By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette — When Mary Jo Hunt speaks to women about balancing family and career on Saturday she will be speaking from a lifetime of experience.
Hunt, who will be giving the keynote address at the fifth Annual Health Care Conference for Women, worked with Project Headstart, helped to found the New York state's Epic parenting program, helped to found and later was a director of Leadership Buffalo. Married to Peter Hunt, president of Hunt Real Estate ERA, Mary Jo said she set her goals early for success in family and career, but it wasn't always easy.
Mary Jo remembers as a young teacher coming home at the end of a long day and strapping her colicky second child into a bunting so she could make it through the evening. "I found myself grocery shopping at midnight on a Friday night and I said to myself, "Hmmm, this is not a good strategy.'"
The Syracuse native who married Peter Hunt out of college and helped him grow his real estate company from 40 employees to 1,000, was teaching with the Buffalo Teachers Corp by the time she was 23. While raising four children she eventually got a consulting job with Project Head Start which allowed her control of her hours, but after working in the inner city she was always concerned about mothers who didn't have the luxury of choosing to work part time.
She has since devoted much of her work to a variety of community programs for single mothers and working parents who need support and child care assistance. She noted that she doesn't have advice for other mothers, but hopes they can learn more about their own stories by listening to hers. "I can only tell (them) what I did and how I came to the conclusions I came to," she said of her presentation.
Her goals as a leadership coach is to help people to understand their "end game" and to continually evaluate their decisions to get to their life goals.
She said she and her husband decided upon their "end game" early in their relationship. "Our family mission was that we were going to raise responsible, self-sufficient, resilient, nurturing children," she said. "It became my mission statement, but I also know that my kids were going to get that only if they saw that I did things that were important to me."
Hunt will be speaking at 9 a.m. Saturday following a continental breakfast at 8 a.m., to open the fifth annual conference at the Conference Center of Niagara Falls. The event features speakers throughout the day, including Niagara Gazette Natural Health columnist and doctor of naturopathy, Catherine Stack, who will speak on common hormone issues. A noon luncheon will feature a special menu highlighting healthy aspects in foods and food preparation, including recipe, nutrition facts, and antioxidant properties.
The morning sessions will be repeated in the afternoon to allow attendees to visit other demonstrations and presentations. The conference adjourns at 2:30 p.m. Co-Chairs of the event are Kate Cumbo, Allison Violante, and Tanya Miller. For reservations or information, call 298-2697 or 298-2146. Registration is $15 for the entire conference, $5 for students, and advance registration is encouraged as space is limited to the first 350 registrants. Reservations are limited.IF YOU GO • WHAT: Fifth annual Health Care Conference for Women, sponsored by Mount St. Mary's Hospital of Lewiston. • WHEN: Doors open at 8 a.m. Saturday. The day concludes at 5 p.m. • WHERE: Conference Center Niagara Falls, 101 Old Falls St. • MORE INFO: Cost is $15 and includes breakfast and lunch. For more information visit www.msmh.org or call 298-2697 to register.