top of page
Glancer Magazine

COVER STORY | Modern Minded Women of 2021

by Kristen Kucharski


Each west suburban woman featured this month is filled with ambition and drive, with an undying dedication to their passion. They are driven and creative– each a master multi-tasker who is living a balanced lifestyle while making a positive difference in the lives of others. From giving back to the community through leadership, to helping others achieve their fitness and wellness goals, each story will inspire and encourage you in the new year!


Alicia Gittens McCareins

Owner, Research, Evaluation & Consulting Associates, LLC NAPERVILLE–Alicia, PhD and JD from Northwestern University, brings a lifetime of experiences to helping others maximize their potential for growth and success by using a scientific approach to workplace issues to create ethical and effective environments.

She was born in Trinidad, West Indies; emigrated to America as a high school sophomore; and was exposed to upper-level education that brought her in contact with many successful, motivated, and educated people. She began her career teaching traditional psychology courses at the undergraduate university level, was promoted to teaching organization behavior (OB) and organization development (OD) at the graduate school level and started her own company (RECA) as a private practice.

Alicia is excited to witness modern approaches being used to resolve traditional problems, transforming effectiveness, and increasing bottom lines, while also addressing employee needs and exacting loyalty.

“I see recognition of women’s success. I see tolerance for issues that previously plagued the workplace but were ignored (e.g., equal pay, sexual harassment) dissipating, and a renewed respect for the all-encompassing value of women in society,” she shares.

This independent businesswoman, wife, mother, and grandmother has a lot to balance on a daily basis and giving up is never an option for Alicia; so, she conveys the same approach from her career to her family life and vice versa keeping a watchful eye on dreams and the efforts that lead to happy, meaningful, and successful lives.

Her personal pursuit of happiness includes supporting nonprofit programs in her community, as well as nationally and internationally; she also hopes to start a foundation to make educational and other advancement opportunities more readily available to those less fortunate.


Jessi Atkocaitis

Founder, Ren Jord Organic Hair Care

ST. CHARLES–Having been a hair stylist and salon owner for over 20 years, Jessi was frustrated for herself and her clients experiencing hair loss, lack luster strands, and breakage; so, in true entrepreneurial fashion, she created Ren Jord because conventional products were not working.

“I started researching and realized all the harsh chemicals that are prevalent in so many of our products,” Jessi says. “As a result, I passionately created a unique product line of organic hair treatments and my clients (and me!) were seeing amazing results and healthier hair!”

The name originates from Jessi’s Norwegian heritage meaning “pure Earth” as Ren Jord only uses pure, organic ingredients found in nature and ensuring packaging and materials are also recyclable and compostable.

Wife and mother of three children under the age of 8, she is constantly pulled in many directions and has tried to learn to live life organically as well – letting things happen as they will and always setting aside 15 minutes of ME time for yoga, meditation, and prayer to sustain the pressures of the day.

“I think as a society- especially women, we think we need to “have it all together” and post pictures of only edited, positive photos on social media- instead of being more real, vulnerable, and transparent,” Jessi shares. “I always grow the most after I have gone through a difficult time.”

Furthermore, she feels it’s important to share those tough experiences and lift each other up; and since Ren Jord is a new business, Jessi is excited to continue to grow and support local women-owned businesses in the community.


Becky Rivich Keporos

Modere, Online Entrepreneur

OSWEGO/NAPERVILLE–Becky has learned to train her mind to see the good in every situation, inclusive of the overall attention to one’s health due to the worldwide pandemic. It has heightened her personal interest in the well-being of others, prompting an involvement with modern advancements to reduce exposure to the worrisome chemicals and compounds that surround us every day.

She is passionate about working for a company that offers a new approach to modern health creating a haven for overall family wellness. Becky loves the clean label alternatives, the flexibility of being able to create her own work schedule, the convenience of working from home, and navigating a new career that fits her active and healthy lifestyle as a busy single mom of three adult children.

“Being happy and confident are the prettiest things you can wear,” she says. “Knowing who you really are is true beauty.”

Becky feels she has untapped potential and is the happiest she has ever been which is a strong statement coming off a year that has been difficult for many. As a board member, foster, and volunteer with animal control, as well as involvement with Family Counseling Services in Aurora, service work is a huge part of what keeps Becky balanced.

Prioritizing lists of needs, wants, and must be done activities for each day helps her maintain an organized schedule and ensure contentment in today’s busy modern world.


Beth Alberts

Director of Esthetics at Concierge Esthetics and Plastic Surgery

GENEVA/NAPERVILLE/BARRINGTON/CHICAGO–Beth would love to start her own modern beauty channel on YouTube, or another platform, in the next few years! She is inspired and encouraged by the major online influencers, her mother, her daughter, as well as her career as the Director of Esthetics at Concierge Med Spa; after all, even on Beth’s most stressful days, she finds playing with makeup and tutorials is her number one way to decompress!

As a working wife and mom of two young kids, she feels blessed for the support of her family, as well as to the modern advantages of working with a team of mostly women who understand life sometimes must come before work and jump in to help each other when needed.

Beth found the confidence to pursue an education, career, and family from watching her own mother work hard to support her kids while always ensuring to care for herself, which included maintaining a strict skincare regime morning and night, never skipping it even after a long workday.

“She has always supported me and has told me to take what I love and make a career out of it and I feel like I have done exactly that,” Beth shares. “Now with a daughter of my own, I hope that I can inspire her in similar ways. I hope she looks at me and sees a confident and hard-working woman and that she finds what brings her joy and goes for it!”

Beth is thrilled by the modern trend of men also participating in antiaging treatments, as well as younger patients taking interest in the “prejuvenation process.”

“I look at my mom who is 70 and compare her to what my grandma looked like at 70 and there is a huge difference just because of the evolution of hair styling and coloring, oral care, and sunscreen,” Beth adds. “Now with all the developments in non-surgical procedures and medical grade skincare, the next generation is going to look 40 when they are 70! It is so exciting!”


Val McMurrough

Owner, In Home Fitness by Val

WHEATON–Working out - That's where it all started for NASM Certified Personal Trainer Val McMurrough. Her personal fitness regime was as much a mental escape as a physical one for her when she was feeling overwhelmed. Through exercise she was able to tune into her inner strength and regroup to carry on for the day; so, it comes as no surprise that when COVID-19 hit and closed most fitness centers, Val took what she knew best and brought fitness into people’s homes to help provide that mental and physical release to others also struggling.

Her in-home fitness career began 9 years ago as her children Emma (17), Ava (15), Anna (13) entered the school years. She feels blessed to be married to her high school sweetheart who

shares the same passion and together they will be also opening Eat The Frog Fitness in Elmhurst this Spring.

“I am having the time of my life and I love working hard for my business, my clients, and my team. I honestly never saw a business coming my way,” Val says. “Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will! Stop thinking and start doing! Being uncomfortable is totally normal, but if you are in action, you are winning not just watching.”

Val is thrilled to be constantly evolving with current culture that meet fitness demands and looks forward to future innovations and revolution to provide an ideal experience and real results. Photos by Mike Catuara Unless Otherwise Submitted