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Rachel’s Reads – March 2024

This Women’s History Month, we reached out to women in the community to find our their favorite reads. I’m excited to share their responses below.

Kathy Donovan
I am a proud board member of United We, and an advocate for women’s empowerment. I am passionate about removing barriers around women’s entrepreneurship, licensing, childcare, or equal pay. I absolutely loved the character Elizabeth Zott in Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. Despite her workplace discrimination, and trying to survive as a single mother in the 1950s, she remained steady in her belief that women could, and should, pursue their dreams. As Elizabeth said, “Courage is the root of change, and change is what we are chemically designed to do.”

Dr. Kirsten Brown Persley
I am the Founder and CEO of Persley Advisors, and the writer of the recently published, Delivering Dignity: A Guide to Cultivating Culturally Competent Organizations. I am involved in Women United because I care deeply about Kansas City and want to work alongside like-minded women to push towards greater change and impact through philanthropy. My favorite book I have read recently is The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. 

Torree Pederson
I am the President of Aligned, and a passionate advocate for educational reform and opportunity for all. My favorite book is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Set in World War II, it tells the story of two strong women who fight against oppression to not only survive, but to help others along the way. It exemplifies a willingness to remain steadfast in your beliefs, even when it is not popular or even dangerous.

Maggie Glenski
I am the Founder and CEO of Wrinkle’s Content Studio, a boutique agency providing social media, email, and blog content for female-founded lifestyle brands. My favorite book is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book has changed my perspective on life and opened my eyes to a world of wonder, positive energy, and creative freedom. It’s a permission slip to embrace your curiosity and live a creative life, without letting fear, rejection, or creative suffering hold you back.

Christine Thomas
I am the Senior Director of Public Relations, Communications and Strategic Partnerships for The University of Kansas Cancer Center. My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I love Jane’s wit and prose and the fact that each of her books feature strong, smart, and independent women who were way ahead of their time. I have read this book many times and still love the story as much as the first time I read it.

Jackie Feeney
I am the Vice President of Philanthropy at United Way of Greater Kansas City and am privileged to work alongside the impressive members of Women United who care so deeply about our community and make it a better place for all. My favorite book I have read recently is The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green. The premise of the book is reviewing the current age on earth, but it is actually a beautiful and promising take on humanity. 

Mary Beth Gentry
I am the Founder and Executive Director of Young Women on the Move. My favorite book is Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard. Dallas lays out a beautiful, divine process for transforming ourselves from the inside out. He gets to the root cause of our character faults and gives a pathway to becoming the person we were meant to be. 

Dr. Julie Bradford
I am the Medical Director and Partner of GoodVets Prairie Village and Overland Park Leawood. My all-time favorite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I’ve read it numerous times and find Jane to be incredibly witty. The book has some really great lines and has inspired numerous spin-offs and modern takes. 

Rebeca Swank
I am the Director of Community Engagement at Job One KC. My favorite book is Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Dr. Lois P. Frankel. When I was 25, a female I looked up to at work recommended the original book to me. I still remember all of the ways I fell into the “nice girl” trap. I reread the updated version of the book when I turned 40, and I was so happy to have overcome some of the old tendencies that could have negatively impacted successes I’ve enjoyed through the years. 

Featured in the March 23, 2024 issue of The Independent.


Rachel became the publisher of The Independent in March of 2017 and then married her husband Jake in May. Their goldendoodle Einstein joined the family in 2019. Rachel is an avid reader and loves to share book recommendations. (Don’t miss her column, Rachel’s Reads in the Magazine!) She can always be found with a book nearby, especially while traveling (another of her favorite things).

Bailey Pianalto Photography



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