Mom on the Move Helene Raynaud

Lives: Ellicott City
Children: Ian, 8, and Maggie, 7
Occupation: President and CEO of Guidewell Financial Solutions

How did you get involved with Guidewell?
I have been in the nonprofit sector for over 15 years and used to work for the Washington, D.C.-based membership organization that Guidewell Financial is affiliated with. I had the opportunity to visit Guidewell on numerous occasions over the years and had even referred friends for assistance, so I was quite familiar with its mission and the quality of the services. When my predecessor announced his retirement, I decided to throw my name in as a possible replacement, and here I am today.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in working with Guidewell?
Guidewell Financial is a 52-year-old nonprofit organization that is well known in the community for assisting individuals and families with their debt- management issues. However, the competition from for-profit organizations such as debt settlement, debt consolidation and credit repair companies is fierce, and we’ve had to spend a lot of time and energy rebuilding our value proposition with funders and stakeholders. I think we’ve made huge progress in rebuilding the brand and what we stand for: a long tradition of excellence in service delivery.

What is an average day for you?
I am a single mom, so each day is pretty packed! I wake up around 6 a.m. so I have time to take care of our two dogs and to get ready before I wake up the children. Once they are up, it is nonstop until they go to bed around 9 p.m. I typically get to the office by 9 a.m. with a long to-do list and a series of internal and external meetings scheduled. But something always comes up, whether it is an operational or human resource issue, that requires immediate attention. Or it’s a funding or program opportunity that also needs to be reviewed immediately. We all have inspirational quotes by our name tags in the office. Mine says, “Never a dull moment!” At the end of the day, I leave the office at a reasonable hour so I can pick up the kids on time. We have dinner together, without electronics, every night.

How has being a mom shaped the way you work and how as being a CEO of a nonprofit shaped the way you parent?
I am a pretty straightforward and no-nonsense person, so my kids get to hear and see me at my best and at my lowest. I share my dreams and aspirations as well as challenges with them, and they do the same with me. They are incredibly tuned into my working life. They regularly come to work with me. We have a family-friendly culture where employees can bring their kids to work, and with so many school closings this year, they’ve definitely enjoyed office life quite a bit. Being so open leads to interesting conversations at the dinner table. They are really curious as to how the “adult world” works and how it differs from theirs, though they both told me that they are really enjoying their kid years and are in no rush to grow up.

What do you do in your downtime?
I try to spend as much quality time with my kids as I can. We love to read together and watch movies. We also enjoy playing with the dogs in the backyard, hiking and taking day trips to the beach. They see their dad twice a month on the weekend, and that’s when I get a little me time.

How do you manage your work-life balance?
It is a daily challenge, because there is always a pressing matter that needs some level of attention. Turning off my phone for a few hours each evening so I can be more focused on my family has really helped. I also try to get most chores taken care of during the week — grocery shopping, laundry and even some house cleaning — so the weekends are as open as possible.

What is your favorite thing about being a working mom?
It’s allowed me to continue to grow as a person. It’s taken me a long time to build the confidence that I have today, and I definitely owe it to my work and the many opportunities I’ve enjoyed along the way. BC

Do you know a local mom making a positive impact in her community? Nominate her as a subject of our Mom on the Move column by filling out an entry form on BaltimoresChild.com/feedback.

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