Chief executive officer, PDI Surgery Center, 1380 19th Hole Dr., Windsor 95492, 707-837-8882, www.pdisurgerycenter.org

Age: 42

Residence: Santa Rosa

Professional background: Attorney

Education: B.A. English, UCLA, 1993; J.D., Boalt Hall School of Law, U.C. Berkeley, 1997; two-week Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders, Stanford Graduate School of Business, May 2008

Staff: 23

Tell us about yourself and your company: PDI Surgery Center was started in 2001 by a group of health advocates who realized that severe tooth decay is a huge health problem, that is not being addressed. The founders found an efficient and patient-centered model. In 2006, I was hired on to lead PDI in securing a Construction Loan, do the Capital Campaign, and ultimately be involved with the start-up of the new non-profit.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?: That we have helped close to 7,000 children from 30 counties receive much-needed dental surgery under general anesthesia.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?: Being a spark-plug, passionate advocate and eternal optimist; finding and bringing together people who really care about making a difference.

What is your biggest challenge today?: The dismal Medi-Cal reimbursement rates and the further threats of more cuts in the California budget.

Words that best describe you: Passionate, vivacious, kind, grateful and happy in the midst of trying circumstances.

As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?: Balancing being a mom and a professional. I learned to listen to my heart and abandon a lucrative legal career in San Francisco in order to spend more time with my children and make a difference in the world.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?: More innovative, collaborative models, for non-profits and for-profits doing what government currently is not taking care of: ensuring equitable delivery of services to all, because healthy children make for a healthy community, and a healthy community saves businesses money (in lost productivity, time off); and really add value to businesses whose owners value quality of life and compassion for all workers, regardless of background or pay.

What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?:

Listen to your heart as much as your brain. Win on your own terms, not someone else’s. Be true to how you want to show up as a business person; just because someone else does it a certain way doesn’t mean you have to “because they do.” Intelligence, knowledge and training can only take you so far; some business decisions truly are based on intuition and emotional intelligence. Dare to take risks that feel right. Dream big.

Who was your most important mentor? And tell us a little bit about that person: Jake Schatz was my attorney mentor at McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen in San Francisco and very supportive of me as a young lawyer straight out of law school, and through my first years cutting my teeth as a litigator -- and supportive and inspirational as I was trying to balancing my civic and volunteer engagements, with work and family.

His wife, Katie Albright, is the executive director of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center, and she has continued to be a mentor and inspiration to me through her personal friendship, and her work (and balancing family and kids). They inspired me as a young attorney and to take the leap to run a non-profit and help get PDI off the ground and through its start-up operations. They continue to inspire me to aim high, do my best, work hard but smart, and have fun with it, balancing family, friends and work as they all feed it each other.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Our local business community that has such wonderful work ethic, compassion and helped shape and continue to shape this generous community: valuing healthy families, for all the right reasons.

Current reading: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell and Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow by Chip Conley

Most want to meet: Dalai Lama (Mother Teresa, if she were still alive).

Stress relievers: Yoga, hiking, working out, smiling, breathing, meditating, prayer.

Favorite hobbies: Playing and hanging with my kids, watching my kids play sports; exploring California; discovering new trails, restaurants, bakeries and people; and cuddling.

Is there something we didn’t ask that you would like to add?: Practice gratitude and kindness every day, with yourself first, so you can make sure to do so to others. Don’t skip one to rush to the other. Put your own oxygen mask on first, that’s how you truly have the capacity to help others.