She’s a Woman on Fire! Meet Allison Barry

Say hello to…

Allison Barry- Woman on Fire

Allison Barry

Boston, Massachusetts

Member number: #00009

Member since: October 13, 2011

Please tell us about YOU, your family, your work, and what you are “on fire” about. 

I recently turned 50, and I feel that I’m starting a whole second life. I grew up in Orchard Park, New York, a suburb of Buffalo. I am the oldest of three, and aunt to six nieces and nephews ranging in age from four to 23. They bring so much joy and energy to all of our family gatherings.

My family is about to grow, but more about that in a minute. I have enjoyed a long career in the world of enterprise software, which has provided me with the means to travel and to buy a house on Cape Cod—perfect for those family gatherings.

I am on fire about the adventure that awaits me, as I am now engaged! I have never been married, and I am experiencing the dream of a lifetime with this engagement, the gaining of step-daughters and my moving in with someone.

I had faith that the day would come when I could say, “He was worth the wait!”—and that day is here with Kevin. This brilliant, fun-loving man has brought so much joy and passion to my world. Now I can’t imagine my life without him.

How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?

Years ago, a former co-worker and friend, Laurie Forster, introduced me to Holly Getty. (They’re both Women on Fire.) Holly gave me a coaching session with Debbie Phillips as a thank-you, and the rest is history! I was living in New Jersey at the time, so I have been a frequent, enthusiastic participant of the teas in New York City. I’ve attended the annual retreats, including the very first one in Columbus, Ohio, and teas in Boston, too!

What’s your favorite component of the Women on Fire membership?

I love the chats when I can make them and certainly the interviews. But one of my favorites is the weekly Spark! Every Sunday, I look forward to the words of wisdom, updates and thoughts from Debbie.

What is your favorite part of the day?

My favorite part of the day is now the end of the workday, when I transition into fiancée and enjoy a date night or a simple dinner at home.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend to other Women on Fire?

I just read the first two books of Ken Follett’s Century trilogy. I love long, involved novels that weave together historical fact with human triumph and tragedy.

What is the one thing you’re most proud of?

The relationships in my life—my friends and family and now a fiancé!

What is something that we might be surprised to learn about you?

I played rugby in college.

If you had an unexpected free day, how would you spend it? 

If alone, I would ease into the day, go for a brisk walk or do some Pilates, followed by lunch at a favorite spot and then some shopping. All that fun would be followed by dinner out with my date. I might throw in a movie, too.

What is your favorite city in the world?


Your favorite “pig-out” food?

Tortilla chips and guacamole.

Name the top three songs on your iPod right now?

For Good” from the soundtrack of Wicked,Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, and “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

Share a special Women on Fire moment or experience.

There are so many, but one that stands out was my first Women on Fire tea at Lady Mendl’s in New York. I was amazed at the immediate connections I made with these women. It felt like they’d been my friends for years. I had the great fortune of sitting next to the late, lovely and vivacious Jacqueline Pimentel, who left an enduring impression on me.

Name another Woman on Fire who has inspired you and tell why.

Oh, there are so many! My good friend Holly Getty continues to inspire me with her grace, compassion and strength. She cheered me through the ups and downs of dating and so many other things. She is a great listener and friend who lights up every room she enters.

What’s your big dream?

I feel that my big dream is coming true, which is sharing my life with someone I love, who loves me equally in return. I am gaining three daughters, and I look forward to the chaos, adventures and perhaps even grandparenting that will come as a result.

If you had the opportunity to teach a child one strategy that would help to guide her life, what would that be?

Make time to invest in friends who listen and encourage.

Name three women who have influenced your life, and tell what you’ve learned from each.

My mom showed me how to be socially graceful and compassionate and what a loving, supportive marriage should be.

My friend Julie has been a best friend since the first day of seventh grade. She taught me how to be a good friend and how to face adversity with grace and humor.

My friend and former boss Colleen taught me selling skills and how to be a successful woman in a man’s world.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced? How did you overcome it?

I think one of my biggest challenges was getting out of my own way to find love. When I was in my early 40s, I was stuck. I was going out on dates, but I was not attracting the right men—or any men at all, for that matter. I sought help through coaching and therapy and got myself on a much more positive path. Then, I was finally able to get the relationship I wanted.

What was the biggest surprise you’ve had in your life?

My 50th birthday last September held the biggest surprise of my life. After weeks of helping to care for my aunt who was in and out of the hospital, I was looking forward to being home and having a quiet birthday dinner with Kevin. We had talked about our future a few months before, but a lot had happened in August and September, so our future was not on my mind.

As I left his house in Hartford that Saturday morning to visit my aunt one more time, he confirmed that he could meet me in Boston that night for dinner. I was home in time to shower and get “girly” for my date. He arrived, changed, made us drinks, and said we had time for me to open my birthday gift before our reservation. We sat in the living room where a small gift bag was waiting.

As I opened the perfect little square box, he got down on one knee and proposed! I was shocked and said YES through tears as quickly as I could! I remember thinking, “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for, and it’s as great as I thought it would be!”

As if that weren’t enough, he whisked me off to my favorite restaurant in Boston, where a group of friends and family were waiting to surprise me for my birthday. Well, I had a bigger surprise for them! It was a perfect night that still makes me smile from ear to ear.

Allison Barry and her fiancé- Woman on Fire

The picture above is of Kevin and me from that night. So much love and joy! I couldn’t smile any bigger!

Who cheers you on?

I am so blessed to have a fiancé and a circle of friends and family that cheer me on. I also have cheerleaders at work who provide moral support and encouraging words when challenges arise.

What is your go-to self-care strategy?

A workout and a massage.

When you reflect on your life so far, what are the first words that come to mind?

Fortunate and Fun

More about Allison Barry…

Allison has a long history in the computer software industry, having worked in that field since she graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York. She manages a sales team that does product presentations and demonstrations—her favorite part of the job and what keeps her in the business. Allison wrote a chapter about an important phase of her work life for Women on Fire, Volume 1, titled “Stepping Off of the Corporate Ladder.”

Inspired by a family trip to Europe when she was 14, Allison loves to travel and is usually planning her next trip. She also loves skiing, especially with her fiancé, Kevin. She currently lives in Boston with her kitty, Bonnie, but will soon relocate to Hartford, Connecticut, for love!

She’s A Woman On Fire! feature is compiled by senior writer Becky Adams.

Links That Light Us Up

22nd Edition

Hello Woman on Fire!!

TGIF!!! We hope you have big plans for the weekend, whether that includes spending time with friends or relaxing at home. But before Friday is officially over let’s get straight to the links 🙂

Best Girlfriends Getaway- It’s that time of year!! Registration for the annual Women on Fire retreat- Ignite Your Life and Soar 2014, opens next Monday, November 25, 2013. We have limited spots so make sure to register early!

Save The Date Women on Fire Retreat 2014

Best Impulse Buys- This list is pure genius, we don’t even have words. Check out the 24 clothing items by Peggy Wang from Buzzfeed.

24 Genius Clothing Items Every Girl Needs by Peggy Wang from BuzzfeedPeggy Wang

Best Brain- Are you a lefty or a righty? Take the 30 second test from Sommer + Sommer to find out.

The 30 Second Brain TestSommer + Sommer

Best Insta Artist- @Cintascotch is taking Instagram art to the next level. We were immediately drawn to the photo below for obvious reasons… P.S Paris Registration opens December 2nd, are you on the list?

Best Instagram @cintascotch@Cintascotch

Best Roasted Brussels– Our resident chef and favorite food blogger Phoebe Lapine of Feed Me Phoebe has crafted an absolute masterpiece with our favorite vegetable — brussels sprouts!! She even went the extra mile and paired them with Gruyere and toast- DELICIOUS!

Brussel Sprouts and Gruyere Toast from

Best Winter Tune- If you need a break from Christmas carols in the coming months but still want a winter theme, try this tune from Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson. It’s appropriately titled “Winter Song.”

Best Body Double- Need to run some errands but don’t have the time? Check out this new app called Postmates and find someone to run to the drugstore, pick up groceries and grab your dry cleaning all with the click of a button.
Postmates - The best NEW task request appPostMates

Best ‘You Go, Girl’- We announced this on our instagram months ago when it was first released, but are happy to report that Gloria Steinem, Oprah Winfrey and Sally Ride were all officially awarded their Presidential Medal of Freedom this week! #yougogirls

Cheers to these Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients

We hope these links brought some light into the end of your week! Let us know if anything is lighting you up on the web 🙂


The Women on Fire team

P.S. Did you miss last week’s links? Check them out here!

The gift of tears

Two of my dearest friends in the whole world happen to be Roman Catholic priests.

They were here on Martha’s Vineyard last week visiting and leading a three-day retreat that I attended.

And while they were here, they made me cry.

My beloved friends Edward Beck and Robert Joerger are fountains of inspiration, strategies and support in my life. Who is like that in your life?

I didn’t cry in that wrenching my-heart-is-totally-broken way.  Rather, I cried in that healing and inspiring tears-are-to-the-soul-what-soap-is-to-the-body way.

All I did was sit in the energy and love of so many open-hearted souls coming together at the retreat (I’m not even a Catholic, by the way) and listen to the stories and wisdom my dear priest friends shared.  And the tears just flowed.  In that what-a-relief-to-stop-and-be-connected-to-humanity way.

Fathers Edward Beck and Robert Joerger belong to the Passionists order of priests (and you’ve likely seen Edward on his many regular television appearances from Good Morning America to The Joy Behar Show).  Together, they set the tone of these retreats as welcoming, embracing respites from daily life.

Fathers Robert and Edward are two important men in my life who’ve cheered on Women on Fire and even inspired some of you to join us!

I want to share with you some of the wisdom that touched me and, in particular, from last week’s retreat Edward’s

5 Spiritual Truths To Center Us

1)  Life is hard. We can’t escape that. What are you doing to make yours easier? To be more connected?

2) You are going to die. Do you live in a way that is conscious of your mortality?  Or do you live in denial?  We waste a lot of experiences because we fail to notice how precious life is. When we appreciate our mortality, we live from a different place and realize what a gift our life is.

3) You are not that important. Most of us are addicted to the “drug” of approval.  Cultivate awareness. Live from your own intention.

4) You are not in control.  (Need I say more about that? 😉

5) Your life is not about you. It’s about sharing your gifts with everyone and everything else. You are the vehicle so others can live more fully. When you make a difference for that one, it changes life for you and all of us.

Pure and simple, no matter your religion or beliefs, it becomes a deeply spiritual life when you practice what you preach.

For me last week, it felt good to remember that.  So good that I cried.

When was the last time you experienced the gift of tears? Pure, sweet, life- affirming, soul-cleansing tears…

Please share your own story in the comments section below. I’d love to hear.

Women On Fire® names National Program Chair

Each day, I receive emails about the tremendous difference Women on Fire support has made in your lives.

In the past week alone, I heard from one of our members that she finished her novel and another informed me her lifestyle show has been “green-lit” by Oprah’s new network OWN.  Both women attributed her success to the inspiration, strategies and support from her Women on Fire sisters.

I want you to know we are building even more systems of support for you.

Today, I am announcing the appointment of Jan Allen as Women on Fire’s National Chair of the Each One Reach One Program. The program will launch nationally with an intense focus on Ohio as a model state that embraces and supports women to live the lives they dream of.

Jan Allen

Jan, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, is a talented business strategist, change agent and organizational expert — and she’s been my best friend for 25 years.

We have supported each other through every twist and turn of our careers and life — and we will continue to share our combined knowledge, success strategies (and our mistakes, too!) — with you and all Women on Fire.

In her new position, Jan will help to lead some very exciting plans and programs that we have in the works. There are more than 2,000 women nationwide  involved already in our organization.  Our first goal is to reach and connect 5,000 women in Ohio to each other so they have the inspiration, strategies and support to make their dreams realities.  After that, our plan is to connect at least 1,000 women or more in every state and country.

Here’s a little more about Jan and why I feel Women On Fire is so fortunate to have her talent and support:

She was one of the first women to hold a top position in state government, as Deputy Chief of Staff to former Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste. She has also led executive teams, most recently in Ohio Governor Ted Strickland’s Administration and prior to that as a business owner and principal of three successful entrepreneurial enterprises. In addition to her vast experience, she is trained as a lawyer, executive coach and therapist.

Shortly after I became a coach in 1995, virtually an unheard-of profession back then, Jan and I together launched a very successful women’s group in Columbus. Some of you were even in that group!  That year-long experience of women supporting women through inspiration and strategies served as a forerunner for what is today Women on Fire.

Welcome, Jan!

Now, here’s where you come in:

Imagine the world if each one of us would reach out to just one other woman to give her the support she needs to succeed?

As part of the Each One Reach One program, if you know of one other fabulous woman who may be struggling and could benefit from Women on Fire inspiration, please encourage her to subscribe today to our free, weekly newsletter The Spark!

No matter where you live, if you are or know of a woman in Ohio who can reach many women, please email Jan at

Additionally, I am pleased to announce Andrea Dowding, who has led Ohio coaching groups and tea parties since 2008, will be Women on Fire’s Ohio Training Leader to build a cadre of talented coaches and facilitators who can lead and connect women in powerful, in-person settings.  Please let me know if you want to shine as a leader of women in your community and would be interested in learning more.

Finally, before I sign off, please mark your calendar. I am thrilled to announce Women on Fire Day will be held in Columbus, Ohio on September 23, 2011. It will be the first stop on our new and exciting Women On Fire National Tour. Stay tuned, more dates and cities will be announced soon!

My dream is for you to have your dream.


Wise Woman: Eileen Fisher

To my best friend Jan Allen, Eileen Fisher is a heroine because she creates chic and comfy clothing that works for a woman’s body.

To me, silver-haired fashion designer Eileen Fisher is an inspiring reminder that I can successfully do business my way, a distinctly feminine way.

What a joy to reconnect with Eileen Fisher and see her success doing business her way!

Since launching her business in 1984, Eileen is living proof that success can be yours – while remaining kind, caring, connective, warm, gracious – and even fearful of public speaking!

I just returned from a most amazing week in New York City where I met with or heard from many dynamic women including Victoria Colligan, founder of Ladies Who Launch; Martha Beck, coach and columnist for Oprah Magazine; Joan Lunden, former Good Morning America host and now an entrepreneur extraordinaire; and Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of the Omega Institute and author of the best-selling book Broken Open.

The highlight of my week was a trip to Eileen’s elegant store at 395 W. Broadway for a private party.  No sooner had I walked through the door, when I entered a joy-filled environment with Eileen, standing in the center, easily and graciously available to her guests.

It had been several years since I first met Eileen at the Omega Institute’s Women+Power Conference.  I remembered her as approachable, yet shy to the point of being timid.  She was fiercely supportive in promoting her associates she’d brought with her to shine, and she made no bones about being deathly afraid to speak in public.

Then and now, her associates sang her praises as a leader and Eileen Fisher as a model company and socially responsible force in the world.  Even before she became the mega-success she is today, Eileen believed an employee “who feels good will do good and bring their best self to work.”

Transforming that belief into action, she gives each associate a $1,000 “wellness” credit every year to use for self-care such as yoga, pedicures, facials, horseback riding and Pilates.

Employees also receive a $1,000 credit for education to be used for classes such as painting, wine tasting, foreign languages or for formal classes at New York University.

Personally and professionally, Eileen Fisher remains true to her feminine principles

When I told her last week that I have always been so impressed with her company’s attention to employees’ self-care and personal growth, she laughed and said, “of course!” (as though every company would do that!)

The company’s mission has held strong: “to inspire women to celebrate who they are.”

Eileen sold her company in 2005 for $300 million to her 875 employees through an employee stock ownership plans, or ESOP.  She is now the chief creative officer.  This is just one example of the company’s unique leadership practices that have made the brand successful.

Given all that, still not much seems to have changed with Eileen Fisher, the woman.

She continues to stand in the center of the room proudly giving her associates the floor.  She is still shy and warm and approachable (and looking adorable and chic in her own latest fashions.)

Yet, I detected something different about her.

At the end of the night, as the program came to a close announcing Eileen Fisher’s collaboration and support of Jensine Larsen‘s World Pulse organization, she delicately picked up a microphone and walked onto her store’s makeshift stage.

Eileen Fisher, right, takes the stage. At left, Jensine Larsen, founder of World Pulse

Quietly and confidently she praised and thanked everyone for being there.  Eileen Fisher was having no trouble speaking in public.

When you think about the qualities you wish to express and stand for as a leader of your life, your work, your world, what are they?

I’d love to hear what you are thinking. Please stop by the comments section below.

Have an amazing week and we’ll talk again soon.

If you’d like to know more about Eileen Fisher, I highly recommend Eileen’s Letter To My Younger Self® in the book by Ellyn Spragins What I Know Now.



Book Review: Good Girls Don’t Get Fat

I don’t have to tell you what a terrible obsession and struggle most of us have in accepting our own beautiful bodies.

We grew up with — and continue to be bombarded by — so many harmful messages.  I’m sure you can remember a time (or many) when you were told or became aware of or compared yourself in some way that you didn’t quite measure up to the ideal body, weight, shape or size.

Here I am with Dr. Robyn Silverman at a recent Women on Fire Tea Party where we celebrated the publication of her important new book. (Shannon McCaffery Photo)

Today I look at pictures of myself when I was in my 20s and 30s and I am stunned how slim and trim I was.  I remember feeling and believing I was fat.  I know many of you can relate.

Thanks to a recent plethora of books addressing weight and body image issues we can now help to change for the girls in our lives the anguish and pain so many of us have endured with feeling “fat,” “ugly” and “less than.”

Whether you are a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, teacher, neighbor, babysitter, you have the power,  strategies and resources now to help build a girl’s self-esteem and strengthen her beliefs about her beautiful, powerful, amazing body.

It should be no surprise that one of our own Women on Fire — Dr. Robyn Silverman — is the author of the book I am recommending as the #1 most useful and practical book (and I have read them ALL) on this subject.


I know you will find this book a tremendous resource.  I also know that it is not only girls and women who are affected by these negative messages (check out Dr. Silverman’s insight on Body Bullying) and this book can help our boys, too.

For more information and to order Good Girls Don’t Get Fat, go to Amazon or to

Now that Daylight Savings Time has given you an extra hour this week, have a great one.

I’m off to New York City to attend the Ladies Who Launch event “Dream It! Launch It! Live It!” as the guest of Founder Victoria Colligan.  Tuesday I’m having lunch with Oprah Magazine columnist Martha Beck.  I’ll also attend events with Woman on Fire and World Pulse Founder Jensine Larsen.

Jamie Eslinger is traveling with me and we’ll keep you posted on anything we learn this week that will help you to live your own dreams and a richer, more inspired life!

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts. Please let us know in the comments section below.

Much love,