was in technology with Viewpost.  However, it was a startup that did not generate the revenue quickly enough so had a major layoff in October last year.  The exposure to development and technology has been a perfect blend with my accounting background that makes me successful in my current role.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?  What would you like to share about your early family? 

I was born in Biloxi, Mississippi and lived most of my childhood there.  My sisters were 8, 9 and 15 years older than me.  My mother was told she could have no more children after the 3rd daughter, but I proved them wrong!  My father died when I was 4 and my mother raised all 4 of us single handed.  Her strong spirit and faith helped me become the person I am today.

How would you describe yourself?  

I love to have fun and spend time with friends and acquaintances, but I don’t feel as though I am outgoing.  I sometimes come across as an introvert.

What would you like to share about your current family, including pets? 

My 2 daughters are married and live in the Orlando area.  My oldest daughter just gave birth to her third son and also has a 2 and 3 year old.  My grandmother name is “Sugar”. We have 3 dogs.

How do you spend your free time?

In recent years, my grandbabies take up my time.  My husband and I also love to travel and to spend time at Disney World.  I also love working in my yard.

What was your proudest moment or greatest accomplishment? 

Passing the CPA exam in the early part of my career and then becoming a partner in the 3rd largest CPA firm in Mississippi were my career accomplishments.  However, I feel my greatest accomplishments were helping my clients be successful and turning around a business when it is failing.

What awards and acknowledgements have you had that were most meaningful to you?

Awards and acknowledgements are not the focus of my life.  Being supportive and helping people are much more rewarding and meaningful to me.

What is the most important career help or support that anyone has given you? 

The most important career “help” was actually negative.  When I first started in accounting there were very few women.  When the computer became a desktop piece of equipment, all the technology work was given to me in the accounting firm because it was “clerical work that a woman should do” as the men would not type.  Because of this male chauvinism, I rose faster through my career because of my technology skills.  Always find something positive in a negative situation!

What causes or issues stir your passion? 

Children and animals stir my passion.

What are the primary nonprofit organizations which are particularly important to you? 

I am currently becoming more involved with Apraxia Kids of Central Florida and Childhood Autism as my oldest grandson has been diagnosed with both.  May is Apraxia awareness month.  Apraxia is a neurological speech disorder that affects a child’s ability to clearly and correctly produce syllables and words.

What are two things people would be surprised to know about you? 

I am a Disney World lover.  Most of my life I have had very few women friends…mostly men.

Where and what was your post-high-school education?  What was an important life lesson from this experience?

I graduated from Mississippi State University with a BS in Accounting and from Mississippi College with an MBA.  At Mississippi State, my college roommate was killed in a car accident.  We had argued the previous 2 weeks and the day before her death we resolved everything and had a wonderful time together.  I don’t like to let an argument extend without resolution as I never know if something will happen to the other person.

What types of shows, performances and films do you like the most?

I love Broadway musicals for stage performances but like Sci-Fi for films!

What types of books do you usually prefer?  Do you have favorites and why? 

I normally like murder mysteries or adventure books to read for enjoyment.  In accounting, there is always so much technical reading, I like something different when not working.  I like books written by Greg Iles because they are staged in Mississippi and he includes so many familiar landmarks.

What keeps you involved with FEW, and how has FEW been of value to you – generally and specifically?

I love the women of FEW.  This has been one of the few (pun intended) times in my life when I have found a group of women I love to be with, both professionally and socially.  Most recently, I have joined Rebecca York with Chief Growth Officers.  Without FEW, Rebecca and I would never have met.


FEW Spotlight

Jeanne Cooley – FEW Member November 2017

Tell us about your position and company, scope of responsibilities, and career path to this point.  What have been the favorite parts of your career and your current position?

My position is Development Director of Donor and Corporate Engagement for Canine Companions for Independence, a national 501(C)3 nonprofit and the leading provider of assistance dogs that help people with disabilities.  I am responsible for increasing the level of philanthropic engagement of current and prospective donors including individuals and corporate partners throughout our Southeast Region which covers eight states including the Carolinas across to Louisiana and down to Florida.

My career path to this job started when I became a volunteer at Canine Companions in 2008.  I was taking time off from a position in real estate sales with a homebuilder, when I answered an ad on volunteer match and decided to join the gala committee.  My husband and I became completely hooked after attending our first Canine Companions graduation and we became enthusiastic advocates and gala sponsors.  Eventually, I went back to work in high tech business development before realizing it was time for me to make the move into nonprofit in 2013.

It has been extremely rewarding to be able to leverage my 20-year business development career in my nonprofit work.  I love that I get to work with generous people that care about others.  They have inspired me to personally give more.  I truly believe giving to others is one of the most fulfilling and satisfying things one can do and I consider it a joy and privilege to help facilitate this in others.  One of my favorite parts of this job is during our graduation ceremonies when I get to witness, all at once, the heartfelt gratitude of our recipients made possible through the generosity of our donors and volunteers, and the unconditional loving/lovable expertly trained dogs all around… and the humble feeling that I get to be a part of this… it fills my heart with joy.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?  What would you like to share about your early family? 

I was born in South Bend, Indiana.  My father was a Marine and we moved around a lot until he retired to Orlando when I was seven, so I grew up here and have been here my whole life with the exception of a five-year career move to Atlanta in the 90s.  I am one of six children. My mother and father were married for over 50 years. My wonderful mom, Carol, was a homemaker and currently lives at Winter Park Towers where she stays busy ALL the time.  For her 80th birthday I offered to take her on a trip anywhere she’d like to go and she chose Holland Michigan during Tulip Time.  We got to see hundreds of Tulips in bloom and the bonus is that we had the opportunity to return to my place of birth and baptismal church in South Bend, Indiana.  It was a very special trip.  My siblings and I are close, and all but one still lives within an hour of Orlando.

How would you describe yourself?  What would you like to share about your current family, including pets?  How do you spend your free time?

After living in Atlanta and traveling extensively for work in the 90’s (800,000 Delta miles in 5 years), I settled down with my husband in 2001 and enjoy being home!  My husband, Craig, is an attorney and we rescued an adorable Italian Greyhound, named Dino, who is now 15.  We dote on him.  We have 8 nieces and nephews, ranging from 3 years old to 30.  The eldest, Brett, is an MD for the University of Alabama, and the youngest, Richard, is my Godson who lives in Phoenix.

I have many quality friendships I cherish from every phase of my life.  Since my nonprofit work requires me to socialize often, I recharge by enjoying quality time with a friend or a quiet evening at home with my husband.  I am also a massage addict.  I enjoy movies, walking and dabble in yoga.  Whenever I am ready to venture away from home for pleasure, the beach is a favorite destination, especially Longboat Key.  I am a member of the Council of 101 since 2014 and belong to St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, Winter Park.

What was your proudest moment or greatest accomplishment?  What awards and acknowledgements have you had that were most meaningful to you?

I received many awards during my career in technology business development including Sales Rep of the Year twice and recognition for outstanding achievement when I was in homebuilder sales.  Although I have not received an official award in my nonprofit career, I am proud to have increased revenue for gala sponsorships, attendance, and overall revenue performance by 30%.

My single proudest professional accomplishment is that when I lived in Atlanta, I worked for a disk drive manufacturer and during the acquisition I lobbied my new manager for a promotion into OEM Sales.  He decided to take a chance on me and made it clear I needed to succeed.  Ultimately, I landed the first and biggest deal for the high-end disk drives the organization was trying to break into ($22 million).  It threw everyone for a loop including my competitors who didn’t see it coming!  The founder of the company was so happy he gave me a ride back to Atlanta on his private jet with the other VPs.  Also, I sold $50MM of homes in two years, but that one disk drive deal was the single most exciting transaction I’ve ever done.

What is the most important career help or support that anyone has given you?

I’m grateful to Cathy Benson, who was the Executive Director of Canine Companions when I began taking classes at Rollins Philanthropy Center as a volunteer for the organization five years ago, and whom two years later hired me for the position I took at Canine Companions.    Although she left the organization to pursue other endeavors, she set me up for success in recommending that I move into my current role which I have found highly rewarding.  I am very grateful to Cathy and consider her a friend and mentor.

What causes or issues stir your passion?  What are the primary nonprofit organizations where you volunteer and support?

Canine Companions is my favorite nonprofit since before I worked here.  The work we do and the results I’ve witnessed are incredibly inspiring.

As a member of the Council of 101, I enjoy working with many amazing women who put on fundraising events and have developed great friendships over the years.  I wish I had more time to volunteer there!

What are two things people would be surprised to know about you?

I worked for the Orlando Renegades Professional Football team in 1984 when Lee Corso was head coach.

I’m half Scottish and half Italian.

What have been a couple of your favorite travel destinations and why?  Have any trips been life changing for you?

Italy – My mother is a first generation American.  Her parents immigrated from a small farming community in Northern Italy just outside of Torino.  I have visited Italy 3 times and each time have seen my cousins, Walter and Cristina.  They both have visited us in Orlando as well and Cristina and I are discussing another visit.  Being at the place my grandparents grew up was thrilling in addition to seeing Rome, Venice, and Florence.  Walter and I became very close, and he was great about keeping in touch through Facebook.  Two years ago, Walter died suddenly at the age of 62 and, for me, Italy will never be the same without his big smiling singing lovable self to greet us.  So glad I got to know him.  Definitely life changing.

Cabo San Lucas –  My husband and I had the most romantic beautiful honeymoon back in 2001.  Tortilla soup for lunch every day followed by lounging at the pool time in the afternoon with the most delicious margaritas, chips and guacamole.  We’d hop on a jet ski and go through the famous arch or watch people have water balloon fights in the pool and just chill.  It was super relaxing!

What attracted you to FEW?  How do you see FEW being of value to you – generally and specifically?

I need to mix it up!  I spend a great deal of time focused on the nonprofit I work for and would like to get to know other organizations and discover other opportunities to contribute.  I’m looking to get to know others, am curious about learning, and am open to explore possibilities.   I hope to have time to get involved in the book club and look forward to supporting scholarships.