Secrets to their success: Four women who participated in the Easthampton Chamber’s ‘sheLEADS’ program share their visions

  • Xiomara DeLobat, chief of staff of Western Mass Economic Development Council, in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Xiomara DeLobat, chief of staff of Western Mass Economic Development Council, in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Bozena Dabek, photographed at Easthampton Savings Bank on Monday, May 23, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Bozena Dabek, photographed at Easthampton Savings Bank on Monday, May 23, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Bozena Dabek, photographed at bankESB. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Susan Lapointe, photographed outside Wemelco Industries in Easthampton on Monday, May 23, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Susan Lapointe, photographed outside Wemelco Industries in Easthampton on Monday, May 23, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Susan Lapointe, photographed outside Wemelco Industries in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Megan Conner Dragon, photographed outside Taylor Real Estate in Easthampton on Monday, May 23, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Megan Dragon, photographed at Taylor Real Estate in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Megan Conner Dragon, photographed outside Taylor Real Estate in Easthampton on Monday, May 23, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Megan Conner Dragon, photographed at Taylor Real Estate in Easthampton on Monday, May 23, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 5/25/2022 4:15:59 PM
Modified: 5/25/2022 4:14:01 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The Chamber of Greater Easthampton recently hosted “sheLEADS,” a virtual and in-person professional development and leadership conference that was attended by 125 people.

The event was crafted as a means to provide Easthampton business women in the chamber with tools, connections and resources that they didn’t have when they walked in the door, according to Chamber Executive Director Moe Belliveau. 

The Gazette recently asked four leaders who attended the conference to tell us how they define a leader and offer some advice for other women seeking leadership roles.

Megan Conner Dragon

Background: Megan Conner Dragon works as a realtor at Taylor Real Estate in Easthampton. Working alongside her father, Chuck Conner, Dragon handles much of the advertising and management in the office and is setting herself up to follow in her father’s footsteps as the fourth-generation owner of the business and manager of sales.

While she worked as administrative assistant in the real estate office throughout high school and college, she previously worked at Riverside Industries as a developmental specialist relief staff.

Dragon also holds a degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Defining a leader: “Leading is working with people side-by-side, not necessarily in front of everyone. Leaning on everyone as much as they lean on you. … Setting an example of what I’d expect from them is what I would portray in myself also. I’m a big believer in everyone being treated equally, not one person being the leader looking down on others. We’re all in it together.”

Advice: “Don’t hold back. It’s intimidating to think that other people might be seeking advice and guidance from you and looking to you for that, but it’s constantly learning. Don’t be afraid to accept that you need help with something or that you need guidance from other people. Follow your gut.”

Bozena C. Dabek

Background: Bozena C. Dabek is the executive vice president and chief administrative officer for bankESB, Easthampton Savings Bank. She has worked at the Easthampton bank for 12 years — five years as the chief financial officer and seven years in her current position, where she is responsible for human resources, learning and development and compliance/audit and risk.

Dabek previously worked for JPMorgan Chase in investment banking finance in Manhattan.

She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Pace University in New York City and a Master of Business Administration in Finance from New York University. 

Defining a leader: “As a leader, I always say that my success is based on the success of the team, and you’re only as good as your team. So lifting up the team, and making sure I know what their career goals and aspirations are and ensuring there’s employee engagement.

“The ability to show compassion toward employees is a very important characteristic of a good leader, and especially important during the pandemic.”

Advice: “I think it’s important to search for mentors and also to take risks. … Calculated risk is important because it opens up doors. If you focus on the negative potential consequences, you might regret it. And whatever it is you’re doing, be the best at it because you’ll get recognized for it.”

Xiomara Albán DeLobato

Background: Xiomara Albán DeLobato is the chief of staff for the Western Mass Economic Development Council, a nonprofit corporation that provides resources and information to businesses operating in or entering the western Massachusetts region by aiding in expansion, relocation and networking.

DeLobato has worked as an administrative intern for the office of Mayor Domenic Sarno and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield; paralegal for a Springfield law firm; and admissions at the University of New Hampshire. She’s also worked as the assistant director of employer relations at Springfield College for two years, held various roles in her three years in admissions at College of Our Lady of the Elms, and associated director of diversity recruitment and enrollment at the University of Amherst.

DeLobato holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and Spanish from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, and a Master of Business Administration from College of Our Lady of the Elms.

Defining a leader: “A leader is someone who can empower and motivate the people who they’re serving. It’s someone who can really empathize with their community and put action to their advocacy.”

Advice: “Never take ‘no’ for an answer. There are too many times where as women we are blocked from opportunity for one reason or another, and unfortunately there’s this societal conditioning that we can’t advance to executive roles … If that ever presents itself, no matter what position it is, whether it’s a promotion or an executive seat, even if it’s a lateral move … if there’s any barrier, don’t take that as an answer. Continue to network, but be humble and reflective. At the end of the day, always remember you’re awesome and you have what it takes to be great.”

Susan Lapointe 

Background: Susan Lapointe’s background is in marketing and creative design. She holds an associate degree in graphic design. She recently assumed a role as director of marketing and sales for manufacturer and distributor Wemelco Industries in Easthampton.

Prior to her role at Wemelco, Lapointe worked as the director of development and community relations at Riverside Industries for four years and as the creative director at Spalding Sports Worldwide for 12 years. She’s also maintained her own marketing consultant firm, TurningLeaf Design, which was established in 2000.

Defining a leader: “A leader is being a good listener. Listening and ‘leader’ should be synonymous. …You’re not the one who has all the answers.”

Advice: “You’re never too old to try something new. And if there’s something you want, don’t put it on hold.”

 Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.

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