Park City financial adviser honored for empowering women
Kathleen Barlow is the president of the Park City Women’s Business Network, but that didn’t mean she was given advance notice that members had voted to name her the organization’s 2016 Woman of the Year.
Barlow, a financial adviser at Edward Jones, was surprised with the award at a luncheon Tuesday. The honor, which is not restricted to members of the network, is given to women who make a difference in the community and inspire others. The other nominees were: Jennifer Brassey, Trisha Worthington, Donna McAleer, Cathy King and Sharon Maddux.
Earning the honor was gratifying for Barlow. She said it was rewarding to see that others have recognized her efforts to empower women, both through the organization and her work as a financial adviser. She added that any of the others nominated — as well as dozens of other women in the area — were just as deserving.
"Being amongst the other five nominees — these other women are incredible," she said. "So it was really humbling to me to be a part of that group. We all could have won it."
Barlow was nominated in large part because of her work leading the network. Membership has reached nearly 120 under her leadership, and the organization’s annual scholarship fund that benefits Park City High School senior girls has also grown, hitting $15,000 this year.
She said there’s power in women working together and supporting each other — in that sense, the network can help change lives. And there’s also something special about helping young women start on the path toward their own dreams.
"We live in an area where there are a lot of folks that need that help, that need that little boost for their college expenses," she said. "There were girls that we talked to that wouldn’t go to college if they didn’t get our scholarship."
Barlow lived in Atlanta before moving to Park City about five years ago. It wasn’t until she came here that she had the opportunity to be part of something as influential as the network. She knows what it means to all the women involved and is also grateful for the impact it’s had on her own life.
"For me personally, it helps me every day," she said. "I learn from these people as well. And it gives me the opportunity to share my years of experience in different businesses, whereas I wouldn’t have that opportunity if I wasn’t involved. My business gives me that, but not as much. It’s enabled me to be surrounded by all these different women, learn from them and teach them, as well."
But the business network is only part of Barlow’s contribution to the community. Her work as a financial adviser is largely aimed at giving women the knowledge they need to control their finances. She hosts regular financial workshops for women, teaching them tips about topics such as budgeting, saving, spending habits and the stock market.
"To see somebody come in to my office and not know, and then six months later actively planning for their future, buying and selling stocks and mutual funds, and having a good time doing it is amazing," she said. "And they are proud that they are now making the decisions that they should have been making the whole time."
Barlow recently began a new outreach program for children and teens aged 12 to 16 and their mothers that teaches the children the basics needed to start their financial lives on the right foot.
"There are so many folks that, especially the younger kids, think they have so much time," she said. "And yes they do, if they’re in their 20s — they have 40 years before they retire. But a lot of people don’t understand what compounding interest does for them. I can give younger folks a leg up, to take advantage of that so it’s not so hard when they’re 40."
Additionally, she is among those leading the way for more women to become involved in the financial industry. Progress is happening, but still too slowly, she said.
"The financial industry is still very male-dominated," she said. "There are more women financial advisers coming in, but it’s going to take some time. And women have to be able to reach out and find the female advisers."
Despite all she’s done, Barlow is eager for more. She said the honor of being named the Woman of the Year comes with responsibility, adding that she wants to "step it up."
She’s issuing the same challenges to other women in the area.
"It’s great to be part of it, to be here," she said. "I would love to see more of these women be active in our network, helping each other and the girls coming up from the high school. I just want more."
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